Pokey Finds Simple Life Complex

A trip to the country, a mother-in-law, a home-made circus and a few other odds and ends of a peaceful, bucolic life unite to provide a “restful” holiday for Peter, Pokey and the “Bits.” If there is trouble abroad that Pokey cannot tumble into it is because she hasn’t yet climbed out of the last lot.

NORMA PHILLIPS MUIR August 1 1925

Pokey Finds Simple Life Complex

A trip to the country, a mother-in-law, a home-made circus and a few other odds and ends of a peaceful, bucolic life unite to provide a “restful” holiday for Peter, Pokey and the “Bits.” If there is trouble abroad that Pokey cannot tumble into it is because she hasn’t yet climbed out of the last lot.

NORMA PHILLIPS MUIR August 1 1925

Pokey Finds Simple Life Complex

A trip to the country, a mother-in-law, a home-made circus and a few other odds and ends of a peaceful, bucolic life unite to provide a “restful” holiday for Peter, Pokey and the “Bits.” If there is trouble abroad that Pokey cannot tumble into it is because she hasn’t yet climbed out of the last lot.

NORMA PHILLIPS MUIR

"PETER,” I said. "I’ve changed my mind.”

“That,” stated Peter, “is no change. It’s a chronic condition.”

“Waiving the opening for argument. I'll continue," I said. “We're not going to Biggunsglory for the rest of our holidays. Our children need a change more than we do. They are far from well.” "They don’t eat like they were in danger of dying from anything but consumption of victuals," grunted Peter. “1 think—” “Don’t! It’ll give you a headache,” I warned him. "We can save money and

“When you begin to talk about saving money I w ish we didn’t have a joint bank

account.” worried Peter. "With you. saving means doing without one thing so you can have two others. Where’s the catch?”

“There isn't any, but I got a letter from your mother to-day inviting us to visit her. The country' air will be good for the children and I’ve decided to accept.”

“You’re delirious,” gasped Peter. “Let papa feel y'our head.”

"Go ’way,” I said crossly’.

“Your mother's sponged on us so often that I've no compunction about living with her a few weeks.”

“This ain’t going to be a holiday, it'll be a campaign,” he mourned. “You and mother aren’t exactly the popular idea of Ruth and Naomi, you know.”

'T may have been a bit hasty' with her, but I wasn't well,” I said. "Anyway we’re going, and there won't be anything for you to do but just loaf. It’ll be a lark for me to help mother ”

“Yeh. a lark for a coupla days and then it’ll be a loon we’ll have on our hands.” he said. “I vote In the negative.”

It was the original motion which carried, however, and ten days later saw us er. route for Wellingford. Anycounty.

T HE trip itself is better passed over without reference. Men have no patience with children anyway, and Peter finally fell back on the time-worn excuse that he needed a smoke, and left me to look after the twins. When he came back we were all asleep, but he wakened us with a bellow’ and shook my shoulder none too gently.

“Did you do that?” he asked, pointing to a sign I had pinned up to the blind of our section.

“Certainly," I said, gazing with pride at the neatly printed sign which announced, “Yes, they're twins.” “It has saved me answering the last fifty who’ve passed us.” “Fer gosh sakes,have you started your funny business already?” he snarled, ripping down the sign.

"Don’t show your teeth, Peter, the dog catchers are out.“ I said mildly. “A little exercise won’t hurt you, and -Joan wants another drink.”

“That kid’s water pipe’s a fathom long,” he grunted as he yanked her down the aisle, and from then on until we steamed into Wellingford the Ronald family indulged in silence.

Mother Ronald was there to meet us with a two-seated buggy and a team that didn’t look as though it would kill them to trek us to British Columbia and back.

“Peter, dear, what makes the horses have such thick

ankles?” I asked.

“Because they wear shoes instead of boots,” he retorted. “and the reason they don’t have to be cranked is because they’re self-starters. See?”

“There’s no doubt about it, the boy’s bright,” I said to Mother Ronald. “Peter, Jack wants to drive a bit,” and before Peter could do more than give me a dirty look I had bundled my four-and-a-half year old son into the front seat.

