Day 238: William and the Bird Man

The facts

“Ethel’s jolly fond of you,” said William with what he took to be consummate tact. “Jolly fond.”
Wing-Commander Glover made no comment.
“I bet there’s lots of ’em she doesn’t like as much as what she likes you,” William assured him emphatically.
The Wing-Commander adjusted his monocle and broke his silence. “Don’t let me take you out of your way,” he said with pointed politeness.
“Oh, no , that’s quite all right,” said William, “Well…” – William considered that by now the way had been sufficiently paved and with characteristic directness plunged at his objective – “well, will you lend us your stable for a party we’re goin’ to have?”
“Certainly not.”
William, though taken aback, did not give up the struggle.

  • Number: 22.3
  • Published: 1940 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William and the Bird Lover
  • Book: William and the Evacuees
  • Synopsis: William encounters an ornithologist who isn’t quite what they seem.


Endeavouring to secure a venue for a party for evacuees, William begins ingratiating himself with all property-owning gentlemen in the area.

One such gentleman is Redding, an ornithologist (“You the bird man?”) who rather reluctantly shares some ornithological insights with William when William attaches himself to him like a limpet – and explains that the complex hand-drawn diagrams he is working on are of birds’ innards.

William approached the table and looked down with interest at the diagram the man was working on.
“What’re you drawin’?” he asked with interest.
The man tapped the diagram carelessly with the tip of his pen. “This is the diagram of a blackbird’s lungs,” he said. “I’m writing a book at present on wild birds’ diseases.”
“Corks!” said William. “I didn’t know they had any.”

But when William shares some of his newfound knowledge with others and discovers it all to be false, he realises that something is awry… and, for once, he’s right.