joan

 The facts

“Professor Golightly,” the headmaster said, “is one of the most distinguished scholars of the age. We cannot let him go away with the impression that our children are devoid of intellectual interests.”
“I don’t see why we shouldn’t,” said William. “I’m jolly well devoid of ’em an’ I don’t know anyone that isn’t.”
“Dunno what good they’d be to us anyway,” said Ginger. “I want to be a juggler when I grow up.”

  • Number: 28.2
  • Published: 1952 (1950 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Tramp
  • Synopsis: William enters an essay-writing competition.

Verdict

The village’s schoolchildren are competing in an essay-writing competition judged by a Professor of History, nephew of a local headmistress.

William’s first draft, prepared on behalf of all the Outlaws, read:

Bony prince charly
He came bekause they playd skotsh chunes on bag peips he dansed with ladies and fort a battel and fel into a bogg and then there wasent ennything elce to do so he went hoam in a bote.

“Let’s go’n’ write that hist’ry essay.”
Reaching Ginger’s bedroom, they sat on the floor in silent concentration.
“Well, come on,” William said at last in a tone of irritation. “Think of somethin’, can’t you?”
“Let’s all have a think about hist’ry,” said Henry. “There’s Victoria.”
“That’s a station,” said William.
“It’s a person as well,” said Henry.
“Well, I’m not goin’ to write about that,” said William. “They’d get muddled up, wonderin’ which I was talkin’ about.”

Meanwhile, Joan has had her mother’s birthday present confiscated at school, and beseeches William to recover it from the headmistress’s house.

And while he’s in there, he meets the Professor of History, and they form something of an affinity…

Fairly touching on the whole. (And as a bonus, Hubert Lane gets a bit of come-uppance as well.)

 The facts

William turned to VioletElizabeth. “Would you like to be Germany? It’s a jolly good part.”
“What thould I wear?” said Violet Elizabeth. “It dependth on what I’d wear.”
They considered the question. “Swashtikas,” suggested Henry.
“No,” said Violet Elizabeth firmly . “I don’t like thwathtikath!”
“Sackcloth,” said Ginger.
“No,” said Violet Elizabeth, still more firmly. “I don’t like thackcloth.” Suddenly her small face beamed. ” Tell you what! I’ve got a fanthy dreth at home I could wear. Ith a fanthy dreth of a rothe. I wouldn’t mind being Germany if I could wear that.”
“Well, you can’t,” said William shortly. “An’ if you’re goin’ to be Germany at all, you’ve gotter be sorry for all the wrong you’ve done.”
“Well, I’m not,” said Violet Elizabeth with spirit, “and I haven’t done any wrong.”
“You started the war.”
“I didn’t,” snapped Violet Elizabeth. “I wath in bed with a biliouth attack the day the war thtarted. Athk the doctor if you don’t believe me.”
“You’re bats,” said William. “It’s no good talking to you.”

  • Number: 27.5
  • Published: 1950 (1946 in magazine form) – originally titled The Pageant
  • Book: William the Bold
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws plan to celebrate Victory.

Verdict

The Outlaws are getting up a Victory Pageant.

The Hubert Laneites are also getting up a Victory Pageant – which they only think to do after Violet Elizabeth, spurned by the Outlaws, leaks the idea to them (“I bet even Hitler wouldn’t have done a thing like that” rages William).

But which group of warriors will end up with the ignominy of playing the captured German soldiers in the other group’s production?

Somehow the zest had gone out of it. It was the absence of Violet Elizabeth. They had resented her presence among them and heartily wished her away but, now that she had gone, they missed her – missed her dynamic personality, her unreasonableness, her contrariness, her varying moods, her uncertain temper, even her lisp… Joan failed to provide the stimulus that Violet Elizabeth had always provided. And, though they would not have admitted it, they felt wounded and betrayed. That Violet Elizabeth, their most troublesome but most loyal follower, should have joined the Hubert Laneites was almost too monstrous for belief.

Reeling from Violet Elizabeth’s perfidy, the Outlaws sullenly drill their Victory ‘soldiers’ and resign themselves to a pageant without the lavish refreshments being provided by Mrs Bott to the Laneite show.

But then two unexpected twists occur in quick succession…

 The facts

“You know Miss Evesham?”
“That stupid woman who comes here for her cat? Yes.”
“Well, I think she’d give you a lot of money for the Society in Aid of Vivisection.”
“Anti-vivisection, William dear.”

  • Number: 27.4
  • Published: 1950 (1947 in magazine form) – originally titled William and the Witch
  • Book: William the Bold
  • Synopsis: William needs to drive a distasteful woman out of the village.

Verdict

Irksomely punny name aside (the original title of William and the Witch presumably having been changed to avoid clashing with the later book, 34, of the same name), this story is basically a much better and more fun version of William and the Black Cat, 4.9.

Entreatied by Joan to drive out Miss Evesham, the unpleasant sitting tenant living in Joan’s house, William starts by accidentally killing her cat and then weaves a cunning – although rather cruel – plan to do the deed.

“Well, there’s one other thing,” said William, with a burst of inspiration. “My father’s got a book with ‘Laws of Banking’ on the outside, but I think there’s something quite different inside. Once I got hold of it an’ he shouted ‘Leave that alone’.”
“Can you get the book, William, and bring it to me?”
“’Fraid I can’t. He’d miss it at once an’ he’s a very savage man.”

It helps, of course, that there is a slightly witchy-looking writer staying in Honeysuckle Cottage, and that Miss Evesham has a mortal fear of witches.