“You can see him if you wish, Ellen,” said her mother, gravely. “Your father and I have always said that. And perhaps it would be the best thing, after all.”
“Oh, you say that because you think that if I did see him, I should be so disgusted with him that I’d never want to speak to him again. But what if I shouldn’t?”
“Then we should wish you to do whatever you thought was for your happiness, Ellen. We can’t believe it would be for your good; but if it would be for your happiness, we are willing. Or, if you don’t think it’s for your happiness, but only for his, and you wish to do it, still we shall be willing, and you know that as far as your father and I are concerned, there will never be a word of reproach—not a whisper.”
“Lottie would despise me; and what would Richard say?”
“Richard would never say anything to wound you, dear, and if you don’t despise yourself, you needn’t mind Lottie.”
“But I should, momma; that’s the worst of it! I should despise myself, and he would despise me too. No, if I see him, I am going to do it because I am selfish and wicked, and wish to have my own way, no matter who is harmed by it, or—anything; and I’m not going to have it put on any other ground. I could see him,” she said, as if to herself, “just once more—only once more—and then if I didn’t believe in him, I could start right off to Europe.”
Her mother made no answer to this, and Ellen lay awhile apparently forgetful of her presence, inwardly dramatizing a passionate scene of dismissal between herself and her false lover. She roused herself from the reverie with a long sigh, and her mother said, “Won’t you have some breakfast, now; Ellen?”
“Yes; and I will get up. You needn’t be troubled any more about me, momma. I will write to him not to come, and poppa must go back and get his ticket again.”
“Not unless you are doing this of your own free will, child. I can’t have you feeling that we are putting any pressure upon you.”
“You’re not. I’m doing it of my own will. If it isn’t my free will, that isn’t your fault. I wonder whose fault it is? Mine, or what made me so silly and weak?”
“You are not silly and weak,” said her mother, fondly, and she bent over the girl and would have kissed her, but Ellen averted her face with a piteous “Don’t!” and Mrs. Kenton went out and ordered her breakfast brought back.
She did not go in to make her eat it, as she would have done in the beginning of the girl’s trouble; they had all learned how much better she was for being left to fight her battles with herself singlehanded. Mrs. Kenton waited in the parlor till her husband same in, looking gloomy and tired. He put his hat down and sank into a chair without speaking. “Well?” she said.
“We have got to lose the price of the ticket, if we give it back. I thought I had better talk with you first,” said Kenton, and he explained the situation.