“Then you had better simply have it put off till the next steamer. I have been talking with Ellen, and she doesn’t want to stay. She wants to go.” His wife took advantage of Kenton’s mute amaze (in the nervous vagaries even of the women nearest him a man learns nothing from experience) to put her own interpretation on the case, which, as it was creditable to the girl’s sense and principle, he found acceptable if not imaginable. “And if you will take my advice,” she ended, “you will go quietly back to the steamship office and exchange your ticket for the next steamer, or the one after that, if you can’t get good rooms, and give Ellen time to get over this before she leaves. It will be much better for her to conquer herself than to run away, for that would always give her a feeling of shame, and if she decides before she goes, it will strengthen her pride and self-respect, and there will be less danger —when we come back.”
“Do you think he’s going to keep after her!”
“How can I tell? He will if he thinks it’s to his interest, or he can make anybody miserable by it.”
Kenton said nothing to this, but after a while he suggested, rather timorously, as if it were something he could not expect her to approve, and was himself half ashamed of, “I believe if I do put it off, I’ll run out to Tuskingum before we sail, and look after a little matter of business that I don’t think Dick can attend to so well.”
His wife knew why he wanted to go, and in her own mind she had already decided that if he should ever propose to go, she should not gainsay him. She had, in fact, been rather surprised that he had not proposed it before this, and now she assented, without taxing him with his real motive, and bringing him to open disgrace before her. She even went further in saying: “Very well, then you had better go. I can get on very well here, and I think it will leave Ellen freer to act for herself if you are away. And there are some things in the house that I want, and that Richard would be sure to send his wife to get if I asked him, and I won’t have her rummaging around in my closets. I suppose you will want to go into the house?”
“I suppose so,” said Renton, who had not let a day pass, since he left his house, without spending half his homesick time in it. His wife suffered his affected indifference to go without exposure, and trumped up a commission for him, which would take him intimately into the house.
The piety of his son Richard had maintained the place at Tuskingum in perfect order outwardly, and Kenton’s heart ached with tender pain as he passed up the neatly kept walk from the gate, between the blooming ranks of syringas and snowballs, to his door, and witnessed the faithful care that Richard’s hired man had bestowed upon every detail. The grass between the banks of roses and rhododendrons had been as scrupulously