We all crawled out from under the table very embarrassed. Uncle Hogg stood before us. He was a stout middle aged man dressed in an odd mixture of conservative British clothing and Indian Dress, sporting a tropics helmet, and brandishing an umbrella. His beard was greying. His pale grey eyes twinkled in as face burned dark by the Indian sun. and he smoked a pipe. A very friendly pipe.
Uncle Hogg ordered us all to the kitchen! Pronto! Then he ordered Maeve to make hot chocolate for everyone! Including him! Then Uncle Hogg ordered us to fill him in on the Ouija Board. Mary picked up her pad of notes and dutifully reported the paranormal experience in detail.
Uncle Hogg nodded much impressed. “But I do advise you children in the future not to play at the Ouija board because you have no idea what can happen!” We all nodded.
“We did not know who to turn to” I explained. “Do you think we killed Mr Acheronian?”
“Oh yes. If the gaslight turned on then quite! And it was clever of you to order the mirror to kill that ghost a second time! I am sure it killed him just as effectively as it did the first time. However I suggest we hand the ruins of the gilded frame over to the first junkyard dustman who comes along this street to dispose of!”
“To close the door?” I asked.
“Exactly! Close the door. Like always saying ‘Goodbye’ in the Ouija board! Cut off communication and sign off!” Uncle Hogg then sat and drank hot chocolate with us as he smoked his pipe, the aroma fragrant, quite unlike the harsh smell of the ghostly cigar. Then Uncle Hogg pulled out some coins and he patted each head and bestowed one rupee on each inhabitant of the kitchen — including Maeve. “Splendid work though! Plucky! Plucky I say! Plucky!”
“Why have you come from India?” we asked.
“Well I have made my fortune there and come back a nabob! I have bought myself a rich house in London to semi-retire in and I am here to make sure my mother is fine and my contrary sister who is….?”
“Upstairs locked into her bedroom in terror” we explained.
“……that my contrary sister is moved from this inappropriate house into the Hogg Family Home on Seymour Street. Otherwise known as Hogg Heaven. Along with all of you of course! And you John will be sent back to school! You are twelve?”
“In a few months Sir” I explained.
“Then you will be marched to the Royal School of Dungannon! I will hire a teacher to bring you up to snuff. A bribe to the headmaster will help too I suspect. And I will arrange for everyone else to be sent to some school or other. And you Mary will go to a nice girl’s school and I will but a dowery in a bank account in your name! You have very neat penmanship!” Uncle Hogg held up the notepad. Mary beamed. Everyone stared at the stranger.
“Are you Santa Claus?” little Charlie whispered in awe. Uncle Hogg laughed gayly as he smoked his pipe.
“I suspect you will not be able to sleep so you can all pack your few most precious possessions! No junk! My Mother’s Home is a bastion of good taste and luxury! Maeve! How would you like to be a upper parlor maid?”
“Oh my! With a fancy uniform and everything?”
“Yes!” Uncle Hogg exclaimed as one hand pounded the table. “And ribbons in your house cap!”