WHERE DID ROSE COME IN
However, it was one thing to decide that this was so, and quite another thing to dismiss the preposterous idea from her mind. There was still an hour before she need begin dressing for the Randolph dinner, but as she had already had her tea and there was nothing else to do, she thought she might as well go about it. It might help her resist a certain perfectly irrational depression which the talk with the actress, somewhat surprisingly, had produced. And besides, if she were all dressed when Rodney came home, she’d be free to visit with him while he dressed—to sit and watch him swearing at his studs, and tell him about the events of her day, including their climax in the ride with the famous Simone Greville. And he’d come over every now and then and interrupt himself and her with some sort of unexpected caress—a kiss on the back of her neck, or an embrace that would threaten her coiffure—and this vague, scary, nightmarish sort of feeling, which for no reasonable reason at all seemed to be clutching at her, would be forgotten.
It was a queer sort of feeling—a kind of misgiving, in one form or another, as to her own identity—as if all the events since her marriage were nothing but a dream of Rose Stanton’s, from which, with vague painful stirrings, she was just beginning to wake. Or, again, as if for all these months, she had been playing a part in a preposterously long play, on which the curtain was, presently, going to be rung down. She wished Rodney would come—hoped he wouldn’t be late, and finally sat down before the telephone with a half-formed idea of calling him up and reminding him that they were dining with the Randolphs.
Just as she laid her hand upon the receiver, the telephone bell rang. It was Rodney calling her.
“Oh, that you, Rose?” he said. “I shan’t be out till late to-night. I’ve got to work.”
She wanted to know what he meant by late.
“I’ve no idea,” he said. “Ten—twelve—two. I’ve got to get hold of something, but I’ve no idea how long it will take.”
“But, Roddy, dearest,” she protested. “You have to come home. You’ve got the Randolphs’ dinner.”
“Oh, the devil!” he said. “I forgot all about it. But it doesn’t make a bit of difference, anyway. I wouldn’t leave the office before I finished this job, for anybody short of the Angel Gabriel.”
“But what shall we do?” she asked despairingly.
“I don’t know,” said Rodney. “Call them up and tell them. Randolph will understand.”
“But,”—it was absurd that her eyes should be filling up and her throat getting lumpy over a thing like this,—“but what shall I do? Shall I tell Eleanor we can’t come, or shall I offer to come without you?”
“Lord!” he said, “I don’t care. Do whichever you like. I’ve got enough to think about without deciding that. Now do hang up and run along.”