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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 14 of 46


"Very well, Aunt Dahlia," I said, with dignity, "if you don't want to be
in on the ground floor, that is your affair. But you are missing an
intellectual treat. And, anyway, no matter how much you may behave like
the deaf adder of Scripture which, as you are doubtless aware, the more
one piped, the less it danced, or words to that effect, I shall carry on
as planned. I am extremely fond of Angela, and I shall spare no effort to
bring the sunshine back into her heart."

"Bertie, you abysmal chump, I appeal to you once more. Will you please
lay of f? You'll only make things ten times as bad as they are already."

I remember reading in one of those historical novels once about a chap--a
buck he would have been, no doubt, or a macaroni or some such bird as
that--who, when people said the wrong thing, merely laughed down from
lazy eyelids and flicked a speck of dust from the irreproachable Mechlin
lace at his wrists. This was practically what I did now. At least, I
straightened my tie and smiled one of those inscrutable smiles of mine. I
then withdrew and went out for a saunter in the garden.

And the first chap I ran into was young Tuppy. His brow was furrowed, and
he was moodily bunging stones at a flowerpot.

 

-8-

I think I have told you before about young Tuppy Glossop. He was the
fellow, if you remember, who, callously ignoring the fact that we had
been friends since boyhood, betted me one night at the Drones that I
could swing myself across the swimming bath by the rings--a childish feat
for one of my lissomeness--and then, having seen me well on the way,
looped back the last ring, thus rendering it necessary for me to drop
into the deep end in formal evening costume.

To say that I had not resented this foul deed, which seemed to me
deserving of the title of the crime of the century, would be paltering
with the truth. I had resented it prof oundly, chafing not a little at the
time and continuing to chafe for some weeks.

But you know how it is with these things. The wound heals. The agony
abates.

I am not saying, mind you, that had the opportunity presented itself of
dropping a wet sponge on Tuppy from some high spot or of putting an eel
in his bed or finding some other form of self-expression of a like
nature, I would not have embraced it eagerly; but that let me out. I mean
to say, grievously injured though I had been, it gave me no pleasure to
feel that the fellow's bally life was being ruined by the loss of a girl
whom, despite all that had passed, I was convinced he still loved like
the dickens.

On the contrary, I was heart and soul in favour of healing the breach and
rendering everything hotsy-totsy once more between these two young
sundered blighters. You will have gleaned that from my remarks to Aunt
Dahlia, and if you had been present at this moment and had seen the
kindly commiserating look I gave Tuppy, you would have gleaned it still
more.

It was one of those searching, melting looks, and was accompanied by the
hearty clasp of the right hand and the gentle laying of the left on the
collar-bone.

"Well, Tuppy, old man," I said. "How are you, old man?"

My commiseration deepened as I spoke the words, for there had been no
lighting up of the eye, no answering pressure of the palm, no sign
whatever, in short, of any disposition on his part to do Spring dances at
the sight of an old friend. The man seemed sandbagged. Melancholy, as I
remember Jeeves saying once about Pongo Twistleton when he was trying to
knock off smoking, had marked him for her own. Not that I was surprised,
of course. In the circs., no doubt, a certain moodiness was only natural.

I released the hand, ceased to knead the shoulder, and, producing the old
case, of fered him a cigarette.

He took it dully.

"Are you here, Bertie?" he asked.

"Yes, I'm here."

"Just passing through, or come to stay?"

I thought for a moment. I might have told him that I had arrived at
Brinkley Court with the express intention of bringing Angela and himself
together once more, of knitting up the severed threads, and so on and so
forth; and for perhaps half the time required for the lighting of a
gasper I had almost decided to do so. Then, I reflected, better, on the
whole, perhaps not. To broadcast the fact that I proposed to take him and
Angela and play on them as on a couple of stringed instruments might have
been injudicious. Chaps don't always like being played on as on a
stringed instrument.

"It all depends," I said. "I may remain. I may push on. My plans are
uncertain."

He nodded listlessly, rather in the manner of a man who did not give a
damn what I did, and stood gazing out over the sunlit garden. In build
and appearance, Tuppy somewhat resembles a bulldog, and his aspect now
was that of one of these fine animals who has just been refused a slice
of cake. It was not difficult for a man of my discernment to read what
was in his mind, and it occasioned me no surprise, therefore, when his
next words had to do with the subject marked with a cross on the agenda
paper.

"You've heard of this business of mine, I suppose? Me and Angela?"

"I have, indeed, Tuppy, old man."

"We've bust up."

"I know. Some little friction, I gather, _in re_ Angela's shark."

"Yes. I said it must have been a flatfish."

"So my informant told me."

"Who did you hear it from?"

"Aunt Dahlia."

"I suppose she cursed me properly?"

"Oh, no."

"Beyond referring to you in one passage as 'this blasted Glossop', she
was, I thought, singularly temperate in her language for a woman who at
one time hunted regularly with the Quorn. All the same, I could see, if
you don't mind me saying so, old man, that she felt you might have
behaved with a little more tact."

"Tact!"

"And I must admit I rather agreed with her. Was it nice, Tuppy, was it
quite kind to take the bloom off Angela's shark like that? You must
remember that Angela's shark is very dear to her. Could you not see what
a sock on the jaw it would be for the poor child to hear it described by
the man to whom she had given her heart as a flatfish?"

I saw that he was struggling with some powerful emotion.

"And what about my side of the thing?" he demanded, in a voice choked
with feeling.

"Your side?"

"You don't suppose," said Tuppy, with rising vehemence, "that I would
have exposed this dashed synthetic shark for the flatfish it undoubtedly
was if there had not been causes that led up to it. What induced me to
speak as I did was the fact that Angela, the little squirt, had just been
most of fensive, and I seized the opportunity to get a bit of my own
back."

"of fensive?"

"Exceedingly of fensive. Purely on the strength of my having let fall some
casual remark--simply by way of saying something and keeping the
conversation going--to the effect that I wondered what Anatole was going
to give us for dinner, she said that I was too material and ought not
always to be thinking of food. Material, my elbow! As a matter of fact,
I'm particularly spiritual."

"Quite."

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