The Return of Battling Billson

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"The Return of Battling Billson" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, which first appeared in the United States in the August 1923 issue of Cosmopolitan and in the United Kingdom in the September 1923 Strand. It features the irrepressible Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, and was included in the collection Ukridge, published in 1924.

Main characters


Our plucky narrator Corky, researching for an article in the East End, has his pocket picked and finds himself unable to pay a bill at an inn. Kicked out by the landlord, he is rescued and avenged by a huge, red-headed man - none other than "Battling" Billson. He gives Billson Ukridge's address, and next day is landed with looking after Flossie's ghastly mother and ghoulish brother Cecil, despite having no recollection of who Flossie may be.

He beards Ukridge later, and is reminded of Billson's girl, who, it seems, is preventing the huge sailor from returning to the ring, for fear of him damaging his face. Ukridge wants Billson to fight, in a deal which would net them £200, and dealing with the mother, who Flossie can't stand, is Ukridge's way of bringing her on side.

Billson enters the ring and starts strongly, but soon fades, and looks certain to lose. At the last moment, he rallies spectacularly, and destroys his opponent. Corcoran goes home happy for his friend's success, but Ukridge arrives later bewailing cruel fate. The £200, it seems, was a bribe to throw the fight, which Billson had been on the verge of doing when his opponent stepped on his ingrowing toenail, enraging the big man and making him win the fight - which netted a mere £20.

Billson was introduced in "The Debut of Battling Billson", and would return in several other Ukridge stories.

See also