A Family Affair
One of the more interesting things about becoming a really rather prominent Egyptologist was the fact that invitations to spend the weekend with really rather prominent people were far more in the offing than before. When Evie had been a mere librarian (as if curating and managing a library was something to be sneezed at), no such offers of huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ weekends had been extended. (This, despite the fact that the Carnahans were a Very Old, Very Good Family; Alexander’s marriage to Salwa had been social suicide.) Weekend parties amused Evie and they opened doors to funding for further archeological seasons, and so several times a year she accepted on behalf of Rick and herself. And when Alex came along, she accepted on behalf of him, too.
Which is all to say that the three of them were all together when Lord Chudleigh presented them with the mummy in his study.
“Brought back by my great-grandfather in the ’50s,” Lord Chudleigh said proudly, as though having a three thousands year old dead person casually leaning against the wall of one’s study was an ordinary thing to do. “Bought it from some Arab, mummy case and all, and had it sent home. Old thing’s been here ever since.”
“You have a dead guy in your study,” Rick said, disbelief tinging his voice.
Lord Chudleigh gave him a kindly look; really, he was a nice man. “It won’t hurt you, Mr. O’Connell; the dead are dead and can’t be brought back to life. Ha ha! Lends the room a bit of an exotic air, if you ask me!”
Evie managed not to trade glances with her husband, and Alex was standing almost nose to folded arms with the dead man. Lord Chudleigh was called away at that moment, leaving the O’Connells contemplating his bizarre memento mori. The poor thing was just standing there, propped against his case, ripped from his nice tomb, no glass case or anything to protect him from the English damp. Rick and Evie stood side by side, arms folded, staring.
“He keeps a mummy in his study,” Rick repeated.
“He’s a collector,” Evie replied. “I warned you he was eccentric.”
“He keeps a mummy in his study.”
“Okay, yes, that is odd, I’ll give you that. Alex, don’t touch the poor man; he’s been through enough.”
Alex, age four, withdrew his finger from the dried fold of the mummy’s bandages. “Mum? What’s his name?”
Evie leaned in to examine the writing on the mummy case. “Well, if this is his actual coffin, then I think he’s Kehmet, Royal Scribe to Hatshepsut.”
“Not a high priest?” Rick sounded relieved.
Evie flashed him a look; they hadn’t told Alex that story yet. He was too little; it would give him nightmares. Or would it, Evie wondered, looking at her son as he introduced himself to the mummy as Alex, Collector of Neat Bugs. Anyway, she would need to convince Lord Chudleigh to invest in a glass case, or to donate poor Kehmet to the British Museum (not that they treated their mummies much better). The way he was standing here, anyone could just have at him. And then a wicked thought flashed into Evie’s mind.
“You know what would be really funny?” she said, flashing a sideways grin at Rick. He looked at her, eyes widening.
Alex looked up at them both. “What? What’s funny?”
“If we moved Sir Kehmet here just a little to the left,” Evie said, “he would look like he’s peeking out of his coffin.”
Alex turned back, tipping his head back to think about it. He giggled. “That would be very naughty, Mumma!”
“It would,” Evie agreed, delighting in her own naughtiness. “It would scare the household silly.”
She looked at Rick. Alex looked at Rick. Rick looked from one to the other, taking in their grins.
“Well, I’m not touching him,” he said, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “But yes, it would actually be hilarious.”
Evie was already reaching into her pocket for the cotton gloves she always carried, just in case (one never knew what one might find in these big, old houses). “Keep watch, men. Rick, you take the main door; Alex, you take the little door.”
Rick and Alex took up their positions, both trying (and failing) to appear innocent. Evie reached towards the mummy of Kehmet, Royal Scribe to Hatshepsut.
“Afternoon, sir,” she said in an undertone, taking him by the elbows. “I hope you don’t mind this bit of sacrilege after all you’ve been through. We’re just playing a small prank and hope you don’t mind helping us. Did you have a family? If so, you’ll understand. There you are, slightly repositioned. I’ll talk to his lordship about getting you a nice climate-controlled glass box. Thank you!”
Evie stood back to admire her handiwork. Kehmet, Royal Scribe to Hatshepsut, now looked as though he had raised himself gently out of his coffin to look out into the room. He would scare the bejeesus out of anyone who wandered in. Evie grinned.
“Okay, let’s go,” she said, snatching up Alex and hurrying towards Rick. “Is the coast clear?”
“Yes,” Rick said, and the three O’Connells hustled out of the room and up the nearby staircase. They had just made it to the first floor landing when Lord Chudleigh walked by, back into his study. Evie held her finger to her lips. Alex clamped his mouth shut around his giggles.
“Aaaaaagh!” bellowed Lord Chudleigh.
The O’Connells fled on silent feet to their assigned bedroom, where they lay on the floor together and laughed until they cried. Really, weekend parties were so much fun.
Author's Note: this was written in response to a prompt. If you would like to request a fic, please pop over to my Tumblr and leave me a note! I hope you like the story. Please let me know what you think in the comments.