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Undertow (Chapter20)

2006-08-22 21:13

  Chapter Twenty

  The rest of that summer, and the fall, were like an exquisite dream. All the Bradleys were well, and happier than their happiest dream. Nancy took the children swimming daily on the quiet, deserted beach just above the club grounds; on Saturdays and Sundays they all went swimming. She made her own bed every morning, and the children's beds, and she dusted the beautiful drawing room, and set the upper half of the Dutch door at a dozen angles, trying to decide which was the prettiest. She and Anne made a little ceremony of filling the vases with flowers, and the boys were obliged to keep the brick paths and the lawn clear of toys.

  Nancy made a quiet boast in those days that they let the neighbours alone, and the neighbours let them alone. But she did meet one or two of the Marlborough Beach women, and liked them. And three times during the summer she and Bert asked city friends to visit them; times of pride and pleasure for the Bradleys. Their obvious prosperity, their handsome children, and the ideal home could not but send everyone away admiring. It was after the last of these visits that Bert told his wife that they ought to join the club.

  “I don't quite understand that——don't we belong?” Nancy asked.

  “The Club belongs to all the owners of Marlborough Beach,” Bert explained. “But——but I feel a little awkward about butting in there. However, now that this fellow Biggerstaff, that I meet so much in the train, seems to be so well inclined, suppose you and I dress up and wander over there for tea, on Sunday? We'll leave the kids here, and just try it.”

  Nancy somewhat reluctantly consented to the plan, observing that she didn't want to do the wrong thing. But it proved the right thing, for not only did the friendly Biggerstaff come over to the Bradleys tea-table, but he brought pretty Mrs. Biggerstaff, and left her with the new-comers while he went off to find other men and women to introduce. The Bradleys met the Roses, and the Seward Smiths and gray-haired Mrs. Underhill, with her son, and his motherless boys——the hour was confused, but heart-warming. When the Bradleys went home in the Roses' car, they felt that they had been honestly welcomed to Marlborough Gardens. Nancy was so excited that she did not want any supper; she sat with Anne in her lap chattering about the social possibilities opening before her.

  “Rose tells me that the club dues are fifty a year,” Bert said, “and some of the bathhouses are five, and the others twenty each. The twenties are dandies——twelve feet square, with gratings, and wooden hooks, and lots of space. However, we don't have to decide that until next year. Of course you sign for teas and all that but the cards and card-tables and so on, are supplied by the club, and the tennis courts and lockers and so on, are absolutely free.”

  “Isn't that wonderful?” Nancy said.

  “Well, Rose said they weren't trying to make anything out of it—— it's a family club, and it's here for the general convenience of the Gardens. Now, for instance, if a fellow from outside joins, he pays one hundred and fifty initiation fee, and seventy-five a year.”

  “H'm!” said Nancy, in satisfaction. The Marlborough Gardens Yacht Club was not for the masses. “All we need for the children is a five-dollar bath house,” she added presently, “For we're so near that it's really easier for you and me to walk over in our bathing suits.”

  “Oh, sure!” Bert agreed easily. “Unless, of course,” he added after a pause, “all the other fellows do something else.”

  “Oh of course!” agreed Nancy, little dreaming that she and her husband were in these words voicing the new creed that was to be theirs.

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