NANNIBUTYAH AND THE GOAT
"PETER, what does wor. bro. mean?" I asked. "How do you spell it?" asked my husband over his morning paper. "W-o-r and b-r-o, two words," I said. "I can't find them in the dictionary." "Never heard of them," announced Peter. "Where'd you see them, anyway?" "On a letter, it was a letter of yours," I admitted,
“and it had something in it about wor. bro. Barnes and the gr.....”
A Peter and Pokey Story—a Gloom-chaser
NORMA PHILLIPS MUIR
“Pokey, you’ve been reading my mail,” yelled Peter.
“That isn’t in the contract —and besides it was my masonic program you read.”
“To hear you, one would think ‘The beauty and the loveliness had passed away from earth’,” I remarked.
“I didn’t read your old program, it was in the wastepaper basket, business side out, and I just saw those three or four meaningless hylogerics.”
“Hieroglyphics,” groaned Peter.
“Oh, all right,” I said. “I went to school too, I was just trying to be funny.”
“Well ease off,” he advised,
“the strain may be fatal.
Now, seriously, Ruth, that is one thing I will not tolerate, you must not read my correspondence. It is a thing as private as my prayers.”
“If it isn’t any more lengthy or original it isn’t worth reading,” I said. “All right, all right, but tell me, what is a wor. bro.?”
“It is worshipful brother, and gr. msr., as our new' secretary insists on abbreviating it, is grand master. Happier?”
“Heaps,” I said. “Where do we go from here?”
“This is the end of the journey,” Peter told me. “I’m not going to spill anything more.”
“But, Peter, is there really a goat?”
I begged, regarding him quite seriously.
“Certainly,” he agreed, “a whole herd of them, and a pulpit and a gavel, and footlights, and a bouquet for the leading lady. ’Sno use, Pokey, the fish aren’t biting this morning.”
Peter w'ent off to work and I sat down to think a while. He had joined the Masons a month before, and to date he had spent eleven nights away from me. He refused to tell me even the things he might have divulged, and I knew this because of little things other wives dropped. The night of the initiation I was much more nervous than he was, and sat up until half past one waiting for him, and then when he came in he was as chipper as a dog with a sausage, and refused the light lunch I had ready for him.
“No—full,” he grinned. “Rolls and butter, cold chicken and ham, pie and ice cream and coffee.”
“Sick, darling?” I asked tenderly.
“I’m so glad,” I said. “Did it hurt much, dear?” “Only when they branded me,” he grimaced, and when I went to put my arm around him he winced and moved away, but although I watched as carefully as I could when he disrobed, and even caught a glimpse of his shoulder, I didn’t see anything.
“It is a wonderful organization,” he said proudly next morning. “There is very little I am at liberty to tell you, but let this soak in. If at any time you are in trouble, serious trouble, go to the master of my lodge and tell your tale of woe, and if it’s possible for earthly kindness to ease your burden, it’ll be eased.” “Y-y-y-es, O-dear,” I said, quite moved.
“It is a secular organization, embracing all the true Christianity there is going,” he continued, “but do riot seek to learn more— it is hardly decent, to probe into a thing of this nature.”
“But why do they have to brand you?” I asked. “To see if you are strong in the faith?”
`Just wondered," I said. "Is that an average attend an (`C!''
`About forty. Why?'
“Solitaire would be nearer it!” I stated. “How many were out to-night?”
“Playing Pollyanna?” smiled Peter.
“There is one consolation to this Masonic business,” I said tartly; “it’s too holy for me to expect you to come home happy drunk. That’s one thing I don’t need to worry about.”
“Might as well be a widow,” I sniffled, and then, just as the thought of all the other lonely wives struck me, the idea came. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep, and when Peter came home about one, I was still awake and planning. I tried to glimpse what the little parcel was, but he smuggled it into his drawer and never told me a thing about the meeting.
