blackmail

The facts

The young man had met Ethel at an evening party and had succumbed to her charm. Lacking courage to pursue the acquaintance, he had cultivated the friendship of her small brother, under a quite erroneous impression that this would win him her good graces.

  • Number: 1.11
  • Published: 1922 (1920 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: William accepts a bribe in exchange for his sister’s heart.

Verdict

Some pangs of conscience from William in this story: although happy to help Mr French win over Ethel, he feels bad about using subterfuge.”Still – white rats were white rats”, and Mr French had promised him two of them.

“I can’t walk any more, Ethel,” William said, turning his healthy countenance up to her. “I’m took ill sudden.”
She looked down at him impatiently. “Don’t be absurd, William,” she said. “Get up.”
“I’m not absurd,” he said firmly. “I’m took ill.”
“Where do you feel ill?”
“All over,” he said guardedly.

Of course, having given in to bribery, it was just a short step to blackmail, as William realises that further treats might be extorted from Mr French in exchange for his silence about the whole scheme.

Affairs come to a climax, as so often, in church, where a rat escapes and the whole plot is laid bare.

William obviously behaves pretty badly in this story, but shows surprisingly mature intelligence in the way that he does so!