The Saturday Evening Post, February 24, 1923
THE five-o’clock train, having given itself a spasmodic jerk, began to move slowly out of Paddington Station. The platform past which it was gliding was crowded with a number of the fauna always to be seen at railway stations at such moments, but in their ranks there was no sign of Mr. Ralston McTodd; and Psmith, as he sat opposite Lord Emsworth in a corner seat of a first-class compartment, felt that genial glow of satisfaction which comes to the man who has successfully taken a chance. Until now he had been half afraid that McTodd, having changed his mind, might suddenly appear with bag and baggage—an event which must necessarily have caused confusion and discomfort. His mind was now tranquil. Concerning the future he declined to worry. It would, no doubt, contain its little difficulties, but he was prepared to meet them in the right spirit; and his only trouble in the world now was the difficulty which he was experiencing in avoiding his lordship’s legs, which showed a disposition to pervade the compartment like the tentacles of an octopus. Lord Emsworth rather ran to leg, and his practice of reclining when at ease on the base of his spine was causing him to straddle, like Apollyon in Pilgrim’s Progress, right across the way.
It became manifest that in a journey lasting several hours his society was likely to prove irksome. For the time being, however, he endured it, and listened with polite attention to his host’s remarks on the subject of the Blandings gardens. Lord Emsworth, in a train moving in the direction of home, was behaving like a horse heading for his stable. He snorted eagerly, and spoke at length and with emotion of roses and herbaceous borders.
“It will be dark, I suppose, by the time we arrive,” he said regretfully; “but the first thing tomorrow, my dear fellow, I must take you round and show you my gardens.”
“I shall look forward to it keenly,” said Psmith. “They are, I can readily imagine, distinctly oojah-cum-spiff.”
“I beg your pardon?” said Lord Emsworth with a start.
“Not at all,” said Psmith graciously.
“Er—what did you say?” asked his lordship after a slight pause.
“I was saying that, from all reports, you must have a very nifty display of garden produce at your rural seat.”
“Oh, yes! Oh, most!” said his lordship, looking puzzled. He examined Psmith across the compartment with something of the peering curiosity which he would have bestowed upon a new and unclassified shrub. “Most extraordinary!” he murmured. “I trust, my dear fellow, you will not think me personal, but do you know nobody would imagine that you were a poet. You don’t look like a poet, and, dash it, you don’t talk like a poet!”
“How should a poet talk?”
“Well”—Lord Emsworth considered the point—“well, Miss Peavey—but of course you don’t know Miss Peavey—Miss Peavey is a poetess, and she waylaid me the other morning while I was having a most important conference with McAllister on the subject of bulbs and asked me if I didn’t think that it was fairies’ tear-drops that made the dew. Did you ever hear such dashed nonsense?”
“Evidently an aggravated case. Is Miss Peavey staying at the castle?”
“Is she? You couldn’t shift her with blasting powder. Really, this craze of my sister Constance for filling the house with these infernal literary people is getting on my nerves. I can’t stand these poets and what not. Never could.”
“We must always remember, however,” said Psmith gravely, “that poets are also God’s creatures.”
“Good heavens!” exclaimed his lordship, aghast. “I had forgotten that you were one. What will you think of me, my dear fellow? But of course, as I said a moment ago, you are different. I admit that when Constance told me that she had invited you to the house I was not cheered, but now that I have had the pleasure of meeting you——”
The conversation had worked round to the very point to which Psmith had been wishing to direct it. He was keenly desirous of finding out why Mr. McTodd had been invited to Blandings, and—a still more vital matter—of ascertaining whether, on his arrival there as Mr. McTodd’s understudy, he was going to meet people who knew the poet by sight. On this latter point, it seemed to him, hung the question of whether he was about to enjoy a delightful visit to a historic country house in the society of Eve Halliday—or leave the train at the next stop and omit to return to it.
“It was extremely kind of Lady Constance,” he hazarded, “to invite a perfect stranger to Blandings.”
“Oh, she’s always doing that sort of thing,” said his lordship. “It didn’t matter to her that she’d never seen you in her life. She had read your books, you know, and liked them; and when she heard that you were coming to England she wrote to you.”
“I see,” said Psmith, relieved.
“Of course it is all right as it has turned out,” said Lord Emsworth handsomely. “As I say, you’re different. And how you came to write that—that——”
“Bilge?” suggested Psmith.
“The very word I was about to employ, my dear fellow. No, no, I don’t mean that! I—I—capital stuff, no doubt, capital stuff; but——”
“Constance tried to make me read the things, but I couldn’t. I fell asleep over them.”
“I hope you rested well.”
“I—er—the fact is, I suppose they were beyond me. I couldn’t see what it was all about.”
“If you would care to have another pop at them,” said Psmith agreeably, “I have a complete set in my bag.”
“No, no, my dear fellow! Thank you very much, thank you a thousand times! I—er—find that reading in the train tries my eyes.”
“Ah, you would prefer that I read them aloud?”
“No, no!” A look of hunted alarm came into his lordship’s speaking countenance at the suggestion. “As a matter of fact, I generally take a short nap at the beginning of a railway journey. I find it refreshing and—er—in short, refreshing. You will excuse me?”
“If you think you can get to sleep all right without the aid of my poems, certainly.”
“You won’t think me rude?”
“Not at all, not at all. By the way, am I likely to meet any old friends at Blandings?”
“Eh? Oh, no! There will be nobody but ourselves. Except my sister and Miss Peavey, of course. You said you had not met Miss Peavey, I think?”
“I have not had that pleasure. I am, of course, looking forward to it with the utmost keenness.”
Lord Emsworth eyed him for a moment, astonished; then concluded the conversation by closing his eyes defensively. Psmith was left to his reflections, which a few minutes later were interrupted by a smart kick on the shin, as Lord Emsworth, a jumpy sleeper, began to throw his long legs about. Psmith moved to the other end of the seat, and taking his bag down from the rack extracted a slim volume bound in squashy mauve. After gazing at this in an unfriendly manner for a moment, he opened it at random and began to read. His first move on leaving Lord Emsworth at the florist’s had been to spend a portion of his slender capital on the works of Ralston McTodd in order not to be taken at a disadvantage in the event of questions about them at Blandings; but he speedily realized, as he dipped into the poems, that anything in the nature of a prolonged study of them was likely to spoil his little holiday. They were not light summer reading.
