"The Smile that Wins"
is a short story
by the British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse. A part of the Mr. Mulliner
series, the story was first published in the United States in 1931 in American (magazine)
. In 1932, it appeared in the February issue of Strand Magazine
. It also appears in the collections Mulliner Nights
. A BBC TV adaptation of the story first aired on 31 October 1978
with John Alderton
playing as Adrian Mulline.
Adrian Mulliner, a private detective, falls in love with Lady Millicent Shipton-Bellinger, the daughter of the fifth Earl of Brangbolton who has a horror of detective ever since Millecent's Uncle Joe's troubles in 1928. The father insists that Millicent must marry Sir Jasper Addleton, the financier. Heartbroken, Adrian has a bad attack of dyspepsia (he suffers from the disease and it was the melancholic dyspeptic look that first attracted Millicent) and a doctor advises him that the best cure for dyspepsia is to smile. Adrian, who hasn't smiled since he was twelve ("I saw the butler trip on a spaniel and upset the melted butter all over Aunt Elizabeth."), has a smile that seems to say 'I know all' and causes a great deal of nervousness amongst people with something to hide. A kleptomaniac Baronet helping himself to a fish slicer at a wedding is his first victim and Adrian finds himself invited to the Baronet's country home where he finds the Fifth Earl of Brangbolton in residence. After he solves the case of the missing soap (it had shot out of the Earl's hands while he was singing Sonny Boy) he unleashes his smile on Sir Jasper Addleton who, guilty like all financiers, hands him a check for a hundred thousand pounds. With this hundred thousand pounds in hand, and the unfortunate effect of the smile on the Earl just as the Earl was cheating at cards, results in Adrian getting the Earl's blessing for marrying Millicent.