“Let’s hide your insects,” said Ginger.
They approached the box which William had inadvertently left open. It was empty. “They’ve hid themselves,” said William, as though pleased at the sign of the intelligence from his exhibits.
- Number: 8.5
- Published: 1927 (1926 in magazine form)
- Book: William in Trouble
- Synopsis: The Outlaws use an empty girls’ school to host a circus for Joan.
Joan has returned from a lengthy absence and William, whose bashful and reluctant love for Joan is rivalled only by Joan’s unbashful and unreluctant love for him, decides to welcome her back by putting on a circus.
Said circus consisted of a collection of insects, a mechanical monkey stolen from Henry’s little sister (“It looks jus’ the same as a real monkey”), a parrot stolen from Douglas’s aunt, Ginger’s cat Rameses, and William’s “’straordinarily clever” rat Whitey.
William slashed carelessly at the grass around him with his ash switch (William always carried an ash switch for the purpose of slashing at the grass and fences and hedges around him).
The Outlaws decide that the best venue for this event of the century would be the local girls’ school, which was standing empty in the holidays.
But, unbeknown to them, it was not standing empty, and there was a conference taking place. But when the Society for the Study of Psychical Philosophy began hearing strange disembodied voices (albeit voices that sound suspiciously like a parrot) they retreat in a hurry.
The thing about this story is… I feel we’ve done it already. We’ve seen the Outlaws put on lacklustre circuses (The Show, 1.5; William the Showman, 4.10). We’ve seen the Outlaws accidentally hold their events in venues that clash with village societies (A Birthday Treat, 6.2). And we’ve seen the Outlaws’ trespassing fool believers in the unworldly into believing in the unworldly (“The Haunted House”, 5.7).
There’s nothing wrong with William’s Mammoth Circus as such, it’s just that there’s nothing new in it either.