Day 208: William and the Little Strangers

 The facts

“I don’t b’lieve any of the things that happened in hist’ry,” said William, “I b’lieve they’re all made up jus’ to give us a lot of trouble learnin’ ’em.”

  • Number: 19.2
  • Published: 1937 (1936 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Showman
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws go hunting for pygmies in the woods.


This has to be one of the weirdest stories. Very implausible, but that’s scarcely unusual; this one, though, it’s just weird. The Outlaws, feeling bored, go searching in the woods for pygmies.

“We’ll teach ’em English,” said William. “They’ll be
jolly grateful to us. It’s a jolly sight easier to talk than any foreign langwidge. I can never think why everyone in the world doesn’t talk it: an easy langwidge like English, ’stead of worryin’ over verbs an’ stuff like what you have to in foreign langwidges an’ pronouncin’ the words all wrong.”
“P’r’aps it’s easy to them,” suggested Henry tentatively.
’Course it isn’t,” said William. “It couldn’t be easy to anyone. Why, look at me. I can talk English ’s easy ’s easy without even havin’ to learn it, but it takes me hours an’ hours to do a French exercise, an’ even then I get it all wrong. Well, that proves it doesn’t it?”

Rather to their surprise, they find seven of them: adults, the same size as children, dressed in native costumes, and not speaking English. After selling the smallest one to Violet-Elizabeth for sixpence, they play with the remaining six, teach them some English, and rack their brains about where to ‘keep’ them.

Meanwhile, Miss Marcia Gillespie, a local headmistress, is tearing her hair out because she’s lost seven Lithuanian exchange children, just at the crucial moment that they were needed for a Richard II-themed paegent.