Having ascertained this however, she went back to her egg; in another ten seconds it would have been hard-boiled, a thing she detested. There was the, egg, and there was some apricot-jam—the egg in a slender-stemmed Arabian silver cup, the jam golden in a little round dish of wonderful old blue. She set it forth, with the milk-bread and the butter and the coffee, on a bit of much mended damask with a pattern of rosebuds and a coronet in one corner. Her breakfast gave her several sorts of pleasure.
Half an hour after it was over she was still sitting with the letter in her lap. It is possible to imagine that she looked ugly. Her dark eyes had a look of persistence in spite of fear, a line or two shot up from between her brows, her lips were pursed a little and drawn down at the corners, her chin thrust forward. Her face and her attitude helped each other to express the distinctest possible negative. Her neck had an obstinate bend; she leaned forward clasping her knees, for the moment a creature of rigid straight lines. She had hardly moved since she read the letter.
She was sorry to learn that her father had been unfortunate in business, that the Illinois Indubitable Insurance Company had failed. At his age the blow would be severe, and the prospect, after a life of comparative luxury, of subsisting even in Sparta on eight hundred dollars a year could not be an inviting one for either of her parents. When she thought of their giving up the white brick house in Columbia Avenue and going to live in Cox Street, Elfrida was thoroughly grieved. She felt the sincerest gratitude, however, that the misfortune had not come sooner, before she had learned the true significance of living, while yet it might have placed her in a state of blind irresolution which would probably have lasted indefinitely. After a year in Paris she was able to make up her mind, and this she could not congratulate herself upon sufficiently, since a decision at the moment was of such vital importance! For one point upon which Mrs. Leslie’s letter insisted, regretfully but strongly, was that the next remittance, which they hoped to be able to send in a week or two, would necessarily be the last. It would be as large as they could make it; at all events it would amply cover her passage and railway expenses to Sparta, and of course she would sail as soon as it reached her. It was an elaborate letter, written in phrases which Mrs. Leslie thought she evolved,