The Exit of Battling Billson

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"The Exit of Battling Billson" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, which first appeared in the United States in the December 1923 issue of Cosmopolitan and in the United Kingdom in the January 1924 Strand. It features the irrepressible Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, and was included in the collection Ukridge, published in 1924.

Main characters[edit]


Corky is in the Welsh town of "Llunindnno" to report on the emergence of a popular revivalist speaker, and is amazed to run into Ukridge outside a theatre - he has been ejected for attacking a man who had stolen his seat, attempting to lift him out by the ears. Ukridge is in town to promote a boxing match between a local man and "Battling" Billson, this time as manager of the affair, sharing the ticket sales with his partner from his failed bookmaking enterprise.

Corky attends the stirring revivalist meeting, and later meets Billson, who was also at the meeting. Billson, swayed by the speaker, has become an advocate of teetotalism and non-violence, and has been dispruting drinkers in local pubs. Ukridge, dismayed that Billson refuses to fight, intends to take his place, having made an agreement with the other boxer that he will treat Ukridge gently. When they meet, however, Ukridge recognises the boxer as the man whose ears he pulled.

Sure the other man will break his word, Ukridge is petrified, but when the fight seems to be going well, he assumes the other is merely a poor fighter. When Ukridge hits the other man's nose, breaking the central clause of their deal, the Welshman lets loose, and is on the verge of destroying Ukridge when Billson steps into the ring, determined to end the violence. Ukridge runs off as Billson, enraged by the booing crowd and a few punches from the Welshman, launches into a spectacular fight.

The Welshman's agent arrives at Ukridge's house to collect the money owed, but Ukridge's partner has fled with the takings. When all looks black, Billson arrives, confirming the partner has fled, but carrying the bag of money, which he took from the fleeing man. He hands it over to Ukridge, and strolls off to spread the light.

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