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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 12 of 46


I then put my fortune to the test, to win or lose it all. It was not a
moment for petty economies. I let myself go regardless of expense:

_No, but dash it, listen. Honestly, you don't want me. Get Fink-Nottle
distribute prizes. A born distributor, who will do you credit.
Confidently anticipate Augustus Fink-Nottle as Master of Revels on
thirty-first inst. would make genuine sensation. Do not miss this great
chance, which may never occur again. Tinkerty-tonk. Bertie._

There was an hour of breathless suspense, and then the joyful tidings
arrived:

_Well, all right. Something in what you say, I suppose. Consider you
treacherous worm and contemptible, spineless cowardly custard, but have
booked Spink-Bottle. Stay where you are, then, and I hope you get run
over by an omnibus. Love. Travers._

The relief, as you may well imagine, was stupendous. A great weight
seemed to have rolled off my mind. It was as if somebody had been pouring
Jeeves's pick-me-ups into me through a funnel. I sang as I dressed for
dinner that night. At the Drones I was so gay and cheery that there were
several complaints. And when I got home and turned into the old bed, I
fell asleep like a little child within five minutes of inserting the
person between the sheets. It seemed to me that the whole distressing
affair might now be considered definitely closed.

Conceive my astonishment, therefore, when waking on the morrow and
sitting up to dig into the morning tea-cup, I beheld on the tray another
telegram.

My heart sank. Could Aunt Dahlia have slept on it and changed her mind?
Could Gussie, unable to face the ordeal confronting him, have legged it
during the night down a water-pipe? With these speculations racing
through the bean, I tore open the envelope. And as I noted its contents I
uttered a startled yip.

"Sir?" said Jeeves, pausing at the door.

I read the thing again. Yes, I had got the gist all right. No, I had not
been deceived in the substance.

"Jeeves," I said, "do you know what?"

"No, sir."

"You know my cousin Angela?"

"Yes, sir."

"You know young Tuppy Glossop?"

"Yes, sir."

"They've broken off their engagement."

"I am sorry to hear that, sir."

"I have here a communication from Aunt Dahlia, specifically stating this.
I wonder what the row was about."

"I could not say, sir."

"of course you couldn't. Don't be an ass, Jeeves."

"No, sir."

I brooded. I was deeply moved.

"Well, this means that we shall have to go down to Brinkley today. Aunt
Dahlia is obviously all of a twitter, and my place is by her side. You
had better pack this morning, and catch that 12.45 train with the
luggage. I have a lunch engagement, so will follow in the car."

"Very good, sir."

I brooded some more.

"I must say this has come as a great shock to me, Jeeves."

"No doubt, sir."

"A very great shock. Angela and Tuppy.... Tut, tut! Why, they seemed like
the paper on the wall. Life is full of sadness, Jeeves."

"Yes, sir."

"Still, there it is."

"Undoubtedly, sir."

"Right ho, then. Switch on the bath."

"Very good, sir."

 

-7-

I meditated pretty freely as I drove down to Brinkley in the old
two-seater that afternoon. The news of this rift or rupture of Angela's
and Tuppy's had disturbed me greatly.

The projected match, you see, was one on which I had always looked with
kindly approval. Too of ten, when a chap of your acquaintance is planning
to marry a girl you know, you find yourself knitting the brow a bit and
chewing the lower lip dubiously, feeling that he or she, or both, should
be warned while there is yet time.

But I have never felt anything of this nature about Tuppy and Angela.
Tuppy, when not making an ass of himself, is a soundish sort of egg. So
is Angela a soundish sort of egg. And, as far as being in love was
concerned, it had always seemed to me that you wouldn't have been far out
in describing them as two hearts that beat as one.

True, they had had their little tiffs, notably on the occasion when
Tuppy--with what he said was fearless honesty and I considered thorough
goof iness--had told Angela that her new hat made her look like a
Pekingese. But in every romance you have to budget for the occasional
dust-up, and after that incident I had supposed that he had learned his
lesson and that from then on life would be one grand, sweet song.

And now this wholly unforeseen severing of diplomatic relations had
popped up through a trap.

I gave the thing the cream of the Wooster brain all the way down, but it
continued to beat me what could have caused the outbreak of hostilities,
and I bunged my foot sedulously on the accelerator in order to get to
Aunt Dahlia with the greatest possible speed and learn the inside history
straight from the horse's mouth. And what with all six cylinders hitting
nicely, I made good time and found myself closeted with the relative
shortly before the hour of the evening cocktail.

