The recurrence of these reveries and their consequence in her made it difficult for him to put in effect the promise he had given himself in Miss Rasmith’s presence. If Ellen had been eager to welcome his coming, it would have been very simple to keep away from her, but as she appeared anxious to escape him, and had to be entreated, as it were, to suffer his society, something better than his curiosity was piqued, though that was piqued, too. He believed that he saw her lapsing again into that morbid state from which he had seemed once able to save her, and he could not help trying again. He was the more bound to do so by the ironical observance of Miss Rasmith, who had to be defied first, and then propitiated; certainly, when she saw him apparently breaking faith with her, she had a right to some sort of explanation, but certainly also she had no right to a blind and unreasoning submission from him. His embarrassment was heightened by her interest in Miss Kenton, whom, with an admirable show of now finding her safe from Breckon’s attractions, she was always wishing to study from his observation. What was she really like? The girl had a perfect fascination for her; she envied him his opportunities of knowing her, and his privileges of making that melancholy face light up with that heart-breaking smile, and of banishing that delicious shyness with which she always seemed to meet him. Miss Rasmith had noticed it; how could she help noticing it?
Breckon wished to himself that she had been able to help noticing it, or were more capable of minding her own business than she showed herself, and his heart closed about Ellen with a tenderness that was dangerously indignant. At the same time he felt himself withheld by Miss Rasmith’s witness from being all to the girl that he wished to be, and that he now seemed to have been in those first days of storm, while Miss Rasmith and her mother were still keeping their cabin. He foresaw that it would end in Miss Rasmith’s sympathetic nature not being able to withhold itself from Ellen’s need of cheerful companionship, and he was surprised, as little as he was pleased, one morning, when he came to take the chair beside her to find Miss Rasmith in it, talking and laughing to the girl, who perversely showed herself amused. Miss Rasmith made as if to offer him the seat, but he had to go away disappointed, after standing long enough before them to be aware that they were suspending some topic while he stayed.
He naturally supposed the topic to be himself, but it was not so, or at least not directly so. It was only himself as related to the scolding he had given Miss Rasmith for trifling with the innocence of Boyne, which she wished Miss Kenton to understand as the effect of a real affection for her brother. She loved all boys, and Boyne was simply the most delightful creature in the world. She went on to explain how delightful he was, and showed a such an appreciation of the infantile sweetness mingled