“If your soul is in such condition that you .need all this Masonic cure, you’re pretty far gone,” I said one evening, but Peter merely stuffed a little black package into his pocket, kissed me and went off.
T THOUGHT quite a bit about the matter during the ■*next few weeks, when Peter’s new religion was claiming his every evening. I wanted him to have a good time all right, and I’m not like a lot of wives who demand every evening of their husband’s and never condone even one little poker party, but I thought eleven nights in three weeks was getting to be a bit thick.
stupid as those who won’t try to see, that’s all.”
“So this is Paris,” I soliioquized. “Well—none so
“Amen,” I said. “Have another meat ball?” but Peter sighed as though his soul and Masonry were above anything so petty, and with a fatherly caress he left me.
“The subject is closed,” Peter told me kindly.
“Just about,” he said carelessly.
“Do I know any of them?” I inquired, without a hint of real curiosity in my voice.
“Why, yes,” yawned my husband, “quite a few of the fellows who joined when I did belong to our crowd— Jerry, Ted, Bill Crothers, Art Simmons, a couple from the office—”
“Oh,” I said elaborately, “it’s nice to know so many,
yawned Peter, and that closed the matter for that night.
I spent quite a lot of time at the phone the next few days, and found the girls most responsive. Since their husbands had all been bitten as badly as Peter had with the Masonic bug, they were keen to be in on it too, and although didn’t tell them quite how colossal my ignorance was, and rather gave them the impression that I was in the know, I didn’t really have to tell any whoppers. We were organizing ourselves into a body pledged to support law and order, stand back of religious societies, succor children and old ladies, and put down vice. It seemed like quite a big order, but as I said to Marion whom I was going to appoint my chief High Standby, “the more we attempt the more we’ll accomplish, and even if we don’t do everything we try to do, the more varied our program is, the more fun we’ll have out of it, and if there is one thing I cannot stand it is monotony,” and Marion agreed.
I am quite sure that everything would have gone off splendidly if Peter had stayed out of it.
“Ruth,” he said, the day before our inaugural meeting, “to-morrow the G.O.C. of this district is going to be here, and we are to have a meeting for his benefit. Press my breeks a bit, will you?”
“Which ones?” I asked.
“What do you think the G.O.C. is?” he asked. “Lord knows,” I retorted. “You’re talking in initials so much these days that I almost expect you to come home and hand me a code for our luncheon conversation. Nothing like being careful, is there?”
“G.O.C. is General Officer Commanding—the district,” explained Peter with annoying precision.
“I thought it was Great Old Cuckoo,” I remarked. “Are we having the militia or the Masonic society for dinner, dear?”
Peter jabbed savagely at his chop, hit the bone, and the whole skidded from under his unwary fork and came my way.
“I have one, thank you,” I said, and Peter glowered. “What time is the meeting?” I asked as Peter retrieved his chop and attacked it again.,
“My prophetic soul!” I gasped.
“N-n-othing—only the W.M.S. is meeting here tomorrow and I don’t particularly want you around,” I said.
“1 won’t be around,” he promised. “I’ll be out of here at a quarter of two and not back until around six. Will that suit?”
“Yes —-and if you get your breeks now I’ll press them this afternoon,” I promised.
f\THER things interfered, however, and I didn’t get YA the breeks pressed until the next morning, and' then it was a calamitous operation. I had one side beautifully done when the bell rang, and as I had a sort of a hunch what it was, I went. An enclosed truck stood outside and I instructed the man to drive to the Bide and leave the order there. Then I scurried through the house and helped him to get the goat down the cellar.
Our organization was complete, you see, and we had planned our meeting of the W.M.S.—Women’s Masonic Society—for that afternoon, and as no one has ever heard of a Mason without a goat—I had rented one for the day.
“What’ll I feed it?” I asked.
“Just give it some parsnips and carrots and maybe a bit o’ green,” said the owner. “She’s a purty tempered critter, so long as no one hurts her, but if she gits riled—” his pause was ominous.
