Day 304: William and One of Those Things

 The facts

The housemade assumed her air of hauteur. “What name shall I say?”
William eyed her suspiciously. “It’s William Brown, if you don’t know,” he said, “an’ I bet you do.”
“I’d be deaf and blind in this here village if I didn’t,” agreed the housemaid.


Robert is “bats on” Roxana Lytton, and Roxana and her family are desirous of buying a patch of wasteland from the Botts to turn into a tennis court. Mrs Bott, being Mrs Bott, won’t hear of it, so Roxana turns her desperate eyes to Robert for help and Robert is powerless to resist (especially because she’s also turned her desperate eyes to Osbert Sanderstead and Robert is very keen to save the day before Osbert does).

Mrs Bott is partly in such a tetchy mood because she feels left out of the local gentry; they are all taken with a sudden craze for flower-arranging and budgies that speak, and she can’t do one and hasn’t got the other.

William had paid the toy shop another visit and made the shopman a sporting offer to weed his garden, polish his car, clean his windows and wash down his front doorstep in exchange for the aeroplane – only to be summarily ejected from the shop before he had had time to add the further offer, which had just occurred to him, of cleaning his chimneys.

She so breaks Robert’s spirit that he absent-mindedly gives William an extraordinary amount of money, and William is so struck with gratitude that he feels he must repay his brother in kind.

But the natural chaos he causes on his way out of The Hall somehow results in a wonderfully ‘natural-looking’ arrangement of flowers, and a budgie that appears to do a cat impression…

Although very strongly in the vein of previous stories in which William accidentally helps Mrs Bott out of social jams and is richly rewarded (William Goes Fruit-Picking, 25.12, et al), this is quite a fun one.