Day 48: William Advertises

The facts

Joan had taken the special oath to become an Outlaw ally. It had consisted of the words: “I will not betray the secrets of the Outlaws, an’ I will stick up for the Outlaws till death do us part.”
The last phrase was an inspiration of Henry’s, who had been to his cousin’s wedding the week before.

  • Number: 4.8
  • Published: 1924 (1923 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Fourth
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws try to support Mr Moss’ failing sweet-shop.


Capitalism rears its ugly head in the village. A new sweet-shop opens: Mallards, part of a national chain. Everything it sells is a halfpenny cheaper than at Mr Moss’ more traditional establishment.

But William – and William alone – does not allow his head to be turned. He realises that the customer experience at Mr Moss’ is incalculably more satisfying. “At Mallards,” he says indignantly, “she didn’t care what you bought! She didn’t take any interest like wot Mr Moss does.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said William, with an air of wisdom. “I jus’ don’t know that cheap’s all that matters.”
“Well, wot else matters? You tell me that,” said Henry.
“S’pose someone wot had a shop murdered someone: well, I s’pose if they was cheap you’d say it was all right! Huh!” said William.

Slighly against his character, however, William decides to remedy the situation not by attacking or hounding the dreaded Mallards, but with the purely positive tactic of advertising and promoting the advantages of Mr Moss.

More in keeping with his character, though, the advertising campaign consists of William covertly pinning to the behind of a visiting Duke, who is opening the village fête, a card reading: “Have you tryd Mosses cokernut lumps?”

This is actually quite a touching story, and once again shows William to be wiser not only than many of his peers but also than a fair few grown-ups.