Lord Emsworth and his Girlfriend

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

     The day was so warm, so fair, so magically a thing of sunshine
and blue skies and bird-song that anyone acquainted with 
Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth, and aware of his liking for fine
weather, would have pictured him going about the place on this 
summer morning with a beaming smile and an uplifted heart.
Instead of which, humped over the breakfast-table, he was
directing at a blameless kippered herring a look of such intense
bitterness that the fish seemed to sizzle beneath it. For it was
August Bank Holiday, and Blandings Castle on August Bank
Holiday became, in his lordship’s opinion, a miniature Inferno.
     This was the day when his park and grounds broke out into a
noisome rash of swings, roundabouts, marquees, toy balloons
and paper bags; when a tidal wave of the peasantry and its
squealing young engulfed those haunts of immemorial peace.
On August Bank Holiday he was not allowed to potter 
pleasantly about his gardens in an old coat: forces beyond his control
shoved him into a stiff collar and a top hat and told him to go out
and be genial. And in the cool of the quiet evenfall they put him
on a platform and made him make a speech. To a man with a day
like that in front of him fine weather was a mockery.
     His sister, Lady Constance Keeble, looked brightly at him
over the coffeepot.
     ‘What a lovely morning!’ she said.
     Lord Emsworth’s gloom deepened. He chafed at being
called upon — by this woman of all others — to behave as if
everything was for the jolliest in the jolliest of all possible
worlds. But for his sister Constance and her hawk-like vigilance,
he might, he thought, have been able at least to dodge the
     ‘Have you got your speech ready?’
     ‘Well, mind you learn it by heart this time and don’t stammer
and dodder as you did last year.’
     Lord Emsworth pushed plate and kipper away. He had lost
desire for food.
     ‘And don’t you forget to go to the village this morning to
judge the cottage gardens.’
     ‘All right, all right, all right,’ said his lordship testily. ‘I’ve not forgotten.’
     ‘I think I will come to the village with you. There are a
number of those Fresh Air London children staying there now,
and I must warn them to behave properly when they come to the 
Fête this afternoon. You know what London children are.
McAllister said he found one of them in the gardens the other
day, picking his flowers.’
     At any other time the news of this outrage would, no doubt,
have affected Lord Emsworth profoundly. But now, so intense
was his self-pity, he did not even shudder. He drank coffee with
the air of a man who regretted that it was not hemlock.
     ‘By the way, McAllister was speaking to me again last night
about that gravel path through the yew alley. He seems very keen
on it.’
     ‘Glug!’ said Lord Emsworth - which, as any philologist will
tell you, is the sound which peers of the realm make when
stricken to the soul while drinking coffee.
     Concerning Glasgow, that great and commercial manufacturing 
city in the country of Lanarkshire in Scotland, much has 
been written. So lyrically does the Encyclopedia Britannica deal 
with the place that it covers twenty-seven pages before it can tear 
itself away and go on to Glass, Glastonbury, Glatz and Glauber. 
The only aspect of it, however, which immediately concerns the 
present historian is the fact that the citizens it breeds are apt to be 
grim, dour, persevering, tenacious men; men with red whiskers 
who know what they want and mean to get it. Such a one 
was Angus McAllister, head-gardener at Blandings Castle.
     For years Angus McAllister had set before himself as his 
earthly goal the construction of a gravel path through the Castle’s 
famous yew alley. For years he had been bringing the project 
to notice of his employer, though in anyone less whiskered 
the latter’s unconcealed loathing would have caused embarrassment. 
And now, it seemed, he was at it again.
     ‘Gravel path!’ Lord Emsworth stiffened through the whole 
length of his stringy body. Nature, he had always maintained, 
intended a yew alley to be carpeted with a mossy growth. And, 
whatever Nature felt about it, he personally was dashed if he was 
going to have men with Clydeside accents and faces like dissipated 
potatoes coming along and mutilating that lovely expanse of green 
velvet. ‘Gravel path, indeed! Why not asphalt? Why not a few 
hoardings with advertisements of liver pills and a filling-station? 
That’s what the man would really like.’
     Lord Emsworth felt bitter, and when he felt bitter he could be 
terribly sarcastic.
     ‘Well, I think it is a very good idea,’ said his sister. ‘One could 
walk there in wet weather then. Damp moss is ruinous to shoes.’
     Lord Emsworth rose. He could bear no more of this. He left 
the table, the room and the house and, reaching the yew alley 
some minutes later, was revolted to find it infested by Angus 
McAllister in person. The head-gardener  was standing gazing 
at the moss like a high priest of some ancient religion about to 
stick the gaff into the human sacrifice.