Across the pale parabola of joy ——
A gurgling snort from the other end of the compartment abruptly detached his mind from its struggle with this mystic line. He perceived that his host had slipped even farther down onto his spine and was now lying with open mouth in an attitude suggestive of dislocation. And as he looked there was a whistling sound, and from the back of his lordship’s throat there proceeded another snore.
Psmith rose and took his book of poems out into the corridor with the purpose of roaming along the train until he should find an empty compartment in which to read in peace. With the two adjoining compartments he had no luck. One was occupied by an elderly man with a retriever, while the presence of a baby in the other ruled it out of consideration. The third, however, looked more promising. It was not actually empty, but there was only one occupant, and he was asleep. He was lying back in the far corner with a large silk handkerchief draped over his face and his feet propped up on the seat opposite. His society did not seem likely to act as a bar to the study of Mr. McTodd’s masterpieces. Psmith sat down and resumed his reading.
Across the pale parabola of joy ——
Psmith knitted his brow. It was just the sort of line which was likely to have puzzled his patroness, Lady Constance, and he anticipated that she would come to him directly he arrived and ask for an explanation. It would obviously be a poor start for his visit to confess that he had no theory as to its meaning himself. He read it again and tried to evolve one.
Across the pale parabola of joy ——
A sound like two or three pigs feeding rather noisily in the middle of a thunderstorm interrupted his meditations. Psmith laid his book down and gazed in a pained way across the compartment. The silk handkerchief was heaving gently like seaweed on a ground swell. He felt aggrieved, and there came to him a sense of being unfairly put upon, as towards the end of his troubles it might have come upon Job. This, he felt, was too much. He was being harried.
The man in the corner went on snoring.
There is always a way. Almost immediately Psmith saw what Napoleon would have done in this crisis. On the seat beside the sleeper was lying a compact little suitcase with hard, sharp edges. Rising softly, Psmith edged along the compartment and secured this. Then, having balanced it carefully on the rack above the sleeper’s stomach, he returned to his seat to await developments.
These were not long in coming. The train, now flying at its best speed through open country, was shaking itself at intervals in a vigorous way as it raced along. A few seconds later it apparently passed over some points and shivered briskly down its whole length. The suitcase wabbled insecurely, hesitated, and fell chunkily in the exact middle of its owner’s waistcoat. There was a smothered gulp beneath the handkerchief. The sleeper sat up with a jerk. The handkerchief fell off. And there was revealed to Psmith’s interested gaze the face of the Hon. Freddie Threepwood.
“GOO!” observed Freddie. He removed the bag from his midriff and began to massage the stricken spot. Then, suddenly perceiving that he was not alone, he looked up and saw Psmith.
“Goo!” said Freddie, and sat staring wildly.
Nobody is more alive than we are to the fact that the dialogue of Freddie Threepwood, recorded above, is not bright. Nevertheless, those were his opening remarks, and the excuse must be that he had passed through a trying time and had just received two shocks, one after the other. From the first of these, the physical impact of the suitcase, he was recovering; but the second had simply paralyzed him. When, the mists of sleep having cleared away, he saw sitting but a few feet away from him on the train that was carrying him home the very man with whom he had plotted in the lobby of the Piccadilly Palace Hotel, a cold fear gripped Freddie’s very vitals.
Freddie’s troubles had begun when he just missed the 12:50 train. This disaster had perturbed him greatly, for he could not forget his father’s stern injunctions on the subject. But what had really upset him was the fact that he had come within an ace of missing the five o’clock train as well. He had spent the afternoon in a motion-picture palace, and the fascination of the film had caused him to lose all sense of time, so that only the slow fade-out on the embrace and the words “The End” reminded him to look at his watch. A mad rush had got him to Paddington just as the five-o’clock express was leaving the station. Exhausted, he had fallen into a troubled sleep, from which he had been aroused by a violent blow in the waistcoat and the nightmare vision of Psmith in the seat across the compartment. One cannot wonder in these circumstances that Freddie did not immediately soar to the heights of eloquence.
The picture which the Hon. Frederick Threepwood had selected for his patronage that afternoon was the well-known super-super-film Fangs of the Past, featuring Bertha Blevitch and Maurice Heddlestone, which, as everybody knows, is all about blackmail. Green-walled by primeval hills, bathed in the golden sunshine of peace and happiness, the village of Honeydean slumbered in the clear morning air. But off the train from the city stepped a stranger—[The Stranger, Maxwell Bannister]. He inquired of a passing rustic—[The Passing Rustic, Claude Hepworth]—the way to the great house where Myrtle Dale, the Lady Bountiful of the village—well, anyway, it is all about blackmail and it had affected Freddie profoundly. It still colored his imagination, and the conclusion to which he came the moment he saw Psmith was that the latter had shadowed him and was following him home with the purpose of extracting hush money. And as the vision of Lady Constance rose before his eyes, and he remembered how he had asked this man before him to steal her necklace, damp perspiration beaded Freddie’s forehead and he strove in vain for speech. While he was still gurgling wordlessly, Psmith opened the conversation.
“A delightful and unexpected encounter, Comrade Threepwood. I thought you had left the metropolis some hours since.”
Freddie looked like a cornered dormouse. The mention of his name had confirmed his worst fears.
“I was sure, when I saw you at the hotel, that we had met before; but it was only later that I managed to place you. The solution of the mystery is a pleasing and joyful one. We were at Eton together, Comrade Threepwood. Not intimates, alas, for you were some years my junior, and the charm of your personality, now so marked, had not then developed. Still, it is possible that you may remember me.”
At this moment a voice from the corridor spoke.
“Ah, there you are, my dear fellow!”
Lord Emsworth was beaming in the doorway. His slumbers, like those of Freddie, had not lasted long. He had been aroused only a few minutes after Psmith’s departure by the arrival of the retriever from the next compartment, which, bored by the society of its owner, had strolled off on a tour of investigation, and finding next door an old acquaintance in the person of his lordship had jumped on the seat and licked his face with such hearty good will that further sleep was out of the question. Being awake, Lord Emsworth, as always when he was awake, had begun to potter. When he saw Freddie his amiability suffered a shock. “Frederick! I thought I told you to be sure to return on the 12:50 train!”
“Missed it, guv’nor,” mumbled Freddie thickly. “Not my fault.”
“H’mph!” His father seemed about to pursue the subject, but the fact that a stranger, and one who was his guest, was present apparently decided him to avoid anything in the shape of family wrangles. He peered from Freddie to Psmith and back again. “Do you two know each other?” he said.
“Not yet,” said Psmith quickly. “We only met a moment ago.”
