It began to be annoying to her that Wilbur’s professional progress was not more rapid. To be sure he had warned her that he could not hope to reach the front rank at once; that recognition must be gradual; and that he must needs work slowly in order to do himself justice. She had accepted this chiefly as a manifestation of modesty, not doubting that many orders would be forthcoming, especially now that he had the new stimulus of her love and inspiration. Instead there had been no marked increase in the number of his commissions; moreover he had been unsuccessful in two out of three competitions for minor public buildings for which he had submitted designs. From both the pecuniary and professional point of view these failures had been a disappointment. He was in good spirits and obviously happy, and declared that he was doing as well as he could reasonably expect; yet on his discouraged days he admitted that the cost of retaining his draughtsmen was a drain on the profit side of his ledger.
In contrast with this the prosperity of her neighbors the Williamses was a little hard to bear. The sudden friendship developed into neighborly intimacy, and she and Flossy saw much of each other, dropping in familiarly, and often walking and shopping together. The two men were on sufficiently cordial terms, each being tolerant of the other’s limitations, and seeking to recognize his good points for the sake of the bond between their wives. The return dinner was duly given, and Selma, hopeless of imitating the barbaric splendor, sought refuge in the reflection that the aesthetic and intellectual atmosphere of her table would atone for the lack of material magnificence, and limited her efforts to a few minor details such as providing candles with colored shades and some