Day 135: William and the Cow

The facts

She told him about things that she’d done. She’d climbed mountains in Switzerland. She’d travelled on a tramp steamer half-way round the world. She’d gone on a big game shooting expedition, and killed two lions and an elephant. William listened enthralled. When she finished he asked her breathlessly to marry him.

  • Number: 12.5
  • Published: 1930 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William’s Afternoon Out)
  • Book: William’s Happy Days
  • Synopsis: William brings an unexpected visitor to tea.


“Come in old clothes, and then we can get in as much of a mess as we want to.”

On hearing these words from a young lady artist staying temporarily in the village, is it any surprise that William fell head over heels in love with her? (No, she didn’t mean it like that. Naughty.)

Together, they plan a day of fun including cooking in the woods, a model boat race, and more. But Mrs Lane manages to ruin things. She tells Miss Pollit, the young artist, that her son Hubert is a “great friend” of William’s and would like to join in their day of adventure.

“There’s a sort of purple light from the saplings that I want to get, William,” she said. “You only get it at this time of the year.”
William received this statement with kindly indulgence. There wasn’t, of course, any purple light, but he knew that all artists suffered from a defect of vision that made them see thing differently from other people.

William is morosely contemplating the magnitude of this disaster when he comes across a herd of cows who have broken free from their owner’s control. He chases one of them, and catches it, but by the time he persuades it back to the village, the farmer has gone, so (responsibly) William just lets it go.

It follows him.

It follows him everywhere. No trick William can think of manages to shake off his new bovine friend.

“William considered the situation. It was, he was sure, contrary to all rules of etiquette to go out to tea accompanied by a cow.”

In the absence of any better plan, though, he does go to tea accompanied by a cow. Fortunately for him, though, Hubert Lane (who arrives late) is so terrified of cows that he runs off and is not seen again for the rest of the story. Result!