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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 2 of 46


"Oh, yes, sir. The aquatic members of the family Salamandridae which
constitute the genus Molge."

"That's right. Well, Gussie has always been a slave to them. He used to
keep them at school."

"I believe young gentlemen frequently do, sir."

"He kept them in his study in a kind of glass-tank arrangement, and
pretty niffy the whole thing was, I recall. I suppose one ought to have
been able to see what the end would be even then, but you know what boys
are. Careless, heedless, busy about our own affairs, we scarcely gave
this kink in Gussie's character a thought. We may have exchanged an
occasional remark about it taking all sorts to make a world, but nothing
more. You can guess the sequel. The trouble spread,"

"Indeed, sir?"

"Absolutely, Jeeves. The craving grew upon him. The newts got him.
Arrived at man's estate, he retired to the depths of the country and gave
his life up to these dumb chums. I suppose he used to tell himself that
he could take them or leave them alone, and then found--too late--that he
couldn't."

"It is of ten the way, sir."

"Too true, Jeeves. At any rate, for the last five years he has been
living at this place of his down in Lincolnshire, as confirmed a
species-shunning hermit as ever put fresh water in the tank every second
day and refused to see a soul. That's why I was so amazed when you told
me he had suddenly risen to the surface like this. I still can't believe
it. I am inclined to think that there must be some mistake, and that
this bird who has been calling here is some different variety of
Fink-Nottle. The chap I know wears horn-rimmed spectacles and has a face
like a fish. How does that check up with your data?"

"The gentleman who came to the flat wore horn-rimmed spectacles, sir."

"And looked like something on a slab?"

"Possibly there was a certain suggestion of the piscine, sir."

"Then it must be Gussie, I suppose. But what on earth can have brought
him up to London?"

"I am in a position to explain that, sir. Mr. Fink-Nottle confided to me
his motive in visiting the metropolis. He came because the young lady is
here."

"Young lady?"

"Yes, sir."

"You don't mean he's in love?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I'm dashed. I'm really dashed. I positively am dashed, Jeeves."

And I was too. I mean to say, a joke's a joke, but there are limits.

Then I found my mind turning to another aspect of this rummy affair.
Conceding the fact that Gussie Fink-Nottle, against all the ruling of the
form book, might have fallen in love, why should he have been haunting my
flat like this? No doubt the occasion was one of those when a fellow
needs a friend, but I couldn't see what had made him pick on me.

It wasn't as if he and I were in any way bosom. We had seen a lot of each
other at one time, of course, but in the last two years I hadn't had so
much as a post card from him.

I put all this to Jeeves:

"Odd, his coming to me. Still, if he did, he did. No argument about that.
It must have been a nasty jar for the poor perisher when he found I
wasn't here."

"No, sir. Mr. Fink-Nottle did not call to see you, sir."

"Pull yourself together, Jeeves. You've just told me that this is what he
has been doing, and assiduously, at that."

"It was I with whom he was desirous of establishing communication, sir."

"You? But I didn't know you had ever met him."

"I had not had that pleasure until he called here, sir. But it appears
that Mr. Sipperley, a fellow student of whom Mr. Fink-Nottle had been at
the university, recommended him to place his affairs in my hands."

The mystery had conked. I saw all. As I dare say you know, Jeeves's
reputation as a counsellor has long been established among the
cognoscenti, and the first move of any of my little circle on discovering
themselves in any form of soup is always to roll round and put the thing
up to him. And when he's got A out of a bad spot, A puts B on to him. And
then, when he has fixed up B, B sends C along. And so on, if you get my
drift, and so forth.

That's how these big consulting practices like Jeeves's grow. Old Sippy,
I knew, had been deeply impressed by the man's efforts on his behalf at
the time when he was trying to get engaged to Elizabeth Moon, so it was
not to be wondered at that he should have advised Gussie to apply. Pure
routine, you might say.

"Oh, you're acting for him, are you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now I follow. Now I understand. And what is Gussie's trouble?"

"Oddly enough, sir, precisely the same as that of Mr. Sipperley when I
was enabled to be of assistance to him. No doubt you recall Mr.
Sipperley's predicament, sir. Deeply attached to Miss Moon, he suffered
from a rooted diffidence which made it impossible for him to speak."

I nodded.

"I remember. Yes, I recall the Sipperley case. He couldn't bring himself
to the scratch. A marked coldness of the feet, was there not? I recollect
you saying he was letting--what was it?--letting something do something.
Cats entered into it, if I am not mistaken."

"Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would', sir."

"That's right. But how about the cats?"

"Like the poor cat i' the adage, sir."

"Exactly. It beats me how you think up these things. And Gussie, you say,
is in the same posish?"

"Yes, sir. Each time he endeavours to formulate a proposal of marriage,
his courage fails him."

"And yet, if he wants this female to be his wife, he's got to say so,
what? I mean, only civil to mention it."

"Precisely, sir."

I mused.

"Well, I suppose this was inevitable, Jeeves. I wouldn't have thought
that this Fink-Nottle would ever have fallen a victim to the divine _p_,
but, if he has, no wonder he finds the going sticky."

"Yes, sir."

"Look at the life he's led."

"Yes, sir."

"I don't suppose he has spoken to a girl for years. What a lesson this is
to us, Jeeves, not to shut ourselves up in country houses and stare into
glass tanks. You can't be the dominant male if you do that sort of thing.
In this life, you can choose between two courses. You can either shut
yourself up in a country house and stare into tanks, or you can be a
dasher with the sex. You can't do both."

"No, sir."

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