Day 167: William and the Watch and Chain

The facts

Though time mattered little enough to William, he was anxious to possess a watch and chain, and Robert’s was a large, important-looking watch with a thick silver chain. It was a watch and chain that would considerably increase William’s prestige among his contemporaries.

  • Number: 15.6
  • Published: 1933 (1932 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Rebel
  • Synopsis: Robert inadvertantly tames a lion.


Honoria Mercer has to be the most ridiculous of Robert’s infatuations to date. Not only has she no sense of awareness (“What a nice, polite little boy your brother is,” she tells Robert) but she is weirdly obsessed with men putting themselves into situations of danger. There’s something almost Double Indemnity about her.

Robert was finding Honoria rather heavy going.
“What I really admire most in a man,” she said fervently, “is courage.”
“I’ve got a little car, you know,” said Robert, trying to change the subject. “I can touch sixty on her quite easily.”
Honoria shook her ash blonde head sadly. “There’s no bravery in that,” she said.
“I know,” said Robert; “I never said there was. I was just telling you. I thought it possible that you’d be
“No,” said Honoria, “I’m not interested in cars. They simply don’t thrill me. It’s courage that thrills me.”

She was just telling Robert a story she had once heard of a man (who she admired greatly) who, on encountering a hideous face staring at him through the window of his house, immediately gave chase without a fear in the world – at the very moment that William, in his lion costume, happened to put his face to the window and completely terrified Robert, who ended up chastened and humiliated.

Robert is determined not to fall for the same trick twice, however, so when, at a fair the following day, he comes across another lion-suited creature dogging his footsteps, he has only anger. “Go straight home and take that thing off, and I’ll jolly well give you something to think of instead of monkey tricks like this.”

But it turns out a lion has escaped from the circus…