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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 10 of 46


"Mr. Fink-Nottle appears to have realized at this point that his position
as regards the cabman had become equivocal. The figures on the clock had
already reached a substantial sum, and he was not in a position to meet
his obligations."

"He could have explained."

"You cannot explain to cabmen, sir. On endeavouring to do so, he found
the fellow sceptical of his bona fides."

"I should have legged it."

"That is the policy which appears to have commended itself to Mr.
Fink-Nottle. He darted rapidly away, and the cabman, endeavouring to detain
him, snatched at his overcoat. Mr. Fink-Nottle contrived to extricate
himself from the coat, and it would seem that his appearance in the
masquerade costume beneath it came as something of a shock to the cabman.
Mr. Fink-Nottle informs me that he heard a species of whistling gasp,
and, looking round, observed the man crouching against the railings with
his hands over his face. Mr. Fink-Nottle thinks he was praying. No doubt
an uneducated, superstitious fellow, sir. Possibly a drinker."

"Well, if he hadn't been one before, I'll bet he started being one
shortly afterwards. I expect he could scarcely wait for the pubs to
open."

"Very possibly, in the circumstances he might have found a restorative
agreeable, sir."

"And so, in the circumstances, might Gussie too, I should think. What on
earth did he do after that? London late at night--or even in the daytime,
for that matter--is no place for a man in scarlet tights."

"No, sir."

"He invites comment."

"Yes, sir."

"I can see the poor old bird ducking down side-streets, skulking in
alley-ways, diving into dust-bins."

"I gathered from Mr. Fink-Nottle's remarks, sir, that something very much
on those lines was what occurred. Eventually, after a trying night, he
found his way to Mr. Sipperley's residence, where he was able to secure
lodging and a change of costume in the morning."

I nestled against the pillows, the brow a bit drawn. It is all very well
to try to do old school friends a spot of good, but I could not but feel
that in espousing the cause of a lunkhead capable of mucking things up as
Gussie had done, I had taken on a contract almost too big for human
consumption. It seemed to me that what Gussie needed was not so much the
advice of a seasoned man of the world as a padded cell in Colney Hatch
and a couple of good keepers to see that he did not set the place on
fire.

Indeed, for an instant I had half a mind to withdraw from the case and
hand it back to Jeeves. But the pride of the Woosters restrained me. When
we Woosters put our hands to the plough, we do not readily sheathe the
sword. Besides, after that business of the mess-jacket, anything
resembling weakness would have been fatal.

"I suppose you realize, Jeeves," I said, for though one dislikes to rub
it in, these things have to be pointed out, "that all this was your
fault?"

"Sir?"

"It's no good saying 'Sir?' You know it was. If you had not insisted on
his going to that dance--a mad project, as I spotted from the first--this
would not have happened."

"Yes, sir, but I confess I did not anticipate----"

"Always anticipate everything, Jeeves," I said, a little sternly. "It is
the only way. Even if you had allowed him to wear a Pierrot costume,
things would not have panned out as they did. A Pierrot costume has
pockets. However," I went on more kindly, "we need not go into that now.
If all this has shown you what comes of going about the place in scarlet
tights, that is something gained. Gussie waits without, you say?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then shoot him in, and I will see what I can do for him."

 

-6-

Gussie, on arrival, proved to be still showing traces of his grim
experience. The face was pale, the eyes gooseberry-like, the ears
drooping, and the whole aspect that of a man who has passed through the
furnace and been caught in the machinery. I hitched myself up a bit
higher on the pillows and gazed at him narrowly. It was a moment, I could
see, when first aid was required, and I prepared to get down to cases.

"Well, Gussie."

"Hullo, Bertie."

"What ho."

"What ho."

These civilities concluded, I felt that the moment had come to touch
delicately on the past.

"I hear you've been through it a bit."

"Yes."

"Thanks to Jeeves."

"It wasn't Jeeves's fault."

