christmas

 The facts

“It’S Christmas in four days now,” said Ginger.
“I know,” said Douglas. “Seems much longer than a year ago since the last one.”
“It always does,” said William. “That’s what’s wrong with Christmas. It comes too slow an’ goes too quick. It’s ridic’lous only havin’ one day for Christmas an’ then all that long time with nothin’. I think it oughter be a week.”

  • Number: 19.5
  • Published: 1937 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William the Dragon)
  • Book: William the Showman
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws re-enact the triumph of St George.

Verdict

Needing an injection of funds in time for Christmas, William dispassionately remarks that the Outlaws have “tried bein’ waits and it didn’t come off properly” – though in fact I feel it went off rather well, at least it did in William Joins the Waits, 8.9.

But, this time, they decide to try mumming. Specifically, mumming out the story of St George and the Dragon, wearing a dragon suit stolen from a boy in the neighbourhood who is away, staying with relatives.

It all goes the same way as William All the Time, 4.4, though, really.

The facts

William became deeply interested when he heard that Ronald Markham possessed a real policeman’s helmet. William’s eyes opened wide when he heard of it. A policeman’s helmet. A real policeman’s real helmet. It had always been one of his ambitions to try on a real policeman’s real helmet. Perhaps Ronald would let him try it on. Surely Ronald would let him try it on. He might even lend it to him for an indefinite period, so that he could swagger about in it before an admiring crowd of friends and enemies… There wasn’t really any reason why Ronald shouldn’t lend it him. It was the sort of thing that people often did in stories. Perhaps he, William, would save his life, and he’d ask him what he’d like in return, and he’d ask for the loan of the policeman’s helmet, and then he’d give it him. In stories, people were always saving other people’s lives and being asked to choose anything they liked in return. He’d had rotten luck so far in saving people’s lives. He’d never had a decent chance.

  • Number: 18.5
  • Published: 1936 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William Plays Policeman)
  • Book: Sweet William
  • Synopsis: Robert’s friend owns a policeman’s helmet, and William’s life will be but an empty shell until he possesses it.

Verdict

William is supremely bored at Sir Gerald Markham’s Christmas party, since the only company of his own age is Walter Markham, “whose ambition in life was to become a schoolmaster, because it would give him so many opportunities of doing good”.

So while the grown-ups play an intricately costumed version of charades, and while Walter sits contentedly reading the Encyclopædia Britannica, William sneaks off to try on the policeman’s helmet which he knows to be sitting in a bedroom upstairs.

Of course, it is at precisely this moment that a masked and armed robber arrives on the scene – and, being mistaken by an admiring crowd for a particularly successful actor in the game of charades, freely allowed to load the Markhams’ silver into his sack and escape into the night.

But then they see, through the darkness, “a cop”…

The facts

“We’ll find out if there’s any special sort of stuff for stuffin’ cats, an’ if there is we’ll buy it with the shillin’. An’ p’raps we’ll have a bit left over for presents for our mothers.”

  • Number: 17.11
  • Published: 1935 (1934 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Detective
  • Synopsis: William destroys a treasured stuffed cat.

Verdict

Ginger’s elderly cousin comes to stay, and the Outlaws take a great shine to her. She gives them sweets, is generally friendly, but best of all she possesses a stuffed cat (or ‘pussesses’ maybe), a legacy from an even-more-elderly uncle.

William set to work. By the time he had finished, the cat seemed to have lost all semblance to his former self. His head dangled limply, his paws dangled limply, his body was completely shapeless. Even the sinister leer seemed to have left his eyes.
“It isn’t like anything,” said Ginger faintly.
“It’s a bit like a tea-cosy,” said Douglas.
“Let’s say we’ve made it into a tea-cosy for her Christmas present,” suggested Henry.

Unfortunately, William’s first inclination on meeting a stuffed cat with a piercing, glassy stare is to “introduce” it to Jumble. The predictable happens (“It was jolly brave of him,” argues William half-heartedly), but shamed by the cousin’s understanding kindness, the boys decide to re-stuff the cat.

But they find something surprising inside…