The illuminator of European politics for the Daily Dial wished heartily that it had been a matter of two or three hundred francs.
“I’m afraid I—well, I don’t see how I can give you any very definite advice. The situation doesn’t admit of it, Miss Bell. But—have you given up Lucien?”
“No. It is only that—that I must earn money to pay him.”
“Oh! Home supplies stopped?”
“My people have lost all their money except barely enough to live on. I cant expect another sou.”
“That’s hard lines!”
“I’m awfully sorry for them. But it isn’t enough, being sorry, you know. I must do something. I thought I might write for Raffini, for—for practice, you know—the articles they print are really very bad—and afterward arrange to send Paris letters to some of the big American newspapers. I know a woman who does it I assure you she is quite stupid. And she is paid—but enormously!” Mr. Parke repressed his inclination to smile.
“I believe that sort of thing over there is very much in the hands of the syndicates—McClure and those fellows,” he said, “and they won’t look at you unless you’re known. I don’t want to discourage you, Miss Bell, but it would take you at least a year to form a connection. You would have to learn Paris about five times as well as you fancy you know it already, and then you would require a special course of training to find out what to write about. And then, remember, you would have to compete with people who know every inch of the ground. Now if I can be of any assistance to you en camarade, you know, in the matter of your passage home—”
“Thanks,” Elfrida interposed quickly, “I’m not going home. If I can’t write I can scrub, as I said. I must find out.” She put out her hand. “I am sure there are not many of those fifteen minutes left,” she said, smiling and quite undismayed. “I have to thank you very sincerely for—for sticking to the opinion you expressed when it was only a matter of theory. As soon as I justify it in practice I’ll let you know.”
The correspondent of the Daily Dial hesitated, looked at his watch and hesitated again. “There’s plenty of time,” he fibbed, frowning over the problem of what might be done.
“Oh no!” Elfrida said. “You are very kind, but there can’t be. You will be very late, and perhaps his Excellency will have given the audience to the devil instead—or to Monsieur de Pommitz.” Her eyes expressed perfect indifference. Frank Parke laughed outright. De Pommitz was his rival for every political development, and shone dangerously in the telegraphic columns of the London World.
“De Pommitz isn’t in it this time,” he said. “I’ll tell you what I might do, Miss Elfrida. How long have you got for this—experiment?”
“Less than a week.”
“Well, go home and write me an article—something locally descriptive. Make it as bright as you can, and take a familiar subject. Let me have it in three days, and I’ll see if I can get it into Raffini for you. Of course, you know, I can’t promise that they’ll look at it.”