Just William is also sometimes used as a title for the series of books as a whole, and is also the name of various television, film and radio. This book is available for free download in a number of formats - including epub, pdf, azw, mobi and more. You can also read the full text online using our. Download Just William free in PDF & EPUB format. Download Richmal Crompton's Just William for your kindle, tablet, IPAD, PC or mobile.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Dutch|
|ePub File Size:||29.34 MB|
|PDF File Size:||12.63 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Regsitration Required]|
Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. The CollectedWorks of Arthur Symons Volume4 William Blake No. Book No. F- 8 rr tr r r 00 1-^ Hi f f%> C» n William Wilson. ×. Report "Just William". The Project Gutenberg EBook of Just William, by Richmal Crompton This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions.
Biggs's face with it. Isn't it thrilling? His grown-up sister, Ethel, was at the front door, shaking hands with a young man. Then, "She thinks an awful lot of you, Ethel does. It could have anyone's head right off with bitin' and scratchin'.
Book 5. Still William by Richmal Crompton. There is only one Just William. The loveable imp… More. Shelve Still William. Book 6. William the Conqueror by Richmal Crompton. Inspired by the tales of Robin Hood, the Outlaws… More.
Shelve William the Conqueror. Book 7. William the Outlaw by Richmal Crompton. William and his chums have to decided to be outla… More.
Shelve William the Outlaw. Book 8. William in Trouble by Richmal Crompton. William has a habit of being where he shouldn't b… More. Shelve William in Trouble. Book 9. William The Good by Richmal Crompton. Clarence Bergson had the audacity to attack an in… More. Shelve William The Good. Book William by Richmal Crompton. This is a reproduction of a book published before… More. Shelve William. William the Bad by Richmal Crompton. Robert has very strong reasons for wanting Willia… More.
Shelve William the Bad. William's Happy Days by Richmal Crompton. William Brown is naturally suspicious of grown-up… More. Shelve William's Happy Days. William's Crowded Hours by Richmal Crompton. Timed to coincide with William's 80th birthday th… More. Shelve William's Crowded Hours. William the Pirate by Richmal Crompton. William's great enemy is boredom and he will do a… More.
Shelve William the Pirate. William The Rebel by Richmal Crompton. Shelve William The Rebel. William the Gangster by Richmal Crompton. When William Brown gives up his weapons and joins… More. Shelve William the Gangster. William the Detective by Richmal Crompton.
One of Richmal Crompton's stories about William. Shelve William the Detective. Sweet William by Richmal Crompton. William is the sweetest boy in the world and sadl… More.
Shelve Sweet William. William The Showman by Richmal Crompton. William Brown has an outgoing nature. That's what… More. Shelve William The Showman. William the Dictator by Richmal Crompton. William knows his place in the world. As a natura… More. Shelve William the Dictator. In time of war, William Brown is a force to be re… More.
Shelve William and Air Raid Precautions. William and the Evacuees by Richmal Crompton. But William never liked to leave a task half done. He still sat on and calmly and silently considered his next statement. Mechanically he put a hand into his pocket and conveyed a Gooseberry Eye to his mouth. Morgan also sat in silence with a stricken look upon his face, gazing into vacancy.
Morgan desperately. She pertic-ler wants to see you alone to-night. Morgan did not answer. He sat huddled up in his chair staring in front of him long after William had gone jauntily on his way. Then he moistened his dry lips. William was thinking of the pictures as he went home. That painter one was jolly good. When they all got all over paint! And when they all fell downstairs! William suddenly guffawed out loud at the memory.
But what had the painter chap been doing at the very beginning before he began to paint? He'd been getting off the old paint with a sort of torch thing and a knife, then he began putting the new paint on. Just sort of melting the old paint and then scraping it off. William had never seen it done in real life, but he supposed that was the way you did get old paint off. Melting it with some sort of fire, then scraping it off. He wasn't sure whether it was that, but he could find out.
