“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.
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…
“Gosh! Wasn’t it awful yesterday?” said William as the four Outlaws walked slowly down the village street.
“Never stopped for a single second,” said Ginger.
“Nearly as bad as the one in the Bible,” said Douglas.
“Just rained cats and dogs all day,” said Henry.
“I wouldn’t have minded cats an’ dogs,” said William. “Cats an’ dogs would have been rather excitin’. Gosh! Think of ’em all tumblin’ down from the sky!” He gave his short harsh chuckle. “We’d have to have umbrellas made of iron to keep ’em off.”
The others considered this picture with rising spirits.
After William had over-indulged in some supernatural fiction, the Outlaws decide to find a ghost. Fortunately, just at that moment, they hear a villager refer to another resident as “a ghost” so immediately go to investigate. They wonder at what he can have done so heinous as to justify being sentenced to eternal life as a ghost:
“P’raps he robbed a bank.”
“Or forged a will.”
“Or didn’t pay his income tax.”
“Or let his motor insurance run out.”
“My mother promised me sixpence if I’d sit quiet for an hour,” said William. “I found a book of ghost stories in the bookcase an’ I read it.”
“Did you get the sixpence?” said Henry.
“Well, I got fivepence halfpenny,” said William. “I started talkin’ about ghosts in the middle.”
For some reason they become convinced that the ghost is seeking to destroy some incindiary political papers, and try to find them before this can happen.
But they manage, instead, to find some rather interesting papers belonging – or, strictly speaking, not quite belonging – to a local author.
“Gosh!” said William. “What a lot of sausage rolls!”
“Yes, I don’t know why I bought so many,” said Mrs Brown. “They were selling them off.”
“I’ll eat them for you if you like,” said William.
“All right, dear. They’ll do for your supper.”
When she came back William was kneeling on a chair, eating sausage rolls and reading the evening paper. Most of the newsprint was obscured by crumbs, but he cleared them away as he read.
“Gosh!” he said indistinctly. “Nearly a whole page about teachers strikin’.”
“It’s very sad, dear,” said Mrs Brown. “I hope yours won’t.”
“I hope they will,” said William.
Archie has been roped in, by the indomitable Mrs Monks, to running the hoop-la stall at the church fair, but he is anxious to attend the (simultaneous) tennis club fête because Ethel will be there and he wants to make himself helpful to Ethel.
William finds this baffling (“Gosh! I’d sooner have a hoop-la stall than Ethel any day!”) but offers to run the hoop-la stall himself so as to free Archie for Ethel-chasing duties. Even though Archie won’t trust him with it, William insists.
William slid neatly down the balusters.
“Oh, William!” groaned Mrs Brown. “I thought you’d gone to bed.”
“I have,” said William. “I mean, I am going. But I’ve got a smashing idea, Mother. Listen! If they do go on strike an’ we can’t go to school, we ought to get unemployment pay, oughtn’t we?”
“William, what nonsense!”
“Yes, but listen…” began William.
The hoop-la prizes, he is told, are in a brown suitcase. Inevitably William opens the wrong brown suitcase and chaos ensues – but then (and we’ve had this ending before: see eg William the Rat Lover, 17.4) William unexpectedly enters and wins a fancy-dress competition.