She seemed glad to see me. In fact, she actually said she was glad to see
me--a statement no other aunt on the list would have committed herself
to, the customary reaction of these near and dear ones to the spectacle
of Bertram arriving for a visit being a sort of sick horror.

"Decent of you to rally round, Bertie," she said.

"My place was by your side, Aunt Dahlia," I responded.

I could see at a g. that the unfortunate affair had got in amongst her in
no uncertain manner. Her usually cheerful map was clouded, and the genial
smile conspic. by its a. I pressed her hand sympathetically, to indicate
that my heart bled for her.

"Bad show this, my dear old flesh and blood," I said. "I'm afraid you've
been having a sticky time. You must be worried."

She snorted emotionally. She looked like an aunt who has just bitten into
a bad oyster.

"Worried is right. I haven't had a peaceful moment since I got back from
Cannes. Ever since I put my foot across this blasted threshold," said
Aunt Dahlia, returning for the nonce to the hearty _argot_ of the hunting
field, "everything's been at sixes and sevens. First there was that mix-up
about the prize-giving."

She paused at this point and gave me a look. "I had been meaning to speak
freely to you about your behaviour in that matter, Bertie," she said. "I
had some good things all stored up. But, as you've rallied round like
this, I suppose I shall have to let you of f. And, anyway, it is probably
all for the best that you evaded your obligations in that sickeningly
craven way. I have an idea that this Spink-Bottle of yours is going to be
good. If only he can keep off newts."

"Has he been talking about newts?"

"He has. Fixing me with a glittering eye, like the Ancient Mariner. But
if that was the worst I had to bear, I wouldn't mind. What I'm worrying
about is what Tom says when he starts talking."

"Uncle Tom?"

"I wish there was something else you could call him except 'Uncle Tom',"
said Aunt Dahlia a little testily. "Every time you do it, I expect to see
him turn black and start playing the banjo. Yes, Uncle Tom, if you must
have it. I shall have to tell him soon about losing all that money at
baccarat, and, when I do, he will go up like a rocket."

"Still, no doubt Time, the great healer----"

"Time, the great healer, be blowed. I've got to get a cheque for five
hundred pounds out of him for _Milady's Boudoir_ by August the third at
the latest."

I was concerned. Apart from a nephew's natural interest in an aunt's
refined weekly paper, I had always had a sof t spot in my heart for
_Milady's Boudoir_ ever since I contributed that article to it on What
the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing. Sentimental, possibly, but we old
journalists do have these feelings.

"Is the _Boudoir_ on the rocks?"

"It will be if Tom doesn't cough up. It needs help till it has turned the
corner."

"But wasn't it turning the corner two years ago?"

"It was. And it's still at it. Till you've run a weekly paper for women,
you don't know what corners are."

"And you think the chances of getting into uncle--into my uncle by
marriage's ribs are slight?"

"I'll tell you, Bertie. Up till now, when these subsidies were required,
I have always been able to come to Tom in the gay, confident spirit of an
only child touching an indulgent father for chocolate cream. But he's
just had a demand from the income-tax people for an additional fifty-eight
pounds, one and threepence, and all he's been talking about since I got
back has been ruin and the sinister trend of socialistic legislation and
what will become of us all."

I could readily believe it. This Tom has a peculiarity I've noticed in
other very oof y men. Nick him for the paltriest sum, and he lets out a
squawk you can hear at Land's End. He has the stuff in gobs, but he hates
giving up.

"If it wasn't for Anatole's cooking, I doubt if he would bother to carry
on. Thank God for Anatole, I say."

I bowed my head reverently.

"Good old Anatole," I said.

"Amen," said Aunt Dahlia.

Then the look of holy ecstasy, which is always the result of letting the
mind dwell, however briefly, on Anatole's cooking, died out of her face.

"But don't let me wander from the subject," she resumed. "I was telling
you of the way hell's foundations have been quivering since I got home.
First the prize-giving, then Tom, and now, on top of everything else,
this infernal quarrel between Angela and young Glossop."

I nodded gravely. "I was frightfully sorry to hear of that. Terrible
shock. What was the row about?"

"Sharks."

"Eh?"

"Sharks. Or, rather, one individual shark. The brute that went for the
poor child when she was aquaplaning at Cannes. You remember Angela's
shark?"

Certainly I remembered Angela's shark. A man of sensibility does not
forget about a cousin nearly being chewed by monsters of the deep. The
episode was still green in my memory.

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