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Right Ho, Jeeves

By P. G. WODEHOUSE 1922

Page 46 of 46


"Sorry, Bertie. Can't stop chatting with you all night. There is a rather
impressive beano in progress in the dining-room, and they are waiting for
supplies."

Endorsement was given to this statement by a sudden shout from the
apartment named. I recognized--as who would not--Aunt Dahlia's voice:

"Glossop!"

"Hullo?"

"Hurry up with that stuff."

"Coming, coming."

"Well, come, then. Yoicks! Hard for-rard!"

"Tallyho, not to mention tantivy. Your aunt," said Tuppy, "is a bit above
herself. I don't know all the facts of the case, but it appears that
Anatole gave notice and has now consented to stay on, and also your uncle
has given her a cheque for that paper of hers. I didn't get the details,
but she is much braced. See you later. I must rush."

To say that Bertram was now definitely nonplussed would be but to state
the simple truth. I could make nothing of this. I had left Brinkley Court
a stricken home, with hearts bleeding wherever you looked, and I had
returned to find it a sort of earthly paradise. It baffled me.

I bathed bewilderedly. The toy duck was still in the soap-dish, but I was
too preoccupied to give it a thought. Still at a loss, I returned to my
room, and there was Jeeves. And it is proof of my fogged condish that my
first words to him were words not of reproach and stern recrimination but
of inquiry:

"I say, Jeeves!"

"Good evening, sir. I was informed that you had returned. I trust you had
an enjoyable ride."

At any other moment, a crack like that would have woken the fiend in
Bertram Wooster. I barely noticed it. I was intent on getting to the
bottom of this mystery.

"But I say, Jeeves, what?"

"Sir?"

"What does all this mean?"

"You refer, sir----"

"of course I refer. You know what I'm talking about. What has been
happening here since I left? The place is positively stiff with happy
endings."

"Yes, sir. I am glad to say that my efforts have been rewarded."

"What do you mean, your efforts? You aren't going to try to make out that
that rotten fire bell scheme of yours had anything to do with it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Don't be an ass, Jeeves. It flopped."

"Not altogether, sir. I fear, sir, that I was not entirely frank with
regard to my suggestion of ringing the fire bell. I had not really
anticipated that it would in itself produce the desired results. I had
intended it merely as a preliminary to what I might describe as the real
business of the evening."

"You gibber, Jeeves."

"No, sir. It was essential that the ladies and gentlemen should be
brought from the house, in order that, once out of doors, I could ensure
that they remained there for the necessary period of time."

"How do you mean?"

"My plan was based on psychology, sir."

"How?"

"It is a recognized fact, sir, that there is nothing that so
satisfactorily unites individuals who have been so unfortunate as to
quarrel amongst themselves as a strong mutual dislike for some definite
person. In my own family, if I may give a homely illustration, it was a
generally accepted axiom that in times of domestic disagreement it was
necessary only to invite my Aunt Annie for a visit to heal all breaches
between the other members of the household. In the mutual animosity
excited by Aunt Annie, those who had become estranged were reconciled
almost immediately. Remembering this, it occurred to me that were you,
sir, to be established as the person responsible for the ladies and
gentlemen being forced to spend the night in the garden, everybody would
take so strong a dislike to you that in this common sympathy they would
sooner or later come together."

I would have spoken, but he continued:

"And such proved to be the case. All, as you see, sir, is now well. After
your departure on the bicycle, the various estranged parties agreed so
heartily in their abuse of you that the ice, if I may use the expression,
was broken, and it was not long before Mr. Glossop was walking beneath
the trees with Miss Angela, telling her anecdotes of your career at the
university in exchange for hers regarding your childhood; while Mr.
Fink-Nottle, leaning against the sundial, held Miss Bassett enthralled
with stories of your schooldays. Mrs. Travers, meanwhile, was telling
Monsieur Anatole----"

I found speech.

"Oh?" I said. "I see. And now, I suppose, as the result of this dashed
psychology of yours, Aunt Dahlia is so sore with me that it will be years
before I can dare to show my face here again--years, Jeeves, during
which, night after night, Anatole will be cooking those dinners of
his----"

"No, sir. It was to prevent any such contingency that I suggested that
you should bicycle to Kingham Manor. When I informed the ladies and
gentlemen that I had found the key, and it was borne in upon them that
you were having that long ride for nothing, their animosity vanished
immediately, to be replaced by cordial amusement. There was much
laughter."

"There was, eh?"

"Yes, sir. I fear you may possibly have to submit to a certain amount of
good-natured chaff, but nothing more. All, if I may say so, is forgiven,
sir."

"Oh?"

"Yes, sir."

I mused awhile.

"You certainly seem to have fixed things."

"Yes, sir."

"Tuppy and Angela are once more betrothed. Also Gussie and the Bassett;
Uncle Tom appears to have coughed up that money for _Milady's Boudoir_.
And Anatole is staying on."

"Yes, sir."

"I suppose you might say that all's well that ends well."

"Very apt, sir."

I mused again.

"All the same, your methods are a bit rough, Jeeves."

"One cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, sir."

I started.

"Omelette! Do you think you could get me one?"

"Certainly, sir."

"Together with half a bot. of something?"

"Undoubtedly, sir."

"Do so, Jeeves, and with all speed."

I climbed into bed and sank back against the pillows. I must say that my
generous wrath had ebbed a bit. I was aching the whole length of my body,
particularly toward the middle, but against this you had to set the fact
that I was no longer engaged to Madeline Bassett. In a good cause one is
prepared to suffer. Yes, looking at the thing from every angle, I saw
that Jeeves had done well, and it was with an approving beam that I
welcomed him as he returned with the needful.

He did not check up with this beam. A bit grave, he seemed to me to be
looking, and I probed the matter with a kindly query:

"Something on your mind, Jeeves?"

"Yes, sir. I should have mentioned it earlier, but in the evening's
disturbance it escaped my memory, I fear I have been remiss, sir."

"Yes, Jeeves?" I said, champing contentedly.

"In the matter of your mess-jacket, sir."

A nameless fear shot through me, causing me to swallow a mouthful of
omelette the wrong way.

"I am sorry to say, sir, that while I was ironing it this afternoon I was
careless enough to leave the hot instrument upon it. I very much fear
that it will be impossible for you to wear it again, sir."

One of those old pregnant silences filled the room.

"I am extremely sorry, sir."

For a moment, I confess, that generous wrath of mine came bounding back,
hitching up its muscles and snorting a bit through the nose, but, as we
say on the Riviera, _à quoi sert-il_? There was nothing to be gained by
g.w. now.

We Woosters can bite the bullet. I nodded moodily and speared another
slab of omelette.

"Right ho, Jeeves."

"Very good, sir."

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