William Again

The facts

“Great Aunt Jane’s very ill,” said Mrs Brown. “They say…” She looked again at her letter as if to make quite sure: “They say she wants to see William. She’s never seen him, you know.”
“Good Lord!” Robert said, “fancy anyone wanting to see William!”

  • Number: 3.2
  • Published: 1923 (1922 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William’s Great Great Aunt Jane is at death’s door. Mrs Brown rushes to her bedside. She takes William along too.


This is one of my favourites. The idea of taking William to an aged relative’s deathbed seems wrong, somehow. As Robert says, “It hardly seems fair to show William to anyone who’s not strong.”

And his antics over in Ireland are certainly calculated to destroy anyone’s peace of mind. He pushes his cousin into a water-butt. He attacks his uncle under the mistaken impression that he is a burglar. Best, he brings a scarecrow inside and lets his short-sighted aunt chat to it for quite some time.

“How is Great Aunt Jane?” Mrs Brown said.
“Sinking,” said Uncle John in a voice of deepest gloom. Sinking fast, sinking fast.”
William’s expression grew animated. “Where is she?” he said. “Is she out at sea?”

But Great Great Aunt Jane, of course, loves him. She delights in his antics. She can’t wait to hear rumours of their next instalment from her nurse. She is ecstatic at his “attempt to temper truth with politeness” by announcing, “I wun’t mind going home now. I’ve got a lizard in a box at home.”

It seems that William is often a great hit with elderly relatives.

And, as Great Great Aunt Jane says, “He’s a cure, that boy.”

The facts

William, outstretched upon the floor of the summer-house, wrote his play with liberal application of ink over his person and clothes and the surrounding woodwork. William was not of that class of authors who neglect the needs of the body. After every few words he took a deep draught from a bottle of Orange Ale that stood on his right and a bite from an ink-coated apple on his left.

  • Number: 3.1
  • Published: 1923 (1922 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William’s father is organising a village meeting to be addressed by a Cabinet minister. William is organising a play called The Bloody Hand.


The cast of William’s magnum opus The Bloody Hand were not entirely obedient, particularly little Molly Carter. When she refused to go on without a special top billing at the start of the performance, “William decided to be a woman-hater for the rest of his life.”

On paying a quiet and entirely informal visit to his sister’s bedroom in her absence, to collect some articles of festive female attire for his heroine, he had found every drawer, and even the wardrobe, locked. His sister had kept herself informed of the date of the performance, and had taken measures accordingly.

Of course, with two events taking place in the village on the same night – one of William’s organising and one of his elders’ – the predictable is bound to happen, as it does on at least a couple of other occasions in later stories.

As William’s many attempts at plays go, this is perhaps not the most entertaining.

Still, at least it seems the Cabinet minister enjoyed himself.