“We probably shouldn’t have tried to surf on the mattress down the stairs…”
“Pssh, Nah!” Dewey grunted as he attempted for the third time to dislodge his laziest brother from the old, now punctured, rotten wood of the mansion wall. “It would have been fine if this wall wasn’t in the way.”
“There was literally no way for there to not be a wall when we surfed the mattress down this particular flight of stairs.” Huey tapped his webbed foot worriedly as he observed Dewey’s failed attempts to free the third triplet. “In fact if it wasn’t this particular wall in the way, Louie’s head would be smashed in as well as Scrooges wallpaper.”
“So it worked out!” Came his bright response.
“It did not work out!” Huey exclaimed, panic becoming prominent. “We are still in so much trouble! How are we going to explain to Uncle Donald that we nearly gave Louie a concussion?”
“We don’t?” Louie’s voice, partially muffled by the rotten wood, sounded hopeful. Unaware of the wince and accompanying grimace his two older brothers exchanged when the gravity of the situation began setting in.
“Don’t be – huff – paranoid!” Dewey didn’t attempt to wipe away the bead of sweat crawling down the side of his face. Instead his unconvincing smile turned back to the, at any other time, HILARIOUS image of Louie’s tail end protruding from a dollar-sign emblazoned wall. His ducky legs appeared disproportionately gangly as they hung in quiet acceptance. “We know who the real authority is around here, and there’s no way Uncle Donald can be scarier than him!”
“And once we tell Scrooge we broke through his wall doing something stupid that you planned again?” Huey, arms crossed, stared at his troublemaker sibling with raised eyebrows.
“We don’t.” Louie called with more insistence, somehow catching wind of the change in mood and crossing his ankles nervously.
“Don’t just pin this on me!” Dewey exclaimed, promptly ignoring his trapped sibling. “You two were as on board with it as I was!”
“You don’t think I know I shouldn’t listen to you?” A slight squeak as Huey’s voice broke. “After however many times it’s gotten me into trouble? You’d just get into even more if I wasn’t around!”
Dewey indignantly put his hands on his hips. “That’s not the only reason and you know it!"
Huey floundered for a little bit. “Guh, it doesn’t matter right now anyways! What matters is we get Louie out of the wall before Uncle Donald rounds the corner and has a heart attack!”
“Please go ahead with that plan.” The dangling legs shifted in agitation or discomfort. “It’s the best I’ve heard all day.”
“Right!” Dewey jumped on the spot. “You get Louie out of the wall and I’ll grab some spare wood and tools from the garage!”
He was caught by the arm just before he could break into a sprint.
“When was it decided that we needed wood and tools?!”
“We’re going to fix the wall!” Dewey ignored his brothers gape. “That way neither Uncle Donald or Scrooge finds out and we don’t get in trouble at all!”
He made to move once again, and his feet skidded against the worn carpet as Huey held fast.
“Do you ever think, Dewford?” He gestured to the destruction they’d caused, Louie’s bottom half still center-point and painfully conspicuous. “We don’t have time to fix this! For starters we’d have to tear off even more wallpaper, which we can’t replace! And
we’d need way more materials than just-”
“Hey, this is fascinating and all,” It seemed sarcasm didn’t carry as much. The boys needed to strain to catch what the youngest was saying. “But I’m close to kissing maybe six daddy long-legs’ right now and I’m starting to lose feeling in my feet, so…”
“Wait, Louie?” Huey came closer and addressed the dent in the wall where his brother ended. “Can you see in there!?”
“Uhh, guess so.” Dewey stepped up as well, interested. “S’not exactly a sunny day in here, more like when Uncle Donald leaves the light on in the hall.”
“Can you see where the light’s coming from?”
“Uhh…” The legs shifted as he twisted, presumably trying see from all directions. “Yeah. There’s a little crack in the wall further up, like the space under a door.”
“Interesting.” Huey turned back to the second, who looked thoroughly disinterested at this point. “It’s an old mansion...There could be an entry point up there, where a person could crawl in to fix the plumbing or strengthen the supports…”
“There is.” Came a dignified lilt from behind them. “It’s how I heard you boys.”
Not one of the triplets didn’t nearly let out the most girly scream of their lives. The kind that none of them would hear the end of.
“Who’s there?!” The legs flailed as Louie tried in vain to look behind him at the newcomer. “Was that Beakley?”
“It was.” The old duck called louder so he could hear. She then glared with her considerable height down at Dewey and Huey, both who looked to be whiter than usual. It was Dewey who first tried to speak.
“Ngh… Uh, Mrs B...”
