Anyway, it was a remark Frederica had made last night that gave him something to hold on by. Marriage, she had said, was an adventure, the essential adventurousness of which no amount of cautious thought taken in advance could modify. There was no doubt in his mind that marriage with that girl would be a more wonderful adventure than any one had ever had in the world.
All right then, perhaps his mind had been right in refusing to take up the case. The one tremendous question,—would the adventure look promising enough to her to induce her to embark on it?—was one which his own reasoning powers could not be expected to answer. It called simply for experiment.
So, turning off his mind again, with the electric light, he went to bed.
HOW IT STRUCK PORTIA
It was just a fortnight later that Rose told her mother she was going to marry Rodney Aldrich, thereby giving that lady a greater shock of surprise than, hitherto, she had experienced in the sixty years of a tolerably eventful life.
Rose found her neatly writing a paper at the boudoir desk in the little room she called her den. And standing dutifully at her mother’s side until she saw the pen make a period, made then her momentous announcement, much in the tone she would have used had it been to the effect that she was going to the matinee with him that afternoon.
Mrs. Stanton said, “What, dear?” indifferently enough, just in mechanical response to the matter-of-fact inflection of Rosalind’s voice. Then she laid down her pen, smiled in a puzzled way up into her daughter’s face, and added, “My ears must have played me a funny trick. What did you say?”
Rose repeated: “Rodney Aldrich and I are going to be married.”
But when she saw a look of painful incomprehension in her mother’s face, she sat down on the arm of the chair, slid a strong arm around the fragile figure and hugged it up against herself.
“I suppose,” she observed contritely, “that I ought to have broken it more gradually. But I never think of things like that.”
As well as she could, her mother resisted the embrace.
“I can’t believe,” she said, gripping the edge of her desk with both hands, “that you would jest about a solemn subject like that, Rose, and yet it’s incredible!... How many times have you seen him?”
“Oh, lots of times,” Rose assured her, and began checking them off on her fingers. “There was the first time, in the street-car, and the time he brought the books back, and that other awful call he made one evening, when we were all so suffocatingly polite. You know about those times. But three or four times more, he’s come down to the university—he’s great friends with several men in the law faculty, so he’s there quite a lot, anyway—but several times he’s picked me up, and we’ve gone for walks, miles and miles and miles, and we’ve talked and talked and talked. So really, we know each other awfully well.”