Cardiff resented the look more than the rejection. “It’s of no consequence, thanks,” he said drily. “Very good of you to look at it. But you print a great deal worse stuff, you know.”
His private reflection was different, however, and led him to devote the following evening to making certain additions to the sense and alterations in the style of Elfrida’s views on “The Nemesis of Romanticism,” which enabled him to say, at about one o’clock in the morning, “Enfin! It is passable!” He took it to Elfrida on his way from his lecture next day. She met him at the door of her attic with expectant eyes; she was certain of success.
“Have they taken it?” she cried. “Tell me quick, quick!”
When he said no—the editor of the London Magazine had shown himself an idiot—he was very sorry, but they would try again, he thought she was going to cry. But her face changed as he went on, telling her frankly what he thought, and showing her what he had done.
“I’ve’ only improved it for the benefit of the Philistines,” he said apathetically. “I hope you will forgive me.”
“And now,” she said at last, with a little hard air, “what do you propose?”
“I propose that if you approve these trifling alterations, we send the article to the British Review. And they are certain to take it.”
Elfrida held out her hand for the manuscript, and he gave it to her. She looked at every page again. It was at least half re-written in Cardiff’s small, cramped hand.
“Thank-you,” she said slowly. “Thank-you very much. I have learned a great deal, I think, from what you have been kind enough to tell me, and to write here. But this, of course, so far as I am concerned in it, is a failure.”
“Oh no!” he protested.
“An utter failure,” she went on unnoticingly, “and it has served its purpose. There!” she cried with sudden passion, and in an instant the manuscript was flaming in the grate.
“Please—please go away,” she sobbed, leaning the mantel in a sudden betrayal of tears; Cardiff, resisting the temptation to take her in his arms and bid her be comforted, went.
Mr. Rattray’s proposal occurred as soon after the close of the season as he was able to find time to devote the amount of attention to it which he felt it required. He put it off deliberately till then, fearing that it might entail a degree of mental agitation on his part that would have an undesirable reflex action upon the paper. Mr. Rattray had never been really attracted toward matrimony before, although he had taken, in a discussion in the columns of the Age upon the careworn query, “Is Marriage a Failure?” a vigorous negative side under various pen-names which argued not only inclination, but experience. He felt, therefore, that he could not possibly predicate anything of himself under the