As he entered the house he took his penknife from his pocket, opened it thoughtfully, and went upstairs. Brown came home about dinner-time. Brown, sinking wearily into an arm-chair.
Brown, "it ought to be ready now. Morgan, mum. He wants to see Miss Ethel. I've shown him into the library. Seven o'clock! What time does he think we have dinner? What does he mean by coming round paying calls on people at dinner time? What" "Ethel, dear," interrupted Mrs. Brown, "do go and see what he wants and get rid of him as soon as you can. She noticed something wan and haggard-looking on Mr. Morgan's face as he rose to greet her.
The silence became oppressive. Morgan, with an air of acute misery and embarrassment, shifted his feet and coughed. Ethel looked at the clock. Then-- "Was it raining when you came, Mr. No--not at all. Er--no, not at all. Morgan put up a hand as though to loosen his collar.
Inside the drawing-room, Mr. Brown was growing restive. Quarter past seven! You know it's just what I can't stand--having my meals interfered with. Is my digestion to be ruined simply because this young nincompoop chooses to pay his social calls at seven o'clock at night?
He raised his hands above his head. Brown hastily. She returned with a worried frown on her brow. Clive," she said. I couldn't quite make it out, but it seems that William has been telling them that he had to go and see a doctor about his lungs and the doctor said they were very weak and he'd have to be careful.
Brown sat up and looked at her. Brown, helplessly. Brown with conviction. It's the only explanation. She was very flushed. He didn't tell me much, but it seems that William actually went to his house and told him that I wanted to see him alone at seven o'clock this evening.
I've hardly spoken to William to-day. He couldn't have misunderstood anything I said. And he actually took a flower with him--a dreadful-looking rosebud--and said I'd sent it. I simply didn't know where to look or what to say. It was horrible! Brown sat gazing weakly at her daughter. Brown rose with the air of a man goaded beyond endurance. For the last twenty minutes he had been happily and quietly engaged upon his bedroom door with a lighted taper in one hand and penknife in the other.
There was no doubt about it. By successful experiment he had proved that that was the way you got old paint off. When Mr. Brown came upstairs he had entirely stripped one panel of its paint. Sadly he reviewed the day. It had not been a success. His generosity to the little girl next door had been misconstrued into an attempt upon her life, his efforts to help on his only sister's love affair had been painfully misunderstood, lastly because among other things he had discovered a perfectly scientific method of removing old paint, he had been brutally assaulted by a violent and unreasonable parent.
Suddenly William began to wonder if his father drank. He saw himself, through a mist of pathos, as a Drunkard's child. He tried to imagine his father weeping over him in Hospital and begging his forgiveness. It was a wonder he wasn't there now, anyway. His shoulders drooped--his whole attitude became expressive of extreme dejection.
Inside the house, his father, reclining at length in an armchair, discoursed to his wife on the subject of his son.
One hand was pressed to his aching brow, and the other gesticulating freely. You ought to take him to a doctor and get his brain examined. Look at him to-day. He begins by knocking me into the middle of the rhododendron bushes--under no provocation, mind you.
I hadn't spoken to him. Then he tries to poison that nice little thing next door with some vile stuff I thought I'd thrown away. Then he goes about telling people he's consumptive. He looks it, doesn't he?
Then he takes extraordinary messages and love tokens from Ethel to strange young men and brings them here just when we're going to begin dinner, and then goes round burning and hacking at the doors.
Where's the sense in it--in any of it? They're the acts of a lunatic--you ought to have his brain examined.
Brown cut off her darning wool and laid aside the sock she had just finished darning. Boys are such funny things. No one could! Only William, his young brother, showed interest. Clive this morning and she introduced me and she's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen and she" "Yes," said Mrs.
Brown hastily, "you told me all that. I know I can't marry yet--not while I'm still at college--but I could get to know her. Not that I suppose she'd look at me. She's miles above me--miles above anyone.
