“Meanness, that’s what it is. Anythin’ to keep the money themselves ’stead of givin’ it to us. Seems to me they go about makin’ things easy to break so’s they c’n have an excuse for keeping it themselves instead of givin’ it us.”
The parents of the Outlaws who formed a sort of unofficial Parents’ Union and generally worked in concert had evolved the system of fines.
- Number: 9.4
- Published: 1928 (1927 in magazine form) – not to be confused with the 1925 story, 5.6, of the same name
- Book: William the Good
- Synopsis: William has to raise eight shillings and sixpence to buy a wicket.
In The Fête and Fortune, 4.3, it was William who impersonated a clairvoyant to extract personal concessions from his family when they came to have their fortunes told. Now, he is able to profit (or ‘prophet’…) from someone else playing at that game.
The Outlaws had these holidays developed a passion for cricket. They chalked stumps on a tree trunk and played quite happily with them for a long time. But they found that stumps chalked on a tree trunk have their drawbacks, of which the chief one is that the bowler and batter are seldom agreed as to when one is hit. The Outlaws generally settled the question by single combat between batter and bowler, which at first was all right because the Outlaws always enjoyed single combats, but as the game itself became more and more exciting the perpetual abandoning of it to settle the score by single combat became monotonous and rather boring.
This story provides yet another example of the village’s young adults being just as childish and venal as William himself, as a suitor of Ethel’s – whose sister just happens to be the clairvoyant at another of the seemingly endless succession of village fêtes – prepares a script urging Ethel to say ‘yes’ to the next young man who asks her a question.
Banned by Mrs Brown from himself partaking in this unholy activity (“Mother, please may I have my crystal gazed?”) William decides instead to eavesdrop on proceedings within the now even-more-alluring tent. He overhears Ethel’s prophesy, and immediately goes and asks, “Please, Ethel, will you give me eight and six?”
He is therefore able to purchase, for the Outlaws, a superb set of cricket stumps. There shall be buns for tea.