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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 25 of 46


"She continued her remarks. 'You've no idea,' she said, 'how Mr. Glossop
loves food. He just lives for it. He always eats six or seven meals a
day, and then starts in again after bedtime. I think it's rather
wonderful.' Your aunt seemed interested, and said it reminded her of a
boa constrictor. Angela said, didn't she mean a python? And then they
argued as to which of the two it was. Your uncle, meanwhile, poking about
with that damned pistol of his till human life wasn't safe in the
vicinity. And the pie lying there on the table, and me unable to touch
it. You begin to understand why I said I had been through hell."

"Quite. Can't have been at all pleasant."

"Presently your aunt and Angela settled their discussion, deciding that
Angela was right and that it was a python that I reminded them of . And
shortly after that we all pushed back to bed, Angela warning me in a
motherly voice not to take the stairs too quickly. After seven or eight
solid meals, she said, a man of my build ought to be very careful,
because of the danger of apoplectic fits. She said it was the same with
dogs. When they became very fat and overfed, you had to see that they
didn't hurry upstairs, as it made them puff and pant, and that was bad
for their hearts. She asked your aunt if she remembered the late spaniel,
Ambrose; and your aunt said, 'Poor old Ambrose, you couldn't keep him
away from the garbage pail'; and Angela said, 'Exactly, so do please be
careful, Mr. Glossop.' And you tell me she loves me still!"

I did my best to encourage.

"Girlish banter, what?"

"Girlish banter be dashed. She's right off me. Once her ideal, I am now
less than the dust beneath her chariot wheels. She became infatuated with
this chap, whoever he was, at Cannes, and now she can't stand the sight
of me."

I raised my eyebrows.

"My dear Tuppy, you are not showing your usual good sense in this
Angela-chap-at-Cannes matter. If you will forgive me saying so, you have
got an _idée fixe_."

"A what?"

"An _idée fixe_. You know. One of those things fellows get. Like Uncle
Tom's delusion that everybody who is known even slightly to the police is
lurking in the garden, waiting for a chance to break into the house. You
keep talking about this chap at Cannes, and there never was a chap at
Cannes, and I'll tell you why I'm so sure about this. During those two
months on the Riviera, it so happens that Angela and I were practically
inseparable. If there had been somebody nosing round her, I should have
spotted it in a second."

He started. I could see that this had impressed him.

"Oh, she was with you all the time at Cannes, was she?"

"I don't suppose she said two words to anybody else, except, of course,
idle conv. at the crowded dinner table or a chance remark in a throng at
the Casino."

"I see. You mean that anything in the shape of mixed bathing and
moonlight strolls she conducted solely in your company?"

"That's right. It was quite a joke in the hotel."

"You must have enjoyed that."

"Oh, rather. I've always been devoted to Angela."

"Oh, yes?"

"When we were kids, she used to call herself my little sweetheart."

"She did?"

"Absolutely."

"I see."

He sat plunged in thought, while I, glad to have set his mind at rest,
proceeded with my tea. And presently there came the banging of a gong
from the hall below, and he started like a war horse at the sound of the
bugle.

"Breakfast!" he said, and was off to a flying start, leaving me to brood
and ponder. And the more I brooded and pondered, the more did it seem to
me that everything now looked pretty smooth. Tuppy, I could see, despite
that painful scene in the larder, still loved Angela with all the old
fervour.

This meant that I could rely on that plan to which I had referred to
bring home the bacon. And as I had found the way to straighten out the
Gussie-Bassett difficulty, there seemed nothing more to worry about.

It was with an uplifted heart that I addressed Jeeves as he came in to
remove the tea tray.

 

-13-

"Jeeves," I said.

"Sir?"

"I've just been having a chat with young Tuppy, Jeeves. Did you
happen to notice that he wasn't looking very roguish this morning?"

"Yes, sir. It seemed to me that Mr. Glossop's face was sicklied o'er with
the pale cast of thought."

"Quite. He met my cousin Angela in the larder last night, and a rather
painful interview ensued."