“Don’t you think it is time to teach your children that thevr must not expect to get everything they wrant, Ruth?” asked my mother-in-law.

“Also the converse, not to want everything they expect

to get, like free advice and prickly heat and—and things like that,” I smiled, and she took a tuck in her upper lip and let it go at that.

“I hope the start’s the finish,” I soliloquized, “but bet this isn’t going to be any Roman holiday for her, unless my name figures in the valedictory to the first victim.”

“Ruth, if you are going to bait Mother all the time we’re here I’m on my way home now,” stated Peter the first moment we were alone in our room.

“I won’t either bite or bait unless it’s a case of selfpreservation,” I began, “but while we’re speaking of . . . my gosh! Peter—run . . .!”

“Where?” he hollered.

“Well!” I shrieked, starting.

Peter got there first, and before he snaked Jack off the rim he gave him one resounding wallop which well-nigh knocked him in.

“ You stay away from that well," he roared.

“I was just trying to see the pail,” wailed Jack. “It fell off the big wood crochet hook, mummy.”

“My Godfrey, the first act is under way,” snapped Peter. “I mighta known what to expect.” And then he took the well-hook thing and began to fish for the pail.

“Do you suppose if you put a nice piece of salt pork on the hook the pail’d bite?” I asked sarcastically after a few minutes.

“Don’t let your sense of humor overcome your discretion,” he warned me, and then he went over to the general store which carries everything from clove apples to corset laces and bought a new pail.

“Mother, it is certainly good to be here,” he lied at tea, but he didn’t have time to imperil his soul further, for Mother Ronald passed Joan the cheese, and when I

interfered the fight was on.

“My son always had cheese,” she said.

“Yes, and look at the disposition he’s got now,” I said.

“Ruth, it is the duty of every mother to hold her husband up to his children as a model,” she said sternly. “But he’s big and I’m little and he’s too much for me to hold up,” I pointed out. “My son,” she wailed. “She’s pulling your leg, mother,” he grinned. “Limb, Peter! Limb!” she gasped. “Oh, what’s a leg between friends,” I said. “Pass the ginger snaps,” and that ended that.

that.

“You take the children and fetch the eggs, Ruth,” said Mother Ronald next morning. “They’d like that.”

They did, and so did I. We got eighteen and, then I washed six for breakfast, one for each of us and two for Peter, and put them on to boil while the mother-in-law made toast on the oil stove.

Suddenly there was a sharp explosion and we both jumped. “That was close,” I said. “Where are the children?” she asked.

“With their dad,” I said, “and anyway they wouldn’t touch a thing without asking.”

We didn’t discover what it was until Mother Ronald went to take up the eggs, and then she exclaimed, and said: “Ruth, see here what you’ve done.”

I’d boiled the nest egg—a lifelike china one—and she was a bit pepperish about it, although like a Christian she kept it inside instead of getting it out of her system.

“Well, well! how unique,” I said. “Charge it!” and then I called them into breakfast, and Peter was peevish because he only got one egg.

“If I put another on now in cold water it’ll be done by noon,” I said. “Even the heat is slow in the country.”

“Peter,” said the mother-in-

law, “in a couple of days when you are rested I wish you’d put a few new shingles on the barn roof, and there are several dead limbs I’d like sawed off the trees in the orchard, and I find that the back steps are sagging and the pulley on the window in the spare-chamber is gone. There are a few other little things you can fix up for me now that you’re here, but I’ll tell you about them again.”

“Smile,” I hissed at him as she went out for more toast.

“Aw gimme a rest,” he grouched. “Gosh! barn, orchard —house—■”

“You ought to be glad we didn’t come in the fall or you’d have had the apples to stem,” I giggled.

“Ruth,” he said, “I forgot my golf clubs.”

“Well, it’s a messy way to kill chickens anyway,” I comforted him, “and ...”

“Idiot! I wanted practice with those sponge balls,” he said.

“You aren’t going to have much time,” I reminded him, and on that we arose.

XJEXT day Peter started on the dead trees, and after the dishes were done up I lost a pail down the well and then I went out to watch him.

