The larger of the two sacks of presents, Mr Solomon had said, was for the Old Folks, but William didn’t approve of this at all. Wy should the Old Folks have a larger sack than the Mixed Infants?
- Number: 7.4
- Published: 1927 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William the Outlaw
- Synopsis: William decides to save the curate the bother of dressing up as Santa.
It’s a week after Christmas, and the Sunday School makes another appearance, as its “superintendent” (!) Mr Solomons returns to public life after the nervous breakdown that he suffered after a Christmas Eve run-in with William.* Although to be fair he kind of brought it on himself, because as I well know, his attitude of “looking upon his Sunday School as a glorious privilege to its attendants” is never likely to be a good one.
Christmas was a season too sacred to the conventions and to uncongenial relatives to appeal to William.
When he visits the Browns’ house to complain about its youngest occupant, he decides to flirt with Ethel instead, and sends William out with a message, asking the curate to stand in for him as Santa Claus at two Santa’s grottos.
William not only decides that it would be a kindness to perform this duty himself, but that the Mixed Infants were more deserving than the Old Folks and so should be given presents out of the larger sack.
Things quickly start to go slightly wrong. One Old Folk is presented with a toy train, another with a pencil case. Inapt but not disastrous.
But William’s agile brain quickly works out the flipside to this: “He had a strong suspicion that he would soon be distributing packets of tea and tobacco to a gathering of outraged Mixed Infants. Surely the fury of the Old Folks presented with dolls and engines would be as nothing to the fury of Mixed Infants presented with packets of tea and tobacco.”
Astonishingly, his brain is also agile enough to turn the situation to his advantage (with a touch of Pied Piper-style kidnapping).
*Geek note: that run-in was recorded in William Joins the Waits, published in magazine form one month before this story but not collected into a book until 8.9, so watch this space.