Authors: Sir P G Wodehouse
'The ultimate in comfort reading because nothing bad ever happens
in P.G. Wodehouse land. Or even if it does, it's always sorted out
by the end of the book. For as long as I'm immersed in a P.G.
Wodehouse book, it's possible to keep the real world at bay and
live in a far, far nicer, funnier one where happy endings are the
order of the day'
'You should read Wodehouse when you're well and when you're
poorly; when you're travelling, and when you're not; when
you're feeling clever, and when you're feeling utterly dim.
Wodehouse always lifts your spirits, no matter how high they
happen to be already'
'P.G. Wodehouse remains the greatest chronicler of a certain kind
of Englishness, that no one else has ever captured quite so sharply,
or with quite as much wit and affection'
'Not only the funniest English novelist who ever wrote but one of
our finest stylists. His world is perfect, his stories are perfect, his
writing is perfect. What more is there to be said?'
'One of my (few) proud boasts is that I once spent a day interviewing
P.G. Wodehouse at his home in America. He was exactly as I'd
expected: a lovely, modest man. He could have walked out of one of
his own novels. It's dangerous to use the word genius to describe a
writer, but I'll risk it with him'
'The incomparable and timeless genius – perfect for readers of all
ages, shapes and sizes!'
'A genius . . . Elusive, delicate but lasting. He created such a credible
world that, sadly, I suppose, never really existed but what a delight it
always is to enter it and the temptation to linger there is sometimes
'Wodehouse was quite simply the Bee's Knees. And then some'
'Compulsory reading for any one who has a pig, an aunt – or a sense
'I constantly find myself drooling with admiration at the sublime
way Wodehouse plays with the English language'
'I've recorded all the Jeeves books, and I can tell you this: it's like
singing Mozart. The perfection of the phrasing is a physical
pleasure. I doubt if any writer in the English language has more
'Quite simply, the master of comic writing at work'
'To pick up a Wodehouse novel is to find oneself in the presence of
genius – no writer has ever given me so much pure enjoyment'
John Julius Norwich
'P.G. Wodehouse is the gold standard of English wit'
'Wodehouse is so utterly, properly, simply funny'
'To dive into a Wodehouse novel is to swim in some of the most
elegantly turned phrases in the English language'
'P.G. Wodehouse should be prescribed to treat depression.
Cheaper, more effective than valium and far, far more addictive'
'My only problem with Wodehouse is deciding which of his
enchanting books to take to my desert island'
Ruth Dudley Edwards
The author of almost a hundred books and the creator of
Jeeves, Blandings Castle, Psmith, Ukridge, Uncle Fred and
Mr Mulliner, P.G. Wodehouse was born in 1881 and educated
at Dulwich College. After two years with the Hong
Kong and Shanghai Bank he became a full-time writer,
contributing to a variety of periodicals including
. He married in 1914. As well as his novels
and short stories, he wrote lyrics for musical comedies
with Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern, and at one time had
five musicals running simultaneously on Broadway. His time in
Hollywood also provided much source material for fiction.
At the age of 93, in the New Year's Honours List of 1975,
he received a long-overdue knighthood, only to die
on St Valentine 's Day some 45 days later.
