Their second home was a large, crude affair with an unkempt, overgrown garden. Convinced all it needed was a fresh coat of paint and tasteful decor, she immersed herself in the study of feng shui. He took the brand-new chainsaw to the chestnut trees first, then to the tangle of bushes, where he unearthed a new objet d’art almost daily. He lined them up along the walkway - Grumpy next to Mother Goose following a small Venus de Milo. When he was down to shrubs and perennials, she joined him with the rose shears, so they were together, working side by side, when the Spanish tiling was uncovered near the hidden street entrance.
“Mumps,” he said at first, then laughing, cried: “The Mumpses!”
She smiled quickly and cut back more of the ivy, scraping moss from the cement.
“Mumpsimus,” she said. “Must be Latin.”
“Latin, Shmatin,” he said. “They would have given this a pompous-sounding name to bring in the rich patrons. It must have been some sort of treatment or recovery center back in the day, probably very cutting edge. ‘Little Switzerland’ I bet they called it downtown.”
“More like ‘Mumps ‘R Us,” she said. He didn’t laugh. He had left the conversation already and was hacking away at a dogwood.
She turned back to look at the house, expecting to see a faded wooden sign swinging over the front door.
“This house doesn’t have a porch,” she said.
“It doesn’t?” Her husband turned to look with her. “I could have sworn it did when we bought it.” He picked up the chainsaw and examined the blade. “Brand new,” he said, “and the teeth are wearing down already!”
Also, props to Word A Day for mumpsimus.