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Maggie learns about the Irish Initiation.
Clancy cleared his throat again, and turned his head from side to side, remembering. "And weren't she somethin', though?
"There I was, layin' there on that fancy Chesterfield sofa all busted up and sure I wouldn't be good for nothin' no more, feelin' so sorry for myself I couldn't hardly hear one word of what you folks was tellin' me about getting up off my ahhhhh- hind end. I was 'bout ready to hire my own undertaker and build a coffin, when along come Miss Lily."
He shook his head, a huff of laughter escaping. "She didn't care how broke I was, how twisted-round my fingers healed up, how many legs I had, or even whether I could walk at all. All she cared about was stories and stars. She squeezed in behind my sofa there and stood lookin' out the window 'til the sun went down. Took a good hour 'fore the first stars came out, and she chattered the whole time, telling me 'bout the chained lady and the hero who rescued her, after slaying a horrible monster the day before. And don't you know- she knew alla them Greek names, too, every one, though she weren't hardly three at the time."
Clancy grinned over his shoulder, and Becky nearly laughed for joy. Seeing his love for Lily and his obvious pride in her intelligence- he was convinced she was smarter than the boys- "both of you hooligans combined ain't as smart as your sister," he teased them- seeing those things and remembering how close he'd been to death was enough to make anyone joyous, she thought, and then she did laugh out loud.
Clancy turned, grinning, and gestured at her foot. "Pull your frills down, Miss Becky, 'fore your sister gets a gander at them togs you're wearin' underneath."
Becky shook her skirt and checked both sides to make sure her boot-tops- and the trousers emerging from beneath them- were covered. She made a face. "It's so silly. I don't see why I can't ride out just like all the rest of you without hiding under all this fabric."
Clancy knew better than to get involved in that particular argument. No matter what he said, someone was sure to be upset with him- Nanny, Colt, and Jem for the impropriety of Becky going about in trousers, Cat for the aggravation, or Becky herself for what she considered the sheer foolishness. "Well, you oughta know it ain't gonna last, anyway, no man's gonna stand for his wife goin' around showin' everyone her . . . uh . . . wearin' trousers."
Becky gaped at his back for a solid minute before managing to clap her lips together. "Which is yet another good argument against marriage."
It was Clancy's turn to gape. He pulled up short to let Becky draw even with him, then kneed West Wind to start him up. "Now, Miss Becky, don't you go takin' what I said like that."
Becky suppressed a smile, wondering how much of Clancy's concern was based on a healthy fear of her sister's reaction, but she reassured him. "My opinion of wedded bliss has naught to do with your comment, Clancy, and everything to do with the basic inequity of the institution."
"I have more than enough money from my inheritance to live comfortably for the rest of my years, anywhere I choose to go. I can travel, experience other cultures, see historic buildings, beautiful paintings and sculpture, anything I'd like. Why would I give that away- sign my name on a marriage contract relinquishing control of my fortune to some man who might squander every dime?"
Becky was safe in making such a sweeping statement without her family here to argue the minutiae of the law.
"Why? Why? To have a family, of course!"
"I have a family already. I see no need to import another one."
"Oh, Miss Becky, you know what I'm sayin'- to have a family of your own- children, a husband, grandchildren one day. Life don't mean much without havin' children around us in our old age."
Becky hesitated, wondering about Clancy's past. "I have Cat's children. I don't need more than that."
"You don't want a babe of your own to love and treasure forever?"
Becky opened her mouth to reply, thinking of the infant they all stil