Day 240: William and the Air Raid Shelter

The facts

“I don’t want you messin’ about any more,” Mrs Bott said. ” Sick and tired of you , that’s what I am. Corst a pot of money, this lake did, an’ I didn’t make it to have boys muckin’ about in it.”
“What did you make it for, then?” asked William.

  • Number: 22.5
  • Published: 1940 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William Shares a Secret
  • Book: William and the Evacuees
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws look after a homesick Icelandic girl.


While playing ‘submarines’ in Mrs Bott’s palatial air raid shelter (featuring armchairs, electric kettle, rugs and embroidered face towels!) the Outlaws suddenly remember that they are required at a social affair:

“Crumbs! It’s nearly tea time. An’ that girl’s comin’ to tea.”
“What girl?” said William.
“That girl what’s come to stay with Mrs Monks,” said Ginger. “She was in England when the war broke out, an’ she’s not been able to go back. She’s an Icelander.”
“Gosh!” said William. ” Is she all dressed in furs?”
”Dunno. I’ve not seen her yet.”
“’Spect she lives in a snow house at home.”
“’Spect she does,” agreed Ginger.
“An’ eats dried fish an’ drives about on sledges with reindeer.”
“’Spect so,” said Ginger.
“They don’t wash at all in winter,” said William enviously. “I bet she’s jolly dirty . Gosh! I wish I lived there.”
“Yes,” said Ginger, and added, “I don’t think we’ve got any dried fish for tea.”

“Hot springs?” William said incredulously. “But… listen. Water can’t be hot if you don’t boil it. You can’t boil it down in the earth.”
Mr Brown continued to read his newspaper without answenng.
“Listen!” said William again, as vehemently as if his father had entered into a heated argument with him. “Listen! Water’s not hot natural. Water’s cold natural.”

The boys are deeply disappointed when, unsurprisingly, Solrun turns out to be a fairly normal girl in a fairly normal dress who lives in a fairly normal house.

But she is so homesick that they are determined to cheer her up, and decide that creating a hot spring will remind her of home and bring a smile to her lovely Icelandic face.

The chosen location is Mrs Bott’s air raid shelter…