Elfrida wore amber and white the evening on which Lady Halifax followed it up—a Parisian modification of a design carried, out originally by the Sparta dressmaker, with a degree of hysteria, under Miss Bell’s direction. She wore it with a touch of unusual color in her cheeks and, an added light in her dark eyes that gave a winsomeness to her beauty which it had not always. A cunningly bound spray of yellow-stamened lilies followed the curving line of her low-necked dress, ending in a cluster in her bosom; the glossy little leaves of the smilax the florist had wreathed in with them stood sharply against the whiteness of her neck. Her hair was massed at the back of her head simply and girlishly enough, and its fluffiness about her forehead made a sweet shadow above her eyes. She had a little fever of expectation, Janet had talked so much about this reception. Janet had told her that the real thing, the real English literary thing in numberless volumes, would be on view at Lady Halifax’s. Miss Cardiff had mentioned this in their discussion of the Arcadia Club, at which institution she had scoffed so unbearably that Elfrida, while she cherished the memory of Georgiadi, had not mentioned it since. Perhaps, after all, she reflected, Janet was just a trifle blind where people were not hall-marked. It did not occur to her to consider how far she herself illustrated this theory.
But as she went down Mrs. Jordan’s narrow flights of stairs covered with worn oil-cloth, she kissed her own soft arm for pure pleasure.
“You are ravishing to-night,” she told herself.
Golightly Ticke’s door was open, and he was standing in it, picturesquely smoking a cigarette with the candle burning behind him—“Just to see you pass,” he said.
Elfrida paused and threw back her cloak. “How is it?” she asked, posing for him with its folds gathered in either hand.
Ticke scanned her with leisurely appreciation. “It is exquisite,” he articulated.
Elfrida gave him a look that might have intoxicated nerves less accustomed to dramatic effects.
“Then whistle me a cab,” she said.
Mr. Ticke whistled her a cab and put her into it. There was the least pressure of his long fingers as he took her hand, and Elfrida forbade herself to resent it. She felt her own beauty so much that night that she could not complain of an enthusiasm for it in such a belle ame as Golightly.
They went up to tie drawing-room together, if Elfrida and the Cardiffs, and Lady Halifax immediately introduced to Miss Bell a hollow-cheeked gentleman with a long gray beard and bushy eyebrows as a fellow-countryman. “You can compare your impressions of Hyde Park and St. Paul’s,” said Lady Halifax, “but don’t call us ‘Britishers.’ It really isn’t pretty of you.”