By Pelham Grenville Wodehouse and C. H. Bovill

From the _Pictorial Review_, May-October 1916









First of a Series of Six Stories [First published in _Pictorial Review_,

May 1916]

When a seed-merchant of cautiousdisposition and an eye to the main

chance receives from an eminent firm of jam-manufacturers an extremely

large order for clover-seed, his emotions are mixed. Joy may be said to

predominate, but with the joy comes also uncertainty. Are these people,

he asks himself, proposing to set up as farmers of a large scale, or do

they merely want the seed to give verisimilitude to their otherwise bald

and unconvincing raspberry jam? On the solution of this problem

depends the important matter of price, for, obviously, you can charge

a fraudulent jam disseminator in a manner which an honest farmer would


This was the problem which was furrowing the brow of Mr. Julian

Fineberg, of Bury St. Edwards, one sunny morning when Roland Bleke

knocked at his door; and such was its difficulty that only at the

nineteenth knock did Mr. Fineberg raise his head.

"Come in--that dashed woodpecker out there!" he shouted, for it was his

habit to express himself with a generous strength towards the junior

members of his staff.

The young man who entered looked exactly like a second clerk in a

provincial seed-merchant's office--which, strangely enough, he chanced

to be. His chief characteristic was an intense ordinariness. He was a

young man; and when you had said that of him you had said everything.

There was nothing which you would have noticed about him, except the

fact that there was nothing to notice. His age was twenty-two and his

name was Roland Bleke.

"Please, sir, it's about my salary."

Mr. Fineberg, at the word, drew himself together much as a British

square at Waterloo must have drawn itself together at the sight of a

squadron of cuirassiers.

"Salary?" he cried. "What about it? What's the matter with it? You get

it, don't you?"

"Yes, sir, but----"

"Well? Don't stand there like an idiot. What is it?"

"It's too much."

Mr. Fineberg's brain reeled. It was improbable that the millennium could

have arrived with a jerk; on the other hand, he had distinctly heard

one of his clerks complain that his salary was too large. He pinched


"Say that again," he said.

"If you could see your way to reduce it, sir----"

It occurred to Mr. Fineberg for one instant that his subordinate was

endeavoring to be humorous, but a glance at Roland's face dispelled that


"Why do you want it reduced?"

"Please, sir, I'm going to be married."

"What the deuce do you mean?"

"When my salary reaches a hundred and fifty, sir. And it's a hundred and

forty now, so if you could see your way to knocking off ten pounds----"

Mr. Fineberg saw light. He was a married man himself.

"My boy," he said genially, "I quite understand. But I can do you better

than that. It's no use doing this sort of thing in a small way. From now

on your salary is a hundred and ten. No, no, don't thank me. You're an

excellent clerk, and it's a pleasure to me to reward merit when I find

it. Close the door after you."

And Mr. Fineberg returned with a lighter heart to the great clover-seed


The circumstances which had led Roland to approach his employer may

be briefly recounted. Since joining the staff of Mr. Fineberg, he had

lodged at the house of a Mr. Coppin, in honorable employment as porter

at the local railway-station. The Coppin family, excluding domestic

pets, consisted of Mr. Coppin, a kindly and garrulous gentleman of

sixty, Mrs. Coppin, a somewhat negative personality, most of whose life

was devoted to cooking and washing up in her underground lair, Brothers

Frank and Percy, gentleman of leisure, popularly supposed to be engaged

in the mysteriousoccupation known as "lookin' about for somethin',"

and, lastly, Muriel.

For some months after his arrival, Muriel had been to Roland Bleke

a mere automaton, a something outside himself that was made only for

neatly-laid breakfast tables and silent removal of plates at dinner.

Gradually, however, when his natural shyness was soothed by use

sufficiently to enable him to look at her when she came into the room,

he discovered that she was a strikingly pretty girl, bounded to the

North by a mass of auburn hair and to the South by small and shapely

feet. She also possessed what, we are informed--we are children in these

matters ourselves--is known as the R. S. V. P. eye. This eye had met

Roland's one evening, as he chumped his chop, and before he knew what he

was doing he had remarked that it had been a fine day.

