Day 124: William Gets His Own Back

The facts

It wasn’t till Ginger’s grown-up brother got married that William began to see possibilities in that part of Robert’s character that before he had looked upon with unmixed contempt. For Ginger’s brother left home and went to live at least ten miles away from home. No longer did he claim to exercise elder brother tyranny over him. Moreover, upon marriage, he had presented Ginger with his old push bike, watch and a wireless set, all of which had been replaced by wedding presents. Ginger’s life seemed now to William to be one of vast possessions and untrammelled liberty and William had decided to leave no stone unturned to get Robert married as quickly as possible before his bicycle, watch and wireless should be completely worn out.

  • Number: 11.4
  • Published: 1930 (1929 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Bad
  • Synopsis: William attempts to get Robert married… and then to ruin his date.


William’s attempt at jocular man-to-man conversation with Robert is so cringeworthy (“She’s jolly pretty, isn’t she? I mean, if I were grown up – say nineteen – I’d want to marry her before I got so old she wouldn’t have me”) that fortunately he soon gives up on it.

His original plan, to marry Robert off and thus remove him from his life (see also William the Match-Maker, 5.8, in which he has the same plan in relation to Ethel) spectacularly backfires. It turns out that William does not possess the necessary skills for the crafting of aphrodisiac poetry:

Your teeth are wite,
Your eyes are blue and round.
I should like to marry you,
Your loving Robert Brown.

“I bet I’ll be famous all over the world by the time I’m your age,” said William.
“Yes, famous for your dirty collars, perhaps,” said
Robert crushingly.
“Well, it was clean on this morning,” said William.
“Nothing’s touched it but the air. I can’t help air being dirty, can I?”

This is so lacklustre that I haven’t even tagged this story as attempted good deeds! Especially because, so embittered by Robert’s reaction to his endeavours at shidduch, William persuades the Outlaws to join him in “bein’ robbers an’ terrorisin’ the countryside”.

His first victim, inevitably, is Robert. Who does end up paying for his earlier anger. And the Outlaws go to the fair with the proceeds…