William the Pirate

The facts

“There’s a spider on your nose,” Victor remarked coldly.
“I know there is,” retorted William, rising to the occasion. “I’ve trained it to be on my nose.”
Whereupon he proceeded on his triumphant way and did not stop to brush off the spider till he was well out of sight of Victor.

  • Number: 14.10
  • Published: 1932 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William and the Rivals
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: William intervenes in Robert’s love life.

Verdict

Robert is anxious to secure the affections of Emmeline, an attractive girl who has just moved to the village. So is Jameson Jameson.

Their younger siblings, William and Victor, take a close interest in the matter. First, they each bet that their own brother will be successful first. But when both brothers are seen strolling, one on each of Emmeline’s rather fickle arms, the deal changes: “I bet I make it so’s she won’t speak to Robert before you make it so’s she won’t speak to Jameson.” There is no particular reason for this hostility other than entertainment.

Entertaining, but more of a story about Robert and his contemporaries than William.

The facts

An exhaustive search of Aunt Arabelle’s desk revealed no stories of any sort, only a typewritten sheet headed: “Answers to Correspondents.” The first was: “I am sorry, dear, that he has not spoken yet. But just go on being your own sweet self, and I am sure he will soon.”
“What’s that mean?” said Ginger with a mystified frown.
“It’s someone who’s got a dumb child an’ is tryin’ to cure it,” explained William.

  • Number: 14.10
  • Published: 1932 (1931 in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Busy Fortnight
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws get Ginger’s aunt the interview of a lifetime.

Verdict

“We’ve got somethin’ to show you,” said Ginger, “an’ it’s something you’ll be jolly interested in.”
“Is it about ME?” said Anthony Martin.

I’ve labelled this one insufferably virtuous children but Anthony Martin is not wholly virtuous. In fact, he is insufferably unvirtuous. But nevertheless, as a visiting celebrity (his mother made him famous with her insufferable books and poems about him), he is a prime target for Aunt Arabelle to interview.

Aunt Arabelle, a journalist from Women’s Sphere (“I help women with their little troubles of the heart”) is looking after Ginger while his parents are away, and he will receive ten shillings at the end of the fortnight if he’s been good. Of course, deliberately flooding the conservatory (“We can turn on the tap enough to have the floor jus’ under water”) does not count as ‘good’, so the Outlaws desperately need to do Aunt Arabelle a favour in order to secure their reward.

“What is the paper?”
“It’s called ‘The Woman Spear’,” said Ginger.
“Never heard of it. What sort of thing does it go in for?”
“Dumbness and stomach-ache and heart disease and things like that,” said William.
“I’ve never given an interview to a medical paper before,” said Anthony Martin. “It hasn’t even any circulation to speak of.”
“It does speak of circulation,” said William, pugnaciously, “it’s included in heart disease.”

Anthony Martin, though, does not seem inclined to co-operate, and is instead too busy showing off his latest records, press clippings, toys and so on. He even shows off a gramaphone record recorder into which he is to give a recital the following day.

Then he throws a horrendous tantrum at teatime, really ripping into his poor nurse (“I’ll kick your nasty old shins. I’ll stamp on your nasty old toes. You leave me alone, I tell you, you old cat, you! Do you think I’m going to do what you tell me now I’m famous all over the world?”).

William pops out of the room during this episode. And shortly after that, Anthony Martin agrees to give an interview to Aunt Arabelle – and even have his photo taken sitting on her knee.

Everybody’s happy (except for the nurse, perhaps).

The facts

“Everything’s been invented,” William said gloomily. “I could have invented electricity or the telephone or the wireless, but they’ve all been invented. There’s nothing left to invent, or else I’d invent it all right.”

  • Number: 14.9
  • Published: 1932 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William the Great Inventor
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: William tries to fix Mrs Bott’s chimney.

Verdict

William and soot seem to have a fatal attraction stemming from Enter the Sweep, 6.1. In this story, he overhears Mrs Bott complaining that her library chimney smokes rather too liberally, and decides to make an invention to fix it.

Although the smoking chimney consumed Mrs Bott’s entire attention at that precise moment, she actually has bigger fish to fry. She’s invited a reporter from Women’s Torch to cover her home as part of a series entitled Haunted Country Houses. Since her home is not haunted, Mrs Bott has a difficulty.

“Have you… have you ever seen anything, Mrs
Bott?”
“Not exactly seen,” admitted Mrs Bott mysteriously.
“No? Perhaps your husband has then?”
“N… no,” said Mrs Bott again in the mysterious voice that was being so successful. “No, he hasn’t exactly seen anything. Oh, Miss Manes, I do hope that you’ll be able to put that photo of the rose garden in.”

But while an extremely bored journalist is attempting to escape an especially un-paranormal interview with Mrs Bott, she sees “a blood-curdling sight… the most unearthly, sinister creature”.

And what does it look like?

“Black,” said Miss Manes impressively, “black from head to foot. Its eyes gleam through the blackness. Quite small, but indescribably sinister, Mrs Bott. The sight of it turns your blood to ice.”
“Oh, my!” gasped Mrs. Bott.
The situation was like a nightmare. To find that there was a real ghost… She’d never sleep another wink.

You can figure out the rest!