The Politeness of Princes

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"The Politeness of Princes" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, which first appeared in the United Kingdom in the July 1902 issue of The Captain. It is a school story, set at Wrykyn school.

The story later appeared in the United States in the collection The Swoop! and Other Stories (1979), and was the title story of the Project Gutenberg eBook The Politeness of Princes and Other School Stories.

The title comes from the saying, "Punctuality is the politeness of princes."


Chapple, a boy in Seymour's house, has trouble dragging himself out of bed in time for breakfast; sleeping in a small room by himself, he generally arrives just as the other boys are leaving, and has to charm the staff into providing him with food and coffee.

Eventually, Seymour notices his tardiness, and begins to punish him for arriving late. Chapple, taking advice from his friends, tries leaving the sheets off his bed, so the cold will wake him; he pulls them on again and sleeps on. He tries setting his watch ahead; he forgets to wind it and is later than ever. Finally, he tries leaving his blankets off and setting his watch ahead, but wakes far too early.

Taking a stroll round the school to kill time until breakfast, Chapple runs into another boy who is off to do some carpentry; he joins him, but loses track of time in the workshop, and misses breakfast once more.

Chapple is moved into the main dormitory, an older boy taking his place in the small room. He no longer arrives late for breakfast...

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