Chapter Twenty-three
 

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."

The rest of the day would be rush and excitement, Nancy felt that she never would grow used to the delicious idleness of it all. During the week there were evenings that might have been as quiet as the old evenings, nothing happened, and if anybody came in it was only the Fieldings, or Mrs. Underhill and her son, for a game of bridge. But domestic peace is a habit, after all, and the Bradleys had lost the habit. Nancy was restless, beside her own hearth, even while she spangled a gown for the Hallowe'en ball, and discussed with Bert the details of the paper chase at the club, and the hunt breakfast to follow. She would ask Bert what the others were doing to-night, and would spring up full of eager anticipation when the inevitable rap of the brass knocker came.

Saturdays and Sundays were almost always a time of complete absorption. Everyone had company to entertain, everyone had plans. Nancy and Bert would come gaily into their home, on a Saturday afternoon, flushed from a luncheon party, and would entertain the noisy crowd in the dining room. After that the chugging of motors began again on the drive, and the watching children saw their parents depart in a trail of gay laughter.