“I don’t say yet that you ought to try it,” Bert said suddenly, in his old, excited, earnest way. “But of course that would—well, it would just about make me. I could plunge into the other thing, I wouldn’t have this place on my mind!”
“There are some bills, you know, Bert.”
“The extra thousand will take care of those!”
“So that we start in with a clean slate. Oh, Bert!” Nancy’s voice was as exultant as a child’s. “Bert—my fur coat, and your coat! I’ve just remembered they’re in storage! Isn’t that luck!”
Bert laughed at her face.
“Funny how your viewpoint on luck changes. This morning you had the coat and the Lord knows how much silver and glass and lace besides—”
“Oh, I know. But that’s the kind of a woman I am, Bert. I don’t like things to come to me so fast that I can’t taste them. I don’t like having four servants, I get more satisfaction out of one. And if I am hospitable, I’d rather give meals and rooms to persons who really need them, than to others who have left better meals and better rooms to come and share mine!
“Why, Bert dear,” Nancy’s cheek was against his now, “the thought of waking up in the morning and realizing that nobody expects anything of me makes me feel young again! It makes me feel as if I was breathing fresh air deep down into my lungs. We haven’t room for servants, we have no guest room, I simply can’t do anything but amuse Priscilla and make desserts. We’ll have the children at the dinner table every night, and nights that Agnes is off, I’ll have a dotted black and white percale apron for you—”
This was old history, there had been a dotted percale apron years ago, and Nancy was joking, but Bert did not laugh. He made a gruff sound, and tightened his arm.
“Bert,” said his wife, seriously, “Bert, when I kissed you this afternoon, dirty and hot and sooty as you were, I knew that I’d been missing something for a long time!”
Again Bert made a gruff sound, and this time he kissed his wife, but he did not speak for a moment. When he did, it was with a long, deep breath.
“Lord—Lord—Lord!” said he.
“Why do you say that?” asked Nancy.
“Oh, I was just thinking!” Bert stretched in his chair, to the infinite peril of his equilibrium and hers. “I was just thinking what a wonderful thing it is to be married, and to climb and fall, and succeed and fail, and all the rest of it!” he said contentedly. “I’ll bet you there are lots of rich men who would like to try it again! I was just thinking what corking times we’re going to have this year, what it’s going to be like to have my little commutation punched like the rest of ’em, and come home in the dark, winter nights, to just my own wife and my own kids! I like company now and then—the Biggerstaffs and the Ingrams—but I like you all the year round. We’ll—we’ll read Dickens this winter!”
Nancy gave a laugh that was half a sob.