· Sports

· Home

A spiraling cluster of news & events from distant decades

Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 5 of 46


"I hear you're in London," I said carelessly.

"Oh, yes."

"Must be years since you came up."

"Oh, yes."

"And now you're off for an evening's pleasure."

He shuddered a bit. He had, I noticed, a hunted air.

"Pleasure!"

"Aren't you looking forward to this rout or revel?"

"Oh, I suppose it'll be all right," he said, in a toneless voice.
"Anyway, I ought to be of f, I suppose. The thing starts round about
eleven. I told my cab to wait.... Will you see if it's there, Jeeves?"

"Very good, sir."

There was something of a pause after the door had closed. A certain
constraint. I mixed myself a beaker, while Gussie, a glutton for
punishment, stared at himself in the mirror. Finally I decided that it
would be best to let him know that I was abreast of his affairs. It might
be that it would ease his mind to confide in a sympathetic man of
experience. I have generally found, with those under the influence, that
what they want more than anything is the listening ear.

"Well, Gussie, old leper," I said, "I've been hearing all about you."

"Eh?"

"This little trouble of yours. Jeeves has told me everything."

He didn't seem any too braced. It's always difficult to be sure, of
course, when a chap has dug himself in behind a Mephistopheles beard, but
I fancy he flushed a trifle.

"I wish Jeeves wouldn't go gassing all over the place. It was supposed to
be confidential."

I could not permit this tone.

"Dishing up the dirt to the young master can scarcely be described as
gassing all over the place," I said, with a touch of rebuke. "Anyway,
there it is. I know all. And I should like to begin," I said, sinking my
personal opinion that the female in question was a sloppy pest in my
desire to buck and encourage, "by saying that Madeline Bassett is a
charming girl. A winner, and just the sort for you."

"You don't know her?"

"Certainly I know her. What beats me is how you ever got in touch. Where
did you meet?"

"She was staying at a place near mine in Lincolnshire the week before
last."

"Yes, but even so. I didn't know you called on the neighbours."

"I don't. I met her out for a walk with her dog. The dog had got a thorn
in its foot, and when she tried to take it out, it snapped at her. So, of
course, I had to rally round."

"You extracted the thorn?"

"Yes."

"And fell in love at first sight?"

"Yes."

"Well, dash it, with a thing like that to give you a send-of f, why didn't
you cash in immediately?"

"I hadn't the nerve."

"What happened?"

"We talked for a bit."

"What about?"

"Oh, birds."

"Birds? What birds?"

"The birds that happened to be hanging round. And the scenery, and all
that sort of thing. And she said she was going to London, and asked me
to look her up if I was ever there."

"And even after that you didn't so much as press her hand?"

"of course not."

Well, I mean, it looked as though there was no more to be said. If a chap
is such a rabbit that he can't get action when he's handed the thing on a
plate, his case would appear to be pretty hopeless. Nevertheless, I
reminded myself that this non-starter and I had been at school together.
One must make an effort for an old school friend.

"Ah, well," I said, "we must see what can be done. Things may brighten.
At any rate, you will be glad to learn that I am behind you in this
enterprise. You have Bertram Wooster in your corner, Gussie."

"Thanks, old man. And Jeeves, of course, which is the thing that really
matters."

I don't mind admitting that I winced. He meant no harm, I suppose, but
I'm bound to say that this tactless speech nettled me not a little.
People are always nettling me like that. Giving me to understand, I mean
to say, that in their opinion Bertram Wooster is a mere cipher and that
the only member of the household with brains and resources is Jeeves.

It jars on me.

And tonight it jarred on me more than usual, because I was feeling pretty
dashed fed with Jeeves. Over that matter of the mess jacket, I mean.
True, I had forced him to climb down, quelling him, as described, with
the quiet strength of my personality, but I was still a trifle shirty at
his having brought the thing up at all. It seemed to me that what Jeeves
wanted was the iron hand.

"And what is he doing about it?" I inquired stiffly.

"He's been giving the position of affairs a lot of thought."

"He has, has he?"

"It's on his advice that I'm going to this dance."

"Why?"

"She is going to be there. In fact, it was she who sent me the ticket of
invitation. And Jeeves considered----"

"And why not as a Pierrot?" I said, taking up the point which had struck
me before. "Why this break with a grand old tradition?"

"He particularly wanted me to go as Mephistopheles."

I started.

"He did, did he? He specifically recommended that definite costume?"

"Yes."

"Ha!"

"Eh?"

"Nothing. Just 'Ha!'"

And I'll tell you why I said "Ha!" Here was Jeeves making heavy weather
about me wearing a perfectly ordinary white mess jacket, a garment not
only _tout ce qu'il y a de chic_, but absolutely _de rigueur_, and in the
same breath, as you might say, inciting Gussie Fink-Nottle to be a blot
on the London scene in scarlet tights. Ironical, what? One looks askance
at this sort of in-and-out running.

"What has he got against Pierrots?"

"I don't think he objects to Pierrots as Pierrots. But in my case he
thought a Pierrot wouldn't be adequate."

"I don't follow that."

"He said that the costume of Pierrot, while pleasing to the eye, lacked
the authority of the Mephistopheles costume."

"I still don't get it."

"Well, it's a matter of psychology, he said."

There was a time when a remark like that would have had me snookered. But
long association with Jeeves has developed the Wooster vocabulary
considerably. Jeeves has always been a whale for the psychology of the
individual, and I now follow him like a bloodhound when he snaps it out
of the bag.

"Oh, psychology?"

"Yes. Jeeves is a great believer in the moral effect of clothes. He
thinks I might be emboldened in a striking costume like this. He said a
Pirate Chief would be just as good. In fact, a Pirate Chief was his first
suggestion, but I objected to the boots."

NEXT

GO TO PAGE:  1 | 5 | 10 | 15 | 20 | 25 | 30 | 35 | 40 | 45

Here is a site where you can buy a copy of this book: Abebooks.com



©2003-2017 RetroGalaxy™ · User Agreement · RetroGalaxy.com is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not control, monitor or guarantee all of the information contained on this site or any linked external website, and does not endorse any views expressed or products or services offered therein.