“Oh crumbs!” said William. “I forgot about givin’ presents to people.”
“Fancy forgettin’ about Christmas!” said Ginger.
“I din’ forget about Christmas,” said William simply. “I remembered about people givin’ me presents. I forgot that I’d have to give ’em to people.”
- Number: 12.1
- Published: 1930 (1929 in magazine form)
- Book: William’s Happy Days
- Synopsis: William does a favour for an old man.
This is a rather touching one.
William goes into Hadley, a neighbouring town, to buy some fish for his mother. While there, he is distracted from his task by a kindly old man who shows him how to make whistles. William is busy idolising this old man when said old man mentions that he could give a much better demonstration of whistle-making if only he had his dad’s prized penknife – but unfortunately his brother stole it from him during a probate dispute.
Followed a spirited exchange of personalities with the conductor, who finally threatened to take William by the, scruff of his neck and deposit him in the road outside. William, clinging to his seat, the lust of battle rising pleasantly within him, dared him to. The ‘bus moved off. Whenever the conductor passed William in his duties about the ‘bus, he made threatening gestures to which William responded by putting out his tongue or pulling a face. Both of them seemed to enjoy the exchange.
William’s task, then, is clear. He goes to the brother’s shop in the next street, takes the penknife, gets spotted, and has to take refuge in the window of an adjacent clothes shop (in the character of a mannequin).
His mannequin form is then subjected to an array of insults from passing shoppers – see also William and the Waxwork Prince, 10.4 – before giving up the pretence and making a run for it.
The old man is happy.
And even William’s mother, who does not get her fish, is apologetic because she had not realised that it was the fishmonger’s day for early closing.
So everybody comes out smelling of roses.