"You've got to help me, Thomas!" Implored a rather distraught William. "You've simply got to!"

Thomas, who was on the other hand quite unshaken, took a long drag out of his smoke and withdrew it. The smoke cascaded out through pursed lips and Thomas's expressionless eyes bore through, gazing at the young, frantic individual before him with such an air of self superiority, arrogance and indifference that it was enough to throttle the poor lad.

"Please, I beg you," William continued at Thomas's silence.

Finally, showing act of motion, Thomas blinked and rested his arm on the wooden table. This was all very much to his amusement, though he didn't show.

"Honestly, William, what on earth are you going on about?" He asked rather snappishly, making William swallow in nervousness. But of course Thomas knew what William was about - the real reason why he was on edge. He just liked to see funny old William squirm.

After a moment of uneasy silence and fidgeting, William burst out, "It's Daisy."

"Obviously," muttered Thomas.

William looked as though he could do without the cheek Thomas was giving, but he persisted on. He walked along the length of the table and turned to the otter side, approached where Thomas was sitting. He got down on his knees and shot such a worried look at Thomas that Thomas almost laughed. Naive little William, he thought. So innocent.

"I really am done for," said William.

"What do you mean?"

"You see," said William, wringing his hands, "there is nothing I desire more than for Daisy to be my girl."

Thomas took another leisurely drag of his smoke while pondering this. He raised an eyebrow slightly. "Nothing?"

"Nothing," William repeated without a moment's hesitation.

Amused, Thomas rested his smoke on his tea saucer. The fool, he thought. "So what's the problem?"

This was where William's ears started turning pink. "Well, you see, you're very cool with the ladies, and, in particular, if you may not have noticed, Daisy really admires you."

The confession was enough to put a smirk on Thomas's face. He wanted to take his time with answering, really drag it out at William's expense. He picked his smoke back up and stuck it into his mouth. William's faltering pause lasted but only for a moment. He quickly delved right back into it again. "So, you see, Thomas, I was wondering if you might show me how."

Thomas's words passed through his lips along with the escaping smoke. "You want me to teach you to be like meself?"

William looked confused for a moment. "Well, truthfully, I hadn't throughout of it that way," he said. "But yes, I suppose I do."

Thomas was relentless. "And what's in it fo' me?"

"Anything," said William.

"What could you possibly have that I would ever want," said Thomas with a twinge of ill manner.

"Anything," repeated William. "I'll give you half my pay every fortnight."

Thomas's jaw nearly dropped. Now that was an offer that he could not refuse. But, in effort to maintain indifference, he did not jump at the offer, either. He just sat there, smoking the last of his rolled tobacco while William sat humbly at his feet. It wasn't a bad proposal. Not a bad proposal at all.

"Very well," said Thomas after a while. "You have a deal."

William's face lit up. "We do?"


William shot to his feet and grinned at Thomas like a schoolboy. "Oh, thank you, Thomas! Thanks so much!"

At that very moment Mrs. Hughes briskly strode into the servants' dining hall. Both Thomas and William turned to face her.

She put her hands on her hips and gave them an incredulous look. "Well, what are you two supposed to be doing? Get back to work!"