The action of the novel unfolds in the fifties.
A difficult conversation takes place between Charles Lumley and the landlady. She suspected that something was wrong, it was painful to spend time idly, apparently, does not work anywhere. Overtaken by surprise, the young man on the run composes a criminal story, posing as a private detective, which is even more alarming to Mrs. Smythe. She demands that the tenant immediately move out. And what else could he have come up with? Charles is twenty-two years old, he has just come from university campus. There is no place and no prospects. He lives fifty pounds, which he saved in the bank for an emergency. Stotwell, where he ended up and spent three weeks, was chosen randomly. Charles asked his friends to
Arriving at the scene, Charles rents the suitcase to the storage room and goes to the suburbs where Sheila lives. At home, I do not want to appear, he delays the inevitable explanations. But again, the failure of the girl is not at home, and he is greeted by an unpleasant reception from her relatives. Sheila’s older sister, Edith and her husband, Robert Tarkles, a successful middle-class shopkeeper, demonstrate in every way to an unexpected guest that he is an outsider in their midst, he is reprimanded for his inability to settle down in life, dishonesty towards his parents. And Charles, in fact, has long felt a complete inability to find a common language with them, does not want further involvement of parents in their lives, instructions, advice, and attempts to help. He is also irritated by complacency, narrow-mindedness, outright rudeness of Sheila’s relatives. Unable to endure annoying moralizing, he is going to a scandal. Leaving the house, Charles realizes that what happened is a break with Sheila. However, in many ways their relationship was contrived, at the age of seventeen he first learned love and all these years with passive persistence cultivated this feeling. Charles goes into the pub, having decided to get drunk with grief for the remaining money. And here, too, he feels like a stranger. Local patrons – ordinary people, rude and uncouth – treat him with dislike. I’m drinking a young man and starting a scandal, and they put him outside the door. He spent the night behind the outskirts, falling into the thick grass. And here, too, he feels like a stranger. Local patrons – ordinary people, rude and uncouth – treat him with dislike. I’m drinking a young man and starting a scandal, and they put him outside the door. He spent the night behind the outskirts, falling into the thick grass. And here, too, he feels like a stranger. Local patrons – ordinary people, rude and uncouth – treat him with dislike. I’m drinking a young man and starting a scandal, and they put him outside the door. He spent the night behind the outskirts, falling into the thick grass.
For a week Charles works as a window cleaner. He borrowed money and bought a bucket and rags, a ladder, a cart and a coverall. Then he returned to Stotwell and took off his cot in the dormitory of the Union of Christian Youth. He is quite satisfied with the fact that he managed to end the old life, in one jump he was able to jump out of the rut of his class and reject alien psychology, to break the habitual way. At the same time, our hero tries in every possible way to avoid contact with the new environment, is burdened with life in the hostel, wants complete independence. Very by the time of meeting with a former classmate at the University Edwin Frolish. At the time, they thought that he was destined to become a great novelist, but he never received a diploma, he leads a bohemian way of life, who lives with Betty’s friend on the top floor of an abandoned building depot, Charles willingly moves to them. When there is no earnings, Betty rescues, on Saturdays she visits her aunt – an old maid who gives her niece some money. Accidentally, Charles finds a companion – Erna Ollershaw, and the case with his help is more successful. Wishing to shake, Charles dresses up and goes to lunch at the “Grand Hotel”, where his attention is attracted by a couple – a sleek man of about fifty and a beautiful young girl. From the bartender, he finds out that this is Mr. Rodrick, the director of one of the local factories, with his orphaned niece. Charles loses peace, thoughts of the girl persistently pursue him. Despair comes, he will never gain access to their circle. Incidentally, he learns that Robert Turkles, a respectable family man, spends Saturday with Betty in a rural hotel. So that’s where the money, on which it contains Edwin. After taking away his belongings, he intends to move to Erna, but that in the house the police, the companion is arrested. At the trial it turns out that he had previously served in a transport office that drove cars from factories to ports, and was an accomplice in their thefts. Once the operation failed, since Ern was on the wanted list. After acquaintance with Ern’s friend Teddy Barner, Charles arranges to work as a chauffeur for the place of the former partner. Now he has a steady and fairly decent salary. He hopes that a change in the situation and way of life will help to forget the niece of the manufacturer, which so struck his imagination, but in vain. During a break between flights, he travels by train to Stotwell, hoping to see the girl again at the Grand Hotel. His companion is Arthur Blirny, theatrical entrepreneur. With his assistance, Charles meets Mr. Rodrick and Veronica and even receives an invitation to a party in Blini’s London apartment. Now the young man needs money, a lot of money. Having got used to the driver’s environment, he realized that dark things are turning around here. He asks Teddy to bring him too. Finding that he is involved in the transit of drugs, Charles is in turmoil, but from now on the wallet is tight. Develops his turbulent affair with Veronica. Once the drug operation fails, Charles and Barner manage to escape from the round-up in the port. Their car is pursued by the police, and Barner, considering guilty of what happened Charles, throws it at full speed. Charles is in the hospital with a lot of fractures. Thanks to Rodrik, he is placed in a paid building, in a separate ward. After making a visit, Rodrik demands to leave Veronica alone, she is not a niece, and his mistress, let the young man does not cherish hopes for a bright future. After completing the course of treatment, Charles remains to work in the hospital as a medic, however, no matter how he tries to adapt to the new environment, he does not succeed. The way out is the proposal of one of the patients, the “chocolate king”, the millionaire Braiswait to become his personal chauffeur. Charles moves to his estate. It seems to him that at last he has found what he needs. But Bracewait has a sixteen-year-old son Walter, an extravagant shalope, to which his father is forced to invite a tutor for the summer. They are George Hutchins, now working as a teacher in college. Long-standing dislike between former classmates grows into enmity. And then there’s Walter, the auto enthusiast enthusiast, secretly from his father, assembles a racing car, testing it, breaks the luxurious “daimler” of his father. All this is due to the fault of Hutchins and his mistress, June Viber, suddenly jumped on the road. Charles leaves the estate, leaving the owner a letter, where the blame for what happened takes over. The dream of hermitage, of some parasitism in the service of a good rich man among nature, reminiscent of the landscapes of a color film on the screen, is not destined to materialize. Later it turns out that the one who hated him stole from Brayswait a valuable jade statue, exposing Charles to the thief. not destined to be realized. Later it turns out that the one who hated him stole from Brayswait a valuable jade statue, exposing Charles to the thief. not destined to be realized. Later it turns out that the one who hated him stole from Brayswait a valuable jade statue, exposing Charles to the thief.
In London, Charles leads the life of a homeless vagabond, sleeps on garden benches. Mr. Blirny arranges his bouncer at the night bar “Golden Peach”. One evening, Frolish, who is now working on the radio, is visiting there and is doing very well. He invites Charles to test himself in a new field. He becomes an employee of the studio Terence Frash, composes the most stupid scenarios for the radio “Jokes on Wednesday.” His affairs are very successful, he concludes a profitable contract for three years and becomes a fully-fledged person, tesha himself an illusion of personal independence. Again in his life appears Veronica, and it seems to him that he is quite happy.