The Mating Season

The Mating Season

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by P. G. Wodehouse

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Fans of P. G. Wodehouse's comic genius are legion, and their devotion to his masterful command of the hilarity borders on an obsession.
The Mating Season is a time of love, mistaken identity, and mishap for Bertie, Gussie Fink-Nottle and other guests staying at Deverill Hall-luckily there's unflappable Jeeves to set things right.


Fans of P. G. Wodehouse's comic genius are legion, and their devotion to his masterful command of the hilarity borders on an obsession.
The Mating Season is a time of love, mistaken identity, and mishap for Bertie, Gussie Fink-Nottle and other guests staying at Deverill Hall-luckily there's unflappable Jeeves to set things right.

Editorial Reviews

The undisputed master of farce is in top form in this giddy novel of romantic intrigue, social mayhem, and aristocratic absurdities. "Top flight, one of the funniest. . . . The pace is terrific!
Library Journal
Wodehouse (A Gentleman of Leisure, Audio Reviews, LJ 1/95) is one of the best and most accessible humorists for audio adaptation and this version does not disappoint. Reader Frederick Davidson has made superciliousness into an art form and lays it on thick throughout. His command of class, age, and gender variations is without peer. This work will be familiar to many listeners as it has been adapted for television and shown on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre. Unfortunately, there are duplication problems and side two of tape three sounds as if it had been recorded backwards and is completely incomprehensible. This flaw may have been corrected by the time you read this, but it may be worth the trouble to check. [Blackstone Audio offers free replacements for defective cassettes as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee to libraries.-Ed.]-Preston Hoffman, East Burke Community Lib., Hildebran, N.C.

Product Details

The Overlook Press
Publication date:
Jeeves and Wooster Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.27(w) x 7.48(h) x 1.05(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Mating Season


Copyright © 1977 Lady Ethel Wodehouse.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1-58567-231-9

While I would not go so far, perhaps, as to describe the heart as actually leaden, I must confess that on the eve of starting to do my bit of time at Deverill Hall I was definitely short on chirpiness. I shrank from the prospect of being decanted into a household on chummy terms with a thug like my Aunt Agatha, weakened as I already was by having had her son Thomas, one of our most prominent fiends in human shape, on my hands for three days.

I mentioned this to Jeeves, and he agreed that the set-up could have been juicier.

`Still,' I said, taking a pop, as always, at trying to focus the silver lining, `it's flattering, of course.'


`Being the People's Choice, Jeeves. Having these birds going around chanting "We Want Wooster".'

`Ah, yes, sir. Precisely. Most gratifying.'

But half a jiffy. I'm forgetting that you haven't the foggiest what all this is about. It so often pans out that way when you begin a story. You whizz off the mark all pep and ginger, like a mettlesome charger going into its routine, and the next thing you know, the customers are up on their hind legs, yelling for footnotes.

Let me get into reverse and put you abreast.

My Aunt Agatha, the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth, arriving suddenly in London from her rural lair with her son Thomas, had instructed me in her authoritative way to put the latter up in my flatfor three days while he visited dentists and Old Vics and things preparatory to leaving for his school at Bramley-on-Sea and, that done, to proceed to Deverill Hall, King's Deverill, Hants., the residence of some pals of hers, and lend my services to the village concert. Apparently they wanted to stiffen up the programme with a bit of metropolitan talent, and I had been recommended by the vicar's niece.

And that, of course, was that. It was no good telling her that I would prefer not to touch young Thos with a ten-foot pole and that I disliked taking on blind dates. When Aunt Agatha issues her orders, you fill them. But I was conscious, as I have indicated, of an uneasiness as to the shape of things to come, and it didn't make the outlook any brighter to know that Gussie Fink-Nottle would be among those present at Deverill Hall. When you get trapped in the den of the Secret Nine, you want something a lot better than Gussie to help you keep the upper lip stiff.

I mused a bit.

`I wish I had more data about these people, Jeeves,' I said. `I like on these occasions to know what I'm up against. So far, all I've gathered is that I am to be the guest of a landed proprietor called Harris or Hacker or possibly Hassock.'

`Haddock, sir.'

`Haddock, eh?'

`Yes, sir. The gentleman who is to be your host is a Mr Esmond Haddock.'

`It's odd, but that name seems to strike a chord, as if I'd heard it before somewhere.'

