Elfrida turned to her reproachfully. “If I had known it was at all possible that you would do that,” she said, “I might have—waited. But I did not know.”
People were still looking at them with curious attentiveness; they were awkwardly solitary. Kendal in his corner was asking himself how she could have struck such a false note—and of all people Jasper, whose polished work held no trace of his personality, whose pleasure it was to have no public entity whatever. As Jasper moved off almost immediately, Kendal saw his tacit discomfort in the set of his shoulders, and so sure was he of Elfrida’s embarrassment that he himself slipped away to avoid adding to it.
“It was all wrong and ridiculous, and she was mad to do it,” thought Janet as she drove home with her father; “but why need John Kendal have blushed for her?”
“I am sure you are enjoying it,” said Elfrida.
“Yes,” Miss Kimpsey returned. “It’s a great treat—it’s a very great treat. Everything surpasses my expectations, everything is older and blacker and more interesting than I looked for. And I must say we’re getting over a great deal in the time. Yesterday afternoon we did the entire Tower. It did give one an idea. But of course you know every stone in it by now!”
“I’m afraid I’ve not seen it,” Elfrida confessed gravely. “I know it’s shocking of me.”
“You haven’t visited the Tower! Doesn’t that show how benumbing opportunity is to the energies! Now I dare say that I,” Miss Kimpsey went on with gratification, “coming over with a party of tourists from our State, all bound to get London and the cathedral towns and the lakes and Scotland and Paris and Switzerland into the summer vacation—I presume I may have seen more of the London sights than you have, Miss Bell.” As Miss Kimpsey spoke she realized that she had had no intention of calling Elfrida “Miss Bell” when she saw her again, and wondered why she did it. “But you ought to be fond of sight-seeing, too,” she added, “with your artistic nature.”
Elfrida seemed to restrain a smile. “I don’t know that I am,” she said. “I’m sorry that you didn’t leave my mother so well as she ought to be. She hasn’t mentioned it in her letters.” In the course of time Miss Bell’s correspondence with her parents had duly re-established itself.
“She wouldn’t, Elf—Miss Bell. She was afraid of suggesting the obligation to come home to you. She said with your artistic conscience you couldn’t come, and it would only be inflicting unnecessary pain upon you. But her bronchitis was no light matter last February. She was real sick.”
“My mother is always so considerate,” Elfrida answered, reddening, with composed lips. “She is better now, I think you said.”
“Oh yes, she’s some better. I heard from her last week, and she says she doesn’t know how to wait to see me back. That’s on your account, of course. Well, I can tell her you appear comfortable,” Miss Kimpsey looked around, “if I can’t tell her exactly when you’ll be home.”