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It was while Keggs was little more than a stripling of a butler in the service of J. J. Bunyan of New York that he permitted himself to eavesdrop on a meeting between his millionaire employer and a covey of Wall Street tycoons. White he listened his pencil went speeding busily across the pages of his notebook as he wrote down the details of the tontine being born—a scheme in which J. J. and his associates each agreed to put up $50,000, the grand total to go to whichever of their sons was the last to marry.
That was nearly thirty years ago and time has since wrought many changes. Keggs is now living in comfortable retirement in the pleasant London suburb of Valley Fields, and of the various offspring nominated in the Tontine Stakes only two remain in the race. It is time, Keggs thinks, to cash in on what he knows.
Immediately a number of typical Wodehouse characters become involved. These include Lord Uffenham, Keggs's last employer, an impoverished peer with an annoying habit of going into trances; Jane, Lord yffenhairTs niece, an enchanting girl who could fall in love with a millionaire's son even if he was a pauper—like Bill Hollister; and Mortimer Bayliss who loves his fellow men only if he can insult them. . . .
When Keggs ceremoniously opens his notebook and ticks off all the names but two, the fun gets fast and furious.
Eleven times fifty thousand—in dollars—is the prize that provokes one of P. G. Wodehouse's brightest and funniest novels.