Lord Emsworth Acts For The Best by P.G. Wodehouse, 1926
The magic trick:
Building the conflicts into one climatic comedic scene
We pause this month of Irish stories to head a little south into Jolly Old England for a P.G. Wodehouse story with which to celebrate my birthday.
This is an early Blandings story, and as such, Lord Emsworth hasn’t quite rounded into form as a character yet. He’s almost too competent still.
This story, though, doesn’t thrive on its characters or even its language. Its main point of interest is its scenario – a fitting word because it’s Freddie’s film “scenario” that causes all the plot’s mayhem in the first place. Mayhem, too, is a fitting word because the plot – much like a stage comedy – rouses to a madcap climatic scene.
Everything reaches a boiling point at once. There are mistaken identities, costumes, confused motivations, and a happy ending.
What more could you want?
And that’s quite a trick on Wodehouse’s part.
The figure was that of a tall, thin man with white hair and a long and flowing beard of the same venerable hue. Strange as it seemed that a person of such appearance should not have been shot on sight early in his career, he had obviously reached an extremely advanced age. He was either a man of about a hundred and fifty who was rather young for his years or a man of about a hundred and ten who had been aged by trouble.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.