“I once got eight out of ten for hist’ry. At least,” added Ginger, with a burst of honesty, “it looked like eight.”
“It turned out to be three,” Douglas reminded him.
“I once had to write out the date of the battle of Waterloo a hundred times,” said William, “so I ought to know a bit of hist’ry.”
“What was the date of the battle of Waterloo?” Henry challenged him.
- Number: 27.1
- Published: 1950 (1949 in magazine form)
- Book: William the Bold
- Synopsis: The Outlaws need to borrow some ‘hist’ry clothes’.
About time Violet Elizabeth got her name into the title of a story!
This story also marks the appearance of Archie Mannister. He was technically first seen in William and the Twins, 12.10, as a kooky paranormalist painter sharing Honeysuckle Cottage with his kooky twin sister, but from this point on a slightly different version of him becomes a recurring character, admirer of Ethel and victim of William’s generosity.
“We’ll come into your studio an’ sit down a bit if you like, Archie,” said William, realising that, in Archie’s present mood, it devolved upon him , William, to play the parts of both host and guest.
This time, the Outlaws need to work their way into his good books so that he will lend them his “hist’ry clothes” for a play they’re putting on, and they conclude that the best way to do this is for them to find a tramp to model for a painting he’s working on; meanwhile, Violet Elizabeth decides to help out by ‘cleaning’ Archie’s kitchen. When a rich aunt comes to visit events take an interesting turn…
“He’s from Africa,” said William proudly. “I bet he’s shot no end of lions.”
“That aunt of yours what came from Africa,” Ginger reminded him, “hadn’t even seen one.”
“I know,” said William, “but she came from a tamed part. It’s called Cape Town, is the tamed part, but this cousin of my father’s comes from the wild part. The wild part’s called Rhodesia, an’ he comes from that. It’s full of lions an’ elephants an’ buffaloes an’ things, an’ I bet this cousin of my father’s has shot ever so manany. He’s prob’ly an explorer as well…”
- Number: 22.6
- Published: 1940 (1939 in magazine form)
- Book: William and the Evacuees
- Synopsis: William is underwhelmed by an African visitor who doesn’t kill lions.
William is excited to hear that Mr Tice will be visiting the Browns from Rhodesia. Assuming Mr Ticehurst to be a hard-fisted and indomitable bushman (he pictured “a sort of Goliath whose path through life was littered with the dead bodies of wild beasts and even of his enemies”), William fully expects to enlist his help in vanquishing the Hubert Laneites once and for all.
The Outlaws blamed William for their downfall.
“Him!” said Ginger scornfully for the hundredth
time. “I bet those elephants never saw him at all. I bet
they thought he was a rabbit.”
“It was, therefore, a distinct shock, when the long expected guest arrived, to find that he was a small insignificant-looking man, wearing spectacles.”
All-in-all, an interesting twist on the adults who William supposes to be friends subgenre.
“Ethel’s jolly fond of you,” said William with what he took to be consummate tact. “Jolly fond.”
Wing-Commander Glover made no comment.
“I bet there’s lots of ’em she doesn’t like as much as what she likes you,” William assured him emphatically.
The Wing-Commander adjusted his monocle and broke his silence. “Don’t let me take you out of your way,” he said with pointed politeness.
“Oh, no , that’s quite all right,” said William, “Well…” – William considered that by now the way had been sufficiently paved and with characteristic directness plunged at his objective – “well, will you lend us your stable for a party we’re goin’ to have?”
William, though taken aback, did not give up the struggle.
- Number: 22.3
- Published: 1940 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William and the Bird Lover
- Book: William and the Evacuees
- Synopsis: William encounters an ornithologist who isn’t quite what they seem.
Endeavouring to secure a venue for a party for evacuees, William begins ingratiating himself with all property-owning gentlemen in the area.
One such gentleman is Redding, an ornithologist (“You the bird man?”) who rather reluctantly shares some ornithological insights with William when William attaches himself to him like a limpet – and explains that the complex hand-drawn diagrams he is working on are of birds’ innards.
William approached the table and looked down with interest at the diagram the man was working on.
“What’re you drawin’?” he asked with interest.
The man tapped the diagram carelessly with the tip of his pen. “This is the diagram of a blackbird’s lungs,” he said. “I’m writing a book at present on wild birds’ diseases.”
“Corks!” said William. “I didn’t know they had any.”
But when William shares some of his newfound knowledge with others and discovers it all to be false, he realises that something is awry… and, for once, he’s right.