“Peter, the new pail’s gone,” I said simply.

“Where’s it gone? Didja drill through to China?” he asked.

“It fell off the big crocket hook thingumajig,” I told him.

“Whatja trying to do, start a tin mine?” he inquired and then he glared at me and went on sawing.

I thought there was something strange about Peter in relation to that tree, but I didn’t figure it out until nature tipped me off. There was a sudden crack, Peter’s saw flew through the air, and Peter and the amputated limb crashed to the ground.

“What’d you do that for?” he howled, rolling óvér and snarling at me. “What’cha do that time?”

“I didn’t do a thing, you nut,” I giggled. “What did you think the limb would do when it was ’most sawed through? Send you a wireless it was ready so you could get off? You were sitting on the wrong end of it.”

“I was—what?” he inquired, and then it filtered through, and Peter roared with laughter while he rubbed where he’d hit.

“I think I’ll fix the barn roof now, and then the worst will be over,” he said. “You hold the ladder while I mount, and just remember I said ‘hold.’ ”

“Don’t get a fever,” I said. “Mama’s on the engine,” and then after Peter was safely up I thought what fun we’d have if we had a circus, so I called the children, and they told their grandmother, and she allowed them to put a new little pig—that is, fairly new— in a crate, and some chickens, and a lamb.

We used the drive house for our tent, and tied the lamb, and coaxed the cat and her kittens in, and got the dog and the pony from across the road, and we were all set when Peter hollered that he needed more nails and shingles and for me to hand them up to him. I did it, and it was when I was at the top of the ladder, which Jack and Joan were steadying, that I had the noble thought which ended so disastrously.

The children who owned the pony were invited to play with us, of course, and they wanted some little friends from the house on the top of the hill, and soon the drive house was nearly full with Peter still on top working.

WE BEGAN the show with me as the clown, and I had more fun than the children did. The pony was most docile and permitted me to ride it standing up which I did by means of hanging on to the rope I had strung across the big open space for the purpose. Then we fed raw meat to what was supposed to be the wild-cat, teased the timber wolf to try and make it growl, but all the collie’d do was grin, and then, just when Joan, with her dress off and five frilly petticoats billowing out about her, was about to jump through the hoop which I had pasted paper on, the inevitable happened.

It was Peter, of course. We had been perfectly and innocently happy for over an hour, and then, just because he happened to find the ladder gone when he was ready to come down, he had to begin dancing a horn-pipe of rage, at the moment when Jack, in his excitement over the feat Joan was about to perform, let go the collie’s rope.

Afterward I learned that the dog and cat had been sworn enemies for years, and believe me they spent all the venom they had stored.

Peter kicked and stamped on the roof, he said to gain my attention, and then he accompanied one terrific thud with a whoop.

That tore it!

Joan didn’t jump through the hoop.

She fell through it, and in falling knocked •over the crate with the pig in it—the crate which had merely been set over the pig.

At the same moment Jack let go the rope,

•and the dog and cat simultaneously saw it was their day. The pig began to squeal and run around wild and it got wedged between the pony’s hind feet, whereat the pony kicked and reared, and in the general melee which followed someone let the chickens loose.

In my day I’ve visited the wholesale houses, but I never saw such a display of furs and feathers as I did then.

“Open the door!” I yelled. “Open the door there, and let ’em out!” and the fool kid opened the door which let onto the Toad instead of the one which opened into the barnyard, and out went a cloud of dust, and with it the pig and the pony and most of the chickens, and took for the nearest town. The cat and dog decided the ring provided was good enough for them and went to it, but after the second round the collie called it a day and went home fulla yaps and marks of remembrance which the cat had given him, while the little woolly lamb which couldn’t get loose baaed like a good fellow, just so it would get credit for some of the performance.

/^\F COURSE it all happened in a twinkling. I had time to see that Jack had taken refuge in the hay-mow, while Joan was howling her head off and trying to get a couple of legs and arms free from

the paper and wood of her hoop. The neighbor kids took for home as tight as they could go, and up on the roof my husband was yelling for a ladder.

