Day 2: William the Intruder

The facts

“She’s different from everybody else in the world,” stammered Robert ecstatically.
How’s she different from anyone else?” William demanded. “Is she blind or lame or sumthin’?”

  • Number: 1.2
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: Robert is smitten by a visitor to the village. But she’s more interested in William…


William’s attitude towards Robert’s love life tends to be either well-meaning – trying to find him a wife – or, less commonly, malicious – gathering material to use as ammunition in future arguments.

This story is unusual, then, because William and Robert simply clash due to unfortunate circumstances. Robert is anxious to make a closer acquaintance of Miss Cannon. So is William. To Robert, she is the embodiment of every womanly virtue. To William, she is one of the only adults he knows willing to talk to him about hunting and  cannibalism, and to play Red Indians with him.

“You must come again some time,” said Robert weakly but with passion undaunted.
“I will,” Miss Cannon said, “I’m longing to see more of William. I adore William!”

Each is totally unable to understand the other’s fascination, to the point of William’s outburst (unfortunately in the presence of Miss Cannon): “Is no one else ever to speak to her jus’ ’cause Robert’s fell in love with her?”

William is victorious in the end, of course. But he’s only won the battle, not the war. Because in the final words of the story, Robert sets the scene for fifty more years of fraternal strife: “It’s not peace, it’s an armistice—that’s all.”