lost clothes

The facts

“You have a little boy, I believe?” said the visitor.
“Yes,” said Mrs Brown.
“I love little boys. I’d love to meet him.”
“I’m afraid he’s out,” said Mrs Brown, aware that William was not the sort of little boy that people are thinking of when they say that they love little boys.
“Perhaps he’ll come home before we go.”
“I h… I mean I think not,” said Mrs Brown.

  • Number: 15.11
  • Published: 1933 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Bad Bargain
  • Book: William the Rebel
  • Synopsis: William is interviewed about how he got to the ripe old age of 78.


When William meets an older boy who has spent the morning causing chaos of a sort that William could only dream of – baiting farmers, swapping their animals etc – William has a new idol. William excitedly adopts the idol’s exploits as his own. And, therefore, ends up getting the blame for them. Farmer Jenks locks him in his shed while he goes to fetch a policeman.

Escaping by the simple but humiliating method of swapping clothes with a little girl, and topping this outfit with a charwoman’s outfit he comes across. Once at a safe distance from captivity, he offers to swap back, but the little girl apparently likes being a little boy, and decides to keep William’s suit.

“How many children have you had?” said the
“I’ve forgotten jus’ how many,” he croaked, “a good
“B… but,” protested her surprised interviewer,
“surely, dear Mrs Hobbin, you remember how many children you have.”
“I’m always meanin’ to count ’em,” croaked William, “but I keep on forgettin’.”

Of course, this now means that William must ‘be’ Mrs Hobbin, since he is cloaked in her clothes and she is well-known around the village.

Unfortunately, Mrs Hobbins was due to be interviewed that afternoon by a journalist producing a piece on Nature’s Ladies and Gentlemen. The journalist is somewhat taken aback by Mrs Hobbins’ appearance and manner:

“To what,” she said, “do you attribute your longevity?”
“Uh?” said William.
“I mean how do you think it is that you’ve lived so much longer than… er… than some other people?”
“Jus’ ’cause I’ve not died, I suppose,” croaked William after deep thought.

The facts

William was not fond of his own society. He liked company of any sort. He went out to the lawn and stood by his father’s chair.
“You’ve not got much hair right on the top of your head, father,” he said pleasantly and conversationally.

  • Number: 4.14
  • Published: 1924 (1923 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Fourth
  • Synopsis: William stands in, at a school dress rehearsal, for “a Nanshunt Briton”.


This one is just a bit too similar to William Gets Wrecked, 3.14, for me.

William dresses up in a caveman costume to help out at a school dress rehearsal; Ginger finds his clothes and, naturally assuming that they were the products of smugglers’ activities, has them sold for charity.

“All right,” said Ginger. “I’ll gettem back. If you will leave your clothes all about the cave lookin’ exactly like smugglers’ things…”

The rest of the story is William’s fruitless quest to regain his suit, during which he is mistaken for an Eskimo model and becomes the butt of the mirth of most of the village’s children.

Eventually he manages to get hold of a younger boy’s suit, which turns out to be ludicrously too small for him, but he puts a brave face on as he returns home: “You know… everyone says how fast I’m growin’…”

I’ve marked this one William comes out on top because, even though he fails to regain his clothes and is punished for their loss, he ends the story in blissful happiness: sitting in the garden, at his father’s knee, recounting an exciting pirate story he had recently read. Just what he had really wanted to do all day. (Mr Brown seemed less happy about this.)

The facts

To a casual observer William looked only a small boy walking slowly down a road, frowning, with his hands in his pockets. He was really an intrepid mariner sailing across an uncharted sea.

  • Number: 3.14
  • Published: 1923 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William, playing at Robinson Crusoe, manages to lose his clothes.


A tramp, who William persuades to act as Man Friday for the purposes of his shipwreck game, in turn persuades William to swap his clothes for a tablecloth (‘sail’) all the better to impersonate a deserted sailor.

William laid aside ‘Robinson Crusoe’ with a sigh. His dreams of pirate-king and robber-chief vanished. The desire of his heart now was to be shipwrecked on a desert island.

Joan, the mate upon William’s doomed ship, purloins him another suit of clothes but her father demands them back.

So William ends up looking “ridic’l’us” by walking home in his tablecloth.

Seems overbrief as a story but a fairly entertaining scenario nonetheless.