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Bad Lord Blight
by [?]

“Yours faithfully,


Gertie (Countess of Blight) looked at her husband in horror.

“Eleven!” she cried.

“Eleven,” said the Earl gloomily.

Then a look of grim determination came into his eyes. With the air of one who might have been quoting Keats, but possibly wasn’t, he said firmly:

“What man has done, man can do.”

That evening the Countess of Blight gave orders for eleven spare bedrooms to be got ready.


On the morning after the arrival of the eleven Podbys (as they had been taught to call themselves) John, seventeenth Earl of Blight, spoke quite frankly to Algernon, the eldest.

“After all, my dear Algernon,” he said, “we are cousins. There is no need for harsh words between us. All I ask is that you should forbear to make your claim until I have delivered my speech in the House of Lords on the Coast Erosion Bill, upon which I feel deeply. Once the Bill is through, I shall be prepared to retire in your favour. Meanwhile let us all enjoy together the simple pleasures of Blight Hall.”

Algernon, a fair young man with a meaningless expression, replied suitably.

So for some days the eleven Podbys gave themselves up to pleasure. Percy, the youngest, though hardly of an age to appreciate the mechanism of it, was allowed to push the lawn-mower. Lancelot and Herbert, who had inherited the Podby intellect, were encouraged to browse around the revolving bookcase, from which they frequently extracted one of the works of Thackeray, replacing it again after a glance at the title page; while on one notable occasion the Earl of Blight took Algernon into the dining-room at about 11.31 in the morning and helped him to a glass of sherry and a slice of sultana cake. In this way the days passed happily, and confidence between the eleven Podbys and their cousin was established.

It was on a fair spring morning, just a week after their arrival, that the Countess of Blight came into the music-room (where Algernon was humming a tune) and said, “Ah, Algernon, my husband was looking for you. I think he has some little excursion to propose. What a charming day, is it not? You will find him in the library.”

As Algernon entered the library, Lord Blight looked up from the map he was studying and nodded.

“I thought,” he said, coming to the point at once, “that it might amuse you to drive over with me to Flamborough Head. The view from the top of the cliff is considered well worth a visit. I don’t know if your tastes lie in that direction at all?”

Algernon was delighted at the idea, and replied that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to accompany Lord Blight.

“Excellent. Perhaps we had better take some sandwiches and make a day of it.”

Greatly elated at the thought of a day by the sea, Lord Blight went out and gave instructions to the Countess for sandwiches to be cut.

“In two packets, my love,” he added, “in case Algernon and I get separated.”

Half an hour later they started off together in high spirits.

* * * * *

It was dark before the seventeenth Earl of Blight returned to the house and joined the others at the dinner-table. His face wore a slightly worried expression.

“The fact is, my dear,” he said, in answer to a question from the Countess, “I am a little upset about Algernon. I fear we have lost him.”

“Algernon?” said the Countess in surprise.

“Yes. We were standing at the top of Flamborough Head, looking down into the sea, when–” He paused and tapped his glass, “Sherry, Jenkins,” he said, catching the butler’s eye.

“I beg your pardon, my lord.”

“–When poor Algernon stumbled and–Do any of you boys know if your brother can swim?”

Everard, the ninth, said that Algernon had floated once in the Paddington Baths, but couldn’t swim.