Day 134: William Helps the Cause

The facts

William experimented with the hot water system, trying to “lay on” water from the bathroom to his bedroom in rubber tubes and being surprised and aggrieved by the resultant floods.
“Well, I didn’t know it was going’ to do that. It mus’ be somethin’ wrong with the way the pipes are made in this house. Well, it ought to’ve jus’ flowed through the tube an’ not made a mess at all. Well, I can’t help it. I’ve gotter do somethin’, haven’t I?”

  • Number: 12.4
  • Published: 1930 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William’s Star Turn) – not to be confused with the 1936 story, 18.3, of the same name
  • Book: William’s Happy Days
  • Synopsis: William runs a stall at a bazaar, but not quite as directed.


When William is off school recovering from flu, and his antics so exhaust all the domestic staff that they vow to resign if left alone in the house with him, he necessarily accompanies his mother to a meeting for the planning of a local charity bazaar.

It was decided that William and his friends were to conduct a “Butterfly Competition”.
The idea of the butterfly competition was that each competitor, upon payment of sixpence; should be given a piece of paper and be allowed three “squeezes” from an assortment of paint tubes. This was then folded in the middle, and the effect that was judged to represent the best “butterfly” won the prize.
“Well,” William said, “if you think that people are goin’ to like doin’ that better than watchin’ me an’ Ginger wrestlin’ an’ boxin’ – all I can say is that you’ve got a jolly funny idea of what people like.”

Because the charitable beneficiary of the bazaar is “the Church Schools”, it is decided to have a stall run by children. As William is present, a clergyman (who does not know him) gives him this task.

“For that show I’m goin’ to have,” said William slowly, “I think I’ll get up a wild beast show.”

When all his ideas were firmly vetoed, and a nice, quiet art competition substituted for them, the Outlaws decide to rebel slightly.

Ginger paints his body all over and labels himself “tattood man”. Henry wears a blouse stuffed with a pillow and identifies as a “fat woman”. Douglas creates artificial muscles with handkerchiefs to adopt the character of a “strong man”, and William stands on stilts and becomes a “giant” – albeit not the “genwin giant” seen in The Show, 1.5.

When the bishop takes various local dignitaries around the bazaar, they are rather thrown by the exhibition in William’s tent. Then they are literally thrown when the stilted William falls on top of them.

In doing so, he (entirely unintentionally) unmasks one of the local dignitaries as an imposter and a criminal who has been merrily stealing jewels all afternoon.

So far so anodyne, at least as far as William stories go – until his reaction in the final paragraph, which really makes this one for me:

“Well, I’ll tell you jus’ what happened,” said William in his most eloquent manner. “Well, they ‘spected at Scotland Yard that this man was goin’ to do this an’ they din’ know what to do to catch him, so they asked me an’ I suggested that I’d dress up as a giant an’ pretend to have a show an’ then, when he came in to see it, I’d fall on him so’s his wig and things would roll off an’ then they’d be able to catch him. Well, they were jolly grateful to me for s’gestin’ this an’…”
William had believed all his other nine versions of the affair.
But he believed this one most firmly of all.