     ‘Morning, McAllister,’ said Lord Emsworth coldly. 
     ‘Good morrrning, your lorrudsheep.’ 
     There was a pause. Angus McAllister, extending a foot that 
looked like a violin-case, pressed it on the moss. The meaning of 
the gesture was plain. It expressed contempt, dislike, a generally 
anti-moss spirit: and Lord Emsworth, wincing, surveyed the 
man unpleasantly through his pince-nez. Though not often 
given to theological speculation, he was wondering why Providence, 
if obliged to make head-gardeners, had found it necessary to make 
them so Scotch. In the case of Angus McAllister, why, going a step 
farther, have made him a human being at all? All the ingredients of 
a first-class mule simply thrown away. He felt that he might have 
like Angus McAllister if he had been a mule.
     ‘I was speaking to her leddyship yesterday’
     ‘About the gravel path I was speaking to her leddyship.’
     ‘Her leddyship likes the notion fine.’
     ‘Indeed! Well…’
     Lord Emsworth’s face had turned a lively pink, and he was 
about to release the blistering words which were forming themselves 
in his mind when suddenly he caught the head-gardener’s eye and 
paused. Angus McAllister was looking at him in a peculiar manner, 
and he knew what that look meant. Just one crack, his eye was saying — 
in Scotch, of course — just one crack out of you and I tender my resignation. 
And with a sickening shock it came home to Lord Emsworth how completely 
he was in this man’s clutches.
     He shuffled miserably. Yes, he was helpless. Except for that
kink about gravel paths, Angus McAllister was a head-gardener
in a thousand, and he needed him. He could not do without him.
That, unfortunately, had been proved by experiment. Once
before, at the time when they were grooming for the Agricultural
Show that pumpkin which had subsequently romped home
so gallant a winner, he had dared to flout Angus McAllister. And
Angus had resigned, and he had been forced to plead - yes, plead
-with him to come back. An employer cannot hope to do this
sort of thing and still rule with an iron hand. Filled with the
coward rage that dares to burn but does not dare to blaze, Lord 
Emsworth coughed a cough that was undisguisedly a bronchial
white flag.
     ‘I’ll - er - I’ll think it over, McAllister.’
     ‘I have to go to the village now.’ I will see you later.’
     ‘Meanwhile, I will - er - think it over.’

     The task of judging the floral displays in the cottage gardens 
of the little village of Blandings Parva was one to which Lord 
Emsworth had looked forward with pleasurable anticipation. It 
was the sort of job he liked. But now, even though he had 
managed to give his sister Constance the slip and was free 
from her threatened society, he approached the task with a 
downcast spirit. It was always unpleasant for a proud man to 
realize that he is no longer captain of his soul; that he is to all
intents and purposes ground beneath the number twelve heel of 
a Glaswegian head-gardner; and, brooding on this, he judged 
the cottage gardens with a distrait eye. It was only when he came 
to the last on his list that anything like animation crept into his 
     This, he perceived, peering over its rickety fence, was not at 
all a bad little garden. It demanded closer inspection. He 
unlatched the gate and pottered in. And a dog, dozing behind 
a water-butt, opened one eye and looked at him. It was one of 
those hairy, nondescript dogs, and its gaze was cold, wary and 
suspicious, like that of a stockbroker who thinks someone is 
going to play the confidence trick on him.
     Lord Emsworth did not observe the animal. He had pottered 
to a bed of wallflowers and now, stooping, he took a sniff at 
     As sniffs go, it was an innocent sniff, but the dog for some
reason appeared to read into it criminality of a high order. All 
the indignant householder in him woke in a flash. The next 
moment the world had become full of hideous noises, and Lord Emsworth’s 
preoccupation was swept away in a passionated desire to save his ankles 
from harm.
     As these chronicles of Blandings Castle have already shown, 
he was not at his best with strange dogs. Beyond saying ‘Go 
away, Sir!’ and leaping to and fro with an agility surprising in one 
of his years, he had accomplished little in the direction of a 
reasoned plan of defense when the cottage door opened and 
a girl came out.
     ‘Hoy!’ cried the girl. 
     And on the instant, at the mere sound of her voice, the 
mongrel, suspending hostilities, bounded at the new-comer 
and writhed on his back at her feet with all four legs in the air. 
The spectacle reminded Lord Emsworth irresistibly of his own 
behavior when in the presence of Angus McAllister.
