Jimmy, meek again, attempted the task.
“Well,” he said, “she didn’t look me in the eye and register deep meanings or anything like that. I don’t know where she looked. As far as the inflection of her voice went, it was just as casual as if she’d been telling me what she’d had for lunch. But the quality of her voice just—richened up a bit, as if the words tasted good to her. And she smiled just barely as if she knew I’d be staggered and didn’t care a damn. There you are! Now interpret unto me this dream, oh, Joseph.”
Violet’s eyes were shining. “Why, it’s as plain!” she said. “Can’t you see that she’s just waiting for him; that she’ll come like a shot the minute he says the word? And there he is, eating his heart out for her, and in his rage charging poor John perfectly terrific prices for his legal services, when all he’s got to do is to say ‘please,’ in order to be happy.”
There was a little silence after that. Then:
“Don’t you suppose,” she went on, “there’s something we can do?”
A supreme contentment always made John Williamson silent. He’d been beaming at Jimmy all through the dinner, guarding him tenderly against interruptions, with pantomimic instructions to the servants. If the vague look in Jimmy’s eyes suggested the want of a cigarette, John nodded one up for him. He didn’t ask a question. Evidently, between Jimmy and Violet, the story was being elicited to his satisfaction. But it was amazing how quickly that last words of his wife’s snatched him out of that beatific abstraction.
“No, there is not,” he said.
The tone of his voice was a good deal more familiar to his fellow directors in some of his enterprises, than it was to his wife. She looked at him as if she couldn’t quite believe she’d understood.
“There is not what?” she asked.
“There is not a thing that we can do or are going to do about Rose and Rodney. We did something once before and made a mess of it. This time we’re going to let them alone. They’re both of age and of sound mind, and they’ve got each other’s addresses. If they want to get together again, they will.”
* * * * *
“I’ve had a perfectly bang-up evening,” said Jimmy to Violet a little later when he took his leave.
“I know you have,” she said dryly. Then, with a change of manner, “But I have, too, Jimmy. You believe that, don’t you?”
“Sure I do,” he said, and shook hands with her all over again. Violet was a good sort.
Riding home in the elevated train, Jimmy Wallace hummed what he conceived to be a tune. And when he did that ...!
A BROKEN PARALLEL
None of the speculative explanations Rodney’s friends advanced for his having bought that precious solemn house of the McCreas, together with all its rarified esthetic furniture, exactly covered the ground. He didn’t buy it in the expectation that Rose was coming back to live in it, and still less with the even remote notion of finding a successor to her. He hadn’t bought it because it was a bargain. He had very little idea whether it was a bargain or not. And if there was a grain of truth in John Williamson’s explanation, Rodney was only vaguely aware of it.