The Man Upstairs

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First edition

The Man Upstairs is a collection of short stories by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Kingdom on 23 January 1914 by Methuen & Co., London.[1] Most of the stories had previously appeared in magazines, generally Strand Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan or Collier's Weekly in the United States. Although the book was not published in the US, many of the stories were eventually made available to US readers in The Uncollected Wodehouse (1976) and The Swoop! and Other Stories (1979)

It is a miscellaneous collection, not featuring any of Wodehouse's regular characters; most of the stories concern love and romance.

Contents[edit]

The Man Upstairs (short story)[edit]

Plot

Annette Brougham, a quick-tempered female composer and music-teacher, is disturbed by a knocking on her ceiling. She visits the flat above to complain, but despite her initial feelings of anger towards him, she soon finds herself drawn to "Alan Beverley", the modest and charming struggling artist she finds there.

Reginald Sellers, another resident of the building, a pompous and self-important painter, criticises Alan's work harshly, and Annette defends him, but regrets her cruelty towards Reginald. The boorish Sellers finds some success with his art, selling several paintings to a Glasgow millionaire named Bates, and continues to lord it over his less high-achieving neighbour.

Annette publishes a waltz she has written, and that too begins to sell surprisingly well. She is happy, but disappointed that her friend has yet to sell his work, and upset that Sellers still criticises him.

She answers the communal telephone one day, and takes a message from a friend of "Beverley" who is borrowing his flat, and hears that large quantities of printed music and several bad paintings have been delivered there. She confronts "Beverley", who reveals that his real name is Bill Bates, a Glasgow millionaire. He has been in love with Annette since he first saw her in the street, and took the flat in her building to be near her, banging on the floor to get her attention; he now wants her to marry him.

She berates him for tricking her and treating her like a child, and he counters by revealing that he knows she has bought his one and only painting, a mediocre portrait of a Child and a Cat, through an intermediary. He repeats his proposal of marriage, and she tells him to go away. She hears him pacing around in his room above, and taking a broom, bangs three times on her ceiling.

Something to Worry About[edit]

Plot

Sally Preston, a London girl born and bred, is found to be an aficionado of the movies by her father, who disapproves of such entertainments, and is sent to stay with an aunt at a small, sleepy seaside village in Hampshire. She tells her story to Tom Kitchener, a simple young gardener next door, who promptly falls in love with her. So too do most of the other young men of the village, who begin to visit the house in increasing numbers.

Tom, too shy to visit and jealous of the men who do, decides to shower her with gifts; it being autumn and all the flowers gone, all he has to shower with are vegetables, which he proceeds to give generously. Her aunt's husband warns him off, but he rebels, proposes to her awkwardly, and is amazed to find himself accepted.

Tom buys her a puppy, and she soon finds herself in trouble with the local constable, for failing to put a collar on the dog. Trying to persuade Tom to take revenge on the man for her, she reveals that she has accepted proposals of marriage from several other local men, in a scheme to force her father to take her back to London, but she is worried by Tom's quiet responses.

He takes her along to the first of her other suitors, and fights him. Tom wins, despite the other man's greater size, and Sally is moved. He takes her along to the second, and fights him. Tom wins, despite the other's greater skill; Sally is smitten by Tom. He takes her along to the third, who denounces Sally. Tom tells her she will marry him, and she concurs. The story ends with Sally comparing the day's events with a movie she is fond of.

Sally's father appears to be a neighbour of Bowles, also an ex-butler turned landlord in London's Ebury Street.

Deep Waters (short story)[edit]

Plot

George Barnert Callender, playwright and an excellent swimmer, is at Marvis Bay for the production of his play Fate's Footballs, shortly to be put on there. He is on the pier, dwelling on the play's troubles, particularly its star Arthur Mifflin, when he sees a very attractive girl in the water. Straining to follow her as she swims beneath him, he falls from the pier, and is just about to swim off when she grasps him and begins to drag him to shore. He lets her do this, hoping to form an acquaintanceship, and on the shore they meet and she offers to teach him to swim.

They meet again later, and he learns her name is Mary Vaughan, staying at the same hotel as George with an aunt. Next day, the troupe arrive to perform George's play, and Mifflin, full of ideas to promote the piece, heads out on a boat trip with George. Explaining it is a stunt to attract attention to the play, Mifflin upsets the boat, expecting George to drag him to safety. George refuses, however, as it would spoil things with Mary, and makes Mifflin to pretend to be the rescuer.

Mary's suspicions are aroused by the repeat rescuing, and recalls having seen George before, swimming strongly at another resort. She is furious with him, but Mifflin explains George's initial gallantry and reluctance to repeat the act, and all is forgiven.

Later, with George's play a success in London, he is accompanied into his box by a lady...

When Doctors Disagree[edit]

  • UK: Strand, December 1910
Plot

Arthur Welch is a barber at the Hotel Belvoir. He is engaged to Maud Peters, who is a manicurist at the same hotel. While she takes care of her customers' hands, Maud thinks, as part of her profession, that she must chat gaily with them. But Arthur, who is extremely jealous, thinks otherwise. And it bothers Maud to have Arthur frowning over her head every time she smiles to a customer's joke.

She decides to take advice from Doctor Cupid, who holds the Matter of the Heart "Consulting Room" in the weekly magazine Fireside Chat. Dr Cupid advises her to try to pique her fiancé. And this is what she does with a very enterprising young American pugilist, known as 'Skipper" Shute. But, very surprisingly, Arthur does not seem to care a bit about the gay badinage going on between his fiancée and the pugilist. More, when Mr Shute invites Maud to spend one evening with her in White City, Arthur thinks it an excellent idea. From this unexpected reaction, Maud deduces that Arthur does not love her any more.

Arthur even takes Maud, after the shop is closed, to the White City himself. There they meet Mr Shute, who succeeds in losing Arthur and finding himself alone with Maud. When he tries to kiss her, Arthur, who has come back, provokes Mr Shute into a fight. He even gives him a blow on the head, causing Mr Shute's silk top hat to fall on the ground. Mr Shute runs after his hat, but, when he comes back with it, ready to show Arthur what a real pugilist is, a very large constable has appeared on the scene, and ask the contestants to stop creating trouble on the street.

While they move away, fully reconciled with each other, Arthur shows Maud a paper clipping, from the magazine "Home Moments", where, in answer to his request, "The Heart Specialist" has written that Arthur should show no resentment to her fiancée, whenever he sees her flirting with other men.

"The Matrimonial Sweepstakes", the version of "The Good Angel" as printed in Cosmopolitan in the US, features the first appearance in print of the name of Lord Emsworth.

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

References
  1. ^ McIlvaine, E., Sherby, L.S. and Heineman, J.H. (1990) P.G. Wodehouse: A comprehensive bibliography and checklist. New York: James H. Heineman, pp. 26–27. ISBN 087008125X
Sources

External links[edit]