“Perhaps,” said Greg, when we were halfway up Luke Street, going home, and had almost forgotten the bottle, “perhaps it will land on the Sea Monster, and the pirates will find it.”
“Glory!” said Jerry, “perhaps it will.”
Just in the middle of the rainiest week came the thing that made Aunt Ailsa so sad. She read it in the newspaper, in the casualty list. It was the last summer of the war, and there were great long casualty lists every day. This said that Somebody-or-other Westland was “wounded and missing.” We didn’t know why it made her so sad, because we’d never heard of such a person, but of course it was up to us to cheer her up as much as possible. Picnics being out of the question, it had to be indoor cheering, which is harder. Greg succeeded better than the rest of us, I think. He is still little enough to sit on people’s laps (though his legs spill over, quantities). He sat on Aunt Ailsa’s lap and told her long stories which she seemed to like much better than the H.G. Wells books. He also dragged her off to join in attic games, and she liked those, too, and laughed sometimes quite like herself.
Attic games aren’t so bad, though summer’s not the proper time for them, really. There is a long cornery sort of closet full of carpets that runs back under the eaves in our attic, and if you strew handfuls of beads and tin washers among the carpets and then dig for them in the dark with a hockey-stick and a pocket flash-light, it’s not poor fun. Unfortunately, my head knocks against the highest part of the roof now, yet I still do think it’s fun. But Aunt Ailsa is twenty-six and she likes it, so I suppose I needn’t give up.
The day Aunt Ailsa really laughed was when Greg rigged himself up as an Excavator. That is, he said he was an excavator, but I never saw anything before that looked at all like him. He had the round Indian basket from Mother’s work-table on his head, and some automobile goggles, and yards and yards of green braid wound over his jumper, and Mother’s carriage-boots, which came just below the tops of his socks. In his hand he had what I think was a rake-handle—it was much taller than he—and he had the queerest, glassy, goggling expression under the basket.
He never will learn to fix proper clothes. He might have seen what he should have done by looking at Jerry, who had an old felt hat with a bit of candle-end (not lit) stuck in the ribbon, and a bandana tied askew around his neck. But Aunt Ailsa laughed and laughed, which was what we wanted her to do, so neither of us remonstrated with Greg that time.