“Are you, my boy, responsible for all this?”
“W… well, in a sort of way,” said William hoarsely, looking round for escape. “I mean, I can ’splain all about it… I mean, you see, it was like this…”
Sir Gervase raised his hand. “Explanations are tedious,” he said. “Let us leave it at that. Your activities have caused a certain amount of confusion. I am no deep student of character, but I should imagine that your activities usually do.”
- Number: 30.2
- Published: 1954
- Book: William and the Space Animal
- Synopsis: William borrows a monkey and finds a secret library.
I’m a big fan of this story, primarily because William has such genuinely amazing adventures and yet nobody believes him (cf one of my favourite films, Monkey Trouble).
William drives his mother to her wit’s end during her attempts at spring cleaning, so eventually she begs him to go out on “a nice little walk”. On his journey he attaches himself to an Indian man he meets; the Indian man is delivering a langur to a private zoo in the next village.
Unfortunately the Indian man leaves William and the animal (on-board a train) while he pops to a platform tobacconist; so inevitably William ends up weaving his way through the countryside in sole charge of a langur.
William took the basket and descended on to the platform. Asked for his ticket, he gave a comparatively accurate account of what had happened. The porter scratched his head. It was a situation that had never before arisen in the whole course of his career, and he didn’t know how to deal with it.
“You’ll have to wait ’til the nex’ train come in,” he said at last, “and that’s not till another hour.”
“All right,” said William. He sat on the seat with his basket beside him for what seemed an interminable length of time. Then he got up and approached the porter.
“That train mus’ be jolly late,” he said. “It’s more than an hour since I got here.”
“It’s five minutes exact,” said the porter shortly.
He successfully finds the zoo – in the grounds of a mansion that happens to be open that afternoon for a fair – but the langur escapes and ransacks the library… much to the unexpected delight of the aristocrat who owns it.
“Well, dear, did you have a nice little walk?” said Mrs Brown.
“Yes, thank you,” said William. “I took a valu’ble monkey in a basket to Steedham an’ it got loose an’ found a valu’ble legal document, so they didn’t mind.”
“What nonsense you talk, dear!” said Mrs Brown placidly.