Fathers Know

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The Upright Son is, as I said, off like a herd of turtles. Father and son encountered a group of children wading in a creek on the Clarion Estate. They turned out to be the new renters in the dower house. Neither father nor son could quite get the, er, unusual group out of their head.


With his head full of his unusual neighbor, that plan [to work on political plans] held little appeal. The sight of his son half way up a ladder looking at books pushed it right out of his thoughts.

The boy peered over his shoulder at the open door and climbed down carrying a book. “I’m sorry, sir. I expected you to still be taking notes in the breakfast parlor. You usually don’t come to your study for another half hour.”

Am I really that predictable? “Don’t apologize, Ashmead. You’re welcome to use my books. Can I help you with something?”

“No thank you. I think this may have what I want.” He held up a volume of Shaw’s General Zoology.

David studied his son’s face. “Do you have the correct volume? There are fourteen of them!” He glanced at the title. “Were you looking for birds?”

The boy’s face colored. “Frogs actually.”

 “Ah. I think I know which volume you need.” David reached up and fingered through the set, pulling out the third volume. “Here you are. Amphibia. That should have what you want. Shall we take a look?”

It wasn’t difficult to find chapters on frogs and plates to illustrate them. David found what he sought on page 29, a plate illustration the common frog, its tadpole, and its eggs. “Is this what you were looking for?”

Absorbed in the drawings, the boy nodded.

“It is an unusual life cycle, isn’t it?” the earl said.

His son’s head bobbed again. “I just kept wondering after we saw those children. No wonder they were so…”

David’s lips twitched. “Messy?”

“I was going to say dedicated,” his son replied glancing up.

It was not a word David would have used. “Curious?”

“Yes curious. Although I’m curious, and yet I don’t think I would be curious enough to stain my trousers in the mud.”

A smile slowly transformed David’s face. No, I certainly don’t think so. “It would be interesting to witness the process, though, wouldn’t it?”

“Indeed, sir. For the sake of science.” The boy closed the book. “May I borrow this book?”

“You certainly may. You’re always welcome to my books.” The little viscount rose to leave, but his father had an idea. “Do you suppose the Fitzwallace children would share their findings with you? We could pay them a call and inquire.”

Hope bloomed on the boy’s face. “Do you think they would show me what they found?”

“We can but express interest and hope for an invitation.”

“I would like that very much, sir.”

“Shall we say, two o’clock. We will ride over and present our calling card.”

David’s mood improved at the thought. He would see his neighbor again. He found her as interesting as his son found the frogs, and was just as curious to see her in her natural habitat, if indeed his dower house qualified as such a thing.

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Caroline Warfield, Author

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