“We’ll be good to her,” I said.“Nice Nanny—be sure you’re here for her at half past five,” I directed, and after watching him tie the goat to the coal bin I hustled him out and ran back to the kitchen.
“Oh! Lord, don’t let it have happened,” I cried, and skidded across the kitchen to where a cloud of smoke was arising from the ironing board. I lifted the iron from where it had been reclining on Peter’s breeks, and with the iron came the khaki. I wept. I couldn’t help it, for I didn’t know what Peter’d do, and I didn’t know what I’d do if he didn’t do something to the pants and take himself out of the house for the afternoon.
I had to work fast too, so taking the tears out of my voice I telephoned him.
“Peter,” I cried, “you can’t wear those breeks, the moths have been in them,” which was quite true.
“Are they gone bad?” he asked anxiously.
“Couldn’t be worse,” I said. “There’s a hole the size of my hand on one of the most prominent plain surfaces. What’ll I do? Could you wear ducks?”
“I could, but they’re covered with oil and grease. I’ve been wearing them in the garage.”
“I’ll get ’em and clean ’em,” I cried. “Don’t keep me now. G’bye.”
I put a big kettle of water on, rescued the breeks from the garage and after taking stock of their state, decided that the only thing to do was to wash them and then iron them dry.
“Some job,” I groaned. “Pansy, you run down cellar and bring me up the soap.”
Pansy went, and' a moment later I heard the most blood-curdling yell, followed by a stampede up the stairs, and Pansy, her face like lard, burst into the kitchen.
“Missus Ronald, there’s a—my lord—cow—down there—”
“Pansy—” I began—
“There is, mum,” she insisted. “It shook its horns at me and mooed sumpthing horrible.”
“It’s not a cow, Pansy,” I said. “It’s a goat.”
“I’ll do most anything, Missus Ronald, to stay with you and the twins,” she said impressively, her color coming back gradually, “but I can’t eat goat’s milk, ma’am, I really can’t and it’s no use to ask me.” “You don’t have to,”
I assured her. “Just help me keep Mr. Ronald from going down there and seeing the goat, and I’ll tell you all about it. The goat’s just for some fun and it goes away to-night.
Now. get me the soap.”
While I told Pansy about the fun that was coming, I made a grand lather and put Peter’s breeks in the boiling hot suds and shookthem. Making the water just cool enough to allow the immersion of my hands, I rubbed and lathered and lathered and rubbed, and when I finally took them from the basin they were as devoid of spots and soils as the others were of seat, and in my heart was a great thankfulness.
Pansy and I each took a leg and rubbed with a turkish towel until much of the water was absorbed, and then I began the slow process of ironing them dry. It took two hours and a
half, but when I was finished they looked so splendid that I was almost satisfied with the fruit of my labors.
DANSY, under the spur of the fun to come, had *• tidied up the house nicely, and by the time Peter came in she had a nice lunch ready.
Peter took a worried look at his slacks, and every
little crease smoothed itself out of his forehead at sight of them.
“You’re an old life-saver, Honey,” he cried, hugging me. “I’ve been worried all morning. Now I’ll get my boots....” and he started toward the cellar.
“Have your lunch first, dear,” I suggested. “Where are the boots?”
“In the trunk with my military-clothes,” he said. “I’ll get them, Ruth.”
I gave Pansy a look and she sidled toward the door, dashed down cellar and was back with the boots before Peter returned from washing for lunch.
“I’ll go down afterwards and get my khaki collar and stuff,” he said. “I know just where to lay my hands on them, in fact I put the shirt and collar out last night.”
Pansy made another stealthy trip to the cellar, and this'time she returned white of face and beckoned me into the kitchen.
“Missus Ronald, ma’am,” she began, “I’m that scared—Mr. Ronald said he left them things on the clothes bars, and—they ain’t there and that goat looks so satisfied—”
I ran down quickly and, sure enough, the clothes horse was stripped clean of the khaki impediments which had been on it.
