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Any Excuse Will Do

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"Jo?" Friedrich Bhaer called, climbing down the steps to the basement. There was a hammer in his right hand and a wet paper in his left hand. "Teddy gave me your note."

 Mother Bhaer was in the darkest corner that they used as a storage space, with a candle in its proper candlestick. It was an heirloom piece obtained with the house and she was pretty fond of it for reasons Mr. Bhaer ever cared to explore.

"I hope my declensions were properly applied."

"Right on spot, clever woman, but, if you don't mind me saying, it seemed a bit excessive to write such a banal request in Ancient Greek."

Jo laughed and ten years were lifted from her face. The good man appreciated her cheerful disposition. It was his wife best feature.

"I didn't want our rowdy flock to know where you were to be for a good quarter of hour at the very least."

"Your flawless plan, my dearest treasure, failed to take into account that I teach these children proper Greek."

"That's why I sent you the note with Teddy, who is young enough to care little for Greek or any other ancient language."

Friedrich Bhaer presented her the note. His eyes draw attention to the fact that the paper was so wet with their youngest son's drool that it was almost illegible.

"I must remember to send you the next note in a book."

"In Classic Latin?"

"Why must we sell ourselves short, professor?" Jo Bhaer took a step toward her husband and put her hand over the hammer. "I thought of propose Russian, but you will take it as a challenge or, perish the thought, as a new subject to teach to your students."

"I would gladly spend my nights learning it by your side."

"I appreciate the thought, Fritz, but your assistance was sought to help me secure new racks for my preserves."

"So I gather..."

"So, tell me, professor. How much time do you need to place these racks on the wall?"

Mrs. Bhaer accompanied her question with a flourish to show the evenly distributed oak racks solidly fixed in their place.

Just in the condition he had left them last summer.

Those racks were empty.

The good Father Bhaer had a sharp mind that enabled him to impart his wisdom on young heads but, by dint of being honest, he had lost the ability to take a hint.

"Heart's dearest..." Fritz exclaimed and put the chewed note inside his pocket before leaning to blow the candle.