|The Seven Sleepers||10|
His real name was Rupert Slooper, but even his own parents called him Slops, more often than not. He was an undersized boy, with great blue eyes like that of a baby. The eyes seemed never to blink. His hair stuck out in all directions, and at first glance he appeared to consist of a pair of eyes surrounded by hair – the general effect was of some rare sea creature. He had perpetually about him the air of someone who has just woken from a deep sleep.
“He might pick on Grim,” he said, as the hissing sound from the bureau got louder.
“Grim can look after himself,” Carmen said. Leif was, after all, the size of a pigeon, and about as dangerous.
There was a long silence, in which Slops seemed to grow more and more uncomfortable. Finally he blurted: “It’s Mere and Pere. They’ll know I got him.”
It was a good point. Carmen couldn’t rely on her aunt and uncle to keep such a secret. All grown-ups, even the Sloopers, were full of peculiar ideas about responsibility and truthfulness.
While mulling over this she gazed out at her cousin’s bedroom. There were clothes everywhere, and balled up pieces of paper, and dirty plates, and odd shoes. There was a painting of Mrs. Slooper’s, which seemed to consist of wild sprayings of paint in every colour of the rainbow. Various contraptions devised by Mr. Slooper were scattered about: these included a steam-powered can opener the size of an armchair, and a comb that converted (unexpectedly) into a cut-throat razor. For the inexperienced, a visit to the Sloopers could result in serious injury. A peculiar stringed musical instrument poked its long neck out of a wardrobe, hung about with dirty socks, as if it had tried to dress itself in the dark. It was one of the antiques that had been passed down to the family through Grandmere Anna. These antiques, banned items mostly, had gravitated towards the shambolic Slooper household – it was as if the casual heresy of the Sloopers acted as a magnet.