The Italian thanked her with every feature of his expressive countenance, and burst with polite enthusiasm into his opinion of the Albert Hall concerts. When he discovered Elfrida to be an American, and therefore not specially susceptible to praise of English classical interpretations, he allowed himself to become critical, and their talk increased in liveliness and amiability.
Mrs. Morrow listened with an appreciative air for a few minutes, playing with her fan; then she turned to Mr. Ticke.
“Golightly,” she said acidly, “I am dying of thirst You shall take me to the refreshment table.”
So the star of the evening was abandoned to Elfrida, and finding in her a refuge from the dreadful English tongue, he clung to her. She was so occupied with him in this character that almost all the other distinguished people who attended the soiree of the Arcadia Club escaped her. Golightly asked her reproachfully afterward how he could possibly have pointed them out to her, absorbed as she was—and some of them would have been so pleased to be introduced to her! She met a few notwithstanding; they were chiefly rather elderly unmarried ladies, who immediately mentioned to her the paper they were connected with, and one or two of them, learning that she was a newcomer, kindly gave her their cards, and asked her to come and see them any second Tuesday. They had indefinite and primitive ideas of doing their hair, and they were certainly mal tournee; but Elfrida saw that she made an impression on them—that they would remember her and talk of her; and seeing that, other things became less noteworthy. She felt that these ladies were more or less emancipated, on easy terms with the facts of life, free from the prejudices that tied the souls of people she saw shopping at the Stores, for instance. That, and a familiarity with the exigencies of copy at short notice, was discernible in the way they talked and looked about them, and the readiness with which they produced a pencil to write the second Tuesday on their cards. Almost every lady suggested that she might have decorated the staff of her journal an appreciable number of years, if that supposition had not been forbidden by the fact that the feminine element in journalism is of comparatively recent introduction. Elfrida wondered what they occupied themselves with before. It did not detract from her sense of the success of the evening—Golightly Ticke went about telling everybody that she was the new American writer on the Age—to feel herself altogether the youngest person present, and manifestly the most effectively dressed, in her cloudy black net and daffodils. Her spirits rose with a keen instinct that assured her she would win, if it were only a matter of a race with them. She had never had the feeling, in any security, before; it lifted her and carried her on in a wave of exhilaration. Golightly Ticke, taking her in turn to the buffet for lemonade and