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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 11 of 46


"Quite. You see a girl alone for about five minutes a day, and if you
want to ask her to be your wife, you've got to charge into it as if you
were trying to grab the gold ring on a merry-go-round."

"That's right. London rattles one. I shall be a different man altogether
in the country. What a bit of luck this Travers woman turning out to be
your aunt."

"I don't know what you mean, turning out to be my aunt. She has been my
aunt all along."

"I mean, how extraordinary that it should be your aunt that Madeline's
going to stay with."

"Not at all. She and my Cousin Angela are close friends. At Cannes she
was with us all the time."

"Oh, you met Madeline at Cannes, did you? By Jove, Bertie," said the poor
lizard devoutly, "I wish I could have seen her at Cannes. How wonderful
she must have looked in beach pyjamas! Oh, Bertie----"

"Quite," I said, a little distantly. Even when restored by one of
Jeeves's depth bombs, one doesn't want this sort of thing after a hard
night. I touched the bell and, when Jeeves appeared, requested him to
bring me telegraph form and pencil. I then wrote a well-worded
communication to Aunt Dahlia, informing her that I was sending my friend,
Augustus Fink-Nottle, down to Brinkley today to enjoy her hospitality,
and handed it to Gussie.

"Push that in at the first post of fice you pass," I said. "She will find
it waiting for her on her return."

Gussie popped along, flapping the telegram and looking like a close-up of
Joan Crawford, and I turned to Jeeves and gave him a précis of my
operations.

"Simple, you observe, Jeeves. Nothing elaborate."

"No, sir."

"Nothing far-fetched. Nothing strained or bizarre. Just Nature's remedy."

"Yes, sir."

"This is the attack as it should have been delivered. What do you call it
when two people of opposite sexes are bunged together in close
association in a secluded spot, meeting each other every day and seeing a
lot of each other?"

"Is 'propinquity' the word you wish, sir?"

"It is. I stake everything on propinquity, Jeeves. Propinquity, in my
opinion, is what will do the trick. At the moment, as you are aware,
Gussie is a mere jelly when in the presence. But ask yourself how he will
feel in a week or so, after he and she have been helping themselves to
sausages out of the same dish day after day at the breakfast sideboard.
Cutting the same ham, ladling out communal kidneys and bacon--why----"

I broke off abruptly. I had had one of my ideas.

"Golly, Jeeves!"

"Sir?"

"Here's an instance of how you have to think of everything. You heard me
mention sausages, kidneys and bacon and ham."

"Yes, sir."

"Well, there must be nothing of that. Fatal. The wrong note entirely.
Give me that telegraph form and pencil. I must warn Gussie without delay.
What he's got to do is to create in this girl's mind the impression that
he is pining away for love of her. This cannot be done by wolfing
sausages."

"No, sir."

"Very well, then."

And, taking form and _p._, I drafted the following:

_Fink-Nottle

Brinkley Court,

Market Snodsbury

Worcestershire

Lay off the sausages. Avoid the ham. Bertie._

"Send that of f, Jeeves, instanter."

"Very good, sir."

I sank back on the pillows.

"Well, Jeeves," I said, "you see how I am taking hold. You notice the
grip I am getting on this case. No doubt you realize now that it would
pay you to study my methods."

"No doubt, sir."

"And even now you aren't on to the full depths of the extraordinary
sagacity I've shown. Do you know what brought Aunt Dahlia up here this
morning? She came to tell me I'd got to distribute the prizes at some
beastly seminary she's a governor of down at Market Snodsbury."

"Indeed, sir? I fear you will scarcely find that a congenial task."

"Ah, but I'm not going to do it. I'm going to shove it off on to Gussie."

"Sir?"

"I propose, Jeeves, to wire to Aunt Dahlia saying that I can't get down,
and suggesting that she unleashes him on these young Borstal inmates of
hers in my stead."

"But if Mr. Fink-Nottle should decline, sir?"

"Decline? Can you see him declining? Just conjure up the picture in your
mind, Jeeves. Scene, the drawing-room at Brinkley; Gussie wedged into a
corner, with Aunt Dahlia standing over him making hunting noises. I put
it to you, Jeeves, can you see him declining?"

"Not readily, sir. I agree. Mrs. Travers is a forceful personality."

"He won't have a hope of declining. His only way out would be to slide
of f. And he can't slide of f, because he wants to be with Miss Bassett.
No, Gussie will have to toe the line, and I shall be saved from a job at
which I confess the soul shuddered. Getting up on a platform and
delivering a short, manly speech to a lot of foul school-kids! Golly,
Jeeves. I've been through that sort of thing once, what? You remember
that time at the girls' school?"

"Very vividly, sir."

"What an ass I made of myself!"

"Certainly I have seen you to better advantage, sir."

"I think you might bring me just one more of those dynamite specials of
yours, Jeeves. This narrow squeak has made me come over all faint."

I suppose it must have taken Aunt Dahlia three hours or so to get back to
Brinkley, because it wasn't till well after lunch that her telegram
arrived. It read like a telegram that had been dispatched in a white-hot
surge of emotion some two minutes after she had read mine.

As follows:

_Am taking legal advice to ascertain whether strangling an idiot nephew
counts as murder. If it doesn't look out for yourself. Consider your
conduct frozen limit. What do you mean by planting your loathsome friends
on me like this? Do you think Brinkley Court is a leper colony or what is
it? Who is this Spink-Bottle? Love. Travers._

I had expected some such initial reaction. I replied in temperate vein:

_Not Bottle. Nottle. Regards. Bertie._

Almost immediately after she had dispatched the above heart cry, Gussie
must have arrived, for it wasn't twenty minutes later when I received the
following:

_Cipher telegram signed by you has reached me here. Runs "Lay off the
sausages. Avoid the ham." Wire key immediately. Fink-Nottle._

I replied:

_Also kidneys. Cheerio. Bertie._

I had staked all on Gussie making a favourable impression on his hostess,
basing my confidence on the fact that he was one of those timid,
obsequious, teacup-passing, thin-bread-and-butter-of fering yes-men whom
women of my Aunt Dahlia's type nearly always like at first sight. That I
had not overrated my acumen was proved by her next in order, which, I was
pleased to note, assayed a markedly larger percentage of the milk of
human kindness.

As follows:

_Well, this friend of yours has got here, and I must say that for a
friend of yours he seems less sub-human than I had expected. A bit of a
pop-eyed bleater, but on the whole clean and civil, and certainly most
informative about newts. Am considering arranging series of lectures for
him in neighbourhood. All the same I like your nerve using my house as a
summer-hotel resort and shall have much to say to you on subject when you
come down. Expect you thirtieth. Bring spats. Love. Travers._

To this I riposted:

_On consulting engagement book find impossible come Brinkley Court.
Deeply regret. Toodle-oo. Bertie._

Hers in reply stuck a sinister note:

_Oh, so it's like that, is it? You and your engagement book, indeed.
Deeply regret my foot. Let me tell you, my lad, that you will regret it a
jolly sight more deeply if you don't come down. If you imagine for one
moment that you are going to get out of distributing those prizes, you
are very much mistaken. Deeply regret Brinkley Court hundred miles from
London, as unable hit you with a brick. Love. Travers._

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