“I want you to dine with me—really dine,” she said, and her voice was both eager and repressed. “We win go to Babaudin’s—one gets an excellent haricot there—and you shall have that little white cheese that you love. Come! I want you particularly. I will even make him bring champagne—anything.”
Nadie gave her a quick look and made a little theatrical gesture of delight.
“Quell bonheur!” she cried for the benefit of the others; and then in a lower tone: “But not Babaudins, petite. Andre will not permit Babaudin’s; he says it is not convenable,” and she threw up her eyes with mock resignation. “Say Papaud’s. They keep their feet off the table at Papaud’s—there are fewer of those betes des Anglais.”
“Papaud’s is cheaper,” Elfrida returned darkly. “The few Englishmen who dine at Babaudin’s behave perfectly well. I will not be insulted about the cost. I’ll be answerable to Andre. You don’t lie as a general thing, and why now? I can afford it, truly. You need not be distressed.”
Mademoiselle Palicsky looked into the girl’s tense face for an instant, and laughed a gay assent. But to herself she said, as she finished drying her brushes on an inconceivably dirty bit of cotton: “She has found herself out, she has come to the truth. She has discovered that it is not in her, and she is coming to me for corroboration. Well, I will not give it, me! It is extremely disagreeable, and I have not the courage. Pourquoi donc! I will send her to Monsieur John Kendal; she may make him responsible. He will break her, but he will not lie to her; they sacrifice all to their consciences, those English! And now, you good-natured fool, you are in for a devil of an evening!”
“Three months more,” Elfrida Bell said to herself next morning, in the act of boiling an egg over a tiny kerosene stove in the cupboard that served her as a kitchen, “and I will put it to every test I know. Three unflinching months! John Kendal will not have gone back to England by that time. I shall still get his opinion. If he is only as encouraging as Nadie was last night, dear thing! I almost forgave her for being so much, much cleverer than I am. Oh, letters!” as a heavy knock repeated itself upon the door of the room outside.
There was only one; it was thrust beneath the door, showing a white triangle to her expectancy as she ran out to secure it, while the fourth flight creaked under Madame Vamousin descending. She picked it up with a light heart—she was young and she had slept. Yesterday’s strain had passed; she was ready to count yesterday’s experience among the things that must be met. Nadie had been so sensible about it. This was a letter from home, and the American mail was not due until next day. Inside there would be news of a little pleasure trip to New York, which her father and mother had been