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The facts

Ginger brought two large luggage labels, each inscribed: “SLAVE: CHEEP” and on the back of each label was printed: “6½D“.

  • Number: 3.12
  • Published: 1923 (1923 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William and Ginger enter the slave business.

Verdict

William and Ginger are in one of their periodic moments of bankruptcy, so they decide to sell Ginger’s twin three-year-old cousins as slaves. To be fair, they also decide to rescue them as soon as the money has been spent (despite the twinge of Ginger’s conscience, “I say, I… I suppose it is honest?”).

“You’re so silly,” said William patiently. “They’d jus’ buy ’em once an’ jus’ pay once for ’em and then have ’em all the rest of their lives to do work for ’em an’ they’d never pay any more after they’d jus’ paid for ’em once – see?”

But, naturally, it all goes wrong and Ginger’s aunt is not happy.

Still, at least the boys did plan to organise a rescue mission, and William does prove a big hit with the twins – who are safe and sound, don’t worry – as one of them sleepily murmers, “Willum’s nice.”

The facts

The place and time of the “show” presented no little difficulty. To hold it in the old barn would give away to the world the cherished secret of their meeting place. It was William who suggested his bedroom, to be entered, not by way of the front door and staircase, but by the less public way of the garden wall and scullery roof. Ever an optimist, he affirmed that no one would see or hear.

  • Number: 1.5
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws need five shillings, so they decide to stage a freak show. Meanwhile, Mr Brown is anxious to truncate the stay of his wife’s troublesome aunt.

Verdict

Animal rights campaigners may blanch at the scene in which Henry paints a dog blue (for the sole reason of justifying the show’s label “Blue Dog”), and they may not be too keen on Douglas’ decision to paint a rat blue and pink (“Rats are all like this in China”).

But nevertheless, this episode marked the start of William’s expertise as an event planner, always on the lookout for a good money-spinner, but rarely finding one.

Next came a giant composed of Douglas upon Ginger’s back, draped in two sheets. This was labelled: “GENWIN GIANT”.
“It’s got Douglas’s face,” said one of his audience.  William was for a moment at a loss.  “Well,” he said at last, “giant’s got to have some sort of a face, hasn’t it?”

This particular show was initially unsuccessful… but then its customers heard the sound of Aunt Emily snoring in the guest bedroom.

Seizing on this opportunity, William hastily writes out a label declaring her to be a “fat wild woman torkin natif langwidge” and opens her sleeping form to the public, after administering an “oth of silence”.

This is the first story in the books in which William comes out completely on top – and the first of many in which he only does so through a twist of fate that he didn’t really expect!