     He blinked at his preserver. She was a small girl, of uncertain 
age - possibly twelve or thirteen, though a combination of 
London fogs and early cares had given her face a sort of wizened 
motherliness which in some odd way caused his lordship from 
the first to look on her as belonging to his own generation. She 
was the type of girl you see in back streets carrying a baby nearly 
as large as herself and still retaining sufficient energy to lead one
little brother by the hand and shout recrimination at another in 
the distance. Her cheeks shone from recent soaping, and she was 
dressed in a velveteen frock which was obviously the pick of her 
wardrobe. Her hair, in defiance of the prevailing mode, she wore 
drawn tightly back into a short pigtail. 
      ‘Er-thank you,’ said Lord Emsworth.
     ‘Thank you, sir,’ said the girl.
     For what she was thanking him, his lordship was not able to 
gather. Later, as their acquaintance ripened, he was to discover 
that this strange gratitude was a habit with his new friend. She 
thanked everybody for everything. At the moment, the mannerism 
surprised him. He continued to blink at her through his pince-nez.
     Lack of practice had rendered Lord Emsworth a little rusty in 
the art of making conversation to members of the other sex. He 
sought in his mind for topics.
     ‘Fine day.’
     ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     ‘Are you’ - Lord Emsworth furtively consulted his list - ‘are 
you the daughter of - ah - Ebenezer Sprockett?’ he asked, 
thinking, as he had often thought before, what ghastly names 
some of his tenantry possessed.    
     ‘No. sir. I’m from London, sir.’
     ‘Ah, London, eh? Pretty warm it must be there.’ He paused. 
     Then, remembering a formula of his youth: ‘Er - been out much 
this Season?’
     ‘No, sir.’
     ‘Everybody out of town now, I suppose? What part of London?’
     ‘Drury Line, sir.’
     ‘What’s your name? Eh, what?’
     ‘Gladys, sir. Thank you, sir. This is Ern.’
     A small boy had wandered out of the cottage, a rather hard-
boiled specimen with freckles, bearing surprisingly in his hand a 
large and beautiful bunch of flowers. Lord Emsworth bowed 
courteously and with the addition of this third party to the tête-
á-tête felt more at his ease.
     ‘How do you do,’ he said. ‘What pretty flowers.’
     With her brother’s advent, Gladys, also, had lost diffidence 
and gained conversational aplomb.
     ‘A treat, ain’t they?’ she agreed eagerly. ‘I got ‘em for ‘im up at 
the big ‘ahse. Coo! The old josser the plice belongs to didn’t arf 
chase me. ‘E found me picking ‘em and ‘e sharted somefin at me 
and come runnin’ after me, but I copped ‘im on the shin wiv a 
stone and ‘e stopped to rub it and I come away.’
     Lord Emsworth might have corrected her impression that 
Blandings Castle and its gardens belonged to Angus McAllister, 
but his mind was so filled with admiration and gratitude that he 
refrained from doing so. He looked at the girl almost reverently. 
Not content with controlling savage dogs with a mere word, this 
super-woman actually threw stones at Angus McAllister - a 
thing which he had never been able to nerve himself to do in 
an association which had lasted nine years - and, what was more,
copped him on the shin with them. What nonsense, Lord Emsworth 
felt, the papers talked about the Modern Girl. If this was a specimen, 
the Modern Girl was the highest point the sex had yet reached.
  ‘Ern,’ said Gladys, changing the subject, ‘is wearin’ ‘air-oil 
     Lord Emsworth had already observed this and had, indeed, 
been moving to windward as she spoke.
     ‘For the Feet,’ explained Gladys.
     ‘For the feet?’ It seemed unusual.
     ‘For the Feet in the pork this afternoon.’
     ‘Oh, you are going to the Fête?’
     ‘Yes, sir, thank you, sir.’
     For the first time, Lord Emsworth found himself regarding 
that grisly social event with something approaching favor.
     ‘We must look out for one another there,’ he said cordially. 
‘You will remember me again? I shall be wearing’ - he gulped - 
‘a top hat.’
     ‘Ern’s going to wear a stror penamaw that’s been give ‘im.’
     Lord Emsworth regarded the lucky young devil with frank 
envy. He rather fancied he knew that panama. It had been his 
constant companion for some six years and then had been torn 
from him by his sister Constance and handed over to the vicar's 
wife for her rummage-sale.
     He sighed.
     ‘Well, good-bye.’
     ‘Good-bye, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     Lord Emsworth walked pensively out of the garden and, 
turning into the little street, encountered Lady Constance.
     ‘Oh, there you are, Clarence.’
     ‘Yes,’ said Lord Emsworth, for such was the case.
‘Have you finished judging the gardens?’
     ‘I am just going into this end cottage here. The vicar tells me 
there is a little girl from London staying there. I want to warn 
her to behave this afternoon. I have spoken to the others.’
     Lord Emsworth drew himself up. His pince-nez were 
slightly askew, but despite this his gaze was commanding and 
     ‘Well, mind what you say,’ he said authoritatively. ‘None of 
your district-visiting stuff, Constance.’