From that wonderful moment matters had developed at an incredible speed.

Roland had a nice sense of the social proprieties, and he could not

bring himself to ignore a girl with whom he had once exchanged easy

conversation about the weather. Whenever she came to lay his table, he

felt bound to say something. Not being an experienced gagger, he found

it more and more difficult each evening to hit on something bright,

until finally, from sheer lack of inspiration, he kissed her.

If matters had progressed rapidly before, they went like lightning then.

It was as if he had touched a spring or pressed a button, setting vast

machinery in motion. Even as he reeled back stunned at his audacity, the

room became suddenly full of Coppins of every variety known to science.

Through a mist he was aware of Mrs. Coppin crying in a corner, of

Mr. Coppin drinking his health in the remains of sparkling limado,

of Brothers Frank and Percy, one on each side trying to borrow

simultaneously half-crowns, and of Muriel, flushed but demure, making

bread-pellets and throwing them in an abstracted way, one by one, at the

Coppin cat, which had wandered in on the chance of fish.

Out of the chaos, as he stood looking at them with his mouth open, came

the word "bans," and smote him like a blast of East wind.

It is not necessary to trace in detail Roland's mental processes from

that moment till the day when he applied to Mr. Fineberg for a

reduction of salary. It is enough to say that for quite a month he was

extraordinarily happy. To a man who has had nothing to do with women, to

be engaged is an intoxicating experience, and at first life was one

long golden glow to Roland. Secretly, like all mild men, he had always

nourished a desire to be esteemed a nut by his fellow men; and his

engagement satisfied that desire. It was pleasant to hear Brothers

Frank and Percy cough knowingly when he came in. It was pleasant to walk

abroad with a girl like Muriel in the capacity of the accepted wooer.

Above all, it was pleasant to sit holding Muriel's hand and watching the

ill-concealed efforts of Mr. Albert Potter to hide his mortification.

Albert was a mechanic in the motor-works round the corner, and hitherto

Roland had always felt something of a worm in his presence. Albert was

so infernally strong and silent and efficient. He could dissect a car

and put it together again. He could drive through the thickest traffic.

He could sit silent in company without having his silence attributed to

shyness or imbecility. But--he could not get engaged to Muriel Coppin.

That was reserved for Roland Bleke, the nut, the dasher, the young man

of affairs. It was all very well being able to tell a spark-plug from a

commutator at sight, but when it came to a contest in an affair of the

heart with a man like Roland, Albert was in his proper place, third at

the pole.

Probably, if he could have gone on merely being engaged, Roland would

never have wearied of the experience. But the word marriage began to

creep more and more into the family conversation, and suddenly panic

descended upon Roland Bleke.

All his life he had had a horror of definite appointments. An invitation

to tea a week ahead had been enough to poison life for him. He was one

of those young men whose souls revolt at the thought of planning out any

definite step. He could do things on the spur of the moment, but plans

made him lose his nerve.

By the end of the month his whole being was crying out to him in

agonized tones: "Get me out of this. Do anything you like, but get me

out of this frightful marriage business."

If anything had been needed to emphasize his desire for freedom, the

attitude of Frank and Percy would have supplied it. Every day they made

it clearer that the man who married Muriel would be no stranger to them.

It would be his pleasing task to support them, too, in the style to

which they had become accustomed. They conveyed the idea that they went

with Muriel as a sort of bonus.

* * * * *

The Coppin family were at high tea when Roland reached home. There was

a general stir of interest as he entered the room, for it was known that

he had left that morning with the intention of approaching Mr. Fineberg

on the important matter of a rise in salary. Mr. Coppin removed his

saucer of tea from his lips. Frank brushed the tail of a sardine from

the corner of his mouth. Percy ate his haddock in an undertone. Albert

Potter, who was present, glowered silently.

Roland shook his head with the nearest approach to gloom which his

rejoicing heart would permit.

"I'm afraid I've bad news."

Mrs. Coppin burst into tears, her invariable practise in any crisis.

Albert Potter's face relaxed into something resembling a smile.

"He won't give you your raise?"

Roland sighed.

"He's reduced me."

"Reduced you!"

"Yes. Times are bad just at present, so he has had to lower me to a

hundred and ten."

