“On the chance, you mean,” John inquired, “that Rodney and Frederica never find out at all? How much does that chance amount to?”
“Well,” said Jimmy, “the show’s in its fourth week, and the story hasn’t got into the papers yet. So the chances are now it won’t. And you’re about the only person in your crowd that makes a practise of going to the Globe. If you haven’t heard any rumors it probably means that you two are the only ones who know, so far. People who knew her before she was married may have recognized her, to be sure, but they aren’t likely to go around either to Aldrich or to Mrs. Whitney with the story. Of course there’s always a big margin for the unforeseeable. But even at that, I think you might call it an even chance.”
“That’s what I vote for then,” said John, “shut up.”
“I certainly don’t want to go back on the stage and talk to Rose,” said Violet, “and I simply couldn’t make myself tell either Rodney or Frederica. It would be just too ghastly! But there’s another thing you haven’t thought of. Suppose they both know already. I’ve got an idea they do.”
This was a possibility they hadn’t thought of, but the more they canvassed it, the likelier it grew.
“He acts as if he knew,” Violet said, “now I come to think of it. Oh, I can’t tell exactly why! Just the way he talks about her and—doesn’t talk about her. And then there’s Harriet. She came home from Washington and stayed three days with Frederica and then went away again. She kept house for him while Rose was laid up, and why shouldn’t she be doing it now, except that she’s perhaps spoken her mind a little too freely and Rodney doesn’t want her around? There’d be no nonsense about Harriet, you could count on that.”
“It would be like Rose,” said John, “to tell him herself. It wouldn’t be like her, when you come to think of it, to do anything else.”
“Oh, yes, she’d tell him,” said Violet. “If she had some virtuous woman-suffrage reason, she’d do more than tell him. She’d rub it in. Of course he knows. Well, what shall we do about that?”
“Same vote,” said John Williamson; “shut up. Certainly if he knows, that lets us out.”
But Violet wasn’t satisfied. “That’s the easiest thing, certainly,” she said, “but I don’t believe it’s right. I think the people who know him best, ought to know—just a few, the people he still drops in on, like the Crawfords, and the Wests, and Eleanor and James Randolph; just so that they could—well, not know completely enough; so that they wouldn’t, innocently, you know, say ghastly things to him. Or even, perhaps, do them, like making him go to musical shows, or talking about people who run away to go on the stage. There are millions of things like that that could happen, and if they know, they’ll be careful.”
Her husband wasn’t very completely convinced, though she expounded her reasons at length, and urged them with growing intensity. But he’d never put a categorical veto upon her yet, and it wasn’t likely he’d begin by trying to, now.