Gilbert wriggled as if in great moral discomfort, as indeed he was. “Well,” he said, “I don’t want to be selfish, and if the girls say yes, I’ll have to fall in; but it isn’t logic, all the same, to ask a sixth to share what isn’t enough for five.”
“I agree with you there, Gilly!” smiled his mother. “The only question before the council is, does logic belong at the top, in the scale of reasons why we do certain things? If we ask Julia to come, she will have to ‘fall into line,’ as you say, and share the family misfortunes as best she can.”
“She’s a regular shirk, and always was.” This from Kathleen.
“She would never come at all if she guessed her cousins’ opinion of her, that is very certain!” remarked Mrs. Carey pointedly.
“Now, mother, look me in the eye and speak the whole truth,” asked Nancy. “Do you like Julia Carey?”
Mrs. Carey laughed as she answered, “Frankly then, I do not! But,” she continued, “I do not like several of the remarks that have been made at this council, yet I manage to bear them.”
“Of course I shan’t call Julia smug and conceited to her face,” asserted Nancy encouragingly. “I hope that her bosom friend Gladys Ferguson has disappeared from view. The last time Julia visited us, Kitty and I got so tired of Gladys Ferguson’s dresses, her French maid, her bedroom furniture, and her travels abroad, that we wrote her name on a piece of paper, put it in a box, and buried it in the back yard the minute Julia left the house. When you write, mother, tell Julia there’s a piece of breast for her, but not a mouthful of my drumstick goes to Gladys Ferguson.”
“The more the hungrier; better invite Gladys too,” suggested Gilbert, “then we can say like that simple little kid in Wordsworth:—
“’Sisters and brother, little
How many may you be?’
‘How many? Seven in all,’ she said,
And wondering looked at me!”
“Then it goes on thus,” laughed Nancy:—
“‘And who are they? I
pray you tell.’
She answered, ’Seven are we;
Mother with us makes five, and then
There’s Gladys and Julee!’”
Everybody joined in the laugh then, including Peter, who was especially uproarious, and who had an idea he had made the joke himself, else why did they all kiss him?
“How about Julia? What do you say, Peter?” asked his mother.
“I want her. She played horse once,” said Peter. The opinion that the earth revolved around his one small person was natural at the age of four, but the same idea of the universe still existed in Gilbert’s mind. A boy of thirteen ought perhaps to have a clearer idea of the relative sizes of world and individual; at least that was the conviction in Mother Carey’s mind.