Day 186: William the Invisible

The facts

“I bet,” repeated William in the tone of one who tries to convince himself as well as his hearers, “if I went on mixin’ things long enough I’d be sure to find something that made invisibleness.”
“All right, do it then,” said a boy with red hair at the back of the group.
“Yes, I jolly well will,” said William. “An’ I bet it won’t take me long either. I won’t mess about with it as long as these other people did what found out gas and electricity. Seems to me people take such a jolly long time doin’ things. Why, they’ve been messin’ about climbin’ Mount Everest for years. I bet I’d have done it straight away.”

  • Number: 17.2
  • Published: 1935 (1934 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Detective
  • Synopsis: William perfects the art of invisiblity.


When William fails to find, within the short timescale he allowed himself in his rash boast, an honest way to create “invisibleness”, he naturally turns to dishonest ways.

Richmal Crompton records that he felt quite shamefaced when reduced to seeing whether standing in a ‘fairy ring’ of toadstools would work.

“Would you feel it if I hit you?”
“Try it,” said William darkly, “an’ see what you
get back. Invisibleness makes you ten times as strong as you are ordinary.”

So someone of William’s integrity must have been very, very ashamed of the way he ultimately comes up with to win his bet: hiding in a ditch.

But when the other boys investigate the ditch (they’re not stupid) he has to make a hasty escape…