“But, Rodney, what’s happened? Has something gone wrong?”
“Heavens, no!” he said. “What is there to go wrong? I’ve got a big day in court to-morrow and I’ve struck a snag, and I’ve got to wriggle out of it somehow, before I quit. It’s nothing for you to worry about. Go to your dinner and have a good time. Good-by.”
The click in the receiver told her he had hung up. The difficulty about the Randolphs was managed easily enough. Eleanor was perfectly gracious about it and insisted that Rose should come by herself.
She was completely dressed a good three-quarters of an hour before it was time to start, and after pretending for fifteen interminable minutes to read a magazine, she chucked it away and told her maid to order the car at once. If she drove straight down-town, she could have a ten-minute visit with Rodney and still not be late for the dinner. She was a little vague as to why she wanted it so much, but the prospect was irresistible.
If any one had accused her of feeling very meritorious over not having allowed herself to be hurt at his rudeness to her or annoyed at the way he had demolished their evening’s plans, and of hoping to make him feel a little contrite by showing him how sweet she was about it, she might, with a rueful grin, have acknowledged a tincture of truth about the charge; but she didn’t discover it by herself. As she dreamed out the little scene, riding down-town in the car, she’d come stealing up behind him as he sat, bent wearily over his book, and clasp her hands over his eyes and stroke the wrinkles out of his forehead. He’d give a long sigh of relaxation, and pull her down on the chair-arm and tell her what it was that troubled him, and she’d tell him not to worry—it was surely coming out all right. And she’d stroke his head a little longer and offer not to go to the dinner if he wanted her to stay, and he’d say, no, he was better already, and then she’d give him a good-by kiss and steal away, and be the life of the party at the Randolphs’ dinner, but her thoughts would never leave him....
She knew she was being silly of course, and her beautiful wide mouth smiled an acknowledgment of the fact, even while her checks flushed and her eyes brightened over the picture. Of course it wouldn’t come out exactly like that.
Well, it didn’t!
She found a single elevator in commission in the great gloomy rotunda of the office building, and the watchman who ran her up made a terrible noise shutting the gate after he had let her out on the fifteenth floor. The dim marble corridor echoed her footfalls ominously, and when she reached the door to his outer office and tried it, she found it locked. The next door down the corridor was the one that led directly into his private office, and here the light shone through the ground-glass.
She stole up to it as softly as she could, tried it and found it locked, too, so she knocked. Through the open transom above it, she heard him say “Hell!” in a heartfelt sort of way, and heard his chair thrust back. The next moment he opened the door with a jerk.