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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 24 of 46


-12-

I don't know if it has happened to you to at all, but a thing I've noticed
with myself is that, when I'm confronted by a problem which seems for the
moment to stump and baffle, a good sleep will of ten bring the solution in
the morning.

It was so on the present occasion.

The nibs who study these matters claim, I believe, that this has got
something to do with the subconscious mind, and very possibly they may be
right. I wouldn't have said of f-hand that I had a subconscious mind, but
I suppose I must without knowing it, and no doubt it was there, sweating
away diligently at the old stand, all the while the corporeal Wooster was
getting his eight hours.

For directly I opened my eyes on the morrow, I saw daylight. Well, I
don't mean that exactly, because naturally I did. What I mean is that I
found I had the thing all mapped out. The good old subconscious m. had
delivered the goods, and I perceived exactly what steps must be taken in
order to put Augustus Fink-Nottle among the practising Romeos.

I should like you, if you can spare me a moment of your valuable time, to
throw your mind back to that conversation he and I had had in the garden
on the previous evening. Not the glimmering landscape bit, I don't mean
that, but the concluding passages of it. Having done so, you will recall
that when he informed me that he never touched alcoholic liquor, I shook
the head a bit, feeling that this must inevitably weaken him as a force
where proposing to girls was concerned.

And events had shown that my fears were well founded.

Put to the test, with nothing but orange juice inside him, he had proved
a complete bust. In a situation calling for words of molten passion of a
nature calculated to go through Madeline Bassett like a red-hot gimlet
through half a pound of butter, he had said not a syllable that could
bring a blush to the cheek of modesty, merely delivering a well-phrased
but, in the circumstances, quite misplaced lecture on newts.

A romantic girl is not to be won by such tactics. Obviously, before
attempting to proceed further, Augustus Fink-Nottle must be induced to
throw off the shackling inhibitions of the past and fuel up. It must be a
primed, confident Fink-Nottle who squared up to the Bassett for Round No.
2.

Only so could the _Morning Post_ make its ten bob, or whatever it is, for
printing the announcement of the forthcoming nuptials.

Having arrived at this conclusion I found the rest easy, and by the time
Jeeves brought me my tea I had evolved a plan complete in every detail.
This I was about to place before him--indeed, I had got as far as the
preliminary "I say, Jeeves"--when we were interrupted by the arrival of
Tuppy.

He came listlessly into the room, and I was pained to observe that a
night's rest had effected no improvement in the unhappy wreck's
appearance. Indeed, I should have said, if anything, that he was looking
rather more moth-eaten than when I had seen him last. If you can
visualize a bulldog which has just been kicked in the ribs and had its
dinner sneaked by the cat, you will have Hildebrand Glossop as he now
stood before me.

"Stap my vitals, Tuppy, old corpse," I said, concerned, "you're looking
pretty blue round the rims."

Jeeves slid from the presence in that tactful, eel-like way of his, and I
motioned the remains to take a seat.

"What's the matter?" I said.

He came to anchor on the bed, and for awhile sat picking at the coverlet
in silence.

"I've been through hell, Bertie."

"Through where?"

"Hell."

"Oh, hell? And what took you there?"

Once more he became silent, staring before him with sombre eyes.
Following his gaze, I saw that he was looking at an enlarged photograph
of my Uncle Tom in some sort of Masonic uniform which stood on the
mantelpiece. I've tried to reason with Aunt Dahlia about this photograph
for years, placing before her two alternative suggestions: (a) To burn
the beastly thing; or (b) if she must preserve it, to shove me in
another room when I come to stay. But she declines to accede. She says
it's good for me. A useful discipline, she maintains, teaching me that
there is a darker side to life and that we were not put into this world
for pleasure only.

"Turn it to the wall, if it hurts you, Tuppy," I said gently.

"Eh?"

"That photograph of Uncle Tom as the bandmaster."

"I didn't come here to talk about photographs. I came for sympathy."

"And you shall have it. What's the trouble? Worrying about Angela, I
suppose? Well, have no fear. I have another well-laid plan for
encompassing that young shrimp. I'll guarantee that she will be weeping
on your neck before yonder sun has set."

