What Would George Say? By Winj

Word Count 887

In response to Lancer Writers 2009 Challenge George’s Rules of Etiquette

Murdoch glanced at Johnny who was standing in front of a painting with an odd expression on his face. The rancher then looked at their host with an apologetic smile. “Sometimes, he just gets lost in his own thoughts.”

Aggie smiled warmly. “I think he’s trying to figure out the painting. I can’t say I’ve ever had much luck with it, myself.” She looked over at Scott who was chuckling a bit.

“Maybe, I can tear him away.” Scott turned to walk over to his brother.

“Oh, leave him be, Scott. If he’s interested, there’s no harm.”

“The only thing he’s interested in is avoiding talking to any of your guests,” Murdoch groused. He knew exactly what his son was doing. Johnny never liked these dinner parties and he’d tried every excuse in the book and some that weren’t to get out of coming to the Conway ranch tonight. Murdoch would never understand it. There were only ten or so people in attendance including the three of them. His younger son still remained a mystery to him.

“No, he’s not interested,” Scott was saying then glanced at his father. He knew what Johnny was doing as well and he’d been watching as a few people tried to engage his brother in conversation only to find themselves staring at that painting as well. Heaven only knew what Johnny was saying about it but, quickly enough, each of them moved away from him.

Murdoch frowned as he watched the tell tale signs of Johnny’s boredom heightening. He knew it wouldn’t take long and was surprised he’d stayed still until now. “Maybe, we should go over there and at least keep him corralled.”

Scott nodded as Murdoch offered his arm to Aggie then, the three of them began making their way across the large room. As they drew near, Murdoch almost groaned. The minister’s wife sidled up next to his boy and, he knew it wouldn’t take more than a second for her to set Johnny off. He looked at Scott and saw his jaw muscle twitch and the speed of his gait increase.

They were closing in when they heard him.


The plump woman gave him an exasperated roll of the eyes before repeating herself. “I said, in the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.”

The threesome pulled up short and took in a collective breath.

Johnny turned to fully face the short woman, a look of pure confusion on his face. “I wasn’t singing.”

She looked down her nose, her eyes going to his right side. “You were drumming your fingers against your leg.”

Johnny canted his head to one side, a slow smile coming to his face. “Did you want me to drum my fingers against your …”

“Johnny!” Murdoch fairly shouted then took the four strides to get to his son’s side. “I’ve been looking for you, son. Aggie wanted to have a word. Oh, hello, Mrs. Harpirth. You’ll excuse us, I’m sure.” He took in the red-faced, huffing woman with her mouth open then, grasped his son’s arm and guided him from the room.

Scott and Aggie followed, both with their heads down and their shoulders shaking.

Once in the hallway leading to the kitchen, Murdoch released his son then fell against the wall with a sigh.

“What the he…” Johnny stopped, glanced at Aggie then, cleared his throat. “What was she talking about?”

Scott shouldered up to him. “It’s from a book by George Washington, brother. Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”

Leave it to Scott to know the exact title, Johnny thought. “Uh huh. Well, I wasn’t conversatin or trying to be in anyone’s company. Sounds kind of silly to me, anyway.”

Scott sighed and shook his head. “It’s not silly, Johnny. It’s very simple really. In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet. It just means you should pay polite attention when you are in the company of other people. Doing any of those things would indicate you aren’t paying attention and that’s disrespectful.”

When Johnny rolled his eyes, Murdoch stepped into the conversation. “Son, this is a dinner party and there are other guest. You know how this works. You can’t ignore people.”

“No kidding! I’ve been trying all night!” Johnny’s eyes widened as he looked over at Aggie and he wished he could climb under a rock about then. “Sorry, ma’am.”

Aggie’s mouth twitched then, she frowned and pulled her lips into a tight line for a second but, it didn’t help. She suddenly burst out laughing, bending over in her mirth. All three men stared at her until she found some control. Finally, she spoke through spurts of laughter. “I’m sorry, but, I believe Mrs. Harpirth was going to take you up on your offer.”

Johnny took a step back then looked at his brother with something akin to panic in his eyes. “What’s Washington got to say about beatin a trail outta here?”

Scott frowned in thought then turned and looked directly into the camera. “Well, Janet? What would George say?”

The End
Oct 09/ Archived 2022


Comments:  We don’t have this author’s current email address. If you leave a comment below, if she reconnects with the fandom, then she will see how much her work is appreciated.


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