She had dreaded various things as the hour of the opening performance drew near—reasonable things like the failure of the piece to please, the reception of their offerings in a chilly silence intensified by contemptuous little riffles of applause. (She had been in audiences which had treated plays like that—taken her own part in the expression of chill disfavor, and she knew now she could never do it again.) She had dreaded unreasonable things, like the total failure of any audience to appear and the necessity of playing to empty rows as they had done in rehearsal; nightmare things, like a total loss of memory, which should leave her stranded in the middle of a silent stage before a jeering audience. But it hadn’t occurred to her to dread that the rise of the curtain would reveal to her any of the faces that belonged to a world which the last six weeks had already made to seem unreal.
So the sight of Jimmy Wallace had something the effect that a sudden awakening has on a somnambulist—bewilderment at first, and after that a sort of panic. Her first thought was that she must get word to him, somehow, before he left the theater. Unless she could do that, what was to prevent his going straight to Rodney, to-night, and telling him all about it? He was under no obligation not to do it. He was Rodney’s friend quite as much as he was hers.
It didn’t take her long to make up her mind though that he wouldn’t do that. Jimmy was never precipitate. He’d give her a chance. To-morrow morning would do. She could call him up at his office.
But as she began formulating her request and phrasing the preface of explanations she’d have to make before she’d be—well, entitled to ask a favor of him, she found herself in a difficulty. She didn’t want to enter into a secret with him—with any man, this meant, of course—against Rodney. She couldn’t think of any way of stating her reason for wanting her husband kept in the dark that didn’t seem to slight him, belittle him, make him faintly ridiculous—like the pussy-cat John Galbraith had snapped his fingers at.
So she came, rather swiftly indeed, to the decision (she had arrived at it before Jimmy left the theater) that she wouldn’t make any appeal to him at all. She’d do nothing that could lead him to think, either that she was ashamed of herself, or that she was afraid Rodney would be ashamed of her. In the absence of any appeal from her, mightn’t he perhaps decide that Rodney was in her confidence and so say nothing about it? But even if he should tell Rodney ...
In her conscious thoughts she went no further than that; didn’t recognize the hope already beating tumultuously in her veins, that he would tell Rodney—that perhaps even before she got back to her dismal little room, Rodney, pacing his, would know.
It was so irrational a hope—so unexpected and so well disguised—that she mistook it for a fear. But fear never made one’s heart glow like that.