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Friday, June 11, 2010
44. Leave It To Psmith by P G Wodehouse
"Ah well," he said, "we must always remember that these disappointments are sent to us for some good purpose. No doubt they make us more spiritual. Will you inform her that I called? the name is Psmith. P-Smith."
"No, no. P-s-m-i-t-h. I should explain to you that I started life without the initial letter, and my father always clung ruggedly to the plain Smith. But it seemed to me that there were so many Smiths in the world that a little variety might well be introduced. Smythe I look on as a cowardly evasion, nor do I approve of the too prevalent custom of tacking another name on in front by means of a hyphen. So I decided to adopt the Psmith. The p, I should add for your guidance, is silent, as in phtisis, psychic, and ptarmigan. You follow me?"
As you learn more about Psmith, spiritual is not a word that describes him well. But confident, dandy, lucky, sly, dashing, and good-looking are fit quite well. He is just one of those con-men that everything always works out for the best. In the story, he is hired by Freddie, Mr. Keeble's nephew, to steal a necklace from Mr. Keeble's wife who keeps a very tight grip on the household's purse strings. The necklace will then be sold and the proceeds used to pay Psmith, payoff Freddie's gambling debts, and allow Mr. Keeble to finance a business venture for his stepdaughter and her husband. Mrs. Keeble will only see a withdrawal from the account to buy her a replacement necklace. It's a fun premise, laden with all kinds of pitfalls and pratfalls. The book is great for a light, summer read.