Julian had no desire to lie to his wife. Indeed, he told me he had felt from the first that she would be his fittest confidante. He immediately told her everything—a dream rather than a narrative.
Nowhere did Anne show her magnanimity more than in accepting the rather extravagant financial arrangements which Julian insisted on making for her. He was not a rich man, and she the better economist of the two. We knew she saw that in popular esteem Julian would pay the price of her pride if she refused, and that in this ticklish moment of his life the least she could do was to let him have the full credit for his generosity.
“And after all,” as she said to me, “young love can afford to go without a good many things necessary to old age.”
It was the nearest I heard her come to a complaint.
As soon as everything was settled she sailed for Florence, where she had friends and where, she intimated, she meant to spend most of her time.
I said good-by to her with real emotion, and the phrase I used as to my wish to serve her was anything but a convention.
Nor did she take it so.
“Help Julian through this next year,” she said. “People will take it harder than he knows. He’ll need you all.” And she was kind enough to add something about my tact. Poor lady! She must have mentally withdrawn her little compliment before we met many times again.
Perhaps the only fault in Anne’s education of her husband had been her inability to cling. In his new menage this error was rectified, and the effect on him was conspicuously good; in fact, I think Rose’s confidence in his greatness pulled them through the difficult time.
For there was no denying that it was difficult. Many people looked coldly on them, and I know there was even some talk of asking him to resign from the firm of architects of which he was a member. The other men were all older, and very conservative. Julian represented to them everything that was modern and dangerous. Granger, the leading spirit, was in the habit of describing himself as holding old-fashioned views, by which he meant that he had all the virtues of the Pilgrim Fathers and none of their defects. I never liked him, but I could not help respecting him. The worst you could say of him was that his high standards were always successful.
You felt that so fanatical a sense of duty ought to have required some sacrifices.
To such a man Julian’s conduct appeared not only immoral but inadvisable, and unfitting in a young man, especially without consulting his senior partners.
We used to say among ourselves that Granger’s reason for wanting to get rid of Julian was not any real affection for the dim old moral code, but rather his acute realization that without Anne his junior partner was a less valuable asset.
Things were still hanging fire when I paid her the first of my annual visits. She was dreadfully distressed at my account of the situation. She had the manner one sometimes sees in dismissed nurses who meet their former little charges unwashed or uncared for. She could hardly believe it was no longer her business to put the whole matter right.