“Will you be able to do your share, do you suppose, if you’re slinking around, afraid of being recognized? We don’t care whether your pussy-cat friends get their fur rubbed the wrong way or not. The only thing we care about is putting this show across. Well, if you feel the way we do about it, if you can make it the one thing you do care about, too—why, come along. Let the pussy-cats go ...” He finished with a snap of his fingers.
“The only one that really matters isn’t a pussy-cat,” said Rose, with a reluctant wide smile, “and—he’d agree with you altogether, if he didn’t know you were talking to me. And I’m really very much obliged to you.”
“You will come along then?”
“Yes,” said Rose, “I’ll come.”
“No flutters?” questioned Galbraith. “No eleventh-hour repentance?”
“No,” said Rose, “I’ll see it through.”
John Galbraith went away satisfied. Rose had the same power that he had, of making a simple unemphatic statement irresistibly convincing. When she said that she would go through, he knew that unless struck by lightning, she would. But there had been something at once ironic and tender about the girl’s smile, when she had spoken of the only one who really mattered, that he couldn’t account for. Who was the only one that really mattered, anyway? Her husband? He didn’t think it likely. Young women who quarreled with their husbands and ran away from them to go on the stage, wouldn’t, as far as his experience went, be likely to smile over them like that. More probably a brother—a younger brother, perhaps, fiercely proud as such a boy would be of such a sister.
She certainly had sand, that girl. He was mighty glad his bluff that he would put her out of the chorus altogether, unless she took the little part in the sextette, had worked. He’d have felt rather a fool if she had called it.
Of course the thing that had got Rose was the echo, through everything John Galbraith had said, of Rodney’s own philosophy; his dear, big, lusty, rather remorseless way. And now again, as before when she had left him, it was his view of life that was recoiling upon his own head.
She was really grateful to Galbraith. What had she left Rodney for, except to build a self for herself; to acquire, through whatever pains might be the price of it, a life that didn’t derive from him; that was, at the core of it, her own? Yet here, right at the beginning of her pilgrimage, she’d have turned down the by-path of self-sacrifice; have begun ordering her life with reference to Rodney, rather than herself, if John Galbraith hadn’t headed her back.
THE GIRL WITH THE BAD VOICE