This was some months after Lottie had got at Scheveningen from Mr. Plumpton that letter which decided her that she had no use for him. There came the same day, and by the same post with it, a letter from one of her young men in Tuskingum, who had faithfully written to her all the winter before, and had not intermitted his letters after she went abroad. To Kenton he had always seemed too wise if not too good for Lottie, but Mrs. Kenton, who had her own doubts of Lottie, would not allow this when it came to the question, and said, woundedly, that she did not see why Lottie was not fully his equal in every way.
“Well,” the judge suggested, “she isn’t the first young lawyer at the Tuskingum bar.”
“Well, I wouldn’t wish her to be,” said Mrs. Kenton, who did not often make jokes.
“Well, I don’t know that I would,” her husband assented, and he added, “Pretty good, Sarah.”
“Lottie,” her mother summed up, “is practical, and she is very neat. She won’t let Mr. Elroy go around looking so slovenly. I hope she will make him have his hair cut, and not look as if it were bitten off. And I don’t believe he’s had his boots blacked since—”
“He was born,” the judge proposed, and she assented.
“Yes. She is very saving, and he is wasteful. It will be a very good match. You can let them build on the other corner of the lot, if Ellen is going to be in New York. I would miss Lottie more than Ellen about the housekeeping, though the dear knows I will miss them both badly enough.”
“Well, you can break off their engagements,” said the judge.
As yet, and until Ellen was off her hands, Lottie would not allow Mr. Elroy to consider himself engaged to her. His conditional devotion did not debar him from a lover’s rights, and, until Breckon came on from New York to be married, there was much more courtship of Lottie than of Ellen in the house. But Lottie saved herself in the form if not the fact, and as far as verbal terms were concerned, she was justified by them in declaring that she would not have another sop hanging round.
It was Boyne, and Boyne alone, who had any misgivings in regard to Ellen’s engagement, and these were of a nature so recondite that when he came to impart them to his mother, before they left Scheveningen, and while there was yet time for that conclusion which his father suggested to Mrs. Kenton too late, Boyne had an almost hopeless difficulty in stating them. His approaches, even, were so mystical that his mother was forced to bring him to book sharply.
“Boyne, if you don’t tell me right off just what you mean, I don’t know what I will do to you! What are you driving at, for pity’s sake? Are you saying that she oughtn’t to be engaged to Mr. Breckon?”
“No, I’m not saying that, momma,” said Boyne, in a distress that caused his mother to take a reef in her impatience.
“Well, what are you saying, then?”