Some of the P.G. Wodehouse titles to be published
by Arrow in 2008
The Inimitable Jeeves
Carry On, Jeeves
Very Good, Jeeves
Thank You, Jeeves
Right Ho, Jeeves
The Code of the Woosters
Joy in the Morning
The Mating Season
Ring for Jeeves
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
Jeeves in the Offing
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
Much Obliged, Jeeves
Aunts Aren't Gentlemen
Leave it to Psmith
Uncle Fred in the Springtime
Pigs Have Wings
Service with a Smile
A Pelican at Blandings
Meet Mr Mulliner
Mr Mulliner Speaking
The Clicking of Cuthbert
The Heart of a Goof
The Luck of the Bodkins
A Damsel in Distress
The Small Bachelor
The Adventures of Sally
Money for Nothing
The Girl in Blue
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Published by Arrow Books 2008
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Copyright by The Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate
All rights reserved
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First published in the United Kingdom in 1969 by Herbert Jenkins Ltd
The Random House Group Limited
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SA
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
A Pelican at Blandings
The summer day was drawing to a close and dusk had fallen
on Blandings Castle, shrouding from view the ancient
battlements, dulling the silver surface of the lake and causing
Lord Emsworth's supreme Berkshire sow Empress of
Blandings to leave the open air portion of her sty and withdraw
into the covered shed where she did her sleeping. A dedicated
believer in the maxim of early to bed and early to rise, she
always turned in at about this time. Only by getting its regular
eight hours can a pig keep up to the mark and preserve that
Deprived of her society, which he had been enjoying since
shortly after lunch, Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth, the
seigneur of this favoured realm, pottered dreamily back to the
house, pottered dreamily to the great library which was one of
its features, and had just pottered dreamily to his favourite
chair, when Beach, his butler, entered bearing a laden tray. He
gave it the vague stare which had so often incurred the censure
—'Oh, for goodness sake, Clarence, don't stand there looking
like a goldfish'—of his sisters Constance, Dora, Charlotte,
Julia and Hermione.
'Eh?' he said. 'What?' he added.
'Your dinner, m'lord.'
Lord Emsworth's face cleared. He was telling himself that
he might have known that there would be some simple
explanation for that tray. Trust Beach to have everything
'Of course, yes. Dinner. Quite. Always have it at this time,
don't I? And recently been having it here, though I can't
remember for what reason. Why am I having dinner in the
'I gathered that your lordship preferred not to share the
meal in the dining-room with Mr. Chesney.'
'Mr. Howard Chesney, m'lord, Mr. Frederick's friend from
The puzzled frown that had begun to gather on Lord
Emsworth's forehead vanished like breath off a razor blade.
Once more Beach with that lucid brain of his had dispelled the
fog of mystery which had threatened to defy solution.
'Ah yes, Mr. Howard Chesney. Mr. Howard Chesney, to
be sure, Mr. Frederick's friend from America. Are they feeding
him, do you know?'
'I wouldn't want him to starve.'
'Is he having his dinner?'
'Mr. Chesney went to London by the afternoon train,
m'lord, planning, I understand, to return tomorrow.'
'I see. So he'll probably dine there. At a restaurant or
'The last time I dined in London was with Mr. Galahad at
a place in one of those streets off Leicester Square. He said he
had a sentimental fondness for it because it was one he had so
often been thrown out of in his younger days. It was called
something or other, but I forget what. That stuff smells good,
Beach. What is it?'
'Leg of lamb, m'lord, with boiled potatoes.'
Lord Emsworth received the information with a gratified
nod. Good plain English fare. How different, he was thinking,
from the bad old era when his sister Constance had been the
Fiihrer of Blandings Castle. Under her regime dinner would
have meant dressing and sitting down, probably with a lot of
frightful guests, to a series of ghastly dishes with French
names, and fuss beyond belief if one happened to swallow
one's front shirt stud and substituted for it a brass paper-fastener.
'And,' Beach added, for he was a man who liked to be
scrupulously accurate, 'spinach.'
'Capital, capital. And to follow?'
'Roly-poly pudding, m'lord.'
'Excellent. With plenty of jam, I hope?'
'Yes, m'lord. I instructed Mrs. Willoughby—'
'Who is Mrs. Willoughby?'
'The Cook, m'lord.'
'I thought her name was Perkins.'
'No, m'lord, Willoughby. I instructed her to be careful that
there was no stint.'
'Thank you, Beach. Are you fond of roly-poly pudding?'
'With plenty of jam?'
'It's quite essential, I always feel. Unless there is lots of jam
roly-poly pudding is not worth eating. All right. Bring it when
I ring, will you?'
'Very good, m'lord.'
