“Well, what’ll we do now?” said Ginger. “We’ve done about everything you can do in a garden.”
“An’ some of the things you can’t,” said William with a certain modest pride.
- Number: 29.3
- Published: 1954 (1953 in magazine form)
- Book: William and the Moon Rocket
- Synopsis: Robert has promised to wear an unsightly American tie.
Roxana has presented Robert with a hideous American tie “with men playing baseball all over it”, which he feels bound to wear in order to secure her affections, and yet horrified of wearing because of its garishness.
William thinks it is the most exciting item of clothing he’s ever seen, and takes the first opportunitiy to borrow it. At school, he uses the tie to cultivate for himself a reputation as an expert on all things American – only to see the tie confiscated by Mr Vastop, a supply teacher and adversary imaginatively nicknamed “Ole Fathead”.
William’s face was now so expressionless that his homely features might have been hacked out of wood. He stared glassily in front of him.
“I’ve got a very bad mem’ry,” he said. “It’s a funny thing but I’ve got a sort of feeling that if you gave me back that tie of Robert’s I wouldn’t be able to remember anything else. It’d drive everything else clean out of my head.”
Mr Vastop’s face darkened. “I told you…” he began severely, then stopped. “It’s in my bedroom,” he went on. “I’ll get it.”
He went from the room. William turned his expressionless face to Ginger and slowly lowered one eyelid.
Breaking into Mr Vastop’s house to recover it (of course), the boys find various interesting things – including “copies of Mr Vastop’s testimonials, which William read with incredulous surprise” – but no sign of the tie.
Fortunately, Mr Vastop slightly overreacts to William and Ginger’s presence in his home, and they are able to turn that overreaction to his advantage…