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Afterward she kept him carding wool until he began to think he had laid the
good King Alfred about far enough in the shade for the present, in the matter of
showy menial heroisms that would read picturesquely in story-books and
histories, and so he was half minded to resign. And when, just after the noonday
dinner, the goodwife gave him a basket of kittens to drown, he did resign. At
least he was just going to resign-for he felt that he must draw the line
somewhere, and it seemed to him that to draw it at kitten-drowning was about
the right thing-when there was an interruption. The interruption was John
Canty-with a peddler’s pack on his back-and Hugo!
The king discovered these rascals approaching the front gate before they had
had a chance to see him; so he said nothing about drawing the line, but took up
his basket of kittens and stepped quietly out the back way, without a word. He
left the creatures in an outhouse, and hurried on into a narrow lane at the rear.