“I bet I’d jolly well understand your worry,” William said earnestly, “’cause the things I worry about seem silly to other people, so I bet I’d understand about yours.”
“What sort of things do you worry about?” said the lady.
“Oh, when windows keep gettin’ in the way of my arrers an’ cats go stickin’ their fur in Jumble’s mouth an’ things like that,” he said, and added truthfully: “I don’t mean that I worry a norful lot about them.”
- Number: 12.9
- Published: 1930 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William’s Happy Days
- Synopsis: William attempts to help a downtrodden lady achieve her dream.
It is a little tragic that Miss Rossiter’s greatest ambition is to put on a decent stall at the village bazaar (yes, another village bazaar), well-stocked with donations. But William is determined to make it come true.
There is the added complication of a villain, in the haughty form of Mrs Porker, who (with a motiveless malignity rivalled only by that of Mrs Bretherton when cheating in the village flower show in The Outlaws and the Cucumber, 11.8) tells the entire village that Miss Rossiter will not be putting on a stall so they should give all their donations to her, Mrs Porker, instead.
“Your tea will be ready in the dining-room at five, dear,” Mrs Brown said at last, “but you may have a piece of bread and butter now if you like.”
“Thanks,” said William apologetically. “It does sort of seem a long time between lunch and tea.” Giving a wide interpretation to the words “bread and butter”, he took the largest piece of cake he could see after a fairly lengthy inspection.
In order to help, though, William first needs some information.
“I say, Ellen,” said William. “What do they have on fancy stalls?”
“Fancy things, of course,” said the housemaid.
“What sort of fancy things?”
“Ornaments and handkerchiefs and pretty
“You wouldn’t do for one then, would you?” said
William, with obvious delight at his own wit.
He initially plans to steal ‘fancies’ from his home, just a few at a time so nobody would notice, and ‘donate’ them to Miss Rossiter.
But then he comes up with an even better idea, thanks to a chance meeting with a local ventriloquist, and Mrs Porker’s touching belief in the ghost of her late dog Pongo.
So well does he do for Miss Rossiter that she even forgives him for helping her:
William had attached himself to Miss Rossiter for the afternoon and was busying himself “helping” at her stall. He sold a pile of things that had been already sold and put aside for their owners. He sold Miss Rossiter’s parasol and scarf. He gave wrong change on a generous scale. He told Sir Charles Politt, who had opened the Bazaar, to clear off and stop taking up all the room if he wasn’t going to buy anything. In short, he worked very hard all the afternoon.