WILLIAM - online children's book

More adventures of the famous 11 year old and the "outlaws"

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THE OUTLAWS FETCH THE HOLLY 197
had no mirror and was anxious to make his general appearance as impressive as possible, he erred on the side of generosity as far as the burnt cork was concerned. In fact, when he had tied about his waist a girdle from a derelict dressing-gown of Robert's, there was no doubt at all of his fitness to play the part of Chieftain. The other Outlaws, though less gloriously apparelled, were striking enough figures—Ginger in the tattered pants, Douglas in the bedspread and Henry in the old pyjamas, all of them with plentifully-corked beards and moustaches and with bath towels round their heads. They gazed at each other with deep satisfaction. They did not see each other quite as an impartial observer would have seen them. They saw each other as com­manding figures,handsomely robed, fit lords of the desert. The wheelbarrow, of course, was a camel, and at first William as chieftain rode upon it while the others in turn guided its course. William occasionally put up his hand as if to shade his eyes from the glaring sun and gazed about him slowly from side to side. He did not see the bushes and trees that actually surrounded him. He saw a vast expanse of sand, stretching as far as the eye could see. At last, however, he proclaimed that he had espied an oasis, and following his direction the company made their way to it. There they rested under the shade of a palm tree that to the impartial observer would have suggested a hawthorn tree, and refreshed themselves with small red dates that grew upon it. Then they made a fire to protect them from prowling beasts and lay down to sleep, leaving Ginger on guard with a bow and arrow that he had improvised for the purpose. During the night (which was of short duration) Ginger occupied himself by shooting the innumerable wild animals that drew near to attack the camp. Some he wrestled with and throttled with his bare hands in order to vary the monotony of shoot­ing. In the morning the space about the camp was entirely covered by the dead bodies of hundreds of
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