“Shut up, Joan. Help her, Jack,” I ordered, “and you Peter Ronald,” I yelled, “why don’t you pray for wings and come down here?”

“H’ist that ladder, you poor fish,” he shrieked. “Sufferin’ sockeye, I might known this peace was too good to last. Git that ladder."

“Pull yourself to pieces,” I said, “I’m getting it. Nobody’s hurt.”

“You will be when I get down,” he threatened. “Ruth, fer the luvamud get the ladder! I got to catch the pig and the pony!”

I finally got the ladder up, and Peter shinnied down it, and then he started down the road after the live-stock, and it was half an hour before he came back, riding the pony and leading the grunting little porker by a rope.

“The chickens have taken to the tall timbers,” he announced after he had taken the pony home, apologized, put the pig back in the pen and assured Mother Ronald who had had a “spell” that the chickens would all come home sooner or later.

“Now,” he said to me, “will you kindly explain?”

“Case is to come up at the fall assizes,” I said. “Have a rest. You look all in.”

He did lie down, and when the children came sneaking back, ready for more of the same brand of fun, I told them the animal part of the show was all off, but we’d think of something else. I did, too. Peter had left the ladder up at the side of the barn, and measuring the distance the ridgepole was from the ground I decided to take a chance.

I’d always wanted to have a balloon trip, and I made up my mind that now, at least, I could try out the parachute idea. Mother Ronald was lying down, to stop the palpitations, she said, so I didn’t bother to ask her for an umbrella, but took one I found and with the admiring

crowd of children watching I went up the ladder, crawled up the side of the roof to the ridgepole, and made my way along to the end.

“Might as well play safe,” I said, so I had the kids bring out a lot of straw and put it where I would land, and then when all was ready I stood up, and opened the umbrella.

“Gosh, I wish my mother’d play with us like this,” said Mrs. Silas Essau Slackensby’s third, “but she never would.”

“My mother always has time to play with us,” said Jack proudly, “and she thinks up the grandest games.”

It looked a little farther to the ground than I had figured it would, but after that I couldn’t back out.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I began, “you are about to witness the perilous parachute descent of Ruth the Ruthless. Stand back.”

T HAD my eye on the straw and was about to step off

the ridge-pole right above it when a shout from the house startled me, and with a quick look over my shoulder I saw Peter tearing down the path, his arms flying, his eyes all whites, and yelling like a wild man.

“Wait!” he roared.

I tried to, but he was too late. One foot was over the edge, and as I tried to draw it back the other slipped, and over I went. For one moment the umbrella held me up— and then it didn’t, and I didn’t even fall standing, turned a couple of times and landed on my shoulder with a thump—right where the straw was thinnest.

I saw the whole darn constellation when my head hit, and then I sat up and blinked.

“Good—”

“Peter, the children!” I interrupted him.

“Gosh all gracious,” he finished, “what’n heck are you trying to do.”

“That—” I said, pointing to the ridge-pole with a finger which showed a tendency to gyrate, “that, my dear, was merely a gesture.” “Meaning what?” he snorted.

“I ask you, could I do that in the city’s trammelled ways?” I inquired, trying to be patient with him.

“Not without landing in the boobyhatch,” he admitted.

“Pre-cisely,” I said. “It was a gesture of salute to the freedom of the country life. Shall we say no more about it?” “You bet wre shall,” he said, ominously, and then he helped me to my feet and sent the kids home and took me in the house and gave me fits.

“One more gesture and I’ll try a few,” he said in conclusion, “and I shall say them with barrel staves. Get me?”

“Yes, dear,” I said. “Will you run over to the store now, Peter? Joan just lost another pail.”

THE rest of the first week passed without any serious ripples. We did go to a funeral, a fussy church affair, but Mother Ronald has since told that they are always that kind in the country.

“Why do they always sing the milkman’s favorite at funerals?” I asked Peter when the minister announced, “Shall We Gather At the River.” “Do you suppose they water the milk of human kindness up yonder?”

And Peter and his mother both looked horrified. I often have beautiful thoughts like that, but no one seems to appreciate them.

