Ellen lifted herself on her elbow and stared at her. “And you let me!” she said, cruelly.
“Ellen! I will not have this!” cried her mother, frantic at the reproach. “What do you mean by my letting you? You knew that we were going to sail, didn’t you? What else did you suppose we had come to the steamer for?”
“I supposed you would let me stay, if I wanted to: But go away, momma, go away! You’re all against me—you, and poppa, and Lottie, and Boyne. Oh, dear! oh, dear!” She threw herself down in her berth and covered her face with the sheet, sobbing, while her mother stood by in an anguish of pity and anger. She wanted to beat the girl, she wanted to throw herself upon her, and weep with her in the misery which she shared with her.
Lottie came to the door of the state-room with an arm-load of long-stemmed roses, the gift of the young Mr. Plumpton, who had not had so much to be entreated to come down to the steamer and see her off as Boyne had pretended. “Momma,” she said, “I have got to leave these roses in here, whether Ellen likes it or not. Boyne won’t have them in his room, because he says the man that’s with him would have a right to object; and this is half my room, anyway.”
Mrs. Kenton frowned and shook her head, but Ellen answered from under the sheet, “I don’t mind the roses, Lottie. I wish you’d stay with me a little while.”
Lottie hesitated, having in mind the breakfast for which the horn had just sounded. But apparently she felt that one good turn deserved another, and she answered: “All right; I will, Nell. Momma, you tell Boyne to hurry, and come to Ellen as soon as he’s done, and then I will go. Don’t let anybody take my place.”
“I wish,” said Ellen, still from under the sheet, “that momma would have your breakfast sent here. I don’t want Boyne.”
Women apparently do not require any explanation of these swift vicissitudes in one another, each knowing probably in herself the nerves from which they proceed. Mrs. Kenton promptly assented, in spite of the sulky reluctance which Lottie’s blue eyes looked at her; she motioned her violently to silence, and said: “Yes, I will, Ellen. I will send breakfast for both of you.”
When she was gone, Ellen uncovered her face and asked Lottie to dip a towel in water and give it to her. As she bathed her eyes she said, “You don’t care, do you, Lottie?”
“Not very much,” said Lottie, unsparingly. I can go to lunch, I suppose.”
“Maybe I’ll go to lunch with you,” Ellen suggested, as if she were speaking of some one else.
Lottie wasted neither sympathy nor surprise on the question. “Well, maybe that would be the best thing. Why don’t you come to breakfast?”
“No, I won’t go to breakfast. But you go.”