Day 30: William the Reformer

The facts

“You jus’ gotter stop it! How’d you like someone to do it to you – murderin’ you an’ buryin’ you in back gardens? Jus’ think of that! Jus’ think of how you’d like other folk doin’ it to you, ’fore you start doin’ it to other folks.”

  • Number: 3.3
  • Published: 1923 (1922 in magazine form) – not to be confused with the 1936 story, 18.6, of the same name
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: Inspired by a sermon, William sets out to reform a local murder/ archaeologist.


Not many boys could push an archeologist into their excavation (“Diggin’ graves for dead folks he’s murdered!”) and steal their Roman coins, without encountering serious retribution.

William raised his ruddy, healthy countenance. “I’d like to go to church,” he explained to his father. “I’m disappointed not to go. But I jus’ don’t feel well. I’m took ill sudden. I’d jus’ like to go an’ lie down qui’tly… out of doors,” he stipulated hastily. “I feel…” – his Pegasean imagination soared aloft on daring wings – “I feel ’s if I might die if I went to church.”
“If you’re as bad as that,” Mr Brown said callously, “I suppose you might as well die in church as anywhere.”
This remark deprived William of the power of speech for some time.

William and Ginger, though, somehow manage it.

They chose the archeologist because Ethel had remarked at lunch how odd it was for someone to move to a village community such as theirs and take no part in the life… this obviously pointing to a criminal double life, in William’s view.

But since, in the end, the victim laughs it all off and invites the boys to tea the next day, as William points out, “I bet you can’t say I haven’t reformed him!”