“You won’t even give me the poor satisfaction of knowing what you’re doing,” he said.
“I’d love to,” she said, “—to be able to write to you, hear from you every day. But I don’t believe you want to know. I think it would be too hard for you. Because you’d have to promise not to try to get me back—not to come and rescue me if I got into trouble and things went badly and I didn’t know where to turn. Could you promise that, Roddy?”
He gave a groan and buried his face in his hands. Then:
“No,” he said furiously. “Of course I couldn’t. See you suffering and stand by with my hands in my pockets and watch!” He sprang up and seized her by the arms in a grip that actually left bruises, and fairly shook her in the agony of his entreaty. “Tell me it’s a nightmare, Rose,” he said. “Tell me it isn’t true. Wake me up out of it!”
But under the indomitable resolution of her blue eyes, he turned away. This was the last appeal of that sort that he made.
“I’ll promise,” she said presently, “to be sensible—not to take any risks I don’t have to take. I’ll regard my life and my health and all, as something I’m keeping in trust for you. I’ll take plenty of warm sensible clothes when I go; lots of shoes and stockings—things like that, and if you’ll let me, I’ll—I’ll borrow a hundred dollars to start myself off with. It isn’t a tragedy, Roddy,—not that part of it. You wouldn’t be afraid for any one else as big and strong and healthy as I.”
Gradually, out of the welter of scenes like that, the thing got itself recognized as something that was to happen. But the parting came at last in a little different way from any they had foreseen.
Rodney came home from his office early one afternoon, with a telegram that summoned him to New York to a conference of counsel in a big public utility case he had been working on for months. He must leave, if he were going at all, at five o’clock. He ransacked the house, vainly at first, for Rose, and found her at last in the trunk-room—dusty, disheveled, sobbing quietly over something she held hugged in her arms. But she dried her eyes and came over to him and asked what it was that had brought him home so early.
He showed her the telegram. “I’ll have to leave in an hour,” he said, “if I’m to go.”
She paled at that, and sat down rather giddily on a trunk. “You must go,” she said, “of course. And—Roddy, I guess that’ll be the easiest way. I’ll get my telegram to-night—pretend to get it—from Portia. And you can give me the hundred dollars, and then, when you come back, I’ll be gone.”
The thing she had been holding in her hands slipped to the floor. He stooped and picked it up—stared at it with a sort of half awakened recognition.
“I f—found it,” she explained, “among some old things Portia sent over when she moved. Do you know what it is? It’s one of the note-books that got wet—that first night when we were put off the street-car. And—and, Roddy, look!”