Thanks to the publicity given to the matter by The Bridgnorth, Shifnal and Albrighton Argus (with which is incorporated The Wheat-Growers' Intelligencer and Stock-breeders' Gazetteer), the whole world to-day knows that the silver medal in the Fat Pigs class at the eighty-seventh annual Shropshire Agricultural Show was won by the Earl of Emsworth's black Berkshire sow, Empress of Blandings.
Very few people, however, are aware how near that splendid animal came to missing the coveted honour.
Now it can be told.
This brief chapter of Secret History may be said to have begun on the night of the eighteenth of July, when George Cyril Wellbeloved (twenty-nine) pigman in the employ of Lord Emsworth, was arrested by Police-Constable Evans, of Market Blandings, for being drunk and disorderly in the tap-room of the Goat and Feathers. On July the nineteenth, after first offering to apologize, then explaining that it had been his birthday, and finally attempting to prove an alibi, George Cyril was very properly jugged for fourteen days without the option of a fine.
On July the twentieth, Empress of Blandings, always hitherto a hearty and even a boisterous feeder, for the first time on record declined all nourishment. And on the morning of July the twenty-first, the veterinary surgeon, called in to diagnose and deal with this strange asceticism, was compelled to confess to Lord Emsworth that the thing was beyond his professional skill.
Let us just see, before proceeding, that we have got these dates right:-
July 18. Birthday Orgy of Cyril Wellbeloved.
July 19. Incarceration of Ditto.
July 20. Pig lays off the Vitamines.
July 21. Veterinary Surgeon Baffled.
Right . . . . .