THE MYSTERY OF OAKLANDS 15
" Yes," said William simply, " I am. I mayn't be clever at Latin an' G'om'try an' things like tható though I bet I'm not as bad as what they try to make out on my reportsóbut I am clever at findin' out murd'rers."
" All right. Kindly tell us one murd'rer you've ever found out," challenged Ginger.
" Kin ly tell me," retorted William heatedly, " when I've ever had a chance to find out a murderer. If I came across anyone murdered I'd find out who did it pretty quick. I've read so many myst'ry books that I know all the ways there are of killin' folks and I know just what the sort that do it are like."
" Oh, shvt up ! " said Ginger.
They had reached the old barn where they always held their meetings and games.
" Let's play at something," said Douglas.
" Let's play a sort of myst'ry game," said William. " Let Henry be murdered an' Ginger the one that really did it an' Douglas the one everyone thinks did it an' I'll be the man that comes along and finds that it was Ginger that did it and not Douglas."
But the Outlaws refused thus to offer themselves as
food to William's self-glorification. They each agreed,
however, to play the game on condition that William
should be the murdered man and he the one who
disclosed the murderer, so finally the idea was given up
and they played Red Indians till bed-time.
There followed a long spell of fine weather. Robert's and Hector's passion for adventure tales died. The books were given away and no further ones bought. The Outlaws' interest in it, too, would have waned had it not been for the owner of Beechgrove. Every day they passed the two houses. Every day they hung over the gate of Oaklands watching the tenant of Oaklands at his labours till he ordered them off. Then they passed on to Beechgrove. It is probable that the