Day 75: The Mysterious Stranger

The facts

“I b’lieve I can see a bomb in his pocket,” said Henry. “It looks to me ’xactly like a bomb.”
“You ever seen a bomb?” said William.
“I may’ve done,” said Henry. “I may quite possibly have done. Anyway, it looked to me like a bomb. That’s all I say. I can only say how it looks to me. I don’t know how bombs look to other folks.”

  • Number: 6.7
  • Published: 1926 (1925 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Conqueror
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws suspect a newcomer to the village of being an agent of The Reds.

Verdict

This is one of those stories in which the Outlaws’ determination to fight one (non-existent) crime leads to their, accidentally, aiding and abetting another (existent) one..

Douglas was kept in half an hour by the French master and William an hour. William was kept in half an hour longer than Douglas because his ignorance of French verbs was half-an-hour deeper than Douglas’ ignorance of French verbs.

Its best feature, though, is the scene in which they try to investigate the house of “Dmitritch”, who they suspect of being a Bolshevik assassin. Henry comes up with the idea of going up to the front door and innocently asking, “Does Mr Brown live here?” and using the opportunity to peer inside.

The Outlaws, who all leave school at different times, each summon up the courage to perpetrate this ruse separately. William happens to come up with the idea last and incurs the final, pent-up wrath of the householder.