by Holly, Kate, Bethany, Faith, Mikal, Anna and Malachi
"Margie! Margie! Where are you?" a boyish voice called.
Marjorie smiled at the sweet voice calling her. "Up here Matthew!" She called loudly back.
"Ah, here you are sis. Here's a letter for you," Matthew winked mischievously.
"Thanks Matthew! Now go along with you," Marjorie laughed and turned toward the letter. Eagerly she ripped it open. Marjorie never would have guessed who the letter was from.
"The cousins!" she exclaimed, almost falling out of the tree house.
"What was that?" Matthew asked, turning and running back to the tree.
"Our cousins!" she said again. "They're coming to visit!!! After four years of not hearing from them, they are coming to visit!" She stuffed the letter into her pocket and quickly climbed down the rope ladder.
"Really? When are they coming? Let's tell Mother!"
As soon as Marjorie's feet hit the ground, she and Matthew set off at a run toward the house. They skidded to a stop in front of the porch, where their mother was sitting and crocheting, with baby Milly at her feet.
"Mother, guess what!" gasped out Matthew. "Margie says that our cousins are coming to visit! Finally!"
Marjorie nodded and waved the letter."It's true! And I can't wait!!" she exclaimed.
"That will be so fun!" agreed their Mother, looking delighted. "When are they coming?"
Marjorie's eyes widened as she realized something,"Oh, Mother! They didn't say when they are coming!"
Mother's eyes widened. "Well, I suppose we'll just have to be ready for them." She turned to Margie, "Was the letter dated, Darling?"
"Oh, yes! The 14th of March."
Mother nodded, "Perhaps any day now then! Why don't you and Matt start setting the guest room now? I'll start dinner then join you."
The twins ran off towards the east end of the house, while their mother turned towards the west. She settled Milly on the floor, where she immediately started crawling towards Horace, the family dog.
"Milly, no. Leave her be." Mother rolled her eyes, not for the first time, at the name picked for their dog. Matt had found her, named her, and brought her home before the thought of he being a her ever entered his mind.
Milly studied Mother for a second before scuttling off in to find something small enough for her little mouth.
As soon as Margie and Matt got to the guest room Margie quickly took charge, much to Matt's disliking.
"Mother! Margie's being boss again!"
''Now Matt please don't start that again. How about you do one end of the room and Margie do the other?" Mother suggested and soon the children were working happily again (even helping one another!)
Mother returned to make a menu and grocery list, Milly was happily playing with Matt's baseball (or trying to eat it.)
The next morning dawned bright and sunny, perfect for a day playing in the shallow waters of the creek near their house. Or so thought Matthew, as he sat at the kitchen table doing, or, TRYING to do math, that is.
Marjorie was stretched out on the floor, examining with rapt interest the map that was laid out out flat in front of her, and she was murmuring as she traced areas with her finger, "The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands," Matthew leaned down to watch her, "Anguilla, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Grenada, Barbados, Aruba, and...and...ummmmm," she looked up with a slight frown, "I forget the rest."
"Wow," was Matthews comment, "how'd you learn all those?"
Marjorie grinned and was about to answer, when suddenly they both saw an old black car drive into their driveway and, wheels spinning wildly, stop in a cloud of dust.
"Oh my," exclaimed Marjorie, scrambling to her feet, "you'd better go get Mother, Matthew," she said, "and I'll go see who it is and what they want."
No sooner were the words out of her mouth then they were both sprinting in opposite directions, Matt hollering at the top of his lungs, "Mother! Mother, somebody in a black car just drove up! They might be thieves!!"
Mother quickly came out of the office where she had been checking school papers and gave Matthew a worried look, "Thieves?" She questioned. "Where's Margie?"
"Outside," he answered, turning and running for the door. Mother sighed, and scooping up Milly up onto her hip, swiftly followed.
