Day 23: William and the Smuggler

The facts

“If you’re deliberately turning that child loose into a boarding-house full, presumably, of quiet, inoffensive people,” Mr Brown said, “you deserve all you get. It’s nothing to do with me. I’ve disowned him.”

  • Number: 2.11
  • Published: 1922 (1920 in magazine form)
  • Book: More William
  • Synopsis: At a holiday to the seaside, William is determined to save the land from the ravages of smugglers.

Verdict

This is a fun story because Mr Jones almost fulfils two of the William stories’ stock roles: the insufferably virtuous child, except he is not a child; and the annoying houseguest, except he is not a houseguest.

At last the day of departure arrived. William was instructed to put his things ready on his bed, and his mother would then come and pack for him. He summoned her proudly over the balusters after about twenty minutes. “I’ve got everythin’ ready, Mother.”
Upon his bed was a large pop-gun, a dormouse in a cage, a punchball on a stand, a large box of “curios,” and a buckskin which was his dearest possession. Mrs Brown sat down weakly on a chair.
“You can’t possibly take any of these things,” she said faintly but firmly.
“Well, you said put my things on the bed for you to pack an’ I’ve put them on the bed, an’ now you say—”
“I meant clothes.”
“Oh, clothes!” scornfully. “I never thought of clothes.”

He is, in fact, a fellow visitor to the seaside resort that at which the Browns are staying (in February!) and it doesn’t take him long to monopolise conversation, both in the boarding-house in general, and for the Browns in particular – referring, privately, to William’s sister Ethel as his “future spouse”.

Mr Brown had hired a beach hut for William’s exclusive use/ exile, and from this base William makes friends with a little girl and schemes with her to catch a smuggler.

Of course, the ‘smuggler’ actually turns out to be none other than Mr Jones on an innocent, if insufferable, nocturnal walk, and he is so offended at his treatment that he leaves town at once – to the Browns’ delight.