their pride and pleasure on Christmas morning, when
they should see the holly they had gathered adorning
the pillars and the choir stalls. She painted in lurid
colours the envy of those who were prevented by
mumps from performing this service for her. It was,
she thought, a speech calculated to inspire anyone to
pious effort. She'd have been amazed and horrified
had she known that the only definite impression the
Outlaws gained from it was that they were to be
allowed a whole day in the woods with the Vicarage
They called for the wheelbarrow the next morning, still looking repellently clean and tidy and wearing exaggerated expressions of virtue. They knew the Vicar's wife. She was a terrible woman. At any sign of levity she would have thought nothing of cancelling the whole expedition. Solemnly, silently, with faces of set, stern virtue, the Outlaws departed, trundling the Vicarage wheelbarrow before them. The Vicar's wife saw them off at the front gate. Her final admonitions floated after them down the road.
" Quietly, boys, remember, and industriously . . . Keep in mind the great work you are helping in . . . and as many berries as possible, please."
Once round the corner and out of sight of the Vicarage, the tension of the group relaxed. They set down the wheelbarrow and clustered round it, examining it.
"It's a jolly fine one," said Ginger, " I bet we can play all sorts of games with it."
" We've gotter get her holly," said Douglas.
Douglas, generally speaking, possessed a more highly-developed conscience than the other Outlaws.
" Oh yes, of course," said Ginger hastily. " Of course, well get her holly. But I meant that we could have a few games first. We don' want to get her holly all droopin' an' dead with pickin' it too soon. I votes we have a few games first an' then start gettin' her holly."