She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. You can't imagine her. You wouldn't believe me if I described her. No one could describe her. She" Mrs. Brown interrupted him with haste. Clive to bring her over one afternoon. I've no more of this blue wool, Robert. I wish you didn't have your socks such different colours. I shall have to use mauve. It's right on the heel; it won't show. How do you know it won't show? And even if it didn't show, the thought of it--!
It's--it's a crisis of my life now I've met her. I can't go about feeling ridiculous. After all I've told you about her and that she's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen and miles above me and above anyone and you think I feel a 'friendly interest' in her. It's--it's the one great passion of my life! It's" "Well," put in Mrs.
Brown mildly, "I'll ring up Mrs. Clive and ask if she's doing anything to-morrow afternoon. And, Mother, could you get me some socks and a tie before to-morrow? Blue, I think--a bright blue, you know, not too bright, but not so as you don't notice them. I wish the laundry was a decent one. They never put a shine on to them. I'd better have some new ones for to-morrow. It's so important, how one looks. They" Mrs. Brown laid her work aside. Clive now," she said. When she returned, William had gone and Robert was standing by the window, his face pale with suspense, and a Napoleonic frown on his brow.
Clive can't come," announced Mrs. Brown in her comfortable voice, "but Miss Cannon will come alone. It appears she's met Ethel before. So you needn't worry any more, dear. What about William? Things never go right when William's there. You know they don't.
He'll be very good, I'm sure. Ethel will be home then and she'll help. I'll tell William not to worry you. I'm sure he'll be good. He was not to come into the house till the tea-bell rang, and he was to go out and play in the garden again directly after tea.
He was perfectly willing to obey them. He took the situation quite seriously. He was in the garden when the visitor came up the drive. He had been told not to obtrude himself upon her notice, so he crept up silently and peered at her through the rhododendron bushes.
The proceeding also happened to suit his character of the moment, which was that of a Red Indian chief. Miss Cannon was certainly pretty.
She had brown hair, brown eyes, and dimples that came and went in her rosy cheeks. She was dressed in white and carried a parasol. She walked up the drive, looking neither to right nor left, till a slight movement in the bushes arrested her attention.
She turned quickly and saw a small boy's face, smeared black with burnt cork and framed in hens' feathers tied on with tape. The dimples peeped out. William gazed at her open-mouthed. Such intelligence on the part of a grown-up was unusual. She bowed low, brown eyes alight with merriment.
She threw a glance to the bend in the drive behind which lay the house and with a low laugh followed him through the bushes. From one point the drawing-room window could be seen, and there the anxious Robert stood, pale with anxiety, stiff and upright in his newly-creased trousers well turned up to show the new blue socks , his soulful eyes fixed steadfastly on the bend in the drive round which the beloved should come. Every now and then his nervous hand wandered up to touch the new tie and gleaming new collar, which was rather too high and too tight for comfort, but which the shopkeeper had informed his harassed customer was the "latest and most correct shape.
There's Snake Face an' the others," he added in his natural voice, pointing to a small cluster of shrubs. Approaching these, he stood and talked fiercely and unintelligibly for a few minutes, turning his scowling corked face and pointing his finger at her every now and then, as, apparently, he described his capture.
Then he approached her again. Then, "I'll get you some feathers," he said obligingly. Miss Cannon took off her big shady hat and stuck the feathers into her fluffy brown hair with a laugh. Now, I'll be off. You watch me track. He circled about, well within his squaw's vision, obviously bent upon impressing her. She stirred the mixture in the tin with a twig and threw him every now and then the admiring glances he so evidently desired.
Soon he returned, carrying over his shoulder a door-mat which he threw down at her feet. I've had it out all morning," he added in his ordinary tones; "they've not missed it yet. Do they let you?
Go on! Honest, I don't! I'll get some more soon. Then she drained the tin. William's face shone with pride and happiness. But it clouded over as the sound of a bell rang out from the house.