“My son Frederick,” said Lord Emsworth, rather in the voice with which he would have called attention to the presence of a slug among his flowers. “Frederick, this is Mr. McTodd, the poet, who is coming to stay at Blandings.”
Freddie started, and his mouth opened. But, meeting Psmith’s friendly gaze, he closed the orifice again without speaking. He licked his lips in an overwrought way.
“You’ll find me next door if you want me,” said Lord Emsworth to Psmith. “Just discovered that George Willard, very old friend of mine, is in there. Never saw him get on the train. His dog came into my compartment and licked my face. One of my neighbors. A remarkable rose grower. As you are so interested in flowers, I will take you over to his place some time. Why don’t you join us now?”
“I would prefer, if you do not mind,” said Psmith, “to remain here for the moment and foster what I feel sure is about to develop into a great and lasting friendship. I feel that your son and I will have much to talk about together.”
“Very well, my dear fellow. We will meet at dinner in the restaurant car.”
Lord Emsworth pottered off, and Psmith rose and closed the door. He returned to his seat to find Freddie regarding him with a tortured expression in his rather prominent eyes. Freddie’s brain had had more exercise in the last few minutes than in years of his normal life, and he was feeling the strain.
“I say, what?” he observed feebly.
“If there is anything,” said Psmith kindly, “that I can do to clear up any little difficulty that is perplexing you, call on me. What is biting you?”
Freddie swallowed convulsively.
“I say, he said your name was McTodd!”
“But you said we were at Eton together.”
“I don’t remember you.”
“And yet I gave you every cause to, Comrade Threepwood. I recollect administering six of the best and juiciest to you with the back of a hairbrush on one occasion when you and other bright spirits sneaked into my room and started to upset the furniture.”
Memory woke like a flash in the Honorable Freddie.
“Great Scott! I remember!”
“I thought you would. I took considerable pains to impress my personality on you.”
“But—good Lord, of course I remember you now! Your name was Smith.”
“It still is. Psmith. The p is silent.”
“But father called you McTodd.”
“He thinks I am. It is a harmless error, and I see no reason why it should be discouraged.”
“But why does he think you’re McTodd?”
“It is a long story, which you may find tedious. But if you really wish to hear it——”
Nothing could have exceeded the raptness of Freddie’s attention as he listened to the tale of the encounter with Lord Emsworth at the Senior Conservative Club.
“Do you mean to say,” he demanded at its conclusion, “that you’re coming to Blandings pretending to be this poet blighter?”
“That is the scheme.”
“I have my reasons, Comrade Threepwood. You will pardon me if I do not go into them. And now,” said Psmith, “to resume our very interesting chat which was unfortunately cut short this morning, why do you want me to steal your aunt’s necklace?”
Freddie jumped. For the moment, so tensely had the fact of his companion’s audacity chained his interest, he had actually forgotten about the necklace.
“Great Scott!” he exclaimed. “Why, of course!”
“You still have not made it quite clear.”
“It fits splendidly.”
“I mean to say, the great difficulty would have been to find a way of getting you into the house, and here you are, coming there as this poet bird. Topping!”
“If,” said Psmith, regarding him patiently through his eyeglass, “I do not seem to be immediately infected by your joyous enthusiasm, put it down to the fact that I haven’t the remotest idea what you’re talking about. Could you give me a pointer or two? What, for instance, assuming that I agreed to steal your aunt’s necklace, would you expect me to do with it, when and if stolen?”
“Why, hand it over to me!”
“I see. And what would you do with it?”
“Hand it over to my uncle.”
“And whom would he hand it over to?”
“Look here,” said Freddie, “I might as well start at the beginning.”
“An excellent idea.”
The speed at which the train was now proceeding had begun to render conversation in anything but stentorian tones somewhat difficult. Freddie accordingly bent forward till his mouth almost touched Psmith’s ear.
“You see, it’s like this: My uncle, old Joe Keeble——”
“Keeble?” said Psmith. “Why,” he murmured meditatively, “is that name familiar?”
“Don’t interrupt, old lad,” pleaded Freddie.
“I stand corrected.”
“Uncle Joe has a stepdaughter—Phyllis, her name is—and some time ago she popped off and married a cove called Jackson——”
Psmith did not interrupt the narrative again, but as it proceeded his look of interest deepened. And at the conclusion he patted his companion encouragingly on the shoulder.
“The proceeds, then, of this jewel robbery, if it comes off,” he said, “will go to establish the Jackson home on a firm footing? Am I right in thinking that?”
“There is no danger—you will pardon the suggestion—of you clinging like glue to the swag and using it to maintain yourself in the position to which you are accustomed?”
“Absolutely not! Uncle Joe is giving me—er—giving me a bit for myself. Just a small bit, you understand. This is the scheme: You sneak the necklace and hand it over to me. I push the necklace over to Uncle Joe, who hides it somewhere for the moment. There is the dickens of a fuss, and Uncle Joe comes out strong by telling Aunt Constance that he’ll buy her another necklace just as good. Then he takes the stones out of the necklace, has them reset and gives them to Aunt Constance. Looks like a new necklace, if you see what I mean. Then he draws a check for twenty thousand quid, which Aunt Constance naturally thinks is for the new necklace, and he shoves the money somewhere as a little private account. He gives Phyllis her money and everybody’s happy. Aunt Constance has got her necklace, Phyllis has got her money, and all that’s happened is that Aunt Constance’s and Uncle Joe’s combined bank balance has had a bit of a hole knocked in it. See?”
“I see. It is a little difficult to follow all the necklaces. I seemed to count about seventeen of them while you were talking, but I suppose I was wrong. Yes, I see, Comrade Threepwood, and I may say at once that you can rely on my coöperation.”
“You’ll do it?”
“Of course,” said Freddie awkwardly, “I’ll see that you get a bit all right. I mean——”
Psmith waved his hand deprecatingly.
“My dear Comrade Threepwood, let us not become sordid on this glad occasion. As far as I am concerned, there will be no charge.”
“What? But look here——”
“Any assistance I can give will be offered in a purely amateur spirit. I would have mentioned before, only I was reluctant to interrupt you, that Mike Jackson is my boyhood chum, and that Phyllis, his wife, injects into my life the few beams of sunshine that illumine its dreary round. I have long desired to do something to ameliorate their lot, and now that the chance has come I am delighted. It is true that I am not a man of affluence—my bank manager, I am told, winces in a rather painful manner whenever my name is mentioned—but I am not so reduced that I must charge a fee for performing on behalf of a pal a simple act of courtesy like pinching a twenty-thousand-pound necklace.”
