Sam, a young man of agreeable features, is the eponymous hero of Sam the Sudden. His English father and American mother having both died, Sam has been employed by his maternal uncle, John B Pynsent, in the latter's New York firm. But after three months, in which time he has learned less about the business than a wastepaper basket that was employed a mere four days ago, his uncle has decided that their relationship will flourish far better if the Atlantic separates them, and has arranged for Sam to be taken on by a business acquaintance, Lord Tilbury, an English publishing magnate.

Quite why anyone would think that Sam will be any more successful in a London publishing company than in a New York import-export company is never explained, but that is beside the point. The plot requires Sam to be in London, so to London he must come!

When we first meet him, Sam is described as weighing a hundred and seventy pounds of bone and sinew. His behaviour is marked by a certain cheery irresponsibility and when amused — which is often — he has a laugh like that of the hyena in its native jungle. Despite this, there was sentiment in Sam.

There is also, as quickly becomes apparent, more than a little impetuousity, hence the "Sudden" of the title. Indeed, it would not be unfair to describe Sam Shotter as being like a large, playful Labrador puppy as he bounds through the story, his carelessly shabby appearance earning the disapproval of two dandyish ex-school companions, his American hustle earning the approval of Mr Cornelius and the disdain of Kay Derrick, a young woman who does not expect to be kissed at a first meeting.

Although Kay will come to change her mind before the story ends, the reader cannot help but feel that the job of house-training Sam Shotter will require tireless effort and infinite patience.

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