     ‘What do you mean?’
     ‘You know what I mean. I have the greatest respect for the 
young lady to whom you refer. She behaved on a certain recent 
occasion - on two recent occasions - with notable gallantry and 
resource, and I won’t have her ballyragged. Understand that!’

     The technical title of the orgy which broke out annually on 
the first Monday in August in the park of Blandings Castle 
was the Blandings Parva School Treat, and it seemed to Lord 
Emsworth, wanly watching the proceedings from under the 
shadow of his top hat, that if this was the sort of thing schools 
looked on as pleasure he and they were mentally poles apart. A 
function like the Blandings Parva School Treat blurred his 
conception of Man as Nature’s Final Word.
     The decent sheep and cattle to whom this park normally 
belonged had been hustled away into regions unknown, leaving 
the smooth expanse of turf to children whose vivacity scared 
Lord Emsworth and adults who appeared to him have cast 
aside all dignity and every other noble quality which goes to 
make a one hundred per cent British citizen. Look at Mrs. 
Rossiter over there, for instance, the wife of Jno. Rossiter,
Provisions, Groceries and Home-Made Jams. On any other day
of the year, when you met her, Mrs. Rossiter was a nice, quiet,
docile woman who gave at the knees respectfully as you passed. 
To-day, flushed in the face and with her bonnet on one side, she 
seemed to have gone completely native. She was wandering to 
and fro drinking lemonade out of a bottle and employing her 
mouth, when not so occupied, to make a devastating noise with 
what we believed was termed a squeaker.
     The injustice of the thing stung Lord Emsworth, This park 
was his own private park. What right had people to come 
and blow squeakers in it? How would Mrs Rossiter like it 
if one afternoon he suddenly invaded her neat little garden 
in the High Street and rushed about over her lawn, blowing a 
     And it was always on these occasions so infernally hot. July 
might have ended in a flurry of snow, but directly the first 
Monday in August arrived he had to put on a stiff collar and
out came the sun, blazing with tropic fury.
     Of course, admitted Lord Emsworth, for he was a fair-
minded man, this cut both ways. The hotter the day, the more 
quickly his collar lost its starch and ceased to spike him like a 
javelin. This afternoon, for instance, it had resolved itself almost 
immediately into something which felt like a wet compress. 
Severe as were his sufferings, he was compelled to recognize 
that he was that much ahead of the game.
     A masterful figure loomed at his side.
Lord Emsworth’s mental and spiritual state was now such 
that not even the advent of his sister Constance could add 
noticeably to his discomfort.
     ‘Clarence, you look a perfect sight.’
     ‘I know I do. Who wouldn’t in a rig-out like this? Why in the 
name of goodness you always insist…’
     ‘Please don’t be childish, Clarence. I cannot understand the 
fuss you make about dressing for once in your life like a reason
-able English gentleman and not like a tramp.’
     ‘It’s this top hat. It’s exciting the children.’
     ‘What on earth do you mean, exciting the children?’
     ‘Well, all I can tell you is that just now, as I was passing the 
place where they’re playing football - Football! In weather like 
this! - a small boy called out something derogatory and threw a 
portion of a coco-nut at it.’
     ‘If you will identify the child,’ said Lady Constance warmly, 
‘I will have him severely punished.’
     ‘How the dickens,’ replied his lordship with equal warmth, 
‘can I identify the child? They all look alike to me. And if I did 
identify him, I would shake him by the hand. A boy who throws 
coco-nuts at top hats is fundamentally sound in his views. And 
stiff collars…’
     ‘Stiff! That’s what I came to speak to you about. Are you 
aware that your collar looks like a rag? Go in and change it at 
     ‘But, my dear Constance…’
     ‘At once, Clarence. I simply cannot understand a man having 
so little pride in his appearance. But all your life you have been 
like that. I remember when we were children…’
     Lord Emsworth’s past was not of such a purity that he was 
prepared to stand and listen to it being lectured on by a sister 
with a good memory. 
     ‘Oh, all right, all right, all right,’ he said. ‘I’ll change it, I’ll change it.’
     ‘Well, hurry. They are just staring tea.’
     Lord Emsworth quivered.
     ‘Have I got to go into that tea-tent?’
     ‘Of course you have. Don’t be so ridiculous. I do wish you 
would realize your position. As master of Blandings Castle…’
     A bitter, mirthless laugh from the poor peon thus ludicrously 
described drowned the rest of the sentence.

