Therewith Babie rushed downstairs with “He’s coming, Mother Carey,” and darted out at the house door to welcome Mr. Ogilvie at the gate, and lead him in in triumph, attended by her two brothers. The two ladies laughed, and Carey said, with a species of proud apology-
“Poor children, you see they have been used to be noticed by clever men.”
“Mr. Ogilvie is come to see our museum,” cried Babie, in her patronising tone, jumping and dancing round during his greetings and remarks that he hoped he might take advantage of her invitation; he had been thinking whether to begin a school museum would not be a very good thing for the boys, and serve to open their minds to common things. On which, before any one else could answer, the parrot, in a low and sententious tone, observed, “Excellent.”
“There, you have the consent of your first acquaintance,” said Carey, while the bird, excited by one of those mysterious likings that her kind are apt to take, held her grey head to Mr. Ogilvie to be scratched, chuckling out, “All Mother Carey’s chickens,” and Janet exclaimed-
“That’s an adoption.”
The troop were climbing the stairs to the third story, where Armine and Bobus were already within an octagon room, corresponding to the little hall below, and fitted with presses and shelves, belonging to the store-room of the former thrifty inhabitant; but now divided between the six children, Mother Carey, as Babie explained, being “Mine own, and helping me more specially.”
The table was likewise common to all; but one of the laws of the place was that everything left there after twelve o’clock on Saturday was, as Babie’s little mouth rolled out the long words, “confiscated by the inexorable Eumenides.”
“And who are they?” asked Mr. Ogilvie, who was always much entertained by the simplicity with which the little maid uttered the syllables as if they were her native speech.
“Janet, and Nurse, and Emma,” she said; “and they really are inex-o-rable. They threw away my snail shell that a thrush had been eating, though I begged and prayed them.”
“Yes, and my femur of a rabbit,” said Armine, “and said it was a nasty old bone, and the baker’s Pincher ate it up; but I did find my turtle-dove’s egg in the ash-heap, and discovered it over again, and you don’t see it is broken now; it is stuck down on a card.”
“Yes,” said his mother, “it is wonderful how valuable things become precisely at twelve on Saturday.”
Each had some department: Janet’s, which was geology, was the fullest, as she had inherited some youthful hoards of her father’s; Bobus’s, which was botany, was the neatest and most systematic. Mary thought at first that it did not suit him; but she soon saw that with him it was not love of flowers, but the study of botany. He pronounced Jock’s butterflies to be perfectly disgraceful.
“You said you’d see to them,” returned Jock.