Love Among the Chickens
'Love Among the Chickens' Summary
Jeremy Garnet, hearing that his old friend Ukridge has called while he was out, and fearing that the peace he needs to plan his next book is about to be disturbed, decides to leave London for a time. But he is too late. Ukridge arrives, with his wife Millie in tow and immediately starts explaining his new get-rich-quick scheme, involving producing hen's eggs on a farm in Dorset. Giving in to Ukridge's forceful personality, Garnet agrees to accompany him to the farm; there will, Ukridge assures him, be plenty of golf and sea-bathing available. On the train to Dorset, they are joined in a compartment by a pretty, brown-haired girl named Phyllis and her elderly Irish father. By coincidence, Phyllis is reading a copy of Garnet's new novel, given to her by Molly MacEachern.
They arrive at the house, meet hired man Beale and his wife, and settle in. Next day a consignment of hens arrives, and they spend some busy days putting up fences and building coops; Ukridge buys various supplies on credit, and begins to arrange to supply eggs to various outlets. One day, chasing an escaped hen, Garnet tumbles into a garden containing the girl from the train, her father Professor Derrick, and a friendly young navy lieutenant named Tom Chase, whose familiarity with Phyllis irks Garnet. They recapture the chicken, and Garnet is invited to lunch, stays to play croquet afterwards, and his love for Phyllis is sealed.
Soon the Ukridges invite their new neighbours over for dinner, but the cat gets stuck up the chimney and they are unable to cook. Fed cold food, and upset by Ukridge's small talk, especially on the topic of Irish Home Rule, the Professor storms out, and Garnet finds himself in his beloved's father's bad books.
The chickens become ill, and Garnet, on his way to fetch help, runs into Phyllis, who shows him some friendliness. Later, bathing at the beach, he spies the Professor, fishing from a boat. He hatches a plan, bribes a local, Harry Hawk, to upset the Professor's boat, and saves him from the sea, restoring the man's faith in him. He visits Phyllis, but is interrupted in his wooing by Chase, who hints that he is wise to Garnet's boat plot, and thrashes Garnet at tennis.
With the chicken farm struggling, a local informs Derrick of Garnet's boat plot, and he finds himself once again despised. He buries himself in the farm and his writing, but after a week he comes across Phyillis alone, and explains his actions to her. He declares his love, and she returns it, revealing that Chase is in fact engaged to her sister Norah, but adds that her father, loathing Garnet, would never consent to them marrying. On Ukridge's advice, they beard the man in the sea, and Garnet announces his love for Phyllis, but only makes Derrick angrier.
Garnet finds himself up against the Professor in the final of a local golf tournament, which, he has learned, the Professor has long been desperate to win. He plays a bad game, and wins the Professor round, giving him the match but winning his consent. Returning to the farm, he finds that the Ukridges have disappeared, apparently bolted to London to flee their creditors.
A swarm of said creditors arrive, and begin ransacking the farm; they have turned to the chickens when Ukridge returns, bearing wealth courtesy of Millie's Aunt Elizabeth. He berates the assembled throng, and sends them off with fleas in their ears. Later, Garnet finds Ukridge on the beach, and hears of his plan – to start up a duck farm...
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