bilder im wohnzimmer anordnen
chapter 1 leave it to jeeves jeeves--my man, you know--is really a mostextraordinary chap. so capable.honestly, i shouldn't know what to do without him. on broader lines he's like those chappieswho sit peering sadly over the marble battlements at the pennsylvania station inthe place marked "inquiries." you know the johnnies i mean. you go up to them and say: "when's the nexttrain for melonsquashville, tennessee?" and they reply, without stopping to think,"two-forty-three, track ten, change at san
francisco." and they're right every time.well, jeeves gives you just the same impression of omniscience. as an instance of what i mean, i remembermeeting monty byng in bond street one morning, looking the last word in a greycheck suit, and i felt i should never be happy till i had one like it. i dug the address of the tailors out ofhim, and had them working on the thing inside the hour."jeeves," i said that evening. "i'm getting a check suit like that one ofmr. byng's."
"injudicious, sir," he said firmly."it will not become you." "what absolute rot! it's the soundest thing i've struck foryears." "unsuitable for you, sir." well, the long and the short of it was thatthe confounded thing came home, and i put it on, and when i caught sight of myself inthe glass i nearly swooned. jeeves was perfectly right. i looked a cross between a music-hallcomedian and a cheap bookie. yet monty had looked fine in absolutely thesame stuff.
these things are just life's mysteries, andthat's all there is to it. but it isn't only that jeeves's judgmentabout clothes is infallible, though, of course, that's really the main thing. the man knows everything.there was the matter of that tip on the "lincolnshire."i forget now how i got it, but it had the aspect of being the real, red-hot tabasco. "jeeves," i said, for i'm fond of the man,and like to do him a good turn when i can, "if you want to make a bit of money havesomething on wonderchild for the 'lincolnshire.'"
he shook his head."i'd rather not, sir." "but it's the straight goods.i'm going to put my shirt on him." "i do not recommend it, sir. the animal is not intended to win.second place is what the stable is after." perfect piffle, i thought, of course.how the deuce could jeeves know anything about it? still, you know what happened.wonderchild led till he was breathing on the wire, and then banana fritter camealong and nosed him out. i went straight home and rang for jeeves.
"after this," i said, "not another step forme without your advice. from now on consider yourself the brains ofthe establishment." "very good, sir. i shall endeavour to give satisfaction."and he has, by jove! i'm a bit short on brain myself; the oldbean would appear to have been constructed more for ornament than for use, don't youknow; but give me five minutes to talk the thing over with jeeves, and i'm game toadvise any one about anything. and that's why, when bruce corcoran came tome with his troubles, my first act was to ring the bell and put it up to the lad withthe bulging forehead.
"leave it to jeeves," i said. i first got to know corky when i came tonew york. he was a pal of my cousin gussie, who wasin with a lot of people down washington square way. i don't know if i ever told you about it,but the reason why i left england was because i was sent over by my aunt agathato try to stop young gussie marrying a girl on the vaudeville stage, and i got the whole thing so mixed up that i decided thatit would be a sound scheme for me to stop on in america for a bit instead of goingback and having long cosy chats about the
thing with aunt. so i sent jeeves out to find a decentapartment, and settled down for a bit of exile.i'm bound to say that new york's a topping place to be exiled in. everybody was awfully good to me, and thereseemed to be plenty of things going on, and i'm a wealthy bird, so everything was fine. chappies introduced me to other chappies,and so on and so forth, and it wasn't long before i knew squads of the right sort,some who rolled in dollars in houses up by the park, and others who lived with the gas
turned down mostly around washingtonsquare--artists and writers and so forth. brainy coves.corky was one of the artists. a portrait-painter, he called himself, buthe hadn't painted any portraits. he was sitting on the side-lines with ablanket over his shoulders, waiting for a chance to get into the game. you see, the catch about portrait-painting--i've looked into the thing a bit--is that you can't start painting portraits tillpeople come along and ask you to, and they won't come and ask you to until you'vepainted a lot first. this makes it kind of difficult for achappie.
corky managed to get along by drawing anoccasional picture for the comic papers--he had rather a gift for funny stuff when hegot a good idea--and doing bedsteads and chairs and things for the advertisements. his principal source of income, however,was derived from biting the ear of a rich uncle--one alexander worple, who was in thejute business. i'm a bit foggy as to what jute is, butit's apparently something the populace is pretty keen on, for mr. worple had madequite an indecently large stack out of it. now, a great many fellows think that havinga rich uncle is a pretty soft snap: but, according to corky, such is not the case.corky's uncle was a robust sort of cove,
who looked like living for ever. he was fifty-one, and it seemed as if hemight go to par. it was not this, however, that distressedpoor old corky, for he was not bigoted and had no objection to the man going onliving. what corky kicked at was the way the aboveworple used to harry him. corky's uncle, you see, didn't want him tobe an artist. he didn't think he had any talent in thatdirection. he was always urging him to chuck art andgo into the jute business and start at the bottom and work his way up.
jute had apparently become a sort ofobsession with him. he seemed to attach almost a spiritualimportance to it. and what corky said was that, while hedidn't know what they did at the bottom of the jute business, instinct told him thatit was something too beastly for words. corky, moreover, believed in his future asan artist. some day, he said, he was going to make ahit. meanwhile, by using the utmost tact andpersuasiveness, he was inducing his uncle to cough up very grudgingly a smallquarterly allowance. he wouldn't have got this if his unclehadn't had a hobby.
mr. worple was peculiar in this respect. as a rule, from what i've observed, theamerican captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours. when he has put the cat out and locked upthe office for the night, he just relapses into a state of coma from which he emergesonly to start being a captain of industry again. but mr. worple in his spare time was whatis known as an ornithologist. he had written a book called americanbirds, and was writing another, to be called more american birds.
when he had finished that, the presumptionwas that he would begin a third, and keep on till the supply of american birds gaveout. corky used to go to him about once everythree months and let him talk about american birds. apparently you could do what you liked withold worple if you gave him his head first on his pet subject, so these little chatsused to make corky's allowance all right for the time being. but it was pretty rotten for the poor chap.there was the frightful suspense, you see, and, apart from that, birds, except whenbroiled and in the society of a cold
bottle, bored him stiff. to complete the character-study of mr.worple, he was a man of extremely uncertain temper, and his general tendency was tothink that corky was a poor chump and that whatever step he took in any direction on his own account, was just another proof ofhis innate idiocy. i should imagine jeeves feels very much thesame about me. so when corky trickled into my apartmentone afternoon, shooing a girl in front of him, and said, "bertie, i want you to meetmy fiancee, miss singer," the aspect of the matter which hit me first was precisely theone which he had come to consult me about.