That's tea! I'll get one from Ethel's room. Miss Cannon smoothed down her dress. What will they think of me? It was awful of me to come with you. I'm always doing awful things. That's a secret between you and me. I promised I would. It's a special day. Because of Robert, you know. Because of--Robert! He had run his hands through his hair so often that it stood around his head like a spiked halo.
It will--put her off me for ever. She's not used to being treated like that. She's the sort of girl people don't begin without. She's the most beautiful girl I've ever met in all my life and you--my own mother--treat her like this. You may be ruining my life. You've no idea what this means to me. If you'd seen her you'd feel more sympathy. I simply can't describe her--I" "I said four o'clock, Robert," said Mrs.
Brown firmly, "and it's after half-past. Ethel, tell Emma she can ring the bell and bring in tea. Then, a few minutes after the echoes of the tea-bell died away, the front door bell rang sharply. Robert stroked his hair down with wild, unrestrained movements of his hands, and summoned a tortured smile to his lips. Miss Cannon appeared upon the threshold, bewitching and demure. He's a perfect little dear, isn't he? Robert moistened his lips and smiled the tortured smile, but was beyond speech.
Then they went in to tea. William, his hair well brushed, the cork partially washed from his face, and the feathers removed, arrived a few minutes later. Conversation was carried on chiefly by Miss Cannon and Ethel. Robert racked his brain for some striking remark, something that would raise him in her esteem far above the ranks of the ordinary young man, but nothing came. Whenever her brown eyes rested on him, however, he summoned the mirthless smile to his lips and raised a hand to relieve the strain of the imprisoning collar.
Desperately he felt the precious moments passing and his passion yet unrevealed, except by his eyes, whose message he was afraid she had not read. William had quite forgotten the orders he had received to retire from the scene directly after tea. He was impervious to all hints. He followed in the train of the all-conquering Miss Cannon to the drawing-room and sat on the sofa with Robert who had taken his seat next his beloved. I showed it to some people.
I'll show it to you if you like. It began with a pirate on a raft an' he'd stole some jewel'ry and the king the jewels belonged to was coming after him on a steamer and jus' when he was comin' up to him he jumped into the water and took the jewls with him an' a fish eat the jewls and the king caught it an'," he paused for breath. Robert turned sideways, and resting an arm on his knee to exclude the persistent William, spoke in a husky voice.
I've got Virginia Stock grow'n all over it. It grows up in no time. An' must'erd 'n cress grows in no time, too.
I like things what grow quick, don't you? You get tired of waiting for the other sorts, don't you? With a threatening glare at William, Robert led the way to the garden. And William, all innocent animation, followed.
I'll show you. I'll get a piece of string and show you afterwards. It's easy but it wants practice, that's all. An' I'll teach you how to make aeroplanes out of paper what fly in the air when it's windy. That's quite easy. Only you've gotter be careful to get 'em the right size. I can make 'em and I can make lots of things out of match boxes an' things an'" The infuriated Robert interrupted.
He's very proud of them. Wait" "Will you have this tea-rose, Miss Cannon? You--er--flowers and you--that is--I'm sure--you love flowers--you should--er--always have flowers.
If I" "An' I'll get you those red ones and that white one," broke in the equally infatuated William, determined not to be outshone.
When they re-entered the drawing-room, Miss Cannon carried a large bouquet of Virginia Stock and white and red roses which completely hid Robert's tea-rose. William was by her side, chatting airily and confidently. Robert followed--a pale statue of despair.
In answer to Robert's agonised glance, Mrs. Brown summoned William to her corner, while Robert and Miss Cannon took their seat again upon the sofa. Robert, purple, opened his lips to say something, anything to drown that horrible voice, but nothing would come. Miss Cannon was obviously listening to William. Brown coughed hastily and began to describe at unnecessary length the ravages of the caterpillars upon her husband's favourite rose-tree.
