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220                                WILLIAM
" I once heard of a man what ate five chickens one after the other straight off for dinner."
" What ! " said Maggie. " Five ! "
" Yes," said William, " five. He ate them straight off one after the other for dinner."
" All the time I was talkin' to Sadie," said Bert in a tone that was languishing but determined, " all the time I was talkin' to Sadie, I was thinkin-----"
" Legs an' all ? " said Maggie to William with deep interest, "legs an' all—or jus' the breast and wings ?"
" I was thinkin'-----" put in Bert, raising his voice.
" Legs an' all," said William. " Every bit. Left the bones clean as if they'd been scrubbed."
" Lor ! " gasped Maggie. " Five ! It hardly seems possible, do it ? "
" I was lookin' at you," said Bert, " an' I was thinkin'-----"
" I should think he died after it, didn't he ? " said Maggie. " I guess I'd die if I ate five. Five ! Lor ! "
" He din't die," said William, " but he was very ill. He'd got to have five operations before he was well again. And when he got well he din't eat anythin' for a month."
" Lor I " gasped Maggie.
" I remember sayin' to myself as I walked home that night-----"" began Bert pathetically.
" I should think that he never wanted to eat chicken again, did he ? "
" I remember thinkin-----"
" No. And all the rest of his life," said William in a slow, impressive voice, " he fainted whenever he saw a chicken.'
" I walked back home that night thinkin' about you and sayin' to myself-----"
" Must 've been awkward faintin' whenever he sor a chicken. I s'pose live ones didn't worry him. I s'pose it was jus' cooked ones."
" Sayin' to myself," said Bert, giving William a
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