He barked sharply.

"A fat chance!"

"Tup, Tushy!"

"Eh?"

"I mean 'Tush, Tuppy.' I tell you I will do it. I was just going to
describe this plan of mine to Jeeves when you came in. Care to hear it?"

"I don't want to hear any of your beastly plans. Plans are no good. She's
gone and fallen in love with this other bloke, and now hates my gizzard."

"Rot."

"It isn't rot."

"I tell you, Tuppy, as one who can read the female heart, that this
Angela loves you still."

"Well, it didn't look much like it in the larder last night."

"Oh, you went to the larder last night?"

"I did."

"And Angela was there?"

"She was. And your aunt. Also your uncle."

I saw that I should require foot-notes. All this was new stuff to me. I
had stayed at Brinkley Court quite a lot in my time, but I had no idea
the larder was such a social vortex. More like a snack bar on a
race-course than anything else, it seemed to have become.

"Tell me the whole story in your own words," I said, "omitting no detail,
however apparently slight, for one never knows how important the most
trivial detail may be."

He inspected the photograph for a moment with growing gloom.

"All right," he said. "This is what happened. You know my views about
that steak-and-kidney pie."

"Quite."

"Well, round about one a.m. I thought the time was ripe. I stole from my
room and went downstairs. The pie seemed to beckon me."

I nodded. I knew how pies do.

"I got to the larder. I fished it out. I set it on the table. I found
knife and fork. I collected salt, mustard, and pepper. There were some
cold potatoes. I added those. And I was about to pitch in when I heard a
sound behind me, and there was your aunt at the door. In a blue-and-yellow
dressing gown."

"Embarrassing."

"Most."

"I suppose you didn't know where to look."

"I looked at Angela."

"She came in with my aunt?"

"No. With your uncle, a minute or two later. He was wearing mauve pyjamas
and carried a pistol. Have you ever seen your uncle in pyjamas and a
pistol?"

"Never."

"You haven't missed much."

"Tell me, Tuppy," I asked, for I was anxious to ascertain this, "about
Angela. Was there any momentary sof tening in her gaze as she fixed it on
you?"

"She didn't fix it on me. She fixed it on the pie."

"Did she say anything?"

"Not right away. Your uncle was the first to speak. He said to your aunt,
'God bless my soul, Dahlia, what are you doing here?' To which she
replied, 'Well, if it comes to that, my merry somnambulist, what are
you?' Your uncle then said that he thought there must be burglars in the
house, as he had heard noises."

I nodded again. I could follow the trend. Ever since the scullery window
was found open the year Shining Light was disqualified in the Cesarewitch
for boring, Uncle Tom has had a marked complex about burglars. I can
still recall my emotions when, paying my first visit after he had bars
put on all the windows and attempting to thrust the head out in order to
get a sniff of country air, I nearly fractured my skull on a sort of iron
grille, as worn by the tougher kinds of mediaeval prison.

"'What sort of noises?' said your aunt. 'Funny noises,' said your uncle.
Whereupon Angela--with a nasty, steely tinkle in her voice, the little
buzzard--observed, 'I expect it was Mr. Glossop eating.' And then she did
give me a look. It was the sort of wondering, revolted look a very
spiritual woman would give a fat man gulping soup in a restaurant. The
kind of look that makes a fellow feel he's forty-six round the waist and
has great rolls of superfluous flesh pouring down over the back of his
collar. And, still speaking in the same unpleasant tone, she added, 'I
ought to have told you, father, that Mr. Glossop always likes to have a
good meal three or four times during the night. It helps to keep him
going till breakfast. He has the most amazing appetite. See, he has
practically finished a large steak-and-kidney pie already'."

As he spoke these words, a feverish animation swept over Tuppy. His eyes
glittered with a strange light, and he thumped the bed violently with his
fist, nearly catching me a juicy one on the leg.

"That was what hurt, Bertie. That was what stung. I hadn't so much as
started on that pie. But that's a woman all over."

"The eternal feminine."

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