‘Certainly. You want it to show to your customers? Darling girl, I slipped the leash on you years ago, as I knew then and know now that you would never do anything that could risk the welfare of our children. You never have, you never will. '
‘My record isn't all that good, dearest. What I did with the Reverend Doctor Ezekiel was stupidly reckless. I blush whenever I think of it. '
‘Zeke the Geek was your rite of passage, my love. It scared the hell out of you and you'll never take a chance on a second-rater again. That's the acid test for adult adultery, my true love: what sort of person you select with whom to share your escapades. All other factors follow naturally from that choice. This Bronson who may or may not be your cousin: would you be proud to have him here in bed with us tonight? Or would it embarrass you? Would you be happy about it? How does this bloke measure up? '
I thought about Brian's acid test and checked over Mr Bronson in my mind. ‘Brian, I http://oz-kino.ru can't pass judgement. My head is spinning and I haven't any sense about him. '
‘Want me to talk to Father Ira about him? Nobody can pull the wool over Ira's eyes. '
‘I wish you would. Oh, don't suggest that I want to go to bed with Mr Bronson; it would embarrass Father and he would say Mrrrph! and grunt and stalk out of the room. Besides, he knows it. I can feel it. '
‘I can understand that. Of course Ira is jealous of this city slicker, over you. So I'll stay away from that aspect of the subject. '
‘Jealous? Father? Over me? How could he be? '
‘My love, your great sweetness makes up for your slight stupidness. Ira can be - is - jealous over you for the same reason that I can be jealous over Nancy and her little pink fancy. Because I can't have her. Because Ira wants you himself and can't have you. Whereas I have no need to be jealous over you as I do have you and know that your riches are an inexhaustible bonanza. That beautiful flower between your sweet thighs is the original horn of plenty; I can share it endlessly with no possibility of diminishing its wealth. But for Ira it's the unattainable, the treasure that can never be reached. '
‘But Father can have me any time! '
‘Woops! Did you finally get past his guard? '
‘No, damn it! He won't give. '
‘Oh. Then the situation is unchanged; Ira won't touch you for the same reason I won't touch Nancy - although I'm not dead sure I'm as noble as Ira. You had better warn Nancy to stay covered up and downwind when dealing with her poor, old, frail Pop. '
I'm damned if I'll warn her, Briney. You are the only male in the whole world I am absolutely certain would not hurt our Nancy in any way. If she can get past your guard, I'll cheer her on - I might learn something from her about how to cope with my own chinchy, impossible-to-seduce father. '
‘Okay, you redheaded baggage - I'll sniff Nancy and jump you. That'll learn yuh! '
‘T'm skeered. Want a giggle? Brian junior wanted to look. Nancy let him. '
‘Be damned. '
‘Yes. I kept my face straight; I neither laughed nor pretended to be shocked. B. Junior told her that he had never had a chance to see just how girls are different from boys -‘
‘What nonsense! All our kids have been naked in front of each other from time to time; we brought them up that way. '
‘But, dear, he really did have a point. A boy's differences hang right out where they can be seen; a girl's girlishness is mostly inside and doesn't show unless she lies down and makes it show. That is what Nancy did for him. Lay down, pulled up her robe - she was just out of her bath - spread her thighs wide, pulled her lips apart and showed him the baby bole. Probably winked at him with it. Probably enjoyed it herself. I would have. .. but none of my brothers asked me to. '
‘Wench, we haven't found anything yet that you don't enjoy. '
I thought about that. ‘I think you're right, Brian. Some things hurt a little but mostly I have a wonderfully good time. Even this frustration over Mr Bronson pleasures me more than it hurts. .. since I can tell my beloved husband all about it without causing him to stop loving me. '
‘Do you want me to tell Ira to lay off? Ask him to give you the shut-eye chaperonage that I would give you? '
‘Uh, let's wait until you have sized up Mr Bronson. If you approve of him, I'll have my drawers off in a jiffy. If you don't, I'll continue my best Vestal Virgin act, which is what he has been getting. But, as I told you, my head is in a whirl and my judgement is no good. I need your cool head. '
On Tuesday the Post and the Star each reported that President Wilson had asked the Congress to declare that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the German Empire. Wednesday we waited for the shout of ‘Extra! ' in the street, or for the telephone to ring, or both and neither happened. We required the children to go to school although they did not want to, Brian Junior especially. Woodrow was utterly unbearable; I had to refrain from switching him too often.
On Thursday Father returned home, in a state of tense excitement. He and Brian kept their heads together, and I stayed with them, mostly, while delegating all that I could. Woodrow demanded that his grandfather - or someone - play chess with him, until Father turned him over his knee and walloped him, then make him stand in a corner.
On Friday it happened. War. The extras were on our street just before noon, and my husband was on his way almost at once, after telephoning a brother officer, a Lieutenant Bozell, who picked him up and off they drove to Fort Leavenworth, their M-Day assignment. Brian did not wait for his telegram.
Brian junior and George were home for lunch, waited until their father left - then were late for school for the first time ever. Nancy and Carol came home from their school - Central High School, just a few blocks away - just in time to kiss their father goodbye. I did not ask if they were cutting classes or had school closed early; it did not seem to matter.