“Oh, yes you would,” exclaimed Flossy, glancing back over her shoulder. “And it’s because you’ve not been given the chance that we have quarrelled now.”
The morning after her drastic interview with Mrs. Williams, Selma studied herself searchingly in her mirror. Of all Flossy’s candid strictures the intimation that she was not and never would be completely a lady was the only one which rankled. The effrontery of it made her blood boil; and yet she consulted her glass in the seclusion of her chamber in order to reassure herself as to the spiteful falsity of the criticism. Wild horses would not have induced her to admit even to herself that there was the slightest ground for it; still it rankled, thereby suggesting a sub-consciousness of suspicion on the look out for just such a calumny.
She gave Littleton her own version of the quarrel. Her explanation was that she had charged Flossy with a lack of friendship in failing to invite her to her ball, and convicted her of detestable snobbery; that she had denounced this conduct in vigorous language, that they had parted in anger, and that all intercourse between them was at an end.
“We understand each other now,” she added. “I have felt for some time that we were no longer sympathetic; and that something of this kind was inevitable. I am glad that we had the chance to speak plainly, for I was able to show her that I had been waiting for an excuse to cut loose from her and her frivolous surroundings. I have wearied my spirit long enough with listening to social inanities, and in lowering my standards to hers for the sake of appearing friendly and conventional. That is all over now, thank heaven.”
It did not occur to Selma that there was any inconsistency in these observations, or that they might appear a partial vindication of her husband’s point of view. The most salient effect of her encounter with Flossy had been suddenly to fuse and crystallize her mixed and seemingly contradictory ambitions into utter hostility to conventional fashionable society. Even when her heart had been hungering for an invitation to Flossy’s ball, she considered that she despised these people, but the interview had served to establish her in the glowing faith that they, by their inability to appreciate her, had shown themselves unworthy of further consideration. The desire which she had experienced of late for a renewal of her intimacy with Mrs. Earle and a reassertion of her former life of independent feminine activity had returned to her, coupled with the crusading intention to enroll herself openly once more in the army of new American women, whose impending victorious campaign she had prophesied in her retort to Mrs. Williams’s maledictions. She had, in her own opinion, never ceased to belong to this army, and she felt herself now more firmly convinced than ever that the course of life of those