And so, the effects were apparent on Jock’s torn and stained collar and swelled nose.
But the namesake champions remained unconvinced, except that Johnnie may have come over to the opinion that a mother no better than a tomboy was not a bad possession, for the three haunted the “Folly” a good deal, and made no objection to their aunt’s company after the first experiment.
Unfortunately, however, their assurances that their mother could laugh as well as other people were not so conclusive but that Jock made it his business to do his utmost to produce a laugh, in which he was apt to be signally unsuccessful, to his own great surprise, though to that of no one else. For instance, two or three days later, when his mother and Allen were eating solemnly a dinner at Kencroft, by way of farewell ere Allen’s return to Eton, an extraordinarily frightful noise was heard in the poultry yard, where dwelt various breeds of Uncle Robert’s prize fowls.
Thieves-foxes-dogs-what could it be? Even the cheese and celery were deserted, and out rushed servants, master, mistress, and guests, being joined by the two girls from the school-room; but even then Carey was struck by the ominous absence of boys. The poultry house door was shut-locked-but the noises within were more and more frightful-of convulsive cocks and hysterical hens, mingled with human scufflings and hushes and snortings and snigglings that made the elders call out in various tones of remonstrance and reprobation, “Boys, have done! Come out! Open the door.”
A small hatch door was opened, a flourish on a tin trumpet was heard, and out darted, in an Elizabethan ruff and cap, a respectable Dorking mother of the yard, cackling her displeasure, and instantly dashing to the top of the wall, followed at once by a stately black Spaniard, decorated with a lace mantilla of cut paper off a French plum box, squawking and curtseying. Then came a dapper pullet, with a doll’s hat on her unwilling head, &c., &c.
The outsiders were choking with breathless surprise at first, then the one lady began indignantly to exclaim, “Now, boys! Have done- let the poor things alone. Come out this minute.” The other fairly reeled against the wall with laughter, and Janet and Jessie screamed at each fresh appearance, till they made as much noise as the outraged chickens, though one shrieked with dismay, the other with diversion. At last the Colonel, slower of foot than the rest, arrived on the scene, just as the pride of his heart, the old King Chanticleer of the yard, made his exit, draped in a royal red paper robe and a species of tinsel crown, out of which his red face looked most ludicrous as he came halting and stupefied, haying evidently been driven up in a corner and pinched rather hard; but close behind him, chuckling forth his terror and flapping his wings, came the pert little white bantam, belted and accoutred as a page.