William withdrew with dignity to the garden a minute later and Miss Cannon rose from the sofa. Robert, anguished and overpowered, rose slowly. I adore William! She suggested a picnic on the following Thursday, which happened to be Robert's birthday and incidentally the last day of Miss Cannon's visit, and the picnic party was to consist of--Robert, Ethel, Mrs. Clive and Miss Cannon, and William was not even to be told where it was to be. The invitation was sent that evening and Robert spent the week dreaming of picnic lunches and suggesting impossible dainties of which the cook had never heard.
It was not until she threatened to give notice that he reluctantly agreed to leave the arrangements to her. He sent his white flannels which were perfectly clean to the laundry with a note attached, hinting darkly at legal proceedings if they were not sent back, spotless, by Thursday morning. He went about with an expression of set and solemn purpose upon his frowning countenance. William he utterly ignored. He bought a book of poems at a second-hand bookshop and kept them on the table by his bed.
They saw nothing of Miss Cannon in the interval, but Thursday dawned bright and clear, and Robert's anxious spirits rose. He was presented with a watch and chain by his father and with a bicycle by his mother and a tin of toffee given not without ulterior motive by William. They met Mrs. Clive and Miss Cannon at the station and took tickets to a village a few miles away whence they had decided to walk to a shady spot on the river bank.
William's dignity was slightly offended by his pointed exclusion from the party, but he had resigned himself to it, and spent the first part of the morning in the character of Chief Red Hand among the rhododendron bushes. He had added an ostrich feather found in Ethel's room to his head-dress, and used almost a whole cork on his face. He wore the door-mat pinned to his shoulders. After melting some treacle toffee in rain-water over his smoking fire, adding orange juice and drinking the resulting liquid, he tired of the game and wandered upstairs to Robert's bedroom to inspect his birthday presents.
The tin of toffee was on the table by Robert's bed. William took one or two as a matter of course and began to read the love-poems. He was horrified a few minutes later to see the tin empty, but he fastened the lid with a sigh, wondering if Robert would guess who had eaten them. He was afraid he would. Anyway he'd given him them. And anyway, he hadn't known he was eating them.
He then went to the dressing-table and tried on the watch and chain at various angles and with various postures. He finally resisted the temptation to wear them for the rest of the morning and replaced them on the dressing-table. Then he wandered downstairs and round to the shed, where Robert's new bicycle stood in all its glory. It was shining and spotless and William gazed at it in awe and admiration. He came to the conclusion that he could do it no possible harm by leading it carefully round the house.
Encouraged by the fact that Mrs.
Brown was out shopping, he walked it round the house several times. He much enjoyed the feeling of importance and possession that it gave him. He felt loth to part with it. He wondered if it was very hard to ride. He had tried to ride one once when he was staying with an aunt. He stood on a garden bench and with difficulty transferred himself from that to the bicycle seat.
To his surprise and delight he rode for a few yards before he fell off. He tried again and fell off again. He tried again and rode straight into a holly bush.
He forgot everything in his determination to master the art. He tried again and again. He fell off or rode into the holly bush again and again. The shining black paint of the bicycle was scratched, the handle bars were slightly bent and dulled; William himself was bruised and battered but unbeaten. At last he managed to avoid the fatal magnet of the holly bush, to steer an unsteady ziz-zag course down the drive and out into the road.
He had had no particular intention of riding into the road. In fact he was still wearing his befeathered headgear, blacked face, and the mat pinned to his shoulders. It was only when he was actually in the road that he realised that retreat was impossible, that he had no idea how to get off the bicycle.
What followed was to William more like a nightmare than anything else. He saw a motor-lorry coming towards him and in sudden panic turned down a side street and from that into another side street. People came out of their houses to watch him pass. Children booed or cheered him and ran after him in crowds. And William went on and on simply because he could not stop. His iron nerve had failed him. He had not even the presence of mind to fall off.
