WILLIAM AND THE PRIZE PIG 217
" We'll jus' go along to the Vicarage an' see," said William vaguely.
They trudged along the road to the Vicarage whistling cheerfully. It was turning out an adventure after their own hearts.
At the Vicarage they slowed down and looked at William. The Outlaws were not personae gratae at the Vicarage. Many little scores paid and unpaid lay between them and the Vicar's wife. She was just coming out of the front gate as they reached it. She wore her Sunday clothes and was obviously in a good temper.
She was going away for the night to speak at a Mothers' Meeting Conference, and there was nothing in the world that the Vicar's wife enjoyed more than speaking at Mothers' Meeting Conferences—or, indeed, anywhere at all. So she beamed through her pince-nez at the Outlaws, quite forgetting that only a few weeks ago they had put years on to the life of the Vicarage wheelbarrow and that entirely owing to them the church pillars had had to be wreathed at Christmas with laurel instead of holly.
" Well, dear boys," she said brightly, " and what are you about this fine day ? Not spending it quite uselessly, I hope ? Trying to give pleasure to others besides yourselves, I hope ? "
" Please," said William earnestly, " did you have anything stole about two years ago ? "
Stolen, dear boy, stolen. Past participle, stolen I steal, he stole, the teapot has been stolen."
" A teapot, was it ? " said William eagerly.
" Well, as a matter of fact we did have a teapot stolen about two years ago," she said. " A beautiful silver teapot. It was a great grief to us. The only thing we've ever had stolen. Stolen, note, dear boy, not stole. Past participle, stolen. I steal, he stole, the teapot has been stolen."
" About two years ago ? " said William.