THE SENTIMENTAL WIDOW 225
would have made a more sensitive spirit quail. William, not being a sensitive spirit, was hardly aware of it. But suddenly the darkness of the glance lightened.
" Now you'd like to go'n' wash the cups up, wouldn't you ? " he said to William in quite a friendly voice. " The best place is jus' down beyond that bend there. The bank slopes easy right down to the water there. You came to help, didn't you ? You jus' step off with the things an' get 'em washed."
William, who had made quite a good tea despite the steeple-dweller's demands upon his inventive powers, arose slowly and began to collect the remnants of the feast. He was not in the least deceived by Bert's new manner of friendliness. He knew exactly what was in Bert's mind. Once William was out of sight and hearing round the bend of the bank, Bert could exert all his fascination, recover his influence, and, uninterrupted by William, press his suit upon the heiress.
"All right," said William obligingly, "I'll go'n' wash them. You two stay here'n' rest till I get back. I'll wash the cups an' spoons an' teapot. ..."
He collected the things, made as if to depart, then turned suddenly.
" You mean that place jus' round the corner by the willow-tree ? " he said
" Yes. You can get right down to the water there."
And the gallant Bert turned to his beloved with a smile that isolated the two of them from the world in general and the departing William in particular.
But William still hadn t quite departed.
" Yes, I know the place," he said conversationally; " I should just think I do know the place."
He spoke in a mysterious tone. Maggie, who had just been surrendering herself to the isolating effect of Bert's smile, was intrigued by it. A mysterious tone was to Maggie as the scent of the fox is to a hound. She knew no peace till she had run it to earth.
" Why do you say it like that ? " she said. p "