    It always seemed to Lord Emsworth, in analyzing these 
entertainments, that the August Bank Holiday Saturnalia at 
Blandings Castle reached a peak of repulsiveness when tea was 
served in the big marquee. Tea over, the agony abated, to become 
acute once more at the moment when he stepped to the edge 
of the platform and cleared his throat and tried to recollect what 
the deuce he had planned to say to the goggling audience 
beneath him. After that, it subsided again and passed until the 
following August.
     Conditions during the tea hour, the marquee having stood all 
day under a blazing sun, were generally such that Shadrach, 
Meshach and Abednego, had they been there, could have 
learned something new about burning fiery furnaces. Lord 
Emsworth, delayed by the revision of his toilet, made his entry 
when the meal was half over and was pleased to find that his 
second collar almost instantaneously began to relax its iron grip. 
That, however, was the only gleam of happiness which was to be 
vouchsafed him. Once in the tent, it took his experienced eye but 
a moment to discern that the present feast was eclipsing in 
frightfulness all its predecessors.
     Young Blandings Parva, in its normal form, tended rather to 
the stolidly bovine than the riotous. In all villages, of course, 
there must of necessity be an occasional tough egg — in the case 
of Blandings Parva the names of Willie Drake and Thomas 
(Rat-face) Blenkiron spring to mind — but it was seldom 
that the local infants offered anything beyond the power of a 
curate to control. What was giving the present gathering its 
striking resemblance to a reunion of sans-culottes at the height 
of the French Revolution was the admixture of the Fresh Air 
London Visitors.
     About the London child, reared among the tin cans and 
cabbage stalks of Drury Lane and Clare Market, there is a breezy 
insouciance which his country cousin lacks. Years of back-chat 
with annoyed parents and relatives have cured him of any ten-
dency he may have had towards shyness, with the result that 
when he requires anything he grabs for it, and when he is amused 
by any slight peculiarity in the personal appearance of members 
of the governing classes he finds no difficulty in translating his 
thoughts into speech. Already, up and down the long tables, the 
curate’s unfortunate squint was coming in for hearty comment, 
and the front teeth of one of the school-teachers ran it a close 
second for popularity. Lord Emsworth was not, as a rule, a man 
of swift inspirations, but it occurred to him at this juncture that it 
would be a prudent move to take off his hat before his little 
guests observed it and appreciated its humorous possibilities.
     The action was not, however, necessary. Even as he raised his 
hand a rock cake, singing through the air like a shell, took it off 
for him.
     Lord Emsworth had had sufficient. Even Constance, unreas-
onable woman though she was, could hardly expect him to stay 
and beam genially under conditions like this. All civilized laws 
had obvious gone by the board and Anarchy reigned in the 
marquee. The curate was doing his best to form a provisional 
government consisting of himself and the two school-teachers, 
but there was only one man who could have coped adequately 
with the situation and that was King Herod, who - regrettably - 
was not among those present. Feeling like some aristocrat of the 
old régime sneaking away from the tumbril, Lord Emsworth 
edged to the exit and withdrew.

     Outside the marquee the world was quieter, but only com-
paratively so. What Lord Emsworth craved was solitude, and in 
all the broad park there seemed to be but one spot where it was to 
be had. This was a red-tiled shed, standing beside a small pond, 
used at happier times as a lounge or retiring-room for cattle. 
Hurrying thither, his lordship had just began to revel in the cool, 
cow-scented dimness of its interior when from one of the dark 
corners, causing him to start and bite his tongue, there came the 
sound of a subdued sniff.
     He turned. This was persecution. With the whole park to 
mess about in, why should an infernal child invade this one 
sanctuary of his? He spoke with angry sharpness. He came of a
line of warrior ancestors and his fighting blood was up.
     ‘Who’s that?’
     ‘Me, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     Only one person of Lord Emsworth’s acquaintance was cap-
able of expressing gratitude for having been barked at in such 
a tone. His wrath died away and remorse took its place. He felt 
like a man who in error has kicked a favorite dog.
     ‘God bless my soul!’ he exclaimed. ‘What in the world are you 
doing in a cow-shed?’
     ‘Please sir, I was put.’
     ‘Put? How do you mean, put? Why?’
     ‘For pinching things, sir.’
     ‘Eh? What? Pinching things” Most extraordinary. What did 
you - er - pinch?’
‘Two buns, two jem-sengwiches, two apples and a slicer cake.’
     The girl had come out of her corner and was standing cor-
rectly at attention. Force of habit had caused her to intone the 
list of purloined articles in the singsong voice in which she 
was won't to recite the multiplication-table at school, but Lord 
Emsworth could see that she was deeply moved. Tear-stains 
glistened on her face, and no Emsworth had ever been able to 
watch unstirred a woman’s tears. The ninth Earl was visibly 
     ‘Blow your nose,’ he said, hospitably extending his handkerchief.
