Day 12: Jumble

The facts

For eleven years Mrs Brown had filled the trying position of William’s mother. It had taught her patience.

  • Number: 1.12
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: William acquires a dog.


Jumble is such a close associate of William that it’s hard to imagine how far back in the mists of time their first meeting must have been. But this is it – and, shockingly, Jumble was already named before William obtained him!

“Oh, you are a funny boy!” she said with a ripple of laughter, “and you look so rough and untidy. You’re rather like Jumble.”

When he first takes his new dog home, Mr Brown’s first concern is for his garden: but, not to worry, his son has this angle covered: “‘He’s tied up all right,’ William assured him. ‘I tied him to the tree in the middle of the rose-bed.'”

Unfortunately, as with collar-wearing dogs found in the street, Jumble already had an owner, an eccentric girl and her eccentric artist father. The girl takes rather a shine to William, and, with the promise of a quieter, prettier dog in the offing, agrees to make William a gift of Jumble… in exchange for a kiss.

“There was a picture in that year’s Academy that attracted a good deal of attention. It was of a boy sitting on an upturned box in a barn, his elbows on his knees, his chin in his hands. He was gazing down at a mongrel dog and in his freckled face was the solemnity and unconscious, eager wistfulness that is the mark of youth. His untidy, unbrushed hair stood up round his face. The mongrel was looking up, quivering, expectant, trusting, adoring, some reflection of the boy’s eager wistfulness showing in the eyes and cocked ears. It was called ‘Friendship’. Mrs Brown went up to see it. She said it wasn’t really a very good likeness of William and she wished they’d made him look a little tidier.”

This story seems oddly implausible even for William. But it laid the groundwork for dozens of Jumble-centric stories in future so we can’t really complain!