the very first words i spoke were, "corky,how about your uncle?" the poor chap gave one of those mirthlesslaughs. he was looking anxious and worried, like aman who has done the murder all right but can't think what the deuce to do with thebody. "we're so scared, mr. wooster," said thegirl. "we were hoping that you might suggest away of breaking it to him." muriel singer was one of those very quiet,appealing girls who have a way of looking at you with their big eyes as if theythought you were the greatest thing on earth and wondered that you hadn't got onto it yet yourself.
she sat there in a sort of shrinking way,looking at me as if she were saying to herself, "oh, i do hope this great strongman isn't going to hurt me." she gave a fellow a protective kind offeeling, made him want to stroke her hand and say, "there, there, little one!" orwords to that effect. she made me feel that there was nothing iwouldn't do for her. she was rather like one of those innocent-tasting american drinks which creep imperceptibly into your system so that,before you know what you're doing, you're starting out to reform the world by force if necessary and pausing on your way totell the large man in the corner that, if
he looks at you like that, you will knockhis head off. what i mean is, she made me feel alert anddashing, like a jolly old knight-errant or something of that kind.i felt that i was with her in this thing to the limit. "i don't see why your uncle shouldn't bemost awfully bucked," i said to corky. "he will think miss singer the ideal wifefor you." corky declined to cheer up. "you don't know him.even if he did like muriel he wouldn't admit it.that's the sort of pig-headed guy he is.
it would be a matter of principle with himto kick. all he would consider would be that i hadgone and taken an important step without asking his advice, and he would raise cainautomatically. he's always done it." i strained the old bean to meet thisemergency. "you want to work it so that he makes misssinger's acquaintance without knowing that you know her. then you come along----""but how can i work it that way?" i saw his point.that was the catch.
"there's only one thing to do," i said. "what's that?""leave it to jeeves." and i rang the bell."sir?" said jeeves, kind of manifesting himself. one of the rummy things about jeeves isthat, unless you watch like a hawk, you very seldom see him come into a room. he's like one of those weird chappies inindia who dissolve themselves into thin air and nip through space in a sort ofdisembodied way and assemble the parts again just where they want them.
i've got a cousin who's what they call atheosophist, and he says he's often nearly worked the thing himself, but couldn'tquite bring it off, probably owing to having fed in his boyhood on the flesh ofanimals slain in anger and pie. the moment i saw the man standing there,registering respectful attention, a weight seemed to roll off my mind. i felt like a lost child who spots hisfather in the offing. there was something about him that gave meconfidence. jeeves is a tallish man, with one of thosedark, shrewd faces. his eye gleams with the light of pureintelligence.
"jeeves, we want your advice." "very good, sir."i boiled down corky's painful case into a few well-chosen words."so you see what it amount to, jeeves. we want you to suggest some way by whichmr. worple can make miss singer's acquaintance without getting on to the factthat mr. corcoran already knows her. understand?" "perfectly, sir.""well, try to think of something." "i have thought of something already, sir.""you have!" "the scheme i would suggest cannot fail ofsuccess, but it has what may seem to you a
drawback, sir, in that it requires acertain financial outlay." "he means," i translated to corky, "that hehas got a pippin of an idea, but it's going to cost a bit."naturally the poor chap's face dropped, for this seemed to dish the whole thing. but i was still under the influence of thegirl's melting gaze, and i saw that this was where i started in as a knight-errant."you can count on me for all that sort of thing, corky," i said. "only too glad.carry on, jeeves." "i would suggest, sir, that mr. corcorantake advantage of mr. worple's attachment
to ornithology." "how on earth did you know that he was fondof birds?" "it is the way these new york apartmentsare constructed, sir. quite unlike our london houses. the partitions between the rooms are of theflimsiest nature. with no wish to overhear, i have sometimesheard mr. corcoran expressing himself with a generous strength on the subject i havementioned." "oh! well?""why should not the young lady write a
small volume, to be entitled--let us say--the children's book of american birds, and dedicate it to mr. worple! a limited edition could be published atyour expense, sir, and a great deal of the book would, of course, be given over toeulogistic remarks concerning mr. worple's own larger treatise on the same subject. i should recommend the dispatching of apresentation copy to mr. worple, immediately on publication, accompanied bya letter in which the young lady asks to be allowed to make the acquaintance of one towhom she owes so much. this would, i fancy, produce the desiredresult, but as i say, the expense involved
would be considerable." i felt like the proprietor of a performingdog on the vaudeville stage when the tyke has just pulled off his trick without ahitch. i had betted on jeeves all along, and i hadknown that he wouldn't let me down. it beats me sometimes why a man with hisgenius is satisfied to hang around pressing my clothes and whatnot. if i had half jeeves's brain, i should havea stab, at being prime minister or something."jeeves," i said, "that is absolutely ripping!
one of your very best efforts.""thank you, sir." the girl made an objection."but i'm sure i couldn't write a book about anything. i can't even write good letters.""muriel's talents," said corky, with a little cough "lie more in the direction ofthe drama, bertie. i didn't mention it before, but one of ourreasons for being a trifle nervous as to how uncle alexander will receive the newsis that muriel is in the chorus of that show choose your exit at the manhattan. it's absurdly unreasonable, but we bothfeel that that fact might increase uncle
alexander's natural tendency to kick like asteer." i saw what he meant. goodness knows there was fuss enough in ourfamily when i tried to marry into musical comedy a few years ago. and the recollection of my aunt agatha'sattitude in the matter of gussie and the vaudeville girl was still fresh in my mind. i don't know why it is--one of thesepsychology sharps could explain it, i suppose--but uncles and aunts, as a class,are always dead against the drama, legitimate or otherwise.
they don't seem able to stick it at anyprice. but jeeves had a solution, of course. "i fancy it would be a simple matter, sir,to find some impecunious author who would be glad to do the actual composition of thevolume for a small fee. it is only necessary that the young lady'sname should appear on the title page." "that's true," said corky."sam patterson would do it for a hundred dollars. he writes a novelette, three short stories,and ten thousand words of a serial for one of the all-fiction magazines underdifferent names every month.
a little thing like this would be nothingto him. i'll get after him right away.""fine!" "will that be all, sir?" said jeeves. "very good, sir.thank you, sir." i always used to think that publishers hadto be devilish intelligent fellows, loaded down with the grey matter; but i've gottheir number now. all a publisher has to do is to writecheques at intervals, while a lot of deserving and industrious chappies rallyround and do the real work. i know, because i've been one myself.
i simply sat tight in the old apartmentwith a fountain-pen, and in due season a topping, shiny book came along. i happened to be down at corky's place whenthe first copies of the children's book of american birds bobbed up. muriel singer was there, and we weretalking of things in general when there was a bang at the door and the parcel wasdelivered. it was certainly some book. it had a red cover with a fowl of somespecies on it, and underneath the girl's name in gold letters.i opened a copy at random.
