In the week that followed Janet Cardiff’s visit to Elfrida’s attic, these two young women went through a curious reapproachment. At every step it was tentative, but at every step it was also enjoyable. They made sacrifices to meet on most days; they took long walks together, and arranged lunches at out-of-the-way restaurants; they canvassed eagerly such matters of interest in the world that supremely attracted them as had been lying undiscussed between them until now. The intrinsic pleasure that was in each for the other had been enhanced by deprivation, and they tasted it again with a keenness of savor which was a surprise to both of them. Their mutual understanding of most things, their common point of view, reasserted itself more strongly than ever as a mutual possession; they could not help perceiving its value. Janet made a fairly successful attempt to drown her sense of insincerity in the recognition. She, Janet, was conscious of a deliberate effort to widen and deepen the sympathy between them. An obscure desire to make reparation, she hardly knew for what, combined itself with a great longing to see their friendship the altogether beautiful and perfect thing its mirage was, and pushed her on to seize every opportunity to fortify the place, she had retaken. Elfrida had never found her so considerate, so appreciative, so amusing, so prodigal of her gay ideas, or so much inclined to go upon her knees at shrines before which she sometimes stood and mocked. She had a special happiness in availing herself of an opportunity which resulted in Elfrida’s receiving a letter from the editor of the St. George’s asking her for two or three articles on the American Colony in Paris, and only very occasionally she recognized, with a subtle thrill of disgust, that she was employing diplomacy in every action, every word, almost every look which concerned her friend. She asked herself then despairingly how it could last and what good could come of it, whereupon fifty considerations, armed with whips, drove her on.
Perhaps the most potent of these was the consciousness that in spite of it all she was not wholly successful, that as between Elfrida and herself things were not entirely as they had been. They were cordial, they were mutually appreciative, they had moments of expansive intercourse; but Janet could not disguise to herself the fact that there was a difference, the difference between fit and fusion. The impression was not a strong one, but she half suspected her friend now and then of intently watching her, and she could not help observing how reticent the girl had become upon certain subjects that touched her personally. The actress in Elfrida was nevertheless constantly supreme, and interfered with the trustworthiness of any single impression. She could not resist the pardoning role; she played it intermittently, with a pretty impulsiveness that would have amused Miss Cardiff more if it had irritated her less. For the certainty that Elfrida would be her former self for three days together Janet would have dispensed gladly with the little Bohemian dinner in Essex Court in honor of her book, or the violets that sometimes dropped out of Elfrida’s notes, or even the sudden but premeditated occasional offer of Elfrida’s lips.