“Yes, yes, darling! I know it. That’s why I love you so!”
“There is just one thing,” said the judge, as he wound up his watch that night, “that makes me a little uneasy still.”
Mrs. Kenton, already in her bed turned her face upon him with a despairing “Tchk! Dear! What is it? I thought we had talked over everything.”
“We haven’t got Lottie’s consent yet.”
“Well, I think I see myself asking Lottie!” Mrs. Kenton began, before she realized her husband’s irony. She added, “How could you give me such a start?”
“Well, Lottie has bossed us so long that I couldn’t help mentioning it,” said the judge.
It was a lame excuse, and in its most potential implication his suggestion proved without reason. If Lottie never gave her explicit approval to Ellen’s engagement, she never openly opposed it. She treated it, rather, with something like silent contempt, as a childish weakness on Ellen’s part which was beneath her serious consideration. Towards Breckon, her behavior hardly changed in the severity which she had assumed from the moment she first ceased to have any use for him. “I suppose I will have to kiss him,” she said, gloomily, when her mother told her that he was to be her brother, and she performed the rite with as much coldness as was ever put in that form of affectionate welcome. It is doubtful if Breckon perfectly realized its coldness; he never knew how much he enraged her by acting as if she were a little girl, and saying lightly, almost trivially, “I’m so glad you’re going to be a sister to me.”
With Ellen, Lottie now considered herself quits, and from the first hour of Ellen’s happiness she threw off all the care with all the apparent kindness which she had used towards her when she was a morbid invalid. Here again, if Lottie had minded such a thing, she might have been as much vexed by Ellen’s attitude as by Breckon’s. Ellen never once noticed the withdrawal of her anxious oversight, or seemed in the least to miss it. As much as her meek nature would allow, she arrogated to herself the privileges and prerogatives of an elder sister, and if it had been possible to make Lottie ever feel like a chit, there were moments when Ellen’s behavior would have made her feel like a chit. It was not till after their return to Tuskingum that Lottie took her true place in relation to the affair, and in the preparations for the wedding, which she appointed to be in the First Universalist Church, overruling both her mother’s and sister’s preferences for a home wedding, that Lottie rose in due authority. Mrs. Kenton had not ceased to feel quelled whenever her younger daughter called her mother instead of momma, and Ellen seemed not really to care. She submitted the matter to Breckon, who said, “Oh yes, if Lottie wishes,” and he laughed when Ellen confessed, “Well, I said we would.”
With the lifting of his great anxiety, he had got back to that lightness which was most like him, and he could not always conceal from Lottie herself that he regarded her as a joke. She did not mind it, she said, from such a mere sop as, in the vast content of his love, he was.