Day 355: William Catches his Trains

The facts

“I’d worked jolly hard an’ painted a good bit of that pipe when suddenly the tin fell off the window-sill. It fell off quite sudden right on top of her.”
“Who?” asked Henry.
“Mrs Peters,” answered William. “She was jus’ comin’ in at the door an’ it fell right on top of her.”
“Did it kill her?” asked Douglas in a tone of dispassionate interest.
’Course not, snapped William. “We’d have had to pay for her funeral if it’d killed her, an’ I bet they’d have stopped my pocket money for years to pay for that. They’re jolly expensive things, are funerals. They cost pounds.”

  • Number: 38.1
  • Published: 1970
  • Book: William the Lawless
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws are hoping for a trip to the London Transport Museum.


Mr Brown had (possibly out of self-interest) volunteered to take the Outlaws on a much-coveted trip to the London Transport Museum during their school holidays. But an act of careless naughtiness by William places the whole thing in jeopardy.

The boys immediately set about doing a good deed to outweigh the previous act of evil, namely “puttin’ the neglected gardens of old age pensioners to rights”.

William was thinking about life – that it was odd and bewildering and inconsistent and unpredictable. You did good things and they turned out bad. You did bad things and they turned out good. You… Then he dismissed the thought. After all, why quarrel with life when it held such wonders as the Coppemob, the Cornwall, the Butler Henderson, and the Pet?
He drew a deep sigh of contentment.
“Engines,” he said.

Of course, they don’t actually have any plants with which to spruce up these poor oldies’ gardens, but other people’s gardens are full of plants, and as William reasons, “We wouldn’t be pinchin’ things. We’d jus’ be sharin’ them out.”

Not entirely surprisingly, this only propels the Outlaws further into hot water, and they feel that their trip to London is so irrevocably cancelled that they may as well take advantage of the opportunity to do something really naughty: things can hardly get worse.

So they go climbing on the roof of an abandoned cottage from which Mr Brown has specifically forbidden them, just as he happens to be walking home from the station. And somehow they put a smile on his face…