As I said, the first week was peaceful, too peaceful to last, and when Mother Ronald announced that we were to attend the closing exercises of the school, and then come home and go to the church for a chicken-pie social, I began to think the social season was opening up.

“The pastor is coming to lunch with us. and drive out to the little school-house where your husband went to school," she said.

“Don't let your voice quiver like that: tremolo’s gone out," I said. "Here comes the minister. How do I address him? Doctor?”

"Doctor Deevine,” she fluttered, "meet my daughter-in-law, Peter’s wife.”

“I am indeed glad to meet you." he said. "And these are the twins. Well, well!"

I sent the children away to play until lunch time, and didn't notice that they went upstairs instead of out. Didn’t notice anything, in fact, I was so interested in what Dr. Deevine and Peter were

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talking about, until there was a scream and a crash above.

The children were nowhere to be seen, but overturned on the floor was the glass case of stuffed birds and their eggs, and the stuffings had been knocked out of them.

“This’ll mean a life sentence,” said Peter. “I was licked every time I looked close at ’em, until I learned not to.”

“Peter, you shall not punish them in anger,” wheezed Mother Ronald coming up the stairs.

“Come here, children,” I called, and they came from under the bed, and I’ll say this for my mother-in-law, there was no dust on ’em.

“Joan!” I cried, for across her head was an ugly cut. “Peter, some water.”

“How will you punish them,” asked Mother Ronald in curiosity.

“Didn’t touch them,” averred Jack before I could answer. “Held Joan up to see them, and she slipped and grabbed the case and it fell.”

“You knew better than to climb up there,” said Peter. “You come with me.”

“No,” I interfered, “I will make him learn some verses, and then each time he J thinks of the verses he’ll remember”

“Ruth, you’re a wise woman,” said Mother Ronald. “Peter, leave them to Ruth,” and she beamed at me and led the way downstairs.

By the time I had a strip of plaster on Joan’s head, and had washed them, Jack knew his verses, and we went down just as lunch was ready.

“Can you say grace, little one?” asked Dr. Deevine of Joan.

“Yeth, the one my Daddy taught me or the one my mummy taught me?” she asked.

“The one your dear daddy taught you,” beamed Mother Ronald.

“No-no,” I cried.

“Go on Joan, dear,” said my mother-inlaw firmly, and folding her hands Joan said in a high voice:

“God bleth uth all in a minute,

Each grab a hot murphy and thkin it.

Amen.”

“Pass the butter,” I said, and there was no discussion, but Mother Ronald was crimson, and the minister had all he could do to keep his face straight.

WE GOT through lunch somehow, and it was time to go.

“I would like to hear Jack say his j verses before he is allowed to go,” said I Mother Ronald primply, and Jack looked I at me.

“Oh no,” I gasped.

“It is my wish,” she retorted, and Jack I rose, bowed, and without error recited:

“I wisht I was a bird’s egg,

I wisht I was a bad one,

I wisht a little boy’d come climbin’ up a tree

I wisht he’d want a bird’s egg I wisht he’d think he had one And I bust my shell With an awful smell And smear him all over With me.”

“Well, I must say ...” exclaimed Mother Ronald.

And that time the minister didn’t try to keep it in. He shouted with laughter, he and Peter, and then he said it was the best example of fitting the punishment to the crime he’d ever seen and then we went to the school closing.

I didn’t want to go. I had a feeling that something would happen, and of course it did. I have a very good voice, a sort of a sopralto if you get me—quite a range across but not up and down, and while the people were gathering everybody sang, and I had a grand time. I noticed several people turning to look at me, and Peter patted my hand and grinned his pride and I was so happy. Might a known it couldn’t last.

It was a delightful day, but there was a strong wind blowing off the lake, and after the rain the day before the building was a bit dampish, so they had built a small fire in the wood stove. Jack was up at the front with the other children, and it was he who leaned forward when the teacher asked the one nearest to close the draft. I thought I saw a second movement but I was not sure, and it wouldn’t have been any good anyway. The deed was done.

It was Peter’s fault for putting it into the child’s mind, and with the first faint sniffle, followed by a real sneeze, I knew what had happened.

