Motor-cars began to come down the short lane that ended at the gate of Holly Court, and joyous and chattering men and women to come in to tea. Nancy loved this, and to see a group of men standing about his blazing logs filled Bert’s heart with pride. It was rather demoralizing in a domestic sense, dinner was delayed, and their bedtime consequently delayed, and Dora, the cook was disgruntled at seven o’clock, when it was still impossible to set the dinner table. But Nancy, rather than disturb her guests, got a second servant, an enormous Irishwoman named Agnes, who carried the children off quietly for a supper in the kitchen, when tea-time callers came, and managed them far more easily than their mother could.
Before the second summer came Nancy had come to be ashamed of some of her economies that first summer. Taking the children informally across the back of the empty Somers’ place, and letting them bathe on the deserted beach next to the club, wearing faded cottons, and picknicking as near as the Half Mile Light, seemed rather shabby performances. These things had seemed luxury a year ago, but she wondered now how she could have done them. Sometimes she reminded Bert of the much older times, of the oyster party and the hat-pins, or the terrible summer at The Old Hill House, but she never spoke of them above her breath.
On the contrary, she had to watch carefully not to inadvertently admit to Marlborough Gardens that the financial standing of the Bradleys was not quite all the heart might have desired. Nancy had no particular sense of shame in the matter, she would have really enjoyed discussing finances with these new friends. But money, as money, was never mentioned. It flowed in a mysterious, and apparently inexhaustible stream through the hands of these young men and women, and while many of them knew acute anxiety concerning it, it was not the correct thing to speak of it. They had various reasons for doing, or not doing, various things. But money never influenced them. Oliver Rose kept a boat, kept a car and gave up his boat, took to golf and said he might sell his big car—but he seemed to be wasting, rather than saving, money, by these casual transfers. Mrs. Seward Smith said that her husband wanted her to go into town for the winter, but that it was a bore, and she hated big hotels. Mrs. Biggerstaff suggested lazily that they all wait until February and then go to Bermuda, and although they did not go, Nancy never heard anyone say that the holiday was too expensive. Everybody always had gowns and maids and dinners enough; there was no particular display. Old Mrs. Underhill indeed dressed with the quaint simplicity of a Quaker, and even gay little Mrs. Fielding, who had been divorced, and was a daughter of the railroad king, Lowell Lang, said that she hated Newport and Easthampton because the women dressed so much. She dressed more beautifully than any other women at Marlborough Gardens, but was quite unostentatious and informal.