“You’d look a bit better,” said William sternly, “with your hair cut off.”
“An’ you’d look a bit better,” said the amazing child without a moment’s hesitation, “with your face cut off.”
“Well,” said William shortly, “well, somethin’ wants doin’ to him.”
It was evident that the others were entirely in agreement with this cryptic statement.
- Number: 12.8
- Published: 1930 (same year in magazine form, originally titled William the Mesmerist) – not to be confused with the 1968 book, 37, of the same name
- Book: William’s Happy Days
- Synopsis: William pretends to have special powers to impress a girl.
Another blonde, curly-haired, white-suited insufferably virtuous child in this story, this one armed with “an impregnable conviction of his own superiority”.
Unfortunately, William finds himself unable to take violent retribution on little Reggie (retribution, I might add, for very little other than Reggie’s general demeanour), because he falls for Reggie’s sister Angela. In a moment of manly weakness, William promises to protect Reggie from bullies, and so he sadly begins sabotaging all the Outlaws plans.
“I’ve always thought that William must be better at his work than they make out,” said Mrs Brown. “I’ve never believed those awful reports he gets.”
But he also decides, for no apparent reason, to undertake to protect Reggie from teachers. He claims a power to make teachers bend to his will with only a look.
Unfortunately, of course, William possesses no such power. And when the teachers begin to tire of Reggie’s attitude almost as much as his fellow pupils, Angela pleads with/ emotionally blackmails William (“I thought you liked me”) to save him from detention.
Remarkably, William manages to conclude matters in his own favour though. Reggie and Angela move away from the area, for which William claims credit (“Oh yes,” he said darkly, “his father’s got to go to America. Oh yes, an why’s his father got to go to America?”) and thus restores his image in the eyes of the Outlaws.
And William’s teacher, who Angela ingenuously confides in about William’s special powers, has an amused twinkle in his eye.