“Great Aunt Jane’s very ill,” said Mrs Brown. “They say…” She looked again at her letter as if to make quite sure: “They say she wants to see William. She’s never seen him, you know.”
“Good Lord!” Robert said, “fancy anyone wanting to see William!”
- Number: 3.2
- Published: 1923 (1922 in magazine form)
- Book: William Again
- Synopsis: William’s Great Great Aunt Jane is at death’s door. Mrs Brown rushes to her bedside. She takes William along too.
This is one of my favourites. The idea of taking William to an aged relative’s deathbed seems wrong, somehow. As Robert says, “It hardly seems fair to show William to anyone who’s not strong.”
And his antics over in Ireland are certainly calculated to destroy anyone’s peace of mind. He pushes his cousin into a water-butt. He attacks his uncle under the mistaken impression that he is a burglar. Best, he brings a scarecrow inside and lets his short-sighted aunt chat to it for quite some time.
“How is Great Aunt Jane?” Mrs Brown said.
“Sinking,” said Uncle John in a voice of deepest gloom. Sinking fast, sinking fast.”
William’s expression grew animated. “Where is she?” he said. “Is she out at sea?”
But Great Great Aunt Jane, of course, loves him. She delights in his antics. She can’t wait to hear rumours of their next instalment from her nurse. She is ecstatic at his “attempt to temper truth with politeness” by announcing, “I wun’t mind going home now. I’ve got a lizard in a box at home.”
It seems that William is often a great hit with elderly relatives.
And, as Great Great Aunt Jane says, “He’s a cure, that boy.”