I delved into Peter’s military trunk, rescued another shirt and collar, handkerchief and tie, and bidding Pansy press them while we lunched I sat down and began to wonder what was coming next. I was not left long to wonder.
Peter thanked both of us for helping him, slipped Pansy a dollar, and with his war accoutrements over his arm went to our room. The twins were asleep in the sun-room, and knowing what an afternoon was ahead of me I thought I’d take a few minutes rest. I had just thrown myself down on the chesterfield when I heard a roar out of Peter.
“Ruth,” he bellowed, “for Gosh sakes, come here quick,”
I went, and if it hadn’t been that it was so serious I’d have had to laugh. Peter was hopping around the room in an ecstacy of rage. His stockinged feet protruded from the bottom of the trouser-legs, and the trousers were pulled up just above the calf of his leg.
There they stuck. He
couldn’t get them any higher to save his life, and while he couldn’t understand the phenomena, I knew that they had shrunken dreadfully—due perhaps to the very hot water, and then from the fact that they had been pressed while they were very wet.
“What’ve you done to my pants?” gasped Peter, hauling futilely at first one leg and then the other. “Come, on now—this isn’t funny.”
“I didn’t do anything but clean and press them,” I insisted. “Stand still "and let me see what’s wrong.”
“I ain’t their size,” bellowed Peter. “These ain’t my pants—give me my pants.”
“They are your pants,” I said. “If you’ll be calm, I think we can do—something.”
“Something’s good,” he hissed. “What’ll you suggest, Mrs. Edison? Taking a couple of slices off me—a la Cinderella. Bah!”
“Peter—don’t act like an infant,” I said. “All I did was to wash—”
“Wash—” he roared. “D’you mean to say you put these pants in water?”
“Certainly, and rubbed them dry and then ironed them,” I said, trying to speak coolly.
“Washed ’em,” groaned Peter, “shrunk em, shrunk em. I tell you—ruined em. Now what’m I going to do?” “If you’d keep quiet for a minute or two I’d try to tell you,” I begged. “You’ve got them over the worst part.”
“I haven’t,” shouted Peter, “I can’t begin to get ’em up to the worst part—what you mean by worst part, any way?”
“Oh, stop yelling at me and take them off,” I said. “I’m getting annoyed.”
“ You are?” said Peter. “They aren’t your pants. I—” “Take ’em off,” I said; “it’s a quarter after one. If you want to get to that meeting, take ’em off.”
“I’ll take em off, but I’ve got to have pants,” he moaned, and he kicked the offending garments from one side of the room to the other.
“Now,” I said, “it’s a nice warm day, take off those heavy m socks—you’re not in France—
Él and put on silk ones, and take off
p, that suit of underwear and put
Ht on your B.V.D.’s.”
I GATHERED up the ducks A and left the room, calling Pansy to my aid. By means of wrapping towels around the rolling pin, and forcing it down the legs of the pants, adding a towel at a time, we managed to stretch the legs quite a bit, and when Peter yelled I went back with hope in my heart and the pants in my arm.
“Peter,” I shrieked—for he had not put on his B.V.D.’s, but stood arrayed in my black Italian silk combination.
“ They’re darn tight — but they’re so slippery the pants ought to go over them,” he said sheepishly—
I threw the pants at him and collapsed on the bed. Italian silk does stretch, and Peter, even though he is taller a heap than I am, is ever so much thinner—but it was the opera top which got me! If it had had sleeves in it he could never have got it across his shoulders, but with the ribbon shoulder straps, and extremely decollete back and front, he had managed it. He was a perfect circus in that outfit, for the socks he had found were black silk, and matched the combination suit, but standing there, with a gap of almost a yard between the top of his socks and the bottom of the combination suit, with dainty two-tone ribbons across his huge shoulders, and the front embellished with embroidery—all he needed was a hair ribbon and a fan to go to a masquerade.
