Day 268: William and the Tea-cake

The facts

For a few minutes, William sat behind the teapot waiting for customers. None came. He began to grow bored. He began to grow hungry. To sit like this, surrounded by plates of buns and cakes – jam rolls, doughnuts, treacle tart, chocolate cake – was, he thought pathetically, an ordeal such as few are called upon to undergo in their country’s service.


Fraulein Schmitt is universally regarded as a sweet tribute to Britain’s generosity as a host of refugees. Under the pen name Miss Smith, she is a ‘help’ at the Vicarage by day, and by night she runs a canteen for servicemen.

“Miss Smith’s soldier” is a particular friend of hers, an elderly gentleman who speaks a little German. Every day she makes him a traditional Yorkshire tea-cake (just like his mother made). The touching tale is widely reported in the local press, thanks to Mrs Mason’s (William’s War-Time Fun Fair, 25.4) desperation for material.

A number of other villagers, Mrs Brown included, have their hearts warmed, and try to make their own wartime austerity tea-cakes. These are presented to Miss Smith to judge.

The news had already sped round the village. William walked homewards with a rollicking swagger. He would be famous now, he thought, for the rest of his life… But he was too late. Already Mrs Mason was typing her latest article: “How I Trapped a German Spy”.

When William is left in charge of the Forces’ canteen for a few minutes, he naturally manages to sell Miss Smith’s tea-cake to a tramp and give one of the imitation tea-cakes to the gentlemanly soldier.

But Fraulein Schmitt and the German-speaking soldier seem strangely anxious to recover their original tea-cake; and the tramp soon has some unwanted attention.