“All right,” said William. “I don’t want to stay here anyway. I don’t want to go on wastin’ my time tryin’ to help people that don’t want to be helped an’ that don’t know what’s an excitin’ party an’ what isn’t.” He rose with dignity from his seat on the hearthrug. “An’ I wouldn’t help you now, not if – not if you came on your bended knees beggin’ me to.”
He withdrew from the room, much impressed by his parting
speech. “Huh!” he said to himself, as he slid down the banisters and landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. “I bet they’re feelin’ small.”
Ethel and Robert reluctantly admit William into their plans for an anniversary party for their parents – and begin to regret their decision when his suggestions include “an animal show with Jumble an’ a stag beetle an’ Henry’s tortoise”.
When William nevertheless goes ahead and buys a white rat for the purpose, it causes chaos throughout the village… but Mr Brown doesn’t mind too much in the end.
William entered, panting and breathless, a loaf under his arm.
“Sorry, if I’ve been a long time,” he said. “I met Ginger.”
“Didn’t they give you a bag or paper for the loaf, William?” said Mrs Brown.
“Yes, but it sort of came off.”
“It’s filthy!” said Ethel as she took the loaf from him. “You might have been playing football with it.”
William tried to look as if he had not been playing football with it.
- Number: 29.4
- Published: 1954 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William in Charge
- Book: William and the Moon Rocket
- Synopsis: The Outlaws help Archie to escape from an indifferent Justice.
Ethel is hosting a party-and-drama evening (the play having been written by Robert’s friend Oswald Franks, who rather optimistically “hopes that it will go to the West End” after its debut at the Browns’). Her latest admirer, Lionel, is to take the starring role – though rather unusually, Mrs Brown has strong views that he is unsuitable.
Archie is bitterly disappointed not to have been cast, and goes on hopefully practising the starring role’s most momentous speech: “I am a criminal, a common criminal, and the net is closing round me. Unless I can flee the country before tonight, I am doomed!”
“What are those?” said William, turning his frowning gaze on to the pastry cases.
“Pastry cases, dear. They’re going to be filled with mushroom and white sauce mixture and things like that.”
“If I eat this one it’ll save you the trouble of fillin’ it, won’t it?” said William virtuously.
The Outlaws hear this. And, as in William and the Returned Traveller, 28.4, they make it their duty to rescue Archie from the clutches of the police.
Fortunately, their bizarre attempt to smuggle him into a van to Portsmouth backfires to the advantage of everyone concerned (except Lionel).
“I’m having sixteen guests,” said Archie, “I sent out sixteen invitations – you remember, William. You posted them – and I said: ‘Don’t answer unless you can’t come. If I don’t hear from you, I shall expect you,’ and I haven’t heard from a single one, so that means they’re all coming. It’s very gratifying. Very gratifying indeed.” A blissful smile lit up his features.
A blank look had come over William’s face.
- Number: 28.8
- Published: 1952 (1953 in magazine form, ie first published in book form)
- Book: William the Tramp
- Synopsis: William has forgotten to take round the invitations for Archie’s party.
When William realises on the eve of Archie’s party that he failed to deliver the sixteen invitations, he scours the district for sixteen people he can persuade to attend at the last minute.
“We realised as soon as we got away…”
“But why did you come here at all in the first place?” squeaked Archie, almost buried beneath his canvasses.
“A boy directed us here. I don’t know who he was. The other boys called him William.”
Of course, by complete Cromptonesque coincidence, there are sixteen art collectors lost in the neighbourhood, on their way to an art exhibition in Marleigh.