foreign people

The facts

A boy was emerging from behind one of the rocks that lay at the foot of the cliff. He was about William’s age, slender and wiry-looking, with coffee-coloured skin and bright dark eyes.
“Man Friday!” gasped Ginger again.
”He can’t be Man Friday,” said William, “’cause he’s not a man an’ it’s not Friday. It’s Wednesday.”
“Boy Wednesday, then,” said Ginger.


William and Ginger heartily resent being dragged away from home by their parents:

“It’s nice, boys, isn’t it?” said Mrs Brown cheerfully.
“It’s a house in a place,” said William gloomily. “I jus’ don’t know why people want to go jus’ from one house in one place to another in another.”
“It’s the summer holidays, dear,” explained Mrs Brown. “People do. Now take the suitcases up to the bedrooms. Then we’ll unpack.”
“Packin’ things jus’ to unpack ’em,” said Ginger with a careful imitation of William’s gloom.

They walked on, past the shops, down a road that was skirted by a high brick wall, and stopped at an imposing-looking pair of gates, which bore a notice “Highlands School. Headmaster: Arnold J. Mercer, M.A.”.
“Gosh, a school!” said William in a tone of disgust. “Let’s get away from it quick.”

But their spirits soon brighten when they find themselves on what they fondly imagine to be a desert island (quite how they managed to reach it without crossing a sea is unclear) inhabited by a foreign savage…

The facts

“I think it’s time Jumble did something with his life,” said William.
“Gosh! You’d think he’d done enough,” said Ginger. “He ate that beef steak pie your mother made lastweek.”
“Well, he thought she meant him to eat it,” said William. “Gosh! He wouldn’t have minded givin’ her a few dog biscuits.”


After ruling out the careers of regimental mascot, greyhound (which I feel is more of a species than a job title), St Bernard (ditto) and more, the Outlaws decide to train Jumble as a police dog.

“Ginger an’ me’ll go an’ c’mit a crime,” said William, “an’ you an’ Henry give Jumble my cap to smell an’ he’ll track us down an’ he’ll have got started on his p’lice dog training.”

There’s another problem on the horizon, though, because Robert has been persuaded to be the magician at the birthday party of his beloved’s brother, and is guaranteed to make such a hash of it as to embarass the Outlaws for the rest of their days.

Both strands come together when William commits a sample crime, for Jumble’s training, and its victim turns out to be a Hungarian refugee circus performer…

 The facts

“Are you, my boy, responsible for all this?”
“W… well, in a sort of way,” said William hoarsely, looking round for escape. “I mean, I can ’splain all about it… I mean, you see, it was like this…”
Sir Gervase raised his hand. “Explanations are tedious,” he said. “Let us leave it at that. Your activities have caused a certain amount of confusion. I am no deep student of character, but I should imagine that your activities usually do.”


I’m a big fan of this story, primarily because William has such genuinely amazing adventures and yet nobody believes him (cf one of my favourite films, Monkey Trouble).

William drives his mother to her wit’s end during her attempts at spring cleaning, so eventually she begs him to go out on “a nice little walk”. On his journey he attaches himself to an Indian man he meets; the Indian man is delivering a langur to a private zoo in the next village.

Unfortunately the Indian man leaves William and the animal (on-board a train) while he pops to a platform tobacconist; so inevitably William ends up weaving his way through the countryside in sole charge of a langur.

William took the basket and descended on to the platform. Asked for his ticket, he gave a comparatively accurate account of what had happened. The porter scratched his head. It was a situation that had never before arisen in the whole course of his career, and he didn’t know how to deal with it.
“You’ll have to wait ’til the nex’ train come in,” he said at last, “and that’s not till another hour.”
“All right,” said William. He sat on the seat with his basket beside him for what seemed an interminable length of time. Then he got up and approached the porter.
“That train mus’ be jolly late,” he said. “It’s more than an hour since I got here.”
“It’s five minutes exact,” said the porter shortly.

He successfully finds the zoo – in the grounds of a mansion that happens to be open that afternoon for a fair – but the langur escapes and ransacks the library… much to the unexpected delight of the aristocrat who owns it.

“Well, dear, did you have a nice little walk?” said Mrs Brown.
“Yes, thank you,” said William. “I took a valu’ble monkey in a basket to Steedham an’ it got loose an’ found a valu’ble legal document, so they didn’t mind.”
“What nonsense you talk, dear!” said Mrs Brown placidly.