‘How can I tell, Maureen? ' Father looked terribly thoughtful. ‘But I think we must assume as least hypothesis - Occam's Razor - that Ted believes his own story. Which of course does not exclude the hypothesis that he is as loony as a June bug. '
‘Grandpa! You know Uncle Ted storeconsole.ru isn't crazy! '
‘I don't think he is. But his story sounds crazy, Nancy, I'm trying to be rational about this. Now don't scold Grandpa; I'm doing the best I can. At worst we'll know in about five months. November eleventh. Which is little comfort to you now, Maureen, but it may make up somewhat for the dirty trick Woodrow played on you. You should have clobbered him, on the spot. '
‘Not out in the woods at night, Papa, not a child that young. And now it's too late. Nancy, you remember that spot where Sergeant Theodore took you all on a picnic a year ago? We were there. '
Nancy's mouth dropped open. ‘Woodie was with you? Then you didn't - ‘ She chopped off what she was saying. Father put on his draw-poker face.
I looked from one to the other. ‘You darlings! I confided my plans to each of you. But did not tell either of you that I had told the other. Yes, Nancy, I went out there for the precise purpose I told you about: to offer Sergeant Theodore the best warrior's farewell I could manage, if he would let me. And he was about to let me. And it turned out that Woodrow had hidden in the back seat of the car. '
‘Oh, how dreadful! '
‘I thought so. So we got out of there quickly and went to Electric Park and never did have the privacy we needed. '
‘Oh, poor Mama! ' Nancy leaned across Father's legs and. grabbed my head and made mother-hen sounds over me, exactly as I had over her for all those years, whenever she needed sympathy.
Then she straightened up. ‘Mama, you should go do it right now! '
‘Here? With a house full of children? My dear! No, no! '
‘I'll jigger for you! Grandpa! Don't you think she should? '
Father kept quiet. I repeated, ‘No, dear, no. Too risky. '
She answered, ‘Mama, if you're scared to, here in the house, I certainly am not. Grandpa knows I'm pregnant, don't you, Grandpa? Or I wouldn't be getting married. And I know what Jonathan would say. ' She sat up straight and started to get off the edge of the bed. ‘I'm going straight down and give Uncle Ted a soldier's farewell. And tomorrow I'll tell Jonathan. And - Mama, I have a message for you from Jonathan. But I'll tell you when I come back upstairs. '
I said, weakly and hopelessly, ‘Don't stay down too long. The boys get up at four-thirty; don't get caught by them. '
‘I'll be careful. Bye. '
Father stopped her. ‘Nancy! Sit back down. You are crowding in on your mother's prerogatives. '
‘But, Grandpa -‘
‘Pipe down! Maureen is going downstairs to finish what she started. As she should. Daughter, I will stand jigger and Nancy can help me if she wishes. But take your own advice; don't stay down too long. If you aren't upstairs by three, I'm coming down to tap on the door. '
Nancy said eageriy, ‘Mama, why don't we both go down? I bet Uncle Ted would like that! '
‘I'll bet Uncle Ted would like that, too, ' Father said grimly, ‘but he's not going to get it tonight. If you want to give him a soldier's send off, that's fine. But not tonight, and not until after you have consulted Jonathan. Now git for bed, dear. .. and you, Maureen, go downstairs and see Ted. '
I leaned over and kissed him and got quietly off the edge of the bed and started to leave. Father said, ‘Get along, Nancy; I'll take the first watch. '
She shoved out her lower lip. ‘No. Grandpa, I'm going to stay right here and bother you. '
I left, via the sleeping porch and my own room, then went downstairs barefooted and wearing just a wrapper, not stopping to see if Father threw Nancy out. If she had managed to tame Father when I had not been able to manage it in twice her years, I didn't want to know it. Not then. I thought about Theodore instead. .. so successfully that by the time I quietly opened the door to my sewing-room I was as ready as a female animal can be.
Quiet as I was, he heard me and had me in his arms as I closed the door. I returned his embrace, then let go and shrugged off my wrapper, and reached up to him again. At last, at last I was naked in his arms.
Which led, inevitably, to my sitting with Theodore and Brian and Father in our backyard glider swing after our picnic dinner on Wednesday, listening to a discussion between Father and Theodore, while our young people played croquet around us. At Briney's request, Theodore had repeated his statements about when and how female h. sapiens could and could not get pregnant.
The conversation drifted off from reproduction to obstetrics and they started using ungrammatical Latin at each other - some difference of opinion about the best way to handle a particular sort of birth complication. They became more and more polite to each other the more they differed. I did not have any opinions as birth complications are something 1 only know about from reading, since I have babies about as easily as a hen lays eggs - one big ouch and it's over.
Briney finally interrupted them, somewhat to my relief. I don't even want to hear about the horrible things that can happen if a birthing goes wrong. ‘This is all very interesting, '
Brian said, ‘but, Ira, may I ask one question? Is Ted a medical doctor, or not? Sorry, Ted. '