As it was, Weasel was actually quite an amusing rogue. He tormented Mother who kept thinking it was a rat or an infestation of vermin or a whole horde of little devils come to torment her. But Weasel was quite kind to use us in it’s mischievous way. Seeing how tight the budget was Maeve was surprised to suddenly find things at the back door each morning at dawn: freshly killed rabbits mostly. But once in a while someone’s backyard goose or duck or chicken. Maeve quickly removed all the identifying evidence and hauled out the dutch oven for an unexpected lunch. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth children!” she would exclaimed in that thick Irish accent of hers.
Weasel demanded Maeve feed him the most outrageous things. Sometimes she would try to get them when Mother was not looking: bananas, turkish delight, or pastries. Weasel especially loved mincemeat pies.
Sometimes I would go up to the attic and sit on the ledge outside and Weasel would scamper about and the sit to one side of me, just out of reach, just almost out of the sight of the corner of one eye. Then we would play a game. “I spy a thing out of my eye. What do I spy?”
The postman would come and we would both wave down at him. The postman would wave back. Sometimes as he dropped off the mail he would ask Maeve “What sort of funny pet do your folks have? I can’t place it.”
“Mongoose from India sent by Uncle Hogg” Maeve would reply absolutely deadpan.
When the street vendors came along the street singing their sings to sell their watercress or clams or the like. Weasel would copy them right royal. Then I would join in. We would sing the songs from the ledge at the edge of the roof. The vendors would look up at us and wave. Sometimes the lady who owned the boarding house to our right would come out and wave at us, smiling, laughing, and saying ‘Oh how very sweet!’.
Sometimes at night Weasel would creep under the covers and snuggle up to Charlie and Willie and me in the tiny bed. Weasel would purr as I stroked Weasel in the darkness under the covers. He never let anyone really see him but he liked me to pet him in the darkness under the covers.
Once Weasel whispered to us under the covers. “I know what I am but I canna’ tell you. I can’t let you really see me or know me because then you would be afeared of me. If you saw me as I truly am you would be petrified. Mummified. Accept me as this: a ghost in the form of a weasel.”
Mary and Alex crept over for they heard Weasel’s confession and they hugged Weasel under the covers. So did I. We all hugged Weasel. “We love you too Weasel” little Charlie whispered. Then we hugged each other. For a moment I felt totally loved. For a moment we children all pulled together like a real family should pull together. And Mary even hugged me and I kissed Mary.
Finally the minister came to inquire. Mother hauled everyone into the parlor then. “What did I tell you children about pets! I must scrimp and save every penny and you have brought some dirty animal into this house!”
“I hear it is a mongoose from India sent by your brother Hogg?” the minister replied.
“That is a lie!” Mother replied frigidly. For some reason she did not get on with any of her brothers or her mother. The Hoggs appeared to be off limits which was why when she was angry with me she called me the ‘Scion of a damnable Hogg’.
Mother interrogated all of us until the little ones burst into tears and Maeve sniveled red faced. How could we explain Weasel to Mother. In the end we couldn’t and so she decided we were lying to her. She locked all of us kids into the nursery and screamed we would have nothing to eat until we surrendered and confessed our evil. The little ones cried. Mary said we would have to surrender Weasel. I did not know what to do because I knew what — who — Weasel was.
After 24 hours the little ones were wailing for the hunger. Maeve kept raddling the door but it was locked and only Mother had the key.
Finally I said “Weasel. What do you want us to do?”
“Oink. Oink. Bowwow. Meow.” Weasel whispered very softly. “Goodbye.”