Okay, just a small one-shot about Robert and everybody as a kid. It was supposed to be funny, but whatever, I tried.
It is not entirely historically correct, (Robert was the oldest, I believe) but whatever. It's readable…I hope.
Twelve-year-old Robert had to slap a hand over his mouth to keep from giggling out loud. A broken peacock feather that he borrowed from his mother's collection was adorned in his thick brown hair, and his oldest sister's lipstick was streaked in double lines on both sides of his cheeks, glaring bright red like war paint. His shiny, black leather shoes-the ones he was forced to wear on Sundays-were replaced with soft, woolen socks that made his footsteps completely soundless.
Cowboys and Indians.
Robert's favorite game. He usually played it with his best friends, Forbes and Thomas, and sometimes Charlie whenever he came over. Only Forbes was being a snob, he wanted to be the cowboy, and Robert was stuck with being an Indian, again. It wasn't fair. Forbes always had to be the cowboy. What was a bigger slap-in-the-face was that he invited Robert's sister Susannah to play as well. Robert was shocked! No girl can play! Boys only! But then he realized that they must be sweet on each other, and he couldn't stop laughing.
Or teasing, for that matter.
Robert did not mind too much towards being an Indian. After all, he had Thomas on his team, even though the boy couldn't do a silent Indian walk to save his life. But Robert wanted to be a cowboy sometimes too. Why can't Forbes just take turns? Robert wondered why he didn't do anything to make him. As was mentioned, Robert didn't mind much, he even had dreams of the Wild West, of the territory of California. Blistering deserts, spurs, shootouts, horses, and adventure. It was all too delicious.
Robert was a small, skinny preteen, but keep in mind a stick of dynamite is also small. As a boy, he was worse trouble than the ten plagues of Egypt and he drove all four sisters mad. Frankly, Robert found it all very amusing, until one of the snitches ran off and taddle-taled to Father. Robert always got a queasy feeling in his stomach when sent to face his father for another reprimanding lecture in his office.
His oldest sister Anna, whom he wasn't fond of at all, gave him disgusted, sideways glances whenever she passed him in the hall, reminding him of his immature and childish ways. Every since she hit fourteen, she spoke precise English and used perfect manners. She considered herself a very fine lady, and she was their mother's pride. Robert snorted. She wasn't a lady. She was nothing but a sister.
His other sister, Josephine, was another source of his disgust. She considered herself to be the loveliest creature in Boston. Robert also found her to be an obsessive perfectionist. She wore a certain very expensive face powder imported from Paris, and would sit for hours in front of her vanity applying just the right amount all over her pretty face. She was always perfect. Perfect hair, skin, nails, and dress. Whenever she passed him in the hallway, she would mutter something about what the cat dragged in. It made his nostrils flare.
His younger sister Susannah was the worst yet. She was always better than him. She could climb a taller tree, run a longer mile, and kick a further ball. She even beat him at a game of chess once, and Robert still held a grudge ever since then; though he preferred to tell everyone that he let her win. But to add insult to injury, she went around the house shouting that girls are better than boys! The very idea!
The only sister that he somewhat liked was the youngest baby of the family. Ellie. She was his secret ally, ready to back him up during his many arguments with the three older 'witches' and standing up for him whenever he was in trouble. But even she had her downsides too. She was a spoiled-rotten little brat, and would throw a fit whenever she did not get her way. Sometimes Robert felt like kicking her.
This was him getting even on all the people that wronged him in the past, even Forbes, to whom Robert could not conceal his disgust on him being attracted to someone like his dumbie sister, Susannah. Every fiber in his being was filled with bright, excited glee, as he reached down into the deepest pocket of his cotton pants, clutching at his secret weapon.
A tiny white mouse.
For effect, he threw his head back and laughed maniacally, earning a twisted, discreet stare from Thomas, who was probably wondering if Robert might be mentally strange. Robert refused to dignify that look with an answer. Instead, he twisted his neck around the corner of the intersecting hallway, glancing down the corridor for any signs of snitches.
