Day 171: April Fool’s Day

The facts

April the First was a day generally enjoyed to the full by William, but this year something seemed to have gone wrong. Not one of his efforts had been successful. Ethel had calmly put on one side, without even attempting to crack it, the empty egg-shell that he had carefully arranged in her egg-cup; Robert had removed the upturned tintack from his chair before sitting down, and had placed it so neatly upon William’s that William had been taken unawares; his father had refused even to raise his eyes from his newspaper at William’s excited: “Look, father, there’s a cow in the garden”; and his mother had merely murmured: “Yes, dear,” when William had informed her that Ethel had been bitten by a mad dog on her way to the village.

  • Number: 15.10
  • Published: 1933 (1932 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Rebel
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws are desperate to make a fool of someone.


Having found themselves unable to pull off a successful prank, the Outlaws bitterly retreat to Marleigh to play football.

But when this occupation begins to pall – or, to be more accurate, when they have driven the lady whose house abutts the field to distraction by continually kicking their ball into her garden – they resume their quest to make an April Fool of someone in the precious few minutes before 12pm.

“Tell you what I’d like to do,” said William dreamily. “I’d like to make someone really important, like the King or Parliament, an April Fool.”
“You couldn’t.”
“Yes, I could. I could eas’ly. I could ring them up and say that an enemy had landed. I bet they’d be April Fools all right.”
“You don’t know their telephone number.”

Their chosen target is a random boy the meet in the street. Their chosen strategy is a high-risk one (“We shall get into a beastly row if we’ve got him murdered”).

And, surprisingly enough, it doesn’t go quite to plan.