Left alone, Lord Emsworth attacked his good plain English
fare with gusto, musing as he did on the stupendous improvement
in conditions at the castle since his sister Constance had
married that American fellow James Schoonmaker and gone
to live in New York. Providence, moreover, never niggardly
when attending to the welfare of a deserving man, had seen to
it that there was no danger of any of his other sisters taking her
place. At their last meeting he had so deeply offended
Hermione that they were no longer on speaking terms, and as
for Dora, Charlotte and Julia, they never left London except to
go to fashionable resorts on the Riviera and in Spain. The peril
of a visit from any of them was so remote that it could be
dismissed, and it is scarcely to be wondered at that by the time
Beach brought in the roly-poly pudding he was in so euphoric
a frame of mind that he would probably not have noticed it if
there had been a shortage in the accompanying jam. His
brother Galahad had once said that it had been a mistake to
have sisters and that they ought to have set their faces against
it at the outset, but almost as good as no sisters were sisters
who kept their distance.
There was just one small crumpled rose leaf. His younger
son Frederick, now employed in a firm in Long Island City,
N.Y., which manufactured dog biscuits, had most unnecessarily
sent this chap Chesney to him with a letter of
introduction and he had had to ask him to stay, but he had
neutralized the man's menace by cleverly having all his meals in
the library and in between meals keeping out of his way. A host
can always solve the problem of the unwanted guest if he has a
certain animal cunning and no social conscience.
He finished the roly-poly pudding to the last speck of jam
and took his coffee to the arm-chair in which he always reclined when in the
library. It was within easy reach of the shelf of pig books which were his
main source of mental refreshment. Selecting one of these, he became immersed,
and it was not for some considerable time that his attention was diverted
from its magic pages. What diverted it was the sound, plainly audible through
the open window, of a car drawing up at the front door. It alarmed him, and
when shortly afterwards Beach appeared, he addressed him in a voice that shook
with pardonable anxiety. Callers at the castle had been infrequent since Connie's
departure, but he knew that they still lurked in near-by lairs and it was
possible that in spite of his efforts he had not entirely stamped out the
neighbourly spirit he so deplored.
'Was that a car, Beach?'
'If it's someone for me, say I'm in bed.'
'It is her ladyship, m'lord.'
'Eh? What? What ladyship?'
'Lady Constance, m'lord.'
For one awful moment Lord Emsworth thought he had
said 'Lady Constance'. In the moment which succeeded it he
realized that he had, and he quivered with natural resentment.
In the long years during which Beach had been to him more a
crony than a butler he had never detected in him a disposition
to try to be funny, but it now seemed plain that the man was
in the grip of the spirit of whimsy, and he burned with
justifiable indignation. Too bad of the fellow to come bursting
in like this and saying things like that, presumably as some sort
of crude practical joke. Might have given one heart failure.
Then the mist before his eyes cleared and he saw the look
in the eyes that met his. It was a look in which sadness,
understanding and pity were blended; the look of one who
knew how grave was the announcement he had made; of one
who fully appreciated how his employer must be feeling
and who, had their social relations permitted of it, would
have patted him on the head and urged him to bear up like a
man, for these things are sent to try us and make us more
It convinced Lord Emsworth. He no longer felt that he had
been cast in the role of straight man supporting a butler who
was playing for laughs. Hideous though the truth was, it could
not be evaded.
'Where is she?'
'In the amber drawing-room, m'lord. Her ladyship is
accompanied by a Miss Polk—from her voice, I gather, of
The pig book had long since fallen from Lord Emsworth's
nerveless hand, as had the pince-nez from his nose. He reeled
the latter in at the end of their cord.
'I suppose I had better go down,' he said in a low, toneless
voice, and with faltering steps made for the door. Beach, who
sometimes read historical novels, though he preferred Rex
Stout and Agatha Christie, was reminded of an apprehensive
aristocrat in the days of the French Revolution on his way to
Precisely as stated Lady Constance was in the amber drawing-room,
sipping sherry and looking as formidable and handsome
as ever. All Lord Emsworth's sisters were constructed on the
lines of the severer type of Greek goddess, except Hermione,
who looked like a cook, and Connie in particular was
remarkable for aristocratic hauteur and forcefulness of eye.