He was quite lost. He had left the town behind him and did not know where he was going. But wherever he went he was the centre of attraction. The strange figure with blackened, streaked face, mat flying behind in the wind and a head-dress of feathers from which every now and then one floated away, brought the population to its doors. Some said he had escaped from an asylum, some that he was an advertisement of something.
The children were inclined to think he was part of a circus. William himself had passed beyond despair. His face was white and set. His first panic had changed to a dull certainty that this would go on for ever. He would never know how to stop.
He supposed he would go right across England. He wondered if he were near the sea now. He couldn't be far off. He wondered if he would ever see his mother and father again.
And his feet pedalled mechanically along. They did not reach the pedals at their lowest point; they had to catch them as they came up and send them down with all their might. It was very tiring; William wondered if people would be sorry if he dropped down dead.
I have said that William did not know where he was going. It was a beautiful morning. Robert, his heart and hopes high, walked beside his goddess, revelling in his nearness to her though he could think of nothing to say to her.
But Ethel and Mrs. Clive chattered gaily. Clive would rather stay on the bank. His cup of bliss was full. It would be his opportunity of sealing lifelong friendship with her, of arranging a regular correspondence, and hinting at his ultimate intentions.
He must tell her that, of course, while he was at college he was not in a position to offer his heart and hand, but if she could wait He began to compose speeches in his mind.
They reached the bank and opened the luncheon baskets. Unhampered by Robert the cook had surpassed herself. They spread the white cloth and took up their position around it under the shade of the trees.
Just as Robert was taking up a plate of sandwiches to hand them with a courteous gesture to Miss Cannon, his eyes fell upon the long, white road leading from the village to the riverside and remained fixed there, his face frozen with horror. The hand that held the plate dropped lifelessly back again on to the table-cloth.
Their eyes followed his. A curious figure was cycling along the road--a figure with blackened face and a few drooping feathers on its head, and a door-mat flying in the wind. A crowd of small children ran behind cheering. It was a figure vaguely familiar to them all.
No one spoke. It came nearer and nearer. There was no mistaking it. William came to the end of the road. He did not turn aside to either of the roads by the riverside. He did not even recognise or look at them. With set, colourless face he rode on to the river bank, and straight amongst them. They fled from before his charge.
He rode over the table-cloth, over the sandwiches, patties, rolls and cakes, down the bank and into the river. Fate was against Robert even there. It was a passing boatman who performed the rescue. William emerged soaked to the skin, utterly exhausted, but feeling vaguely heroic.
He was not in the least surprised to see them. He would have been surprised at nothing. And Robert wiped and examined his battered bicycle in impotent fury in the background while Miss Cannon pillowed William's dripping head on her arm, fed him on hot coffee and sandwiches and called him "My poor darling Red Hand!
All through the journey she sustained the character of his faithful squaw. Then, leaving a casual invitation to Robert and Ethel to come over to tea, she departed to pack.
Brown descended the stairs from William's room with a tray on which reposed a half-empty bowl of gruel, and met Robert in the hall. You'd be upset. Who can talk with other people there? No one can. I'd have talked to her on the river. I'd got heaps of things ready in my mind to say. And William comes along and spoils my whole life--and my bicycle. And she's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life. And I've wanted that bicycle for ever so long and it's not fit to ride.
And he'll have to pay for your bicycle being mended. He'll have no pocket money till it's paid for.
You'd think he wouldn't be allowed to go about spoiling people's lives and--and ruining their bicycles. Well, he jolly well won't do it again," he ended darkly. Brown, proceeded in the direction of the kitchen.
Robert turned his haggard countenance upon her as though his ears must have deceived him. I'll wait till he's all right and going about; I won't start till then.
He was passing through one of his not infrequent periods of unpopularity. The climax had come with the gift of sixpence bestowed on him by a timid aunt, who hoped thus to purchase his goodwill. With the sixpence he had bought a balloon adorned with the legs and head of a duck fashioned in cardboard. This could be blown up to its fullest extent and then left to subside. It took several minutes to subside, and during those minutes it emitted a long-drawn-out and high-pitched groan.
