“You look very nice, my cherub, Hubert darling. Quite a little man.”
The Outlaws were listening with silent rapture to this. William, with frowning concentration, was storing up every word of the conversation to his mind for future use.
- Number: 6.13
- Published: 1926 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William the Conqueror
- Synopsis: The Outlaws take over Hubert Lane’s Christmas party.
The third in a trilogy of Christmas party stories, and a direct sequel to The Wrong Party, 6.11, the Outlaws plan the best way to destroy Hubert Lane’s Yuletide festivities.
They enter the Lane house via a perilous pear tree and an open attic window; this is serious business (“We’re not here to play,” William hissed fiercely).
“Coming!” yelled Hubert Lane from downstairs.
“Don’t shout so, darling,” said Aunt Emmy’s flute-like voice. “Say it quietly. Little gentlemen never raise their voices.”
Things were already going badly without their input, as it happens, because Hubert’s Aunt Emmy was in charge, and she was not a lady after the Hubert Laneites’ own hearts (“Now, what shall we play at first?” said Aunt Emmy, with overdone brightness. “Puss in the Corner?” This suggestion was met with chilly silence. “Postman’s Knock?” went on Aunt Emmy, her brightness becoming almost hysterical).
But the Outlaws manage to take things up a notch further still, locking the entire party out on the Lanes’ roof and taking their places at the sumptuous dining table downstairs, Aunt Emmy being too short-sighted to tell that the boys who returned from the game of Hide and Seek were different from the boys who had set out to it.
I’ve labelled this one William comes out on top because, despite the severity of the parental punishments doled out to the Outlaws – as Richmal Crompton observes, this story’s naughtiness went far beyond the normal taunts and occasional scuffles between the two gangs – the utter joy the Outlaws feel at the success of their (reasonably justified) revenge completely eclipses it.