Day 282: Esmerelda Takes a Hand

 The facts

William was finding life rather interesting. His home was in the hands of “the decorators”, and William was enjoying the experience.
“Look!” he said proudly to the Outlaws. “There’s no staircarpet, an’ I bet none of you can make as much noise as what I can, goin’ upstairs. Come on. Let’s try it.”

  • Number: 27.6
  • Published: 1950 (1949 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Bold
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws haunt Hubert.


Hubert Lane has humiliated the Outlaws by scaring them with a bearskin rug, so they need to hatch some revenge.

But Hubert is not only crowing over his antics with the rug. He is also proud to be going to tea at a posh mansion with a friend of his mother’s, a famous author. The only downside is, the mansion is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a woman who died of a broken heart after her beloved left to Jamaica (no, he wanted to go) – and as we know from long experience, Hubert is a believer in the paranormal.

“I write stories myself,” said William, “an’ I bet mine are a jolly sight better than that friend of your mother’s.”
“I bet they’re not,” said Hubert.
“I bet they are,” said William. “I bet she’s never had four murders an’ three burglaries an’ a train accident an’ an aeroplane crash an’ a man havin’ his head pulled off by a gorilla all in one story, has she?”
“I dunno,” said Hubert, somewhat deflated by this wealth of invention.”

So naturally, the Outlaws plan to make sure that Hubert has a ghostly experience, creating a shadowy figurine so that “he’ll think it was that woman that died of eatin’ pineapples” (“She didn’t die of eatin’ pineapples,” said Henry. “She pined away”).

And then it is that Ethel’s dress-making dummy, affectionately known as Esmerelda, gets involved.

It doesn’t work very well – and as William ends up remarking, “Gosh! Five! Five of ’em! I don’t think anyone’s ever got in five sep’rate rows at the same time before since the world began.”