Almost gaily she walked into a pawnbroker’s shop, and obtained with perfect nonchalance five pounds upon her mother’s watch. She had no idea that she ought to dispute the dictum of the bald young man with the fishy eyes and the high collar. It did not occur to her that she was paid too little. What she realized was that she had wanted to pawn something all her life—it was a deliciously effective extremity. She reserved her rings with the distinct purpose of having the experience again. Then she made a substantial lunch at a rather expensive restaurant. “It isn’t time yet,” she thought, “for crusts and dripping,” and tipped the waiter a shilling, telling him to get her a cab. As she turned into the Strand she told the cabman to drive slowly, and made him stop at the first newspaper office she saw. As she alighted a sense of her extravagance dawned upon her, and she paid the man off. Then she made a resolutely charming ascent to the editorial rooms of the Illustrated Age.
Twenty minutes later she came down again, and the door was opened for her by Mr. Arthur Rattray, one of the sub-editors, a young man who had already distinguished himself on the staff of the Age by his intelligent perception of paying matter, and his enterprise in securing it. Elfrida continued to carry her opinions upon the social ideals of her native democracy in their much stained envelope, but there was a light in her eyes which seemed to be the reflection of success.
“It’s still raining,” said the young man cheerfully.
“So it is,” Elfrida responded. “And—oh, how atrocious of me!—I’ve left my umbrella in the cab!”
“Hard luck!” exclaimed Mr. Rattray; “an umbrella is an organic part of one in London. Shall I stop this ’bus?”
“Thanks, no. I’ll walk, I think. It’s only a little way. I shan’t get wet. Good-afternoon!” Elfrida nodded to him brightly and hurried off; but it could not have occasioned her surprise to find Mr. Rattray beside her a moment later with a careful and attentive umbrella, and the intention of being allowed to accompany her that little way. By the time they arrived Mr. Rattray had pledged himself to visit Scotland Yard next day in search of a dark brown silk en tout cas with a handle in the similitude of an ivory mummy.
“Are these your diggings?” he asked, as they reached the house. “Why, Ticke lives here too—the gentle Golightly—do you know him?” Elfrida acknowledged her acquaintance with Mr. Ticke, and Mr. Rattray hastened to deprecate her thanks for his escort. “Remember,” he said, “no theories, no fine writing, no compositions. Describe what you’ve seen and know, and give it a tang, an individuality. And so far as we are concerned, I think we could use that thing you proposed about the Latin Quarter, with plenty of anecdote, very well. But you must make it short.”