Extricating Young Gussie

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Extricating Young Gussie is a short story by British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975), being the first appearance of two of his most popular characters, the ingenious valet Jeeves and his master Bertie Wooster. It was first published in the U.S. in the 15 September 1915 issue of The Saturday Evening Post,[1] and in the UK in the January 1916 edition of The Strand Magazine.[2] It was included in the collection The Man with Two Left Feet (1917).

Overview[edit]

Extricating Young Gussie features the first appearance of some of Wodehouse's most popular and enduring characters – valet extraordinaire Jeeves (whose role in this debut story is very small) and his master Bertie Wooster (whose surname is not actually mentioned). Bertie's imperious Aunt Agatha also appears.

The first meeting of Jeeves and Bertie would be chronicled one year later, in the November 1916 short story Jeeves Takes Charge.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Aunt Agatha drags Bertie out of bed "in the small hours [around] half past eleven". She is most distressed that her nephew, and Bertie's cousin Gussie Mannering-Phipps "has lost his head over a creature", a chorus-girl in New York that he may marry, so she demands that Bertie head over there and stop him.

Arriving at Gussie's New York hotel, Bertie is surprised to find no sign of his cousin. Out in the bustling street he runs into Gussie, now going by the name of "George Wilson", who is about to appear on the music-hall stage in order to please his girl's ex-pro father. Bertie, worried by this, telegraphs his Aunt Julia (Gussie's mother) for help.

After some rehearsals, Gussie's first show rolls round, and Bertie finds himself sat next to a very pretty girl. Gussie has stage-fright and starts badly, but halfway through his second song the girl beside Bertie joins in, bucking Gussie up and getting a big round from the audience. It turns out she is the girl Gussie loves.

Aunt Julia arrives, and Bertie takes her to see Gussie and his girl in their respective shows. They then pay a call on the girl's father, Mr Joe Danby, who turns out to have known and loved Julia in her music-hall days. Julia tells him her son has inherited her talent; he demands she stay with him where she belongs.

Meeting Gussie soon after, Bertie hears Julia and Danby are to be married, as are Gussie and Danby's daughter. Receiving a telegram from Aunt Agatha asking if she should come and help, Bertie puts her off, and resolves to avoid England for some time, "about ten years."

Main Characters[edit]

  • Bertie
  • Aunt Agatha, Bertie's aunt
  • Jeeves, Bertie's valet
  • Spencer Gregson, Aunt Agatha's husband (mentioned only)
  • Augustus "Gussie" Mannering-Phipps, aka George Wilson, Bertie's cousin
  • Julia Mannering-Phipps, Gussie's mother
  • Cuthbert Mannering-Phipps, Gussie's late father (mentioned only)
  • Ray Denison, Gussie's fiancée
  • Daisy Trimble, a wife to one of Bertie's pals (mentioned only)
  • Barman in Gussie's hotel
  • Abe Riesbitter, a vaudeville agent
  • Joe Danby, Ray Denison's father
  • Piano player in the music-room

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kristin Thompson, Wooster Proposes, Jeeves, Disposes, James H. Heineman, New York (1992): Appendix A
  2. ^ Kristin Thompson, op. cit.
  3. ^ Kristin Thompson, op. cit.