Day 202: William the Reformer

 The facts

“You see, dear boy,” she explained, “when you’re grown up, it’s you who will govern the country.”
William sat up, galvanised into sudden interest. “Crumbs!” he said. “I didn’t know that.” This idea was so surprising that William swallowed half his humbug unsucked. Evidently his fame had spread farther than he had realised. “Do you mean,” he said, “that I’ve been chosen to govern the country same as this Hitler an’ Muss-what’s-his-name?”
“Well, not exactly, dear,” admitted the Vicar’s wife, “but it comes to the same in the end.”
“Crumbs!” breathed William, then added in a business-like voice: “When do I start?”

  • Number: 18.6
  • Published: 1936 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William the Governor) – not to be confused with the 1923 story, 3.4, of the same name
  • Book: Sweet William
  • Synopsis: William sets out to free captives.


In her capacity of convenor of the Society for Educating Future Citizens in the Responsibilities of Citizenship, the Vicar’s wife is determined to make her mark on the village’s children.

She really never learns.

“Can anyone think of some badly needed reform?”
“Abolishing school,” suggested William.
“No, dear, that’s not a reform,” said Mrs Monks. “Try to think of something sensible.”
“Free sweet shops,” suggested William.
“No, dear,” said Mrs Monks. “That’s financially unsound. Your suggestions are very silly indeed. They aren’t reforms at all.”
William muttered sulkily: “Put all the grown-ups in the zoo an’ let the animals out.”
“That’s not funny, William,” said Mrs Monks distantly.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” said William.

But once William discovers some of the drawbacks of representative democracy, he decides to forge his own path by emulating Pitt the Younger (who he believes to have been called “Hole”) in abolishing slavery.