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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 21 of 46


-11-

The makings were neatly laid out on a side-table, and to pour into a
glass an inch or so of the raw spirit and shoosh some soda-water on top
of it was with me the work of a moment. This done, I retired to an
arm-chair and put my feet up, sipping the mixture with carefree enjoyment,
rather like Caesar having one in his tent the day he overcame the Nervii.

As I let the mind dwell on what must even now be taking place in that
peaceful garden, I felt bucked and uplifted. Though never for an instant
faltering in my opinion that Augustus Fink-Nottle was Nature's final word
in cloth-headed guffins, I liked the man, wished him well, and could not
have felt more deeply involved in the success of his wooing if I, and not
he, had been under the ether.

The thought that by this time he might quite easily have completed the
preliminary _pourparlers_ and be deep in an informal discussion of
honeymoon plans was very pleasant to me.

of course, considering the sort of girl Madeline Bassett was--stars and
rabbits and all that, I mean--you might say that a sober sadness would
have been more fitting. But in these matters you have got to realize that
tastes differ. The impulse of right-thinking men might be to run a mile
when they saw the Bassett, but for some reason she appealed to the deeps
in Gussie, so that was that.

I had reached this point in my meditations, when I was aroused by the
sound of the door opening. Somebody came in and started moving like a
leopard toward the side-table and, lowering the feet, I perceived that it
was Tuppy Glossop.

The sight of him gave me a momentary twinge of remorse, reminding me, as
it did, that in the excitement of getting Gussie fixed up I had rather
forgotten about this other client. It is of ten that way when you're
trying to run two cases at once.

However, Gussie now being off my mind, I was prepared to devote my whole
attention to the Glossop problem.

I had been much pleased by the way he had carried out the task assigned
him at the dinner-table. No easy one, I can assure you, for the browsing
and sluicing had been of the highest quality, and there had been one dish
in particular--I allude to the _nonnettes de poulet Agnès Sorel_--which
might well have broken down the most iron resolution. But he had passed
it up like a prof essional fasting man, and I was proud of him.

"Oh, hullo, Tuppy," I said, "I wanted to see you."

He turned, snifter in hand, and it was easy to see that his privations
had tried him sorely. He was looking like a wolf on the steppes of Russia
which has seen its peasant shin up a high tree.

"Yes?" he said, rather unpleasantly. "Well, here I am."

"Well?"

"How do you mean----well?"

"Make your report."

"What report?"

"Have you nothing to tell me about Angela?"

"Only that she's a blister."

I was concerned.

"Hasn't she come clustering round you yet?"

"She has not."

"Very odd."

"Why odd?"

"She must have noted your lack of appetite."

He barked raspingly, as if he were having trouble with the tonsils of the
soul.

"Lack of appetite! I'm as hollow as the Grand Canyon."

"Courage, Tuppy! Think of Gandhi."

"What about Gandhi?"

"He hasn't had a square meal for years."

"Nor have I. Or I could swear I hadn't. Gandhi, my left foot."

I saw that it might be best to let the Gandhi _motif_ slide. I went back
to where we had started.

"She's probably looking for you now."

"Who is? Angela?"

"Yes. She must have noticed your supreme sacrifice."

"I don't suppose she noticed it at all, the little fathead. I'll bet it
didn't register in any way whatsoever."

"Come, Tuppy," I urged, "this is morbid. Don't take this gloomy view. She
must at least have spotted that you refused those _nonnettes de poulet
Agnès Sorel_. It was a sensational renunciation and stuck out like a sore
thumb. And the _cèpes à la Rossini_----"

A hoarse cry broke from his twisted lips:

"Will you stop it, Bertie! Do you think I am made of marble? Isn't it bad
enough to have sat watching one of Anatole's supremest dinners flit by,
course after course, without having you making a song about it? Don't
remind me of those _nonnettes_. I can't stand it."

I endeavoured to hearten and console.

"Be brave, Tuppy. Fix your thoughts on that cold steak-and-kidney pie in
the larder. As the Good Book says, it cometh in the morning."

"Yes, in the morning. And it's now about half-past nine at night. You
would bring that pie up, wouldn't you? Just when I was trying to keep my
mind off it."

I saw what he meant. Hours must pass before he could dig into that pie.
I dropped the subject, and we sat for a pretty good time in silence. Then
he rose and began to pace the room in an overwrought sort of way, like a
zoo lion who has heard the dinner-gong go and is hoping the keeper won't
forget him in the general distribution. I averted my gaze tactfully, but
I could hear him kicking chairs and things. It was plain that the man's
soul was in travail and his blood pressure high.

Presently he returned to his seat, and I saw that he was looking at me
intently. There was that about his demeanour that led me to think that he
had something to communicate.

Nor was I wrong. He tapped me significantly on the knee and spoke:

"Bertie."

"Hullo?"

"Shall I tell you something?"

"Certainly, old bird," I said cordially. "I was just beginning to feel
that the scene could do with a bit more dialogue."

"This business of Angela and me."

"Yes?"

"I've been putting in a lot of solid thinking about it."

"Oh, yes?"

"I have analysed the situation pitilessly, and one thing stands out as
clear as dammit. There has been dirty work afoot."

"I don't get you."

"All right. Let me review the facts. Up to the time she went to Cannes
Angela loved me. She was all over me. I was the blue-eyed boy in every
sense of the term. You'll admit that?"

"Indisputably."

"And directly she came back we had this bust-up."

"Quite."

"About nothing."

"Oh, dash it, old man, nothing? You were a bit tactless, what, about her
shark."

"I was frank and candid about her shark. And that's my point. Do you
seriously believe that a trifling disagreement about sharks would make a
girl hand a man his hat, if her heart were really his?"

"Certainly."

It beats me why he couldn't see it. But then poor old Tuppy has never
been very hot on the finer shades. He's one of those large, tough,
football-playing blokes who lack the more delicate sensibilities, as I've
heard Jeeves call them. Excellent at blocking a punt or walking across an
opponent's face in cleated boots, but not so good when it comes to
understanding the highly-strung female temperament. It simply wouldn't
occur to him that a girl might be prepared to give up her life's
happiness rather than waive her shark.

"Rot! It was just a pretext."

"What was?"

"This shark business. She wanted to get rid of me, and grabbed at the
first excuse."

"No, no."

"I tell you she did."

"But what on earth would she want to get rid of you for?"

"Exactly. That's the very question I asked myself. And here's the answer:
Because she has fallen in love with somebody else. It sticks out a mile.
There's no other possible solution. She goes to Cannes all for me, she
comes back all off me. Obviously during those two months, she must have
transferred her affections to some foul blister she met out there."

"No, no."

"Don't keep saying 'No, no'. She must have done. Well, I'll tell you one
thing, and you can take this as of ficial. If ever I find this slimy,
slithery snake in the grass, he had better make all the necessary
arrangements at his favourite nursing-home without delay, because I am
going to be very rough with him. I propose, if and when found, to take
him by his beastly neck, shake him till he froths, and pull him inside
out and make him swallow himself."

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