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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 41 of 46


I saw what she meant, of course. Gussie had bunged his heart at her feet;
she had picked it up, and, almost immediately after doing so, had
discovered that he had been stewed to the eyebrows all the time. The
shock must have been severe. No girl likes to feel that a chap has got to
be thoroughly plastered before he can ask her to marry him. It wounds the
pride.

Nevertheless, I persevered.

"But have you considered," I said, "that you may have got a wrong line on
Gussie's performance this afternoon? Admitted that all the evidence
points to a more sinister theory, what price him simply having got a
touch of the sun? Chaps do get touches of the sun, you know, especially
when the weather's hot."

She looked at me, and I saw that she was putting in a bit of the old
drenched-irises stuff.

"It was like you to say that, Bertie. I respect you for it."

"Oh, no."

"Yes. You have a splendid, chivalrous soul."

"Not a bit."

"Yes, you have. You remind me of Cyrano."

"Who?"

"Cyrano de Bergerac."

"The chap with the nose?"

"Yes."

I can't say I was any too pleased. I felt the old beak furtively. It was
a bit on the prominent side, perhaps, but, dash it, not in the Cyrano
class. It began to look as if the next thing this girl would do would be
to compare me to Schnozzle Durante.

"He loved, but pleaded another's cause."

"Oh, I see what you mean now."

"I like you for that, Bertie. It was fine of you--fine and big. But it is
no use. There are things which kill love. I can never forget Augustus,
but my love for him is dead. I will be your wife."

Well, one has to be civil.

"Right ho," I said. "Thanks awfully."

Then the dialogue sort of poof ed out once more, and we stood eating
cheese straws and cold eggs respectively in silence. There seemed to
exist some little uncertainty as to what the next move was.

Fortunately, before embarrassment could do much more supervening, Angela
came in, and this broke up the meeting. Then Bassett announced our
engagement, and Angela kissed her and said she hoped she would be very,
very happy, and the Bassett kissed her and said she hoped she would be
very, very happy with Gussie, and Angela said she was sure she would,
because Augustus was such a dear, and the Bassett kissed her again, and
Angela kissed her again and, in a word, the whole thing got so bally
feminine that I was glad to edge away.

I would have been glad to do so, of course, in any case, for if ever
there was a moment when it was up to Bertram to think, and think hard,
this moment was that moment.

It was, it seemed to me, the end. Not even on the occasion, some years
earlier, when I had inadvertently become betrothed to Tuppy's frightful
Cousin Honoria, had I experienced a deeper sense of being waist high in
the gumbo and about to sink without trace. I wandered out into the
garden, smoking a tortured gasper, with the iron well embedded in the
soul. And I had fallen into a sort of trance, trying to picture what it
would be like having the Bassett on the premises for the rest of my life
and at the same time, if you follow me, trying not to picture what it
would be like, when I charged into something which might have been a
tree, but was not--being, in point of fact, Jeeves.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said. "I should have moved to one side."

I did not reply. I stood looking at him in silence. For the sight of him
had opened up a new line of thought.

This Jeeves, now, I reflected. I had formed the opinion that he had lost
his grip and was no longer the force he had been, but was it not
possible, I asked myself, that I might be mistaken? Start him of f
exploring avenues and might he not discover one through which I would be
enabled to sneak off to safety, leaving no hard feelings behind? I found
myself answering that it was quite on the cards that he might.

After all, his head still bulged out at the back as of old. One noted in
the eyes the same intelligent glitter.

Mind you, after what had passed between us in the matter of that white
mess-jacket with the brass buttons, I was not prepared absolutely to hand
over to the man. I would, of course, merely take him into consultation.
But, recalling some of his earlier triumphs--the Sipperley Case, the
Episode of My Aunt Agatha and the Dog McIntosh, and the smoothly handled
Affair of Uncle George and The Barmaid's Niece were a few that sprang to
my mind--I felt justified at least in of fering him the opportunity of
coming to the aid of the young master in his hour of peril.

But before proceeding further, there was one thing that had got to be
understood between us, and understood clearly.

"Jeeves," I said, "a word with you."

"Sir?"

"I am up against it a bit, Jeeves."

"I am sorry to hear that, sir. Can I be of any assistance?"

"Quite possibly you can, if you have not lost your grip. Tell me frankly,
Jeeves, are you in pretty good shape mentally?"

"Yes, sir."

"Still eating plenty of fish?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then it may be all right. But there is just one point before I begin. In
the past, when you have contrived to extricate self or some pal from some
little difficulty, you have frequently shown a disposition to take
advantage of my gratitude to gain some private end. Those purple socks,
for instance. Also the plus fours and the Old Etonian spats. Choosing
your moment with subtle cunning, you came to me when I was weakened by
relief and got me to get rid of them. And what I am saying now is that if
you are successful on the present occasion there must be no rot of that
description about that mess-jacket of mine."

"Very good, sir."

"You will not come to me when all is over and ask me to jettison the
jacket?"

"Certainly not, sir."

"On that understanding then, I will carry on. Jeeves, I'm engaged."

"I hope you will be very happy, sir."

"Don't be an ass. I'm engaged to Miss Bassett."

"Indeed, sir? I was not aware----"

"Nor was I. It came as a complete surprise. However, there it is. The
of ficial intimation was in that note you brought me."

"Odd, sir."

"What is?"

"Odd, sir, that the contents of that note should have been as you
describe. It seemed to me that Miss Bassett, when she handed me the
communication, was far from being in a happy frame of mind."

"She is far from being in a happy frame of mind. You don't suppose she
really wants to marry me, do you? Pshaw, Jeeves! Can't you see that this
is simply another of those bally gestures which are rapidly rendering
Brinkley Court a hell for man and beast? Dash all gestures, is my view."

"Yes, sir."

"Well, what's to be done?"

"You feel that Miss Bassett, despite what has occurred, still retains a
fondness for Mr. Fink-Nottle, sir?"

"She's pining for him."

"In that case, sir, surely the best plan would be to bring about a
reconciliation between them."

"How? You see. You stand silent and twiddle the fingers. You are
stumped."

"No, sir. If I twiddled my fingers, it was merely to assist thought."

"Then continue twiddling."

"It will not be necessary, sir."

"You don't mean you've got a bite already?"

"Yes, sir."

"You astound me, Jeeves. Let's have it."

"The device which I have in mind is one that I have already mentioned to
you, sir."

"When did you ever mention any device to me?"

"If you will throw your mind back to the evening of our arrival, sir. You
were good enough to inquire of me if I had any plan to put forward with a
view to bringing Miss Angela and Mr. Glossop together, and I ventured to
suggest----"

"Good Lord! Not the old fire-alarm thing?"

"Precisely, sir."

"You're still sticking to that?"

"Yes, sir."

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