I stole a look at Peter and his eyes were glassy.

“Peter—” I said.

“Shut up,” he whispered. “That little devil—”

Then it began. Curiously enough the teacher had just asked a little boy what was one of the exports of Cayenne and before he had a chance to answer there came a salvo of sneezes, and after that we gave, one by one, a characteristic answer to her query.

It was the most varied program I ever heard broadcast. There were sneezes that started way down in the lower register and ended on high “C.” The contraltos proved a bit clannish, but the tenors and basso profundos didn’t even try to keep to the tune but rollicked around in deep distress.

“Gosh, I’d like a record of this,” I wheezed between spasms, but Peter wasn’t having any, thank you. He couldn’t find his hankie and he was muttering things that certainly were never intended for a school closing.

Everyone was trying to get out, and it wasn’t long before the stove and the pepper had the little red school-house to themselves, while we all stood about tearfully and sneezed condolences and wondered whose brat had done it.

Finally we reached home, and Peter said he was too worn out to attend to Jack.

“Did you ever tell him about you doing that trick?” I inquired holding the squirming Jack.

“Yes,” admitted Peter.

“Did you tell him what you got for doing it?” I asked.

“Yes, but—”

“Then take your son and complete the

program,” I said, and then I went to our bedroom and cried harder if less loud than Jack did.

MOTHER RONALD refused to go to the chicken pie social if the children were going, and I didn’t blame her. We left them home, and because I was sorry for her I put on my black velvet dinner dress, when she intimated that the affair would be “dressy,” and then I was mad because she thought it was too much. I didn’t take it off, either. Wish I had now for it was a pretty dress.

We went, leaving Jack and Joan tied up in the door yard with not enough rope to let them near the well, and as Peter had tied them with slip knots I felt they were secure.

We were enjoying the chicken-pie immensely, and there was a hot one approaching us, when we heard a curious noise. It was as of something travelling quickly through space. It lit—right near us, and then there was a new sound, one of singing, but no particular tune. “What is it?” I asked Peter.

He looked over his shoulder, balancing the chicken pie which had jüst been handed to him, and then it all happened so suddenly it is hard to relate.

“What is it?” I hollered, for folks were yelling and colliding with each other in their effort to get out.

“I don’t know—yes, I do,” he yelled, as something lit on his nose—“Hornets by hokey!” and he jumped.

“Peter!” I hollered. “Peter!”

“I’m busy, I tell yah,” he cried, caressing his nose, and then I had a feeling that I had been hit on the head with a ten-ton truck.

“I’m stunned,” I wailed.

“You’re stung,” he informed me. “Come on.”

The room was in an uproar. There were hornets everywhere, and they still poured out of the nest which lay behind my chair.

“Keep still, all of you,” I called, and stooping, I picked up that nest and hurled it through the window whence it had come.

“Brave girl,” cried a man. “Hurrah!” but that was as far as he got, for just then a hornet sent him a message in the back of his neck, and at the same moment there came, above the buzzing of the hornets a sudden uproar from the horses. I had thrown the hornets to the horses.

The men nearest the door flung themselves out, but they weren’t soon enough. There were neighs and whinnyings and what one might call horse howls rending the air—the thunder of stamping hoofs, the sound of buggys bumping into each other, and above and through it all the angry buzz of the hornets.

“Peter,” I said, “I think we’d better go home.”

“I paid admission, and I’m going to see this through,” he said.

Everyone was rushing out of the Sunday School but they needn’t have hurried—the hornets weren’t going home yet. Two runaways were tearing down the road, and it took all the persuasion of the men to keep the horses from stampeding. Jack and Joan were not to be seen and I was glad, for I hated to waste vision on them with so much to see.

“The hornets aren’t wearying,” I giggled. “I’m sorry for the horses, but it sure is livening up the party.”

“Come home and keep quiet,” said Peter. “What’ll folks think of you,” and he started for home, but a buggy backed quickly and Peter could only save nine toes from being run over.

“Caterwauling codfish!” he yelled, dancing in the dust. “Oh, my gosh! Oh, my foot!”

