He wrote immediately in joyful gratitude to make an appointment for the next day, went to work vigorously about his preparations, and when he had finished smoked a series of pipes to calm the turbulence of his anticipations. As a neighboring clock struck five he put on his coat. Janet must know about this new idea of his; he longed to tell her, to talk about it over the old-fashioned Spode cup of tea she would give him—Janet was a connoisseur in tea. He realized as he went downstairs how much of the pleasure of his life was centering in these occasional afternoon gossips with her, in the mingled delight of her interest and the fragrance and the comfort of that half-hour over the Spode tea-cup. The association brought him a reminiscence that sent him smiling to the nearest confectioner’s shop, where he ordered a supply of Italian cakes against the next day that would make an ample provision for the advent of half a dozen unexpected visitors to the studio. He would have to do his best with afternoon sittings, Elfrida was not available in the morning; and he thought compassionately that his sitter must not be starved. “I will feed her first,” he thought ironically, remembering her keen childish enjoyment of sugared things. “She will pose all the better for some tea.” And he walked on to Kensington Square.
“Janet,” said Lawrence Cardiff a week later at breakfast, “the Halifaxes have decided upon their American tour. I saw Lady Halifax last night and she tells me they sail on the twenty-first. They want you to go with them. Do you feel disposed to do it?”
Mr. Cardiff looked at his daughter with eyes from which the hardness that entered them weeks before in the Temple Courts had never quite disappeared. His face was worn and thin, its delicacy had sharpened, and he carried about with him an habitual abstraction. Janet, regarding him day after day in the light of her secret knowledge, gave herself up to an inward storm of anger and grief and anxiety. Elfrida’s name had been tacitly dropped between them, but to Janet’s sensitiveness she was constantly and painfully to be reckoned with in their common life. Lawrence Cardiff’s moods were accountable to his daughter obviously by Elfrida’s influence. She noted bitterly that his old evenness of temper, the gay placidity that made so delightful a basis for their joint happiness, had absolutely disappeared. Instead, she found her father either irritable or despondent, or inspired by a gaiety which she had no hand in producing, and which took no account of her. That was the real pain. Janet was keenly distressed at the little drama of suffering that unfolded itself daily before her, but her disapproval of its cause very much blunted her sense of its seriousness. She had, besides, a grown-up daughter’s repulsion and impatience for a parental love-affair, and it is doubtful whether she would have brought her father’s to a happy conclusion without a very severe struggle if she had possessed the power to do it. But this exclusion gave her a keener pang; she had shared so much with him before, had been so important to him always. And now he could propose, with perfect equanimity that she should go to America with the Halifaxes.