Day 284: Cats and White Elephants

 The facts

“William, must you drink like that?” groaned Ethel.
“I only drink same as other people,” said William with spirit. “I put water in my mouth an’ swallow it. It’s news to me there’s any other way of drinkin’. If you’ll kin’ly tell me any other way of drinkin’…”
“Be quiet, William,” said Mr Brown.
“William, don’t play with your food,” said Mrs Brown.
“I’m not axshully playin’ with it,” explained William. “I’m workin’ out what’d happen if this carrot was a glacier an’…”
“Be quiet, William,” said Mr Brown.
“Don’t slouch like that, William,” said Mrs Brown, “You’ll be growing up round-shouldered if you aren’t careful, and then what will you do?”
“I could be a jockey,” said William, after giving the matter a moment’s deep thought. “A jockey’s got to be round-shouldered . I bet jockeys practise bein’ round-shouldered an’…”
“Be quiet, William,” said Mr Brown.

  • Number: 27.7
  • Published: 1950 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Bold
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws try to deliver a cat to Archie.


For some reason the Browns decide to let William collect a cat for them again; although the last two times ended in disaster (William and the White Cat, 3.5; and William and the Black Cat, 4.9), this time, Mrs Brown has faith.

The cat is Ethel’s birthday present to Archie – although she doesn’t especially admire Archie, Archie ardently admires her.

“I’m fetchin’ a cat,” William said.
“Why?” said Ginger.
“Where from?” said Douglas.
“Where to?” said Henry.
Their interest was flattering, and the facts of the case were suddenly too tame to suit William’s exalted mood. “It’s a specially savage cat,” he said airily, “an’ Ethel wanted me to fetch it ’cause she knows I’m good with wild animals.”
The Outlaws were sufficiently accustomed to William to discount something of his grandiloquence. Still – it was probably true that he was going to fetch a cat, and the situation might turn out to be interesting.

The Outlaws’ collective trip to the pet shop somewhat strains the owner’s nerves:

“Gosh! It’s woke up,” said William.
“I should think so!” said Douglas. “Anyone’d wake up bein’ swung about like you’ve been doin’.”
“Well, a cat oughtn’t to mind a bit of swingin’,” said William, adding, with a modest air of knowledge, “They swing cats to see if there’s room enough in places.”

…but that’s nothing to the disaster that occurs when they open the basket on the public highway.

They ‘find’ him another present, a valuable silver pepper-pot of Miss Milton’s, then things all become classically confusing – albeit following a fairly standard pattern.