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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 15 of 46


"I don't see any harm in wondering what Anatole was going to give us for
dinner. Do you?"

"of course not. A mere ordinary tribute of respect to a great artist."

"Exactly."

"All the same----"

"Well?"

"I was only going to say that it seems a pity that the frail craft of
love should come a stinker like this when a few manly words of
contrition----"

He stared at me.

"You aren't suggesting that I should climb down?"

"It would be the fine, big thing, old egg."

"I wouldn't dream of climbing down."

"But, Tuppy----"

"No. I wouldn't do it."

"But you love her, don't you?"

This touched the spot. He quivered noticeably, and his mouth twisted.
Quite the tortured soul.

"I'm not saying I don't love the little blighter," he said, obviously
moved. "I love her passionately. But that doesn't alter the fact that I
consider that what she needs most in this world is a swift kick in the
pants."

A Wooster could scarcely pass this. "Tuppy, old man!"

"It's no good saying 'Tuppy, old man'."

"Well, I do say 'Tuppy, old man'. Your tone shocks me. One raises the
eyebrows. Where is the fine, old, chivalrous spirit of the Glossops."

"That's all right about the fine, old, chivalrous spirit of the Glossops.
Where is the sweet, gentle, womanly spirit of the Angelas? Telling a
fellow he was getting a double chin!"

"Did she do that?"

"She did."

"Oh, well, girls will be girls. Forget it, Tuppy. Go to her and make it
up."

He shook his head.

"No. It is too late. Remarks have been passed about my tummy which it is
impossible to overlook."

"But, Tummy--Tuppy, I mean--be fair. You once told her her new hat made
her look like a Pekingese."

"It did make her look like a Pekingese. That was not vulgar abuse. It was
sound, constructive criticism, with no motive behind it but the kindly
desire to keep her from making an exhibition of herself in public.
Wantonly to accuse a man of puffing when he goes up a flight of stairs is
something very different."

I began to see that the situation would require all my address and
ingenuity. If the wedding bells were ever to ring out in the little
church of Market Snodsbury, Bertram had plainly got to put in some
shrewdish work. I had gathered, during my conversation with Aunt Dahlia,
that there had been a certain amount of frank speech between the two
contracting parties, but I had not realized till now that matters had
gone so far.

The pathos of the thing gave me the pip. Tuppy had admitted in so many
words that love still animated the Glossop bosom, and I was convinced
that, even after all that occurred, Angela had not ceased to love him. At
the moment, no doubt, she might be wishing that she could hit him with a
bottle, but deep down in her I was prepared to bet that there still
lingered all the old affection and tenderness. Only injured pride was
keeping these two apart, and I felt that if Tuppy would make the first
move, all would be well.

I had another whack at it.

"She's broken-hearted about this rift, Tuppy."

"How do you know? Have you seen her?"

"No, but I'll bet she is."

"She doesn't look it."

"Wearing the mask, no doubt. Jeeves does that when I assert my
authority."

"She wrinkles her nose at me as if I were a drain that had got out of
order."

"Merely the mask. I feel convinced she loves you still, and that a kindly
word from you is all that is required."

I could see that this had moved him. He plainly wavered. He did a sort of
twiddly on the turf with his foot. And, when he spoke, one spotted the
tremolo in the voice:

"You really think that?"

"Absolutely."

"H'm."

"If you were to go to her----"

He shook his head.

"I can't do that. It would be fatal. Bing, instantly, would go my
prestige. I know girls. Grovel, and the best of them get uppish." He
mused. "The only way to work the thing would be by tipping her off in
some indirect way that I am prepared to open negotiations. Should I sigh
a bit when we meet, do you think?"

"She would think you were puffing."

"That's true."

I lit another cigarette and gave my mind to the matter. And first crack
out of the box, as is so of ten the way with the Woosters, I got an idea.
I remembered the counsel I had given Gussie in the matter of the sausages
and ham.

"I've got it, Tuppy. There is one infallible method of indicating to a
girl that you love her, and it works just as well when you've had a row
and want to make it up. Don't eat any dinner tonight. You can see how
impressive that would be. She knows how devoted you are to food."

He started violently.

"I am not devoted to food!"

"No, no."

"I am not devoted to food at all."

"Quite. All I meant----"

"This rot about me being devoted to food," said Tuppy warmly, "has got to
stop. I am young and healthy and have a good appetite, but that's not the
same as being devoted to food. I admire Anatole as a master of his craft,
and am always willing to consider anything he may put before me, but when
you say I am devoted to food----"

"Quite, quite. All I meant was that if she sees you push away your dinner
untasted, she will realize that your heart is aching, and will probably
be the first to suggest blowing the all clear."

Tuppy was frowning thoughtfully.

"Push my dinner away, eh?"

"Yes."

"Push away a dinner cooked by Anatole?"

"Yes."

"Push it away untasted?"

"Yes."

"Let us get this straight. Tonight, at dinner, when the butler of fers me
a _ris de veau à la financière_, or whatever it may be, hot from
Anatole's hands, you wish me to push it away untasted?"

"Yes."

He chewed his lip. One could sense the struggle going on within. And then
suddenly a sort of glow came into his face. The old martyrs probably used
to look like that.

"All right."

"You'll do it?"

"I will."

"Fine."

"of course, it will be agony."

I pointed out the silver lining.

"Only for the moment. You could slip down tonight, after everyone is in
bed, and raid the larder."

He brightened.

"That's right. I could, couldn't I?"

"I expect there would be something cold there."

"There is something cold there," said Tuppy, with growing cheerfulness. "A
steak-and-kidney pie. We had it for lunch today. One of Anatole's ripest.
The thing I admire about that man," said Tuppy reverently, "the thing
that I admire so enormously about Anatole is that, though a Frenchman, he
does not, like so many of these _chefs_, confine himself exclusively to
French dishes, but is always willing and ready to weigh in with some good
old simple English fare such as this steak-and-kidney pie to which I have
alluded. A masterly pie, Bertie, and it wasn't more than half finished.
It will do me nicely."

"And at dinner you will push, as arranged?"

"Absolutely as arranged."

"Fine."

"It's an excellent idea. One of Jeeves's best. You can tell him from me,
when you see him, that I'm much obliged."

The cigarette fell from my fingers. It was as though somebody had slapped
Bertram Wooster across the face with a wet dish-rag.

"You aren't suggesting that you think this scheme I have been sketching
out is Jeeves's?"

"of course it is. It's no good trying to kid me, Bertie. You wouldn't
have thought of a wheeze like that in a million years."

There was a pause. I drew myself up to my full height; then, seeing that
he wasn't looking at me, lowered myself again.

"Come, Glossop," I said coldly, "we had better be going. It is time we
were dressing for dinner."

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