"How old are you, Mary?"

Mary raised her thin eyebrows. "What a rude question. Has no one ever taught you manners?"

"Sorry, Mary, I'm just asking. Thought you might just tell me."

"Well, I don't suppose it would hurt."

"I'm near on nineteen."

"Oh, are you."

Bert waited, turning the stick of white chalk he held over and over with his nimble fingers.

"I've recently turned eighteen myself," Mary said finally.

"Well, isn't that dandy. Why, when I met you, I thought for sure you was older than that."

"Bert, things are not quite what they appear," Mary chided. "If you have learned anything in my company I should hope it is that."

"Of course. So, have we got an adventure planned for the little one today?"

"For Albert?" Mary looked into the pram beside her at the sleeping baby. "I rather think the stroll is enough excitement for a seven month old child."

"Whew. Seven months already. Seems like only yesterday you showed up here."

"Yes, well, time does fly."

"You seem down, Mary." Bert stilled his chalk and dropped it onto the pavement.

"I always get a little downhearted when I realise my time is almost finished."


"Bert, I'm afraid that I – oh, but I never explain anything." Mary's eyes did not wander from the small child, but she was becoming internally flustered.

"Just this once wouldn't hurt, would it?" Bert looked at Mary, gaze begging to get some hint.

"I really must be off, Bert," Mary said, somewhat stiffly.

"Off? Off where?"

"I must bring Albert home, obviously," she said briskly, turning the pram round. But she did not push it forward. Instead, she faced Bert.

"I have never met a gentleman quite like you, Bert."

"I ain't no gentleman, Mary, you know that."

"I know the contrary. You are practically perfect, and I shall – I shall miss you."

Mary extended her hand toward Bert, who was surprised at the permission to touch her. He took her pale, delicate looking hand in his own rough and chalked ones and brought it to his lips.

As soon as his mouth touched her skin, Mary gently tugged away and left, pushing baby Albert ahead of her.

And picking kneeling on the ground, picking up his chalk, Bert found he was not so heartbroken as he though he ought be.

"Goodbye, Mary Poppins."