But he kicked his way to the curb after the car had carried her off, and marched to his hotel in a sort of baffled fury. He didn’t know exactly what had gone wrong about the evening. He couldn’t, in phrases, tell himself just what it was he’d wanted. But he did know, with a perfectly abysmal conviction, that he was a fool!
THE VOICE OF THE WORLD
If you were to accost the average layman, especially the layman who has, at one time or another, found his personal affairs, or those of his friends, casually illuminated by the straying search-light of newspaper notoriety, and put this hypothetical question to him: What chance would there be that a young married woman, who, in a social sense, really “belonged,” could leave her husband for a musical-comedy chorus in the city he lived in, and escape having the fact chronicled in the daily press?—that layman would tell you that there was simply no chance at all. But if you were to put the same question to a person expert in the science of publicity—to an alumnus of the local room of any big city daily, you’d get a very different answer. Because your expert knows how many good stories there are that never get into the papers. He allows for the element of luck; he knows how vitally important it is that the right person should become aware of the fact at exactly the right time, in order that a simple happening may be converted into news.
Rose’s “escapade”—that’s how it would have been described—didn’t get into the papers. Jimmy Wallace, of course, before the bar of his own conscience, stood convicted of high treason. There was no use arguing with himself that he was hired as a critic and not as a reporter. For, just as it is the doctor’s duty to prolong, if possible, the life of his patient, or the lawyer’s duty to defend his client, so it is the duty of every man who writes for a newspaper, to turn himself into a reporter when a story breaks under his eye. Jimmy ought that very night as soon as he had made sure of his facts, to have left a note on his city editor’s desk informing him that Mrs. Rodney Aldrich was a member of the chorus in the new Globe show.
He didn’t do it, even though he knew that a more troublesome accuser than his own conscience—namely, the city editor himself—would confront him, in case any of his colleagues on the other papers had happened to recognize her and, dutifully, had turned the story in. He read the other papers for the next twenty-four hours, rather more carefully than usual, and then with a sigh of relief, told his conscience to go to the devil. It was a well trained, obedient conscience, and it subsided meekly.