FIREWORKS STRICTLY PROHIBITED 173
then turned head over heels in the dust several times in order to rid himself of the revolting and unfamiliar feeling of spruceness.
" Well," said the Outlaws indistinctly from behind half-masticated buns, " did you find anything out ? "
" Yes," said William triumphantly as, still sitting in the dust, he carefully stroked his hair up the wrong way. " Yes, I did too. I found out that he's gottem from London an' that they're in the shed at the bottom of the garden."
The Outlaws hastily swallowed what remained of their buns and stood up. " Come on," said Ginger succinctly, " let's go'n' have a look at them."
The inside of the shed was plainly visible from the top of the garden wall. Balanced precariously upon the top of the wall the Outlaws craned their necks to see through the little window.
" I can see a box of Catherine wheels," chanted William.
" I can see a box of rockets," said Ginger.
" I can see some Roman candles," said Ginger.
But what they didn't see was the figure of Colonel Masters, who had espied and recognised them from afar, creeping up behind the shed with his garden hose. They didn't see it, in fact, till the stream of water hit them full and square on the face and dislodged them precipitately into the road below. For some time they sat there, gasping and spluttering, bereft of the power of speech. Then William, damp but impressive, said slowly, " Well, that settles it. There isn't any doubt about it at all now. We're goin' to have him for our guy."
They separated their several ways homewards, each intent upon the problem of how to enter his home unseen.
William thought that he had succeeded. He reached his bedroom door without meeting anyone, but with the usual perversity of fate met his mother