Day 301: William and the Space Animal

 The facts

“We wasted hours in that sweet shop.”
“Yes,” agreed William sombrely. “He didn’t study the customer. He’s jus’ like the ones my father was talkin’ about. He’ll never attract overseas trade.”

  • Number: 30.1
  • Published: 1954 (from this book onwards, the stories were never published in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Space Animal
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws acquire a small boy in a gryphon costume.


Selflessly going to deliver a message to a local parent that their babysitter can’t arrive, William is mistaken for the babysitter and once again placed in sole charge of an infant.

But he and Ginger happily knuckle down to their task; as William points out, “We’ve got to look after the house prop’ly as well as mind the baby. We’re doin’ it jolly well, so far, I think… I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay us a lot of money when they come back.”

“What on earth have you brought that baby for?” said Henry.
“We’re mindin’ it,” said William, “an’ we’ve brought it along for a bit of fresh air.” He hastened to forestall criticism by adopting a tone of amused superiority. “Haven’t you ever heard of givin’ babies a bit of fresh air? Gosh! You mus’ be ign’rant.”

When they bump into a small boy on his way to a fancy dress party (as a gryphon), they naturally assume him to be an alien and add him to their collection of vulnerable beings.

After swapping the poor lad for a tortoise, they realise that they’ve mislaid the baby. A succession of villagers find the various children, deliver them to the wrong place, and engage in general chaos.

But William’s OK. William has a tortoise.