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In the presence of fellow performers in an empty circus tent, a clown creates a character: Littlechap, the eternal opportunist. Littlechap's driving ambition is to climb the ladder of success, the first rung of which is marriage to the boss's daughter, Evie. Despite Littlechap's arrogance, Evie succumbs to his charm and soon becomes pregnant. Following their wedding, Littlechap's father-in-law makes him manager of one of his less productive factories in Sludgepool. Quickly turning it into a huge enterprise, Littlechap goes from success to success as Evie bears him two more children. In Moscow on business, he captivates a beautiful Russian "comrade" and makes her his mistress. Once back home, his star continues to ascend; he becomes managing director of the factory and acquires membership in Snobb's Club, a seat in Parliament, and two more beautiful mistresses (his Japanese housemaid and an American showgirl). His social and financial success continues until he is elevated to the peerage. Now exhausted and eager for retirement, he feels it is time to write his memoirs. But with time for reflection, Lord Littlechap finally realizes that he has never stopped to love anyone other than himself.