GOSSIP AND THE BUG HUNTERS
July 18. It is such a deadly sin to marry outside of the limited set that is socially registered, that I now understand why many of the Whirlpoolers are mentally inbred, almost to the vanishing point, so that they have lost the capacity of thinking for themselves, and must necessarily follow a leader.
Sylvia Latham’s engagement to Horace Bradford has caused a much greater sensation than her mother’s divorce. To be sure, every one who has met Horace, not only fails to find anything objectionable about him, but accords him great powers of attraction; yet they declare in the same breath that the affair will not do for a precedent, and deplore its radical influence.
To-day we have settled down to midsummer quiet and to a period of silence after much talking. The Bluffs are quite deserted except by a bevy of children left with governesses while their parents are yachting or in Europe, and the servants in charge of the various houses. But a trail of discontent is left behind, for these servants, by their conspicuous idleness, are having a very demoralizing effect upon the help in the plain houses hereabout, who are necessarily expected to do more work for lower wages.
I am fully realizing, also, that the excitement of living other people’s lives, which we cannot control, through sympathetic imagination, is even more wearing than meeting one’s own responsibilities. A certain amount of separateness—I use the word in an entirely opposite meaning to that of aloofness—is, I find, necessary to every member of our household, and this chance for intimacy with oneself is a luxury denied to those who live all their lives taking joy and sorrow equally in a crowd.
Even the boys, young as they are, recognize it unconsciously, and have separate tree lairs, and neither may enter the other’s, without going through some mysterious and wonderful ceremony and sign language, by which permission is asked and granted.
There are often days when father sits in his study with closed door or drives over the hills without desire for even the boys as companions. This need not signify that he is either ill or worried,—it is simply the need of separateness. The same thing applies to Evan when he sometimes slips out through the garden at night, without word or sign, and is only traceable by the beacon his cigar point makes, as he moves among the trees, until this also vanishes, while my attic corner and the seat at the end of the wild walk offer me similar relief.
At least the attic did until Martin Cortright, at my own invitation, established a rival lair at the opposite end. I did not think that it would matter, the presence of this quiet man barricaded by his books and papers, but it does, because the charm of isolation is destroyed. I would not have done otherwise, however; I have all outdoors, and he will have returned to New York to find winter quarters, and arrange for the publication of the first volume of his history when autumn and shut-in time draws near.