crime

The facts

“It’s a sponsored walk,” said Exton.
“What’s that?”
“It’s got up by the Friends of Highland School… that’s the school we go to. Doesn’t the school you go to have Friends?”
“No,’ said William after a moment’s consideration, “they’re mostly en’mies.”

  • Number: 38.6
  • Published: 1970
  • Book: William the Lawless
  • Synopsis: William and Ginger end up filling in on a sponsored walk.

Note: I’ve deviated slightly from the order here. This story is the sixth and final chapter of the 38th and final published William book. However, I’ve skipped over William’s Foggy Morning, 38.5, which was the story that was actually last to be written – indeed, the one that Richmal Crompton left unfinished. That can be for tomorrow’s final entry…

Verdict

Off looking for adventure on the final day of their summer holiday, William and Ginger come across two schoolboys on a sponsored walk. The sponsored walkers want to make a slight detour to the shops; William and Ginger could do with a laugh; it’s a match made in heaven.

“Looks all nght,” William said. “Lettuce… cheese… bars of chocolate… apples… Looks jolly good. Come on. Let’s find a place to eat it.”
“Yes, but what about the sponsored walk we’re s’posed to be goin’ on?” said Ginger.
“Oh, we’ll carry on with that when we’ve had somethin’ to eat,” said William carelessly. “No good goin’ for a sponsored walk an’ dyin’ of starvation on the way. I’ve got a dyin’ of starvation feelin’ comin’ over me already.”

Coming across an unattended hamper, William and Ginger naturally assume that this is a donation to the sponsored walkers (ie them) and help themselves.

But when the Outlaws see the owners of the hamper track down the real sponsored walkers and brutalise them for information on its current whereabouts, they realise that their banquet must have been more valuable than they initially realised.

Finally, in this last of last William stories, the boys have managed to bring down an international drug-smuggling gang.

Not that anyone in their families believes them…

The facts

William gave a daredevil laugh. “Huh!” he exclaimed. “I’m not scared of danger. I’ve had my life hangin’ by threads before now. I’m not scared of danger. Huh! Come on, Ginger.”
“But be careful, dear,” urged Miss Thompson. “The law is ruthless once it gets its grip on you.

  • Number: 38.4
  • Published: 1970
  • Book: William the Lawless
  • Synopsis: William tries to save a friend from prosecution for theft.

Verdict

Miss Thompson accidentally ‘lifted’ a red-and-blue knitted cap from a shop, and believes that the manager – who lives opposite her – is ‘on her case’. She would dearly like to return the contraband but has accidentally donated it to Mrs Monks’s latest sale-of-work.

“Did you see Arabella’s mother’s face?” exclaimed Ginger. “She looked mad.”
“She’s out for our blood,” said William.
“Yes,” said Ginger. “Things look pretty black for us.”
William gave his throaty chuckle. “But they aren’t dull any more,” he said.

The Outlaws set out to recover it, and from then on events follow a similar track to William and the White Elephants, 7.5 – though at least Miss Thompson seems to find happiness by the end.

The facts

William tried the handle of the back door. It opened. “Good!” he said. “We can have a look inside now. Come on!”
“There’s laws…” said Douglas.
“Rubbish!” said William. “Ole Frenchie always says that if a thing’s worth doin’ it’s worth doin’ well, so we’re only doin’ what he tells us to.”

  • Number: 38.3
  • Published: 1970
  • Book: William the Lawless
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws try to find their teacher the best wedding present money can (not) buy.

Verdict

This is a really fun story, and it’s driven by William’s soft-hearted and well-concealed affection for his form master, Mr French. Following his engagement in William’s Adventure Society, 37.5, the time has now come for the boys to buy Mr French a wedding present. As Henry confesses, “After all, he’s had a lot to put up with from us.”

One of the boys remembers his parents’ tactic for choosing a wedding present: they waited until invited to dinner by the recipient, and took advantage of the opportunity to look around and see what items were missing. Of course, the Outlaws realise that they are unlikely to be invited to dinner by Mr French, so instead they wait until he goes out for the day “to readsomethin’ up in the British Museum for an article he’s writin’ on middle-aged gardens” before breaking in to his house.

“We’ve done a good -bit of damage,” said Douglas.
“He’ll forgive us,” said William, “when he finds out that we’ve rescued him from the clutches of a blackmailer.”
“Maybe,” said Douglas doubtfully.

While they’re in there – specifically, while William is looking for one of Ginger’s exercise books to compare one of the answers against one of his own – a letter comes through the front door, and the boys inevitably misread it and believe it to be a blackmail threat, signed “M”.

They split up and investigate four prominent Ms in the village. A series of misunderstandings with each suspect only strengthen’s their investigator’s suspicions: William hears Miss Milton lamenting her “killer” dog and assumes his teacher to be a murderer; Henry interprets General Moult’s concern about plagiarism of his biography as the teacher being a “spy”; Douglas gets nowhere at all with Archie Mannister; and Ginger gets particularly confused when Reverend Monks refers to a trendy church organist as “drug pushing his wretched wares among the young and innocent”.

Fortunately, the Outlaws are able to salvage the situation because the damage they caused to Mr French’s house uncovers something rather interesting…