Day 148: The Outlaws and the Tramp

The facts

“Well,” said the tramp confidentially, “it’s more difficult than people think. It’s not generally known in fact that being a tramp as difficult to get into as many of the other professions.”
“If you’ve gotter pass examinations in not washin’ an’ in eatin’ like you do,” said William, “I bet we’d soon pass ’em.”
“Well then, all I can say is that you’re lucky to have met me. I’m the head of the whole tramp profession an’ no one can get into it ‘cept through me.”

  • Number: 13.8
  • Published: 1931 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William and the Wonderful Tramp
  • Book: William’s Crowded Hours
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws need some seed capital in order to start up as professional tramps.


Sandy White is quite an experienced confidence trickster, so why he’s wasting his time with extorting eight shillings from the Outlaws is something of a mystery.

But I suppose he must have found it entertaining, convincing them that he was a senior figure in the tramps’ regulatory body and that if they wanted to be tramps when they grew up, they would each have to pay a two-shilling pupillage fee to him straight away.

“Two shillings!” said Mrs Brown indignantly. “I
never heard of such a thing, William. Whatever do you want two shillings for?”
“It’s something to do with my future,” said William mysteriously.
“Nonsense!” said Mrs. Brown. “You know I don’t believe in fortune telling, and two shillings is an outrageous sum to charge for it anyway.”

That said, perhaps two shillings to enter a profession wasn’t so bad:

“How much money would you have to spend on me being a doctor if I wanted to be one?”
“Several hundred pounds, I believe,” said Mrs Brown vaguely.
“Well,” said William with an air of one who is about to confer a great favour. “I’m goin’ to save you all that money. If you give me two shillings now you needn’t spend all that money making me a doctor.”
“But no one was going to make you a doctor, dear,” said Mrs. Brown. “It’s never even been suggested.”

The Outlaws’ fundraising method of choice this time is, at yet another village fair, to sell off (without her consent) some old photographs they find in Ethel’s bedroom. Somewhat to their surprise, these products prove a riproaring success – perhaps the fact that they are all love tokens signed by various young men in the neighbourhood, who have since moved onto other femmes fatale and cannot afford to have such lasting mementos of their ‘Ethel phase’ visible to the public. So they hastily buy them all.