Grinning mischievously, the twelve-year-old-boy beckoned towards his Negro friend, motioning for him to drop on to his stomach. Silently, both boys crawled army-style up one of the long hallways of the Shaw Residence, aiming for the library where all four sisters usually spent their time, reading dull books and sewing ugly roses onto their sissy handkerchiefs.
As he inched closer to the library, his body pressed against the burgundy-papered wall, he could barely contain his excitement. Unfortunately, that excitement was dimmed by mild, child-like anger and betrayal when he heard voices from inside the library. Josephine, Anna, and Susannah were part of the plan, but he was stunned to hear Forbes' in there as well, speaking in hushed voices and letting an occasional giggle escape from the group.
Robert frowned, his eyes dancing in child-like frenzy as he resumed his position on his stomach, crawling slowly up the hallway until he was just outside the doorway. Without a look back, he motioned for Thomas too come closer, and his friend plopped down on the floor beside him. A maid past them in the corridor, granting them strange looks, but Robert hardly noticed her, for he was too busy using his flawless eavesdropping skills.
Unfortunately, Robert's highly attuned ears were no match for the fervent whispers of Forbes and his three silly sisters. All he heard was his name, repeated over and over and over. So that traitor Cowboy decided to come to his sisters' lair for help, Robert thought with a smirk. His childish ego was elevated by a few notches when he came to realize that Cabot probably could not defeat him on his own.
The tiny mouse scrambled around in his pocket, excavating small peeping noises as it tried to break free from Robert's grasp. Finally, its patience had worn thin, and with a divergent flip of its tale, the mouse ducked its head and bit Robert's finger. It didn't hurt much, in fact, he barely winced, but the surprise had caught him off guard, and before he could stop it, a tiny gasp escaped his lips.
But it was enough. The hushed whispers coming from inside the library stopped immediately, a dramatic silence hanging in the air as both teams refrained from breathing, each waiting for the other to act. Robert changed his tactics, groping the mouse tightly in his fist, and propped himself up on his elbows. With a tug on Thomas's sleeve, both boys began to silently crawl backwards, down the hall and out of sight.
It was a good thing too, for the very moment Robert's foot disappeared around the corner; Forbes leaned out from the doorway of the library, his blue eyes narrowed as he scouted down the long corridor. The twelve year old clutched a small toy rifle, the cork bullet tied on to the wooden muzzle with a piece of string, so that every time he 'pulled the trigger' it would fly out as far as its leash would allow it.
Robert was here and he knew it. He dropped to his knees, pretending he was Louis, or Clark, scouting for Indians that lurked behind every bush. Forbes could tell Robert was here because…well, he just knew. But he was going to have to make up a smarter way of knowing when he went back to tell the Shaw sisters about what he found, or moreover, what he didn't find.
Meanwhile, Robert raced around the huge Shaw mansion, panting from the lack of air in his lungs as his leg and arm muscles pumped together in harmony. Thomas stumbled in to him occasionally, begging him to slow to a walk, but Robert refused. Thomas had never been good at boy things, why, his sister Susannah could climb a tree better than him! Queer, it was.
He slowed to a walk and dropped to him stomach again, crawling up the long corridor. The Shaw library had two entrances, one was on the eastern side, out of where Robert had just escaped from, and the other was on the west wing. As both boys crawled down the hallway again, Robert grinned with delight as he thought about his unsuspecting friends, getting the surprise of their life all from the small change of his brilliant tactics.
With one last push of his body using his army-crawling techniques, his face was an inch away from the western doorway, his body pressed against the sidewall. This time, he made sure that the mouse could not bite him, and with flair to show off in front of Thomas, he uncupped his hands and released the poor creature into the world of desperate feminine shrieks and cries.
Robert first noticed that something was not going according to plan when the desired effect of kicking and squealing had produced only a still, queer silence. Robert furrowed his young brow in confusion, throwing a look back at Thomas to see what he thought. They boy only shrugged, and Robert turned his irritated stare back to the front. The boy never knew what was going on.
