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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about The Kentons.

“I was in hopes Miss Rasmith might have told you.  Well, it is simply this, and you will see that I’m not quite the universal favorite she’s been making you fancy me.  There is a rift in my lute, a schism in my little society, which is so little that I could not have supposed there was enough of it to break in two.  There are some who think their lecturer—­for that’s what I amount to—­ought to be an older, if not a graver man.  They are in the minority, but they’re in the right, I’m afraid; and that’s why I happen to be here telling you all this.  It’s a question of whether I ought to go back to New York or stay in London, where there’s been a faint call for me.”  He saw the girl listening devoutly, with that flattered look which a serious girl cannot keep out of her face when a man confides a serious matter to her.  “I might safely promise to be older, but could I keep my word if I promised to be graver?  That’s the point.  If I were a Calvinist I might hold fast by faith, and fight it out with that; or if I were a Catholic I could cast myself upon the strength of the Church, and triumph in spite of temperament.  Then it wouldn’t matter whether I was grave or gay; it might be even better if I were gay.  But,” he went on, in terms which, doubtless, were not then for the first time formulated in his mind, “being merely the leader of a sort of forlorn hope in the Divine Goodness, perhaps I have no right to be so cheerful.”

The note of a sad irony in his words appealed to such indignation for him in Ellen as she never felt for herself.  But she only said, “I don’t believe Poppa could take that in the wrong way if you told him.”

Breckon stared.  “Yes your father!  What would he say?”

“I can’t tell you.  But I’m sure he would know what you meant.”

“And you,” he pursued, “what should you say?”

“I?  I never thought about such a thing.  You mustn’t ask me, if you’re serious; and if you’re not—­”

“But I am; I am deeply serious.  I would like, to know how the case strikes you.  I shall be so grateful if you will tell me.”

“I’m sorry I can’t, Mr. Breckon.  Why don’t you ask poppa?”

“No, I see now I sha’n’t be able.  I feel too much, after telling you, as if I had been posing.  The reality has gone out of it all.  And I’m ashamed.”

“You mustn’t be,” she said, quietly; and she added, “I suppose it would be like a kind of defeat if you didn’t go back?”

“I shouldn’t care for the appearance of defeat,” he said, courageously.  “The great question is, whether somebody else wouldn’t be of more use in my place.”

“Nobody could be,” said she, in a sort of impassioned absence, and then coming to herself, “I mean, they wouldn’t think so, I don’t believe.”

“Then you advise—­”

“No, no!  I can’t; I don’t.  I’m not fit to have an opinion about such a thing; it would be crazy.  But poppa—­”

They were at the door of the gangway, and she slipped within and left him.  His nerves tingled, and there was a glow in his breast.  It was sweet to have surprised that praise from her, though he could not have said why he should value the praise or a girl of her open ignorance and inexperience in everything that would have qualified her to judge him.  But he found himself valuing it supremely, and wonderingly wishing to be worthy of it.

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