Bingo Little Junior and Prudence Baxter earn a negative ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness. However, there are several others who deceive us with their apparent innocence – Kid Clamentina, Oswald and Peggy Mainwaring, to name the ones we have covered in the last post.
Here are a few more who deserve to be considered.
Bonzo, the son of Aunt Dahlia, has a sound reputation as a pest. But if Thos sets a gold standard in devilry, Bonzo is merely a good, ordinary mischief-maker. His proud mother compares the two as follows:
‘Whenever it comes to devilry, Bonzo is a good, ordinary selling-plater. Whereas Thomas is a classic yearling.’
When Bonzo is in love, his nature gets altered. He tries to lead a finer, better life. When tempted to climb on the roof and boo down Mr Anstruther’s chimney, he refuses to oblige. When prompted to burst a paper bag below the chair of a resting old man, he merely walks off in a huff.
We get introduced to him and also to Sebastian Moon in The Love that Purifies (Very Good, Jeeves).
Sebastian Moon has goggle eyes and golden curls. He has a breezy candidness about him. Few years junior to both Thos and Bonzo, he happens to have long nourished a deep regard for Miss Clara Bow.
Except for his presence in the short story mentioned above, more details of his escapades are not available.
Here is a dish-faced kid who, despite his tender age, controls the theatrical productions of his father.
A king maker
In A Letter of Introduction (The Inimitable Jeeves), he wrecks the career aspirations of Cyril Bassington-Bassington, much to the relief of Aunt Agatha and Bertie. He is a stoutish infant with a lot of freckles. He has one of those cold, clammy and accusing sort of eyes. He looks at you as being an unnecessary product brought in by a cat after rummaging through a trash can.
Having been taught by his mother to be brutally frank while expressing his opinions, he tells Bertie that his (kid’s) father happens to be richer than him (Bertie). He has no hesitation in telling Cyril upfront that he is fish-faced, thereby inviting a scuffle between the two.
The father believes that the kid has the IQ of an average audience’s, and can be relied upon to certify the suitability of any play. Conversely, what he does not like will be too rotten for anyone.
This is how the scene unfolds at a rehearsal.
‘You got to work good for my pop!’ said the stout child, waggling his head reprovingly at Cyril.
‘I don’t want any bally cheek from you!’ said Cyril, gurgling a bit.
‘What’s that?’ barked old Blumenfeld. ‘Do you understand that this boy is my son?’
‘Yes, I do,’ said Cyril. ‘And you both have my sympathy!’
‘You’re fired!’ bellowed old Blumenfeld, swelling a good bit more. ‘Get out of my theatre!’
Thus ends the artistic career of Cyril, much to the delight of Aunt Agatha. Jeeves is equally contented, having taken the liberty of gifting Bertie’s favourite purple socks to the lift attendant.
A fancy for Aberdeen terriers
The kid also puts in an appearance in Episode of the Dog McIntosh (Very Good, Jeeves).
When Blumenfeld Sr comes over from New York to check if there are any plays worth buying, the kid is brought along to put his seal of approval on any good play he comes across.
Bobbie Wickham, in her keenness to get her mother’s dramatized version of a novel of hers, allows the kid to walk off with McIntosh, Aunt Agatha’s Aberdeen terrier, left in Bertie’s charge while she goes off to Aix-les-Bains to take the cure.
A sense of Noblesse oblige restrains Bertie from dashing off to the Savoy and demanding the pet back. As always, Jeeves comes up with a solution – a look-alike replacement is arranged for the kid, whereas Bertie rescues McIntosh after sprinkling his trousers with aniseed powder. Aniseed has an aroma which appears to speak straight to the deeps of the terrier’s soul. The innocent subterfuge works. Peace prevails.
Seabury of the Butter-slide fame
Seabury puts in an appearance in Thank you, Jeeves. He is described as a smallish, freckled kid with aeroplane ears. He has a supercilious gaze which leaves you wondering what you had done wrong.
‘In my Rogues Gallery of repulsive small boys I suppose he would come about third – not quite so bad as my Aunt Agatha’s son, Young Thos, or Blumenfeld’s Junior, but well ahead of little Sebastian Moon, my Aunt Dahlia’s Bonzo, and the field.’
If you run into him, he is apt to demand protection money. If you decide not to pay up, things could happen to you. There could be a lizard in your bed, crawling up the left pyjama leg when you slip between the sheets for some well-earned sleep.
Unpleasantness ensues between Master Seabury and Master Dwight Stoker when the latter refuses to part with a sum of one shilling and sixpence for protection. A brawl follows. Lady Chuffnell behaves like a tigress out to protect her cub. Pop Stoker kicks in on behalf of his progeny. Diplomatic relations between the two families get severed, thereby putting the sale of Chuffnell Hall in jeopardy. Prospects of Chuffy proposing to Pauline Stoker nosedive.
