“I think she wishes to give him another trial; I hope she will.” Kenton was daunted, and he showed it. “She has got to convince herself, and we have got to let her. She believes, of course, that he’s here on her account, and that flatters her. Why should she be so different from other girls?” Mrs. Kenton demanded of the angry protest in her husband’s eye.
His spirit fell, and he said, “I only wish she were more like them.”
“Well, then, she is just as headstrong and as silly, when it comes to a thing like this. Our only hope is to let her have her own way.”
“Do you suppose he cares for her, after all?”
Mrs. Kenton was silent, as if in exhaustive self-question. Then she answered: “No, I don’t in that way. But he believes he can get her.”
“Then, Sarah, I think we have a duty to the poor child. You must tell her what you have told me.”
Mrs. Kenton smiled rather bitterly, in recognition of the fact that the performance of their common duty must fall wholly to her. But she merely said: “There is no need of my telling her. She knows it already.”
“And she would take him in spite of knowing that he didn’t really care for her?”
“I don’t say that. She wouldn’t own it to herself.”
“And what are you going to do?”
“Nothing. We must let things take their course.”
They had a great deal more talk that came to the same end. They played their sad comedy, he in the part of a father determined to save his child from herself, and she in hers of resisting and withholding him. It ended as it had so often ended before—he yielded, with more faith in her wisdom than she had herself.
At luncheon the Bittridges could not join the Kentons, or be asked to do so, because the table held only four, but they stopped on their way to their own table, the mother to bridle and toss in affected reluctance, while the son bragged how he had got the last two tickets to be had that night for the theatre where he was going to take his mother. He seemed to think that the fact had a special claim on the judge’s interest, and she to wish to find out whether Mrs. Kenton approved of theatre-going. She said she would not think of going in Ballardsville, but she supposed it was more rulable in New York.
During the afternoon she called at the Kenton apartment to consult the ladies about what she ought to wear. She said she had nothing but a black ‘barege’ along, and would that do with the hat she had on? She had worn it to let them see, and now she turned her face from aide to side to give them the effect of the plumes, that fell like a dishevelled feather-duster round and over the crown. Mrs. Kenton could only say that it would do, but she believed that it was the custom now for ladies to take their hats off in the theatre.
Mrs. Bittridge gave a hoarse laugh. “Oh, dear! Then I’ll have to fix my hair two ways? I don’t know what Clarence will say.”