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"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.
I would write something prefatory to the other stories in this volume if I could find out from anybody what they are about. But it seems impossible. I just asked the madam, I said, "Do you remember the other stories in this book?" and I read her the titles and she said yes. "Well, then," I said, "tell me what they're about." "About!" she drooped. "I didn't think they were about anything."
R. W. L.
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