“Peter, Peter, remember where you are at,” I reminded him.

“My memory’s atrophied,” he shrieked, and then a hornet alighted and did its stuff, and with another howl he took for home, nursing the seat of his sorrow.

Jack hadn’t meant to do anything wrong. They had decided to sit down in the shade of the tree and watch what they could see of the Social, and then Joan saw the nest and it frightened her, and Jack broke off the little branch it was on and flung it as far as he could, which was across the narrow lane and through the window of the Sunday School House.

“I’m tired, and when I get the children in bed I’m going too,” I told Peter and Mother Ronald. “I got the wish bone in that pie, and all I ask is peace.”

But it was more than I was going to get.

I PUT the Bits to bed, and then crawled in beside them to keep them from talking.

The beds are so high I think I’d never get used to them—high, with wool bed on feather bed, and feather bed on top again, but they sure are successful suitors to slumber, and I was asleep in about two minutes.

I don’t know how much later I wakened. But it was to feel a violent blow on my side, and myself subsequentlyshooting through space. Then I hit something which was hard but which gave, and then I just lay still and hollered.

“P-p-peter,” I screamed, “something’s hit me.”

“Bully for it,” he cried.

“P-p-p-eter, I’m frightened. Where am I?” I yelled.

“My sad aunt! Will yuh quit that yodelling till I find yuh?” he roared, taking the steps two at a time.

“Sufferin’ Saints,” he cried, as he stepped on me and I screeched at him. “Hey—somebody bring a lamp!”

It was the preacher who brought it, but after one quick look Peter snatched it and blew it out.

“Leave me a match and my sanity,” he begged, and the minister retreated while Peter helped me up and then lighted the lamp.

“Now look at yourself,” he gibed.

I was black—what there was of me— and then when I looked around I knew why.

Jack had kicked me out of bed—a vicious habit he gets from his father— kicking in his sleep I mean, and I had caromed into the stove pipe which comes up into the room for warmth—leading from the wood stove below.

Jack sat up in bed and giggled at me, and Peter made a pass at him so that he ducked and disappeared beneath the covers, while Peter struggled to get the elbow back on the pipe, and I washed up as best I could with cold water.

“I’d like to go home, Peter,” I said tremulously.

“That makes it unanimous,” he stated, coldly.

“When?” I said.

“Morning,” he said.

DURING the night a weasel tried to get the chickens, and not knowing that it wasn’t a carnivorous animal I got the children up and dressed against emergencies, and when Peter came back and found the bed across the stairs and me with the little revolver he didn’t know I had with me, he was furious.

“That settles it,” he said. “I wouldn’t trust you with a gun before, and now I know that well-poles, umbrellas, and common sense are some things you ain’t used to having about you. We’re going home.”

“How about you and chicken pies and pepper and saws?” I countered, “and since you want to feel bad so badly I’ll tell you something more. There are six pails in the bottom of the well, and you showed Jack how to focus a mirror from the sun’s rays and he took yesterday afternoon off and melted all the wax fruit under your mother’s glass case.”

“Sufferin’ sockeye,” he gasped. “It’s time we went.”

“Peter, what’s wrong with me?” I asked later when I began to feel sorry for him.

“Goodness knows, dear,” he said sweetly.

I giggled against his shoulder. “But, Peter, you love me as I am, don’t you dear? You like me fulla pep?”

“Y-y-y-yes,” he hesitated, “but you see what I was brought up to, and I confess a little monotony wouldn’t pain me excruciatingly.”

“Well,” I said, “to-morrow we’ll be back home and I’ll see what I can do for you. Gosh, I’m glad to say goodbye to the pigs and chickens and—all.”

And to tell the truth, nobody seemed sorry when we said we were going. Mother Ronald didn’t even take a chance on asking us to reconsider. Guess she’d discovered her waxed wreck.

“If there’s one thing I hate it’s insincerity,” I said to Peter. “She coaxed us to come.”

“And you said you’d been hasty with her,” he reminded me.

“I was,” I admitted, and then when I remembered the things she’d said about the Bits’ bringing up, I added;

“But not hasty enough.”