Day 164: Mistakes Will Happen

The facts

Robert had been acting in a dramatic entertainment organised by the local football club. The play was a thriller of a highly complicated sort, freely interspersed with screams and pistol shots and mysterious failures of the electric lights. Every character in it who tried to telephone found the cord cut, and whenever the electric lights did function, shadows of strange, bat-like figures were seen passing to and fro outside the window – a phenomenon that remained unexplained throughout the play.

  • Number: 15.3
  • Published: 1933 (1932 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Rebel
  • Synopsis: William intervenes in the casting process for a Shakespeare production.


Robert’s part in a play requires him to appear – ‘dead’, drenched in red ink – behind a curtain about 30 minutes in. “He therefore engaged William (at a fee of a penny each time) to sit on the chair behind the curtain till the moment of the denouement approached, and then come and warn him in time for him to take his place.” What could possibly go wrong?

It goes wrong. And Robert is humiliated in front of his latest love, Dorinda Merton (I thought ‘Dorinda’ was a brand of tortilla chip but there you go). His only recourse is to do her the supreme favour of ensuring that her younger brother Georgie is selected for a key role in a Shakespeare being put on by the school that he and William go to. She is worried that their much-hated cousin will be chosen instead.

“Why doesn’t someone do something to that boy for shutting me in the coal-shed?” howled the black one again vociferously.

Robert subcontracts the role of nobbling the casting process to William, promising a mouth-organ if successful.

William takes immediate steps to become acquainted with Georgie Merton, and, on meeting him, discovers him to be a boy after his own heart. Georgie has a particular penchant for fighting his much-hated cousin, an insufferably virtuous child with (yeah) golden curls etc etc.

William nobbles the casting process by the simple expedient of locking the much-hated cousin in a coal-shed, thus ensuring that Georgie will get the role. But something goes drastically wrong…