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The Level Business Head

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Title: The Level Business Head  
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Subject: Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, P. G. Wodehouse short stories bibliography, List of minor Ukridge characters
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The Level Business Head

"The Level Business Head" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, which first appeared in the United Kingdom in the May 1926 issue of the Strand, and in the United States in the February 1926 Liberty. It was included in the collection Lord Emsworth and Others, published in the U.K in 1937, and in the U.S. version of Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, published in 1940. It features the irrepressible Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge.

Main characters

Plot

Jimmy Corcoran is surprised to find himself dining at Ukridge's Aunt Julia's house, where he is not usually welcome; Ukridge explains that he has recently acquired a certain degree of power over his aunt, thanks to his having pawned her brooch. He explains...

Ukridge runs into Joe the Lawyer, a notorious bookmaker, and is offered the chance to buy a half-share in a dog with excellent prospects. Ukridge can't afford the stake £50, of course, so at first refuses, but later that day Aunt Julia, about to depart on yet another tour, tasks him with collecting her brooch from a jeweller's and locking it safely in her desk. He pawns the brooch, and hands the cash over to Joe the Lawyer. The next day, Joe informs him that the dog has died and offers to reimburse him £5, leaving Ukridge considerably short of the money he needs to buy back the brooch.

Angelica Vining, a friend of Aunt Julia's, arrives having been told she can borrow the brooch and lent the key to the drawer, but Ukridge pockets the key and sends the woman away. He heads to Lewes races to rake back some money, and there meets Joe the Lawyer once more. He tries to borrow money off him, but is refused, and learns that Joe has raffled the dead dog for a considerable sum. He gets a lift with Joe to the next race meet at Sandown Park Racecourse, as a favour.

On the way, the car overheats and breaks down. Visiting a nearby house to fetch water, they find it guarded by a fearsome dog; Joe, afraid of dogs, drops his bag full of money in the garden as he flees. Ukridge sees that the dog is harmless, and tells Joe he will retrieve the bag for £50, an offer which Joe accepts, but while Ukridge is playing merrily with the dog, Joe grabs the bag himself, and refuses to pay.

When Joe goes off to find water elsewhere, Ukridge meets the owner of the house, and buys his dog from him for 5 shillings. He puts the dog in the car, and when Joe returns and finds he cannot get into his car, Ukridge offers to sell him the dog, for £100. He then charges a further £50 to remove the dog from the car, returns it to its previous owner, and returns home with his pockets full.

Aunt Julia, returning in a rage at hearing her friend has been refused the loan of her brooch, tells Ukridge she is sure he has pawned it; she makes him force open the drawer, and is deflated to find it sitting there, having been returned just in time, giving Ukridge an advantage over his distrustful aunt.

See also

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