Day 289: William and the Haunted Cottage

 The facts

As William approached Ginger’s house, he gave the ear-splitting ‘yodel’ that was the secret signal between them – a signal calculated to attract the attention and shatter the nerves of everyone within a radius of two miles.
“Hello,” said Ginger, coming down to the gate. “That was a jolly good one.”
“My yodel?” said William complacently. “Yes, I thought it was, too. I’ve been practisin’ it all this week. ’Least, I did till my family stopped me.”

  • Number: 28.5
  • Published: 1952 (1951 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Tramp
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws determine to un-haunt a cottage


The Browns’ housekeeper, Mrs Peters, has handed in her notice because her route to work takes her past a cottage she believes to be haunted. And this gives Dolores, Robert’s latest, an idea of the perfect stage for her new one-act play…

This probably wouldn’t cause too much trouble except for William’s resolve to “unhaunt” the cottage in question, and Violet Elizabeth’s resolve to join in the enterprise (“Oh, pleathe, William,” she said earnestly, “if ith a teeny weeny little ghotht, may I have it for my dollth houthe?”).

“I’ve got a jolly sight more money than you think I’ve got. I’ve got some in the post office that an aunt put in for me when I was born.” There was in William’s voice the bitterness that always invaded his spirit when he thought of the fortune standing to his name in the records of the government. “It’s five pounds an’ I’m goin’ to buy an aeroplane with it when I get it, if I ever do get it” – his bitterness increased – “if the post office hasn’t spent it all by then. I bet it has. Always havin’ cups of tea an’ biscuits. Jolly nice for me goin’ in to buy stamps an’ things an’ seein’ ’em all havin’ cups of tea an’ biscuits out of my five pounds. They mus’ have used about half of it by now…”

His plan is lifted from a play what he once saw: “It was about a man with a name like Dr Foster what sold his soul to a ghost with a name like Methylated.” Because Dr Foster (Faustus) successfully caught a ghost by drawing a circle around it, so too will William. For added certainty, Ginger is going to use the Chinese technique of “using bangs” (Violet Elizabeth plans to “give it a thauther of milk”).