“Good Lord! Fancy that!”
“Fancy what, Comrade Threepwood?”
“Fancy your knowing Phyllis and her husband.”
“It is odd, no doubt. But true. Many a whack at the cold beef have I had on Sunday evenings under their roof, and I am much obliged to you for putting in my way this opportunity of repaying their hospitality. Thank you.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” said Freddie, somewhat bewildered by this eloquence.
“Even if the little enterprise meets with disaster, the reflection that I did my best for the young couple will be a great consolation to me when I am serving my bit of time in Wormwood Scrubbs. It will cheer me up. The jailers will cluster outside the door to listen to me singing in my cell. My pet rat, as he creeps out to share the crumbs of my breakfast, will wonder why I whistle as I pick the morning’s oakum. I shall join in the hymns on Sundays in a way that will electrify the chaplain. That is to say, if anything goes wrong and I am what I believe is technically termed copped. I say if,” said Psmith, gazing solemnly at his companion. “But I do not intend to be copped. I have never gone in largely for crime hitherto, but something tells me I shall be rather good at it. I look forward confidently to making a nice clean job of the thing. And now, Comrade Threepwood, I must ask you to excuse me while I get the half nelson on this rather poisonous poetry of good old McTodd’s. From the cursory glance I have taken at it, the stuff doesn’t seem to mean anything. I think the boy’s cuckoo. You don’t happen to understand the expression ‘Across the pale parabola of joy,’ do you? . . . I feared as much. Well, pip-pip for the present, Comrade Threepwood. I shall now ask you to retire into your corner and amuse yourself for a few moments as you best can. I must concentrate, concentrate, concentrate.”
And Psmith, having put his feet up on the opposite seat and reopened the mauve volume, began to read. Freddie, his mind still in a whirl, looked out of the window at the passing scenery in a mood which was a nice blend of elation and apprehension.
ALTHOUGH the hands of the station clock pointed to several minutes past nine, it was still apparently early evening when the train drew up at the platform of Market Blandings and discharged its distinguished passengers. The sun, taken in as usual by the never-failing practical joke of the Daylight Saving Act, had only just set, and a golden afterglow lingered on the fields as the car which had met the train purred over the two miles of country road that separated the little town from the castle. As they passed in between the great stone gateposts and shot up the winding drive the soft murmur of the engine seemed to deepen rather than break the soothing stillness. The air was fragrant with indescribable English scents. Somewhere in the distance sheep bells tinkled; rabbits, waggling white tails, bolted across the path; and once a herd of agitated deer made a brief appearance among the trees. The only thing that disturbed the magic hush was the fluting voice of Lord Emsworth, on whom the spectacle of his beloved property had acted as an immediate stimulant. Unlike his son Freddie, who sat silent in his corner, wrestling with his hopes and fears, Lord Emsworth had plunged into a perfect Niagara of speech the moment the car entered the park. In a high tenor voice and with wide, excited gestures he pointed out to Psmith a number of interesting objects by the wayside—oaks with a history and rhododendrons with a past; his conversation as they drew near the castle and came in sight of the flower beds taking on an almost lyrical note and becoming a sort of anthem of gladness, through which, like some theme in the minor, ran a series of opprobrious observations on the subject of Angus McAllister.
Beach the butler, solicitously scooping them out of the car at the front door, announced that her ladyship and Miss Peavey were taking their after-dinner coffee in the arbor by the bowling green; and presently Psmith, conducted by his lordship, found himself shaking hands with a strikingly handsome woman in whom, though her manner was friendliness itself, he could detect a marked suggestion of the formidable. Æsthetically, he admired Lady Constance’s appearance; but he could not conceal from himself that in the peculiar circumstances he would have preferred something rather more fragile and drooping. Lady Constance conveyed the impression that anybody who had the choice between stealing anything from her and stirring up a nest of hornets with a walking stick would do well to choose the hornets.
“How do you do, Mr. McTodd?” said Lady Constance with great amiability. “I am so glad you were able to come, after all.”
Psmith wondered what she meant by “after all,” but there were so many things about his situation calculated to tax the mind that he had no desire to probe slight verbal ambiguities. He shook her hand and replied that it was very kind of her to say so.
“We are quite a small party at present,” continued Lady Constance, “but we are expecting a number of people quite soon. For the moment Aileen and you are our only guests. Oh, I am sorry, I should have—Miss Peavey, Mr. McTodd.”
The slim and willowy female who during this brief conversation had been waiting in an attitude of suspended animation, gazing at Psmith with large wistful eyes, stepped forward. She clasped Psmith’s hand in hers, held it, and in a low, soft voice, like thick cream made audible, uttered one reverent word: “Maître!”
“I beg your pardon?” said Psmith.
A young man capable of bearing himself with calm and dignity in most circumstances, however trying, he found his poise wabbling under the impact of Miss Aileen Peavey.
Miss Peavey often had this effect on the less soulful type of man, especially in the mornings, when such men are not at their strongest and best. When she came into the breakfast room of a country house—and most of her time was spent in paying rounds of country-house visits—brave men who had been up a bit late the night before quailed and tried to hide behind newspapers. She was the sort of woman who tells a man who is propping his eyes open with his fingers and endeavoring to correct a headache with strong tea that she was up at six watching the dew fade off the grass, and didn’t he think that those wisps of morning mist were the elves’ bridal veils. She had large, fine, melancholy eyes, and was apt to droop dreamily.
“Master!” said Miss Peavey, obligingly translating.
There did not seem to be any immediate comeback to a remark like this, so Psmith contented himself with beaming genially at her through his monocle; and Miss Peavey came to bat again.
“How wonderful that you were able to come—after all!”
Again this after-all motive creeping into the theme!
“You know Miss Peavey’s work, of course?” said Lady Constance, smiling pleasantly on her two celebrities.
“Who does not?” said Psmith courteously.
“Oh, do you?” said Miss Peavey, gratification causing her slender body to perform a sort of ladylike shimmy down its whole length. “I scarcely hoped that you would know my name. My Canadian sales have not been large.”
“Quite large enough,” said Psmith. “I mean, of course,” he added with a paternal smile, “that, while your delicate art may not have a universal appeal in a young country, it is intensely appreciated by a small and select body of the intelligentsia.”
And if that was not the stuff to give them, he reflected with not a little complacency, he was dashed.
