The facts

“What did this man do underground?” said Ginger.
“He read…”
“What could we read?” said Douglas. “We’ve read all the books we’ve got.”
“I’ve got a book my aunt gave me that I’ve never read, called ‘Heroes of Hebrew History’,” said William. “We could take that.”
“What else could we do?” said Douglas.
“We could think,” said William.
“What about?”
“Well… jus’ anythin’. We needn’t think about anythin’ in particular. We could jus’ think.”
“Sounds jolly dull to me,” said Douglas. “Jus’ readin’ ‘Heroes of Hebrew Hist’ry’ an’ thinkin’ about nothin’.”

  • Number: 37.7
  • Published: 1968
  • Book: William the Superman
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws decide to live underground as a nice little earner.

Verdict

The boys have read the story of a spelunker who was paid £600 by a newspaper for living in a cave for four months. Henry works out that, if the Outlaws went in for the same offer, they’d earn £4 a day.

They choose a cave – an old air raid shelter of Sir Gerald Markham’s – and begin settling in, borrowing materials that they find around them to strengthen and improve their new accommodation.

“It’s about four pounds a day,” said Henry.
“Gosh!” said William. “If we only did it for one month we’d have nearly enough money to last us for the rest of our lives.”
“Depends how long we lived,” said Henry judicially.

But when they meet a friendly old soldier who has been camping illegally on Sir Gerald’s land and is facing eviction, their mission changes.

The facts

“I don’t think you can get imprisoned for life for dangerous driving,” said Ginger.
“I bet this man could fix it,” said William. “I told you he’d stop at nothin’.”

  • Number: 37.6
  • Published: 1968
  • Book: William the Superman
  • Synopsis: William tries to save Robert from prosecution for a minor motoring offence.

Verdict

When Robert has a fairly unexciting road-rage altercation with a fellow motorist, William takes the matter to heart and is determined to save Robert from the life in prison that awaits bad drivers. He convinces himself that the fellow motorist obviously staged the whole thing for the sole reason of getting Robert ‘out of the way’.

“William, what on earth’s happened to your clothes?” gasped Mrs Brown in horror.
William glanced down at his clothes. “Jus’… jus’ normal wear an’ tear, I ’spect,” he said.
“William, it couldn’t be.”
William appeared to consider deeply. “Well,” he said, “it might… it jus’ might be a bit of cement.”

He eventually abandons this fantasy as untenable, and instead sets out to “melt his heart” and persuade him not to turn Robert in.

In the course of melting his heart they manage to half-destroy his house, but all turns out well when they’re able to help him when he least expects it…

The facts

“What’s that thing he said we hadn’t got any of?” said William.
“Initiative,” said Henry.
“Oh…” said William. “What is it?”
“Doin’ things without bein’ told to,” said Henry.
“Gosh!” said William in surprise. “Seems to me we’re always doin’ that.

  • Number: 37.5
  • Published: 1968
  • Book: William the Superman
  • Synopsis: William founds a new society bent on finding adventure.

Verdict

The headmaster has given the entire school a motivational talk, and, although William rather missed its point (“I thought he was talkin’ about takin’ an interest in world affairs an’ not jumpin’ over his tulip bed”), Henry was paying close attention. He heard the suggestion that the boys get together and create some extra-curricular societies to promote responsibility, industry and other desirable qualities.

William is well up for this.

“We’ll have an Adventure Society,” he said.
“What’ll we do in it?” said Douglas.
“Adventures,” said William simply.

“Now we’ve got to take an oath,” said William. “They always take oaths in secret societies. You can make up the oath, Henry. You’re better at long words than us.”
“All right,” said Henry. He cleared his throat impressively then raised his right hand. “I swear never to betray the secrets of the Adventure Society an’… an’ to carry out all its adventures” – he paused, at a loss momentarily for words, then remembered the heading on one of his mother’s tradesmen’s bills – and ended, “promptly and efficiently.”

There is some concern that Mr French, the form-master, may not be a fan of this plan, but William isn’t worried. “Ole Frenchie can’t stop us if the headmaster says we ought to. It would be mutiny.”

After agreeing a constitution for the Society (“Deadly weapons may be used but axshul murder not allowed”) they proceed to appoint Officers:

“We ought to elect a President, an’ Secretary an’ Treasurer,” said Henry.
“Well, there’s no time for that,” said William, “so I’ll be all of ’em.”

And the Adventure Society is open for business, with its first mission being the slightly vague one of fighting crime. Naturally, the person who falls most under their suspicion, after his cruel refusal to permit the Society to exist at all, is Mr French.

They cause a fair bit of chaos, but Mr French – and his new fiancée – isn’t too peeved.