The children were somewhat in the background now, but they seemed well cared for, and contented enough when they made their occasional appearances before their mother’s friends. There was a fine private school in the Gardens, and although the fees for the two boys, with music lessons twice weekly, came to thirty dollars a month, Nancy paid it without self-reproach. The alternative was to send them into the village public school, which was attended by not one single child from the Gardens. The Ingram boys went away to boarding school at Pomfret, Dorothy Rose boarded in New York, and the Underbill boys had a tutor, who also had charge of one or two other boys preparing for college preparatory schools. While the boys were away Anne drifted about with her mother, or more often with Agnes, or was allowed to go to play with Cynthia Biggerstaff or Harriett Fielding.
Life spun on. The Bradleys felt that they had never really lived before. They rushed, laughed, played cards, dressed, danced, and sat at delicious meals from morning until night. There were so many delightful plans continually waiting, that sometimes it was hard to choose between them. The Fieldings wanted them to dine, to meet friends from Chicago—but that was the same night that the Roses and Joe Underhill were going in to see the new musical comedy—
“This is Bert—” a voice at Nancy’s telephone would say, in the middle of a sweet October morning, “Nance...Tom Ingram picked me up, and brought me in...and he was saying that Mrs. Ingram has to come into town this afternoon...and that, since you do, why don’t you have Pierre bring you both in in the car, and meet us after your shopping, and have a little dinner somewhere and take in a show? You can let Pierre go back, do you see? ... and the Ingrams will bring us back in their car. Now, can you get hold of Mrs. Ingram, and fix it up, and telephone me later? ...”
Nancy’s first thought, so strong is habit, might be that she had just secured ducks for dinner, Bert’s favourite dinner, and that she had promised Anne to take her with her brothers to see the big cows and prize sheep at the Mineola Fair. But that could wait, and if Anne and the boys were promised a little party, and ice cream— and if Pauline had no dinner to get she would readily make the ice cream—
“Ingram is here... he wants to know what you think...” Bert’s impatient voice might say. And Nancy felt that she had no choice but to respond:
“That will be lovely, Bert! I’ll get hold of Mrs. Ingram right away. And I’ll positively telephone you in fifteen minutes.”