“Your own wonderful poems,” replied Miss Peavey, “are, of course, known the whole world over. Oh, Mr. McTodd, you can hardly appreciate how I feel, meeting you! It is like the realization of some golden dream of childhood. It is like——”
Here the Hon. Freddie Threepwood remarked suddenly that he was going to pop into the house for a whisky and soda. As he had not previously spoken, his observation had something of the quality of a voice from the tomb. The daylight was ebbing fast now, and in the shadows he had contrived to pass out of sight as well as out of mind.
Miss Peavey started like an abruptly awakened somnambulist, and Psmith was at last able to release his hand, which he had begun to look on as gone beyond his control forever. Until this fortunate interruption there had seemed no reason why Miss Peavey should not have continued to hold it till bedtime.
Freddie’s departure had the effect of breaking a spell. Lord Emsworth, who had been standing perfectly still, with vacant eyes, like a dog listening to a noise a long way off, came to life with a jerk.
“I’m going to have a look at my flowers,” he announced.
“Don’t be silly, Clarence,” said his sister. “It’s much too dark to see flowers.”
“I could smell ’em,” retorted his lordship argumentatively.
It seemed as if the party must break up, for already his lordship had begun to potter off, when a newcomer arrived to solidify it again.
“Ah, Baxter, my dear fellow,” said Lord Emsworth, “here we are, you see.”
“Mr. Baxter,” said Lady Constance, “I want you to meet Mr. McTodd.”
“Mr. McTodd!” said the new arrival, on a note of surprise.
“Yes, he found himself able to come, after all.”
“Ah!” said the Efficient Baxter.
It occurred to Psmith as a passing thought, to which he gave no more than a momentary attention, that this spectacled and capable looking man was gazing at him, as they shook hands, with a curious intensity. But possibly, he reflected, this was merely a species of optical illusion due to the other’s spectacles. Baxter, staring through his spectacles, often gave people the impression of possessing an eye that could pierce six inches of Harveyized steel and stick out on the other side. Having registered in his consciousness the fact that he had been stared at keenly by this stranger, Psmith thought no more of the matter.
In thus lightly dismissing the Baxterian stare Psmith had acted injudiciously. He should have examined it more closely and made an effort to analyze it, for it was by no means without its message. It was a stare of suspicion. Vague suspicion as yet, but nevertheless suspicion. Rupert Baxter was one of those men whose chief characteristic is a disposition to suspect their fellows. He did not suspect them of this or that definite crime; he simply suspected them. He had not yet definitely accused Psmith in his mind of any specific tort or malfeasance. He merely had a nebulous feeling that he would bear watching.
Miss Peavey now fluttered again into the center of things. On the arrival of Baxter she had withdrawn for a moment into the background, but she was not the woman to stay there long. She came forward, holding out a small oblong book, which with a languishing firmness she pressed into Psmith’s hands.
“Could I persuade you, Mr. McTodd,” said Miss Peavey pleadingly, “to write some little thought in my autograph book and sign it? I have a fountain pen.”
Light flooded the arbor. The Efficient Baxter, who knew where everything was, had found and pressed the switch. He did this not so much to oblige Miss Peavey as to enable him to obtain a clearer view of the visitor. With each minute that passed the Efficient Baxter was finding himself more and more doubtful in his mind about this visitor.
“There!” said Miss Peavey, welcoming the illumination.
Psmith tapped his chin thoughtfully with the fountain pen. He felt that he should have foreseen this emergency earlier. If ever there was a woman who was bound to have an autograph book, that woman was Miss Peavey.
“Just some little thought——”
Psmith hesitated no longer. In a firm hand he wrote the words “Across the pale parabola of joy”—added an unfaltering “Ralston McTodd,” and handed the book back.
“How strange!” sighed Miss Peavey.
“May I look?” said Baxter, moving quickly to her side.
“How strange!” repeated Miss Peavey. “To think that you should have chosen that line! There are several of your more mystic passages that I meant to ask you to explain, but particularly ‘Across the pale parabola of joy.’ ”
“You find it difficult to understand?”
“A little, I confess.”
“Well, well,” said Psmith indulgently, “perhaps I did put a bit of top spin on that one.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I say, perhaps it is a little obscure. We must have a long chat about it—later on.”
“Why not now?” demanded the Efficient Baxter, flashing his spectacles.
“I am rather tired,” said Psmith with gentle reproach, “after my journey. Fatigued. We writers——”
“Of course,” said Miss Peavey with an indignant glance at the secretary. “Mr. Baxter does not understand the sensitive poetic temperament.”
“A bit earthy, eh?” said Psmith tolerantly. “A trifle unspiritual? So I thought, so I thought. One of these strong, hard men of affairs, I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Shall we go and find Lord Emsworth, Mr. McTodd?” said Miss Peavey, dismissing the fermenting Baxter with a scornful look. “He wandered off just now. I suppose he is among his flowers. Flowers are very beautiful by night.”
“Indeed, yes,” said Psmith. “And also by day. When I am surrounded by flowers a sort of divine peace floods over me, and the rough, harsh world seems far away. I feel soothed, tranquil. I sometimes think, Miss Peavey, that flowers must be the souls of little children who have died in their innocence.”
“What a beautiful thought, Mr. McTodd!” exclaimed Miss Peavey.
“Yes,” agreed Psmith. “Don’t pinch it. It’s copyright.”
The darkness swallowed them up. Lady Constance turned to the Efficient Baxter, who was brooding with furrowed brow.
“Charming, is he not?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said I thought Mr. McTodd was charming.”
“I am so glad that he was able to come, after all. That telegram he sent this afternoon canceling his visit seemed so curt.”
“So I thought it.”
“Almost as if he had taken offense at something and decided to have nothing to do with us.”
Lady Constance shivered delicately. A cool breeze had sprung up. She drew her wrap more closely about her shapely shoulders and began to walk to the house. Baxter did not accompany her. The moment she had gone he switched off the light and sat down, chin in hand. That massive brain was working hard.
“MISS HALLIDAY,” announced the Efficient Baxter, removing another letter from its envelope and submitting it to a swift, keen scrutiny, “arrives at about three today. She is catching the 12:50 train.”
He placed the letter on the pile beside his plate, and having decapitated an egg peered sharply into its interior as if hoping to surprise guilty secrets. For it was the breakfast hour, and the members of the house party, scattered up and down the long table, were fortifying their tissues against another day. An agreeable scent of bacon floated over the scene like a benediction.
Lord Emsworth looked up from the seed catalogue in which he was immersed. For some time past his enjoyment of the meal had been marred by a vague sense of something missing, and now he knew what it was.
