“Yes,” answered Boyne, with such snubbing coldness that Ellen’s heart was touched.
“It’s so pleasant,” she said, “after that dark weather.”
“Isn’t it?” cried the young fellow, gratefully. “One doesn’t often get such sunshine as this at sea, you know.”
“My sister, Miss Kenton, Mr. Pogis,” Boyne solemnly intervened. “And Miss Lottie Kenton.”
The pretty boy bowed to each in turn, but he made no pretence of being there to talk with Ellen. “Have you been ill, too?” he actively addressed himself to Lottie.
“No, just mad,” she said. “I wasn’t very sick, and that made it all the worse being down in a poky state-room when I wanted to walk.”
“And I suppose you’ve been making up for lost time this morning?”
“Not half,” said Lottie.
“Oh, do finish the half with me!”
Lottie instantly rose, and flung her sister the wrap she had been holding ready to shed from the moment the young man had come up. “Keep that for me, Nell. Are you good at catching?” she asked him.
“Yes! People,” she explained, and at a sudden twist of the ship she made a clutch at his shoulder.
“Oh! I think I can catch you.”
As they moved off together, Boyne said, “Well, upon my word!” but Ellen did not say anything in comment on Lottie. After a while she asked, “Who were the ladies that Mr. Breckon met?”
“I didn’t hear their names. They were somebody he hadn’t seen before since the ship started. They looked like a young lady and her mother. It made Lottie mad when he stopped to speak with them, and she wouldn’t wait till he could get through. Ran right away, and made me come, too.”
Breckon had not seen the former interest between himself and Ellen lapse to commonplace acquaintance without due sense of loss. He suffered justly, but he did not suffer passively, or without several attempts to regain the higher ground. In spite of these he was aware of being distinctly kept to the level which he accused himself of having chosen, by a gentle acquiescence in his choice more fatal than snubbing. The advances that he made across the table, while he still met Miss Kenton alone there, did not carry beyond the rack supporting her plate. She talked on whatever subject he started with that angelic sincerity which now seemed so far from him, but she started none herself; she did not appeal to him for his opinion upon any question more psychological than the barometer; and,
“In a tumultuous privacy of storm,”
he found himself as much estranged from her as if a fair-weather crowd had surrounded them. He did not believe that she resented the levity he had shown; but he had reason to fear that she had finally accepted it as his normal mood, and in her efforts to meet him in it, as if he had no other, he read a tolerance that was worse than contempt. When he tried to make her think differently, if that was what she thought of him, he fancied her rising to the notion he wished to give her, and then shrinking from it, as if it must bring her the disappointment of some trivial joke.