I haven't read all of P.G. Wodehouse's books - there are more than 100 - but I thought I was familiar with most of the titles. So it was a happy surprise to come across this one recently at Half Price Books. This is a short-story collection, first published in 1959. And it's something of a Wodehouse smorgasbord, with stories featuring his popular characters Bertie and Jeeves, Lord Emsworth, Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, the Oldest Member, and Mr Mulliner. Three are set at the Drones Club, but rather than the amiable Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, we get Oofy Prosser, the rich but tight-fisted blot who never puts himself out to help a friend in trouble.
I complained recently about short stories being too short, but reading these reminded me how well P.G. Wodehouse handles them. And I've noticed before how often his stories are about stories. It's not just Bertie addressing the reader. When the Oldest Member and Mr Mulliner appear (in this and other books), they're telling stories to those around them. Likewise, most of the Drones Club stories consist of members relating the adventures (and mishaps) of fellow members.
I don't think that Psmith ever appeared in a short story, so I didn't expect to see him. I was hoping though that Uncle Fred, the fifth Earl of Ickenham, might. After all, his long-suffering nephew Pongo Twistleton is a member of the Drones. (It's from the club windows that Uncle Fred uses a slingshot to fire on someone's hat, setting off the action in Cocktail Time.) But no such luck. I was happy though to see another earl, Clarence, the ninth Earl of Emsworth. In his story, "Birth of a Salesman," he is far away from his ancestral Blandings Castle. In the United States to attend a wedding, he is staying with his son Freddy on Long Island. His overbearing sisters tend to treat Lord Emsworth like he is dumber than a pile of rocks, and Freddy has unfortunately developed something of the same scornful attitude. Left to his own devices, Lord Emsworth gets to rescue a damsel in distress and score a point against Freddy. It was lovely to see him blossom out a bit, even if he is acting under a major misapprehension most of the time. I think his brother Galahad would be proud of him.
I still have a couple of Wodehouse books on the TBR stacks, but I'll keep an eye out too for the serendipitous ones that I didn't even know I was missing.