Day 154: William and the Eastern Curse

The facts

Aunt Jane raised her hand to her head with the expression of one who suffers acute mental anguish.
“But I said keep to the road, William,” she said. “Yes,” said William unabashed, “I remember now that you said that. But I forgot it this morning. I’ve got a very poor memory.”.

  • Number: 14.4
  • Published: 1932 (1931 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: William helps a friend choose between two suitors.

Verdict

At the end of The Outlaws and the Triplets, 14.3, William fled the village to stay with Aunt Jane. This is the story of what happened to him there.

Aunt Jane found a friend for him, a nice quiet boy whose interests centred entirely in the study of geography and the making of maps. After one meeting William announced to his aunt that he would not go out with that boy again, not if he was to be put to death by torture for it.

Aunt Jane’s servant Molly is being wooed by two men, James the chauffeur and George the baker. William supports George (because he can yodel and blow smoke-rings) and opposes James (because he intentionally splashes William whenever he drives past him).

Being almost as childish as William himself, Molly decides to organise a test “same as people do in books” to help her make up her mind. Although William promises not to tell either James or George that the test is coming up, he doesn’t promise not to interfere.

When James – a deeply superstitious, and somewhat racist, character – splashes a black-faced man, he naturally assumes that the man is “an Eastern” and has put a curse on him. (It so happens he is a black-face minstrel but James doesn’t know this.)

William then makes clever use of Jumble to bring the ‘curse’ to life and so terrify James that he fails the test.