Hattie Boot – Part II
Even to you, there is something strangely goose-like in the sudden, sweeping arrival of a flock of white-clad women. The shaded village green, starred with a rustic steepled church, provides the perfect picnic setting. The Walnut Hill Wheelwomen park their machines and repin their hats beneath the maples. On the other side of the green, a dapper-looking group of Wheelmen are flexing their muscles ~ to some of them, shaking their heads in disapproval. The one with the handlebar moustache is approaching, a broad smile stretching his tanned cheeks.
“Who’s the chap in charge here?” he jokes. So many men, these days, refer to women as “manly women” – it’s nearly impossible to tell when someone is joking.
“How can I help you?” Fern Trumble asks coldly, stepping forward. “Handle Bars” puts an arm around Fern’s shoulders as a preface to their convergence. She recoils wildly, as a serge of Wheelwomen press forward in protest.
“How dare you, sir!” Fern roars. But the truth of the matter, you have to admit, is that men often treat women in trousers as though they were common prostitutes. Yet another reason to stay in skirts. You’d rather have Fern as your ‘enemy’ than Handlebars as your ‘friend’.
When Fern storms off Mrs. Oliver Hanson steps up to handle the swine. He’s inviting their fellow cyclists to join the Wineborough Wheelmen on their side of the green. Mrs. Hanson, like so many of the married women in the club, lived in a constant state of celebration when not near their husbands.
“By all means, Mr. Rook.”
Some of the ladies began moving toward the shady part of the green. Mr. Rook offered his arm, and Mrs. Hanson received it – a most unseemly way to tarry on in broad daylight. Fern Trumble announces she’s going to explore the dunes. A gang of trousered girls follow her. What you want is to explore on your own. Why else would you have joined this club, if not for the chance to discover new places and bring home mental pictures, remembered smells and breezes to make into watercolor paintings? Before any of the other straggling girls could catch on to you, you waddle behind a tree and undo the buckles around your ankles that tuck your skirt close while you peddle. Your skirts come trumpeting down your legs, skimming the lime colored grass. Now you’ve got to remember to be back at the green by four o’clock. But it’s only noon! Your group has dispersed just like a broken strand of pearls, rolling in every direction. A wave of panic rises from deep inside your corset.
Skirts or not… it is somewhat odd for a young lady to be wandering around on her own in a strange town. Maybe you should latch onto one of the other geese before it’s too late. If you think so, CHOOSE A
What’s the point in joining an adventuring club if you don’t want to have an adventure? A companion is just more whalebone and petticoat. You’re going to strike out on your own. CHOOSE B