When she had digested without edification every item of news, she devoured the advertisements of the shops, then turned to the Agony Column, which she had saved up for a savoury.
She read the appeal of the widow of the English army officer who wanted some kind-hearted and soft-headed person to finance her in setting up an establishment for “paying guests.”
She read the card of the young gentleman of good family but impoverished means who admitted that he had every grace and talent heart could desire and who, in frantic effort to escape going to work for his living, threw himself bodily upon the generosity of an unknown, and as yet non-existent, benefactor, hinting darkly at suicide if nothing came of this last attempt to get himself luxuriously maintained in indolence.
She read the advertisements of money-lenders who yearned to advance fabulous sums to the nobility and gentry on their simple notes of hand.
She read the thinly disguised professional cards of lonely ladies whose unhappy lot could be mitigated only by congenial male companionship.
She read the ingenuous matrimonial bids.
She read the announcement of the lady of (deleted) title who was willing, for a substantial consideration, to introduce gentlefolk of means and their daughters to the most exclusive social circles.
She read the naive solicitation of the alleged ex-officer of the B.E.F., who had won through the war with every known decoration except the Double Cross of the Order of St. Gall and with nothing of his anatomy left whole except his cheek, begging some great-hearted soul to buy him a barrel organ to play in the streets.
And then her eye was arrested by the appearance of her own name in the text of a brief advertisement, which she read naturally, with heightened interest:
IF MICHAEL LANYARD will communicate privately he will hear news of Sofia his daughter. Address Secretan & Sypher, Solicitors, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, W.C. 3
Sofia had never heard the name of Michael Lanyard. Neither did the firm style of Messrs. Secretan & Sypher, Solicitors, mean anything to her. Notwithstanding, she wasted more time than she knew trying to picture to herself a man who looked like Michael Lanyard sounded, and wishing (no matter what his looks might be) that she were his long-lost daughter Sofia, and that he would see the advertisement, and communicate privately as requested, and hear news of her, and come speeding in a Rolls-Royce to the Cafe des Exiles, and walk in and humble Papa Dupont with a look of hauteur and confound Mama Therese with a peremptory word, and take Sofia by the hand and lead her out and induct her into such an environment as suited her rightful station: said environment necessarily comprising a town house if not on Park Lane at least nearly adjacent to it, and a country house sitting, in the mellowed beauty of its Seventeenth Century architecture, amid lordly acres of velvet lawn and private park.