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AUTHOR OF “THE
BLOOD THAT DRIPPED ON THE DOORMAT,” “THE SCREAM IN
BELGRAVE SQUARE,” “THE VAMPIRE OF BODGER’S ALLEY.”
Synopsis of Previous Chapters.—The Hon.
Lord Baldwin Berkeley, a young Chicago pork dealer, has been much persecuted by
the Society of the Black Hand.A Serbian secret society, implicated
in the murder of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, which led to the first World War.
To escape their machinations he disguises himself as an elderly widower with two children, and migrates to Steeple Bampstead,A small town in Essex. Wodehouse used it later to create Steeple Bumpleigh for Joy in the Morning, 1946.
where he opens a picture-postcard saleroom. Wandering through the fields one afternoon, he comes on Her Grace the Lady Marjorie Stagg-Mantle, the daughter of the local squire, pursuing a mad bull. He rescues the bull, and, getting into conversation with Marjorie, finds that it is she who is, unknown to herself, the rightful possessor of the Rajah’s treasure. Marjorie is annoyed by the loathsome addresses of Marquis the Senior Subaltern Luke Lockhart, a young and dissolute aristocrat. One morning he lures her to a room near the Ball’s Pond Triangle.Ball’s Pond was a small hamlet in the parish of Islington abutting the Newington Road. It was “very much resorted to by the lower orders of society from all parts of the metropolis.”
A Villain’s Wooing.
Marjorie recoiled from the door. It was locked! She was alone with this man!
“Aha, my pretty one!” said Luke, cynically, lighting a cigarette. “So we are alone! At last! You shrink from me? You spurn me? Why? I love you. Damn you, I love you. Why do you spurn me? True, I am a murderer, a forger, a thief, and a liar, but otherwise I’m all right. You love this Baldwin Berkeley? Pah! I will follow you to the end of the earth.”
“You won’t,” cried Marjorie.
“Why won’t I?” enquired Luke, cynically, lighting a cigarette.
“Because,” said Marjorie, all the woman in her flashing from her eyes, “I’m not going there.”
“Ha!” said Luke, cynically, lighting a cigarette. “But enough of this
cross-talkCross-talk comedy acts were a staple of the vaudeville and
music hall scene, relying on appalling puns and jokes. The “Pat and Mike
cross-talk act” featuring two Irish stereotypes
is performed by a number of later Wodehouse characters.
comedy duo business. I have waited too long. Proud girl, you are mine.”
Terrified, the girl recoiled from
him. Following her, he seized her by the wrist. But Marjorie had not played
centre-half for the Steeple Bampstead Mixed Hockey* Club for nothing. With a
quick movement she slipped from his grasp, and, snatching up her parasol, dealt
him a resounding blow across the shinbone with it.
“Sticks!”a violation of field hockey rules wherein one
contestant strikes another with his stick
howled the discomfited scoundrel; but there was no referee to enforce the penalty, and a second blow drove him back. On the wall at his side was hanging the engraving of “The Blessed Damosél.”Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting of the same name.
He tore it from its hook. Armed now, and maddened with rage, he was a terrible foe to face.
Crash! The what-not is on the
ground. Bang! The china “Present from Margate” is in splinters. Over go the
cut-glass ornaments, the framed samples, the
Infant Samuel: Victorian painter
James Sant produced a portrait of an angelic child at prayer with the title Speak
Lord for Thy Servant Heareth, which was reproduced as an engraving and
renamed The Infant Samuel. Plaster busts followed, and Wodehouse, in a
number of books, always seems to have one of them being broken somehow. Women,
Wine and Song! is his first use of “The Infant Samuel.” Shown is Sir
Joshua Reynolds’s The Infant Samuel from 1776.
on the mantelpiece.† . . . . Marjorie’s strength is failing. . . . This is a match in which there is no half-time. . . . . Marjorie feels her strength fail. She staggers against the wall. Cynically lighting a cigarette, Luke Lockhart advances. Then suddenly . . .
(To be continued.)
*Note: Mixed hockey is the Suffragette’s safety-valve.—Editorial note.
†Note.—All these things cost
money, but to a dissolute aristocrat of Luke Lockhart’s type, accustomed to sup
nightly at the
Trocadero Grill Room: The Trocadero Grill Room still sits in the north-east corner of
Piccadilly Circus, immediately behind the London Pavilion. It opened in 1896 as a highly popular
restaurant providing all the luxury, waiters, music etc. of the more expensive restaurants such as
the Ritz and Savoy, but at a much lower price. McCrum writes
that Wodehouse dined there once a week during his early days in London.
“The Trocadero grill-room, with its
staircase of green and grey marbles, and its great room of grey marble and gold
and buff plaster, with mirrors on the walls, with a grill large enough for
an army, and with an orchestra led by Jacob.” From Dinners and
Diners: where and how to dine in London, 1901.
and tell the waiter to keep threepence for himself, money has not the same value that it has for the man in the street.— Author’s note.
Printer’s error corrected above:
Book had “migrate” in synopsis; corrected to “migrates” for parallel grammar.