The collected jaws of the family fell as one jaw. Muriel herself seemed

to be bearing the blow with fortitude, but the rest were stunned. Frank

and Percy might have been posing for a picture of men who had lost their

fountain pens.

Beneath the table the hand of Albert Potter found the hand of Muriel

Coppin, and held it; and Muriel, we regret to add, turned and bestowed

upon Albert a half-smile of tender understanding.

"I suppose," said Roland, "we couldn't get married on a hundred and


"No," said Percy.

"No," said Frank.

"No," said Albert Potter.

They all spoke decidedly, but Albert the most decidedly of the three.

"Then," said Roland regretfully, "I'm afraid we must wait."

It seemed to be the general verdict that they must wait. Muriel said she

thought they must wait. Albert Potter, whose opinion no one had asked,

was quite certain that they must wait. Mrs. Coppin, between sobs, moaned

that it would be best to wait. Frank and Percy, morosely devouring

bread and jam, said they supposed they would have to wait. And, to end a

painful scene, Roland drifted silently from the room, and went up-stairs

to his own quarters.

There was a telegram on the mantel.

"Some fellows," he soliloquized happily, as he opened it, "wouldn't

have been able to manage a little thing like that. They would have given

themselves away. They would----"

The contents of the telegram demanded his attention.

For some time they conveyed nothing to him. The thing might have been

written in Hindustani.

It would have been quite appropriate if it had been, for it was from the

promoters of the Calcutta Sweep, and it informed him that, as the holder

of ticket number 108,694, he had drawn Gelatine, and in recognition of

this fact a check for five hundred pounds would be forwarded to him in

due course.

* * * * *

Roland's first feeling was one of pure bewilderment. As far as he

could recollect, he had never had any dealings whatsoever with these

open-handed gentlemen. Then memory opened her flood-gates and swept him

back to a morning ages ago, so it seemed to him, when Mr. Fineberg's

eldest son Ralph, passing through the office on his way to borrow money

from his father, had offered him for ten shillings down a piece of

cardboard, at the same time saying something about a sweep. Partly

from a vague desire to keep in with the Fineberg clan, but principally

because it struck him as rather a doggish thing to do, Roland had passed

over the ten shillings; and there, as far as he had known, the matter

had ended.

And now, after all this time, that simple action had borne fruit in the

shape of Gelatine and a check for five hundred pounds.

Roland's next emotion was triumph. The sudden entry of checks for five

hundred pounds into a man's life is apt to produce this result.

For the space of some minutes he gloated; and then reaction set in. Five

hundred pounds meant marriage with Muriel.

His brain worked quickly. He must conceal this thing. With trembling

fingers he felt for his match-box, struck a match, and burnt the

telegram to ashes. Then, feeling a little better, he sat down to think

the whole matter over. His meditations brought a certain amount of balm.

After all, he felt, the thing could quite easily be kept a secret. He

would receive the check in due course, as stated, and he would bicycle

over to the neighboring town of Lexingham and start a bank-account with

it. Nobody would know, and life would go on as before.

He went to bed, and slept peacefully.

* * * * *

It was about a week after this that he was roused out of a deep sleep

at eight o'clock in the morning to find his room full of Coppins. Mr.

Coppin was there in a nightshirt and his official trousers. Mrs.

Coppin was there, weepingsoftly in a brown dressing-gown. Modesty had

apparently kept Muriel from the gathering, but brothers Frank and Percy

stood at his bedside, shaking him by the shoulders and shouting. Mr.

Coppin thrust a newspaper at him, as he sat up blinking.

These epic moments are best related swiftly. Roland took the paper, and

the first thing that met his sleepy eye and effectually drove the sleep

from it was this head-line:


And beneath it another in type almost as large as the first:


His own name leaped at him from the printed page, and with it that of

the faithful Gelatine.