The advantage of this was obvious. William could blow it up to its fullest extent in private and leave it to subside in public concealed beneath his coat. While this was going on William looked round as though in bewildered astonishment. He inflated it before he went to breakfast.
He then held it firmly and secretly so as to keep it inflated till he was sitting at the table. Then he let it subside. His mother knocked over a cup of coffee, and his father cut himself with the bread knife. Ethel, his elder sister, indulged in a mild form of nervous breakdown. William sat with a face of startled innocence. But nothing enraged his family so much as William's expression of innocence. They fell upon him, and he defended himself as well as he could. Yes, he was holding the balloon under the table.
Well, he'd blown it up some time ago. He couldn't keep it blown up for ever. He had to let the air out some time. He couldn't help it making a noise when the air went out. It was the way it was made. He hadn't made it. He set off to school with an air of injured innocence--and the balloon.
Observing an elderly and irascible-looking gentleman in front of him, he went a few steps down a back street, blew up his balloon and held it tightly under his coat.
Then, when abreast of the old gentleman, he let it off. The old gentleman gave a leap into the air and glared fiercely around. He glanced at the small virtuous-looking schoolboy with obviously no instrument of torture at his lips, and then concentrated his glare of fury and suspicion on the upper windows.
William hastened on to the next pedestrian. He had quite a happy walk to school. School was at first equally successful. William opened his desk, hastily inflated his balloon, closed his desk, then gazed round with his practised expression of horrified astonishment at what followed. He drove the French master to distraction.
No one stepped out, and the noise continued at intervals. The mathematics master finally discovered and confiscated the balloon.
He added that some people didn't seem to think it was stealing to take other people's things. The only thing that relieves the tedium of going out to dinner is the fact that for a short time one has a rest from William. During preparation in afternoon school he read a story-book kindly lent him by his next-door neighbour.
It was not because he had no work to do that William read a story-book in preparation. It was a mark of defiance to the world in general. It was also a very interesting story-book. It opened with the hero as a small boy misunderstood and ill-treated by everyone around him. Then he ran away. He went to sea, and in a few years made an immense fortune in the goldfields. He returned in the last chapter and forgave his family and presented them with a noble mansion and several shiploads of gold.
The idea impressed William--all except the end part. He thought he'd prefer to have the noble mansion himself and pay rare visits to his family, during which he would listen to their humble apologies, and perhaps give them a nugget or two, but not very much--certainly not much to Ethel.
He wasn't sure whether he'd ever really forgive them. He'd have rooms full of squeaky balloons and trumpets in his house anyway, and he'd keep caterpillars and white rats all over the place too--things they made such a fuss about in their old house--and he'd always go about in dirty boots, and he'd never brush his hair or wash, and he'd keep dozens of motor-cars, and he wouldn't let Ethel go out in any of them.
He was roused from this enthralling day-dream by the discovery and confiscation of his story-book by the master in charge, and the subsequent fury of its owner. In order adequately to express his annoyance, he dropped a little ball of blotting-paper soaked in ink down William's back. William, on attempting retaliation, was sentenced to stay in half an hour after school.
He returned gloomily to his history book upside down and his misanthropic view of life. He compared himself bitterly with the hero of the story-book and decided not to waste another moment of his life in uncongenial surroundings.
He made a firm determination to run away as soon as he was released from school. In his pocket reposed the balloon. He had made the cheering discovery that the mathematics master had left it on his desk, so he had joyfully taken it again into his possession. He thought he might reach the coast before night, and get to the goldfields before next week.
He didn't suppose it took long to make a fortune there. He might be back before next Christmas and--crumbs! He wouldn't go to school, for one thing, and he'd be jolly careful who he gave nuggets to for another. He'd give nuggets to the butcher's boy and the postman, and the man who came to tune the piano, and the chimney-sweep. He wouldn't give any to any of his family, or any of the masters at the school. He'd just serve people out the way they served him. He just would.