"often of a spring morning," it said at thetop of page twenty-one, "as you wander through the fields, you will hear thesweet-toned, carelessly flowing warble of the purple finch linnet. when you are older you must read all abouthim in mr. alexander worple's wonderful book--american birds."you see. a boost for the uncle right away. and only a few pages later there he was inthe limelight again in connection with the yellow-billed cuckoo.it was great stuff. the more i read, the more i admired thechap who had written it and jeeves's genius
in putting us on to the wheeze.i didn't see how the uncle could fail to drop. you can't call a chap the world's greatestauthority on the yellow-billed cuckoo without rousing a certain dispositiontowards chumminess in him. "it's a cert!" i said."an absolute cinch!" said corky. and a day or two later he meandered up theavenue to my apartment to tell me that all was well. the uncle had written muriel a letter sodripping with the milk of human kindness
that if he hadn't known mr. worple'shandwriting corky would have refused to believe him the author of it. any time it suited miss singer to call,said the uncle, he would be delighted to make her acquaintance.shortly after this i had to go out of town. divers sound sportsmen had invited me topay visits to their country places, and it wasn't for several months that i settleddown in the city again. i had been wondering a lot, of course,about corky, whether it all turned out right, and so forth, and my first eveningin new york, happening to pop into a quiet sort of little restaurant which i go to
when i don't feel inclined for the brightlights, i found muriel singer there, sitting by herself at a table near thedoor. corky, i took it, was out telephoning. i went up and passed the time of day."well, well, well, what?" i said."why, mr. wooster! how do you do?" "corky around?""i beg your pardon?" "you're waiting for corky, aren't you?""oh, i didn't understand. no, i'm not waiting for him."
it seemed to roe that there was a sort ofsomething in her voice, a kind of thingummy, you know."i say, you haven't had a row with corky, have you?" "a row?""a spat, don't you know--little misunderstanding--faults on both sides--er--and all that sort of thing." "why, whatever makes you think that?" "oh, well, as it were, what?what i mean is--i thought you usually dined with him before you went to the theatre.""i've left the stage now." suddenly the whole thing dawned on me.
i had forgotten what a long time i had beenaway. "why, of course, i see now!you're married!" "yes." "how perfectly topping!i wish you all kinds of happiness." "thank you, so much.oh alexander," she said, looking past me, "this is a friend of mine--mr. wooster." i spun round.a chappie with a lot of stiff grey hair and a red sort of healthy face was standingthere. rather a formidable johnnie, he looked,though quite peaceful at the moment.
"i want you to meet my husband, mr.wooster. mr. wooster is a friend of bruce's,alexander." the old boy grasped my hand warmly, andthat was all that kept me from hitting the floor in a heap. the place was rocking.absolutely. "so you know my nephew, mr. wooster," iheard him say. "i wish you would try to knock a littlesense into him and make him quit this playing at painting.but i have an idea that he is steadying down.
i noticed it first that night he came todinner with us, my dear, to be introduced to you.he seemed altogether quieter and more serious. something seemed to have sobered him.perhaps you will give us the pleasure of your company at dinner to-night, mr.wooster? or have you dined?" i said i had.what i needed then was air, not dinner. i felt that i wanted to get into the openand think this thing out. when i reached my apartment i heard jeevesmoving about in his lair.
i called him."jeeves," i said, "now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. a stiff b.-and-s. first of all, and theni've a bit of news for you." he came back with a tray and a long glass."better have one yourself, jeeves. you'll need it." "later on, perhaps, thank you, sir.""all right. please yourself.but you're going to get a shock. you remember my friend, mr. corcoran?" "yes, sir.""and the girl who was to slide gracefully
into his uncle's esteem by writing the bookon birds?" "perfectly, sir." "well, she's slid.she's married the uncle." he took it without blinking.you can't rattle jeeves. "that was always a development to befeared, sir." "you don't mean to tell me that you wereexpecting it?" "it crossed my mind as a possibility." "did it, by jove!well, i think, you might have warned us!" "i hardly liked to take the liberty, sir."
of course, as i saw after i had had a biteto eat and was in a calmer frame of mind, what had happened wasn't my fault, if youcome down to it. i couldn't be expected to foresee that thescheme, in itself a cracker-jack, would skid into the ditch as it had done; but allthe same i'm bound to admit that i didn't relish the idea of meeting corky again until time, the great healer, had been ableto get in a bit of soothing work. i cut washington square out absolutely forthe next few months. i gave it the complete miss-in-baulk. and then, just when i was beginning tothink i might safely pop down in that
direction and gather up the droppedthreads, so to speak, time, instead of working the healing wheeze, went and pulledthe most awful bone and put the lid on it. opening the paper one morning, i read thatmrs. alexander worple had presented her husband with a son and heir. i was so darned sorry for poor old corkythat i hadn't the heart to touch my breakfast.i told jeeves to drink it himself. i was bowled over. absolutely.it was the limit. i hardly knew what to do.
i wanted, of course, to rush down towashington square and grip the poor blighter silently by the hand; and then,thinking it over, i hadn't the nerve. absent treatment seemed the touch. i gave it him in waves.but after a month or so i began to hesitate it struck me that it was playing it a bitlow-down on the poor chap, avoiding him like this just when he probably wanted hispals to surge round him most. i pictured him sitting in his lonely studiowith no company but his bitter thoughts, and the pathos of it got me to such anextent that i bounded straight into a taxi and told the driver to go all out for thestudio.
i rushed in, and there was corky, hunchedup at the easel, painting away, while on the model throne sat a severe-lookingfemale of middle age, holding a baby. a fellow has to be ready for that sort ofthing. "oh, ah!"i said, and started to back out. corky looked over his shoulder. "halloa, bertie.don't go. we're just finishing for the day. that will be all this afternoon," he saidto the nurse, who got up with the baby and decanted it into a perambulator which wasstanding in the fairway.