`Mr Haddock is the son of the owner of a widely advertised patent remedy known as Haddock's Headache Hokies, sir. Possibly the specific is familiar to you.'

`Of course. I know it well. Not so sensationally good as those pick-me-ups of yours, but none the less a sound stand-by on the morning after. So he's one of those Haddocks, is he?'

`Yes, sir. Mr Esmond Haddocks late father married the late Miss Flora Deverill.'

`Before they were both late, of course?'

`The union was considered something of a mésalliance by the lady's sisters. The Deverills are a very old county family—like so many others in these days, impoverished.'

`I begin to get the scenario. Haddock, though not as posh as he might be on the father's side, foots the weekly bills?'

`Yes, sir.'

`Well, no doubt he can afford to. There's gold in them thar Hokies, Jeeves.'

`So I should be disposed to imagine, sir.'

A point struck me which often does strike me when chewing the fat with this honest fellow — viz. that he seemed to know a hell of a lot about it. I mentioned this, and he explained that it was one of those odd chances that had enabled him to get the inside story.

`My Uncle Charlie holds the post of butler at the Hall, sir. It is from him that I derive my information.'

`I didn't know you had an Uncle Charlie. Charlie Jeeves?'

`No, sir. Charlie Silversmith.'

I lit a rather pleased cigarette. Things were beginning to clarify.

`Well, this is a bit of goose. You'll be able to give me all the salient facts, if salient is the word I want. What sort of a joint is this Deverill Hall? Nice place? Gravel soil? Spreading views?'

`Yes, sir.'

`Good catering?'

`Yes, sir.'

`And touching on the personnel. Would there be a Mrs Haddock?'

`No, sir. The young gentleman is unmarried. He resides at the Hall with his five aunts.'


`Yes, sir. The Misses Charlotte, Emmeline, Harriet and Myrtle Deverill and Dame Daphne Winkworth, relict of the late P. B. Winkworth, the historian. Dame Daphne's daughter, Miss Gertrude Winkworth, is, I understand, also in residence.'

On the cue `five aunts' I had given at the knees a trifle, for the thought of being confronted with such a solid gaggle of aunts, even if those of another, was an unnerving one. Reminding myself that in this life it is not aunts that matter but the courage which one brings to them, I pulled myself together.

`I see,' I said. `No stint of female society.'

`No, sir.'

`I may find Gussie's company a relief.'

`Very possibly, sir.'

`Such as it is.'

`Yes, sir.'

I wonder, by the way, if you recall this Augustus, on whose activities I have had occasion to touch once or twice before now? Throw the mind back. Goofy to the gills, face like a fish, horn-rimmed spectacles, drank orange juice, collected newts, engaged to England's premier pill, a girl called Madeline Bassett ... Ah, you've got him? Fine.

`Tell me, Jeeves,' I said, `how does Gussie come to be mixed up with these bacteria? Surely a bit of an inscrutable mystery that he, too, should be headed for Deverill Hall?'

`No, sir. It was Mr Fink-Nottle himself who informed me.'

`You've seen him, then?'

`Yes, sir. He called while you were out.'

`How did he seem?'

`Low-spirited, sir.'

`Like me, he shrinks from the prospect of visiting this ghastly shack?'

`Yes, sir. He had supposed that Miss Bassett would be accompanying him, but she has altered her arrangements at the last moment and gone to reside at The Larches, Wimbledon Common, with an old school friend who has recently suffered a disappointment in love. It was Miss Bassett's view that she needed cheering up.'

I was at a loss to comprehend how the society of Madeline Bassett could cheer anyone up, she being from topknot to shoe sole the woman whom God forgot, but I didn't say so. I merely threw out the opinion that this must have made Gussie froth a bit.

`Yes, sir. He expressed annoyance at the change of plan. Indeed, I gathered from his remarks, for he was kind enough to confide in me, that there has resulted a certain coolness between himself and Miss Bassett.'

`Gosh!' I said. And I'll tell you why I goshed. If you remember Gussie Fink-Nottle, you will probably also remember the chain of circumstances which led up, if chains do lead up, to this frightful Bassett getting the impression firmly fixed in her woollen head that Bertram Wooster was pining away for love of her. I won't go into details now, but it was her conviction that if ever she felt like severing relations with Gussie, she had only to send out a hurry call for me and I would come racing round, all ready to buy the licence and start ordering the wedding cake.

