“I’m sick of this New Year business,” said William gloomily. “I don’t get anything out of it. Jus’ rotten ole good res’lutions an’ everyone goin’ on at you worse than what they did before.”
“I know,” said Ginger, “an’ they won’t even let you have anythin’ int’restin’ for a good res’lution. Jus’ dull things like bein’ obedient an’ quiet an’ clean an’ suchlike. Once I tried havin’ one to be an adventurer same as you read about in books, but they made such an awful fuss I had to stop.”
- Number: 21.7
- Published: 1939 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William and Air Raid Precautions
- Synopsis: William enters the world of art theft.
Fed up with the sanctimony of the new year, William announces: “I’ve had a jolly good idea. I’ll have a bad res’lution. It couldn’t come off worse than some of my good ones have, anyway. I’ll be reely bad. Same as people in the newspapers.”
And while he doesn’t go with Ginger’s suggestion of murder, the bad deed he chooses is pretty dire: stealing the Whistler painting which has just arrived in the Lanes’ house (although to be fair, the Outlaws suppose a Whistler to be some sort of whistle: “An anshunt Roman whistle,” suggests Henry, “You know, ‘whistla’, like ‘mensa’”).
William walked cautiously up to the Lanes’ front door. He rehearsed suitable excuses should Mrs Lane suddenly appear and demand an explanation
of his visit. “Please, Mother says can you come to tea next Wednesday?” (an awkward situation might arise next Wednesday, of course, but that was far enough off).
So, with much derringdo, he creeps into the Lanes’ house and takes away an ear trumpet with him.
When its owner – Hubert’s Great Aunt Sarah – blames Hubert for its disappearance, fate seems to turn in the Outlaws’ favour…