"at the same hour to-morrow, mr. corcoran?" "yes, please.""good afternoon." "good afternoon." corky stood there, looking at the door, andthen he turned to me and began to get it off his chest. fortunately, he seemed to take it forgranted that i knew all about what had happened, so it wasn't as awkward as itmight have been. "it's my uncle's idea," he said. "muriel doesn't know about it yet.the portrait's to be a surprise for her on
her birthday.the nurse takes the kid out ostensibly to get a breather, and they beat it down here. if you want an instance of the irony offate, bertie, get acquainted with this. here's the first commission i have ever hadto paint a portrait, and the sitter is that human poached egg that has butted in andbounced me out of my inheritance. can you beat it! i call it rubbing the thing in to expect meto spend my afternoons gazing into the ugly face of a little brat who to all intentsand purposes has hit me behind the ear with a blackjack and swiped all i possess.
i can't refuse to paint the portraitbecause if i did my uncle would stop my allowance; yet every time i look up andcatch that kid's vacant eye, i suffer agonies. i tell you, bertie, sometimes when he givesme a patronizing glance and then turns away and is sick, as if it revolted him to lookat me, i come within an ace of occupying the entire front page of the evening papersas the latest murder sensation. there are moments when i can almost see theheadlines: 'promising young artist beans baby with axe.'" i patted his shoulder silently.my sympathy for the poor old scout was too
deep for words. i kept away from the studio for some timeafter that, because it didn't seem right to me to intrude on the poor chappie's sorrow.besides, i'm bound to say that nurse intimidated me. she reminded me so infernally of auntagatha. she was the same gimlet-eyed type.but one afternoon corky called me on the 'phone. "bertie.""halloa?" "are you doing anything this afternoon?""nothing special."
"you couldn't come down here, could you?" "what's the trouble?anything up?" "i've finished the portrait.""good boy! stout work!" "yes."his voice sounded rather doubtful. "the fact is, bertie, it doesn't look quiteright to me. there's something about it--my uncle'scoming in half an hour to inspect it, and-- i don't know why it is, but i kind of feeli'd like your moral support!" i began to see that i was letting myself infor something.
the sympathetic co-operation of jeevesseemed to me to be indicated. "you think he'll cut up rough?" "he may."i threw my mind back to the red-faced chappie i had met at the restaurant, andtried to picture him cutting up rough. it was only too easy. i spoke to corky firmly on the telephone."i'll come," i said. "good!""but only if i may bring jeeves!" "why jeeves? what's jeeves got to do with it?who wants jeeves?
jeeves is the fool who suggested the schemethat has led----" "listen, corky, old top! if you think i am going to face that uncleof yours without jeeves's support, you're mistaken.i'd sooner go into a den of wild beasts and bite a lion on the back of the neck." "oh, all right," said corky.not cordially, but he said it; so i rang for jeeves, and explained the situation."very good, sir," said jeeves. that's the sort of chap he is. you can't rattle him.we found corky near the door, looking at
the picture, with one hand up in adefensive sort of way, as if he thought it might swing on him. "stand right where you are, bertie," hesaid, without moving. "now, tell me honestly, how does it strikeyou?" the light from the big window fell right onthe picture. i took a good look at it.then i shifted a bit nearer and took another look. then i went back to where i had been atfirst, because it hadn't seemed quite so bad from there."well?" said corky, anxiously.
i hesitated a bit. "of course, old man, i only saw the kidonce, and then only for a moment, but--but it was an ugly sort of kid, wasn't it, if iremember rightly?" "as ugly as that?" i looked again, and honesty compelled me tobe frank. "i don't see how it could have been, oldchap." poor old corky ran his fingers through hishair in a temperamental sort of way. he groaned."you're right quite, bertie. something's gone wrong with the darnedthing.
my private impression is that, withoutknowing it, i've worked that stunt that sargent and those fellows pull--paintingthe soul of the sitter. i've got through the mere outwardappearance, and have put the child's soul on canvas.""but could a child of that age have a soul like that? i don't see how he could have managed it inthe time. what do you think, jeeves?""i doubt it, sir." "it--it sorts of leers at you, doesn't it?" "you've noticed that, too?" said corky."i don't see how one could help noticing."
"all i tried to do was to give the littlebrute a cheerful expression. but, as it worked out, he looks positivelydissipated." "just what i was going to suggest, old man. he looks as if he were in the middle of acolossal spree, and enjoying every minute of it.don't you think so, jeeves?" "he has a decidedly inebriated air, sir." corky was starting to say something whenthe door opened, and the uncle came in. for about three seconds all was joy,jollity, and goodwill. the old boy shook hands with me, slappedcorky on the back, said that he didn't
think he had ever seen such a fine day, andwhacked his leg with his stick. jeeves had projected himself into thebackground, and he didn't notice him. "well, bruce, my boy; so the portrait isreally finished, is it--really finished? well, bring it out. let's have a look at it.this will be a wonderful surprise for your aunt.where is it? let's----" and then he got it--suddenly, when hewasn't set for the punch; and he rocked back on his heels."oosh!" he exclaimed.
and for perhaps a minute there was one ofthe scaliest silences i've ever run up against. "is this a practical joke?" he said atlast, in a way that set about sixteen draughts cutting through the room at once.i thought it was up to me to rally round old corky. "you want to stand a bit farther away fromit," i said. "you're perfectly right!" he snorted."i do! i want to stand so far away from it that ican't see the thing with a telescope!" he turned on corky like an untamed tiger ofthe jungle who has just located a chunk of
meat. "and this--this--is what you have beenwasting your time and my money for all these years!a painter! i wouldn't let you paint a house of mine! i gave you this commission, thinking thatyou were a competent worker, and this-- this--this extract from a comic colouredsupplement is the result!" he swung towards the door, lashing his tailand growling to himself. "this ends it! if you wish to continue this foolery ofpretending to be an artist because you want
an excuse for idleness, please yourself.but let me tell you this. unless you report at my office on mondaymorning, prepared to abandon all this idiocy and start in at the bottom of thebusiness to work your way up, as you should have done half a dozen years ago, not another cent--not another cent--notanother--boosh!" then the door closed, and he was no longerwith us. and i crawled out of the bombproof shelter. "corky, old top!"i whispered faintly. corky was standing staring at the picture.his face was set.
there was a hunted look in his eye. "well, that finishes it!" he mutteredbrokenly. "what are you going to do?""do? what can i do? i can't stick on here if he cuts offsupplies. you heard what he said.i shall have to go to the office on monday." i couldn't think of a thing to say.i knew exactly how he felt about the office.i don't know when i've been so infernally
uncomfortable. it was like hanging round trying to makeconversation to a pal who's just been sentenced to twenty years in quod.and then a soothing voice broke the silence. "if i might make a suggestion, sir!"it was jeeves. he had slid from the shadows and was gazinggravely at the picture. upon my word, i can't give you a betteridea of the shattering effect of corky's uncle alexander when in action than bysaying that he had absolutely made me forget for the moment that jeeves wasthere.