Perhaps they had not seen the mouse, but Robert could not wait any longer. He had to have a peak or he'd die of curiosity. Cautiously, the blue-eyed child of fortune craned his neck around the doorway. He stared for a second. The second grew into a long moment, and the long moment grew into an even longer minute. Just as time was about to grow some more, Thomas punched his shin, and Robert jerked back to reality.
No one was in the library. They were there only a moment ago. It takes less than two minutes to jog around to the other side of the mansion, much less run at full speed! Robert found himself being very confused, and it irritated him for he hated being confused. He shut his eyes tightly and opened them again, hoping that he was seeing things…or not seeing things.
But no, the silence remained and the coast was clear. Robert dropped the carefulness and stood up his full height, a full five feet for his twelve years, something Robert was still not proud of. Forbes towered over him by two inches, even the dainty Thomas was at least half an inch higher than him. He reached down and grabbed his friend by the shoulder, jerking him up.
Whether he was brave or simply careless, Robert did not notice that he was walking right into a trap. He was encouraged as he took a silent step into the humungous, semi-dark library, lit only by the late afternoon sunlight that filtered through the cracks in the white blinds, he was not caught yet. Thomas followed close behind him, his breathing loud and shallow, not soundless like his friend's.
Robert felt the fine hairs on the back of his neck rise, and there was a crawling sensation on the skin of his arms, covered by the filmy summer-cotton shirt he was wearing. Something in the back of his mind was reasoning-no-pleading with him to turn back, but Robert shrugged it off, his blind excitement leading him on. He knew he should have listened to his instincts when he hear Thomas's muffled, surprised cry, and then a soft thud on the thick carpet.
"Thomas?" Robert whispered nervously, not knowing whether to run or turn around and help his friend. His feet remained planted on the ground as his torso twisted around for Thomas.
He yelped when he found himself looking not in the curious, black eyes of Thomas, but into Forbes's blue-green ones as they danced vigorously with glee. Robert twisted his eyebrow in confusion, but Forbes sprang on him with war cry that sounded like a scream and a laugh blended together. Robert yelped as well as his body came crashing down on the ground, Forbes's arms twisting around his ankles, and what felt like a scarf being tied around them.
He saw flashes soft pink, dark green, and bright blue-the hoop skirts of his sisters, swirling around him. He gritted his teeth and scowled as Susannah's cheerful, giggling pale face hovered over his, her blonde braid brushing against his cheek. She dangled a silk scarf in front of his eyes, and in a moment, everything that he could see was covered by that 'ugly' thing with rose embroidery.
Robert fought to resist, but his siblings and so-called-friend, neither of whom he would be speaking with tonight at dinner, pinned his arms and legs to the floor, and it was all he could as attempt to kick with tied ankles and shout threats at them. But his shouting threats were blocked out as well when one of them wrapped another scarf around his head and between his teeth. His saliva soaked the material and immaturely, he hoped that it would ruin his sister's scarf.
His arms were twisted behind him as someone, Robert put his money on Forbes, lifted him off of his fetal position on the ground and dragged him somewhere. Robert's let himself be towed, his feet dragging on the carpet in defiance and refusal to cooperate. There were more giggles and laughter surrounding him, and Robert blindly twisted his head left and right but could not know which direction it was coming from.
He was unfashionably discarded on what Robert recognized to be his father's favorite high-backed, red-velvet chair. The scarf binding his wrists was released, and retied under his arms and knotted behind the chair. Apparently they had run out of bondage supplies. He was mildly curious of what they were going to do to him, but the more interesting topic was that his ideal, flawless, brilliant plan had failed. The impact of his failure left him sitting on the couch, arms crossed, lips jutting out, and nostrils flaring. He was fuming.
That provoked more giggles out of the group and Robert hissed in defeat, scowling blindly and hoping that at least one of them would see his defiance. He struggled to believe that even his oh-so-proper sister Anna was participating in his savageness as well. Someone poked his arm, and he hissed again, for talking through the scarf in his mouth was becoming quite difficult. He bit down on it instead, hoping to demolish it or have someone take it away from him. Whichever came first.
