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"The Custody of the Pumpkin" by P. G. Wodehouse was originally published in 1924 in two places, the American magazine The Saturday Evening Post and the Strand Magazine in Britain. It was republished in Wodehouse's short story collection Blandings Castle and Elsewhere in 1934.
This story is part of a substantial group of short stories and novels by Wodehouse that are centered on Blandings Castle, the estate of the 9th Earl of Emsworth, and his extended family. The stories gently satirize the upper classes, portraying most of the men as weak-willed, impractical, and not very intelligent and the women as strong and smart, but often obsessed with appearances and social position. The lower classes, although self-interested and not well-educated, are the ones who are competent at practical matters and actually keep things running in the stories. The main characters in the "The Custody of the Pumpkin" are:
Lord Emsworth: an absent-minded and inarticulate peer, mainly concerned with winning prizes in agricultural shows.
Freddie Threepwood: Son of Lord Emsworth. Very similar to his father in being inarticulate and impractical. He does not have a job or any particular job skills and is very susceptible to pretty young women.
Angus McAllister: The head-gardener at Blandings.
Aggie Donaldson: Freddie's current love interest, a pretty American heiress who is a cousin to McAllister.
Mr. Donaldson: Aggie's father, a wealthy businessman.
Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe: Lord Emsworth's neighbor and rival at local agricultural shows.
At the opening of the story, Lord Emsworth has acquired a telescope, and complains to his butler that it does not work. After the butler removes the black cap over the lens, Emsworth spies his son Freddie with a girl. He discovers the girl is visiting his head gardener, McAllister, and has a fight with McAllister, demanding that the girl (a gardener's relative and thus unsuitable wife for his son) leave. McAllister quits.
Emsworth realizes later in the evening that this will harm his possibility of winning first prize in the Shrewsbury Agricultural Show with his pumpkin, "The Hope of Blandings", his first pumpkin good enough to rival those of his arch-enemy, the current prize-holder, Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe.
Emsworth goes to London to replace his gardener, and discovers that Freddie has married Aggie. He goes for a walk in Kensington gardens, absent-mindedly plucking some flowers he likes, and is nearly arrested. McAllister vouches for his character, saving him from jail. When Emsworth discovers that Mr. Donaldson is wealthy and intends to take Freddie off to America and set him to work, he gives the marriage his blessing. He re-hires McAllister at a higher salary and wins first prize in the show with his pumpkin.
"The Hope of Blandings"
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