"i wonder if i have ever happened tomention to you, sir, a mr. digby thistleton, with whom i was once inservice? perhaps you have met him? he was a financier.he is now lord bridgnorth. it was a favourite saying of his that thereis always a way. the first time i heard him use theexpression was after the failure of a patent depilatory which he promoted.""jeeves," i said, "what on earth are you talking about?" "i mentioned mr. thistleton, sir, becausehis was in some respects a parallel case to
the present one.his depilatory failed, but he did not despair. he put it on the market again under thename of hair-o, guaranteed to produce a full crop of hair in a few months. it was advertised, if you remember, sir, bya humorous picture of a billiard-ball, before and after taking, and made such asubstantial fortune that mr. thistleton was soon afterwards elevated to the peerage forservices to his party. it seems to me that, if mr. corcoran looksinto the matter, he will find, like mr. thistleton, that there is always a way.
mr. worple himself suggested the solutionof the difficulty. in the heat of the moment he compared theportrait to an extract from a coloured comic supplement. i consider the suggestion a very valuableone, sir. mr. corcoran's portrait may not havepleased mr. worple as a likeness of his only child, but i have no doubt thateditors would gladly consider it as a foundation for a series of humorousdrawings. if mr. corcoran will allow me to make thesuggestion, his talent has always been for the humorous.
there is something about this picture--something bold and vigorous, which arrests the attention.i feel sure it would be highly popular." corky was glaring at the picture, andmaking a sort of dry, sucking noise with his mouth.he seemed completely overwrought. and then suddenly he began to laugh in awild way. "corky, old man!"i said, massaging him tenderly. i feared the poor blighter was hysterical. he began to stagger about all over thefloor. "he's right!the man's absolutely right!
jeeves, you're a life-saver! you've hit on the greatest idea of the age!report at the office on monday! start at the bottom of the business!i'll buy the business if i feel like it. i know the man who runs the comic sectionof the sunday star. he'll eat this thing.he was telling me only the other day how hard it was to get a good new series. he'll give me anything i ask for a realwinner like this. i've got a gold-mine.where's my hat? i've got an income for life!
where's that confounded hat?lend me a fiver, bertie. i want to take a taxi down to park row!"jeeves smiled paternally. or, rather, he had a kind of paternalmuscular spasm about the mouth, which is the nearest he ever gets to smiling. "if i might make the suggestion, mr.corcoran--for a title of the series which you have in mind--'the adventures of babyblobbs.'" corky and i looked at the picture, then ateach other in an awed way. jeeves was right.there could be no other title. "jeeves," i said.
it was a few weeks later, and i had justfinished looking at the comic section of the sunday star."i'm an optimist. i always have been. the older i get, the more i agree withshakespeare and those poet johnnies about it always being darkest before the dawn andthere's a silver lining and what you lose on the swings you make up on theroundabouts. look at mr. corcoran, for instance.there was a fellow, one would have said, clear up to the eyebrows in the soup. to all appearances he had got it right inthe neck.
yet look at him now.have you seen these pictures?" "i took the liberty of glancing at thembefore bringing them to you, sir. extremely diverting.""they have made a big hit, you know." "i anticipated it, sir." i leaned back against the pillows."you know, jeeves, you're a genius. you ought to be drawing a commission onthese things." "i have nothing to complain of in thatrespect, sir. mr. corcoran has been most generous.i am putting out the brown suit, sir." "no, i think i'll wear the blue with thefaint red stripe."
"not the blue with the faint red stripe,sir." "but i rather fancy myself in it." "oh, all right, have it your own way.""very good, sir. thank you, sir." of course, i know it's as bad as beinghenpecked; but then jeeves is always right. you've got to consider that, you know.what? > chapter 2 jeeves and the unbidden guest i'm not absolutely certain of my facts, buti rather fancy it's shakespeare--or, if
not, it's some equally brainy lad--who saysthat it's always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and more than usually braced with things in generalthat fate sneaks up behind him with a bit of lead piping.there's no doubt the man's right. it's absolutely that way with me. take, for instance, the fairly rummy matterof lady malvern and her son wilmot. a moment before they turned up, i was justthinking how thoroughly all right everything was. it was one of those topping mornings, and ihad just climbed out from under the cold
shower, feeling like a two-year-old. as a matter of fact, i was especiallybucked just then because the day before i had asserted myself with jeeves--absolutelyasserted myself, don't you know. you see, the way things had been going on iwas rapidly becoming a dashed serf. the man had jolly well oppressed me. i didn't so much mind when he made me giveup one of my new suits, because, jeeves's judgment about suits is sound. but i as near as a toucher rebelled when hewouldn't let me wear a pair of cloth-topped boots which i loved like a couple ofbrothers.
and when he tried to tread on me like aworm in the matter of a hat, i jolly well put my foot down and showed him who waswho. it's a long story, and i haven't time totell you now, but the point is that he wanted me to wear the longacre--as worn byjohn drew--when i had set my heart on the country gentleman--as worn by another famous actor chappie--and the end of thematter was that, after a rather painful scene, i bought the country gentleman. so that's how things stood on thisparticular morning, and i was feeling kind of manly and independent.
well, i was in the bathroom, wondering whatthere was going to be for breakfast while i massaged the good old spine with a roughtowel and sang slightly, when there was a tap at the door. i stopped singing and opened the door aninch. "what ho without there!""lady malvern wishes to see you, sir," said jeeves. "eh?""lady malvern, sir. she is waiting in the sitting-room." "pull yourself together, jeeves, my man,"i said, rather severely, for i bar practical
jokes before breakfast."you know perfectly well there's no one waiting for me in the sitting-room. how could there be when it's barely teno'clock yet?" "i gathered from her ladyship, sir, thatshe had landed from an ocean liner at an early hour this morning." this made the thing a bit more plausible. i remembered that when i had arrived inamerica about a year before, the proceedings had begun at some ghastly hourlike six, and that i had been shot out on to a foreign shore considerably beforeeight.
"who the deuce is lady malvern, jeeves?""her ladyship did not confide in me, sir." "is she alone?" "her ladyship is accompanied by a lordpershore, sir. i fancy that his lordship would be herladyship's son." "oh, well, put out rich raiment of sorts,and i'll be dressing." "our heather-mixture lounge is inreadiness, sir." "then lead me to it." while i was dressing i kept trying to thinkwho on earth lady malvern could be. it wasn't till i had climbed through thetop of my shirt and was reaching out for
the studs that i remembered. "i've placed her, jeeves.she's a pal of my aunt agatha." "indeed, sir?""yes. i met her at lunch one sunday before i leftlondon. a very vicious specimen.writes books. she wrote a book on social conditions inindia when she came back from the durbar." "yes, sir?pardon me, sir, but not that tie!" "eh?" "not that tie with the heather-mixturelounge, sir!"
it was a shock to me.i thought i had quelled the fellow. it was rather a solemn moment. what i mean is, if i weakened now, all mygood work the night before would be thrown away.i braced myself. "what's wrong with this tie? i've seen you give it a nasty look before.speak out like a man! what's the matter with it?""too ornate, sir." "nonsense! a cheerful pink.nothing more."
