Douglas’s reputation for superior spelling was based on the simple fact that, whereas the other Outlaws spelt all words exactly as they were pronounced, Douglas didn’t. He realised that some words are not spelt as they are pronounced and, though he had little knowledge of any rules governing these mysterious aberrations, he varied his spelling so effectively that the Outlaws were always intensely proud of any composition from his
hand. The notice which he produced to hang up on the
barn door pleased them especially: “Gnites of the square tabel, Rongs Wrighted 6d and 1/-. Pleese gnock.”
- Number: 11.1
- Published: 1930 (1929 in magazine form)
- Book: William the Bad
- Synopsis: The Outlaws seek to reconcile a man with his damsel.
In some ways simiar to The Knight at Arms, 2.4, this story commences with William appointing himself King, Ginger “Merl” (“that magician one”), Douglas “sec’ry” and Henry as “treas’rer” – “with vague memories of a meeting of the village. football club which he had attended with his elder brother the week before”.
This noble band then opens for business, offering to right wrongs at unspectacular prices.
“My father’s got a lot of wrongs he’d like righted,” said
Ginger. “Rates an’ income-tax an’ that sort of thing.”
“We’re not going to start rightin’ those,” said William firmly, “it’d take us months to right those. They’re not really wrongs, either. They’re only things grown-ups go on about at breakfast.”
Their first customer, who seems very taken with the Outlaws’ eccentricity, is having trouble with his damsel (who has left him for another man). Although, as William rather gracelessly announces, he would “rather have someone in dungeons or with giants ravidging their land”, they agree to take on this task.
As with some similar such challenges before, here William’s stratagem is to split the damsel up from the “false knight” with whom she has been carrying on by telling the false knight that a wild snake has been sighted nearby. The false knight does not immediately flee the scene as they had hoped, but does show himself to be a total coward by rolling about on the ground in terror (especially after Ginger surreptitiously but cruelly pierced his ankle with two nails to simulate a snake bite!) and loses the infatuation of the damsel, who returns to her true knight.