Lemuel and his wife, Peru, were very gracious as I arrived and sat with them.
I should probably note that Peru was enormous. A full head taller than Lemuel. And literally Peruvian. Lemuel met her in the circus as someone who could charm any animal. She's an Amazon. A jungle charmer. Obviously the power behind Lemuel.
Her name Peru is a nickname she got in the circus. Her actual name is something not meant to be pronounced except on ceremonial occasions or in mystical pursuits among her people. She definitely was not among the matrons at the dances, but off doing who knows what. In private being their Queen.
We sat in the parlor and Lemuel and I passed the time with small talk about the weather, how the week was going, and, of course, horses. I didn't really have much to say about horses, not knowing much about hippology, except I commented on how beautiful horses are -- a fact no one can argue with -- and how they're obviously more evolved than the mule.
Peru was looking at me with a piercing gaze. Through the evening I noticed, and it wasn't subtle, that Lemuel jumped to her every command. She was first in all things. Such a powerful bearing! Queenly.
But back to the mules. This is interesting. Lemuel agreed with my last point about horses being beautiful, then went into a scientific explanation of how we get mules, something about the horse having a multiplicity of genes, as do we, and they're configured and triggered in various ways. According to him, horse breeders are an insulated priesthood, no one knows where, working with and breeding the first, original line horses, tinkering with very refined acupuncture equipment and DNA. They're very esoteric and he said they burn a lot of incense.
Peru was staring straight ahead, like she was in a trance.
Lemuel, with all his expertise, which I envied, mentioned the horse's stubborn gene, the brute gene, the asexual gene, and the like. I didn't say much in reply, just nodded and uttered assent. I know better than to argue with anyone who buys horse feed by the barrel! There was one moment, though, when I was a little embarrassed, when he said "asexual." At that Peru's gaze dropped just below my belt.
I have this thing that goes on in my head. I call it paranoia. So it seemed like I shouldn't say anything or move. I certainly wasn't going to move my hands to cover myself down there at that point. Just let her stare and pretend I didn't notice.
I started to sweat, and I was hoping Lemaperu would hurry up and make her appearance. Finally, I broke the ice and asked whether I was "given to understand" that they had children, pointing to several tapestry icons on the mantle. Lemuel said they had a daughter, Lemaperu, who would be in shortly.
So we started in again with the topic of horses and mules -- all very interesting stuff -- but no sooner had we done so that Peru suddenly broke our train of thought. She clapped her hands, one loud, imperious, insistent clap. Lemuel rose to his feet, walked ceremoniously to her side, bowed, took her hand, and escorted her out of the room. With his free hand he waved for me to follow. Then he motioned, Back, back, back .... in other words, keep a respectful distance.
What I saw next was hard to believe. They had a double sized room with rich carpets and tapestry, and near the wall a platform, and on the platform two thrones and one regular easy chair off to the side, not on the platform. Lemuel led Peru to the bigger throne. Then he sat in the easy chair off to one side and motioned me toward a chair across the room.
All at once he stood, so I stood too, but Peru remained sitting. With that, a woman practically as big and important entered the room, not looking around, but advancing toward the other throne. She bowed her head gracefully at Peru, her mother, and was seated. Then Lemuel sat as well and I followed his lead.
Peru said in an official voice, "Our daughter, Lemaperu!" I nodded and said, "Glad to meet you." She nodded and that was it.
When no one said anything -- I was a little scared -- I waited for a little bit, then cleared my throat, and asked Lemuel to explain about the asexuality of mules. The women didn't seem to mind the natural vulgarity of discussing animal reproduction. And it was refreshing for me, who knew that animals "did it," of course, but just didn't know there were so many interesting details.
He went into a long explanation about equine reproduction, that it's a lot like the way we mate. The basic plot was that they go into heat and that the two genders come together in such a way that they end up with a colt. But a mule, he said, being the product of two different strains of the ancient hippoerectus, some kind of tiny prehistoric horse, is denied the heat function necessary for it to mate and reproduce. So the mule exists by itself and dies alone after its servitude.
Anyway, grange servants soon showed up with take-out from the Olive Garden and escorted Lemuel and myself to a different room. They were obviously going to serve the Queen first and her daughter. Lemuel and I were several rooms away and when it was time for us to eat, enjoyed the leftovers.
There didn't seem to be anything interesting to talk about, so I just asked him a few more perfunctory questions about mules, horses, mules at the Grand Canyon, and trivia, like how many legs does a mule have, etc.
And that was all I saw of the women for the evening. No pitching of woo. At the end I shared a nice handshake with my brother male and went home. All in all it was a great, great time!