“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.
Up to this time it might have been said that the Bradleys had grasped their destiny, and controlled it with a high hand. Now their destiny grasped them, and they became its helpless prey. Neither Nancy nor Bert was at all conscious of this; in deciding to do just what all the other persons at the Gardens did, they merely felt that they were accepted, that they were a part at last of this wholly fascinating and desirable group.
At first it meant only that they went to the fortnightly dinner at the club, and danced, on alternate Saturday nights. Nancy danced exquisitely, even after her ten busy and tiring years, and Bert was always proud of her when he saw her dancing. The dances broke up very late; the Bradleys were reproached for going home at two o’clock. They both usually felt a little tired and jaded the next day, and not quite so ready to tramp with the children, or superintend brush fires or snow-shovelling as had once been their happy fashion.
But they were fresh and eager at four o’clock when Marlborough Gardens came in for tea by the fire, or when the telephone summoned them to some other fireside for tea. It rarely was tea; Nancy wondered that even the women did not care for tea. They sometimes drank it, and crunched cinnamon toast, after card parties, but on Saturdays and Sundays, when men were in the group, stronger drinks were the fashion, cocktails and highballs, or a bowl of punch. The Bradleys were charming people, Marlborough Gardens decided warm-heartedly; they had watched the pretty new-comer and her splashing, sturdy children, all through the first quiet summer—the children indeed, were all good friends already. The grown-ups followed suit,