And then he pressed her for an immediate decision. The job would be a good deal of a scramble at best, as the time was short. If she agreed to it, he’d get in touch with the wardrobe mistress at the Globe, to-night. As for the money, he had a hundred dollars or so in his pocket, which she could take to start out with.
Of course the only lie involved in all this was the warp of the whole fabric; that he was doing it, impersonally, for the success of the show. And that might well enough have been true. Only in this case, it definitely wasn’t. He was doing it because it would establish a personal connection, the want of which was becoming so tormenting a thing to his soul, between himself and this girl whom he had to order about on the stage and call by her last name, or rather by a last name that wasn’t hers—an imagination-stirring, question-compelling, warm human creature, who, up to now, had been as completely shut away from him as if she had been a wax figure in a show-window.
They had reached the Randolph Street end of the avenue, and a policeman, like Moses cleaving the Red Sea, had opened the way through the tide of motors for a throng of pedestrians bound across the viaduct to the Illinois Central suburban station.
“Come across here,” said Galbraith taking her by the arm and stemming this current with her. “We’ve got to have a minute of shelter to finish this up in,” and he led her into the north lobby of the public library. The stale baked air of the place almost made them gasp. But, anyway, it was quiet and altogether deserted. They could hear themselves think in here, he said, and led the way to a marble bench alongside the staircase.
Rose unpinned her veil and, to his surprise, because of course she was going out in a minute, put it into her ulster pocket. But, curiously enough, the sight of her face only intensified an impression that had been strong on him during the last part of their walk—the impression that she was a long way off. It wasn’t the familiar contemplative brown study, either. There was an active eager excitement about it that made it more beautiful than ever he had seen it before. But it was as if she were looking at something he couldn’t see—listening to words he couldn’t hear.
“Well,” he said a little impatiently, “are you going to do it?”
At that the glow of her was turned fairly on him. “Yes,” she said, “I’m going to do it. I suppose I mustn’t thank you,” she went on, “because you say it isn’t anything you’re doing for me. But it is—a great thing for me—greater than I could tell you. And I won’t fail. You needn’t be afraid.”
Inexplicably to him (the problem wouldn’t have troubled James Randolph) the very completeness with which she made this acknowledgment—the very warmth of the hand-clasp with which she bound the bargain, vaguely disappointed him—left him feeling a little flat and empty over his victory.