The Detrimental Effects of Bilingualism

Arthur slammed the door shut and glared. “You are a terrible influence on them.”

Francis peered at Arthur over the top of his reading glasses. “Oh? How so?”

“I just caught Alfred throwing some bawdy festival down in New Orleans, there were women taking their shirts off and everyone was absolutely pissed and they were all slurring that swamp-speak you taught him.” Arthur dropped a fistful of Mardi Gras beads on the table. “He doesn’t get this deplorable behavior from me, I assure you.”

“Cajun.”

“Pardon?”

“‘Cajun’ is the dialect.” Francis set down his book and folded his glasses on top. “Acadiens, if you recall, and it’s really Matthew’s fault, they were his people.”

Arthur tilted his head. “Who?”

“Your other son.”

“Oh! That Matthew, of course.” Arthur plopped down on the opposite end of the sofa, stole the snifter of brandy that Francis had conveniently forgotten on the end table. “Speaking of him, did you know he’s gone fining people using English in Quebec? Unacceptable, stop brainwashing him!” Arthur jabbed an accusatory finger in Francis’ direction. “It’s bad enough that he made your frogspeak official, soon he’ll be locking up anyone daring to use the Queen’s English within his borders.”

“It was only an act to protect local culture, you’re exaggerating as usual.” Francis opened his arms and beckoned Arthur towards him. “Come now, he still puts your Queen on his money, I’m sure you’re still his favorite.”

Arthur, his cheeks warm from the brandy, reluctantly squirmed across the couch, too worn out to bother with the customary protest. “You’re a terrible father,” he said, settling with his back against Francis’ chest, drink still in hand.

Francis combed back Arthur’s hair with his fingers. “It’s a good thing I had colonies with someone as competent as you, who knows how poorly those children would have turned out?”

“Drinking bottles of wine by four, smoking like chimneys by fourteen,” Arthur agreed.

“You smoke as much as I do.”

“Yes,” Arthur said, “But you look better doing it than I.”

Francis smiled and settled his arms around Arthur’s waist. “Are you giving up anything for Lent?”

“Cheese and onion crisps. You?”

“Every year I try to give up sex with you,” Francis sighed, “and every year I fail miserably.”

“Ah, well.” Arthur glanced up, and there was a crooked grin tugging at his lips. “There’s always next year, isn’t there?”

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