THE DOOR THAT WAS TO OPEN
She would have to wait. Accepted, root and branch, as Rose was forced by her husband’s attitude to accept it, a conclusion of that sort can be a wonderful anodyne. And so it proved in her ease. Indeed, within a day after her talk with Rodney, though it had ended in total defeat, she felt like a person awakened out of a nightmare. There had taken place, somehow, an enormous letting-off of strain—a heavenly relaxation of spiritual muscles. It was so good just to have him know; to have others know, as all her world did within the next week!
Ultimately nothing was changed, of course. The great thing that she had promised Portia she wouldn’t fail in getting—the real thing that should solve the problem, equalize the disparity between her husband and herself and give them a life together in satisfying completeness beyond the joys of a pair of lovers;—that was still to be fought for.
She’d have to make that fight alone. Rodney wouldn’t help her. He wouldn’t know how to help her. Indeed, interpreting from the way he winced under her questions and suggestions, as if they wounded some essentially masculine, primitive element of pride in him, it seemed rather more likely that he’d resist her efforts—fight blindly against her. She must be more careful about that when she took up the fight again; must avoid hurting him if she could.
She hadn’t an idea on what lines the fight was to be made. Perhaps before the time for its beginning, a way would appear. The point was that for the present, she’d have to wait—coolly and thoughtfully, not fritter her strength away on futile struggles or harassments.
The tonic effect of that resolution was really wonderful. She got her color back—I mean more than just the pink bloom in her cheeks—and her old, irresistible, wide slow smile. She’d never been so beautiful as she was during the next six months.
People who thought they loved her before—Frederica for example, found they hadn’t really, until now. She dropped in on Eleanor Randolph one day, after a morning spent with Rose, simply because she was bursting with this idea and had to talk to somebody. That was very like Frederica.
She found Eleanor doing her month’s bills, but glad to shovel them into her desk, light up a cigarette, and have a chat; a little rueful though, when she found that Rose was to be the subject of it.
“She’s perfectly wonderful,” Frederica said. “There’s a sort of look about her ...”
“Oh, I know,” Eleanor said. “We dined there last night.”
“Well, didn’t it just—get you?” insisted Frederica.
“It did,” said Eleanor. “It also got Jim. He was still talking about her when I went to sleep, about one o’clock. I don’t a bit blame him for being perfectly maudlin about her. As I say, I was a good deal that way myself, though a half-hour’s steady raving was enough for me. But poor old Jim! She isn’t one little bit crazy about him, either—unfortunately.”