A MAN OF MEANS
A SERIES OF SIX STORIES
By Pelham Grenville Wodehouse and C. H. Bovill
From the _Pictorial Review_, May-October 1916
THE EPISODE OF THE LANDLADY'S DAUGHTER
THE EPISODE OF THE FINANCIAL NAPOLEON
THE EPISODE OF THE THEATRICAL VENTURE
THE EPISODE OF THE LIVE WEEKLY
THE DIVERTING EPISODE OF THE EXILED MONARCH
THE EPISODE OF THE HIRED PAST
THE EPISODE OF THE LANDLADY'S DAUGHTER
First of a Series of Six Stories [First published in _Pictorial Review_,
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
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
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
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
recounted. Since joining the staff of Mr. Fineberg, he had
lodged at the house of a Mr. Coppin, in honorable employment
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
to cooking and washing up in her underground
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
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
It was as if he had touched a spring or pressed a button, setting
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
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
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
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
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
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?"
"He's reduced me."
"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
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----"
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
this fact a check for five hundred pounds would be forwarded to him in
* * * * *
Roland's first feeling was one of pure bewilderment. As far as he
could recollect, he had never had any dealings whatsoever
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
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
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.
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:
ROMANCE OF THE CALCUTTA SWEEPSTAKES
And beneath it another in type almost as large as the first:
POOR CLERK WINS L40,000
His own name leaped at him from the printed page, and with it that of
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] n.连续；系列；丛书 (初中英语单词)financial [fi´nænʃəl] a.金融的，财政的 (初中英语单词)disposition [,dispə´ziʃən] n.安排；性情；倾向 (初中英语单词)otherwise [´ʌðəwaiz] ad.另外 conj.否则 (初中英语单词)solution [sə´lu:ʃən] n.解答；解决；溶解 (初中英语单词)obviously [´ɔbviəsli] ad.明显地；显而易见地 (初中英语单词)generous [´dʒenərəs] a.慷慨的；丰盛的 (初中英语单词)strangely [´streindʒli] ad.奇怪地；陌生地 (初中英语单词)distinctly [di´stiŋktli] ad.清楚地，明晰地 (初中英语单词)complain [kəm´plein] vi.抱怨，叫屈；控诉 (初中英语单词)instant [´instənt] a.立即的 n.紧迫；瞬间 (初中英语单词)reward [ri´wɔ:d] n.&v.报答；报酬；奖赏 (初中英语单词)employer [im´plɔiə] n.雇佣者，雇主 (初中英语单词)briefly [´bri:fli] ad.简短地；简略地 (初中英语单词)employment [im´plɔimənt] n.工作；职业；雇用 (初中英语单词)personality [,pə:sə´næliti] n.人；个性；人品；人物 (初中英语单词)supposed [sə´pəuzd] a.想象的；假定的 (初中英语单词)mysterious [mi´stiəriəs] a.神秘的；难以理解的 (初中英语单词)occupation [,ɔkju´peiʃən] a.职业的；军事占领的 (初中英语单词)arrival [ə´raivəl] n.到达；到达的人(物) (初中英语单词)enable [i´neibəl] vt.使能够；赋予权力 (初中英语单词)whenever [wen´evə] conj.&ad.无论何时 (初中英语单词)lightning [´laitniŋ] n.