Matthew felt a little foolish when he recognized his uncle in the front seat. They had a new car. When he knew them better later on, he told them about this and they all had a good laugh; but for now he was feeling too shy and only shoved his hands deeper into his pockets.
Aunt Lucy and Uncle Sean jumped out of the car to give Mother a hug and at the same time fussing over Milly. Matt and Margie watched anxiously as the children spilled out of the car.
"Eight boys," Matthew counted, glancing at his sister.
At the last moment, a girl a few years older than them got out of the car, and Margie gave a sigh of relief. So Anya had come.
Anya met her with a sunny smile and pulled her braid playfully.
"How's the country girl?" She asked, unconsciously swallowing as Horace, wet from playing in the creek and maybe slightly muddy, bounded towards the happy crowd by the car.
Marjorie laughed, "Excited as ever to be best friends with someone I hardly know but admire!"
The girls walked towards the two story farmhouse with boys thronging on either side and talking a mile a minute and all louder than the other.
Marjorie noticed her brother laughing hysterically beneath the grip of five boy cousins and felt secretly glad their rowdy comradeship had quickly put him at ease.
"So, I hardly even know all my cousins' names anymore," Marjorie addressed a scholarly looking older boy with tousled hair that she thought she remembered being named Kyle. He grinned, pushed his glasses further up his nose , and launched into a never ending, confusing list of names.
Anya linked arms with the bewildered, younger girls and shoved at her brother, laughingly, "I've never even heard of half those names, Kyle! Stop teasing and carry my suitcase so Marg can show us the house."
The quiet boy obeyed with a mischievous grin. Neither Marjorie or Anya could have guessed the full meaning of his look.
"Well, well, this is a surprise!" A voice boomed from the barn as their Father stepped out. "Sean, Lucy, how are you, and how are the kids?"
He put his buckets of milk down and pounded Uncle Sean on the back.
"It's been a while, brother!"He exclaimed.
"It sure has," agreed Uncle Sean. After introducing themselves, (the boys names are just too many to list right now), Uncle Sean inquired:
"How's that filly you told us about in your last letter?"
"She's doing good," replied Mr. Harlay. "Actually, I was about to take her to the blacksmiths to get her shoed. You can come if you like. Matthew, take care of the milk, will you?"
Mr. Harlay and Uncle Sean walked off, discussing the filly and other various farm things. In spite of the fact that Uncle Sean lived in the city, he really was a country boy at heart, delighting in the times that he could visit his brother's farm.
As the men left Anya nudged Margie and asked, "You want to show me your room?"
"Sure, right this way," The two girls set off down the hall to Margie's room laughing and chatting the whole way.
As soon as they were gone Mrs. Harlay said to the boys, "Why don't you go outside and find Matt. He can show you around a bit. I'm sure that you can find something to do."
"Yes, ma'am," The boys answered in unison and trooped outside. They found Matthew bringing in a bucket of goat's milk.
"Hey Matt, your mom said we'd find you out here," one of the boys, whose name was Sam said.
"Yea, as soon as I put this milk away we can do something together," Matthew answered, "You guys want to play guns, I got a new cap pistol for my birthday."
"Naw," Sam answered, "I've got something better to do." So saying he pulled an orange hose nozzle and some limp rubber things of the same color from his pocket.
"What are those?" Matthew asked, "And what are they for?"
"These are water balloons," said Sam, "And they are to get our sisters wet."
"Uh...I'm not sure that's a good idea," Matthew said.
"Aww, it will be fun," another boy who's name was Chris said, "We'll send one of the boys in to lure them out under the tree house and the rest will drop them on them from above. Easy as that!" he said, emphasizing his words with a snap.
"Uh, ok," Matthew finally agreed.
The boys set to work filling the balloons then set their ambush. They chose Kyle as their decoy, as a prank would be least suspected from that quarter. The eight boys watched him enter the house then sat back and waited to spring the trap.
And that is all we have for now! Feel free to continue the story in the comments below!