JOHN AND ROSE
August 20, 1931
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Rose walked silently beside John as they left the train station. Ordinarily, she would have gone back to the studio, and John back to the mill, but everyone was tired and emotionally drained from the events of the night before, and none of them felt much like going back to work.
Rose was relieved when Sam nodded to them and walked away in the direction of his home. She had given him the afternoon off from work in order to say good-bye to Nadia, but she was glad that he showed no desire to visit with them after he had seen Nadia off.
She knew that her feelings were irrational, but a part of her couldn’t help but blame Sam for what had happened. Logically, she knew that he was not to blame for what had happened the night before, or for the rift in the family, but she couldn’t help it. Seeing him reminded of the great risk they had taken the night before—it could as easily have ended in injury and death for some of the people involved—and of the fact that Nadia, the stepdaughter that she had known since she was a toddler, could have been harmed by the men who had attacked the couple.
And though it was equally irrational, a part of her blamed Sam for the fact that she had driven her mother from her home, casting her out in a world that had few prospects for anyone, but especially not an older woman who had worked only sporadically in her life, and who hadn’t worked at all since the Depression had begun. She knew that Sam wasn’t to blame—it was Ruth herself who had chosen to withhold the information that might have prevented the attack on Sam and Nadia, and it was Rose who chosen to force her mother from her home. Sam had been an innocent bystander who had been caught up in the trouble because of circumstances beyond his control.
Ruth was lucky that John had offered her a job in the mill, though it wasn’t a type of work that she had ever done before, and there was no telling how well she would adapt to it. But John wasn’t the sort of person who would allow his mother-in-law to wander hungry and homeless if he could help it.
Strangely enough, that angered Rose all the more. She felt betrayed, as though her husband had gone behind her back on an issue that was of great importance to her. She knew that Ruth would be begging on the streets without the job John had offered her, but a part of her felt that John should simply have gone along with her wishes and pushed Ruth away, forcing the woman to fend for herself and teaching her what life was like for those who were on the outskirts of society.
But Rose didn’t know how to tell him this, nor did she believe that he would understand. He helped people—it was in his nature—and she doubted that it would even have occurred to him to push Ruth away. He might not have liked her actions, but he didn’t know her as Rose did, didn’t know what had happened in the past. In all likelihood, he would have tried to ignore the problem in hopes that it would go away.
Rose knew that it wouldn’t have gone away. The anger and tension would have simmered just under the surface, waiting to break free, and when it finally had, the results would have been devastating, perhaps more devastating than the damage that Rose’s furious impulse had caused.
And yet, removing Ruth from the Calvert household hadn’t solved anything. It had only created more problems, problems that festered under the surface like a wound, and when they finally did come to the surface, the results would be devastating.