“Never mind,” again said his uncle, “he has had a large dose of the feminine element, and this is his swing out of it.”
Hopes, which Anna thought cruel, were entertained by her elders that the varlet would return somewhat crestfallen, but there were no such symptoms; the boy re-appeared in high spirits, having been placed well for his years, but not too well for popularity, and in the playground he had found himself in his natural element. The boys were mostly of his own size, or a little bigger, and bullying was not the fashion. He had heard enough school stories to be wary of boasting of his title, and as long as he did not flaunt it before their eyes, it was regarded as rather a credit to the school.
Merrifield was elated at the success of his protege, and patronized him more than he knew, accepting his devotion in a droll, contemptuous manner, so that the pair were never willingly apart. As Fergus slept at his aunt’s during the week, the long summer evenings afforded splendid opportunities for what Fergus called scientific researches in the quarries and cliffs. It was as well for Lady Vanderkist’s peace of mind that she did not realize them, though Fergus was certified by his family to be cautious and experienced enough to be a safe guide. Perhaps people were less nervous about sixth sons than only ones.
There was, indeed, a certain undeveloped idea held out that some of the duplicates of Fergus’s precious collection might be arranged as a sample of the specimens of minerals and fossils of Rockquay at the long-talked-of sale of work.
CHAPTER VIII. THE MOUSE-TRAP
If a talent be a claw, look how he claws him with
Love’s Labour’s Lost.
The young ladies were truly in an intense state of excitement about the sale of work, especially about the authorship; and Uncle Lancelot having promised to send an estimate, a meeting of the Mouse-trap was convened to consider of the materials, and certainly the mass of manuscript contributed at different times to the Mouse-trap magazine was appalling to all but Anna, who knew what was the shrinkage in the press.
She, however, held herself bound not to inflict on her busy uncle the reading of anything entirely impracticable, so she sat with a stern and critical eye as the party mustered in Miss Mohun’s drawing-room, and Gillian took the chair.
“The great design,” said she impressively, “is that the Mouse-trap should collect and print and publish a selection for the benefit of the school.”
The Mice vehemently applauded, only Miss Norton, the oldest of the party, asked humbly-
“Would any one think it worth buying?”
“Oh, yes,” cried Valetta. “Lots of translations!”
“The Erl King, for instance,” put in Dolores Mohun.
“If Anna would append the parody,” suggested Gillian.