Philip hesitated for a second and then, somewhat to the other’s surprise, assented. He was conscious that he had been, perhaps, just a little unresponsive to the many courtesies which had been offered him here and at the other kindred clubs. They had been ready to receive him with open arms, this little fraternity of brain-workers, and his response had been, perhaps, a little doubtful, not from any lack of appreciation but partly from that curious diffidence, so hard to understand but so fundamentally English, and partly because of that queer sense of being an impostor which sometimes swept over him, a sense that he was, after all, only the ghost of another man, living a subjective life; that, reason it out however he might, there was something of the fraud in any personality he might adopt. And yet, deep down in his heart he was conscious of so earnest a desire to be really one of them, this good-natured, good-hearted, gay-spirited little throng, with their delightful intimacies, their keen interest in each other’s welfare, their potent, almost mysterious geniality, which seemed to draw the stranger of kindred tastes so closely under its influence. Philip, as he sat at the long table with a dozen or so other men, did his best that night to break through the fetters, tried hard to remember that his place amongst them, after all, was honest enough. They were writers and actors and journalists. Well, he too was a writer. He had written a play which they had welcomed with open arms, as they had done him. In this world of Bohemia, if anywhere, he surely had a right to lift up his head and breathe—and he would do it. He sat with them, smoking and talking, until the little company began to thin out, establishing all the time a new reputation, doing a great deal to dissipate that little sense of disappointment which his former non-responsiveness had created.
“He’s a damned good fellow, after all,” one of them declared, as at last he left the room. “He is losing his Britishness every day he stays here.”
“Been through rough times, they say,” another remarked.
“He is one of those,” an elder member pronounced, taking his pipe for a moment from his mouth, “who was never made for happiness. You can always read those men. You can see it behind their eyes.”
Nevertheless, Philip walked home a saner and a better man. He felt somehow warmed by those few hours of companionship. The senseless part of his jealousy was gone, his trust in Elizabeth reestablished. He looked at the note once more as he undressed. At eleven o’clock on the following morning in her rooms!