WILLIAM'S DOUBLE LIFE 71
No words could describe the earnestness of William's voice, the almost imbecile innocence of his regard. The lady's suspicions were entirely lulled. She was more deeply touched than ever.
" I'd like you to keep that apple, Algernon," she said generously, " but you must promise not to give it to your brother. Will you promise ? "
William slipped back the apple into his pocket and duly promised. He promised with quite a clean conscience. He certainly hadn't any intention of giving the apple to Robert. The lady was still looking at him in a friendly fashion.
11 I'm afraid that William must be rather a trouble to you, my dear boy," she said. Yes, he is," said William sadly.
" And I'm sure you do your best to improve him."
" Yes," sighed William, " I'm always at it."
" Don't despair, my dear boy," she said, " I expect your example will have its effect in the end. You told him how wrong he'd been this morning, I suppose?"
" Oh yes," said William hastily. " I told him that all right, I pled with him about it."
" You must speak to him again about it. You must tell him how wrong trespassing is. Tell him that a person who hasn't a clear idea of meum and tuum comes to no good in the end. And those apples and fishes are mine. I paid for them. Surely he knows that stealing's wrong ? "
" I'm always telling him," said William with a sigh, " pleadin' with him an' such-like."
And can't you persuade him to be clean and tidy as you are ? " she went on. " He looked disgraceful. I've never seen such a dirty, untidy boy."
" I'm always pleadin' with him about that too," said William earnestly. " I'm always askin' him why he can't be clean and tidy like what I am."
" Dear boy," said the lady, laying a hand affectionately on his head, " I feel that you and I are going