Lawrence Cardiff looked at his teaspoon in a considering way, and Janet reflected, not without indignation, that this was the manner in which people who cared for them might be expected to speak of the dead. But Elfrida cut short the reflection by turning to her brightly. “When Mr. Cardiff came in,” she said, “you were telling me why a Daudet could not write about the English. It was something about Sapho—”
Mr. Cardiff looked up curiously, and Janet, glancing in her father’s direction, reddened. Did this strange young woman not realize that it was impossible to discuss beings like “Sapho” with one’s father in the room? Apparently not, for she went on: “It seems to me it is the exception in that class, as in all classes, that rewards interest—”
That rewards interest? What might she not say next!
“Yes,” interrupted Janet desperately, “but then my father came in and changed the subject of our conversation. Where are you living, Miss Bell?”
“Near Fleet Street,” said Elfrida, rising. “I find the locality most interesting, when I can see it. I can patronize the Roman baths, and lunch at Dr. Johnson’s pet tavern, and attend service in the church of the real Templars if I like. It is delightful. I did go to the Temple Church a fortnight ago,” she added, “and I saw such a horrible thing that I am not sure that I will go again. There is a beautiful old Crusader lying there in stone, and on his feet a man who sat near had hung his silk hat. And nobody interfered. Why do you laugh?”
When she had fairly gone Lawrence and Janet Cardiff looked at each other and smiled. “Well!” cried Janet, “it’s a find, isn’t it, daddy?”
Her father shrugged his shoulders. His manner said that he was not pleased, but Janet found a tone in his voice that told her the impression of Elfrida had not been altogether distasteful.
“Fin de siecle,” he said.
“Perhaps,” Janet answered, looking out of the window, “a little fin de siecle.”
“Did you notice,” asked Lawrence Cardiff, “that she didn’t tell you where she was living?”
“Didn’t she? Neither she did. But we can easily find out from John Kendal.”
Kendal hardly admitted to himself that his acquaintance with Elfrida had gone beyond the point of impartial observation. The proof of its impartiality, if he had thought of seeking it, would have appeared to him to lie in the fact that he found her, in her personality, her ideas, and her effects, to be damaged by London. The conventionality—Kendal’s careless generalization preferred a broad term—of the place made her extreme in every way, and it had recently come to be a conclusion with him that English conventionality, in moderation, was not wholly to be smiled at. Returning to it, its protectiveness had impressed him strongly, and he had a comforting