Mrs Sedley-Mortimer was a small slight woman, so full of vitality that she seemed to quiver from head to foot even when standing or sitting quite still. She had untidy grey hair, sharp features, and an earnest expression, alternated by a flashing smile that came and went so quickly that one doubted its ever having come at all. Her chief characteristic was a capacity for talking incessantly without need of encouragement or response from her hearers, She said that from her earliest youth she had felt that her great gifts should be put at the service of her fellow creatures, and so she had put them at the service of her fellow creatures. Whether her fellow creatures appreciated them or not was a matter of indifference to her.
- Number: 25.9
- Published: 1945 (1944 in magazine form) – originally, and surely erroneously, titled Youth at the Prow
- Book: William and the Brains Trust
- Synopsis: William disrupts the latest phenomenon in youth work.
Mrs Sedley-Mortimer has no experience whatsoever of running youth activities, which is no doubt why she decided to found a “Youth on the Prow” group in the village. “My Movement,” she wrote, “is not for entertainment, but for inculcating the virtues of industry, obedience and self-control. Too many of these Youth Movements aim solely at filling in the young people’s time pleasantly. Mine has a higher function.” To confirm her determination that the group shouldn’t be too fun, she appoints Miss Milton and Mrs Monks to lead it.
One of Mrs Sedley-Mortimer’s most bizarre traits, which is, frankly, somewhat contrived, is her antipathy to make-up. She decides to make-up her face excessively in order to illustrate to the young girls in her charge how immodest cosmetics really are.
Unfortunately, William and Violet Elizabeth recently ‘borrowed’ most of the village’s supply of make-up to lend to a friend of theirs in the ATS…