If Duff Lindsay had apprehended that the reception of Miss Filbert by the Simpsons would involve any strain upon the affection his friends bore him, the event must have relieved him in no small degree. He was soon made aware of its happy character, and constantly kept assured; indeed, it seemed that whenever Mrs. Simpson had nothing else to do she laid her pen to the task of telling him once again how cherished a satisfaction they found in Laura, and how reluctant they would be to lose it. She wrote in that strain of facile sympathy which seems part of an Englishwoman’s education, and often begged him to believe that the more she knew of their sweet and heavenly-minded guest the more keenly she realised how dreary for him must have been the pang of parting and how arid the months of separation. Mrs. Simpson herself was well acquainted with these trials of the spirit. She and her husband had been divided by those wretched thousands of miles of ocean for three years one week and five days all told during their married life: she knew what it meant. But if Duff could only see how well and blooming his beloved one was—she had gained twelve pounds already—Mrs. Simpson was sure the time of waiting would pass less heavily. For herself, it was cruel but she smiled upon the deferred reunion of hearts, she would keep Laura till the very last day, and hoped to establish a permanent claim on her. She was just the daughter Mrs. Simpson would have liked, so unspotted, so pure, so wrapped in high ideals; and then the page would reflect something of the adoring awe in which Mrs. Simpson would have held such a daughter. It will be seen that Mrs. Simpson knew how to express herself, but there was a fine sincerity behind the mask of words; Miss Filbert had entered very completely into possession.
It had its abnormal side, the way she entered into possession. Everything about Laura Filbert had its abnormal side, none the less obvious because it was inward, and invisible. Nature, of course, worked with her, one might say that nature really did it all, since in the end she was practically unconscious, except for the hope that certain souls had been saved, that anything of the sort had happened. She conquered the Simpsons and their friends chiefly by the simple impossibility that they should conquer her, walking immobile among them even while she admired Mr. Simpson’s cauliflowers and approved the quality of Mrs. Simpson’s house linen. It must be confessed that nothing in her surroundings spoke to her more loudly or more subtly than these things. In view of what happened, poor dear Alicia Livingstone’s anticipation that the Simpsons and their circle would have a radical personal effect upon Laura Filbert became ludicrous. They had no effect at all. She took no tint, no curve. She appeared not to see that these precious things were to be had for the assimilation. Her grace remained exclusively that of holiness, and continued to fail to have any relation to the common little things she did and said.