Day 229: William’s Day Off

The facts

“What’s that?” William gruffed.
“That’s a cow.”
“What’s a cow?”
Miss Milton sighed. But, of course, it was quite natural that a slum child should never have seen a cow.
“It’s… just a cow, dear,” she said. “A cow is… well, it’s a cow.”
Miss Milton’s cat sauntered out of the kitchen door and eyed William sardonically.
“What’s that? ‘ he said, pointing at it.
“A cat, of course,” said Miss Milton rather sharply. “Surely you’ve seen cats at home.”
William realised that he was rather overdoing his town-bred ignorance.
The cat, who had recognised William, winked at him and went indoors again.

  • Number: 21.3
  • Published: 1939 (1938 in magazine form) – originally titled William and the Piebald Mouse
  • Book: William and Air Raid Precautions
  • Synopsis: William impersonates himself impersonating a slum child.


Somehow it’s always Miss Milton who falls prey to William’s attempts to impersonate other boys. But in this story – in which the Outlaws meet two slum children staying in the area, and, (not unreasonably) aghast that they will be spending their one free afternoon going to tea with the patrician Miss Milton’s sister rather than enjoying the Great Outdoors – William agrees to swap clothes and be a slum child for the benefit of this new Miss Milton.

“Oh, here’s a lady who’s kindly coming to see you, Bert,” Miss Milton said.
They heard greetings in the hall, then the door was
thrown open and: “This is Bert,” said Miss Milton, pointing to him in a proprietary fashion.
William squinted wildly and opened his mouth almost
to the size of a football, but in vain.
William!” said Mrs Brown.

The fun really starts when Sister Milton invites Hubert Lane round to give William a tour of the local area, closely followed by Mrs Brown…