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This is an Uncle Fred novel. It was never the habit of Frederick, fifth Earl of Ickenham, to grumble when events crowded in on him, but he did sometimes feel that the life-work he had set himself of spreading sweetness and light - or, as some preferred to put it, meddling in other people's business - was almost more than any man could be expected to undertake single-handed. So many problems had presented themselves of late, coming up one after the other. First there was the faltering courtship of his godson, Johnny, and the delectable Belinda Farringdon. Then there was Albert Peasemarch's tangled love-life in which the promotion of a union between this admirable butler and the sister of his employer was calling for all that Frederick had of resolution and ingenuity. And thirdly there was the matter of the reformation of Beefy Bastable, whose attitude towards his sister Phoebe, so like that of a snapping turtle suffering from ulcers, Frederick felt it his duty to correct. It is hardly to be wondered at that Frederick confessed to being preoccupied. But, happily such moments with him were of fleeting duration. In the present instance the mood came, paused and passed, leaving Frederick with the ball at his feet, eager to lend his statesmanlike mind to all mankind in distress.
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