“Why didn’t you tell me the river is flooding?” she screamed, “You must have known.”
“Well,” said William with a burst of inspiration, “I din’ want to give you a sudden shock – what I thought it might give you tellin’ you you was macarooned.”
- Number: 7.9
- Published: 1927 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William the Outlaw
- Synopsis: William climbs through a fissure in a cave and floods a sanatorium.
At last a break from cunning costume ploys: a classic old adventure story in which William goes exploring a narrow fissure at the back of a local cave (looking for smugglers) and emerges, unexpectedly, in a field with which he is unfamiliar.
“Who’s in charge of the staff, then?”
“Me.” said William simply. “I’m all there is left of it.”
He was rewarded by an even finer display of hysterics than the one before. He sat and watched this one, too, with critical enjoyment as one might watch a firework display or an exhibition of conjuring. His attitude seemed to irritate her.
He then readily agrees to take over the job of a servant-boy in the nursing home he comes across, floods the back yard, makes the patients cocoa using knife powder, unintentionally cures a patient suffering a nervous breakdown, fills the house with animals, kidnaps two young children and fakes amnesia – all before returning to the cave whence he had come and discovering that his entire family believes he had died in there.
This is an exceptional concatenation of chaos even for William, and unusually there is no real purpose to it (either good intention or bad). It just kind of happens and he finds himself getting deeper and deeper into it.
But I always think that William’s chaoses are far more entertaining when they form unintended consequences of a deliberate decision, rather than just being flukes.