This tale requires an explanation of how Ed and Jeanie Morningside
got the millions of dollars that their daughters inherited.
Although they had been respected Letongaloosa citizens for decades,
Ed and Jeanie never had two nickels, much less a dollar, to rub together. They needed every penny that came in to pay the rent, put food on the table, and buy clothes for the family.
Then, against 14-million-to-one odds, they won $378-million
in the national lottery. Suddenly, accompanied by a whole lot of fanfare, Jeanie and Ed and their two daughters, Minnifred and Winnifred were rich.
At 7:15 a.m. every morning Minnifred Morningside-Suggs sat at her desk grading papers and sipping tea from her favorite artesian mug. Unless she had an early morning appointment out of the office, nothing in Minnifred’s life ever changed. This Tuesday morning was different.
Instead of going to her 8 a.m. Tuesday staff meeting, Minnifred said “hi” to Hanger Duggins and his crew at Letongaloosa International Airport and then flew to Kodiak Island to visit Winnifred and to enjoy some much needed time away. That’s when things got, well, freaky.
It was a few weeks later and Minnifred and her husband, Reggie, were having dinner at the diner in downtown Letongaloosa. Reggie had just picked Minniefred up from the airport. Reaching for the
bread, he said : “You act diff’rent.”
Minnifred had been regaling him with stories about a shiny Republic RC-3 Seabee seaplane she in which she had flown to her sister’s cabin; the ice fishing excursion on which she caught the biggest fish the locals had ever seen, and the polar bear swim she had completed in record time. Reggie thought the stories were interesting, but he had never seen Minnifred so animated. She was usually quiet, reserved, and didn’t add much detail in the infrequent stories she told.
Reggie continued to stare, and Minnifred pretended she didn’t notice the “diff’rent” comment and the puzzled look on his face. She kept talking a mile a minute about her Alaskan adventures. Still more puzzling to Reggie was Minnifred’s insistence on sleeping in the guest bedroom.
Something happened a few days later. It was the first round of judging in the Feature-Palooza Competition for Young Writers. There were more than 550 entries, and a group of teachers and business professionals had assembled in the newsroom of the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle to read the entries, critique them, and choose a contest winner.
Garrison Storm, Letongaloosa’s lead meteorologist noticed Minnifred’s peculiar behavior. Minnifred had always been a stickler for proper grammar, diction, usage, and syntax. Folks in town tolerated her correcting them in conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English, and because Minnie was generous with her money. Despite her wealth she had begun teaching public school the year she graduated from college.
Garrison noticed Minnie’s grammar goof immediately but he dismissed it, thinking he must have heard wrong. But when she goofed again and seemed actually happy about it, Garrison was perplexed.
As they heard her speak, others in town were too.
Meantime, folks in Kodiak couldn’t believe their ears. Winnifred, the winsome spinster, who had always regaled them with bright and cheery chatter, had suddenly become terse and taciturn. Worse,she had begun to correct their grammar and made unfavorably comments on what she labeled their “syntax.” People in Kodiak had no idea what “sin” she thought them were guilty of.
A few days later, Winnifred and Minnifred sat together in an airport coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“What an excellent time!” said Minnifred, who was waiting for a flight home to Letongaloosa.
“A blast!” said Winnifred, who was booked on a later flight to Katchikan, Alaska. From there she’d catch a seaplane to Kodiak.
“We must do this again soon,” said Winnifred.
“Indubitably,” said Minnifred.