"unsuitable, sir.""jeeves, this is the tie i wear!" "very good, sir." dashed unpleasant.i could see that the man was wounded. but i was firm.i tied the tie, got into the coat and waistcoat, and went into the sitting-room. "halloa!halloa! halloa!"i said. "what?" "ah!how do you do, mr. wooster?
you have never met my son, wilmot, i think?motty, darling, this is mr. wooster." lady malvern was a hearty, happy, healthy,overpowering sort of dashed female, not so very tall but making up for it by measuringabout six feet from the o.p. to the prompt side. she fitted into my biggest arm-chair as ifit had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tightabout the hips that season. she had bright, bulging eyes and a lot ofyellow hair, and when she spoke she showed about fifty-seven front teeth.she was one of those women who kind of numb a fellow's faculties.
she made me feel as if i were ten years oldand had been brought into the drawing-room in my sunday clothes to say how-d'you-do. altogether by no means the sort of thing achappie would wish to find in his sitting- room before breakfast.motty, the son, was about twenty-three, tall and thin and meek-looking. he had the same yellow hair as his mother,but he wore it plastered down and parted in the middle.his eyes bulged, too, but they weren't bright. they were a dull grey with pink rims.his chin gave up the struggle about half-
way down, and he didn't appear to have anyeyelashes. a mild, furtive, sheepish sort of blighter,in short. "awfully glad to see you," i said."so you've popped over, eh? making a long stay in america?" "about a month.your aunt gave me your address and told me to be sure and call on you." i was glad to hear this, as it showed thataunt agatha was beginning to come round a bit. there had been some unpleasantness a yearbefore, when she had sent me over to new
york to disentangle my cousin gussie fromthe clutches of a girl on the music-hall stage. when i tell you that by the time i hadfinished my operations, gussie had not only married the girl but had gone on the stagehimself, and was doing well, you'll understand that aunt agatha was upset to nosmall extent. i simply hadn't dared go back and face her,and it was a relief to find that time had healed the wound and all that sort of thingenough to make her tell her pals to look me up. what i mean is, much as i liked america, ididn't want to have england barred to me
for the rest of my natural; and, believeme, england is a jolly sight too small for anyone to live in with aunt agatha, ifshe's really on the warpath. so i braced on hearing these kind words andsmiled genially on the assemblage. "your aunt said that you would do anythingthat was in your power to be of assistance to us.""rather? oh, rather! absolutely!""thank you so much. i want you to put dear motty up for alittle while." i didn't get this for a moment.
"put him up?for my clubs?" "no, no!darling motty is essentially a home bird. aren't you, motty darling?" motty, who was sucking the knob of hisstick, uncorked himself. "yes, mother," he said, and corked himselfup again. "i should not like him to belong to clubs. i mean put him up here.have him to live with you while i am away." these frightful words trickled out of herlike honey. the woman simply didn't seem to understandthe ghastly nature of her proposal.
i gave motty the swift east-to-west.he was sitting with his mouth nuzzling the stick, blinking at the wall. the thought of having this planted on mefor an indefinite period appalled me. absolutely appalled me, don't you know. i was just starting to say that the shotwasn't on the board at any price, and that the first sign motty gave of trying tonestle into my little home i would yell for the police, when she went on, rollingplacidly over me, as it were. there was something about this woman thatsapped a chappie's will-power. "i am leaving new york by the midday train,as i have to pay a visit to sing-sing
prison.i am extremely interested in prison conditions in america. after that i work my way gradually acrossto the coast, visiting the points of interest on the journey.you see, mr. wooster, i am in america principally on business. no doubt you read my book, india and theindians? my publishers are anxious for me to write acompanion volume on the united states. i shall not be able to spend more than amonth in the country, as i have to get back for the season, but a month should beample.
i was less than a month in india, and mydear friend sir roger cremorne wrote his america from within after a stay of onlytwo weeks. i should love to take dear motty with me,but the poor boy gets so sick when he travels by train.i shall have to pick him up on my return." from where i sat i could see jeeves in thedining-room, laying the breakfast-table. i wished i could have had a minute with himalone. i felt certain that he would have been ableto think of some way of putting a stop to this woman."it will be such a relief to know that motty is safe with you, mr. wooster.
i know what the temptations of a great cityare. hitherto dear motty has been sheltered fromthem. he has lived quietly with me in thecountry. i know that you will look after himcarefully, mr. wooster. he will give very little trouble." she talked about the poor blighter as if hewasn't there. not that motty seemed to mind.he had stopped chewing his walking-stick and was sitting there with his mouth open. "he is a vegetarian and a teetotaller andis devoted to reading.
give him a nice book and he will be quitecontented." she got up. "thank you so much, mr. wooster!i don't know what i should have done without your help.come, motty! we have just time to see a few of thesights before my train goes. but i shall have to rely on you for most ofmy information about new york, darling. be sure to keep your eyes open and takenotes of your impressions! it will be such a help.good-bye, mr. wooster. i will send motty back early in theafternoon."
they went out, and i howled for jeeves."jeeves! what about it?" "sir?""what's to be done? you heard it all, didn't you?you were in the dining-room most of the time. that pill is coming to stay here.""pill, sir?" "the excrescence.""i beg your pardon, sir?" i looked at jeeves sharply. this sort of thing wasn't like him.it was as if he were deliberately trying to
give me the pip.then i understood. the man was really upset about that tie. he was trying to get his own back."lord pershore will be staying here from to-night, jeeves," i said coldly."very good, sir. breakfast is ready, sir." i could have sobbed into the bacon andeggs. that there wasn't any sympathy to be gotout of jeeves was what put the lid on it. for a moment i almost weakened and told himto destroy the hat and tie if he didn't like them, but i pulled myself togetheragain.
i was dashed if i was going to let jeevestreat me like a bally one-man chain-gang! but, what with brooding on jeeves andbrooding on motty, i was in a pretty reduced sort of state. the more i examined the situation, the moreblighted it became. there was nothing i could do. if i slung motty out, he would report tohis mother, and she would pass it on to aunt agatha, and i didn't like to thinkwhat would happen then. sooner or later, i should be wanting to goback to england, and i didn't want to get there and find aunt agatha waiting on thequay for me with a stuffed eelskin.
