The man who installed the new geyser had said in answer to Mrs Brown’s
enquiries: “No, Madam, it’s a new model and it can’t possibly explode. I defy anyone,” he had added, “to make this geyser explode.” It was a very foolish thing to say in the bearing of William, but then, of course, he did not know William. William had accepted the statement as a challenge, and had worked hard and conscientiously on the new geyser till he made it explode. When finally they picked him up from the debris his first remark had been a triumphant: “There! And be said it couldn’t explode!”
The attitude of his family annoyed him.
“Well,” he said, “someone’d got to find out if be was telling the truth, hadn’t they? You can’t have a man goin’ about tellin’ stories like that all over the place, can you?”
- Number: 13.2
- Published: 1931 (1930 in magazine form, not to be confused with the 1934 story, 16.4, of the same name) – originally titled William the Martyr
- Book: William’s Crowded Hours
- Synopsis: The Outlaws decide that their headmaster shouldn’t get married.
This one isn’t really that funny.
The Outlaws attempt to break up their headmaster’s engagement for little reason other than malice (and a worry that his new wife would wander about the village enforcing school discipline on the public highway).
That’s nasty enough as it is, but the method upon which they decide is really unpleasant, and frankly Mr Marks is lucky that the whole episode took place in 1930 rather than today, because had it happened today there is no chance he would have been able to keep his job.
“What’s she like?” said Henry dejectedly. “This Miss Finch, I mean.”
“I know where she lives,” said Douglas, “let’s go’n’ look at her.”
Taking advantage of William’s head being bandaged due to an unfortunate incident with a hot-water tank, they visit the fiancé’s home and, with perfectly-staged reluctance, admit that the perpetrator was their headmaster (“He only gets really drunk about every other day. There’s gen’rally a day in between when he’s not drunk”).
Unfortunately, it turns out they visited the home of the wrong Miss Finch. This Miss Finch is not engaged to Mr Marks, so their dream of her simply breaking off the engagement and otherwise taking no further action does not come true.
She is, however, engaged to one of the school governors, and only the most unlikely fluke saves the Outlaws from the situation they created – and for once, I can’t help feeling they really would have deserved the consequences.