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Undertow (Chapter12)

2006-08-22 21:10

  Chapter Twelve

  But it was almost a year before Dorothy thought of her cousins again, and then the proud Nancy wrote her that the arrival of Anne Bradley was daily expected, and no plans could be made at present. Anne duly came, a rose of a baby, and Nancy said that luck came with her.

  Certainly Anne was less than a week old when Bert told his wife that old Souchard, whose annoying personality had darkened all Bert's office days, had retired, gone back to Paris! And Bert was head man, “in the field.” His salary was not what Souchard's had been, naturally, but the sixty dollars would be doubled, some weeks, by commissions; there would be lots of commissions, now! Now they could save, announced Nancy.

  But they did not save. They moved again, to a pleasanter apartment, and Hannah did washing and cooking, and Grace came, to help with the children. Nancy began to make calls again, and had the children's pictures taken, for Grandmother Bradley, and sometimes gave luncheons, with cards to follow. She and Bert could go to the theatre again, and, if it was raining, could come home in a taxicab.

  It was a modest life, even with all this prosperity. Nancy had still enough to do, mending piled up, marketing grew more complicated, and on alternate Thursdays and Sundays she herself had to fill Hannah's place, or Grace's place. They began to think that life would be simpler in the country, and instead of taking the children to the parks, as was their happy Sunday custom, they went now to Jersey, to Westchester, and to Staten Island.

  The houses they passed, hundreds and hundreds of them, filled them with enthusiasm. Sunday was a pleasant day, in the suburbs. The youngsters, everywhere, were in white——frolicking about open garage doors, bareheaded on their bicycles, barefooted beside beaches or streams. Their mothers, also white-clad, were busy with agreeable pursuits——gathering roses, or settling babies for naps in shaded hammocks. Lawn mowers clicked in the hands of the white- clad men, or a group of young householders gathered for tennis, or for consultation about a motor-car.

  Nancy and Bert began to tentatively ask about rents, to calculate coal and commutation tickets. The humblest little country house, with rank neglected grass about it, and a kitchen odorous of new paint and old drains, held a strange charm for them.

  “They could live out-of-doors!” said Nancy, of the children. “And I want their memories to be sweet, to be homelike and natural. The city really isn't the place for children!”

  “I'd like it!” Bert said, for like most men he was simple in his tastes, and a vision of himself and his sons cutting grass, picking tomatoes and watering gooseberry bushes had a certain appeal. “I'd like to have the Cutters out for a week-end!” he suggested. Nancy smiled a little mechanically. She did not like Amy Cutter.

  “And we could ask the Featherstones!” she remembered suddenly.

  “Gosh! Joe Featherstone is the limit!” Bert said, mildly.

  “Well, however!” Nancy concluded, hastily, “We could have people out, that's the main thing!”

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