Book Report: Leave it to Psmith
28 September 2004, 10:41 AM
If you remember, Gentle Reader, in the novel, Psmith keeps them talking until Freddie Threepwood’s leg plunges through the rotten ceiling, distracting Ed Cootes for long enough for Psmith to manfully overpower him. Having done so, it was pretty quick work to get the necklace back, and so to the happy ending for everyone. Well, happy enough; Freddie doesn’t get the girl, thank goodness, though he does get the money; Baxter is dispatched until the air-gun incident as described in “Crime Wave at Blandings”; and Miss Peavey and Ed Cootes are out of luck.
The earlier ending changes the last of those. Rather than overpowering the career criminal, Psmith merely points out that Mr. Keeble would be happy to pay far more than a fence would.
“Well, the smooth old guy!” exclaimed Miss Peavey.Miss Peavey’s gentle poetic nature shines through, and the soon-to-be-wed couple leaves in full possession of the necklace, to arrange for its return.
“Just one of those simple, affectionate tricks which husbands do play on wives,” said Psmith. “I expect Comrade Cootes will be trying something of the sort on you towards the end of the honeymoon.”
I think I prefer the original, although that may well simply be my own pretentiousness (“I prefer the original ending, you know,” he said. It’s like saying that, on the whole, your favorite Eiffel structure isn’t the Parisian tower but the Passerelle dans le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont). Still and all, I like that Miss Peavey gets something other than Ed Cootes, who is pretty much a case, and I like that Psmith saves the day without endangering the immaculate crease on his trousers (surrounded, as he is, by dead bats and soot reminiscent of Hildi at her worst). I do understand why the change, which both deprives the “real” criminals of their ill-gotten booty and makes Psmith more manly, would appeal to people, but seriously, this is Wodehouse! The villain of the piece is Lady Constance, who commits the unforgivable sin of inviting a poet to visit, and of course Baxter commits the even worse sin of correctly identifying imposters and thieves. Away with your middle class morality! More money for Miss Peavey, I say!