Sauce for the Gander
by Grace Verne Silver
The sadly needed Men's' Rights' Movement was yet unborn. Women, in the Twenty-first century, still had all things their own way. They owned nearly all the property, earned most of the money, had all the fat political jobs. After a century of futile, fuming rebellion, men had become what nature obviously intended them to be -- fathers and homemakers.
Bill Robbins was speaking to his only son:
"You didn't get home till nine o'clock last night! Give me an account of yourself!"
"But, father," answered Jimmy; "Sarah took me to Chicago to attend the Grand Television Theatre, and on the way home she stalled her autogiro in a cornfield. Of course, I had to wait till she fixed it. You wouldn't want me to return alone, would you?"
Mrs. Robbins lifted her eyes. She was cogitating blasting editorials for the Washington Blather, and hated to have her brain confused by mere family matters.
"You always have some silly excuse for being out late," she criticized her son. "I've wanted you, Jimmy, repeatedly. NEVER trust yourself alone with these girls. Never again accept a date from a girl unless you take another boy along for a chaperone."
"That's right, son," supplemented his father. "Some day, unless you are more discreet, you will er -- Fall!"
Turning to his wife, he hesitantly asked:
"See how he blushes! Are you sure Sarah is being -- er -- straight with our boy?"
"Leave the matter to me," responded Mrs. Robbins in her best platform manner. "The virtue of our young men is a sacred trust. I will guard the purity of our son as vigilantly as you do the quality of his vitamins."
A faint bell announced a visitor. Mrs. Robbins glanced casually in the visual periscope, pressed a button, and after a slight delay a young woman of brisk, business like manner entered the room. Jimmy came forward with shy but obvious pleasure.
"Hello, everybody," she answered, with the briefest nod toward him and his father. Seating themselves, the two women began an earnest conversation, quite ignoring Jimmy and his father. From time to time conversational swatches came to their ears:
"---really fond of Jimmy, anyway --- want to do the right thing --- realized I seriously compromised him last night." Turning to the men, Sarah explained carefully.
"Jimmy I have just asked your mother for your hand in marriage. She has consented, but thing you ought to be consulted."
"Yes, I won't force my son to marry against his will."
Mr. Robbins extracted a lacy handkerchief and began to weep:
"My poor, innocent little boy! Why, he's only a child!"
"I am well aware of that," Sarah assured the parents. "I shall always treat him with the care and consideration which his unsullied purity and tender years deserve."
"You realize, of course, that he is only twenty-seven?"
'Indeed, yes, Mrs. Robbins; but I am well past eighteen. I have a good position; I assure you I am able to properly support him." Turning to Jimmy she added, as an afterthought.
"I really do love you; tell me you'll be mine!"
She didn't care much for this love stuff herself; but boys, she'd heard, were incurably romantic. Jimmy would want to be loved as well as married.
"Oh, Sarah, this is so -- sudden!" The boy was softly crying on daddy's shoulder.
"Perhaps I've hurried you too much," contritely; "but my time is very valuable. I want to settle this matter now. I can't waste time in courting. After we're married --"
"No, no! I can't," wailed Jimmy.
"Hush, darling," pleaded the girl, gently, as one speaks to a child or a valued inferior. "I have long noticed your gentle shyness and timid modesty. I really want you. I must have you."
Imperiously, she waved the parent from the room. They left reluctantly. Mr. Robbins paused to hint broadly.
"I'm trusting you not to betray our confidence."
"Come, Jimmy," taking him in her arms. As he still protested she kissed away his tears and drew him closer.
"Dear boy, we were made for each other! You shall always have a home. I will always watch over and protect you. That is, of course, as long as you obey me. Don't you love me, sweetheart?"
"Oh, Sarah, of course I do! But -- but I have a -- a Past! I'm not the Pure Young Man you think me!"
Sarah's face darkened with consternation. A horrible suspicion entered her mind. She must have the true facts.
"Who was the girl?"
"I was coming home from the movies with Mary -- you know, my cousin. And you know what sort she is! I never meant to -- to let her be so familiar! But she -- she kissed me!" stuttered Jimmy as he slid to the floor, burying her shamed face in her lap.
Sarah leaned forward, took his face in her two capable hands. Grimly, for she must know the Worst, she demanded:
"Tell me the whole truth. What happened after the kiss?"
"Why, we came home, of course!"
"Is that ALL? Have you told me the worst?"
Jimmy lifted a flaming, tear stained face. He loved Sarah; it was bitter to lose her respect this way.
"Oh,Sarah, what could be worst than that?"
She was convinced, even a trifle amused. What a well-brought-up young man he was, to be sure, if a mere kiss worried him so much! She thought his father must have been very careful. "What a fine, careful father he will be for my children!" But an alarming thought occurred to Sarah, disturbing her terribly. She raised Jimmy to his feet, looked solemnly in his eyes, and spoke:
"Jimmy, I'm sorry to ask this, but I must know. Tell me truly; can you cook?"
"Why Sarah, of course I can! I'm an honor graduate of the Home Making Institute, a postgraduate of the Epicures Cooking School! And you just ought to see my Hope Chest!"
"Then all the rest is forgiven. Tell you father to get your trousseau ready so we can be married before Christmas."
Proceed toStory Five
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