Flight! That was the master-word which rang in Roland's brain as day

followed day. The wild desire of the trapped animal to be anywhere

except just where he was had come upon him. He was past the stage when

conscience could have kept him to his obligations. He had ceased to

  • series [´siəri:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.连续;系列;丛书   (初中英语单词)
  • financial [fi´nænʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.金融的,财政的   (初中英语单词)
  • disposition [,dispə´ziʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安排;性情;倾向   (初中英语单词)
  • otherwise [´ʌðəwaiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.另外 conj.否则   (初中英语单词)
  • solution [sə´lu:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.解答;解决;溶解   (初中英语单词)
  • obviously [´ɔbviəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明显地;显而易见地   (初中英语单词)
  • generous [´dʒenərəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.慷慨的;丰盛的   (初中英语单词)
  • strangely [´streindʒli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.奇怪地;陌生地   (初中英语单词)
  • distinctly [di´stiŋktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.清楚地,明晰地   (初中英语单词)
  • complain [kəm´plein] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.抱怨,叫屈;控诉   (初中英语单词)
  • instant [´instənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.立即的 n.紧迫;瞬间   (初中英语单词)
  • reward [ri´wɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.报答;报酬;奖赏   (初中英语单词)
  • employer [im´plɔiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.雇佣者,雇主   (初中英语单词)
  • briefly [´bri:fli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.简短地;简略地   (初中英语单词)
  • employment [im´plɔimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.工作;职业;雇用   (初中英语单词)
  • personality [,pə:sə´næliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.人;个性;人品;人物   (初中英语单词)
  • supposed [sə´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.想象的;假定的   (初中英语单词)
  • mysterious [mi´stiəriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神秘的;难以理解的   (初中英语单词)
  • occupation [,ɔkju´peiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.职业的;军事占领的   (初中英语单词)
  • arrival [ə´raivəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.到达;到达的人(物)   (初中英语单词)
  • enable [i´neibəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.使能够;赋予权力   (初中英语单词)
  • whenever [wen´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.无论何时   (初中英语单词)
  • lightning [´laitniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.闪电 a.突然的   (初中英语单词)
  • button [´bʌtn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.钮扣 vt.扣上(扣子)   (初中英语单词)
  • variety [və´raiəti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.变化;多样(性);种类   (初中英语单词)
  • mental [´mentl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精神的;心理的   (初中英语单词)
  • knowingly [´nəuiŋli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.狡黠地,机警地   (初中英语单词)
  • capacity [kə´pæsiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容量;智能;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • mechanic [mi´kænik] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.技工 a.手工的   (初中英语单词)
  • contest [kən´test, ´kɔntest] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.争辩 n.争夺;竞赛   (初中英语单词)
  • horror [´hɔrə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;战栗   (初中英语单词)
  • definite [´definit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.确定的,明确的   (初中英语单词)
  • poison [´pɔizən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.毒物 v.毒害 a.有毒的   (初中英语单词)
  • revolt [ri´vəult] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.反抗;起义;反叛   (初中英语单词)
  • intention [in´tenʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.意图;打算;意义   (初中英语单词)
  • practise [´præktis] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.实践(行,施);提倡   (初中英语单词)
  • silently [´sailəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.寂静地;沉默地   (初中英语单词)
  • telegram [´teligræm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.电报   (初中英语单词)
  • contents [´kɔ:ntents] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容纳物;要旨   (初中英语单词)
  • recognition [,rekəg´niʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.认出;认识;承认   (初中英语单词)
  • emotion [i´məuʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.感情;情绪;激动   (初中英语单词)
  • triumph [´traiəmf] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胜利 vi.得胜,战胜   (初中英语单词)
  • reaction [ri´ækʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.反应(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • conceal [kən´si:l] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.藏;隐瞒   (初中英语单词)
  • amount [ə´maunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总数;数量 v.合计   (初中英语单词)
  • neighboring [´neibəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.邻近的;接壤的   (初中英语单词)
  • trousers [´trauzəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裤子,长裤   (初中英语单词)
  • softly [´sɔftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.软化地;柔和地   (初中英语单词)
  • thrust [θrʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.猛推;冲;刺;挤进   (初中英语单词)
  • swiftly [´swiftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.迅速地,敏捷地   (初中英语单词)
