Frederica was perfectly clear about this, though she admitted it had taken her fifteen minutes or so to see it.
“All the way down-town to talk to Rodney,” she said, “I sat there deciding what she ought to be like—as if she were going to be brought up to me to see if she’d do. And then all at once I thought, what good would it do me to decide that she wouldn’t? I couldn’t change his relation to her one bit. But, if she decides I won’t do, she can change his relation to me pretty completely. It’s about the easiest thing a wife can do.
“Well, I’m going to see her, and her mother and sister—that’s the family—to-morrow. And if they don’t like me before I come away and think of me as a nice sort of person to be related by marriage to, it won’t be because I haven’t tried. It will be because I’m just a naturally repulsive person and can’t help it.”
As it happened though, she forgot all about her resolution almost with her first look at Rose. Rodney’s attempts at description of her had been well meaning; but what he had prepared his sister for, unconsciously of course, in his emphasis on one or two phases of their first acquaintance, had been a sort of slatternly Amazon. But the effect of this was, really, very happy; because when a perfectly presentably clad, well-bred, admirably poised young girl came into the room and greeted her neither shyly nor eagerly, nor with any affectation of ease, a girl who didn’t try to pretend it wasn’t a critical moment for her but was game enough to meet it without any evidences of panic—when Frederica realized that this was the Rose whom Rodney had been telling her about, she fell in love with her on the spot.
Amazingly, as she watched the girl and heard her talk, she found she was considering, not Rose’s availability as a wife for Rodney, but Rodney’s as a husband for her. It was this, perhaps, that led her to say, at the end of her leave-taking, just as Rose, who had come out into the hall with her, was opening the door:
“Roddy has been such a wonderful brother, always, to me, that I suspect you’ll find him, sometimes, being a brother to you. Don’t let it hurt you if that happens.”
The most vivid of all the memories that Frederica took away with her from that memorable visit was the smile with which Rose had answered that remark. She had her chauffeur stop at the first drug store they came to and called up Rodney on the telephone, just because she was too impatient to wait any longer for a talk with him.
“I’m simply idiotic about her,” she told him. “I know, now, what you meant when you were trying to tell me about her smile. She looked at me like that just as I was leaving, and my throat’s tight with it yet. She’s such a darling! Don’t be too much annoyed if I put my oar in once in a while, just to see that you’re treating her properly.”
She walked into his office one morning a few days later, dismissed his stenographer with a nod, and sat down in the just vacated chair. She was sorry, she said, but it was the only way she had left, nowadays, of getting hold of him. Then she introduced a trivial, transparent little errand for an excuse, and, having got it out of the way, inquired after Rose. What had the two of them been doing lately?