“He’s been playin’ ‘Mothers an’ Fathers’ with her,” said Henry, disgustedly.
“It makes you sick,” said Ginger.
“He’s not been out with us for days,” said Henry.
“An’ Douglas!” said William. “Douglas, that never knew what to do without us till now!”
- Number: 36.4
- Published: 1966
- Book: William and the Masked Ranger
- Synopsis: The Outlaws attempt to cure Douglas of being in love.
Note: today is the anniversary of Richmal Crompton’s death in 1969; zichrona livracha.
Douglas has the rare honour of being the only Outlaw, besides William, to have a story named after him. And, indeed, the only Outlaw besides William to have the ‘great experience’ of infatuation with a girl of the female persuasion.
In equal parts disgusted and pitying, the others resolve to win Douglas back – before any real danger should befall him:
“It happened to Anthony an’ Cleopatra. She got him right down same as Patsy’s got Douglas an’ that was the end of him.”
“What was the end?” said William.
“He killed himself an’ she got stung by a snake.”
“That’s jolly serious,” said William. “We don’t want that sort of thing to happen to ole Douglas.”
“You’re really rather glad it’s over, aren’t you,
Douglas?” said Henry.
“Well, it was a bit of a tie,” admitted Douglas. “but…” he sighed deeply, “it was a great experience.”
Their intervention takes the form of trying to make the girl’s father appear to be a criminal. Douglas, being a very law-abiding soul, would then naturally break off the relationship. Equally naturally, William convinces himself that Mr Willingham genuinely is a criminal and gets somewhat confused between fact and fiction.
On the downside, the boys drop his box of indoor fireworks into a water tank (believing it to be a bomb); on the upside, Douglas is indeed cured.