The old lady was gazing at William, a smile on her lips, a light of recognition in her eyes.
“Why, it’s Freddie!” she said. “I’ve never
seen him before, but I had a portrait of him sent out to me in America a few months ago, and now I see him it’s really a marvellous likeness.”
- Number: 21.4
- Published: 1939 (1938 in magazine form)
- Book: William and Air Raid Precautions
- Synopsis: William poses for someone else’s portrait.
When someone else’s mistake leads to William being painted for someone else’s great aunt, the painter is so bored by the whole affair that he decides to use the canvas anyway: the great aunt has never met Freddie (her great nephew), lives abroad and is not likely ever to discover the deception.
“What’s the name of the people looking after you, dear?”
“Brown,” said William, and despite his optimism his heart sank somewhat as he thus rashly and finally committed himself.
“Are they the parents of a school friend of yours? Is that why they’re putting you up?”
“Yes,” said William, plunging yet more inextricably into the morass. “William Brown’s my friend.”
Unfortunately, so invigorated is the great aunt by this portrait of Freddie that she comes over from America to meet him. And no sooner has she arrived in the village, when her eyes rest upon William – who, of course, she recognises.
She actually seems quite a lively old soul, and in other circumstances William might have been proud to have her for his own aunt. She certainly proves no match for his halfhearted lies:
“They’ve gone away!” said William frantically.
But the lady only laughed gaily. “Now don’t start playing tricks on me, you little rascal! I can see someone at the window,” said the old lady. “Isn’t that Mrs Brown?”
“Yes,” admitted William, “but it’s no good askin’
her anythin’. She’s deaf an’ dumb.”
“Oh, well , I can talk on my fingers ,” said the old lady. “It’ll be rather nice to have another opportunity of doing it.”