“I think I remember hearin’,” said Ginger somewhat vaguely, “’bout a man with all false arms an’ legs an’ only his body reel.”
“That’s nothin’,” said William giving rein to his glorious imagination. “I once heard of a man with a false body an’ only legs’ an arms reel.”
- Number: 5.13
- Published: 1925 (1924 in magazine form)
- Book: Still William
- Synopsis: William, impersonating an old man, ends up being mistaken for an old man.
I suppose that any of us, really, who happened upon an unoccupied wheelchair just sitting on pavement, would get into it and play at being an old man.
William watched the family, wondering what was going to be done next and who was going to do it. He hardly dared move in case his spectacles or muffler or rug fell off and revealed him to the cold light of day. He felt instinctively that the cold light of day would have little pity on him.
That’s all William did, though unfortunately an extended family having a gathering ‘recognise’ him as their long-estranged Uncle George and wheel him into their garden, warmly introducing him to younger generations and being lightly patronising.
I can’t help feeling, though, that more could have been made of this scenario. William remained silent (or, at least, wordless: “he was beginning to find his growl effective”) and there was a slightly odd twist at the end where the owner of the wheelchair, the real Uncle George, comes bounding into the garden to recover his property – totally able-bodied.