During the hour they smoked and talked together Elfrida was wholly delightful, and only one thing occurred to mar the enjoyment of the evening as Kendal remembered it. That was Mr. Golightly Ticke, who came up and smoked too, and seemed to have an extraordinary familiarity, for such an utterly impossible person, with Miss Bell’s literary engagements. On his way home Kendal reflected that it was doubtless a question of time; she would take to the customs of civilization by degrees, and the sooner the better.
Shortly afterward Elfrida read Mr. Pater’s “Marius,” with what she herself called, somewhat extravagantly, a “hungry and hopeless” delight. I cannot say that this Oxonian’s tender classical recreation had any critical effect upon her; she probably found it much too limpid and untroubled to move her in the least. I mention it by way of saying that Lawrence Cardiff lent it to her, with a smile of half-indulgent, half-contemptuous assent to some of her ideas, which was altered, when she returned the volumes, by the active necessity of defending his own. Elfrida had been accepted at the Cardiffs, with the ready tolerance which they had for types that were remarkable to them, and not entirely disagreeable; though Janet was always telling her father that it was impossible that Elfrida should be a type—she was an exception of the most exceptionable sort. “I’ll admit her to be abnormal, if you like,” Cardiff would return, “but only from an insular point of view. I dare say they grow that way in Illinois.” But that was in the early stages of their acquaintance with Miss Bell, which ripened with unprecedented rapidity for an acquaintance in Kensington Square. It was before Janet had taken to walking across the gardens with Elfrida in the half-hour between tea-time and dressing for dinner, when the two young women, sometimes under dripping umbrellas, would let the right omnibus follow the wrong one toward Fleet Street twice and thrice in their disinclination to postpone what they had to say to each other. It was also before Elfrida’s invasion of the library and fee-simple of the books, and before she had said there many things that were original, some that were impertinent, and a few that were true. The Cardiffs discussed her less freely as the weeks went on—a sure sign that she was becoming better liked, accepted less as a phenomenon, and more as a friend. There grew up in Janet the beginnings of the strong affection which she felt for a very few people, an affection which invariably mingled itself with a lively desire to bestir herself on their account, to be fully informed as to their circumstances, and above all to possess relations of absolute directness with them. She had an imperious successful strain which insisted upon all this. She was a capable creature of much perception for twenty-four, and she had a sense of injury when for any reason she was not allowed