“I don’t want girls,” said William scornfully. “Rotten ole cissies, that’s what they are.They’re cowardy custards an’ they’ve got no sense an’ they spoil everythin’ they join in at. I’d sooner not have a gang at all than have a rotten ole girl in it.”
Queenie’s usually putty-coloured face turned a bright red. Hubert looked helplessly from one to the other. “You’re a rotten ole cowardy custard yourself,” said Queenie, advancing her face to an inch or two of William’s, “an’ you’re the ugliest boy I ever saw an’ I hate you an’…”
- Number: 22.8
- Published: 1940 (1939 in magazine form, not to be confused with the 1929 story, 11.4, of the same name)
- Book: William and the Evacuees
- Synopsis: The village is beset by gang warfare when various visitors arrive.
A gang of inner-city yobs has set up camp on Farmer Jenks’s meadow, and Hubert Lane’s mean cousin Queenie is staying with the Lanes… fights galore ensue.
But William has a strategic mind and quickly works out that a one-off Laneite-Outlaw alliance could defeat the interlopers once and for all. He has just one condition: no girls.
“Well, what’re we goin’ to do with him?” demanded
William had a sudden inspiration. “We’ll question him,” he said. “That’s what they do with prisoners. They question ’em.”
“What about?” demanded Hubert.
“About their mil’tary secrets, of course,” said William impatiently.
“S’pose they’ve not got any?”
“Of course they’ve got mil’tary secrets,” said William. “All enemies’ve got mil’tary secrets.”
“We oughter torcher him,” said Queenie, who had suddenly appeared in their midst.
Sadly, though, I find this story quite tedious. There are no real entertaining moments from William, no elaborate schemes; just a succession of betrayals and double-agents and turncoats that seem strangely unsuited to the William world.
And then, just at the end, a touch of insurance fraud for no apparent reason.
Very odd story, this one.