FIREWORKS STRICTLY PROHIBITED 171
naughty little boys. I know all about you. Go away."
The Outlaws' spirits rose, however, when they heard that she was going to tea with William's mother. William promised to put in an appearance at tea-time and bring back full particulars of the Colonel's fireworks.
William did not usually take tea with his mother when she was entertaining visitors and she was as surprised as her visitor when William—a radiant vision of cleanliness and neatness (it had taken him nearly an hour to effect the miracle) and wearing his smuggest expression—entered the drawing-room at tea-time and began to hand round the cakes. So amazed were they that a dead silence fell upon them and they gazed at him helplessly. William took this as a silence of admiration, and the smugness of his expression deepened. He handed the cake-stand to the visitor with a courtly bow, fell over the hearthrug, upset the sugar, and then, choosing the largest bun within his range of vision, returned with it to the corner of the room to listen to the conversation. His mother and his mother's visitor gradually recovered from their paralysis and continued the conversation where it had been ruthlessly cut off by William's spectacular appearance. The conversation lacked its pristine verve and ever and anon they threw helpless glances at William, who sat smug and clean and shining in his corner munching his bun. His mother was hoping that the visitor would think that William always looked like this, and the visitor was wondering whether this was some member of the family that she'd never seen before. She was rather short-sighted, but she thought that he bore a strong family resemblance to the dirty Little boy who'd annoyed her brother so much by trespassing in his garden. That reminded her of her brother and she began to talk about him again. She seldom talked about anything else for long.