Day 39: William’s Helping Hand

The facts

Vivian Strange had taken a furnished house in the village in order to enjoy the calm and quiet which were so essential to his literary calling. Instead of calm and quiet he had found William.

  • Number: 3.13
  • Published: 1923 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William Again
  • Synopsis: William endeavours to provide source material for a writer staying in the village.


The young man to whom William and Ginger provided the slaves in William Sells the Twins turned out to be a writer in search of solace.

Unfortunately, William attaches himself to him, popping round at all hours to play (imperfectly) on his mouth-organ, show him (unwelcome) pond creatures and demonstrate (tunelessly) his “new whistle”.

William drew his brows together in deep thought. “I think the villain oughter say, ‘Ha! villain! Never shalt thou worst me’ – or something like that.”
“People don’t talk like that in real life.”
“Oh, reel life!” said William scornfully. “I thought we was talkin’ about books.”

When Mr Strange, the writer, gets stuck for a piece of dialogue in his crime novel, William immediately knows what to do.

He recreates the scene – an innocent man imprisoned – as best he can – by imprisoning an arbitrary innocent man in Mr Strange’s coal-shed.

Eventually William drives the poor writer to distraction and into exile, but, completely oblivious to his role in the departure, sadly remarks, “I shall miss you quite a lot an’ I ’speck you’ll miss me,” – and blissfully remembers all the new words he learnt from the angrily imprisoned man.

I really love William’s cheery lack of self-awareness in this one.