Although he liked to imagine himself a world potentate at whose bidding thousands trembled, he had already become the little girl’s willing slave. It gave him a strange pleasure to obey the imperious little voice, it thrilled him to his very soul to clean the small brown strap-over shoes, as he did now every morning. His waking dreams took the form of heroic exploits in which he rescued her from bulls and runaway horses and motor-cars out of control and bands of Red Indians. His chief quarrel with life was that it gave him no opportunity for those feats.
- Number: 15.7
- Published: 1933 (1932 in magazine form)
- Book: William the Rebel
- Synopsis: William needs to get a young girl a party dress.
William falls under the spell of an imperious girl staying in a caravan on the outskirts of the village, daughter of a distinguished artist. The two of them are invited to a party hosted by Mrs Bott, and, for different reasons, both have qualms about going.
William is worried about the standards of behaviour that will be expected of him:
“How can you enjoy yourself without getting rough, that’s what I want to know?”
“People do, you know, William,” said Mrs Brown mildly.
“I’m sure I shan’t be well enough,” he pleaded to his mother. “It’s no good me goin’ to a party with an illness comin’ on an givin’ it to everyone there.”
“But you haven’t got an illness, William,” protested
“I din’ say I had got one jus’ this minute,” said William. “I only said I felt I was goin’ to have one that afternoon.”
And the little girl is worried because she doesn’t possess a dress smart enough for such a grand venue.
William rashly promises to get her one. His first tactic is to seek to persuade his mother that it is a fancy dress party, followed by: “I want to go as a little girl.” She doesn’t treat this as a worrying sign, thoug, and just dismisses it as his usual nonsense (“You’d look awful as a little girl, anyway. I can’t think what’s come over you!”).
Violet Elizabeth Bott refuses to lend one, for reasons of pure spite. A complicated plan to inveigle his way into the Vicar’s wife’s good books by promising to donate all his pocket money to her Sick and Poor Fund (which prompts Mrs Brown to ask her husband, “Do you think that his brain can be going queer?”) fails to produce results within the desired timeframe.
But then he manages to cause an explosion in the girl’s caravan so (oddly) it’s all OK…