Their last holidays had consisted of a glorious possession of an empty house and garden. The agent in whose hands it was lived in the next town, and never visited it, and people in general didn’t seem to care whether the Outlaws took possession of it or not. Indeed people in general seemed to prefer that the Outlaws should take possession of it. People’s attitude in general appeared to be that if the Outlaws were there they could not be anywhere else, which, held the general attitude, was all to the good.
Even the Outlaws, who looked at their misdeeds through the rosiest of rose-coloured spectacles, realised that their tenancy had not actually improved the property. But William had said that their occupation of it was a kindness to its owner.
“We can’t possibly do it any harm,” he had said, “an’ we’ll keep it aired for him with breathin’ in it.”
- Number: 13.10
- Published: 1931 (1930 in magazine form)
- Book: William’s Crowded Hours
- Synopsis: Robert comes under suspicion as a murder victim.
Robert has had the misfortune to fall in love (this week) with Eleanor, whose rich uncle, Colonel Fortescue, has decided that a handsome young man who once saved his life would be a better suitor. He does not like Robert.
Meanwhile, the Outlaws also have business with Colonel Fortescue. Before he had moved to the village, they had treated his house as their own. And, discovering that they left Ginger’s telescope behind, they politely knock at the front door and request its return.
Colonel Fortescue seized William and executed severe corporal punishment upon his protesting and wriggling person.
William’s first thought after this outrage was to put its retribution into his father’s hands. But William’s father’s attitude was disappointing. He merely said that he would thank Colonel Fortescue personally the next time be met him.
This does not end happily, but they do not let it distract them from enjoying recent snowfall, so they build a snowman and dress it in Robert’s clothes, because he is ill in bed and so presumably would not mind having his clothes used for this purpose.
This is where a lot of things happen at once. The Outlaws can’t resist throwing snowballs at Colonel Fortescue. Colonel Fortescue sees that the attack upon his person came from the direction of the figure wearing Robert’s clothes. He hits the figure wearing Robert’s clothes. It falls to the ground and does not show any signs of recovery.
William manages to turn the situation to Robert’s advantage – with unusual selflessness, he does not even try to regain his telescope. Or, if he does, it’s not recorded.