The Statement Of William Tell

My name is William Tell, and I am an archer of repute. Like Caspar Badrutt, the hotelier who pioneered winter sports, I am a man of Switzerland, country of chocolate swiss roll and neutrality.

My son Walter has a large head, and as he lolloped along the mountain paths, it tilted upon his neck and swung from side to side. He had become an object of ridicule among the goatherds.

My wife, Coco, delved into ancient books to see if she could discover a spell to shrink Walter’s head. I was fully supportive of this strategy, and entered many crossbow tournaments, the idea being to win prize monies so Coco could afford to buy more and more ancient books.

Though I won contests in every canton of Switzerland, and even abroad, in Italy, where they called me Guglielmo, and our chalet was piled high with ancient books, Coco failed to discover an effective spell.

Walter became low-spirited and unusually cantankerous. I feared for my coop of hens, towards which my son began to mutter animadversions. He was projecting his inner turmoil against harmless poultry, a psychological commonplace. Goatherds are larger, and violent when threatened.

Desperate, I sought advice from the Swiss Institute Of Deportment. I was told that the muscles in Walter’s neck could be strengthened rather than his head shrunk. The way to do this was to make him carry pieces of fruit balanced atop his crown.

That goes some way to explaining why Walter had an apple on his head when Hermann Gessler, Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, came riding by on his horse. By every Alp in Switzerland, how I hated the Vogt!

I shot the apple off Walter’s head with my crossbow to show Gessler that I was not a man he should mess with. I had a pomegranate in my pocket, and was about to balance it on Gessler’s head when I was apprehended by his henchmen.

To his credit, my quick-thinking son unlatched the hens from the coop and set the fear of god into them. He pointed at the henchmen, and yelled “Kill!” They immediately unhanded me, and fled alongside their Vogt of Altdorf.

Inside the chalet, Coco had brewed a potion from a recipe in one of the ancient books. Walter took a sip and spat it out, but I drank an entire gobletful. Shortly afterwards I lost touch with reality.

My name is William Tell, and that is my statement. I cannot vouch for its accuracy, as the potion is still coursing through my veins. I must now go and tell everything I know about Switzerland to a man named Ruskin, who says he is writing a book about this fair country.

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