But this was only the beginning of Rose’s troubles to-day. She was paying the price of yesterday’s exaltation and her spirits had sunk down to nowhere. What a fool’s paradise yesterday had been with its vision of her big self-sufficient husband coming to her for mothering because he had lost a law-suit! What a piece of mordant irony it was, that she should have found herself, after all her silly hopes, sobbing in his arms, while he comforted her for her bitter disappointment over not being able to comfort him! She had told the truth when she said he was the one, really, who didn’t know how funny it was.
Well, and wasn’t her other effort just as ridiculous? If ever he found her heap of law-books and learned of the wretched hours she had spent trying to discover what they were all about in the hope of promoting herself to a true intellectual companionship with him, wouldn’t he take the discovery in exactly the same way—be touched by the childish futility of it and yet amused at the same time—cuddle her indulgently in his arms and soothe her disappointment;—and then urge her to look at the funny side of it? He must know hundreds of practising lawyers. Were there a dozen out of them all whose minds had the power to stimulate and bring into action the full powers of his own?
Well then, what was the use of trying? If James Randolph was right—and it seemed absurd to question it—she had just one charm for her husband—the charm of sex. To that she owed her hours of simulated companionship with him, his tenderness for her, his willingness to make her pleasures his own. To that she owed the extravagantly pretty clothes he was always urging her to buy—the house he kept her in—the servants he paid to wait on her. Well then, why not make the best of it?
Only, if she went on much longer, feeling sick and faded like this, she’d have nothing left to make the most of, and then where would she be?
Oh, she was getting maudlin, and she knew it! And when she got over feeling so weak and giddy, she’d brace up and be herself again. But for the present, she didn’t feel like seeing Portia.
But Rose’s shrinking from a talk with Portia that morning was a mild feeling compared with Portia’s dread of the impending talk with Rose. Twice she had walked by the perfect doorway of the McCrea house before she entered it; ostensibly to give herself a little more time to think—really, because she shrank from the ordeal that awaited her in there.
Her sister’s menage had been a source of irritation to Portia ever since it was established, though a deeper irritation was her own with herself for allowing it to affect her thus. Rose’s whole-hearted plunge into the frivolities of a social season, her outspoken delight in it, her finding in it, apparently, a completely satisfactory solution to the problem of existence, couldn’t fail to arouse Portia’s ironic smile. This was the sort of vessel her mother had freighted with her hopes! This was the course she steered.