THE SENTIMENTAL WIDOW 217
cunning indeed. He'll try to get rid of you, but—it'll be all right if you stick to him. I can't tell you how grateful I am to you, love."
Maggie came downstairs, smiling and blushing.
" This little boy's kindly going with you," said her sister, " to help carry things. There's rather a lot to carry, you know. You'll find him very useful."
Maggie looked for a moment as if she wasn't sure that she would, but she was a simple, good-natured soul, so she smiled at William and said :
" Well, I'm sure it's very kind of you."
And at that moment Bert appeared, bareheaded as usual, his flaxen curls gleaming in the sun.
William's presence was explained to him and there was no doubt at all about his attitude to it. He scowled at William and muttered :
" We don't want no one to carry things. I bet there's nothin' I can't manage. An' a lot of use he looks as if he'd be."
But Mrs. Round way had diplomatically tied up the provisions in numerous and rather unwieldy parcels, and Bert, after trying unsuccessfully to accommodate them all under his arm, gave up the attempt and presented William with a generous share of them. He would not allow Maggie to carry anything.
" No," he said, fixing languishing blue eyes upon her, " Never. You oughter be waited on hand and foot same as a queen. If I had my way you'd never do a hand's turn."
Then he met William's blank stare and ended irritably :
" Come on you, kid. Look sharp an' mind you don't drop anything."
William's stare became if possible blanker, but those who knew him would have decided to tread warily. Bert, however, did not know him.
The three of them set off together down the road. Bert meant to walk next his beloved. He tried to walk