     ‘Yes, sir, Thank you, sir.’
     ‘What did you say you had pinched? Two buns…’
     ‘…Two jem-sengwiches, two apples and a slicer cake.’
     ‘Did you eat them?’
     ‘No, sir. They wasn’t for me. They was for Ern.’
     ‘Ern? Oh, ah. yes. Yes, to be sure. For Ern, eh?’
     ‘Yes, sir.’
     ‘But why the dooce couldn’t Ern have - er - pinched them for 
himself? Strong, able-bodied young feller, I mean.’
     Lord Emsworth, a member of the old school, did not like this 
disposition on the part of the modern young man to shirk the 
dirty work and let the woman pay.
     ‘Ern wasn’t allowed to come to the treat, sir.’
     ‘What! Not allowed! Who said he mustn’t?’
     ‘The lidy, sir.’
     ‘What lidy?
     ‘The one that come in just after you’d gorn this morning.’
     A fierce snort escaped Lord Emsworth. Constance! What the 
devil did Constance mean by taking it upon herself to revise his 
list of guests without so much as a…Constance, eh? He snorted 
again. One of these days Constance would go to far.
     ‘Monstrous!’ he cried.
     ‘Yes, sir.’
     ‘High-handed tyranny, by Gad. Did she give any reason?’
     ‘They lidy didn’t like Ern biting ‘er in the leg, sir.’
     ‘Ern bit her in the leg?’
     ‘Yes, sir. Pliying ‘e was a dorg. And the lidy was cross and Ern 
wasn’t allowed to come to the treat, and I told ‘im I’d bring ‘im  
back somefing nice.’
     Lord Emsworth breathed heavily. He had not supposed that 
in these degenerate days a family like this existed. The sister 
copped Angus McAllister on the shin with stones, the brother 
bit Constance in the leg…It was like listening to some grand 
old saga of the exploits of heroes and demigods.
     ‘I thought if I didn’t ‘ave nothing myself it would make it all  
     ‘Nothing?’ Lord Emsworth started. ‘Do you mean to tell me 
you have not had tea?’
     ‘No, sir. Thank you, sir. I thought if I didn’t ‘ave none, then 
it would be all right Ern ‘aving what I would ‘ave ‘ad if I ‘ad 
‘ave ‘ad.’
     His lordship’s head, never strong, swam a little. Then it 
resumed its equilibrium. He caught her drift.
     ‘God bless my soul!’ said Lord Emsworth. ‘I never heard 
anything so monstrous and appalling in my life. Come with 
me immediately.’
     ‘The lidy said I was to stop ‘ere, sir.’
    Lord Emsworth gave vent to his loudest snort of the after-
     ‘Confound the lidy!’
     ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     Five minutes later Beach, the butler, enjoying a siesta in the 
housekeeper’s room, was roused from his slumbers by the  
unexpected ringing of a bell. Answering its summons, he
found his employer in the library, and with him a surprising 
young person in a velveteen frock, at the sight of whom his eye-
brows quivered and, but for his iron self-restraint, would have 
     ‘Your lordship?’
     ‘This young lady would like some tea.’
     ‘Very good, your lordship.’
     ‘Buns. you know. And apples, and jem - I mean jam-sand-
wiches, and cake, and that sort of thing.’
     ‘Very good, your lordship.’
     ‘And she has a brother, Beach.’
     ‘Indeed, your lordship?’
     ‘She will want to take some stuff away for him.’ Lord Ems-
worth turned to his guest. ‘Ernest would like a little chicken, 
     ‘I beg you pardon?’
     ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     ‘And a slice or two of ham?’
     ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     ‘And - he has no gouty tendency?’
     ‘No, sir. Thank you, sir.’
     ‘Capital! Then a bottle of that new lot of port, Beach. It’s 
some stuff they’ve sent me down to try,’ explained his lordship. 
‘Nothing special, you understand,’ he added apologetically, ‘but 
quite drinkable. I should like your brother’s opinion of it. See 
that all that is put together in a parcel, Beach, and leave it on the 
table in the hall. We will pick it up as we go out.’
     A welcome coolness had crept into the evening air by the time 
Lord Emsworth and his guest came out of the great door of the 
castle. Gladys, holding her host’s hand and clutching the parcel, 
sighed contentedly. She had done herself well at the tea-table. 
Life seemed to have nothing more to offer.
     Lord Emsworth did not share this view. His spacious mood 
had not yet exhausted itself.
     ‘Now, is there anything else you can think of that Ernest 
would like?’ he asked. ‘If so, do not hesitate to mention it. 
Beach, can you think of anything?’
