“Just my luck!” said Violet. “I thought I was going to get away with that. There is something I’m frantic with curiosity about, and you’re the first person I’ve seen I could ask. I spent two hours trying to get up my courage with Frederica, but I couldn’t. Do you know anything about them—Rose and Rodney? Does any one know anything about her since she disappeared from the Globe?”
“Why, I fancy they do,” said Constance, “Rodney and Frederica. I don’t know just why I think so. Frank sees Rodney every day or two at lunch time at the club; says he seems all right. He’s working terribly hard. And the money he’s making! Frank says he’s a regular robber in the fees he asks—and gets. He says he speaks of Rose once in a while, and not—at least not exactly, as if she were dead. You know what I mean! Just in that maddening, matter-of-course way, as if everybody knew all about her.
“Frederica won’t talk about her at all. I mean, she won’t start the subject, and nobody has the nerve to start it with her. Freddy can be like that, you know. She’d make a perfectly wonderful queen—did you ever think of that? Of England. Harriet’s the only one who’d talk, and of course she’s gone back. You knew that, didn’t you? Oh, but naturally, since you’ve talked to Freddy.”
Violet nodded. “It all sounded so exactly like Harriet,” she said, “as Freddy told about it. No confidences, no flutters. She didn’t even seem interested until the day England went in. And then at lunch that day, she said to Frederica, ’I’ve just cabled Tony that I’m coming back on the next boat. And I telephoned Rodney just now, to find out what the next boat for Genoa was, or Naples, and get me a stateroom. Lend me Marie, will you, to help pack? Because I’ll probably have to take the five-thirty.’ Harriet all over. Well, on the whole, I’m glad.”
“Oh, yes,” said Constance. “She’d always be at a loose end in this country. She doesn’t believe in divorce. She might, of course, if she fell in love with another man over here. But that’s not likely to happen. And she can’t stand America any more. So even an unsuccessful marriage over there, especially if Italy gets drawn into the war, and her man gets ...”
“Constance!” cried Violet, horrified.
“Oh, not necessarily killed,” Constance went on. “Crippled or something, or even if he really got interested in the profession of being a soldier. She’s done well to go back to him.”
“Anyway, that wasn’t what I meant,” said Violet. “I meant I was glad for Rodney and—Rose. Mind you, I don’t know a single thing. But I’ve just got a hunch that with Harriet off the board, it will be a little more possible for those two to get together.”
Constance looked at her intently. “You’ve changed your tune,” she said. “I thought you were through with Rose for good and all. I thought what you were rooting for was a divorce and a fresh start for Rodney.”