THE OUTLAWS FETCH THE HOLLY
It was not without misgiving that the Vicar's wife commissioned the Outlaws to go into the woods and get some holly for the Christmas decorations. She would not, of course, have done it had other material been available, but most of the juvenile population of the village had succumbed to an epidemic of mumps that the Outlaws, with the proverbial good fortune of the wicked, had escaped. The Vicar's wife would have preferred almost any of the others to have escaped, but she was a good woman and accustomed to make the best of untoward circumstances, so she summoned the Outlaws to the Vicarage in order to tell them exactly what she wanted. She hoped by an appeal to their better natures to ensure that they should fulfil their mission as well as any of the infant Samuels who usually gathered the holly, but who now occupied beds of sickness in the village. The Vicar's wife was a great believer in herself as an appealer to people's better natures.
The Outlaws arrived looking so neat and clean and wearing expressions of such utter vacancy that the Vicar's wife was reassured. Perhaps. she thought, she'd done them an injustice. Perhaps they weren't, after all, quite as bad as she'd believed them to be. . . .
She made one of her beautiful little speeches appealing to their better natures. It lasted nearly twenty minutes. She impressed upon them what an honour it was for them to be allowed to collect holly for the Christmas decorations. She painted in glowing colours