     The butler, hovering respectfully, was unable to do so.
     ‘No, your lordship. I ventured to add - on my own responsi-
bility, your lordship - some hard-bole eggs and a pot of jam to 
the parcel.’
     ‘Excellent! You are sure there is nothing else?’
      A wistful look came into Gladys’s eyes.
     ‘Could he ‘ave some flarze?’
     ‘Certainly,’ said Lord Emsworth. ‘Certainly, certainly, cer-
tainly. By all means. Just what I was about to suggest my - er - 
what is flarze?’
     Beach, the linguist, interpreted.
     ‘I think the young lady means flowers, your lordship.’
     ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Flarze.’
     ‘Oh,’ said Lord Emsworth. ‘Oh? Flarze?’ he said slowly. ‘Oh, 
ah yes. Yes. I see. H’m!’
     He removed his pince-nez, wiped them thoughtfully, replaced 
them, and gazed with wrinkling forehead at the gardens that 
stretched gaily out before him. Flarze! It would be idle to deny 
that those gardens contained flarze in full measure. They were 
bright with Achillea, Bignonia Radicans, Campanula, Digitalis, 
Euphorbia, Funkia, Gyspsophila, Helianthus, Iris, Liatris, Mon-
arda, Phlox Drummondi, Salvia, Thalictrum, Vinca and Yucca. 
But the devil of it was that Angus McAllister would have a fit if 
they were picked. Across the threshold of this Eden the ginger 
whiskers of Angus McAllister lay like a flaming sword. 
     As a general rule, the procedure for getting flowers out of 
Angus McAllister was as follows. You waited till he was in one 
of his rare moods of complaisance, then you led the conversation 
gently round to the subject of interior decoration, and then, 
choosing your moment, you asked if he could possibly spare a 
few to put in vases. The last thing you thought of doing was to
 charge in an start helping yourself.
     ‘I - er -…’ said Lord Emsworth.
     He stopped. In a sudden blinding flash of clear vision he had 
seen himself for what he was - the spineless, unspeakably 
unworthy descendant of ancestors, who, though they may have 
had their faults, had certainly known how to handle employees. 
It was “How now, varlet!’ and ‘Marry come up, thou malapert 
knave!’ in the days of previous Earls of Emsworth. Of course, 
they had possessed certain advantages which he lacked. It 
undoubtedly helped a man in his dealings with the domestic 
staff to have, as they had had, the rights of the high, the middle 
and the low justice - which meant, broadly, that if you got 
annoyed with your head-gardener you could immediately divide 
him into four head-gardeners with a battle-axe and no questions 
asked - but even so, he realized that they were better men than 
he was and that, if he allowed craven fear of Angus McAllister to 
stand in the way of this delightful girl and her charming brother 
getting all the flowers they required, he was not worthy to be the 
last of their line.
     Lord Emsworth wrestled with his tremors.
     ‘Certainly, certainly, certainly,’ he said, though not without 
a qualm. ‘Take as many as you want.’
     And so it came about that Angus McAllister, crouched in his 
potting-shed like some dangerous beast in its den, beheld a sight 
which first froze his blood and then sent it boiling through his 
veins. Flitting to and fro through his sacred gardens, picking 
his sacred flowers, was a small girl in a velveteen frock. And - 
which brought apoplexy a step closer - it was the same small girl 
who two days before had copped him on the shin with a stone. 
The stillness of the summer evening was shattered by a roar that 
sounded like boilers exploding, and Angus McAllister came out 
of the potting-shed at forty-five miles per hour.
     Gladys did not linger. She was a London child, trained from
infancy to bear herself gallantly in the presence of alarms and 
excursions, but this excursion had been so sudden that it 
momentarily broke her nerve. With a horrified yelp she scuttled 
to where Lord Emsworth stood and, hiding behind him, 
clutched the tails of his morning-coat.
     ‘Oo-er!’ said Gladys.
     Lord Emsworth was not feeling so frightfully good himself. 
We have pictured him a few moments back drawing inspiration 
from the nobility of his ancestors and saying, in effect, ‘That for McAllister!’ 
but truth now compels us to admit that this hardy attitude was largely 
due to the fact that he believed the head-gardener to be a safe quarter 
of a mile away among the swings and roundabouts of the Fête. The spectacle 
of the man charging vengefully down on him with gleaming eyes and bristling 
whiskers made him feel like a nervous English infantryman at the Battle of 
Bannockburn. His knees shook and the soul within him quivered.
     And then something happened, and the whole aspect of the 
situation changed.
     It was, in itself, quite a trivial thing, but it had an astound-
ingly stimulating effect on Lord Emsworth’s morale. What 
happened was that Gladys, seeking further protection, slipped 
at this moment a small, hot hand into his.
