WILLIAM - online children's book

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202                                WILLIAM
instruments, then drew a small square on the ground with his walking stick.
" He should arrive upon this planet at this spot exactly within the next few minutes," he said, " assuming, of course, that my calculations are correct ..."
William, greatly interested, bent forward to see what the elderly gentleman was doing, overbalanced and fell—exactly into the square that the elderly gentleman had traced with his walking stick.
He sat up blinking, then looked up at them aggres­sively, expecting to be fiercely denounced, if not actually assaulted as a trespasser. The three faces gazed at him open-eyed, open-mouthed, slowly paling. Then the old gentleman spoke in a faint voice.
" This—this is a very great moment in my life," he said.
11 Where have you come from ? " said the fair-haired girl sharply to William.
The elderly gentleman smiled.
" My dear," he said, " it's no use addressing him in our tongue. He has his own language, of course. I have had no opportunity of studying that. The signals were flashed to me by code."
William had grasped the situation and decided to sustain the only character in which he would not be subjected to vituperation or personal violence. He stood up silently, arranged his robe around him, and continued to glare aggressively at the three amazed faces. The elderly gentleman drew a notebook from his pocket.
" I must get down the salient points about him," he said eagerly," in case—in case his visit is not of long duration."
He made a hasty and not very flattering sketch of William and wrote underneath, " small stature— flowing robes confined at waist—face painted (cf. Ancient Britons)."
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