The Nursery and Its Deities 7
My father was the most intimate friend of each of his children, and in some unique way seemed to have the power of responding to the need of each, and we all craved him as our most desired companion. One of his delightful rules was that on the birthday of each child he should give himself in some special way to that child, and many were the perfect excursions which he and I took together on my birthday.
The day being toward the end of September was always spent in the country, and lover as he was of fine horses, I was always given the special treat of an all day's adventure behind a pair of splendid trotters. We would take the books of poetry which we both loved and we would disappear for the whole day, driving many miles through leafy lanes until we found the ideal spot, where we unharnessed the horses and gave them their dinner, and having taken our own delicious picnic lunch, would read aloud to each other by the hour, until the early September twilight warned us that we must be on our way homeward.
In those earlier days in New York the amusements were perhaps simpler, but the hospitality was none the less generous, and our parents were indeed "given to hospitality."
My lovely Southern mother, of whom I will speak more later, had inherited from her forebears a gift for hospitality, and we young children, according to Southern customs, were allowed to mingle more with our elders than was the case with many New York children. I am a great believer in such mingling, and some of the happiest friendships of our later lives were formed with the chosen companions of our parents, but many things were done for us individually as well. When we were between thirteen and sixteen I remember the delightful little Friday-evening dances which my mother and father organized for us in 57th Street, and in which they took actual part themselves.
As I said before, my father could dance all night with the same delightful vim that he could turn to his business or his philanthropy in the daytime, and he enjoyed our pleasures as he