闪电 a.突然的 (初中英语单词)button [´bʌtn] n.钮扣 vt.扣上(扣子) (初中英语单词)variety [və´raiəti] n.变化；多样(性)；种类 (初中英语单词)mental [´mentl] a.精神的；心理的 (初中英语单词)knowingly [´nəuiŋli] ad.狡黠地，机警地 (初中英语单词)capacity [kə´pæsiti] n.容量；智能；能力 (初中英语单词)mechanic [mi´kænik] n.技工 a.手工的 (初中英语单词)contest [kən´test, ´kɔntest] v.争辩 n.争夺；竞赛 (初中英语单词)horror [´hɔrə] n.恐怖；战栗 (初中英语单词)definite [´definit] a.确定的，明确的 (初中英语单词)poison [´pɔizən] n.毒物 v.毒害 a.有毒的 (初中英语单词)revolt [ri´vəult] v.&n.反抗；起义；反叛 (初中英语单词)intention [in´tenʃən] n.意图；打算；意义 (初中英语单词)practise [´præktis] v.实践(行，施)；提倡 (初中英语单词)silently [´sailəntli] ad.寂静地；沉默地 (初中英语单词)telegram [´teligræm] n.电报 (初中英语单词)contents [´kɔ:ntents] n.容纳物；要旨 (初中英语单词)recognition [,rekəg´niʃən] n.认出；认识；承认 (初中英语单词)emotion [i´məuʃən] n.感情；情绪；激动 (初中英语单词)triumph [´traiəmf] n.胜利 vi.得胜，战胜 (初中英语单词)reaction [ri´ækʃən] n.反应(力) (初中英语单词)conceal [kən´si:l] vt.藏；隐瞒 (初中英语单词)amount [ə´maunt] n.总数；数量 v.合计 (初中英语单词)neighboring [´neibəriŋ] a.邻近的；接壤的 (初中英语单词)trousers [´trauzəz] n.裤子，长裤 (初中英语单词)softly [´sɔftli] ad.软化地；柔和地 (初中英语单词)thrust [θrʌst] v.&n.猛推；冲；刺；挤进 (初中英语单词)swiftly [´swiftli] ad.迅速地，敏捷地 (初中英语单词)faithful [´feiθfəl] a.忠实的；可靠的 (初中英语单词)eminent [´eminənt] a.卓越的；杰出的 (高中英语单词)characteristic [,kæriktə´ristik] a.特有的 n.特性 (高中英语单词)intense [in´tens] a.强烈的；紧张的 (高中英语单词)negative [´negətiv] a.否定的 n.否定词 (高中英语单词)underground [,ʌndə´graund] ad.&a.地下(的) (高中英语单词)leisure [´leʒə] n.空闲；悠闲；安定 (高中英语单词)removal [ri´mu:vəl] a.可移动的；可去除的 (高中英语单词)incredible [in´kredəbəl] a.不能相信的；惊人的 (高中英语单词)ignore [ig´nɔ:] vt.忽视，不理，不顾 (高中英语单词)inspiration [,inspi´reiʃən] n.鼓舞；灵感；启发 (高中英语单词)motion [´məuʃən] n.手势 vt.打手势 (高中英语单词)secretly [´si:kritli] ad.秘密地；隐蔽地 (高中英语单词)efficient [i´fiʃənt] a.有效的，有能力的 (高中英语单词)frightful [´fraitfəl] a.可怕的；不愉快的 (高中英语单词)emphasize [´emfəsaiz] vt.强调 (高中英语单词)pleasing [´pli:ziŋ] a.使人愉快的；合意的 (高中英语单词)bearing [´beəriŋ] n.举止；忍耐；关系 (高中英语单词)decidedly [di´saididli] ad.坚决地，果断地 (高中英语单词)appropriate [ə´prəupri-it, ə´prəuprieit] a.适宜的 vt.私占；拨给 (高中英语单词)saying [´seiŋ, ´sei-iŋ] n.言语；言论；格言 (高中英语单词)related [ri´leitid] a.叙述的；有联系的 (高中英语单词)sleepy [´sli:pi] a.困的，想睡的 (高中英语单词)episode [´episəud] n.插曲；一段情节 (英语四级单词)theatrical [θi´ætrikəl] a.戏院的；戏剧(性)的 (英语四级单词)cautious [´kɔ:ʃəs] a.小心的；谨慎的 (英语四级单词)uncertainty [ʌn´sə:tənti] n.不可靠；不确定的事 (英语四级单词)woodpecker [´wud,pekə] n.啄木鸟 (英语四级单词)subordinate [sə´bɔ:dinət] a.次的，附属的 n.部属 (英语四级单词)humorous [´hju:mərəs] a.富于幽默的，诙谐的 (英语四级单词)devoted [di´vəutid] a.献身…的，忠实的 (英语四级单词)lastly [´lɑ:stli] ad.最后，终于 (英语四级单词)experienced [ik´spiəriənst] a.有经验的；熟练的 (英语四级单词)setting [´setiŋ] n.安装；排字；布景 (英语四级单词)audacity [ɔ:´dæsiti] n.大胆；卤莽；无礼 (英语四级单词)trying [´traiiŋ] a.难堪的；费劲的 (英语四级单词)verdict [´və:dikt] n.裁决，判决；判定 (英语四级单词)calcutta [kæl´kʌtə] n.加尔各答 (英语四级单词)recollect [rekə´lekt] v.重新集合；恢复 (英语四级单词)whatsoever [,wɔtsəu´evə] (强势语)=whatever (英语四级单词)modesty [´mɔdisti] n.谨慎；端庄；羞怯 (英语四级单词)gathering [´gæðəriŋ] n.集会，聚集 (英语四级单词)bedside [´bedsaid] n.床边 a.护理的 (英语四级单词)improbable [im´prɔbəbəl] a.未必有的 (英语六级单词)auburn [´ɔ:bən] n.&a.赭色(的) (英语六级单词)applied [ə´plaid] a.实用的，应用的 (英语六级单词)holding [´həuldiŋ] n.保持，固定，存储 (英语六级单词)fortitude [´fɔ:titju:d] n.坚忍；刚毅 (英语六级单词)bewilderment [bi´wildəmənt] n.为难；狼狈；迷惑 (英语六级单词)peacefully [´pisfuli] ad.平静地；安宁地 (英语六级单词)weeping [´wi:piŋ] a.&n.哭泣(的) (英语六级单词)effectually [i´fektjuəli] ad.有效地 (英语六级单词)