“Indeed there is! He ought to know all about that disgusting Bittridge business, and you have got to tell him.”
“Sarah, I couldn’t. It is too humiliating. How would it do to refer him to—You could manage that part so much better. I don’t see how I could keep it from seeming an indelicate betrayal of the poor child—”
“Perhaps she’s told him herself,” Mrs. Kenton provisionally suggested.
The judge eagerly caught at the notion. “Do you think so? It would be like her! Ellen would wish him to know everything.”
He stopped, and his wife could see that he was trembling with excitement. “We must find out. I will speak to Ellen—”
“And—you don’t think I’d better have the talk with him first?”
“Why, Rufus! You were not going to look him up?”
“No,” he hesitated; but she could see that some such thing had been on his mind.
“Surely,” she said, “you must be crazy!” But she had not the heart to blight his joy with sarcasm, and perhaps no sarcasm would have blighted it.
“I merely wondered what I had better say in case he spoke to me before you saw Ellen—that’s all. Sarah! I couldn’t have believed that anything could please me so much. But it does seem as if it were the assurance of Ellen’s happiness; and she has deserved it, poor child! If ever there was a dutiful and loving daughter—at least before that wretched affair—she was one.”
“She has been a good girl,” Mrs. Kenton stoically admitted.
“And they are very well matched. Ellen is a cultivated woman. He never could have cause to blush for her, either her mind or her manners, in any circle of society; she would do him credit under any and all circumstances. If it were Lottie—”
“Lottie is all right,” said her mother, in resentment of his preference; but she could not help smiling at it. “Don’t you be foolish about Ellen. I approve of Mr. Breckon as much as you do. But it’s her prettiness and sweetness that’s taken his fancy, and not her wisdom, if she’s got him.”
“If she’s got him?”
“Well, you know what I mean. I’m not saying she hasn’t. Dear knows, I don’t want to! I feel just as you do about it. I think it’s the greatest piece of good fortune, coming on top of all our trouble with her. I couldn’t have imagined such a thing.”
He was instantly appeased. “Are you going to speak with Ellen” he radiantly inquired.
“I will see. There’s no especial hurry, is there?”
“Only, if he should happen to meet me—”
“You can keep out of his way, I reckon. Or You can put him off, somehow.”
“Yes,” Kenton returned, doubtfully. “Don’t,” he added, “be too blunt with Ellen. You know she didn’t say anything explicit to me.”
“I think I will know how to manage, Mr. Kenton.”
“Yes, of course, Sarah. I’m not saying that.”