The Episode of the Theatrical Venture
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"The Episode of the Theatrical Venture" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse and C. H. Bovill, which first appeared in the United Kingdom in the June 1914 issue of the Strand, and in the United States in the July 1916 Pictorial Review. It was published in book form in the collection A Man of Means in 1991.
It is the third of six stories to feature Roland Bleke, a young man for whom financial success is always a mixed blessing.
Roland Bleke, a very wealthy man after the events of "The Episode of the Financial Napoleon", finds himself wowed by Miss Billy Verepoint, an attractive and domineering actress. He soon ends up the owner of a notoriously unsuccessful theatre, the Windsor, bought from its unscrupulous former owner, who found his insurance agent's attitude to keeping the place safe from fire a little too strict for his liking.
As her friends start working on a revue to be performed at the theatre and starring Miss Verepoint, Bleke proposes to her, mostly out of fear, and is accepted pending her making a success of her theatrical career. At rehearsals, Bleke is horrified by Miss Verepoint's behaviour and, in dread of having to spend his life married to her, goes away to Norfolk for a quiet week's rest.
Returning to London, he finds the theatre has been burnt to the ground - suffragettes having left their literature around the place. Miss Verepoint and her writer friends demand he rebuild it, but he demurs, explaining that he had not insured the building and was penniless. The theatrical types all leave in disgust, Miss Verepoint calling off the engagement on her way out. Bleke opens his desk and fondly caresses the insurance policies passed on to him by the theatre's previous owner...