William Again

The facts

To a casual observer William looked only a small boy walking slowly down a road, frowning, with his hands in his pockets. He was really an intrepid mariner sailing across an uncharted sea.

  • Number: 3.14
  • Published: 1923 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William, playing at Robinson Crusoe, manages to lose his clothes.

Verdict

A tramp, who William persuades to act as Man Friday for the purposes of his shipwreck game, in turn persuades William to swap his clothes for a tablecloth (‘sail’) all the better to impersonate a deserted sailor.

William laid aside ‘Robinson Crusoe’ with a sigh. His dreams of pirate-king and robber-chief vanished. The desire of his heart now was to be shipwrecked on a desert island.

Joan, the mate upon William’s doomed ship, purloins him another suit of clothes but her father demands them back.

So William ends up looking “ridic’l’us” by walking home in his tablecloth.

Seems overbrief as a story but a fairly entertaining scenario nonetheless.

The facts

Vivian Strange had taken a furnished house in the village in order to enjoy the calm and quiet which were so essential to his literary calling. Instead of calm and quiet he had found William.

  • Number: 3.13
  • Published: 1923 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William endeavours to provide source material for a writer staying in the village.

Verdict

The young man to whom William and Ginger provided the slaves in William Sells the Twins turned out to be a writer in search of solace.

Unfortunately, William attaches himself to him, popping round at all hours to play (imperfectly) on his mouth-organ, show him (unwelcome) pond creatures and demonstrate (tunelessly) his “new whistle”.

William drew his brows together in deep thought. “I think the villain oughter say, ‘Ha! villain! Never shalt thou worst me’ – or something like that.”
“People don’t talk like that in real life.”
“Oh, reel life!” said William scornfully. “I thought we was talkin’ about books.”

When Mr Strange, the writer, gets stuck for a piece of dialogue in his crime novel, William immediately knows what to do.

He recreates the scene – an innocent man imprisoned – as best he can – by imprisoning an arbitrary innocent man in Mr Strange’s coal-shed.

Eventually William drives the poor writer to distraction and into exile, but, completely oblivious to his role in the departure, sadly remarks, “I shall miss you quite a lot an’ I ’speck you’ll miss me,” – and blissfully remembers all the new words he learnt from the angrily imprisoned man.

I really love William’s cheery lack of self-awareness in this one.

The facts

Ginger brought two large luggage labels, each inscribed: “SLAVE: CHEEP” and on the back of each label was printed: “6½D“.

  • Number: 3.12
  • Published: 1923 (1923 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William and Ginger enter the slave business.

Verdict

William and Ginger are in one of their periodic moments of bankruptcy, so they decide to sell Ginger’s twin three-year-old cousins as slaves. To be fair, they also decide to rescue them as soon as the money has been spent (despite the twinge of Ginger’s conscience, “I say, I… I suppose it is honest?”).

“You’re so silly,” said William patiently. “They’d jus’ buy ’em once an’ jus’ pay once for ’em and then have ’em all the rest of their lives to do work for ’em an’ they’d never pay any more after they’d jus’ paid for ’em once – see?”

But, naturally, it all goes wrong and Ginger’s aunt is not happy.

Still, at least the boys did plan to organise a rescue mission, and William does prove a big hit with the twins – who are safe and sound, don’t worry – as one of them sleepily murmers, “Willum’s nice.”