I just shrieked.
“This isn’t any joke, you know,” he said; “and I’m not sure yet I can get the pants on.” “There’s a shoe-horn on my dressing table,” I gasped, “but don’t ask me to help. I’m too weak.”
Peter tugged and pulled and pushed and massaged himself into those pants, and when they had finally reached the haven of his belt line he emitted a roar of satisfaction so great that the twins awoke crying and Pansy came on the run.
“Don’t seem to me this is the shirt I put out,” he remarked. “I haven’t time to be fussy, though. Say, Pokey, will you put my boots on me? I’m afraid to lean over.”
I complied, and after handing him his cane, cap and gloves, brushing his tunic and warning him to get on the street-car carefully, and not on any account to sit down, I bade him a fond farewell and then flew to the cellar and fed the goat, in order to guarantee that at least a small percentage of our dry goods might be saved for the inevitable rainy day.
Continued on page 45
Nannibutyah and the Goat
Continued from page 13
I had just got Pansy and the twins safely out of the house when Marion arrived, and we had barely time to outline our program before the rest began to come, and by three o’clock the entire fifteen were present and we were ready for business.
“The first business is to appoint a chairman for the afternoon,” I said, “and I would like to hear the pleasure of the meeting.”
Mrs. Slater had great pleasure in moving that the hostess act as chairman, and I accepted.
“We are gathered together,” I began, “for the express purpose of banding ourselves into an organization which shall be of a Masonic nature. For this purpose we must have an executive, composed, I presume, of a president, two vices, a secretary, treasurer, and a committee of as many as seems consistent with the size of the lodge.”
A MURMUR of assent greeted me.
“We shall first nominate the president,” I said, “and before the nominations begin I should like to appoint two scrutineers to count the ballots when the vote is taken. Mrs. Reynolds and Mrs. Guthrie, will you please act as scrutineers?”
They beamed and accepted so gladly that I knew they were not aware that the ruse had worked. They were two whom we did not want to act in any official capacity, and I thought that the mind of the gathering would be sort of taken off them by this little sop, as it was.
“We are now ready for nominations for president,” I said, and at that Marion rose and nominated me and moved that the nomination be unanimous. Of course, just as we had planned, they couldn’t do anything but make it that when they were in my house, but I made such a show of reluctance that I’m sure no one knew it was foreordained.
Marion’s best friend nominated her secretary and made that unanimous and it carried, and by a streak of luck Betty was made treasurer.
“I think, ladies, that an executive of five, outside of the officers, is large enough,” I ruled. “Is that the pleasure of the meeting?”
It was, and here the fun started, for practically all of the remaining twelve were nominated for this office, and as no one would withdraw it looked as though the fight was on.
Somehow the phrase two-thirds vote, seeped into my mind, and kept company with the goat which was there all the time, and so I announced that in this case a two-thirds vote would have to be the rule of election, meaning that no one who did not get ten votes was eligible.
NOBODY did get ten votes on the first ballot, so 'I asked the scrutineers to read the results of the ballotting, and of course, as nobody wanted to lose their vote, we all voted for the five who had got the most the first time, so that was settled.
“Now, sisters,” I said, “we must draft the constitution and by-laws of our lodge, arrange for the various degrees of membership, and for the initiation to-day of those who can be trusted and shall prove themselves worthy when the test comes.” Marion said that she would suggest that the drafting of the constitution and bylaws be left to the executive, and that they be asked to prepare a draft and present it to the lodge members for ratification or amendment at the next meeting, and asked that someone put her idea into the form of a motion. This was done, seconded and carried, and then Marion’s sister-in-law moved that we fix the matter of fees and proceed with the initiations.
The fee was placed after much argument, at five dollars a year, with the stipulation that out of this sum all lodge pins and aprons be purchased, and then we were ready for the initiation.
