Day 216: William and the Love Test

 The facts

William’s attitude was strictly impartial. Each of the suitors had slipped a half-crown into his hand, murmuring as he did so a hope Ethel would go to the dance with him. Even to William their faith in his influence over Ethel was a little pathetic. Still, though not able exactly to influence Ethel, he often could and did influence a situation, and he was watching this one carefully.

  • Number: 19.10
  • Published: 1937 (1933 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Showman
  • Synopsis: William helps his sister decide who to go out with.


With Richard and Charles competing for Ethel’s affections (both displacing her usual standby, Jimmy), something must be done to resolve the tension.

William’s proposal is simple: “Have a test between them.” And, rather to her regret, Ethel likes the idea. She comes up with the following test: feign a headache during the afternoon of the tennis tournament in which Richard and Charles are both keen competitors; invite them both to sit out with her; and see who is willing to sacrifice their sporting glories for her benefit.

They both are.

As one man, Richard and Charles flung off their coats and dived into the lake from the parapet of the bridge.
Ethel and Jimmie were approaching, and found William leaning over the parapet staring fixedly at the water.
“What are you looking at?” said Jimmie.
“I thought I saw a trout,” said William.

William, ever helpful, comes up with a test as well. His is rather less subtle. He tells them both that Ethel is drowning in the village lake, and waits to see which of them will dive in to save her.

They both do.