Day 174: William the Gangster

The facts

“I know, dear boy! We’ll form a junior branch of the League of Nations Union, and you shall be its president. You and I will work together for peace. We will hold the inaugural meeting of it just before the inaugural meeting of the senior branch to which your mother is going to belong.” Mrs Brown opened her mouth to protest, then yielded to the inevitable and closed it again. “It will be an inspiration and example to us all. Think of that, dear boy.”
William thought of it, and a strange smile flickered for a moment over his freckled countenance.

  • Number: 16.1
  • Published: 1934 (1933 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Gangster
  • Synopsis: William joins the village’s League of Nations.


This is a really excellent example of William’s (relatively) harmless Machiavellian genius.

The Hubert Laneites and the Outlaws (plus a new gang, a splinter group of ex-Laneites led by Bertie Franks) have a new form of warfare: arms. Specifically, pea-shooters, air-guns and water-pistols.

The Outlaws’ arsenal is, however, rather puny compared to those of the other gangs. So when William arrives home one afternoon, bruised and battered and very much the worse from his day’s fighting, to hear the Vicar’s wife saying to Mrs Brown, “We want everyone in the world to give up their arms and weapons of warfare,” he passionately replies, “Yes, that would be a jolly good thing.”

William arose to make his presidential address.
“What I think is,” he said earnestly, “that weapons of war and suchlike is all wrong. An’ what I think we oughter do is to give up all our weapons of war to the Vicar’s wife, so’s we won’t be able to use them any more even if we want to. I’ll start by givin’ up ours.”

But Mrs Brown, though willing as his mother to give William credit for almost any other virtue, jibbed at attributing to him a love of peace. “William!” she said reproachfully. “And you fighting with those dreadful gangs all over the village!”

At the first meeting of the League of Nations Union, Junior Branch, President William transparently gives up the Outlaws’ weapons and calls on his fellow gang leaders to follow suit. Somewhat hypnotised by his tone of authority, they do so.

And so it came to pass that William took control of every weapon in the village.