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It was Sam Marlowe's fate to fall in love with a girl on the R.M.S. "Atlantic" (New York to Southampton) who had ideals. She was looking for a man just like Sir Galahad, and refused to be put off with any inferior substitute. A lucky accident on the first day of the voyage placed Sam for the moment in the Galahad class, but he could not stay the pace.
He follows Billie Bennett "around," scheming, blundering and hoping, so does the parrot faced young man Bream Mortimer, Sam's rival.
There is a somewhat hectic series of events at Windles, a country house in Hampshire, where Billie's ideals still block the way and Sam comes on in spite of everything.
Then comes the moment when Billie.... It is a Wodehouse novel in every sense of the term.
Before my friend Mr. Jenkins—wait a minute, Herbert—before my friend Mr. Jenkins formally throws this book open to the public, I should like to say a few words. You, sir, and you, and you at the back, if you will kindly restrain your impatience.... There is no need to jostle. There will be copies for all. Thank you. I shall not detain you long.
I wish to clear myself of a possible charge of plagiarism. You smile. Ah! but you don't know. You don't realise how careful even a splendid fellow like myself has to be. You wouldn't have me go down to posterity as Pelham the Pincher, would you? No! Very well, then. By the time this volume is in the hands of the customers, everybody will, of course, have read Mr. J. Storer Clouston's "The Lunatic at Large Again." (Those who are chumps enough to miss it deserve no consideration.) Well, both the hero of "The Lunatic" and my "Sam Marlowe" try to get out of a tight corner by hiding in a suit of armour in the hall of a country-house. Looks fishy, yes? And yet I call on Heaven to witness that I am innocent, innocent. And, if the word of Northumberland Avenue Wodehouse is not sufficient, let me point out that this story and Mr. Clouston's appeared simultaneously in serial form in their respective magazines. This proves, I think, that at these cross-roads, at any rate, there has been no dirty work. All right, Herb., you can let 'em in now.
P. G. WODEHOUSE.
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