She smiled a little cynically. Would she have refused Rodney’s offer of help, she wondered, if she had known an hour ago, that the two hundred dollars she’d relied on so confidently to pull her out of this rut and give her a fresh start whenever she was ready to attempt it, were gone into the pockets of that fat-faced politician?
THE END OF THE TOUR
From Dubuque the company made a circuit northward into Wisconsin and Minnesota, swung around a loop and worked their way south again. Disaster stalked behind them all the way, casting its lengthening shadow before for them to walk in. On the very first salary day after Rodney’s newspaper had informed Rose of her true financial situation, the manager doled out a little money on account to the more exigent members of the company, and remunerated the others with thanks, a nervous smile, and the rock-ribbed assurance that they’d get it all next week. The long jump they’d just taken, and a couple of bad houses (they were all bad, but the two he spoke of couldn’t be called audiences at all, except by courtesy) had caused a temporary stringency.
Rose saw what the more experienced members of the company were doing, and knew that she ought to follow their example; keep after the manager for her money, hound him, appeal to him, invent fictitious needs, and then not spend a cent except what was absolutely wrung out of her by necessity, so that when the crash came, she wouldn’t be left penniless. But she lacked the energy to do it. She was going through a passing phase of that same melancholy acquiescence in the decrees of Fate, which had been Olga Larson’s permanent characteristic until Rose’s own fire and a turn in the tide of fortune had roused her.
One little sequence of events springing directly from Rodney’s visit to Dubuque, contributed largely to this result. The principal actor in it was Dolly.
Dolly’s manner toward her had altered that very morning in Dubuque, though Rose, in her preoccupation, didn’t mark the change for a day or two afterward. Then she saw that her frail little roommate had stopped chattering; that she no longer made nervous little excuses for leaving her, nor invented transparent little fibs to account for absences. She became, in her absurdly ineffectual little way, surly and defiant. She took to going about openly with her chorus-man, sharing his seat with him on the train, letting him carry her bag for her on the way to the hotel; and her manner toward Rose, when any of these manifestations fell beneath her eye, was one of uneasy challenge. Let Rose just try to remonstrate with her if she dared! She no longer came back to the hotel with Rose after the performances, took to turning up at their room at hours that grew steadily later and more outrageous, and while at first she stole in very quietly, undressed in the dark and tried to creep into bed without awakening her, she grew rapidly more brazen about it; turned on the light and undressed before the mirror, talked elaborately about nothing and laughed her high nervous little laugh without occasion.