Day 212: William Starts the New Year

 The facts

“You see, Mrs Brown,” she said, “I want it to be a great social movement sweeping the whole of England. It will solve, I am sure, all our social problems. I want every family of ordinary means to adopt a poor family.”
“But we couldn’t,” gasped Mrs Brown.
Miss Milton waved aside her objections. “I suggest that, as you have young people in your family, you choose one with young people. Here is one with six girls and three boys. Your young people could help these young people in many ways. They could have them to tea, try to interest them in the arts…”
“Miss Milton,” said Mrs Brown, so firmly that Miss Milton actually stopped talking to listen to her, “I don’t want to. I think it’s a dreadful idea.”

  • Number: 19.6
  • Published: 1937 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William the Benefactor)
  • Book: William the Showman
  • Synopsis: William adopts a poor family.


Step forward Mrs Brown, the real star of this story for having the (unusual) nerve to call out Miss Milton’s truly insane, and desperately patronising, ‘charitable’ project as the nonsense it was.

William, of course, was not sufficiently subtle to understand the scheme’s shortcomings, and is all for it.

In fact, he finds a poor family almost straight away, and thinks it would be only fitting for Miss Milton to adopt the youngest child in it.

Miss Milton had had rather a disappointing day. People had been strangely lukewarm about her
wonderful scheme, and the reluctance of well-to-do families to adopt poor ones had been as nothing compared with the reluctance of poor families to be adopted.

A farcical outbreak of mistaken identity and cross-purposed conversation ensues, which is large even by William’s own high standards.

Sadly, the confusion was not so great that he was able to escape detection as its source.