Hubert was not an original child and could think of no other tactics than his familiar ones of shouting out to the prospective guests of the rival party the dainties that were being prepared for his own.
“Jellies and cream!” said William incredulously. “You can’t get jellies and you can’t get cream.”
“My father can,” sniggered Hubert.
“Your father’s a black marketer,” said William sternly.
Hubert smiled his sly smile. “You can’t prove it,” he said, “and that’s all that matters.”
- Number: 24.10
- Published: 1942 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William Carries On
- Synopsis: William decides that Hubert doesn’t deserve all the black market food he has.
So finally, 18 years after his first appearance in the canon, Hubert Lane worms his way into the title of a story.
Though really, direct responsibility for the mischief which takes place lies with his mother, and indirect responsibility with, as so often, the Vicar’s wife.
It was Mrs Monks’s idea that the children whose fathers were not serving in the forces should give a party to the children whose fathers were serving in the forces. Only half a dozen children whose fathers were not serving in the forces would actually attend the party, and the half-dozen would be chosen by lot. The names were William,Ginger, a boy called Ralph, and three little girls of the type who are seen and not heard and give no trouble.
There was, of course, a good deal of disappointment; but, on the whole , people were sporting about it. Even if their children were not to be at the party, they promised to give what help they could. All except Mrs Lane.
And Mrs Lane was furious. If darling Hubie were not to be at the party, she said, she wouldn’t raise a finger to help.On the contrary, she would do all she could to hinder. It was a shame, it was a scandal, it was a conspiracy. Hubie was heartbroken. She would never forgive them for it. She went to Mrs Monks and made a scene. She went to Mrs Brown and made a scene. She went to Ginger’s home and made a scene. She went to the homes of the three little girls and made scenes. She told them all that it was a shame and a scandal and a conspiracy, and that Hubert had more right than any of them to go to the party and that they wouldn’t get a crumb or a penny out of her, so they needn’t waste their time trying. She added that Hubert’s father was just as angry as she was about it and that no one need think they were going to take an insult like this lying down, because they weren’t…
“A foolish woman,” said Mrs Monks, and dismissed the whole thing with an airy wave of the hand.
William took a seat by the window, so that he could keep an eye on the gate. He didn’t know quite what he was going to do if Hubert and his mother appeared, but his immediate aim was to get the tea eaten as quickly as possible. He did his own share towards accomplishing this, and encouraged the others to do theirs, though, indeed, little encouragement was needed. Aunt Emmy fluttered about, serving jelly and trifle, cutting cake, refilling cups and saying at intervals: “I’m sure I’ve done the right thing. It was the only thing l could do. Now try to enjoy yourselves as much as if Hubie were here, children.”
The children certainly enjoyed themselves.
In a particularly nasty twist, she decides to outshine the altruistic party by holding, in honour of Hubert, an unaltruistic party, supplied with abundant off-ration, black market and illegal foodstuffs and sweets aplenty.
Although the ‘William arranges to crash and ruin one of Hubert’s smug parties’ theme has been done to death (most notably in Revenge is Sweet, 6.13), this story still manages to seem somewhat fresh with the addition of Mrs Lane’s sheer malice.