side curls. He spoke in an assumed high-pitched voice.
"I've been watching you, my dear boys, from my house up the road. I'm sure that you're both tired and hungry, and I'd be so pleased if you'd go up to my house and have something to eat. I've left a nice tea for you on the verandah. I'll look after your stall for you and you needn't be away a minute, need you ? '
Alas for the Outlaws ! They didn't know that this was Hubert Lane. They didn't know that the Hubert Laneites surrounded them, crawling slowly along the dry ditch on either side of the road. They hesitated, they weakened, they fell.
" Thanks awfully," said William. "Yes — we wouldn't mind havin' tea. We've been so busy that we forgot all about tea. No, we needn't stay away more'n a minute an' if you'd kindly look after our stall for us-----"
" Cert'n'ly, dear boys," said the old lady, " mines the first house on the right an' you'll find a nice tea laid for you on the verandah."
Hubert's plan was a deep and cunning one. At first he had meant to decoy William from his post by the description of a non-existent tea, but on the way down the road he had noticed a tea laid for four on the verandah of a house down the lane. There were no signs of hosts or guests. It occurred to him that it would be fun to involve the Outlaws in the terrible complications that would ensue from an unauthorised consumption of this inviting and evidently carefully prepared meal.
" Thank you very much," said William politely and set off with his Outlaws down the road.
Only Douglas felt slight misgivings. " I dunno as we ought to've gone," he said anxiously.
William defended their action with spirit.
" Well, we've gotter eat, haven't we ? We'd die if we went on an' on without food, an' it wouldn't be much good gettin' ten pounds an' then dyin' of starvation