Portia extinguished her cigarette in a little ash-tray, and began unpacking her pillows before she spoke. “I don’t know,” she said at last. “It’s been said for a long time that the only way to make a man want anything very wildly, is to make him think it’s desperately hard to get. But I suspect there are other ways. I don’t believe you’ll ever have any trouble making him ‘want’ you as much as you like.”
The color kept mounting higher and higher in the girl’s face during the moment of silence while she pondered this remark. “Why should I—make him want me?—Any more than ... I think that’s rather—horrid, Portia.”
Portia gave a little shiver and huddled down into her blankets. “You don’t put things out of existence by deciding they’re horrid, child,” she said. “Open my window, will you? And throw out that cigarette. There. Now, kiss me and run along to bye-bye. And forget my nonsense.”
The wedding was set for the first week in June. And the decision, instantly acquiesced in by everybody, was that it was to be as quiet—as strictly a family affair—as possible. The recentness of the death of Rodney’s mother gave an adequate excuse for such an arrangement, but the comparative narrowness of the Stantons’ domestic resources enforced it. Indeed, the notion of even a simple wedding into the Aldrich family left Portia rather aghast.
But this feeling was largely allayed by Frederica’s first call. Being a celebrated beauty and a person of great social consequence didn’t, it appeared, prevent one from being human and simple mannered and altogether delightful to have about. She was so competent, too, and intelligent (Rose didn’t see why Portia should find anything extraordinary in all this. Wasn’t she Rodney’s sister?) that her conquest of the Stanton family was instantaneous. They didn’t suspect that it was deliberate.
Rodney had made his great announcement to her, characteristically, over the telephone, from his office. “Do you remember asking me, Freddy, two or three weeks ago, who Rosalind Stanton was? Well, she’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
She refused to hear a word more in those circumstances. “I’m coming straight down,” she said, “and we’ll go somewhere for lunch. Don’t you realize that we can’t talk about it like this? Of course you wouldn’t, but it’s so.”
Over the lunch table she got as detailed an account of the affair as Rodney, in his somnambulistic condition, was able to give her, and she passed it on to Martin that evening as they drove across to the north side for dinner.
“Well, that all sounds exactly like Rodney,” he commented. “I hope you’ll like the girl.”
“That isn’t what I hope,” said Frederica. “At least it isn’t what I’m most concerned about. I hope I can make her like me. Roddy’s the only brother I’ve got in the world, and I’m not going to lose him if I can help it. That’s what will happen if she doesn’t like me.”