“Coffee!” he said, not violently but in the voice of a good man oppressed. “I want coffee! Why have I no coffee? Constance, my dear, I should have coffee. Why have I none?”
“I’m sure I gave you some,” said Lady Constance, brightly presiding over the beverages at the other end of the table.
“Then where is it?” demanded his lordship clinchingly.
Baxter—almost regretfully, it seemed—gave the egg a clean bill of health and turned in his able way to cope with this domestic problem.
“Your coffee is behind the catalogue you are reading, Lord Emsworth. You propped the catalogue against your cup.”
“Did I? Did I? Why, so I did! Bless my soul!” His lordship, relieved, took an invigorating sip. “What were you saying just then, my dear fellow?”
“I have had a letter from Miss Halliday,” said Baxter. “She writes that she is catching the 12:50 train at Paddington, which means that she should arrive at Market Blandings at about three.”
“Who,” asked Miss Peavey in a low, thrilling voice, ceasing for a moment to peck at her plate of kedgeree, “is Miss Halliday?”
“The exact question I was about to ask myself,” said Lord Emsworth. “Baxter, my dear fellow, who is Miss Halliday?”
Baxter, with a stifled sigh, was about to refresh his employer’s memory when Psmith anticipated him. Psmith had been consuming toast and marmalade with his customary languid grace, and up till now had firmly checked all attempts to engage him in conversation.
“Miss Halliday,” he said, “is a very old and valued friend of mine. We two have, so to speak, pulled the gowans fine. I had been hoping to hear that she had been sighted on the horizon.”
The effect of these words on two of the company was somewhat remarkable. Baxter, hearing them, gave such a violent start that he spilled half the contents of his cup; and Freddie, who had been flitting like a butterfly among the dishes on the sideboard, and had just decided to help himself to scrambled eggs, deposited a liberal spoonful on the carpet, where it was found and salvaged a moment later by Lady Constance’s spaniel.
Psmith did not observe these phenomena, for he had returned to his toast and marmalade. He thus missed encountering perhaps the keenest glance that had ever come through Rupert Baxter’s spectacles. It was not a protracted glance, but while it lasted it was like the ray from an oxy-acetylene blowpipe.
“A friend of yours?” said Lord Emsworth. “Indeed? Of course, Baxter, I remember now. Miss Halliday is the young lady who is coming to catalogue the library.”
“What a delightful task!” cooed Miss Peavey. “To live among the stored-up thoughts of dead and gone genius!”
“You had better go down and meet her, my dear fellow,” said Lord Emsworth. “At the station, you know,” he continued, clarifying his meaning. “She will be glad to see you.”
“I was about to suggest it myself,” said Psmith.
“Though why the library needs cataloguing,” said his lordship, returning to a problem which still vexed his soul when he had leisure to give a thought to it, “I can’t—however——”
He finished his coffee and rose from the table. A stray shaft of sunlight had fallen provocatively on his bald head, and sunshine always made him restive.
“Are you going to your flowers, Lord Emsworth?” asked Miss Peavey.
“Eh? What? Yes. Oh, yes. Going to have a look at those lobelias.”
“I will accompany you, if I may,” said Psmith.
“Eh? Why, certainly, certainly!”
“I have always held,” said Psmith, “that there is no finer tonic than a good look at a lobelia immediately after breakfast. Doctors, I believe, recommend it.”
“Oh, I say,” said Freddie hastily as he reached the door, “can I have a couple of words with you a bit later on?”
“A thousand if you wish it,” said Psmith. “You will find me somewhere out there in the great open spaces where men are men.”
He included the entire company in a benevolent smile, and left the room.
“How charming he is!” sighed Miss Peavey. “Don’t you think so, Mr. Baxter?”
The Efficient Baxter seemed for a moment to find some difficulty in replying.
“Oh, very,” he said, but not heartily.
“And such a soul! It shines on that wonderful brow of his, doesn’t it?”
“He has a good forehead,” said Lady Constance. “But I wish he wouldn’t wear his hair so short. Somehow it makes him seem unlike a poet.”
Freddie, alarmed, swallowed a mouthful of scrambled egg.
“Oh, he’s a poet all right!” he said hastily.
“Well, really, Freddie,” said Lady Constance, piqued, “I think we hardly need you to tell us that.”
“No, no, of course. But what I mean is, in spite of his wearing his hair short, you know.”
“I ventured to speak to him of that yesterday,” said Miss Peavey, “and he said he rather expected to be wearing it even shorter very soon.”
“Freddie!” cried Lady Constance with asperity. “What are you doing?”
A brown lake of tea was filling the portion of the tablecloth immediately opposite the Hon. Frederick Threepwood. Like the Efficient Baxter a few minutes before, sudden emotion had caused him to upset his cup.
THE scrutiny of his lordship’s lobelias had palled upon Psmith at a fairly early stage in the proceedings, and he was sitting on the terrace wall enjoying a meditative cigarette when Freddie found him.
“Ah, Comrade Threepwood,” said Psmith, “welcome to Blandings Castle! You said something about wishing to have speech with me, if I remember rightly?”
The Honorable Freddie cast a nervous glance about him and seated himself on the wall.
“I say,” he said, “I wish you wouldn’t say things like that.”
“Like what, Comrade Threepwood?”
“What you said to the Peavey woman.”
“I recollect having a refreshing chat with Miss Peavey yesterday afternoon,” said Psmith, “but I cannot recall saying anything calculated to bring the blush of shame to the cheek of modesty. What observation of mine was it that meets with your censure?”
“Why, that stuff about expecting to wear your hair shorter. If you’re going to go about saying that sort of thing—well, dash it, you might just as well give the whole bally show away at once and have done with it!”
Psmith nodded gravely.
“Your generous heat, Comrade Threepwood, is not unjustified. It was undoubtedly an error of judgment. If I have a fault—which I am not prepared to admit—it is a perhaps ungentlemanly desire to pull that curious female’s leg. A stronger man than myself might well find it hard to battle against the temptation. However, now that you have called it to my notice, it shall not occur again. In future I will moderate the persiflage. Cheer up, therefore, Comrade Threepwood, and let us see that merry smile of yours, of which I hear such good reports.”
The appeal failed to alleviate Freddie’s gloom. He smote morosely at a fly which had settled on his furrowed brow.
“I’m getting as jumpy as a cat,” he said.
“Fight against this unmanly weakness,” urged Psmith. “As far as I can see, everything is going along nicely.”
