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WILLIAM THE SHOWMAN              127
to a boarding school and they won't let me. Now why are you dressed up ? You are ugly."
William accepted this—as indeed it seemed to be meant—as a compliment.
" Oh, I'm all right," he said modestly; " I'm dressed up for a waxwork show."
" Oh what fun ! You are lucky! " said the little girl.
William looked at her in silence for a minute and his eyes gleamed suddenly as if with a brilliant idea. No doubt at all about the little girl's beauty. Surely anyone would pay to see her, . . .
You can go 'stead of me if you like," he said carelessly.
" Oh, may I ? " she said excitedly, then her excitement faded; " but I'm s'posed to be going to that silly place to be talked to by that stupid woman."
" I'll do that for you," volunteered William. " I'm dressed same as you—well, nearly same as you. Only —I s'pose she'd know I wasn't you."
The little girl's eyes were gleaming.
u She wouldn't" she said, " she's never seen me. She's come to ask me a lot of stupid questions in a silly place they've made for me that I hate. Then there's going to be a silly photograph, but I'll be back in time for that. Oh, I'd love to go and play at being a waxwork."
" All right," said William, " you go. It's over in that barn in that field. There's a hole in the hedge. You'll find three boys there. Tell 'em I've sent you 'stead of me to be Mary Queen of Scots. What about flowers ? Oh, but you don't need 'em. Well, I'll go to this place you say. What sort of questions she goin' to ask. Not lessons ? " suspiciously.
" Oh, no . . . just stupid questions. It will be fun. I'll go now before anyone comes along and stops me------
She flitted through the shrubbery, through the gap in the hedge, and disappeared across the field.
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