Another romance which gets threatened in its embryonic stage by Seabury is the one between his tigress mother and the renowned looney doctor, Sir Roderick Glossop. Having failed in his endeavours to extract a sum of ten shillings from his future stepfather, Seabury plans something in the nature of a reprisal.
‘He wouldn’t have the nerve to do the dirty on a future stepfather, would he?’
‘Young gentlemen are headstrong, sir.’
‘True, one recalls the case of my Aunt Agatha’s son, young Thos, and the Cabinet Minister.’
‘In a spirit of ill-will he marooned him on an island in the lake with a swan.’
A butter-slide is laid as a trap. Stealthily followed by Mary, a parlour maid of a somewhat frivolous nature, Pop Glossop takes a toss with some heaviness. A rift ensues between the two seniors. The tidal wave of an injured motherly love scores over the affection felt by Woman Chuffnell for Sir Roderick Glossop.
Eventually, the mother realizes her folly and laments her having been too harsh on the looney doctor, who, in act of unparalleled magnanimity, had blackened his face to merely amuse the fiend in human shape – Seabury.
Edwin the Boy Scout
Like many of his contemporaries listed above, Edwin plays a key role in shaping events in the life of Bertie when he lands up at Steeple Bumpleigh on an errand of mercy for Uncle Percy. Even otherwise, when Edwin tries to catch up with his acts of kindness, human life is imperiled. We get to meet him in Joy in the Morning.
Edwin is a small boy with a face like a ferret. He is a conscientious Boy Scout who insists on keeping his score of charitable acts up to date at all times. The list of his charitable acts includes cleaning up cottage chimneys using gunpowder. If a chimney were to catch fire, he rushes in to douse it with paraffin, thereby making the whole cottage go up in flames.
When he finds a brooch meant for his sister, Florence Craye, he loses no time in handing it over to her, claiming it to be a birthday present from Bertie. The sister returns the true love of her life, Stilton Cheeseright, to store and decides to get married to Bertie, leaving him all of a twitter.
In order to get de-Florenced, Bertie decides to deliver a forceful kick to her favourite brother in her presence. Edwin educates Bertie on the behavior of ants, ex-members of the Hymenoptera family. Upon stooping down, he does receive a juicy one from Bertie. However, rather than getting annoyed, Florence is appreciative of the act, because Edwin has been pasting press clippings on her latest book ‘Spindrift’ upside down in an album of hers!
When he finds burglars on the lawns in the middle of the night, he promptly tackles them using a Scout’s stick. Uncle Percy gets biffed on his trouser seat. Bertie gets sloshed on the back hair, leaving him with a golf ball sized contusion.
When he decides to mend an egg boiler, a hapless egg kept in position flies off like a bullet, catching a prospective egg consumer like Boko on the tip of his nose which continues to bleed for a few hours.
Yet another act of kindness he does is to place a hedgehog in Bertie’s bed. While doing so, he notices a policeman’s uniform on the bed and promptly reports the matter to Stilton, who has been missing his own after a swim in the river. Bertie comes very close to getting pinched, being saved at the last minute by his Uncle Percy. The latter refuses to sign on the warrant authorizing Bertie’s arrest, ticking off the officers of the Law who forget their sacred obligations and bring trumped-up charges right and left in a selfish desire to secure promotion.
This revolting exhibition of fraud makes Stilton resign from the Force, thereby removing the barrier between himself and Florence. Bertie avoids the peril of walking down the aisle with an ace spiritual reformer in his life.
Ogden Ford, the darling of kidnappers
Here is someone who could give all the other kids a run for their money. He is fourteen years of age, round and overfed. If there is a spoilt and unpleasant brat who is overindulged by his wealthy parents, it is Ogden, the supreme fiend in human shape. Here is a juicy description of his.
Years of grown-up society and the absence of anything approaching discipline had given him a precocity on which the earnest efforts of a series of private tutors had expended themselves in vain. They came, full of optimism and self-confidence, to retire after a brief interval, shattered by the boy’s stodgy resistance to education in any form or shape. To Mr. Pett, never at his ease with boys, Ogden Ford was a constant irritant. He disliked his stepson’s personality, and he more than suspected him of stealing his cigarettes. It was an additional annoyance that he was fully aware of the impossibility of ever catching him at it.
He thinks nothing of ticking off his step-father. Forever in the eyes of kidnappers, he loses no time in introducing numerous vices to the boarding school he is sent to. We meet him and his mother, Nesta, in two narratives – The Little Nugget and Piccadilly Jim.
Both Edwin and Ogden compete with Thos for the top ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness.
(To be continued; caricatures of characters courtesy www)
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