Day 119: The Sentimental Widow

The facts

Mrs Roundway looked at William. There was nothing romantic about William, nothing remotely suggestive of Cupid in William’s appearance. There was even something about William’s expression that would have chilled sentiment at its very fount.
“No, love,” she said simply, “I’m sure that no one would propose to anyone with you about.”

  • Number: 10.9
  • Published: 1929 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William
  • Synopsis: William strives to save an elderly heiress from a gold-digger.


The narrator commences this story by remarking that William has very few adult friends – I’m not so sure this is true, but in any event Mrs Roundway is definitely one of them. She has spent his whole life feeding him boy-shaped cookies, so when she has a problem of the heart, William is only too keen to help out.

Her problem is that her rich, elderly sister Maggie has just lost her husband and moved back from Australia. Her two suitors from their youth immediately start ramping up again. One, a handsome golden-haired man, is Maggie’s favourite but, Mrs Roundway is firmly convinced, a gold-digger; the other is a simple country gentleman who genuinely loves her.

“I once heard of a man who climbed up a church steeple when he was a boy an’ couldn’t get down an’ had to stay there till he was old.”

William’s assistance takes the form of dogging Maggie and the golden-haired suitor wherever they go, aiming with his demeanour to put him off from proposing.

This story would be relatively simplistic and unentertaining were it not for William’s ‘romantic’ conversational overtures as he accompanied the couple of country walks: these included, “I heard of a man once that had seven fingers on each hand,” “I once heard of a man what ate five chickens one after the other straight off for dinner” and more.