This short story presents us with two middle-aged "friends" who finally reveal to each other secrets that they have kept from each other for a long time. These secrets revolve around the "Roman Fever" of the title, that refers back to the Roman fever that "stalked the streets." However, Mrs. Slade reminds Mrs. Ansley of a story about an aunt of hers, who delibeately sent her sister out to the Forum at night to supposedly gather a night-blooming flower, but actually she wanted her sister to catch a chill and die because of the cold. However, as we discover, Mrs. Slade tried a similar tactic to rid herself of Mrs. Ansley when she was engaged to Mr. Slade by writing a false note telling her that Mr. Slade would meet her in the Colosseum. Thus, when we think about the emotion of the words of the title, we are really thinking about the way in which Mrs. Slade, in her anger and jealousy and her desire to "keep" her husband, tried to dispose of her competition, her childhood friend, Mrs. Ansley.