"Entirely Jeeves's fault."

"I don't see that. I forgot my money and latchkey----"

"And now you'd better forget Jeeves. For you will be interested to hear,
Gussie," I said, deeming it best to put him in touch with the position of
affairs right away, "that he is no longer handling your little problem."

This seemed to slip it across him properly. The jaws fell, the ears
drooped more limply. He had been looking like a dead fish. He now looked
like a deader fish, one of last year's, cast up on some lonely beach and
left there at the mercy of the wind and tides.

"What!"

"Yes."

"You don't mean that Jeeves isn't going to----"

"No."

"But, dash it----"

I was kind, but firm.

"You will be much better off without him. Surely your terrible
experiences of that awful night have told you that Jeeves needs a rest.
The keenest of thinkers strikes a bad patch occasionally. That is what
has happened to Jeeves. I have seen it coming on for some time. He has
lost his form. He wants his plugs decarbonized. No doubt this is a shock
to you. I suppose you came here this morning to seek his advice?"

"of course I did."

"On what point?"

"Madeline Bassett has gone to stay with these people in the country, and
I want to know what he thinks I ought to do."

"Well, as I say, Jeeves is off the case."

"But, Bertie, dash it----"

"Jeeves," I said with a certain asperity, "is no longer on the case. I am
now in sole charge."

"But what on earth can you do?"

I curbed my resentment. We Woosters are fair-minded. We can make
allowances for men who have been parading London all night in scarlet
tights.

"That," I said quietly, "we shall see. Sit down and let us confer. I am
bound to say the thing seems quite simple to me. You say this girl has
gone to visit friends in the country. It would appear obvious that you
must go there too, and flock round her like a poultice. Elementary."

"But I can't plant myself on a lot of perfect strangers."

"Don't you know these people?"

"of course I don't. I don't know anybody."

I pursed the lips. This did seem to complicate matters somewhat.

"All that I know is that their name is Travers, and it's a place called
Brinkley Court down in Worcestershire."

I unpursed my lips.

"Gussie," I said, smiling paternally, "it was a lucky day for you when
Bertram Wooster interested himself in your affairs. As I foresaw from the
start, I can fix everything. This afternoon you shall go to Brinkley
Court, an honoured guest."

He quivered like a _mousse_. I suppose it must always be rather a
thrilling experience for the novice to watch me taking hold.

"But, Bertie, you don't mean you know these Traverses?"

"They are my Aunt Dahlia."

"My gosh!"

"You see now," I pointed out, "how lucky you were to get me behind you.
You go to Jeeves, and what does he do? He dresses you up in scarlet
tights and one of the foulest false beards of my experience, and sends
you off to fancy-dress balls. Result, agony of spirit and no progress. I
then take over and put you on the right lines. Could Jeeves have got you
into Brinkley Court? Not a chance. Aunt Dahlia isn't his aunt. I merely
mention these things."

"By Jove, Bertie, I don't know how to thank you."

"My dear chap!"

"But, I say."

"Now what?"

"What do I do when I get there?"

"If you knew Brinkley Court, you would not ask that question. In those
romantic surroundings you can't miss. Great lovers through the ages have
fixed up the preliminary formalities at Brinkley. The place is simply ill
with atmosphere. You will stroll with the girl in the shady walks. You
will sit with her on the shady lawns. You will row on the lake with her.
And gradually you will find yourself working up to a point where----"

"By Jove, I believe you're right."

"of course, I'm right. I've got engaged three times at Brinkley. No
business resulted, but the fact remains. And I went there without the
foggiest idea of indulging in the tender pash. I hadn't the slightest
intention of proposing to anybody. Yet no sooner had I entered those
romantic grounds than I found myself reaching out for the nearest girl in
sight and slapping my soul down in front of her. It's something in the
air."

"I see exactly what you mean. That's just what I want to be able to
do--work up to it. And in London--curse the place--everything's in such a
rush that you don't get a chance."

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