"Anna, he's going to ruin my scarf!" The unmistakable whine of Josephine spilt the atmosphere, and Robert waited patiently for his sister's reply.
There was a rustling of skirts, probably Anna was rearranging them…again. "Tosh, darling, I'll buy you a new one."
Robert actually sighed in disappointment. But thank God for his sister's stubbornness. "Cabot! Do something!"
Robert knew that Forbes would be moved by the young girl's plea, for he knew that his friend was clay in the hands of a helpless girl. He heard Forbes' soft footsteps, and then his gagging restraint fell apart, sliding away from his face as Forbes pulled it back. Though Robert could not see him, he smirked knowingly in the direction he thought he was. It worked, Forbes shoved roughly at his shoulder and Robert was afforded with a laugh.
Forbes pushed him again, moving his roughly to the side and squeezing another body beside him. Robert guessed the other victim was Thomas. By the way, where the devil was his mouse? It took him two whole days to catch it. But then Robert heard something that made him nervous. By his some-what real sixth sense he could feel that they were surrounded, and they started speaking about them in whispered voices again.
"Now?" He heard Susannah ask Forbes with a short giggle. Robert stiffened, his eyes widening beneath the blinding scarf.
"Now." Robert whimpered, hearing their footsteps come closer. Thomas yelped beside him as well. Robert tried to jump out of the chair, but it was hard to do when your ankles were locked together and your arms were twisted behind your back.
There were several war cries, screams, and giggles that paralyzed Robert, and all he could do was wait, open-mouthed and breathing hard. Suddenly he felt hands on his stomach in the crook of his neck and under his arms. He shot up like a rocket, choking from laughter as his sisters tickled him. He heard Thomas laughing loudly beside him, obviously in 'pain' as well.
"That's not fair!" Robert coughed between giggles, becoming teary-eyed. "Stop! Hehehe! Stop!"
Later at dinner…
Robert scowled across the table at Forbes and sisters, his frown deepening whenever one of them giggled and whispered something about him into the other's ear. Thomas sat beside him, looking none-to-happy either. Both boys were wondering what their frienemies were being so secretive about. It would not take long, however, to figure out.
Robert's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Shaw sat at the ends of the rectangular table, bearing confused looks as they watched their children and their guests whisper and chuckle at something they had no idea of. Sarah Shaw could not quite put her finger on it, as she watched her twelve-year old son scowl across the table, his lower lip jutting out as large as his African friend's, but apparently he had been the butt of the joke.
Mary, the young maid who assisted in serving their meal, unsuspectingly took Robert's metal-capped tray and set it down in front of the blue-eyed boy, who was handsome for his preteen age. He mumbled a thank you, and she went around the table to deliver the other trays, leaving him in his grief, or defeat, or anger, or whatever was bothering him at the moment, some 'major' problem that will be forgotten by dessert time.
When everyone had their trays of food, covered by metal heat-protectors to keep them warm, though Robert could not see how they were necessary since the trip from the dining room to the kitchen took only a matter of seconds, he waited patiently as his mother said Grace, trying not to let his stomach growl from the long day of frolicking.
Finally, when she had finished her brief prayer, all members of the table lifted up the metal heat-coverings off of their trays, and Robert did not hesitate a moment on following the other's example, though he wishes he had. As the heat-protector was moved away from his tray, Robert opened his mouth and found himself staring into an empty bowl. Empty, save for a little white mouse.
Robert clenched his teeth and growled, reaching into his bowl and snatching the small mouse back into his pocket, hoping that his parent's wouldn't notice the peeping sound it made as he shoved it into the dark pocket of his dress-pants. His siblings noticed, Forbes noticed, and Thomas-that traitor-noticed. They could not contain themselves. They erupted in teary-eyed laughter, even Anna, earning reprimanding stares from Father. But they could not stop.
When they were finally silenced, Forbes leaned forward against the table, tapping his spoon just slightly against his glass in order to get Robert's attention. Robert tried to ignore him, but decided to shoot him down with a scowl. Even better, when his parents weren't looking, he stuck his tongue out at him. But Forbes didn't mind, he only smirked.