A Daughter of To-Day eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about A Daughter of To-Day.

CHAPTER XII.

It was Arthur Rattray who generally did the art criticism for the Decade, and when a temporary indisposition interfered between Mr. Rattray and this duty early in May, he had acquired so much respect for Elfrida’s opinion in artistic matters, and so much good-will toward her personally, that he wrote and asked her to undertake it for him with considerable pleasure.  This respect and regard had dawned upon him gradually, from various sources, in spite of the fact that the Latin Quarter article had not been a particular success.  That, to do Miss Bell justice, as Mr. Rattray said in mentioning the matter to the editor-in-chief, was not so much the fault of the article as the fault of their public.  Miss Bell wrote the graphic naked truth about the Latin Quarter.  Even after Rattray had sent her copy back to be amended for the third time, she did not seem able to realize that their public wouldn’t stand unions libres when not served up with a moral purpose—­that no artistic apology for them would do.  In the end, therefore, Rattray was obliged to mutilate the article himself, and to neutralize it here and there.  He was justified in taking the trouble, for it was matter they wanted, on account of some expensive drawings of the locality that had been in hand a long time.  Even then the editor-in-chief had grumbled at its “tone,” though the wrath of the editor-in-chief was nothing to Miss Bell’s.  Mr. Rattray could not remember ever having had before a conversation with a contributor which approached in liveliness or interest the one he sustained with Miss Bell the day after her copy appeared.  If he imparted some ideas of expediency, he received some of obligation to artistic truth, which he henceforth associated with Elfrida’s expressive eyes and what he called her foreign accent.  On the whole, therefore, the conversation was agreeable, and it left him with the impression that Miss Bell, under proper guidance, could very possibly do some fresh unconventional work for the Age.  Freshness and unconventionality for the Age was what Mr. Rattray sought as they seek the jewel in the serpent’s head in the far East.  He talked to the editor-in-chief about it, mentioning the increasing lot of things concerning women that had to be touched, which only a woman could treat “from the inside,” and the editor-in-chief agreed sulkily, because experience told him it was best to agree with Mr. Rattray, that Miss Bell should be taken on the staff on trial, at two pounds a week.  “But the paper doesn’t want a female Zola,” he growled; “you can tell her that.”  Rattray did not tell her precisely that, but he explained the situation so that she quite understood it, the next afternoon when he called to talk the matter over with her.  He could not ask her to come to the office to discuss it, he said, they were so full up, they had really no place to receive a lady.  And he apologized

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A Daughter of To-Day from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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