“It’s a sponsored walk,” said Exton.
“It’s got up by the Friends of Highland School… that’s the school we go to. Doesn’t the school you go to have Friends?”
“No,’ said William after a moment’s consideration, “they’re mostly en’mies.”
- Number: 38.6
- Published: 1970
- Book: William the Lawless
- Synopsis: William and Ginger end up filling in on a sponsored walk.
Note: I’ve deviated slightly from the order here. This story is the sixth and final chapter of the 38th and final published William book. However, I’ve skipped over William’s Foggy Morning, 38.5, which was the story that was actually last to be written – indeed, the one that Richmal Crompton left unfinished. That can be for tomorrow’s final entry…
Off looking for adventure on the final day of their summer holiday, William and Ginger come across two schoolboys on a sponsored walk. The sponsored walkers want to make a slight detour to the shops; William and Ginger could do with a laugh; it’s a match made in heaven.
“Looks all nght,” William said. “Lettuce… cheese… bars of chocolate… apples… Looks jolly good. Come on. Let’s find a place to eat it.”
“Yes, but what about the sponsored walk we’re s’posed to be goin’ on?” said Ginger.
“Oh, we’ll carry on with that when we’ve had somethin’ to eat,” said William carelessly. “No good goin’ for a sponsored walk an’ dyin’ of starvation on the way. I’ve got a dyin’ of starvation feelin’ comin’ over me already.”
Coming across an unattended hamper, William and Ginger naturally assume that this is a donation to the sponsored walkers (ie them) and help themselves.
But when the Outlaws see the owners of the hamper track down the real sponsored walkers and brutalise them for information on its current whereabouts, they realise that their banquet must have been more valuable than they initially realised.
Finally, in this last of last William stories, the boys have managed to bring down an international drug-smuggling gang.
Not that anyone in their families believes them…
“I was thinkin’ it’s time they came back. Civil wars, I mean. Can’t think why they stopped havin’ them. They’re much better than all these abroad wars. Cheaper, too, ’cause you’ve not got to waste money on tickets goin’ out abroad to ’em, an’ you could come home to dinner when you wanted to. Why, it’d save money, havin’ a civil war. An’ there wouldn’t be all this messin’ about with foreign langwidges. Everyone’d understand what everyone else said. There’s no sense in foreign langwidges, anyway. They had civil wars in hist’ry an’ it’s a pity they ever stopped.”
Excited by a history lesson about the War of the Roses, William affixes the following sign to the Old Barn:
a sivil war will brake out this afternun at three oklock
fre to ennyone bring weppons.
cined William Brown.
William did not notice an old gentleman in formal morning suit coming down the path till a hand descended on his shoulder and a voice said, “What are you doing there, my boy?”
William looked up at his captor then bared his teeth in an ingratiating smile. “Me no spick English,” he said.
By good fortune, the Hall has been let for the summer to the Young Conservatives so a ready-made target for the civil war is available.
Discovered creeping about the grounds of the Hall, William pretends to be a miscellaneous foreigner, but to no avail…
“We wasted hours in that sweet shop.”
“Yes,” agreed William sombrely. “He didn’t study the customer. He’s jus’ like the ones my father was talkin’ about. He’ll never attract overseas trade.”
- Number: 30.1
- Published: 1954 (from this book onwards, the stories were never published in magazine form)
- Book: William and the Space Animal
- Synopsis: The Outlaws acquire a small boy in a gryphon costume.
Selflessly going to deliver a message to a local parent that their babysitter can’t arrive, William is mistaken for the babysitter and once again placed in sole charge of an infant.
But he and Ginger happily knuckle down to their task; as William points out, “We’ve got to look after the house prop’ly as well as mind the baby. We’re doin’ it jolly well, so far, I think… I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay us a lot of money when they come back.”
“What on earth have you brought that baby for?” said Henry.
“We’re mindin’ it,” said William, “an’ we’ve brought it along for a bit of fresh air.” He hastened to forestall criticism by adopting a tone of amused superiority. “Haven’t you ever heard of givin’ babies a bit of fresh air? Gosh! You mus’ be ign’rant.”
When they bump into a small boy on his way to a fancy dress party (as a gryphon), they naturally assume him to be an alien and add him to their collection of vulnerable beings.
After swapping the poor lad for a tortoise, they realise that they’ve mislaid the baby. A succession of villagers find the various children, deliver them to the wrong place, and engage in general chaos.
But William’s OK. William has a tortoise.