“You bet it’s what she told me,” said Dolly. “It’s about half what she told me. And now you try to pull your high-and-mighty airs on me, just because Charlie and I are in love and ain’t married yet. We’re going to be. We’re going into vaudeville as soon as this tour ends. He says the managers don’t object to vaudeville teams being married. But we’ve got to wait till then, because theatrical managers won’t have it. And yet you’re walking out on me because you’re too superior....”
“I don’t feel superior,” said Rose. “I’m sorry, that’s all.”
“Yes, you hypocrite!” said Dolly. “Go on and walk out on me. I’m glad of it.”
Rose picked up her suit-case and the heap of clothes and left the room without another word.
She tried to be more astonished and indignant over Olga Larson’s part in this affair than she really felt. It seemed so horribly cynical not to be surprised. But it was not cynicism; just an unconscious understanding of the fundamental processes of Olga’s mind.
There was no malice in the story she had told Dolly, just after the two of them, looking through the Moorish archway in the hotel there in Dubuque, had seen Rose and Rodney deep in confidential talk. Olga had shown surprise and then, elaborately, tried to conceal it. She knew the man, all right, but hadn’t expected him to follow Dane out here. Dolly told her about the note, and Olga’s jealousy, which had been smoldering ever since the tour began, flared up again. Even in the days of their closest friendship—this was the way it looked to her distorted vision—Rose had never been frank with her. She had never mentioned a man named Rodney, nor even shown her a photograph. The only person Olga had known to be jealous of, was Galbraith. Her unacknowledged reason for inventing the calumny she recited so glibly for Dolly, was the hope that Dolly would go straight to Rose with it.
That couldn’t fail, she thought, to break down Rose’s attitude of icy indifference and precipitate a quarrel; and a quarrel was what she wanted. Because quarrels led to reconciliations. She wanted Rose to be angry with her and then forgive her, although the latter part of her hope was quite unconscious.
As I say, Rose understood. She didn’t work the thing out in detail; didn’t want to. But she knew that if she sought Olga out and demanded an explanation of the detestable things she’d said about her, the scene would terminate in a torrent of self-reproach from Olga, protestations of undying love, fondlings ...
So Rose shuddered and said nothing. The only thing to do about the whole unspeakable business was, as far as possible, to disregard it.
It wasn’t possible to disregard it utterly, because the story was evidently spread. She became conscious of a touch of contemptuous hostility on the part of everybody. Not on account of her moral derelictions, but because of her hypocrisy in pretending to a set of standards of breeding and behavior superior to those held by the rest of them.