WILLIAM AND THE PRIZE PIG 241
" How d'you know ? "
" Cause no one could like keepin' pigs," said William firmly. "There's nothin' about pigs. I mean, if he kept wild animals or snakes or even butterflies or birds—sometbin' int'restin', anyway—you might think he was keepin' 'em because he wanted to keep 'em. But pigs ... he mus' be keepin' 'em so's to stop people suspectin' that he was a crim'nal. I bet he's a crim'nal same as that man at Beechcroft. Prob'ly he wears a wig, too, like that man called Bert. I bet his real hair's black."
Such was the magnetism of William's personality that his band was now firmly convinced that Mr. Ballater was a world-famous criminal in hiding.
"How 're we goin' to find out ? " said Ginger eagerly.
"Jus' watch him an' listen to him." said William. " Prob'ly he's got some confederation comin' to see him sometimes. They gen'rally do. Come to that I don't s'pose he's stopped. You don't often find 'em stoppin'. I mean once you've got into the way of steab'n'. you sort of can't stop all at once. I bet it's stealin' that he did. Where'd he get his money if he's not a thief ? He doesn't go up to London to an office same as our fathers do. He doesn't earn it. He mus' have stole it. I bet he's stealin' now from all the people about here. I bet that pig's jus' to put people off."
" But—but it doesn't give us much time to find out he's a thief an' tell him before your father comes home to-night," said Ginger.
It turned out, however, that William's father was not coming home that night. He was staying with friends in town, so that gave the Outlaws one extra day.
" We oughter be able to do it in that time," said William with his unfailing optimism. " We'd better start at once. We'll go back now an' start watchin' his house an' listenin'. We'll keep a good look out so's the minute he sees us we'll start runnin' away. An' I o