Rice Mould

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"Rice-mould," said the little girl next door bitterly. "Rice-mould! Rice-mould! every single day. I hate it, don't you?"

She turned gloomy blue eyes upon William, who was perched perilously on the ivy-covered wall. William considered thoughtfully.

"Dunno," he said. "I just eat it; I never thought about it."

"It's hateful, just hateful. Ugh! I've had it at dinner and I'll have it at supper—bet you anything. I say, you are going to have a party to-night, aren't you?"

William nodded carelessly.

"Are you going to be there?"

"Me!" ejaculated William in a tone of amused surprise. "I should think so! You don't think they could have it without me, do you? Huh! Not much!"

She gazed at him enviously.

"You are lucky! I expect you'll have a lovely supper—not rice mould," bitterly.

"Rather!" said William with an air of superiority.

"What are you going to have to eat at your party?"

"Oh—everything," said William vaguely.

"Cream blanc-mange?"

"Heaps of it—buckets of it."

The little girl next door clasped her hands.

"Oh, just think of it! Your eating cream blanc-mange and me eating—rice-mould!" (It is impossible to convey in print the intense scorn and hatred which the little girl next door could compress into the two syllables.)

Here an idea struck William.

"What time do you have supper?"

"Seven."

"Well, now," magnanimously, "if you'll be in your summer-house at half-past, I'll bring you some cream blanc-mange. Truly I will!"

The little girl's face beamed with pleasure.

"Will you? Will you really? You won't forget?"

"Not me! I'll be there. I'll slip away from our show on the quiet with it."

"Oh, how lovely! I'll be thinking of it every minute. Don't forget. Good-bye!"

She blew him a kiss and flitted daintily into the house.

William blushed furiously at the blown kiss and descended from his precarious perch.

He went to the library where his grown-up sister Ethel and his elder brother Robert were standing on ladders at opposite ends of the room, engaged in hanging up festoons of ivy and holly across the wall. There was to be dancing in the library after supper. William's mother watched them from a safe position on the floor.

"Look here, mother," began William. "Am I or am I not coming to the party to-night?"

William's mother sighed.

"For goodness' sake, William, don't open that discussion again. For the tenth time to-day, you are not!"

"But why not?" he persisted. "I only want to know why not. That's all I want to know. It looks a bit funny, doesn't it, to give a party and leave out your only son, at least,"—with a glance at Robert, and a slight concession to accuracy—"to leave out one of your only two sons? It looks a bit queer, surely. That's all I'm thinking of—how it will look."

"A bit higher your end," said Ethel.

"Yes, that's better," said William's mother.

"It's a young folks' party," went on William, warming to his subject. "I heard you tell Aunt Jane it was a young folks' party. Well, I'm young, aren't I? I'm eleven. Do you want me any younger? You aren't ashamed of folks seeing me, are you! I'm not deformed or anything."

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