The journey was fairly uneventful. He annoyed an old gentleman by playing on a mouth-organ that he had brought with him to while away the time, and an old lady by passing continually from one window to the other, always treading on her toes on the way and never failing to apologise profusely. On one occasion he leant so far out of the window that he nearly overbalanced and had to be hauled back to safety by the combined efforts of the entire carriage.
Aunt Florence was at the station to meet him. She did not fail to notice the look of relief on the faces of his fellow travellers as he leapt exuberantly out on to the platform, followed by his suitcase, which he had forgotten and which the old gentleman threw out after him with what seemed unnecessary violence.
- Number: 23.3
- Published: 1941 (1940 in magazine form)
- Book: William Does His Bit
- Synopsis: William ruins two men’s vegetables.
While Mrs Brown recuperates from a sprained ankle, William is sent away to aid her recovery.
Aunt Florence somewhat reluctantly receives him, though even her acid tongue is rendered speechless when William announces: “Why, they didn’t want me to come away ’cause I’m such a help, but I’d got a bit overworked an’ they thought a holiday’d do me good.”
Aunt Florence’s locale is atwitter with the excitement of the local Flower Show, at which Colonel Summers and Mr Foulard are perennial and bitter rivals in the peach contest and in the asparagus contest.
One of William’s first acts, on arrival, is to make Colonel Summers’s acquaintance by semi-intentionally eating all of his prize-winning peaches. Colonel Summers is livid, but Mr Foulard is so grateful that, positivly brimming with schadenfreude, he forgives William for beating up his grandson: “Boys will be boys,” he tells the little lad’s enraged mother.
Unfortunately, the second round of their fight takes place in amongst Mr Foulard’s prize asparagus. Mr Foulard fires off a furious letter to William’s father, but Colonel Summers’s attitude has mellowed somewhat: “Boys will be boys…”
Aunt Florence looked at him helplessly. “I simply can’t understand it, William,” she said. “Can’t you move without damaging people’s property?”
“Haven’t you enjoyed havin’ me?” said William pathetically.
“No,” said his aunt simply. “I didn’t expect to.”
Unfortunately, when leaving Colonel Summers’s house, William leaves the gate open and thus allows a passing herd of cattle to trample his prize asparagus.
Mr Foulard, safe in the knowledge that his rival now has no vegetables whatsoever to exhibit in the Flower Show, smiles upon William.
But in a final twist, the war intervenes in an unexpected way to leave both men happy. William’s father is baffled by the succession of contradictory letter’s he’s received; but all’s well that ends well.