“I would ask the members to come to order, and to don, in silence, the insignia of their lodge,” I said solemnly, and at that there was a scrambling for bags and purses, and a general tying on of white kid aprons, all decorated with bright blue ribbon, silver braid and funny little doodahs.
We had debated about allowing Mrs. Merson, the new minister’s wife in; but when we saw that her husband’s apron was trimmed with gold instead of silver we were mighty glad we had reconsidered.
Marion who has been growing steadily fatter wasn’t able to get Ted’s bib around her middle and so we put it around her neck.
After a serious little talk on the majesty of the movement and our gift to posterity in organizing a female society of such good intent, I asked that the members concentrate their thoughts on noble ideas while the test chamber was prepared for them. Betty, Marion and I withdrew to the dining room, and planned what form the initiation would take.
“Let’s blindfold them, bring them one at a time out here,” said Marion. “Make them swear allegiance to King and
country while clasping--.”
“Pokey have you any rubber gloves?” whispered Betty. “If you have let’s stuff them, hold them under cold water, and make them hold one while we keep the other on the back of their neck as they swear—”
“Lovely,” acclaimed Marion.
“Make ’em promise to keep it all secret, give them a pass-word, make ’em eat a— a -—soda biscuit dipped in castor oil,—and
“Then, still blindfolded they must ride the goat,” I finished.
“Ride the goat,” they echoed. “Where’s the goat?”
“Down cellar,” I whispered. “Betty, you come and help me get him up while Marion stuffs the glove and gets the biscuits ready. The castor oil’s in the medicine chest in the bath-room.”
Betty and I went down cellar, marvelling at the silence in the other room, and with Betty pushing, and me pulling on the rope and holding a carrot before his nose, we managed to get the goat upstairs.
“We must call him the Holy Nannibutyah,” I giggled, as we dragged him into the dining room, and gave him the carrot which he munched in mild-eyed wonder.
“Who’ll I bring first?” asked Betty.
“I guess it’d better be Mrs. Merson,” I said; “she really lends an atmosphere of sanctity to the proceedings and to the club.”
“Can she get on the goat?” asked Marion doubtfully. “She’s so short and fat—”
“Sure—we’ll help her, and it’s only for a minute,” said Betty. “All right, ready—?
“The high honor of being the first to be called for initiation into the Women’s Masonic Lodge, Number 1,” we heard her say, “to be known as the Posterity Pride Lodge, is Mrs. Merson. I am come to escort you to the Grand Worshipful Mistress. We request silence and further noble thought.”
THERE was a nice thick silence, and then came Betty, leading Mrs. Merson with measured and stately tread.
The fat little woman was flushed with the honor which had been done her. Her golden hair fluffed out prettily around the broad blue band which covered her eyes, and her mouth was firmly set.
“Will you submit to the tests of your Grand Mistress, and to the sisters in office whom you have elected to their honorable positions?” I asked.
“I will,” she said.
“Will you, in token of your obedience clasp firmly this dead hand, and with another upon your neck bow to the yoke of our authority?”
“I w-w-will,” she quavered.
“The hands,” I commanded.
Betty clamped one to her neck, and the candidate emitted a shriek which was echoed by eleven voices in the adjoining room.
“Let silence reign,” I thundered.
“Clasp the hand—this cold dead hand v and repeat after me these words,” I commanded, and shudderingly she gripped the limp clammy thing and repeated in a shaky voice:
“I, Edith Amy Merson—do hereby promise and swear—to serve with all my strength—this noble organization—to succour the weak and stricken—to give alms to the poor—to keep charitable my mind and thoughts—and live a pure and self-sacrificing life.”
“To whom do you owe allegiance?” I asked.
“The King, and the Masonic order,” she said.
“The pass word is ‘Blue for faith, white' for purity’,” I said.
“Now—are you ready for the final
“Y-y-yes, I t-t-hink so,” she said.