The road to the coast seemed rather long, and he was growing rather tired. He walked in a ditch for a change, and then scraped through a hedge and took a short cut across a ploughed field. Dusk was falling fast, and even William's buoyant spirits began to flag.
The fortune part was all very well, but in the meantime he was cold and tired and hungry.
He hadn't yet reached the coast, much less the goldfields. Something must be done. He remembered that the boy in the story had "begged his way" to the coast. William determined to beg his. But at present there seemed nothing to beg it from, except a hawthorn hedge and a scarecrow in the field behind it. He wandered on disconsolately deciding to begin his career as a beggar at the first sign of human habitation. At last he discovered a pair of iron gates through the dusk and, assuming an expression of patient suffering calculated to melt a heart of stone, walked up the drive.
At the front door he smoothed down his hair he had lost his cap on the way , pulled up his stockings, and rang the bell. After an interval a stout gentleman in the garb of a butler opened the door and glared ferociously up and down William.
The stout gentleman interrupted. If you're not, go away. William, on the top step, considered the question for a few minutes. It was dark and cold, with every prospect of becoming darker and colder. He decided to be the new Boots. He found his way round to the back door and knocked firmly. It was opened by a large woman in a print dress and apron. Come in! It was a large, warm, clean kitchen. A small kitchen-maid was peeling potatoes at a sink, and a housemaid in black, with a frilled cap and apron, was powdering her nose before a glass on the wall.
They both turned to stare at William. William decided inwardly that she was to have no share at all in the nuggets.
The kitchen-maid giggled and winked at William, with obviously friendly intent. William mentally promised her half a ship-load of nuggets. William's spirits rose. Sit down at the table. He sat at the table and the cook put a large plate of bread and butter before him. William set to work at once. The house-maid regarded him scornfully. The kitchen-maid giggled again and gave William another wink. William had given himself up to whole-hearted epicurean enjoying of his bread and butter and took no notice of them.
At this moment the butler entered. He subjected the quite unmoved William to another long survey. Mentally he knocked him off the list of nugget-receivers. The butler looked sadly round the room.
Nothin' but eat. Eat all day an' eat all night. Like eatin' better than workin', don't you? The kitchen-maid giggled again, and the housemaid gave a sigh expressive of scorn and weariness as she drew a thin pencil over her eyebrows. Over a chair lay a page's uniform with the conventional row of brass buttons down the front of the coat.
Fix 'em on quick as you can. There's company to dinner to-night. Never mind. With a week or two of stuffin' you'll 'ave most probable bust 'em, so it's as well to 'ang loose first. Now, come on. Bloomin' Bolshevist, I speck, aren't you? William was led down again to the kitchen. The butler threw open a door that led to a small pantry.
You 'ave not," he ended haughtily "the hentry into the servants' 'all. Biggs simpered and straightened his necktie. But I'm feeling tired of doin' knives. The butler advanced slowly and majestically towards William's tousled head, which was still craned around the pantry door.
Here William's head appeared again. He retired precipitately at a hysterical shriek from the kitchen-maid and a roar of fury from the butler. William was sitting by the table, idly toying with a knife. He had experimented upon the knife powder by mixing it with water, and the little brown pies that were the result lay in a row on the mantelpiece.
He had also tasted it, as the dark stains upon his lips testified. His hair was standing straight up on his head as it always did when life was strenuous. He began the conversation. At least, I will have soon. Look here. When I come home rich you show me the buttons an' I'll remember and give you the nuggets. I'll maybe marry you," he promised, "if I've not married anyone else.
Biggs and the housemaid departed to do the honours. The kitchenmaid ran to help with the dishing up, and William was left sitting on the pantry table, idly making patterns in knife powder with his finger. Brushes an' blacking on the shelf. He thought boots would be more interesting than knives.