William Brown was not a natural card player. It was having to sit still and keep quiet he found hardest. Having eaten all the chocolate eclairs his mother had baked for the WI, his punishment was to spend the afternoon partnering Violet Elizabeth while his mother and father practised their bidding on them. Luckily for William, he and Violet Elizabeth were dealt a succession of very good hands - much to his Father's petulant annoyance - so the scores were fairly level, despite Mr Brown's advanced techniques. Then William failed to raise Violet Elizabeth to a slam and Mr Brown began to scent a victory. William was sulky.
"I din' have nearly enough points for slam! Why're you sayin' I should bid slam. You keep tellin' me we need 32 points for slam and we din' have nearly that. Not even close to nearly, actually."
"But it isn't just about points is it William? Distribution is as strong a weapon as lots of honour cards. You had a void, so that increased the power of your hand quite dramatically. Don't you think so Violet Elizabeth?"
"Oh yeth, but he hath done very well tho far. At leatht, I think tho," said Violet Elizabeth, batting her eyelids with alarming sophistication at William who resolutely refused to notice or even enjoy her constant praise.
The next hand was dealt by Mr Brown who took his time and then bid 2C (Any big, unbalanced hand of 20+ HCP or a balanced 23+). Violet Elizabeth passed and Mrs Brown obediently bid 2D (Any hand with less than about 8HCP). William stared at his hand for some time, still smarting from his father's criticisms as well as acute indigestion. All that fuss. He din' even like chocolate... Taking a bold view and holding to one of the Outlaws favourite sayings (Get 'em before they get you!) William bid 4S. Mr Brown went through a series of emotions including shock, fear and homicidal mania. Channelling his aggression he doubled with a profound air of killer self-satisfaction. Everybody passed, the lead was made, dummy went down and, when the dust finally settled, William emerged with the 10 tricks he bid and an incandescent father.
"You said it wasn't about points, so actually, it's like I kind of took your advice, din't I ,Pops?" said William loftily.
"Well I think that's it for the afternoon," said Mrs Brown abruptly, thinking how awful it was to get blood off the Axminster. "Well played William dear. Why don't you walk Violet Elizabeth home?"
"That would be thuper, wouldn't it William", said Violet Elizabeth in a voice of cream and honey.
Mr Brown had yet to find his voice. He had been so sure William had finally and foolishly overstepped the mark. After the others went, he sneaked a look at William's hand:
William lost a Club, a Diamond and the Ace of Hearts; the Spades broke kindly and though William only had 12 HCP the doubled game had been lay-down. Mr Brown hated losing. Especially to William.
William, wondering if he could get back to the other Outlaws before dark, suggested to Violet Elizabeth they take a short cut to her house through the woods.
"Oh yeth, William, yeth." She whispered. "I'll thcream and I'll thcream..."