“Then at the given word open your mouth, extend your left leg at right angles to your body, and when I call sit—sit,” I said.
“I’m afraid,” she whispered.
“Blue for faith,” I whispered sternly. “One, two, three—now.”
Her mouth—like a gash in a pie at any time—opened like a door in a vault, and her left leg shot out as far as her skirt would permit. At the same momeiTt Betty popped the biscuit and castor oil into her mouth, and Marion and I together got the goat under her.
“Sit,” I cried, and she sat—fell forward with the violence of her obedience, and her groping hands fastened on the horns of the goat. Shriek after shriek rent the air, and the goat—tired with her weight, and either maddened or frightened by her yells—put his head down and threw up his heels. How the woman held on and stayed put is a miracle to me to this day, but she did, and the goat went twice around the dining room with the yodelling burden of fat and fright on his immature back. “Stop him—head him off, Betty— Marion, open the door—no, shut it!” I screamed, but I was too late. The Holy Nannibutyah had turned the corner and dashed into the hall. Mrs. Merson’s off leg caught the tea wagon on the turn and overturned it, with a loud crash of my Mikado tea service, and the goat careened down the hall, with Mrs. Merson, blindfolded and bellowing, clinging tight to his horns and neck, her legs hugging his other anatomy, and her theological husband’s gold-trimmed apron fluttering in the breeze.
WE WOULD have got him stopped in another minute if what did happen hadn’t had to happen just then. But just as the goat gained the hall, the front door opened, and Peter waved a man in ahead of him. I didn’t see exactly what happened—it was all so sudden anyway, but the next moment the khaki-clad figure of a man described a perfect parabola in the air, and landed wrong side up on the front lawn, with Peter an indiscriminate mass of legs and arms on top of him, while the goat tore down the street and Mrs. Merson clung, sobbing, and still blindfolded, to the verandah rail. “Snake that thing off her and shut her up,” I hissed to Betty, who stood white and scared in the door-way, and then I ran down the steps, and leaned over Peter.
“Are you hurt, darling?” I asked. Peter sat up, rubbed his head, and stared at me in a dazed way. “What happened?” he asked. “A little—mis-understanding,” I began, and then at the horror in Peter’s eyes I swung around and beheld the verandah swarming with women in Masonic aprons. “My Lord, I’m cuckoo,” gasped Peter. “Colonel, do you see what I see?” “The woods are full of them,” babbled the Colonel. “But the heathen’s need is great.” “Help him into the house, Peter,” I advised. “The neighbors are beginning to come out on their verandahs. I must close the meeting.” “From Greenland’s Icy Mountain, Madam—that is an old missionary standby, madam,” suggested the Colonel, whose mind was still wandering. “Did I see a goat?” “Yes, a mountain goat—” I snickered, but Peter, who had pulled himself and his O. C. to their feet, glared at me with sufficient venom to curb any desire for merriment.
“Take off my apron,” he hollered, catching sight of it as I straightened. “Peter,” I said in a firm low tone, “I must dismiss the meeting. You sit down on the grass again' until I get the ladies into the house, and then hurry to your room, but let the Colonel walk close behind you. You appear to be wearing black and khaki stripped pants—at least both the rear and side views intrigue the curiosity.” Peter dropped to the ground without argument, and a surreptitious feeling finger confirmed my words. “What’ll I do?” he groaned. “Sit down with him, Colonel, do,” I invited cordially. “Have a little game of —oh, jacknife, and I’ll hurry them away.” “Fellow members of the lodge,” I said, when I had regained the living-room, “I fear that the initiation planned by your Worshipful Mistress and her officers, is too stern. Initiations of a milder order will continue at the next meeting, and because of the bravery with which she stood her test, we have appointed Sister Merson Grand Courier of the Lodge, her duties to be set before her in private. That is all.”
