William and the Smuggler

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William's family were going to the seaside for February. It was not an ideal month for the seaside, but William's father's doctor had ordered him a complete rest and change.

"We shall have to take William with us, you know," his wife had said as they discussed plans.

"Good heavens!" groaned Mr. Brown. "I thought it was to be a rest cure."

"Yes, but you know what he is," his wife urged. "I daren't leave him with anyone. Certainly not with Ethel. We shall have to take them both. Ethel will help with him."

Ethel was William's grown-up sister.

"All right," agreed her husband finally. "You can take all responsibility. I formally disown him from now till we get back. I don't care what trouble he lands you in. You know what he is and you deliberately take him away with me on a rest cure!"

"It can't be helped dear," said his wife mildly.

William was thrilled by the news. It was several years since he had been at the seaside.

"Will I be able to go swimmin'?"

"It won't be too cold! Well, if I wrap up warm, will I be able to go swimmin'?"

"Can I catch fishes?"

"Are there lots of smugglers smugglin' there?"

"Well, I'm only askin', you needn't get mad!"

One afternoon Mrs. Brown missed her best silver tray and searched the house high and low for it wildly, while dark suspicions of each servant in turn arose in her usually unsuspicious breast.

It was finally discovered in the garden. William had dug a large hole in one of the garden beds. Into the bottom of this he had fitted the tray and had lined the sides with bricks. He had then filled it with water, and taking off his shoes and stockings stepped up and down his narrow pool. He was distinctly aggrieved by Mrs. Brown's reproaches.

"Well, I was practisin' paddlin', ready for goin' to the seaside. I didn't mean to rune your tray. You talk as if I meant to rune your tray. I was only practisin' paddlin'."

At last the day of departure arrived. William was instructed to put his things ready on his bed, and his mother would then come and pack for him. He summoned her proudly over the balusters after about twenty minutes.

"I've got everythin' ready, Mother."

Mrs. Brown ascended to his room.

Upon his bed was a large pop-gun, a football, a dormouse in a cage, a punchball on a stand, a large box of "curios," and a buckskin which was his dearest possession and had been presented to him by an uncle from South Africa.

Mrs. Brown sat down weakly on a chair.

"You can't possibly take any of these things," she said faintly but firmly.

"Well, you said put my things on the bed for you to pack an' I've put them on the bed, an' now you say——"

"I meant clothes."

"Oh, clothes!" scornfully. "I never thought of clothes."

"Well, you can't take any of these things, anyway."

William hastily began to defend his collection of treasures.

"I mus' have the pop-gun 'cause you never know. There may be pirates an' smugglers down there, an' you can kill a man with a pop-gun if you get near enough and know the right place, an' I might need it. An' I must have the football to play on the sands with, an' the punchball to practise boxin' on, an' I must have the dormouse, 'cause—'cause to feed him, an' I must have this box of things and this skin to show to folks I meet down at the seaside, 'cause they're int'restin'."

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