SOON THE ROOMS ON THE GROUND floor were done. Because Dan was pressed for time and money, none of Flo's ideas for decorating were put into effect: she had wanted dadoes, friezes and tinted mouldings. The walls and ceilings were white; and the floors black. The conservatory end, now a place of shining glass and polished stone, had potted plants from Flo's backyard. No money for fine curtains: they had to use the cheapest thing they could find, government silk, in dull white. No money for the heavy varnished furniture Flo had planned. Neither Rose nor I would give up our furniture, as of course Dan expected us to do; they had to take down stuff from Miss Powell's and the Skeffington's flats, which they had picked up at sales and which was mostly unobtrusive and even at times pleasant. Flo mourned over the flat, which was large, light, and pretty. 'We'll never be able to let it for what we wanted,' she said. Rose had a student in her shop asking for a place, and brought her home; she was so enthusiastic over the rooms that Flo raised the rent from five pounds to eight pounds a week and got it. Four Australian drama students moved in, and at once the ground floor, which had been the unspeakable hidden sore of the house became its pride. The girls were pretty and self- possessed; had insisted on a proper lease; paid their rent; and merely looked impatient when Flo and Dan tried to play them up.
'You'll have to behave yourselves now,' Rose commented, when Flo complained the girls had no sense of humour: they had not been amused at her heavy hints about their boy-friends. 'You can't carry on the way you do, not with decent people, or they'll leave.'
Flo and Dan realized at last that this was true; and left all negotiations with the girls to Rose, who, when approaching them, used a manner of ingratiating propriety. She copied it,