“Don’t say.” She sighed. “I know exactly what happened. It’s not hard to figure out, given the state of the area. I heard Louie through the wall, but I couldn’t make him out.” She raised an eyebrow at them. “I’m glad I chose to investigate before any more damage was done.” The boys dropped their heads.
“We’re sorry, Mrs Beakley…” Huey wrung his hands together. “We know how much work it’s gonna be to fix this…”
“It can’t be that much though, right?” Dewey’s nervous laugh was cut off with a kick from one of Louie’s legs. “But uh, yeah. We’re sorry. You’re probably gonna tell Uncle Scrooge what we did now, right?”
“It’s part of my job description to relay all damage of property to my employer.” Bentina responded stiffly.
Dewey and Huey winced, and from within the wall there came a soft groan of disappointment.
“And… and Uncle Donald too?” Huey timidly added.
“He has a right to know. Especially as your guardian.” Silence this time.
Bentina looked at the droop of the young boys shoulders, and watched them stand (or hang) with an air of guilt that shouldn’t have been out of place, but still felt heavier than it probably should have. Despite herself, the housekeeper felt her glare softening. “Out of the way, please.”
She stepped up to the wall, and the boys parted like the red sea. With a sharp but none the less gentle tug Louie spouted free with old mold and dust flaking from his feathers like snowfall. He, like his brothers, appeared unusually solemn. His brows were drawn together, and as soon as his feet touched the ground he buried his hands deep into his pockets and his chin met the front of his hoodie.
Beakley dusted off her hands, pondering the sight. “Boys, get yourselves cleaned up before dinner. I’m going to head up and notify Mr. McDuck of the rotting in this wall.” Dewey and Louie nodded. Only Huey looked up with confusion.
“He should have some carpenters here tomorrow morning.” She continued, fetching her broom from where she’d left it propped near the staircase. “I’ll clean this up for now. And don’t worry about the mattress, I’ll return it to whatever room you’ve taken it from.”
“Mrs. Beakley…?” Huey stepped forward, looking up at her with curious eyes. “Do you mean… You’re not going to tell Uncle Scrooge and Uncle Donald what we did?”
She looked back. Dewey and Louie had raised their heads, the hope in their eyes was astounding. So much like Webby, these boys were. And yet thrice the trouble.
It had been a long time since so much trouble resided in McDuck Manor.
“It’s part of my job description to relay all damage of property to my employer.” She repeated. “He’ll need to be notified of the sorry state of some of these walls. Had I not found out about it, something else would have happened to make it known. Simply collateral... That’s what we’ll call it.”
She looked at each of the boys in turn, eyes alight with a type of mirth she hadn’t felt in years. She then nodded and turned to sweep up the debris, deliberately glancing over the delighted looks on their faces before averting her gaze.
Three thumps on her back startled her as she was embraced by three tiny pairs of arms before being abruptly released. Shocked into silence, the old housekeeper watched the triplets race past her one at a time.
“You’re the best, Mrs. B!”
Nostalgia that had been calmly sweeping through her suddenly pulled back and socked her in the stomach full force. She could only chuckle. And after a moment, went back to sweeping.
“I was not expecting that.”
“Me neither.” Huey said, gaze zeroing in on Louie’s crusty feathers,. “Let’s get cleaned up. Like Mrs. Beakley said.”
“I was ready to be banned from our next adventure!” Dewey breathed, the thought seeming to haunt him.
“I was ready to be thrown out the window, if I’m honest.” Louie absent-mindedly swatted at Huey’s hand as he tried to pick away some of the dirt on his head.
They turned into just one of the manors many restrooms and ran the bath. Louie allowed Huey to sit him down on the edge and comb the worst of the filth from his feathers.
Dewey stood on the laundry basket and looked in the mirror. “Why do you think she didn’t tell on us?”
“Don’t know.” Louie shrugged. Huey straightened his head so he could get the best angle with his comb. “As long as she keeps doing it, though, she’s alright in my book.”
Huey paused. “...I’m glad Mrs. Beakley saved our skin. And Uncle Scrooge won’t care if we play too hard, we know what he’s like. But... I don’t want to give Uncle Donald any reason not to trust us.”
Dewey nodded quickly. “Me too.”
“...Three.” Louie stayed still as his brother went back to his ministrations. “We don’t exactly have an excuse to break the rules anymore...”
“Yeah, he’s eased up.” Huey agreed. “And with all these outings Scrooge takes us on, he’s really putting his faith in us not to make living with us difficult with crazy schemes. Right Dewey?”
Said sibling looked off to one side. “I’d hardly call mattress surfing the craziest of schemes.”
“Just say okay, man.”
He sighed. “Okay. So we’ll keep at-home adventures out of the house.”
“Actually...” Louie smiled. “That’s as good as we’re gonna get from any of us, I think.”