Day 88: The Stolen Whistle

The facts

Mr Morgan looked while his mouth and eyes slowly opened to an almost incredible extent and his cheeks grew paler and paler. There in his library with feet on his writing table, sat a brutal communist commander beneath the red flag. Brutal communist soldiers lounged in all his best chairs and some poor unhappy prisoner stood trembling before the brutal communist commander.
“W… what is it?” he gasped.
“It’s broke out,” said William succinctly, “the revolution – it’s broke out.”

  • Number: 7.7
  • Published: 1927 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Outlaw
  • Synopsis: William enrages an old man by blowing on an exceptionally loud whistle – and regrets its confiscation.


In the William version of The Seven Basic Plots, ‘recovery of confiscated items’ must surely be one of them – and William is invariably successful. In The Midnight Adventure of Miss Montagu, 6.6, he used force. This time, he uses cunning.

His plan to train Jumble as a sheep-dog has disastrous consequences not only for the sheep, a number of local farmers and William’s white rats, but also on the rest and relaxation of Mr Morgan, an elderly man who lives at the edge of the village and is enraged by the constant blowing of William’s most prized possession, an unnaturally loud whistle. So Mr Morgan confiscates it.

Idly William thought that he’d train Jumble to be a police dog when he’d finished training him to be a sheep dog. He’d train him to hunt down robbers and bite them hard.

William’s attempts to regain the whistle include asking for it (Mr Morgan laughs in his face), complaining of its theft to the police (the policeman laughs in his space) and begging his father for help (Mr Brown laughs in his face).

After all these above-board methods come to naught, he begins casing the joint from the outside and, by faking a coma, secures an invitation inside while the owner is away and opened the house to his niece’s drama troupe.

There, he learns not only Mr Morgan’s secret fear – a Communist revolution – but that the drama troupe will, by one of those Williamesque coincidences that only happen rarely in real life but multiple times in the same book in Richmal Crompton’s universe (cf Finding a School for William, 7.6), be rehearsing, in the house, a play about a Communist revolution.

Despite the fact that the plot is almost entirely borrowed from a small number of previous stories, this one reads fresh and is very enjoyable, especially William’s triumphed and Mr Morgan’s frustration at the end.