Day 125: William and the Prize Cat

The facts

“I didn’t,” said William rising, partly to refute this
accusation and partly in order to prevent the visitor’s discoveries extending to Ginger and the prize cat. “I never stuck pins into her foot.”
“But whatever are you doing there at all, William?” said his mother in a bewildered fashion.
“I jus’ happened to be there,” explained William coming out into the room, “when you came in an’ I thought I’d jus’ stay there till you’d gone but I never stuck pins into her foot. I couldn’t have even if I’d wanted to ’cause I haven’t any pins. And what’s more,” he continued bitterly, “l haven’t any money to buy any pins even if I wanted some. If I’d got money to buy pins to stick into her foot I’d be going to the circus.”

  • Number: 11.5
  • Published: 1930 (1929 in magazine form, originally titled William’s Prize Cat)
  • Book: William the Bad
  • Synopsis: Serendipitously, the Outlaws come across a prize-winning cat just when they need one – but then it has to go back to the circus.

Verdict

Hubert Lane is in a particularly spiteful mood in this story. First, he organises a cat competition for the village’s boys, primarily because he is confident of winning his own prize (a generous box of chocolates). And then he teases William for not having enough money to visit the circus currently encamped on the village green – and is not entirely taken in by William’s dark hints about knowing “a jolly sight more about circuses than most people”.

Astonishingly, William and Ginger come across a “wild cat” which is of such proportion – almost more generous than the box of chocolates – that they win.

“I bet that if we could find a wild cat and tame it and take it along it’d get the prize all right. I shun’t be a bit surprised if there was some wild cats left in this wood. I’m goin’ to have a look anyway.”

But the twist comes when they discover their prize-winning cat to be, in actual fact, a lion cub.

There are two consequences to this. Firstly, a truly disturbing scene in the Browns’ lounge when a smug visitor – a lady embroiled with the Thought Mastery Movement who insists that she has trained herself never to feel pain – is repeatedly bitten on the ankle by the animal, which the boys have hidden under a tea table. Frankly, William is lucky to get off as lightly as he does from that incident.

But best of all: on returning the lion to its owners, the circus master is so pleased that he invites the boys to help out during the show. Hubert Lane and his cronies are in the audience. Two nil…