  • faithful [´feiθfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.忠实的;可靠的   (初中英语单词)
  • eminent [´eminənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.卓越的;杰出的   (高中英语单词)
  • characteristic [,kæriktə´ristik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.特有的 n.特性   (高中英语单词)
  • intense [in´tens] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.强烈的;紧张的   (高中英语单词)
  • negative [´negətiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.否定的 n.否定词   (高中英语单词)
  • underground [,ʌndə´graund] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&a.地下(的)   (高中英语单词)
  • leisure [´leʒə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.空闲;悠闲;安定   (高中英语单词)
  • removal [ri´mu:vəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可移动的;可去除的   (高中英语单词)
  • incredible [in´kredəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不能相信的;惊人的   (高中英语单词)
  • ignore [ig´nɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.忽视,不理,不顾   (高中英语单词)
  • inspiration [,inspi´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鼓舞;灵感;启发   (高中英语单词)
  • motion [´məuʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.手势 vt.打手势   (高中英语单词)
  • secretly [´si:kritli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.秘密地;隐蔽地   (高中英语单词)
  • efficient [i´fiʃənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有效的,有能力的   (高中英语单词)
  • frightful [´fraitfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可怕的;不愉快的   (高中英语单词)
  • emphasize [´emfəsaiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.强调   (高中英语单词)
  • pleasing [´pli:ziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.使人愉快的;合意的   (高中英语单词)
  • bearing [´beəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.举止;忍耐;关系   (高中英语单词)
  • decidedly [di´saididli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.坚决地,果断地   (高中英语单词)
  • appropriate [ə´prəupri-it, ə´prəuprieit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.适宜的 vt.私占;拨给   (高中英语单词)
  • saying [´seiŋ, ´sei-iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.言语;言论;格言   (高中英语单词)
  • related [ri´leitid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.叙述的;有联系的   (高中英语单词)
  • sleepy [´sli:pi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.困的,想睡的   (高中英语单词)
  • episode [´episəud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.插曲;一段情节   (英语四级单词)
  • theatrical [θi´ætrikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.戏院的;戏剧(性)的   (英语四级单词)
  • cautious [´kɔ:ʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.小心的;谨慎的   (英语四级单词)
  • uncertainty [ʌn´sə:tənti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.不可靠;不确定的事   (英语四级单词)
  • woodpecker [´wud,pekə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.啄木鸟   (英语四级单词)
  • subordinate [sə´bɔ:dinət] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.次的,附属的 n.部属   (英语四级单词)
  • humorous [´hju:mərəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.富于幽默的,诙谐的   (英语四级单词)
  • devoted [di´vəutid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.献身…的,忠实的   (英语四级单词)
  • lastly [´lɑ:stli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.最后,终于   (英语四级单词)
  • experienced [ik´spiəriənst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有经验的;熟练的   (英语四级单词)
  • setting [´setiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安装;排字;布景   (英语四级单词)
  • audacity [ɔ:´dæsiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大胆;卤莽;无礼   (英语四级单词)
  • trying [´traiiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难堪的;费劲的   (英语四级单词)
  • verdict [´və:dikt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裁决,判决;判定   (英语四级单词)
  • calcutta [kæl´kʌtə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.加尔各答   (英语四级单词)
  • recollect [rekə´lekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.重新集合;恢复   (英语四级单词)
  • whatsoever [,wɔtsəu´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  (强势语)=whatever   (英语四级单词)
  • modesty [´mɔdisti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谨慎;端庄;羞怯   (英语四级单词)
  • gathering [´gæðəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会,聚集   (英语四级单词)
  • bedside [´bedsaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.床边 a.护理的   (英语四级单词)
  • improbable [im´prɔbəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.未必有的   (英语六级单词)
  • auburn [´ɔ:bən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.赭色(的)   (英语六级单词)
  • applied [ə´plaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.实用的,应用的   (英语六级单词)
  • holding [´həuldiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保持,固定,存储   (英语六级单词)
  • fortitude [´fɔ:titju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.坚忍;刚毅   (英语六级单词)
  • bewilderment [bi´wildəmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.为难;狼狈;迷惑   (英语六级单词)
  • peacefully [´pisfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.平静地;安宁地   (英语六级单词)
  • weeping [´wi:piŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.哭泣(的)   (英语六级单词)
  • effectually [i´fektjuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.有效地   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:27:08
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