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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 9 of 46


A strong shudder shook me. She was alluding to her _chef_, that superb
artist. A monarch of his prof ession, unsurpassed--nay, unequalled--at
dishing up the raw material so that it melted in the mouth of the
ultimate consumer, Anatole had always been a magnet that drew me to
Brinkley Court with my tongue hanging out. Many of my happiest moments
had been those which I had spent champing this great man's roasts and
ragouts, and the prospect of being barred from digging into them in the
future was a numbing one.

"No, I say, dash it!"

"I thought that would rattle you. Greedy young pig."

"Greedy young pigs have nothing to do with it," I said with a touch of
hauteur. "One is not a greedy young pig because one appreciates the
cooking of a genius."

"Well, I will say I like it myself," conceded the relative. "But not
another bite of it do you get, if you refuse to do this simple, easy,
pleasant job. No, not so much as another sniff. So put that in your
twelve-inch cigarette-holder and smoke it."

I began to feel like some wild thing caught in a snare.

"But why do you want me? I mean, what am I? Ask yourself that."

"I of ten have."

"I mean to say, I'm not the type. You have to have some terrific nib to
give away prizes. I seem to remember, when I was at school, it was
generally a prime minister or somebody."

"Ah, but that was at Eton. At Market Snodsbury we aren't nearly so
choosy. Anybody in spats impresses us."

"Why don't you get Uncle Tom?"

"Uncle Tom!"

"Well, why not? He's got spats."

"Bertie," she said, "I will tell you why not Uncle Tom. You remember me
losing all that money at baccarat at Cannes? Well, very shortly I shall
have to sidle up to Tom and break the news to him. If, right after that,
I ask him to put on lavender gloves and a topper and distribute the
prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School, there will be a divorce in the
family. He would pin a note to the pincushion and be off like a rabbit.
No, my lad, you're for it, so you may as well make the best of it."

"But, Aunt Dahlia, listen to reason. I assure you, you've got hold of the
wrong man. I'm hopeless at a game like that. Ask Jeeves about the time I
got lugged in to address a girls' school. I made the most colossal ass of
myself."

"And I confidently anticipate that you will make an equally colossal ass
of yourself on the thirty-first of this month. That's why I want you. The
way I look at it is that, as the thing is bound to be a frost, anyway,
one may as well get a hearty laugh out of it. I shall enjoy seeing you
distribute those prizes, Bertie. Well, I won't keep you, as, no doubt,
you want to do your Swedish exercises. I shall expect you in a day or
two."

And with these heartless words she beetled of f, leaving me a prey to the
gloomiest emotions. What with the natural reaction after Pongo's party
and this stunning blow, it is not too much to say that the soul was
seared.

And I was still writhing in the depths, when the door opened and Jeeves
appeared.

"Mr. Fink-Nottle to see you, sir," he announced.

 

-5-

I gave him one of my looks.

"Jeeves," I said, "I had scarcely expected this of you. You are aware
that I was up to an advanced hour last night. You know that I have barely
had my tea. You cannot be ignorant of the effect of that hearty voice of
Aunt Dahlia's on a man with a headache. And yet you come bringing me
Fink-Nottles. Is this a time for Fink or any other kind of Nottle?"

"But did you not give me to understand, sir, that you wished to see Mr.
Fink-Nottle to advise him on his affairs?"

This, I admit, opened up a new line of thought. In the stress of my
emotions, I had clean forgotten about having taken Gussie's interests in
hand. It altered things. One can't give the raspberry to a client. I
mean, you didn't find Sherlock Holmes refusing to see clients just
because he had been out late the night before at Doctor Watson's birthday
party. I could have wished that the man had selected some more suitable
hour for approaching me, but as he appeared to be a sort of human lark,
leaving his watery nest at daybreak, I supposed I had better give him an
audience.

"True," I said. "All right. Bung him in."

"Very good, sir."

"But before doing so, bring me one of those pick-me-ups of yours."

"Very good, sir."

And presently he returned with the vital essence.