“I’m not so sure. I believe that blighter Baxter suspects something.”
“What do you think he suspects?”
“Why, that there’s something fishy about you.”
“I would be infinitely obliged to you, Comrade Threepwood, if you would not use that particular adjective. It awakens old memories, all very painful. But let us go more deeply into this matter, for you interest me strangely. Why do you think that cheery old Baxter, a delightful personality if ever I met one, suspects me?”
“It’s the way he looks at you.”
“I know what you mean, but I attribute no importance to it. As far as I have been able to ascertain during my brief visit, he looks at everybody and everything in precisely the same way. Only last night at dinner I observed him glaring with keen mistrust at about as blameless and innocent a plate of clear soup as was ever dished up. He then proceeded to get outside it with envious enjoyment. So possibly you are all wrong about his motive for looking at me like that. It may be admiration.”
“Well, I don’t like it.”
“Nor, from an æsthetic point of view, do I. But we must bear these things manfully. We must remind ourselves that it is Baxter’s misfortune rather than his fault that he looks like a dyspeptic lizard.”
Freddie was not to be consoled. His gloom deepened.
“And it isn’t only Baxter.”
“What else is on your mind?”
“The whole atmosphere of the place is getting rummy, if you know what I mean.” He bent towards Psmith and whispered pallidly, “I say, I believe that new housemaid is a detective!”
Psmith eyed him patiently.
“Which new housemaid, Comrade Threepwood? Brooding, as I do, pretty tensely all the time on deep and wonderful subjects, I have little leisure to keep tab on the domestic staff. Is there a new housemaid?”
“Yes. Susan her name is.”
“Susan? Susan? That sounds all right. Just the name a real housemaid would have.”
“Did you ever,” demanded Freddie earnestly, “see a real housemaid sweep under a bureau?”
“Caught her at it in my room this morning.”
“But isn’t it a trifle far-fetched to imagine that she is a detective? Why should she be a detective?”
“Well, I’ve seen such a dashed lot of films where the housemaid or the parlor maid or what not were detectives. Makes a fellow uneasy.”
“Fortunately,” said Psmith, “there is no necessity to remain in a state of doubt. I can give you an unfailing method by means of which you may discover if she is what she would have us believe her.”
“Precisely! Go to her and say, ‘Susan, you’re a very pretty girl——’ ”
“But she isn’t.”
“We will assume, for purposes of argument, that she is. Go to her and say, ‘Susan, you are a very pretty girl. What would you do if I were to kiss you?’ If she is a detective she will reply, ‘How dare you, sir?’—or possibly more simply, ‘Sir!’ Whereas if she is the genuine housemaid I believe her to be, and only sweeps under bureaus out of pure zeal, she will giggle and remark, ‘Oh, don’t be silly, sir!’ You appreciate the distinction?”
“How do you know?”
“My grandmother told me, Comrade Threepwood. My advice to you, if the state of doubt you are in is affecting your enjoyment of life, is to put the matter to the test at the earliest convenient opportunity.”
“I’ll think it over,” said Freddie dubiously.
Silence fell upon him for a space, and Psmith was well content to have it so. He had no specific need of Freddie’s prattle to help him enjoy the pleasant sunshine and the scent of Angus McAllister’s innumerable flowers. Presently, however, his companion was off again. But now there was a different note in his voice. Alarm seemed to have given place to something which appeared to be embarrassment. He coughed several times, and his neatly shod feet, writhing in self-conscious circles, scraped against the wall.
“You have our ear once more, Comrade Threepwood,” said Psmith politely.
“I say, what I really came out here to talk about was something else. I say, are you really a pal of Miss Halliday’s?”
“I say!” A rosy blush mantled the Honorable Freddie’s young cheek. “I say, I wish you would put in a word for me, then.”
“Put in a word for you?”
“I love her, dash it!”
“A noble emotion,” said Psmith courteously. “When did you feel this coming on?”
“I’ve been in love with her for months. But she won’t look at me.”
“That, of course,” agreed Psmith, “must be a disadvantage. I am a child in these matters, but I should imagine that that would stick the gaff into the course of true love to no small extent.”
“I mean, won’t take me seriously and all that. Laughs at me, don’t you know, when I propose. What would you do?”
“I should stop proposing,” said Psmith, having given the matter thought.
“But I can’t.”
“Tut, tut!” said Psmith severely. “And, in case the expression is new to you, what I mean is pooh-pooh! You mustn’t let what is, after all, a mere habit get a mastery over you. You must struggle, you must use your will power. Say to yourself, ‘From now on I will not start proposing until after lunch.’ That done, it will be an easy step to do no proposing during the afternoon. And by degrees you will find that you can give it up altogether. The first proposal of the day is the really hard one to drop. Once you have conquered the impulse for the after-breakfast proposal, the rest will be easy.”
“I believe she thinks me a mere butterfly,” said Freddie, who had not been listening to this most valuable homily.
Psmith slid down from the wall and stretched himself.
“Why,” he said, “are butterflies so often described as mere? I have heard them so called a hundred times, and I cannot understand the reason. . . . Well, it would, no doubt, be both interesting and improving to go into the problem, but at this point, Comrade Threepwood, I leave you. I would brood.”
“Yes, but I say, will you?”
“Will I what?”
“Put in a word for me.”
“If,” said Psmith, “the subject crops up in the course of the chitchat, I shall be delighted to spread myself with no little vim on the theme of your fine qualities.”
He melted away into the shrubbery just in time to avoid Miss Peavey, who broke in on Freddie’s meditations a moment later and kept him company till lunch.
THE 12:50 train drew up with a grinding of brakes at the platform of Market Blandings, and Psmith, who had been whiling away the time of waiting by squandering money which he could ill afford on the slot machine which supplied butterscotch, turned and submitted it to a grave scrutiny. Eve Halliday got out of a third-class compartment.
“Welcome to our village, Miss Halliday,” said Psmith, advancing.
Eve regarded him with frank astonishment.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Lord Emsworth was kind enough to suggest that, as we were such old friends, I should come down in the car and meet you.”
“Are we old friends?”
“Surely! Have you forgotten all those happy days in London?”
“There was only one.”
“True! But think how many meetings we crammed into it.”
“Are you staying at the castle?”
“Yes; and what is more, I am the life and soul of the party. Have you anything in the shape of luggage?”
“I nearly always take luggage when I am going to stay a month or so in the country. It’s at the back somewhere.”