One felt immediately on seeing her that there stood the
daughter of a hundred earls, just as when confronted with
Lord Emsworth one had the impression that one had
encountered the son of a hundred tramp cyclists. He was
wearing at the moment patched flannel trousers, a ragged
shirt, a shooting coat with holes in the elbows and bedroom
slippers. These, of course, in addition to the apprehensive look
always worn by him when entering this formidable woman's
presence. From childhood onward she had always dominated
him, as she would have dominated Napoleon, Attila the Hun
and an all-in wrestling champion.
'Oh, there you are, Clarence,' she said, and her eye told him
more plainly than words could have done that he had failed to
satisfy her fastidious taste in the matter of dress. 'I want you to
meet my friend Vanessa Polk, who was so kind to me on the
boat. This is my brother Clarence, Vanessa,' said Lady
Constance with that touch of the apologetic which always
came into her voice when she introduced him to visitors. Don't
go blaming me, it seemed to say, it's not my fault.
Looking at Vanessa Polk one could readily imagine her
being kind to people, whether on or off ocean liners, for her
warmth and geniality were obvious at a glance. Where Lady
Constance had winced at the sight of Lord Emsworth like a
Greek goddess finding a caterpillar in her salad, she smiled
upon him as if their meeting were something to which she had
been looking forward for years. It was a wide, charming smile,
and it brought about a marked improvement in his morale. He
felt, as so many people did when smiled upon by Vanessa Polk,
that he had found a friend.
'How do you do?' he said with a cordiality of which a short
while before he would not have been capable. Then,
remembering a good one, he added, 'Welcome to Blandings
Castle. Tomorrow,' he said, 'I must show you my pig.' It was
not an invitation he often extended to female visitors, for
experience had taught him that the Empress was wasted on
their shallow minds, but here, he saw, was one worthy of the
privilege. 'Are you fond of pigs?'
Miss Polk said she had not met many socially, but had got
along fine with those which had come her way, never an angry
word. Was this, she asked, kind of a special sort of pig, and
Lord Emsworth answered eagerly in the affirmative.
'Empress of Blandings,' he said proudly, 'has won the silver
medal three years in succession in the Fat Pigs event at the
Shropshire Agricultural Show.'
'I can show you the medals. It was an unparalleled feat.'
'To what did she owe her success?'
'I thought as much.'
'Some pig owners are guided by other authorities and for all
I know,' said Lord Emsworth generously, 'get quite good
results, but I have always pinned my faith on Wolff-Lehman.
According to the Wolff-Lehman feeding standards a pig must
consume daily nourishment amounting to fifty-seven thousand
calories, proteins four pounds five ounces, carbohydrates
'Exclusive, of course, of the last thing at night raid on the ice
'These calories to consist of barley meal, maize meal, linseed
meal and separated buttermilk. I occasionally add on my own
initiative a banana or a potato . . .'
One of those short, sharp, steely coughs proceeded from
Lady Constance. It stopped Lord Emsworth like a bullet. He
was not a very perceptive man, but he understood that he was
expected to change the subject. Regretfully but with the
docility of a well-trained brother he did so.
'Bless my soul, Connie,' he said with as much heartiness as
he could manage on the spur of the moment, 'this is certainly
a surprise. Your being here, I mean. Quite a surprise, quite a
This time the sound emitted by his sister was not, like the
previous one, bronchial, but resembled more that made by
drawing a wet thumb across a hot stove lid.
'I don't know why it should be,' she said tartly. 'You got my
letter saying I was sailing.'
Lord Emsworth had not gulped since coming into the
room, but he did so now, and with good reason. He had an odd
sensation of having been slapped in the face with a wet fish.
He was guiltily conscious that the communication she referred
to had been lying unopened for some two weeks in a drawer of
the desk in his study. Now that he was alone without a
secretary to pester him and make him observe the ordinary
decencies of life he seldom opened letters if they were not from
the Shropshire, Herefordshire and South Wales Pig Breeders
'Oh, ah, yes, of course, certainly, your letter saying that you
were sailing, yes, quite.'