Day 176: William and the Real Laurence

The facts

Laurence turned to William. “How did you get on?”
Mr Maddox began to chuckle. ”He got on beautifully,” he said, “And he knows the date of the battle of Waterloo. Do you?”
Laurence considered. “More or less,” he said vaguely.
Mr Maddox chuckled again, as delighted by Laurence’s ignorance as he had been by William’s knowledge.

  • Number: 16.3
  • Published: 1934 (1933 in magazine form) – originally titled William the Imposter
  • Book: William the Gangster
  • Synopsis: William goes to visit another boy’s godparents.


Whoever decided to re-title this story made a good decision to abandon its original title, William the Imposter – because, frankly, that could apply to so many stories in which William functions as an imposter, intentionally or otherwise.

But this is a good’un. William bumps into Laurence Redwood, a boy about his own age who has just arrived in the village to have tea with his godmother. Laurence would much rather spend the afternoon at a local fair; William wants a good tea; the godmother is visiting from Australia and hasn’t set eyes on Laurence since he was a baby. So the two boys instantly form a symbiotic relationship.

“And what’s the new baby to.
be called, Laurence?” Mrs Maddox went on.
William vainly searched in his mind for some non-committal name.

It all goes well until Miss Milton drops by. Miss Milton, who has known William for literally his entire life, could well have been expected to expose him. However, she is also of a superstitious turn of mind, and is deeply interested in the subject of doppelgängers.

Seeing that ‘Laurence’ so remarkably resembles a boy she knows called William Brown, she immediately goes to fetch William…