They filed out, and Betty helped me put the room to rights and pick up the thin fragments of my lovely china. “You’d better go, Betty. I wouldn’t be surprised if Peter and I had a little—chat— over this afternoon. He seems slightly annoyed.” Betty kissed me pityingly and left, and hearing harsh sounds emerging from our bedroom, I dragged myself thither.
DETER, attired in his dressing gown, -*• stood in the centre of the room, his tattered slacks under observation. A boot reposed near the window, and another
near the door, and his brow was heavy with storm. “Whadya mean wearing my apron?” he growled. “Whadya mean wearing my underwear?” I countered. “Never mind being funny,” he said, “that goat might have killed the 0. C. and me.” “Well, he didn’t,” I said, “but we haven’t time now to talk. You’ve got to find the goat—the man’s due for him any minute and he’s very valuable.” “Not to me,” Peter said firmly. “I’m not going after him. I’m not going to go anywhere or do anything .until I hear what’s been happening on my property.” “The deed’s in my name,” I said wearily. “However—we girls merely thought we’d like to have a Woman’s Masonic Society.” “And I thought it was Women’s Missionary Society,” cried Peter. “And so,” I continued, paying no attention to his interruption, “they came here this afternoon to organize. I was elected Worshipful Mistress—”
“Haw—haw—you would be,” Peter guffawed. “—and after the election of the officers and committee, we started to have initiations. Mrs. Merson was the first, and everything would have been all right, if you hadn’t opened the door and let the goat out.” “Let it out!” gasped Peter. “I never saw it. Something about the weight of a ten ton truck hit me and the next thing I was sitting up on the grass seeing stars, Masonic aprons and whites of eyes. Where’d you get the goat?” “Rented it,” I said briefly, and then I ran to answer the bell, and left Peter to digest my explanation. The goat man was at the door, and he too looked annoyed. “What you let my goat go for?” he demanded. “I find my goat down the street, and a lady knocked over cause she hit him for eatin’ her hydrangea plant. What you let my goat go for?” “I didn’t,” I denied. “He broke a hundred dollars’ worth of china, nearly killed two officers of his Majesty’s army and escaped. Here’s the two dollars I owe you and I guess that’s all to-day.” I went back to and
discovered Peter with tears in his eyes, and a sort of strained look about his mouth. “Please don’t scold any more,” I begged. “I’m tired and mad and I never did take kindly to correction. There’s your apron—I’ll have my own before the next meeting.” Peter took it, examined it carefully, and folded it away. Then he straightened and regarded me sternly for a minute before his face crinkled up and he sat down on the bed (which he knew he isn’t allowed to do) and laughed until he cried. “Pokey—you are the uttermost limit,” he groaned, wiping his eyes. “If you could have seen the Colonel— “I did,” I giggled, “and I also saw you. Oh, Peter!”
“He thought he was coming home to be in at the finish of a Missionary Meeting,” said Peter. “He asked after you and I told him your heart was wrapped up in your home, your children and the church and that I had left you preparing to entertain the W. M. S., and he said he would like to meet you again and that maybe, if we hurried, he might be privileged to close the meeting, as he was an elder. And .then to walk into this party—” “What’d he say?” I asked. “He said he didn’t wonder I’d gone to war,” admitted Peter; “and I told him that you were priceless—and that my life had never known the scourge of monotony.” “Rhetoric and everything,” I said. “You aren’t angry, Peter?” “N-ot now,” he said, kissing me. “Then everything’s fine,” I said. “Maybe you’ll help me prepare our manual, will you?” “Perhaps,” said Peter cautiously. “There’s one thing I’ve already decided,” I told him; “I shall not abbreviate Worshipful Mistress. It sounds too humble.
“Humble—■” interrogated my husband. “What do you mean, humble?” “Oh just—humble and subservient and —you know, all that sort of thing,” I complained. “Wor. Ms. See? Worms!” (Another Peter and Pokey story will appear shortly.)