He wasn't trying to be rude; he was merely fending off an uncomfortable subject.
Every ounce of willpower went into fending off hysteria.
While he trusted Dan, he couldn't help feeling that Lana was more capable of fending for herself than they gave her credit for, if only because she knew how important it was to keep the Horsemen safe.
He compared his conduct in that great post to that of a man floating down a river and fending off from his vessel, as well as he could, the various obstacles it encountered.
Crusoe's shipwreck and adventures, his finding the footprint in the sand, his man "Friday," - the whole atmosphere of romance which surrounds the position of the civilized man fending for himself on a desert island - these have made Defoe's great work an imperishable part of English literature.