With none of the emergencies they had dreaded, and with many and unexpected pleasures, the first winter went by. Sometimes Bert got a theatre pass, sometimes old friends or kinspeople came to town, and Bert and Nancy went to one of the big hotels to dinner, and stared radiantly about at the bright lights, and listened to music again, and were whirled home in a taxicab.
“That party cost your Cousin Edith about twenty-five dollars,” Nancy, rolling up her hair-net thoughtfully, would say late at night, with a suppressed yawn. “The dinner check was fourteen, and the tickets eight—it cost her more than twenty-five dollars! Doesn’t that seem wicked, Bert? And all that delicious chicken that we hardly touched—dear me, what fun I could have with twenty-five dollars! There are so many things I’d like to buy that I never do; just silly things, you know—nice soaps and powders, and fancy cheeses and an alligator pear, and the kind of toilet water you love so—don’t you remember you bought it in Boston when we honeymooned?”
Perhaps a shadow would touch Bert’s watching face, and he would come to put an arm about her and her loosened cloud of hair.
“Poor old girl, it isn’t much fun for you! Do you get tired of it, Nancy?”
“Bert,” she said, one night in a mood of gravity and confidence that he loved, and had learned to watch for, “I never get tired. And sometimes I feel sure that the most wonderful happiness that ever is felt in this world comes to two people who love each other, and who have to make sacrifices for each other! I mean that. I mean that I don’t think riches, or travel, or great gifts and achievements bring a greater happiness than ours. I think a king, dying,” smiled Nancy, trying not to be too serious, “might wish that, for a while at least, he had been able to wear shabby shoes for the woman he loved, and had had years of poking about a great city with her, and talking and laughing and experimenting and working over their problem together!”
Bert kissed the thoughtful eyes, but did not speak.
“But just the same,” Nancy presently went on, “sometimes I do get--just a little frightened. I feel as if perhaps we had been a little too brave. When your cousins, and mine, ask us how we do it, and make so much of it, it makes me feel a little uneasy. Suppose we really aren’t able to swing it ...?”
Bert knew how to meet this mood, and he never failed her. He put his arm about her, tonight, and gave her his sunniest smile.
“We could pay less rent, dear.”
This fired Nancy. Of course they could. She had seen really possible places, in inaccessible neighbourhoods, which rented far more reasonably. She had seen quite sunny and clean flats for as little as fourteen and sixteen dollars a month. Her housekeeping abilities awakened to the demand. What did she and Bert care about neighbourhoods and the casual dictates of fashion? They were a world in themselves, and they needed no other company.