there was absolutely nothing for it but toput the fellow up and make the best of it. about midday motty's luggage arrived, andsoon afterward a large parcel of what i took to be nice books. i brightened up a little when i saw it.it was one of those massive parcels and looked as if it had enough in it to keepthe chappie busy for a year. i felt a trifle more cheerful, and i got mycountry gentleman hat and stuck it on my head, and gave the pink tie a twist, andreeled out to take a bite of lunch with one or two of the lads at a neighbouring hostelry; and what with excellent browsingand sluicing and cheery conversation and
what-not, the afternoon passed quitehappily. by dinner-time i had almost forgottenblighted motty's existence. i dined at the club and looked in at a showafterward, and it wasn't till fairly late that i got back to the flat. there were no signs of motty, and i took itthat he had gone to bed. it seemed rummy to me, though, that theparcel of nice books was still there with the string and paper on it. it looked as if motty, after seeing motheroff at the station, had decided to call it a day.jeeves came in with the nightly whisky-and-
soda. i could tell by the chappie's manner thathe was still upset. "lord pershore gone to bed, jeeves?"i asked, with reserved hauteur and what- not. "no, sir.his lordship has not yet returned." "not returned?what do you mean?" "his lordship came in shortly after six-thirty, and, having dressed, went out again." at this moment there was a noise outsidethe front door, a sort of scrabbling noise,
as if somebody were trying to paw his waythrough the woodwork. then a sort of thud. "better go and see what that is, jeeves.""very good, sir." he went out and came back again. "if you would not mind stepping this way,sir, i think we might be able to carry him in.""carry him in?" "his lordship is lying on the mat, sir." i went to the front door.the man was right. there was motty huddled up outside on thefloor.
he was moaning a bit. "he's had some sort of dashed fit," i said.i took another look. "jeeves!someone's been feeding him meat!" "sir?" "he's a vegetarian, you know.he must have been digging into a steak or something.call up a doctor!" "i hardly think it will be necessary, sir. if you would take his lordship's legs,while i----" "great scot, jeeves!you don't think--he can't be----"
"i am inclined to think so, sir." and, by jove, he was right!once on the right track, you couldn't mistake it.motty was under the surface. it was the deuce of a shock. "you never can tell, jeeves!""very seldom, sir." "remove the eye of authority and where areyou?" "precisely, sir." "where is my wandering boy to-night and allthat sort of thing, what?" "it would seem so, sir.""well, we had better bring him in, eh?"
"yes, sir." so we lugged him in, and jeeves put him tobed, and i lit a cigarette and sat down to think the thing over.i had a kind of foreboding. it seemed to me that i had let myself infor something pretty rocky. next morning, after i had sucked down athoughtful cup of tea, i went into motty's room to investigate. i expected to find the fellow a wreck, butthere he was, sitting up in bed, quite chirpy, reading gingery stories."what ho!" i said.
"what ho!" said motty."what ho! what ho!""what ho! what ho! what ho!"after that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation."how are you feeling this morning?" i asked. "topping!" replied motty, blithely and withabandon. "i say, you know, that fellow of yours--jeeves, you know--is a corker. i had a most frightful headache when i wokeup, and he brought me a sort of rummy dark
drink, and it put me right again at once.said it was his own invention. i must see more of that lad. he seems to me distinctly one of the ones!"i couldn't believe that this was the same blighter who had sat and sucked his stickthe day before. "you ate something that disagreed with youlast night, didn't you?" i said, by way of giving him a chance toslide out of it if he wanted to. but he wouldn't have it, at any price. "no!" he replied firmly."i didn't do anything of the kind. i drank too much!much too much.
lots and lots too much! and, what's more, i'm going to do it again!i'm going to do it every night. if ever you see me sober, old top," hesaid, with a kind of holy exaltation, "tap me on the shoulder and say, 'tut! tut!' and i'll apologize and remedy thedefect." "but i say, you know, what about me?""what about you?" "well, i'm so to speak, as it were, kind ofresponsible for you. what i mean to say is, if you go doing thissort of thing i'm apt to get in the soup somewhat."
"i can't help your troubles," said mottyfirmly. "listen to me, old thing: this is the firsttime in my life that i've had a real chance to yield to the temptations of a greatcity. what's the use of a great city havingtemptations if fellows don't yield to them? makes it so bally discouraging for a greatcity. besides, mother told me to keep my eyesopen and collect impressions." i sat on the edge of the bed.i felt dizzy. "i know just how you feel, old dear," saidmotty consolingly. "and, if my principles would permit it, iwould simmer down for your sake.
but duty first! this is the first time i've been let outalone, and i mean to make the most of it. we're only young once.why interfere with life's morning? young man, rejoice in thy youth! tra-la!what ho!" put like that, it did seem reasonable. "all my bally life, dear boy," motty wenton, "i've been cooped up in the ancestral home at much middlefold, in shropshire, andtill you've been cooped up in much middlefold you don't know what cooping is!
the only time we get any excitement is whenone of the choir-boys is caught sucking chocolate during the sermon.when that happens, we talk about it for days. i've got about a month of new york, and imean to store up a few happy memories for the long winter evenings.this is my only chance to collect a past, and i'm going to do it. now tell me, old sport, as man to man, howdoes one get in touch with that very decent chappie jeeves?does one ring a bell or shout a bit? i should like to discuss the subject of agood stiff b.-and-s. with him!"
i had had a sort of vague idea, don't youknow, that if i stuck close to motty and went about the place with him, i might actas a bit of a damper on the gaiety. what i mean is, i thought that if, when hewas being the life and soul of the party, he were to catch my reproving eye he mightease up a trifle on the revelry. so the next night i took him along tosupper with me. it was the last time. i'm a quiet, peaceful sort of chappie whohas lived all his life in london, and i can't stand the pace these swift sportsmenfrom the rural districts set. what i mean to say is this, i'm all forrational enjoyment and so forth, but i
think a chappie makes himself conspicuouswhen he throws soft-boiled eggs at the electric fan. and decent mirth and all that sort of thingare all right, but i do bar dancing on tables and having to dash all over theplace dodging waiters, managers, and chuckers-out, just when you want to sitstill and digest. directly i managed to tear myself away thatnight and get home, i made up my mind that this was jolly well the last time that iwent about with motty. the only time i met him late at night afterthat was once when i passed the door of a fairly low-down sort of restaurant and hadto step aside to dodge him as he sailed
through the air en route for the opposite pavement, with a muscular sort of lookingchappie peering out after him with a kind of gloomy satisfaction.in a way, i couldn't help sympathizing with the fellow. he had about four weeks to have the goodtime that ought to have been spread over about ten years, and i didn't wonder at hiswanting to be pretty busy. i should have been just the same in hisplace. still, there was no denying that it was abit thick. if it hadn't been for the thought of ladymalvern and aunt agatha in the background,
i should have regarded motty's rapid workwith an indulgent smile. but i couldn't get rid of the feeling that,sooner or later, i was the lad who was scheduled to get it behind the ear. and what with brooding on this prospect,and sitting up in the old flat waiting for the familiar footstep, and putting it tobed when it got there, and stealing into the sick-chamber next morning to contemplate the wreckage, i was beginningto lose weight. absolutely becoming the good old shadow, igive you my honest word. starting at sudden noises and what-not.
