“Do you really believe it, Lottie?” Mrs. Kenton entreated, with a sudden tenderness for her younger daughter such as she did not always feel.
“I should think anybody would believe it—anybody but Ellen.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Kenton dreamily assented.
Lottie made her way to the door. “Well, if you do stay, mother, I’m not going to have you hanging round me all day. I can chaperon myself.”
“Lottie,” her mother tried to stay her, “I wish you would go. I don’t believe that Mr. Trannel will be much of an addition. He will be on your poor father’s hands all day, or else Ellen’s, and if you went you could help off.”
“Thank you, mother. I’ve had quite all I want of Mr. Trannel. You can tell him he needn’t go, if you want to.”
Lottie at least did not leave her mother to make her excuses to the party when they met for starting. Mrs. Kenton had deferred her own till she thought it was too late for her husband to retreat, and then bunglingly made them, with so much iteration that it seemed to her it would have been far less pointed, as concerned Mr. Breckon, if she had gone. Lottie sunnily announced that she was going to stay with her mother, and did not even try to account for her defection to Mr. Trannel.
“What’s the matter with my staying, too?” he asked. “It seems to me there are four wheels to this coach now.”
He had addressed his misgiving more to Lottie than the rest; but with the same sunny indifference to the consequence for others that she had put on in stating her decision, she now discharged herself from further responsibility by turning on her heel and leaving it with the party generally. In the circumstances Mr. Trannel had no choice but to go, and he was supported, possibly, by the hope of taking it out of Lottie some other time.
It was more difficult for Mrs. Kenton to get rid of the judge, but an inscrutable frown goes far in such exigencies. It seems to explain, and it certainly warns, and the husband on whom it is bent never knows, even after the longest experience, whether he had better inquire further. Usually he decides that he had better not, and Judge Kenton went off towards the tram with Boyne in the cloud of mystery which involved them both as to Mrs. Kenton’s meaning.
Trannel attached himself as well as he could to Breckon and Ellen, and Breckon had an opportunity not fully offered him before to note a likeness between himself and a fellow-man whom he was aware of not liking, though he tried to love him, as he felt it right to love all men. He thought he had not been quite sympathetic enough with Mrs. Kenton in her having to stay behind, and he tried to make it up to Mr. Trannel in his having to come. He invented civilities to show him, and ceded his place next Ellen as if Trannel had a right to it. Trannel ignored him in keeping it, unless it was recognizing Breckon to