Day 248: William Makes a Corner

The facts

“Mother,” William said, “you know Father’s always grumblin’ about my school bills?”
“Yes, dear,” sighed Mrs. Brown. “He says the fees are scandalous.”
“Well,” said William, “I’ve been thinkin’ about how I can help.”
“You mean, work harder, dear?” said Mrs. Brown.
“N… no,” said William. “I wasn’t thinkin’ of that so much. No, I was thinkin’ that if I didn’t go to school, he wouldn’t have to pay the scand’lous fees… No, listen,” he pleaded, as he saw an indignant negative already forming itself on his mother’s lips. “I don’t want to grow up ign’runt same as you say I will if I don’t go to school. I don’t want that.” His tone expressed righteous horror at the idea. “But I can easy learn by myself.”

  • Number: 23.5
  • Published: 1941 (1940 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Does His Bit
  • Synopsis: William enters the black market.


A ‘corner’ was apparently a wartime word for a stockpile of a vital good (oil, pepper etc) maintained by a profiteer.

William, learning this, decides that it would be a sensible business line for him to enter into – and, after overhearing someone’s comment that timber is in short supply, he immediately collects a bunch of sticks and twigs and starts hawking them in the neighbourhood.

“Have I ’tributed to the war economy of the household?” William asked.
“Decidedly,” said Mr Brown.
“You said you’d eat your hat if I did,” William reminded him.
“I used that expression, my boy,” said Mr Brown, “in a purely figurative sense.”

His profiteering business proves less than profitable, but he does manage to help his friend Miss Jones oust some unwelcome houseguests…