travel

The facts

“It’s a sponsored walk,” said Exton.
“What’s that?”
“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…

Verdict

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…

The facts

A boy was emerging from behind one of the rocks that lay at the foot of the cliff. He was about William’s age, slender and wiry-looking, with coffee-coloured skin and bright dark eyes.
“Man Friday!” gasped Ginger again.
”He can’t be Man Friday,” said William, “’cause he’s not a man an’ it’s not Friday. It’s Wednesday.”
“Boy Wednesday, then,” said Ginger.

Verdict

William and Ginger heartily resent being dragged away from home by their parents:

“It’s nice, boys, isn’t it?” said Mrs Brown cheerfully.
“It’s a house in a place,” said William gloomily. “I jus’ don’t know why people want to go jus’ from one house in one place to another in another.”
“It’s the summer holidays, dear,” explained Mrs Brown. “People do. Now take the suitcases up to the bedrooms. Then we’ll unpack.”
“Packin’ things jus’ to unpack ’em,” said Ginger with a careful imitation of William’s gloom.

They walked on, past the shops, down a road that was skirted by a high brick wall, and stopped at an imposing-looking pair of gates, which bore a notice “Highlands School. Headmaster: Arnold J. Mercer, M.A.”.
“Gosh, a school!” said William in a tone of disgust. “Let’s get away from it quick.”

But their spirits soon brighten when they find themselves on what they fondly imagine to be a desert island (quite how they managed to reach it without crossing a sea is unclear) inhabited by a foreign savage…

The facts

The journey was fairly uneventful. He annoyed an old gentleman by playing on a mouth-organ that he had brought with him to while away the time, and an old lady by passing continually from one window to the other, always treading on her toes on the way and never failing to apologise profusely. On one occasion he leant so far out of the window that he nearly overbalanced and had to be hauled back to safety by the combined efforts of the entire carriage.
Aunt Florence was at the station to meet him. She did not fail to notice the look of relief on the faces of his fellow travellers as he leapt exuberantly out on to the platform, followed by his suitcase, which he had forgotten and which the old gentleman threw out after him with what seemed unnecessary violence.

  • Number: 23.3
  • Published: 1941 (1940 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Does His Bit
  • Synopsis: William ruins two men’s vegetables.

Verdict

While Mrs Brown recuperates from a sprained ankle, William is sent away to aid her recovery.

Aunt Florence somewhat reluctantly receives him, though even her acid tongue is rendered speechless when William announces: “Why, they didn’t want me to come away ’cause I’m such a help, but I’d got a bit overworked an’ they thought a holiday’d do me good.”

Aunt Florence’s locale is atwitter with the excitement of the local Flower Show, at which Colonel Summers and Mr Foulard are perennial and bitter rivals in the peach contest and in the asparagus contest.

One of William’s first acts, on arrival, is to make Colonel Summers’s acquaintance by semi-intentionally eating all of his prize-winning peaches. Colonel Summers is livid, but Mr Foulard is so grateful that, positivly brimming with schadenfreude, he forgives William for beating up his grandson: “Boys will be boys,” he tells the little lad’s enraged mother.

Unfortunately, the second round of their fight takes place in amongst Mr Foulard’s prize asparagus. Mr Foulard fires off a furious letter to William’s father, but Colonel Summers’s attitude has mellowed somewhat: “Boys will be boys…”

Aunt Florence looked at him helplessly. “I simply can’t understand it, William,” she said. “Can’t you move without damaging people’s property?”
“Haven’t you enjoyed havin’ me?” said William pathetically.
“No,” said his aunt simply. “I didn’t expect to.”

Unfortunately, when leaving Colonel Summers’s house, William leaves the gate open and thus allows a passing herd of cattle to trample his prize asparagus.

Mr Foulard, safe in the knowledge that his rival now has no vegetables whatsoever to exhibit in the Flower Show, smiles upon William.

But in a final twist, the war intervenes in an unexpected way to leave both men happy. William’s father is baffled by the succession of contradictory letter’s he’s received; but all’s well that ends well.