Day 271: Soldiers for Sale

The facts

“Well, now I expect you want to run off, dear,” said Mrs Brown. “The War Working Party will be here any minute, and I know that you aren’t any fonder of them than they are of you.”
“Gosh, no!” said William, and vanished.

Verdict

William needs money with which to buy Christmas presents, so when he hears that the toy shop will buy scarce metal toys at generous prices, he jumps at the chance. Outside the shop he encounters an older boy who claims to be the owner’s cousin and offers to take the toys off for a free valuation.

The inevitable happens, so William has to enter detective mode and track down his property. He handed it over to the thief in a distinctive multi-coloured bag, and who should he see holding such a bag but the Vicar’s wife!

Mr and Mrs Monks led lives of such unblemished outward respectability that William, whose taste in literature tended to the lurid, had always cherished the suspicion that this blatant appearance of respectability hid some secret career of crime. He had, at different times and without success, tried to prove that they were spies, murderers and traffickers in drugs. And now, at last, his suspicions were proved correct. Mrs Monks was a member of a Gang, if not the head of it. A Gang of Toy Stealers. Perhaps an international Gang of Toy Stealers…

He hastily abstracts the bag from her, but it contains not his toy soldiers but a Christmas cake, some Yuletide napkins, a sponge and some china flowers. William is relatively relaxed about confiscating these proceeds of crime and giving them, as they are, to his mother as the perfect Christmas present.

But when Mrs Brown puts these items out at a tea party she is giving that afternoon, things become slightly confused…