I promised the Wife that if anybody ast me what kind of a time did I have at Palm Beach I'd say I had a swell time. And if they ast me who did we meet I'd tell 'em everybody that was worth meetin'. And if they ast me didn't the trip cost a lot I'd say Yes; but it was worth the money. I promised her I wouldn't spill none o' the real details. But if you can't break a promise you made to your own wife what kind of a promise can you break? Answer me that, Edgar.
I'm not one o' these kind o' people that'd keep a joke to themself just because the joke was on them. But they's plenty of our friends that I wouldn't have 'em hear about it for the world. I wouldn't tell you, only I know you're not the village gossip and won't crack it to anybody. Not even to your own Missus, see? I don't trust no women.
It was along last January when I and the Wife was both hit by the society bacillus. I think it was at the opera. You remember me tellin' you about us and the Hatches goin' to Carmen and then me takin' my Missus and her sister, Bess, and four of one suit named Bishop to see The Three Kings? Well, I'll own up that I enjoyed wearin' the soup and fish and minglin' amongst the high polloi and pretendin' we really was somebody. And I know my wife enjoyed it, too, though they was nothin' said between us at the time.
"Gullible's Travels," the story from which this book takes its name, has to do with a trip to Palm Beach and was written in 1916. Readers who have never been to Palm Beach and who contemplate going there are warned not to base their budget on figures quoted in the story. In those days you could get a double room with bath at one of the two big hotels for a niggling $17.00 per day. That sum now is just a fair diurnal tip for the house detective. Everything has doubled or trebled in price in the past ten years, and still the influx of eager customers increases. Newspapers continue, from habit, to speak of the place as exclusive, but a person with money who can't crash in there these days would be blackballed from the Rotary club. And for all that, Palm Beach is worth a visit if you are not deaf or blind. The writer was there this winter for only a day, but was repaid for his trouble by the sight of a lady (a prominent society lady, too) in a bathing costume consisting of a big, floppy black silk hat, horn-rimmed spectacles, a black velvet doublet, with choking high collar and long sleeves, black silk tights and black shoes, a black silk umbrella, and WHITE GLOVES. This will remain for me the ne pluribus unum in swimming comfort until some more ingenious mermaid, sacrificing looks for buoyancy, shows up for her morning plunge in the working clothes of an Eskimo traffic policeman.