Day 17: William’s Hobby

The facts

“You must mould your character upon that of the great heroes, William. You must be a Clive, a Napoleon, a Wolfe.”
“I’ve often been a wolf,” said William. “That game’s nearly as good as Red Injuns.”

  • Number: 2.5
  • Published: 1922 (1921 in magazine form)
  • Book: More William
  • Synopsis: William’s visiting uncle pressures him to take up a quiet, improving hobby.

Verdict

As with William Joins the Band of Hope, 1.7, one has quite a lot of sympathy for William, faced as he is with a horrendous visiting uncle.

Awake, Uncle George does what he can to improve William academically (“The morning should be devoted to intellectual work at your age”). Asleep, his need for absolute quiet stifles all of William’s normal activities.

Uncle George grew pale. In frozen silence he put a spoon into his cup and investigated the contents. Then Uncle George put down his cup and went silently from the room. On his face was the expression of one who is going to look up the first train home.

So it was really no surprise that William became so frustrated that he eventually followed Uncle George’s advice to take up a hobby.

He didn’t, however, follow that part of the advice which limited its scope to “quiet, improving” hobbies, and thus William’s zeal for taxidermy was born.

As so often, we do have to ask: what else could he really be expected to have done?