Boyne kept looking from one sister to another during Lottie’s declaration, and, with his eyes on Ellen, he said, “It’s true, Ellen. All the Plumptons did.” He was very serious.
Ellen smiled. “I’m too old to change. I’d rather seem queer in Europe than when I get back to Tuskingum.”
“You wouldn’t be queer there a great while,” said Lottie. “They’ll all be doing it in a week after I get home.”
Upon the encouragement given him by Ellen, Boyne seized the chance of being of the opposition. “Yes,” he taunted Lottie, “and you think they’ll say woman and man, for lady and gentleman, I suppose.”
“They will as soon as they know it’s the thing.”
“Well, I know I won’t,” said Boyne. “I won’t call momma a woman.”
“It doesn’t matter what you do, Boyne dear,” his sister serenely assured him.
While he stood searching his mind for a suitable retort, a young man, not apparently many years his senior, came round the corner of the music-room, and put himself conspicuously in view at a distance from the Kentons.
“There he is, now,” said Boyne. “He wants to be introduced to Lottie.” He referred the question to Ellen, but Lottie answered for her.
“Then why don’t you introduce him?”
“Well, I would if he was an American. But you can’t tell about these English.” He resumed the dignity he had lost in making the explanation to Lottie, and ignored her in turning again to Ellen. “What do you think, Ellen?”
“Oh, don’t know about such things, Boyne,” she said, shrinking from the responsibility.
“Well; upon my word!” cried Lottie. “If Ellen can talk by the hour with that precious Mr. Breckon, and stay up here along with him, when everybody else is down below sick, I don’t think she can have a great deal to say about a half-grown boy like that being introduced to me.”
“He’s as old as you are,” said Boyne, hotly.
“Oh! I saw him associating with you, and I thought he was a boy, too. Pardon me!” Lottie turned from giving Boyne his coup-de-grace, to plant a little stab in Ellen’s breast. “To be sure, now Mr. Breckon has found those friends of his, I suppose he won’t want to flirt with Ellen any more.”
“Ah, ha, ha!” Boyne broke in. “Lottie is mad because he stopped to speak to some ladies he knew. Women, I suppose she’d call them.”
“Well, I shouldn’t call him a gentleman, anyway,” said Lottie.
The pretty, smooth-faced, fresh-faced young fellow whom their varying debate had kept in abeyance, looked round at them over his shoulder as he leaned on the rail, and seemed to discover Boyne for the first time. He came promptly towards the Kentons.
“Now,” said Lottie, rapidly, “you’ll just have to.”
The young fellow touched his cap to the whole group, but he ventured to address only Boyne.
“Every one seems to be about this morning,” he said, with the cheery English-rising infection.