It was March before Eleanor was able to find out when Henry Barrett would next be in Boston. She had left Vivienne behind over the holidays. And now the woman seemed to be trying to make up for the long separation by seeing Eleanor to a nearly dangerous extent.
“It is a lucky thing Mr. Webb works so much out of town, Vivienne,” Eleanor told the woman one evening after dinner, “you’ve become rather incautious lately. But even if he is away, you know how people talk.”
“I don’t care what he hears,” Vivienne said rashly. “He’s a bore and a letch. It’s not as if I don’t know about his women in New York. He can’t fault me. It would be hypocritical.”
Eleanor raised an eyebrow. “Hypocrisy is a married man’s privilege, Vivienne. You know that as well as I. He could divorce you and leave you penniless.”
“He wouldn’t. It would be a scandal. There’s nothing he hates worse,” Vivienne sighed. “You remember when Henry Barrett’s little wife threw herself into the river? Edward barely survived the embarrassment. He wouldn’t even speak to Henry for months. As if it were Harry’s fault, poor thing.”
“How is Henry?” Eleanor asked.
“I’ll find out soon enough. He’s coming for Easter.”
Eleanor rose from the table. “Piano? Drinks by the fire?” she asked Vivienne.
“Maybe something else?” Vivienne smiled cat-like at Eleanor, who took her hand, and led her upstairs.