“But we must stop and think,” Bertram said, collecting the scraps like a grave-robber, “If Pouncing is the same as making loud sorts of noises.”
“Great snakes—what do you mean by that?” Adelaide squirted a spray of orange-peel oil onto her hand and painted a face on the polished table-top with it. “Father said most specifically not to make loud noises. Is Pouncing a noise? No, of course it isn’t. So we aren’t disobeying. Anyway, ten o’clock is too late for any nanny to sleep, no matter how new she is.”
-The Scarlet Gypsy Song
But the Macefields are a group with talent, class, and some good old Victorian swag. In one of the earlier chapters I happened upon a dissertation on the fickle art of Pouncery by none other than the imps of the family: Adelaide and Darby.
Darby slammed the window shut and wandered to the mantle-piece, hands balled up inside his trousers pockets. He eyed the clock—ten-fifteen. That was it. “Are you lot coming or not?”
Bertram grinned and raked the last of the toast-scraps into his pocket, then picked the littlest twins up like two sacks of potatoes and carted them out of the nursery with the others. They tip-toed down the hall and gathered at Miss Woodruff’s door.
“Shall we give her the Bully Scamper, or the Gollywhumper?”
Adelaide asked. Pure delight sparkled on her face at captaining a rumpus again.
Darby felt the way she looked: they had been too good since running Miss Perdue off, and he felt like an old saint. “The Gollywhumper.” He wriggled with anticipation. “Creeping in and then jumping scares ‘em a whole lot more than busting through the door.”
“Right. Well then, here’s how it’ll be. We’ll creep in, and—Fergus and ‘Genie? You two remember to keep quiet. We’re not hurting Miss Woodruff, only Pouncing her, so don’t go and wail over it, huh?”
There it was that we got a lesson in How to Pounce. Let's review the steps and rules of this mysterious childhood art--you might just want to try this at home sometime.
1. Don't hurt your victim
2. If you want to perform the Gollywhumper you must creep then Pounce.
3. If you want to perform the Bully Scamper eliminate the creeping and go straight from nothing to Pounce--the quicker the better with this one.
4. A Pounce is not a noun, it's a verb. Therefore "pouncing" cannot be classified as a noise, and we are safe from Mr. Macefield taking us by our shirt collars and locking us in the Conservatory for the afternoon to Think About What We've Done.
Well, there you have it. Many thanks to Darby and Adelaide for coming up with the League of Pouncers. May we all live to a ripe old age and never have trouble with our knees.