"I am sorry, sir."

"Not half so sorry as he was. She found him closeted with a
steak-and-kidney pie, and appears to have been a bit caustic about fat
men who lived for food alone."

"Most disturbing, sir."

"Very. In fact, many people would say that things had gone so far between
these two nothing now could bridge the chasm. A girl who could make
cracks about human pythons who ate nine or ten meals a day and ought to
be careful not to hurry upstairs because of the danger of apoplectic fits
is a girl, many people would say, in whose heart love is dead. Wouldn't
people say that, Jeeves?"

"Undeniably, sir."

"They would be wrong."

"You think so, sir?"

"I am convinced of it. I know these females. You can't go by what they
say."

"You feel that Miss Angela's strictures should not be taken too much _au
pied de la lettre_, sir?"

"Eh?"

"In English, we should say 'literally'."

"Literally. That's exactly what I mean. You know what girls are. A tiff
occurs, and they shoot their heads of f. But underneath it all the old
love still remains. Am I correct?"

"Quite correct, sir. The poet Scott----"

"Right ho, Jeeves."

"Very good, sir."

"And in order to bring that old love whizzing to the surface once more,
all that is required is the proper treatment."

"By 'proper treatment,' sir, you mean----"

"Clever handling, Jeeves. A spot of the good old snaky work. I see what
must be done to jerk my Cousin Angela back to normalcy. I'll tell you,
shall I?"

"If you would be so kind, sir."

I lit a cigarette, and eyed him keenly through the smoke. He waited
respectfully for me to unleash the words of wisdom. I must say for Jeeves
that--till, as he is so apt to do, he starts shoving his oar in and
cavilling and obstructing--he makes a very good audience. I don't know if
he is actually agog, but he looks agog, and that's the great thing.

"Suppose you were strolling through the illimitable jungle, Jeeves, and
happened to meet a tiger cub."

"The contingency is a remote one, sir."

"Never mind. Let us suppose it."

"Very good, sir."

"Let us now suppose that you sloshed that tiger cub, and let us suppose
further that word reached its mother that it was being put upon. What
would you expect the attitude of that mother to be? In what frame of mind
do you consider that that tigress would approach you?"

"I should anticipate a certain show of annoyance, sir."

"And rightly. Due to what is known as the maternal instinct, what?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very good, Jeeves. We will now suppose that there has recently been some
little coolness between this tiger cub and this tigress. For some days,
let us say, they have not been on speaking terms. Do you think that that
would make any difference to the vim with which the latter would leap to
the former's aid?"

"No, sir."

"Exactly. Here, then, in brief, is my plan, Jeeves. I am going to draw my
Cousin Angela aside to a secluded spot and roast Tuppy properly."

"Roast, sir?"

"Knock. Slam. Tick-of f. Abuse. Denounce. I shall be very terse about
Tuppy, giving it as my opinion that in all essentials he is more like a
wart hog than an ex-member of a fine old English public school. What will
ensue? Hearing him attacked, my Cousin Angela's womanly heart will be as
sick as mud. The maternal tigress in her will awake. No matter what
differences they may have had, she will remember only that he is the man
she loves, and will leap to his defence. And from that to falling into
his arms and burying the dead past will be but a step. How do you react
to that?"

"The idea is an ingenious one, sir."

"We Woosters are ingenious, Jeeves, exceedingly ingenious."

"Yes, sir."

"As a matter of fact, I am not speaking without a knowledge of the form
book. I have tested this theory."

"Indeed, sir?"

"Yes, in person. And it works. I was standing on the Eden rock at Antibes
last month, idly watching the bathers disport themselves in the water,
and a girl I knew slightly pointed at a male diver and asked me if I
didn't think his legs were about the silliest-looking pair of props ever
issued to human being. I replied that I did, indeed, and for the space of
perhaps two minutes was extraordinarily witty and satirical about this
bird's underpinning. At the end of that period, I suddenly felt as if I
had been caught up in the tail of a cyclone.

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