Day 185: William and the Campers

The facts

“No one else coming for the tramp? Marvellous tramp right over the hills. No, my dear lady, I can’t possibly arrange for you to have a permanent wave here. Quite impossible … I want some more people for the physical jerks. Nothing like physical jerks. . . . No, I hadn’t thought of getting up a whist drive. I really don’t see how it could be managed. . . . Any more for cricket ? Come on, people. We want seven more for a cricket team. . . . And anyone for badminton? Yes, my dear lady, the bedding has all been aired, I assure you. It may have been a midge, but it was certainly not a flea. . . . I’m sorry madam, that the moon kept you awake, but I’m afraid I can’t do anything about it.. . . No, I don’t see that we can have any sort of central heating put into the tents ….”

  • Number: 17.1
  • Published: 1935 (1934 in magazine form, not to be confused with the 1929 story, 11.7, of the same name) – originally titled William and the Lion
  • Book: William the Detective
  • Synopsis: William advertises a guest-house.


As someone who’s been involved in the running of summer camps for fussy people, I sympathise somewhat with the “little man in shorts with amazingly thin knees in charge of the operations” in today’s story.

While the Open Air Holiday Assocation sets up tents on a local field, William meets a little girl whose family is struggling to make ends meet in its empty guest-house. He offers to help her out, obviously having a passion for rescuing small businesses: see also William Advertises, 4.8.

“You look a bit tired, mother,” William said.
“Do I, dear? ” said Mrs Brown, as soon as she had
recovered the power of speech.
“I think you’d do with a holiday, wouldn’t you?”
said William. “You needn’t go far. I know of a jolly nice place jus’ a bit down the road. It’s moderate comfort an’ spring boxes an’ all that sort of thing.”

His attempts to get villagers to stay in the guest-house (just up the road from their own homes) prove unsuccessful, but when he – deliberately but coincidentally – starts a rumour amongst the open-air campers that there is a lion loose in the neighbourhood, the Regina Guest House picks up quite a lot of extra business…

Not that William ever realises how much credit he deserves.