So, knowing my view regarding this Bassett, M., you will readily understand why this stuff about coolnesses drew a startled `Gosh!' from me. The thought of my peril had never left me, and I wasn't going to be really easy in my mind till these two were actually centre-aisling. Only when the clergyman had definitely pronounced sentence would Bertram start to breathe freely again.

`Ah, well,' I said, hoping for the best. `Just a lovers' tiff, no doubt. Always happening, these lovers' tiffs. Probably by this time a complete reconciliation has been effected and the laughing Love God is sweating away at the old stand once more with knobs on. Ha!' I proceeded as the front-door bell tootled, 'someone waits without. If it's young Thos, tell him that I shall expect him to be in readiness, all clean and rosy, at seven forty-five tonight to accompany me to the performance of King Lear at the Old Vic, and it's no good him trying to do a sneak. His mother said he had got to go to the Old Vic, and he's jolly well going.'

`I think it is more probable that it is Mr Pirbright, sir.'

`Old Catsmeat? What makes you think that?'

`He also called during your absence and indicated that he would return later. He was accompanied by his sister, Miss Pirbright.'

`Good Lord, really? Corky? I thought she was in Hollywood.'

`I understand that she has returned to England for a vacation, sir.'

`Did you give her tea?'

`Yes, sir. Master Thomas played host. Miss Pirbright took the young gentleman off subsequently to see a picture.'

`I wish I hadn't missed her. I haven't seen Corky for ages. Was she all right?'

`Yes, sir.'

`And Catsmeat? How was he?'

`Low-spirited, sir.'

`You're mixing him up with Gussie. It was Gussie, if you recall, who was low-spirited.'

`Mr Pirbright also.' `There seems to be a lot of low-spiritedness kicking about these days.'

`We live in difficult times, sir.'

`True. Well, bung him in.'

He oozed out, and a few moments later oozed in again.

`Mr Pirbright,' he announced.

He had called his shots correctly. A glance at the young visitor was enough to tell me that he was low-spirited. And mind you, it isn't often that you find the object under advisement in this condition. A singularly fizzy bird, as a rule. In fact, taking him by and large, I should say that of all the rollicking lads at the Drones Club, Claude Cattermole Pirbright is perhaps the most rollicking, both on the stage and off.

I say `on the stage', for it is behind the footlights that he earns his weekly envelope. He comes of a prominent theatrical family. His father was the man who wrote the music of The Blue Lady and other substantial hits which I unfortunately missed owing to being in the cradle at the time. His mother was Elsie Cattermole, who was a star in New York for years. And his sister Corky has been wowing the customers with her oomph and espièglerie, if that's the word I want, since she was about sixteen.

It was almost inevitable, therefore, that, looking about him on coming down from Oxford for some walk in life which would ensure the three squares a day and give him time to play a bit of county cricket, he should have selected the sock and buskin. Today he is the fellow managers pick first when they have a Society comedy to present and want someone for `Freddie', the lighthearted friend of the hero, carrying the second love interest. If at such a show you see a willowy figure come bounding on with a


Excerpted from The Mating Season by P. G. WODEHOUSE. Copyright © 1977 by Lady Ethel Wodehouse. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975) spent much of his life in Southampton, New York, but was born in England and educated in Surrey. He became an American citizen in 1955. In a literary career spanning more than seventy years, he published more than ninety books and twenty film scripts, and collaborated on more than thirty plays and musical comedies.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
October 15, 1881
Date of Death:
February 14, 1975
Place of Birth:
Guildford, Surrey, England
Place of Death:
Southampton, New York
Dulwich College, 1894-1900

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Mating Season 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel exemplifies all the best and most charming elements of the Wodehouse panoply: dashing characters in pursuit of modest but personal values, brilliant diction and a masterfully interlocked plot. Bertie Wooster, defending his bachelor life, goes to Deverill Hall pretending to be the quintessential drip Gussie Fink-Nottle to preserve latter's engagement with the Basset. Meanwhile, Esmond loves Corky and Gertrude loves Catsmeat, but none of the pairings can get right against the threat of the Five Aunts. Then Gussie shows up pretending to be Bertie Wooster, threatening not only to unravel the whole scheme but tarnish Bertie's reputation. Only Jeeves can straighten things out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago