Day 55: The Bishop’s Handkerchief

The facts

“Pers’nally,” said William with a judicial air, “I think silk’s better than linen an’ white’s so tirin’ to look at. My eyes do ache a bit sometimes. I think it’s prob’ly with keep lookin’ at white handkerchiefs.”

  • Number: 5.1
  • Published: 1925 (1923 in magazine form)
  • Book: Still William
  • Synopsis: William makes a bargain with Robert… which requires him to steal the handkerchief of a visiting bishop.


Of all the bizarre crazes to sweep the village’s boys, this story’s craze for highly decorated silk handkerchiefs has to be one of the oddest.

But, not for the last time, William is the only one behind the curve. He is stuck with the plain linen handkerchiefs his mother provides.

William held the shoe deliberately over the Vicar’s bald head, then dropped it.
Damn!” said the Vicar.
The Vicar was rubbing his head. William wanted to enjoy the sight of the Vicar rubbing his head. He moved a little further up the branch. He forgot all caution. He forgot that the branch on which he was was not a very secure branch.

Robert, in a careless offhand comment, offers to give William his highly decorated silk handkerchief, if William is able to purloin the handkerchief of the bishop staying at the Vicarage.

A fall from a tree onto a fully-laid-out garden dinner table later, William wins his bounty.

And, apparently, ownership of a highly decorated silk handkerchief makes all the trouble and the recriminations worthwhile.