Day 160: Aunt Arabelle in Charge

The facts

An exhaustive search of Aunt Arabelle’s desk revealed no stories of any sort, only a typewritten sheet headed: “Answers to Correspondents.” The first was: “I am sorry, dear, that he has not spoken yet. But just go on being your own sweet self, and I am sure he will soon.”
“What’s that mean?” said Ginger with a mystified frown.
“It’s someone who’s got a dumb child an’ is tryin’ to cure it,” explained William.

  • Number: 14.10
  • Published: 1932 (1931 in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Busy Fortnight
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws get Ginger’s aunt the interview of a lifetime.


“We’ve got somethin’ to show you,” said Ginger, “an’ it’s something you’ll be jolly interested in.”
“Is it about ME?” said Anthony Martin.

I’ve labelled this one insufferably virtuous children but Anthony Martin is not wholly virtuous. In fact, he is insufferably unvirtuous. But nevertheless, as a visiting celebrity (his mother made him famous with her insufferable books and poems about him), he is a prime target for Aunt Arabelle to interview.

Aunt Arabelle, a journalist from Women’s Sphere (“I help women with their little troubles of the heart”) is looking after Ginger while his parents are away, and he will receive ten shillings at the end of the fortnight if he’s been good. Of course, deliberately flooding the conservatory (“We can turn on the tap enough to have the floor jus’ under water”) does not count as ‘good’, so the Outlaws desperately need to do Aunt Arabelle a favour in order to secure their reward.

“What is the paper?”
“It’s called ‘The Woman Spear’,” said Ginger.
“Never heard of it. What sort of thing does it go in for?”
“Dumbness and stomach-ache and heart disease and things like that,” said William.
“I’ve never given an interview to a medical paper before,” said Anthony Martin. “It hasn’t even any circulation to speak of.”
“It does speak of circulation,” said William, pugnaciously, “it’s included in heart disease.”

Anthony Martin, though, does not seem inclined to co-operate, and is instead too busy showing off his latest records, press clippings, toys and so on. He even shows off a gramaphone record recorder into which he is to give a recital the following day.

Then he throws a horrendous tantrum at teatime, really ripping into his poor nurse (“I’ll kick your nasty old shins. I’ll stamp on your nasty old toes. You leave me alone, I tell you, you old cat, you! Do you think I’m going to do what you tell me now I’m famous all over the world?”).

William pops out of the room during this episode. And shortly after that, Anthony Martin agrees to give an interview to Aunt Arabelle – and even have his photo taken sitting on her knee.

Everybody’s happy (except for the nurse, perhaps).