THE SENTIMENTAL WIDOW 219
" An' thinkin'," said Bert, " shall I tell you what I was thinkin', Maggie ? "
" Yes, Bert," said Maggie absently, and then to William:
" I s'pose he could hold things wonderfully an' play the piano an' such like."
Yes," said William unblushingly, " and he could play two concertinas at once."
Lor ! " said Maggie and remained in rapt and silent contemplation of the mental picture his words evoked.
" Maggie," said Bert raising his voice, " I'll tell you what I was thinkin'. I was thinkin' that I'd never seen in all my life a prettier picture than what you made sittin' there."
Maggie at last transferred her attention to him.
"Oh, Bert ! " she said, blushing and bridling, " was you really ? "
" Yes, an'—"
" His hands were so strong," interrupted William, " that he could walk on them same as on his feet. Once he strained his ankle and he walked on his hands for a fortnight till it got well. People got quite used to seeing him going about like that. When it rained he used to carry his umbrella in his teeth."
But either he had overstepped the bounds of credibility in his inventions or Maggie was tiring of the eight-fingered man. She merely said " Lor ! " halfheartedly, and returned to Bert.
" Was you reely, Bert ? " she said again with a sigh, " an' I'd no idea."
" It was Pete held me off; I thought you was sweet on him."
" I wasn't then," said Maggie, " though I took him later. But I remember that picnic an' me watching you an' Sadie. There was cold chicken an' I couldn't eat any of it. It seemed to choke me."
A determined voice came from the walking pyramid of tea paraphernalia.