(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Mr. Wilfred Mulliner, in the bar parlor of the Angler’s Roost, relates how one of his nephews, Archibald, wooed Aurelia Cammarleigh.

From a window of London’s Drones Club, Archibald espies a beautiful girl waiting for a taxi. He gets her name from Algy Wymondham-Wymondham, who suggests that Archibald introduce himself to her at Ascot. She lives with her dotty aunt, who believes that Sir Francis Bacon wrote William Shakespeare’s plays. What, Archibald wonders, could he offer to impress someone like Aurelia? He is renowned for his imitation of a hen laying an egg, but that is all. Such coarse buffoonery must be far beneath her.

When Archibald meets her at Ascot, she asks about his egg-laying imitation, but he sternly denies it. She allows him to call on her. Realizing that he will have to get past the aunt before seeing Aurelia, he gets a few books so he can look into these Shakespeare and Bacon fellows. Pretending to be a nonsmoker, teetotaler, and Bacon admirer, he is invited for a long visit to the aunt’s country house in Sussex. This fails to cheer him, though, because Aurelia’s presence makes him tongue-tied and he dumbly pines for her.

After dressing for dinner in the country house, he finds that the younger guests have gone out, leaving him alone with the aunt, who inflates her lungs and launches into the remarkable Baconian discovery made by applying the plain cipher to Milton’s well-known epitaph on Shakespeare....

(The entire section is 567 words.)