Elfrida bit her lip. “Of course I am not any of those.”
“Miss Bell has done some idyllic verse,” volunteered Golightly.
The girl looked at him with serious reprobation. “I did not give you permission to say that,” she said gravely.
“No—forgive me!—but it’s true, Rattray.” He searched in his breast pocket and brought out a diminutive pocket-book. “May I show those two little things I copied?” he begged, selecting a folded sheet of letter-paper from its contents. “This is serious, you know, really. We must go into all the chances.”
Elfrida had a pang of physical distress.
“Oh,” she said hastily, “Mr. Rattray will not care to see those. They weren’t written for the Age, you know,” she added, forcing a smile.
But Rattray declared that he should like it above all things, and looked the scraps gloomily over. One Elfrida had called “A Street Minstrel.” Seeing him unresponsive, Golightly read it gracefully aloud.
“One late November afternoon
I sudden heard a gentle rune.
“I could not see whence came
But, tranced, stopped and listened long;
“And that drear month gave
place to May,
And all the city slipped away.
“The coal-carts ceased their
I heard a bluebird overhead;
“The pavements, black with
Grew greenly to a country lane.
“Plainly as I see you, my
I saw the lilacs sway and bend,
“A blossoming apple-orchard
The chimneys, fret the foggy air,
“And wide mown fields of clover
Sent up their fragrance at my feet,
“And once again dear Phyllis
The thorn beneath, and trimmed her hat.
* * * * * * * *
“Long looked I for my wizard
I found him on the boulevard.
“And now my urban hearth he
Singing all day of sylvan years,
“Right thankful for the warmer
A cricket, by July forgot!”
Ticke looked inquiringly at Rattray when he had finished. Elfrida turned away her head, and tapped the floor impatiently with her foot.
“Isn’t that dainty?” demanded Golightly.
“Dainty enough,” Rattray responded, with a bored air. “But you can’t read it to the public, you know. Poetry is out of the question. Poetry takes genius.”
Golightly and Elfrida looked at each other sympathetically. Mr. Ticke’s eyes said, “How hideously we are making you suffer,” and Elfrida’s conveyed a tacit reproach.
“Travels would do better,” Rattray went on. “There’s no end of a market for anything new in travels. Go on a walking tour through Spain, by yourself, disguised as a nun or something, and write about what you see.”
Elfrida flushed with pleasure at the reckless idea. A score of situations rose before her thrilling, dangerous, picturesque, with a beautiful nun in the foreground. “I should like it above all things,” she said, “but I have no money.”