One day she and Bert wheeled the boy, in his small cart, down a pleasant unfamiliar roadway, and across a rustic bridge, and, smiling over their adventure, found themselves close to a low, wide-spreading Colonial house, with striped awnings shading its wide porches, and girls and men in white grouped about a dozen tea-tables. Tennis courts were near by, and several motor-cars stood beside the pebbled drive.
A gray-uniformed attendant came to them, civilly. Did they wish to see some member of the club! “Oh, it is a club then,” Bert asked, a little too carelessly. “It is the Silver River Country Club, sir.”
“Oh, well, we’ll get out of here, then,” Bert said good naturedly, as he turned the perambulator on the gravel under a hundred casual eyes. He and Nancy chatted quite naturally about their mistake, as they re-crossed the rustic bridge, and went up the unfamiliar roadway again. But a cloud lay over them for the rest of that day, and that night Nancy said:
“What must one have—or be—to belong to a thing like that, Bert?”
“To—oh, that club?” Bert answered, “Oh, it isn’t so much. A hundred initiation, and a hundred a year, I suppose.” “We could do that—some year,” Nancy predicted.
“Well, it isn’t only that. There’s no use joining a country club,” Bert said musingly, “unless you can do the thing decently. It means signing checks for tea, and cocktails, and keeping a car, and the Lord knows what! It means tennis rackets and golf sticks and tips and playing bridge for a stake. It all counts up!”
“Where do all those people get the money?” Nancy asked resentfully. “They looked common, to me!”
“We’ll get there, never you fret!” Bert answered vaguely. But long after he was asleep his wife lay awake in the hot hotel bedroom, and thought darkly of fate. She came of gentle stock, and she would meet her lot bravely, but oh, how she longed for ease, for a little luxury, for coolness and darkness and silence and service, for frothy laces and the touch of silk!
Lights came up from the lawn before the hotel. It was Sunday night, and the young people were making the most of the precious week-end. Nancy heard a clock somewhere strike ten, and then the single stroke for the half-hour. She got up and sat beside the window; the night was insufferably close, with not a breath of air.
Junior sighed; his mother arose, stricken, and lighted a shaded lamp. Half-past-ten and she had forgotten his bottle!
When she carried it over to him, he was wide awake, his face sober, his aureole of bright hair damp with the heat. But at the sight of his playfellow his four new teeth came suddenly into sight. Here was “Mugger,” the unfailing solace and cheer of his life. He gave her a beatific smile, and seized the bottle with a rapturous “glug.” Bert was roused by her laughter, and the soft sound of kisses.