William entered, panting and breathless, a loaf under his arm.
“Sorry, if I’ve been a long time,” he said. “I met Ginger.”
“Didn’t they give you a bag or paper for the loaf, William?” said Mrs Brown.
“Yes, but it sort of came off.”
“It’s filthy!” said Ethel as she took the loaf from him. “You might have been playing football with it.”
William tried to look as if he had not been playing football with it.
- Number: 29.4
- Published: 1954 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William in Charge
- Book: William and the Moon Rocket
- Synopsis: The Outlaws help Archie to escape from an indifferent Justice.
Ethel is hosting a party-and-drama evening (the play having been written by Robert’s friend Oswald Franks, who rather optimistically “hopes that it will go to the West End” after its debut at the Browns’). Her latest admirer, Lionel, is to take the starring role – though rather unusually, Mrs Brown has strong views that he is unsuitable.
Archie is bitterly disappointed not to have been cast, and goes on hopefully practising the starring role’s most momentous speech: “I am a criminal, a common criminal, and the net is closing round me. Unless I can flee the country before tonight, I am doomed!”
“What are those?” said William, turning his frowning gaze on to the pastry cases.
“Pastry cases, dear. They’re going to be filled with mushroom and white sauce mixture and things like that.”
“If I eat this one it’ll save you the trouble of fillin’ it, won’t it?” said William virtuously.
The Outlaws hear this. And, as in William and the Returned Traveller, 28.4, they make it their duty to rescue Archie from the clutches of the police.
Fortunately, their bizarre attempt to smuggle him into a van to Portsmouth backfires to the advantage of everyone concerned (except Lionel).