     It was a mute vote of confidence, and Lord Emsworth 
intended to be worthy of it.
     ‘He’s coming,’ whispered his lordship’s Inferiority Complex 
     ‘What of it?’ replied Lord Emsworth stoutly.
     ‘Tick him off,’ breathed his lordship’s ancestors in his 
other ear.
     ‘Leave it to me,’ replied Lord Emsworth.
     He drew himself up and adjusted his pince-nez. He felt filled 
with a cool masterfulness. If the man tendered his resignation, 
let him tender his damned resignation.
     ‘Well, McAllister?’ said Lord Emsworth coldly.
     He removed his top hat and brushed it against his sleeve.
     ‘What is the matter, McAllister?’
     He replaced his top hat.
     ‘You appear agitated, McAllister.’
     He jerked his head militantly. The hat fell off. He let it lie. 
Freed from its loathsome weight he felt more masterful than 
ever. It had just needed that to bring him to the top of his form.
     ‘This young lady,’ said Lord Emsworth, ‘has my full permis-
sion to pick all the flowers she wants, McAllister. If you do not 
see eye to eye with me in this matter, McAllister, say so and we 
will discuss what you are going to do about it, McAllister. These 
gardens, McAllister, belong to me, and if you do not - er - 
appreciate that fact you will, no doubt, be able to find another 
employer - ah - more in tune with your views. I value your 
services highly, McAllister, but I will not be dictated to in my 
own garden, McAllister. Er - dash it,' added his lordship, spoil
ing the whole effect.
     A long moment followed in which Nature stood still, breath-
less. The Achillea stood still, so did the Bignonia Radicans. So 
did the Campanula, the Digitalis, the Euphorbia, the Funkia, 
the Gyspsophila, the Helianthus, the Iris, the Liatris, the Mon-
arda, the Phlox Drummondi, the Salvia, the Thalictrum, the 
Vinca and the Yucca. From far off in the direction of the park 
there sounded the happy howls of children who were probably 
breaking things, but even these seemed hushed. The evening 
breeze had died away.
     Angus McAllister stood glowering. His attitude was that of 
one sorely perplexed. So might the early bird have looked if the 
worm ear-marked for its breakfast had suddenly turned and 
snapped at it. It had never occurred to him that his employer 
would voluntarily suggest that he seek another position, and 
now that he had suggested it Angus McAllister disliked the idea 
very much. Blandings Castle was in his bones. Elsewhere, he 
would feel in exile. He fingered his whiskers, but they gave him 
no comfort.
     He made his decision. Better to cease to be a Napoleon than 
be a Napoleon in exile.
     'Mphm,' said Angus McAllister.
     'Oh, and by the way, McAllister,' said Lord Emsworth, 'that 
matter of the gravel path through the yew alley. I've been 
thinking it over, and I won't have it. Not on any account. 
Mutilate my beautiful moss with a beastly gravel path? Make 
an eyesore of the loveliest spot in one of the finest and oldest 
gardens in the United Kingdom? Certainly not. Most decidedly 
not. Try to remember, McAllister, as you work in the gardens of 
Blandings Castle, that you are not back in Glasgow, laying out 
recreation grounds. That is all, McAllister. Er - dash it- that 
is all.'
     'Mphm,' said Angus McAllister.
     He turned. He walked away. The potting-shed swallowed 
him up. Nature resumed its breathing. The breeze began to blow 
again. And all over the gardens birds who had stopped on their 
high note carried on according to plan.
     Lord Emsworth took out his handkerchief and dabbed with 
it at his forehead. He was shaken, but a novel sense of being a 
man among men thrilled him. It might seem bravado, but he 
almost wished - yes, dash it, he almost wished - that his sister 
Constance would come along and start something while he felt 
like this.
     He had his wish.
     Yes, there she was, hurrying towards him up the garden path. 
She, like McAllister, seemed agitated. Something was on her 
     'Don't keep saying 'Clarence!' as if you were a dashed parrot,' 
said Lord Emsworth haughtily. 'What the dickens is the matter, 
     'Matter? Do you know what the time is? Do you know that 
everybody is waiting down there for you to make your speech?'
     Lord Emsworth met her eye sternly.
     'I do not,' he said. 'And I don't care. I'm not going to make any 
dashed speech. If you want a speech, let the vicar make it. Or 
make it yourself. Speech! I never heard such dashed nonsense in 
my life.' He turned to Gladys. 'Now, my dear,' he said, 'if you will 
just give me time to get out of these infernal clothes and this 
ghastly collar and put on something human, we'll go down to the 
village and have a chat with Ern.’