“I will look after it. You will find the car outside. If you care to go and sit in it, I will join you in a moment. And lest the time hangs heavy on your hands, take this. Butterscotch. Delicious and, so I understand, wholesome. I bought it specially for you.”
A few minutes later, having arranged for the trunk to be taken to the castle, Psmith emerged from the station and found Eve drinking in the beauties of the town of Market Blandings.
“What a delightful old place!” she said as they drove off. “I almost wish I lived here.”
“During the brief period of my stay at the castle,” said Psmith, “the same thought has occurred to me. It is the sort of place where one feels that one could gladly settle down into a peaceful retirement and grow a honey-colored beard.” He looked at her with solemn admiration. “Women are wonderful,” he said.
“And why, Mister Bones, are women wonderful?” asked Eve.
“I was thinking at the moment of your appearance. You have just stepped off the train after a four-hour journey, and you are as fresh and blooming as—if I may coin a simile—a rose. How do you do it? When I arrived I was deep in alluvial deposits, and have only just managed to scrape them off.”
“When did you arrive?”
“On the evening of the day on which I met you.”
“But it’s so extraordinary! That you should be here, I mean. I was wondering if I should ever see you again.” Eve colored a little and went on rather hurriedly. “I mean, it seems so strange that we should always be meeting like this.”
“Fate, probably,” said Psmith. “I hope it isn’t going to spoil your visit?”
“I could have done with a trifle more emphasis on the last word,” said Psmith gently. “Forgive me for criticizing your methods of voice production, but surely you can see how much better it would have sounded, spoken thus, ‘Oh, no!’ ”
“Very well, then,” she said, “Oh, no!”
“Much better!” said Psmith. “Much better!”
He began to see that it was going to be difficult to introduce a eulogy of the Hon. Freddie Threepwood into this conversation.
“I’m very glad you’re here,” said Eve, resuming the talk after a slight pause. “Because, as a matter of fact, I’m feeling just the least bit nervous.”
“This is my first visit to a place of this size.”
The car had turned in at the big stone gates and they were bowling smoothly up the winding drive. Through an avenue of trees to the right the great bulk of the castle had just appeared, gray and imposing against the sky. The afternoon sun glittered on the lake beyond it.
“Is everything very stately?”
“Not at all. We are very homely folk, we of Blandings Castle. We go about, simple and unaffected, dropping gracious words all over the place. Lord Emsworth didn’t overawe you, did he?”
“Oh, he’s a dear! And, of course, I know Freddie quite well.”
Psmith nodded. If she knew Freddie quite well there was naturally no need to talk about him. He did not talk about him, therefore.
“Have you known Lord Emsworth long?” asked Eve.
“I met him for the first time the day I met you.”
“Good gracious!” Eve stared. “And he invited you to the castle?”
Psmith smoothed his waistcoat.
“Strange, I agree. One can only account for it, can one not, by supposing that I radiate some extraordinary attraction? Have you noticed it?”
“No?” said Psmith, surprised. “Ah, well,” he went on tolerantly, “no doubt it will flash upon you quite unexpectedly sooner or later. Like a thunderbolt or something.”
“I think you’re terribly conceited.”
“Not at all,” said Psmith. “Conceited? No, no! Success has not spoiled me.”
“Have you had any success?”
“None whatever.” The car stopped. “We get down here,” said Psmith, opening the door.
“Because if we go up to the house you will infallibly be pounced on and set to work by one Baxter—a delightful fellow but a whale for toil. I propose to conduct you on a tour round the grounds, and then we will go for a row on the lake. You will enjoy that.”
“You seem to have mapped out my future for me.”
“I have,” said Psmith with emphasis, and in the monocled eye that met hers Eve detected so beaming a glance of esteem and admiration that she retreated warily into herself and endeavored to be frigid.
“I’m afraid I haven’t time to wander about the grounds,” she said aloofly. “I must be going and seeing Mr. Baxter.”
“Baxter,” said Psmith, “is not one of the natural beauties of the place. Time enough to see him when you are compelled to. We are now in the southern pleasance or the west home park or something. Note the refined way the deer are cropping the grass.”
“I haven’t time——”
“Leaving the pleasance on our left, we proceed to the northern messuage. The dandelions were imported from Egypt by the ninth earl.”
“Well, anyhow,” said Eve mutinously, “I won’t come on the lake.”
“You will enjoy the lake,” said Psmith. “The newts are of the famous old Blandings strain. They were introduced, together with the water beetles, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Lord Emsworth, of course, holds manorial rights over the mosquito swatting.”
Eve was a girl of high and haughty spirit, and as such strongly resented being appropriated and having her movements directed by one who, in spite of his specious claims, was almost a stranger. But somehow she found her companion’s placid assumption of authority hard to resist. Almost meekly she accompanied him through meadow and shrubbery, over velvet lawns and past gleaming flower beds, and her indignation evaporated as her eyes absorbed the beauty of it all.
She gave a little sigh. If Market Blandings had seemed a place in which one might dwell happily, Blandings Castle was a paradise.
“Before us now,” said Psmith, “lies the celebrated yew alley, so called from the yews which hem it in. Speaking in my capacity of guide to the estate, I may say that when we have turned this next corner you will see a most remarkable sight.”
And they did. Before them, as they passed in under the boughs of an aged tree, lay a green vista, faintly dappled with stray shafts of sunshine. In the middle of this vista the Hon. Frederick Threepwood was embracing a young woman in the dress of a housemaid.
(to be continued)
Editors’ notes and corrections:
Annotations to the UK book edition of this novel are available elsewhere on this site.
In chapter VII, part II, magazine had “the well-known super-superfilm.” Another hyphen has been added to conform with the spelling in all other editions, as was done in the first episode of this story.
In the same part, Psmith imagines himself serving his “bit of time in Wormwood Scrubbs.” The same spelling occurs in the UK serial and the US book, so it seems likely that’s the way Wodehouse spelled it in his manuscript, and we leave it thus here. In the UK book, it was corrected to Wormwood Scrubs with one ‘b’, the usual British spelling of the prison.
In chapter VIII, part II, after Psmith describes Baxter mistrusting his plate of clear soup, this version continues “He then proceeded to get outside it with envious enjoyment.” The UK serial in Grand magazine has “obvious enjoyment” which seems the more likely reading. In either case, Wodehouse often uses the humorous inversion of “get outside” or “surround” for the act of getting food or drink inside oneself; see the endnote to “How Kid Brady Joined the Press” for the history of this term. In both US and UK book editions, this sentence is replaced with “He then proceeded to shovel it down with quite undisguised relish.”