“What’s a stone’s throw?” said Ginger. “My aunt’s goin’ to live in a new house an’ the estate agent said it was a stone’s throw from the shops.”
William picked up a stone. “I’ll show you what a stone’s throw is,” he said. He meant to throw the stone along the road but Jumble, taking the action as an invitation to a game, leapt up exuberantly and flung him off his balance. The stone soared over the hedge into the garden they were passing.
There came the sinister sound of breaking glass.
“Gosh!” said William with horror. “Let’s get off quick.”
- Number: 32.4
- Published: 1960
- Book: William the Explorer
- Synopsis: William and Ginger accidentally imprison a man on his roof.
Helping dust books for a friendly old lady, William and Ginger become enchanted by the derring-do and kind hearts of the stars of Don Quixote, and promptly rename themselves Don William and Sancho Ginger (Jumble becomes Rosinante).
When they overhear the chairs of both local political parties mentioning that Mr Honiton, a newcomer to the neighbourhood, is “sitting on the fence”, they naturally misunderstand the word ‘fence’ and go to inspect his house. The inspection goes slightly wrong, and a near-naked Mr Honiton gets locked out on his balcony, and is not unreasonably furious with the Outlaws.
William examined the pallid liquid that half filled a saucepan on the gas cooker. “Shouldn’t be surprised if that’s not melted silver.”
“Smells like chicken soup to me,” said Ginger.
“Well, nat’rally he’d disguise the smell,” said William.
However, when he climbs down the drainpipe – at William’s slightly overenthusiastic encouragement – he is most interested to see the copy of Don Quixote which, having been ‘borrowed’ by the boys, fortuitously escaped from an unscrupulous book dealer…
“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…
Inside the saucepan were the smoked remains of a couple of sardines, three sausages, a handful of patent cat food, a dollop of custard, four pickled walnuts, the scraping of a tin of golden syrup, half a bottle of sour milk, a soupçon of Gentleman’s Relish, a dash of mouldy mint sauce, some cheese and bacon rinds and the tail end of a bottle of Henry’s father’s tonic – the whole blended and cooked by William. It formed a meal from which all four would have turned with loathing and disgust had it been offered them in their own homes, but they consumed it – sitting round the small clearing in the wood, eating in tum from the screw-top of an old honey jar that did service as a spoon – with undiluted pleasure.
“When I’m grown up,” said William, “I’m goin’ to start a rest’rant an’ I’m goin’ to cook mixtures same as I do here an’ people can eat ’em sittin’ on the ground same as we do an’ I bet everyone’ll want to come to it. It’s tables an’ chairs an’ knives an’ forks that spoil ordinary grown-up meals. I bet I make my fortune an’ when I’ve made it I’m going to…”
“Well, what’ll we do now?” said Ginger, knowing that William, once launched on the subject of his future careers, was not easy to check.
Robert and Ethel have awarded a coveted (albeit ridiculously minor) child’s role in the Dramatic Society play to Hubert Lane, and William is livid: “Gosh, it’s worse than Cain an’ Abel!”
But unfortunately, in the ensuing fight with Hubert, Jumble is kidnapped/ dognapped, and held ransom by the Hubert Laneites.
“Your hair looks as if it had been dragged through a hedge backwards,” said Ethel.
“It has,” said William, casting his mind back over the events of the morning.
William tries to get his revenge by kidnapping Hubert’s aunt, but he ends up with the wrong old lady held hostage.
But it turns out that she was just the old lady he needed to meet…