Day 32: William and the White Cat

The facts

“Well, what can I do?” snapped Ginger.
“You can perduce some sort of a cat,” said William. “You let the first one loose all over the place, and you can perduce another. All I ask you is to perduce some sort of cat.”
“I wish you’d stop saying that,” said Giner, irritably.
“Well, perduce one an’ I will,” said William, imperturbably.

  • Number: 3.5
  • Published: 1923 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William is tasked with delivering a white cat to his sister.


This story contains one of my absolutely favourite examples of Williamesque dialogue. He had clearly just learnt the technique of imbecilic repetition and was employing it rather frequently.

As, indeed, he was sarcasm: “‘It’ll be nice for Jumble an’ those poor ole rats when this sort of wild cat gets loose, won’t it? It’ll be nice for them, then.’ Sarcasm was a new weapon of William’s, and as yet his use of it was heavy.”

He held the tabby cat in one hand and drew a bold line of white paint down its back. The next moment he was sucking a deep, red scratch on either hand, and a white-flecked tabby cat was disappearing in the distance.

Having lost the white cat his sister’s gentleman-friend asked him to deliver, and replaced it with a ferret, he blithely hands over the closed basket and announces:

“All I can say is wot he told me. He said it was a valu’ble white cat, in a highly nervous state.”
“It may have got a bit mixed up on the way, but that’s what he said. He said that it was a valu’ble white cat, in a highly nervous state.”
“You needn’t keep on saying that,” said Ethel, irritably.
“It’s wot he said,” said William, doggedly. “He said distinctly that it was a valu’ble white cat, in a—”
“Be quiet, William!” said Mr Brown.

This is one of the most classic William stories. And I always hear it in Martin Jarvis’ voice.