Issue 45, Winter 1968
Stella wrote that she would take the train to Providence,and he should meet her there in the car. Already he was calculating how he should proceed. A false step would alarm her and throw her off, and he had too much to lose, with all the entanglements of family friend and trust. The obstacle course defined itself: I. You must find out the potential in her. 2. You must heat the potential to make it kinetic. 3. You must reveal your own potential. 4. You must time the release of your kinetic so as not to scare off hers. 5. You must disguise the steps so that she will be unable to turn back. 6. You must conceal I tall from your wife. He had to use limited time to the best advantage without putting her on the defensive. He had to make such advances that he could anticipate her reactions without her knowing that advances had been made.
Therefore he began at once, making full use of the two-hour drive from Providence. Nothing could be worse than to rush things. He moved cleverly. At the station he piled the luggage into the trunk, greeted the children (Uncle Will),put the three older ones in the back seat, while Stella sat in front with the two-year-old (Denny) in her lap. She was tired,glad to be in the car. His cleverness was to say nothing pro-vocative during the whole two hours. Prove trust, for always there is an awkwardness when old friends meet again, even if it has only been a month or so. How was the trip? How’s George. That’s Taunt on, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzard’s Bay. Not let her know the designs you have. It may not have been clever, but it was proud, thinking, a two-hour opportunity is what any vulgar mind would expect a man to exploit,and I’ll be damned if I’ll differ from my usual self on that account. It annoyed him to watch himself in the act of muffing this unprecedented chance, paralyzed and exasperated by the difficulty of it, the impossibility of finding a way to say something that would set her thinking and yet not scare her,and in the end he said nothing at all. Because at this point in the visit he did not think it was possible to win her and did not intend to try. The idea had scarcely even entered his head. Pride.