I have had occasion, I fancy, to speak before now of these pick-me-ups of
Jeeves's and their effect on a fellow who is hanging to life by a thread
on the morning after. What they consist of , I couldn't tell you. He says
some kind of sauce, the yolk of a raw egg and a dash of red pepper, but
nothing will convince me that the thing doesn't go much deeper than that.
Be that as it may, however, the results of swallowing one are amazing.

For perhaps the split part of a second nothing happens. It is as though
all Nature waited breathless. Then, suddenly, it is as if the Last Trump
had sounded and Judgment Day set in with unusual severity.

Bonfires burst out all in parts of the frame. The abdomen becomes heavily
charged with molten lava. A great wind seems to blow through the world,
and the subject is aware of something resembling a steam hammer striking
the back of the head. During this phase, the ears ring loudly, the
eyeballs rotate and there is a tingling about the brow.

And then, just as you are feeling that you ought to ring up your lawyer
and see that your affairs are in order before it is too late, the whole
situation seems to clarify. The wind drops. The ears cease to ring. Birds
twitter. Brass bands start playing. The sun comes up over the horizon
with a jerk.

And a moment later all you are conscious of is a great peace.

As I drained the glass now, new life seemed to burgeon within me. I
remember Jeeves, who, however much he may go off the rails at times in
the matter of dress clothes and in his advice to those in love, has
always had a neat turn of phrase, once speaking of someone rising on
stepping-stones of his dead self to higher things. It was that way with
me now. I felt that the Bertram Wooster who lay propped up against the
pillows had become a better, stronger, finer Bertram.

"Thank you, Jeeves," I said.

"Not at all, sir."

"That touched the exact spot. I am now able to cope with life's
problems."

"I am gratified to hear it, sir."

"What madness not to have had one of those before tackling Aunt Dahlia!
However, too late to worry about that now. Tell me of Gussie. How did he
make out at the fancy-dress ball?"

"He did not arrive at the fancy-dress ball, sir."

I looked at him a bit austerely.

"Jeeves," I said, "I admit that after that pick-me-up of yours I feel
better, but don't try me too high. Don't stand by my sick bed talking
absolute rot. We shot Gussie into a cab and he started forth, headed for
wherever this fancy-dress ball was. He must have arrived."

"No, sir. As I gather from Mr. Fink-Nottle, he entered the cab convinced
in his mind that the entertainment to which he had been invited was to be
held at No. 17, Suffolk Square, whereas the actual rendezvous was No. 71,
Norfolk Terrace. These aberrations of memory are not uncommon with those
who, like Mr. Fink-Nottle, belong essentially to what one might call the
dreamer-type."

"One might also call it the fatheaded type."

"Yes, sir."

"Well?"

"On reaching No. 17, Suffolk Square, Mr. Fink-Nottle endeavoured to
produce money to pay the fare."

"What stopped him?"

"The fact that he had no money, sir. He discovered that he had left it,
together with his ticket of invitation, on the mantelpiece of his
bedchamber in the house of his uncle, where he was residing. Bidding the
cabman to wait, accordingly, he rang the door-bell, and when the butler
appeared, requested him to pay the cab, adding that it was all right, as
he was one of the guests invited to the dance. The butler then disclaimed
all knowledge of a dance on the premises."

"And declined to unbelt?"

"Yes, sir."

"Upon which----"

"Mr. Fink-Nottle directed the cabman to drive him back to his uncle's
residence."

"Well, why wasn't that the happy ending? All he had to do was go in,
collect cash and ticket, and there he would have been, on velvet."

"I should have mentioned, sir, that Mr. Fink-Nottle had also left his
latchkey on the mantelpiece of his bedchamber."

"He could have rung the bell."

"He did ring the bell, sir, for some fifteen minutes. At the expiration
of that period he recalled that he had given permission to the
caretaker--the house was of ficially closed and all the staff on
holiday--to visit his sailor son at Portsmouth."

"Golly, Jeeves!"

"Yes, sir."

"These dreamer types do live, don't they?"

"Yes, sir."

"What happened then?"

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