“I think I’ll go as a lion,” said William. “I should think you could buy a lion skin quite cheap.”
“No, William, darling,” interposed Mrs Brown quickly, “I think you’d find a lion skin too hot for a crowded room.”
“But I wun’t go into the room,” said William, “I want to crawl about the garden in it roarin’ an’ springin’ out at folks, scarin’ ’em.”
- Number: 5.11
- Published: 1925 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: Still William
- Synopsis: William has several hidden agendas at the Botts’ fancy-dress party.
There’s a lot going on in this one. And it all fits together very well.
At the Botts’ fancy-dress party, William has three objectives: first, to shed the Little Lord Fauntleroy costume his family had forced on him, and to replace it with that of a “brigand”; second, to remonstrate with one of his fellow guests, a Cabinet minister, who Mr Brown announces at breakfast is “ruining the country” (see also William Enters Politics, 4.12); and, third, to humiliate Robert – and, to be fair to William, Robert’s relationship with his lady-love (who he ‘romantically’ nicknames “Gloire”) in this story is genuinely vomit-inducing.
“We’re not going to let you out till you’ve promised to go away from England and never come back. Because you’re ruinin’ the country.”
For example, his letter to her the day before the party: “It will be my first meeting with you for two days and I do not want it profaned by other people, who know and care nothing of our deep feeling for each other. Just for a few sacred moments let us tell each other all that is in our souls. The memory of those few sacred moments, just you and me and the moon and the roses, will be with us in our souls all the evening.”
William achieves all of his objectives (albeit not quite in the way that he intended), but the third one most of all, and by the end of the story, when his mother asks him if his new socks are OK, he is able to make Robert go “a deep purple” by loudly replying: “They’ve given an entirely new meaning to my life. I shall give up all my life trying to be more worthy of them. I’ve not got them on now because I don’t want them profaned by people who don’ know or care about them…”
Contained within all the lovey-dovey content of this story, though, are a surprising number of double entendres – I’m not sure whether or not they’re intentional but just for the record…
- More than once Robert’s love affairs had afforded useful handles.
- “Gloire, let us be gay for the rest of the evening.”
- “Oh, Glor,” he ejaculated softly.