After that Kendal felt free to make the most of his opportunities of seeing Elfrida—his irritation with her subsided, her blunder had been settled to his satisfaction. He had an obscure idea of having inflicted discipline upon her in giving the incident form and color upon canvas, in arresting its grotesqueness and sounding its true motif with a pictorial tongue. It was his conception of the girl that he punished, and he let his fascinated speculation go out to her afterward at a redoubled rate. She brought him sometimes to the verge of approval, to the edge of liking; arid when he found that he could not take the further step he told himself impatiently that it was not a case for anything so ordinary as approval, or anything so personal as liking; it was a matter of observation, enjoyment, stimulus. He availed himself of these abstractions with a candor that was the more open for not being complicated with any less hardy motive. He had long ago decided that relations of sentiment with Elfrida would require a temperament quite different from that of any man he knew. It was entirely otherwise with Janet Cardiff, and Kendal smiled as he thought of the feminine variation the two girls illustrated. He had a distinct recollection of one crisp October afternoon before he went to Paris, as they walked home together under the brown curling leaves and passed the Serpentine, when he had found that the old charm of Janet’s gray eyes was changing to a new one. He remembered the pleasure he had felt in dallying with the thought of making them lustrous, one day, with tenderness for himself. It had paled since then, there had been so many other things; but still they were dear, honest eyes—and Kendal never brought his reverie to a conclusion under any circumstances whatever.
I have mentioned that Miss Bell had looked considerations of sentiment very full in the face at an age when she might have been expected to be blushing and quivering before them, with downcast countenance. She had arrived at conclusions about them—conclusions of philosophic contumely, indifference, and some contempt. She had since frequently talked about them to Janet Cardiff with curious disregard of time, and circumstance, mentioning her opinion in a Strand omnibus, for instance, that the only dignity attaching to love as between a man and a woman was that of an artistic idea. Janet had found Elfrida possessed of so savage a literalism in this regard that it was only in the most hardily adventurous of the moods of investigation her friend inspired that she cared to combat her here. It was not, Janet told herself, that she was afraid to face the truth in any degree of nakedness; but she rose in hot inward rebellion against Elfrida’s borrowed psychological cynicisms—they were not the truth, Tolstoi had not all the facts, perhaps from pure Muscovite inability to comprehend them all