Just – William Page 25

“Where’s your things?” she said.

“Comin’,” said William without a moment’s hesitation.

“Too tired to bring ’em with you?” she said sarcastically. “All right. Come in!”

William came in gratefully. It was a large, warm, clean kitchen. A small kitchen-maid was peeling potatoes at a sink, and a housemaid in black, with a frilled cap and apron, was powdering her nose before a glass on the wall. They both turned to stare at William.

“’Ere’s the new Boots,” announced Cook, “’is valet’s bringin’ ’is things later.”

The housemaid looked up William from his muddy boots to his untidy hair, then down William from his untidy hair to his muddy boots.

“Imperdent-lookin’ child,” she commented haughtily, returning to her task.

William decided inwardly that she was to have no share at all in the nuggets.

The kitchen-maid giggled and winked at William, with obviously friendly intent. William mentally promised her half a ship-load of nuggets.

“Now, then, Smutty,” said the house-maid with out turning round, “none of your sauce!”

“’Ad your tea?” said the cook to William. William’s spirits rose.

“No,” he said plaintively.

“All right. Sit down at the table.”

William’s spirits soared sky high.

He sat at the table and the cook put a large plate of bread and butter before him.

William set to work at once. The house-maid regarded him scornfully.

“Learnt ’is way of eatin’ at the Zoo,” she said pityingly.

The kitchen-maid giggled again and gave William another wink. William had given himself up to whole-hearted epicurean enjoying of his bread and butter and took no notice of them. At this moment the butler entered.

He subjected the quite unmoved William to another long survey.

“When next you come a-hentering of this ’ouse, my boy,” he said, “kindly remember that the front door is reserved for gentry an’ the back for brats.”

William merely looked at him coldly over a hunk of bread and butter. Mentally he knocked him off the list of nugget-receivers.

The butler looked sadly round the room.

“They’re all the same,” he lamented. “Eat, eat, eat. Nothin’ but eat. Eat all day an’ eat all night. ’E’s not bin in the ’ouse two minutes an’ ’e’s at it. Eat! eat! eat! ’E’ll ’ave all the buttons bust off his uniform in a week like wot the larst one ’ad. Like eatin’ better than workin’, don’t you?” he said sarcastically to William.

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