and no sympathy from jeeves.that was what cut me to the quick. the man was still thoroughly pipped aboutthe hat and tie, and simply wouldn't rally round. one morning i wanted comforting so muchthat i sank the pride of the woosters and appealed to the fellow direct."jeeves," i said, "this is getting a bit thick!" "sir?"business and cold respectfulness. "you know what i mean.this lad seems to have chucked all the principles of a well-spent boyhood.
he has got it up his nose!""yes, sir." "well, i shall get blamed, don't you know.you know what my aunt agatha is!" "very well, then."i waited a moment, but he wouldn't unbend. "jeeves," i said, "haven't you any schemeup your sleeve for coping with this blighter?" "no, sir."and he shimmered off to his lair. obstinate devil!so dashed absurd, don't you know. it wasn't as if there was anything wrongwith that country gentleman hat. it was a remarkably priceless effort, andmuch admired by the lads.
but, just because he preferred thelongacre, he left me flat. it was shortly after this that young mottygot the idea of bringing pals back in the small hours to continue the gay revels inthe home. this was where i began to crack under thestrain. you see, the part of town where i wasliving wasn't the right place for that sort of thing. i knew lots of chappies down washingtonsquare way who started the evening at about 2 a.m.--artists and writers and what-not,who frolicked considerably till checked by the arrival of the morning milk.
that was all right.they like that sort of thing down there. the neighbours can't get to sleep unlessthere's someone dancing hawaiian dances over their heads. but on fifty-seventh street the atmospherewasn't right, and when motty turned up at three in the morning with a collection ofhearty lads, who only stopped singing their college song when they started singing "the old oaken bucket," there was a markedpeevishness among the old settlers in the flats. the management was extremely terse over thetelephone at breakfast-time, and took a lot
of soothing. the next night i came home early, after alonely dinner at a place which i'd chosen because there didn't seem any chance ofmeeting motty there. the sitting-room was quite dark, and i wasjust moving to switch on the light, when there was a sort of explosion and somethingcollared hold of my trouser-leg. living with motty had reduced me to such anextent that i was simply unable to cope with this thing. i jumped backward with a loud yell ofanguish, and tumbled out into the hall just as jeeves came out of his den to see whatthe matter was.
"did you call, sir?" "jeeves!there's something in there that grabs you by the leg!""that would be rollo, sir." "i would have warned you of his presence,but i did not hear you come in. his temper is a little uncertain atpresent, as he has not yet settled down." "who the deuce is rollo?" "his lordship's bull-terrier, sir.his lordship won him in a raffle, and tied him to the leg of the table.if you will allow me, sir, i will go in and switch on the light."
there really is nobody like jeeves.he walked straight into the sitting-room, the biggest feat since daniel and thelions' den, without a quiver. what's more, his magnetism or whatever theycall it was such that the dashed animal, instead of pinning him by the leg, calmeddown as if he had had a bromide, and rolled over on his back with all his paws in theair. if jeeves had been his rich uncle hecouldn't have been more chummy. yet directly he caught sight of me again,he got all worked up and seemed to have only one idea in life--to start chewing mewhere he had left off. "rollo is not used to you yet, sir," saidjeeves, regarding the bally quadruped in an
admiring sort of way."he is an excellent watchdog." "i don't want a watchdog to keep me out ofmy rooms." "no, sir.""well, what am i to do?" "no doubt in time the animal will learn todiscriminate, sir. he will learn to distinguish your peculiarscent." "what do you mean--my peculiar scent? correct the impression that i intend tohang about in the hall while life slips by, in the hope that one of these days thatdashed animal will decide that i smell all right."
i thought for a bit."jeeves!" "sir?""i'm going away--to-morrow morning by the first train. i shall go and stop with mr. todd in thecountry." "do you wish me to accompany you, sir?""no." "i don't know when i shall be back.forward my letters." "yes, sir."as a matter of fact, i was back within the week. rocky todd, the pal i went to stay with, isa rummy sort of a chap who lives all alone
in the wilds of long island, and likes it;but a little of that sort of thing goes a long way with me. dear old rocky is one of the best, butafter a few days in his cottage in the woods, miles away from anywhere, new york,even with motty on the premises, began to look pretty good to me. the days down on long island have forty-eight hours in them; you can't get to sleep at night because of the bellowing of thecrickets; and you have to walk two miles for a drink and six for an evening paper. i thanked rocky for his kind hospitality,and caught the only train they have down in
those parts.it landed me in new york about dinner-time. i went straight to the old flat. jeeves came out of his lair.i looked round cautiously for rollo. "where's that dog, jeeves?have you got him tied up?" "the animal is no longer here, sir. his lordship gave him to the porter, whosold him. his lordship took a prejudice against theanimal on account of being bitten by him in the calf of the leg." i don't think i've ever been so bucked by abit of news.
i felt i had misjudged rollo.evidently, when you got to know him better, he had a lot of intelligence in him. "ripping!"i said. "is lord pershore in, jeeves?""no, sir." "do you expect him back to dinner?" "no, sir.""where is he?" "in prison, sir."have you ever trodden on a rake and had the handle jump up and hit you? that's how i felt then."in prison!"
"yes, sir.""you don't mean--in prison?" i lowered myself into a chair."why?" i said."he assaulted a constable, sir." "lord pershore assaulted a constable!" "yes, sir."i digested this. "but, jeeves, i say!this is frightful!" "what will lady malvern say when she findsout?" "i do not fancy that her ladyship will findout, sir." "but she'll come back and want to knowwhere he is."
"i rather fancy, sir, that his lordship'sbit of time will have run out by then." "but supposing it hasn't?" "in that event, sir, it may be judicious toprevaricate a little." "how?" "if i might make the suggestion, sir, ishould inform her ladyship that his lordship has left for a short visit toboston." "why boston?" "very interesting and respectable centre,sir." "jeeves, i believe you've hit it.""i fancy so, sir."
"why, this is really the best thing thatcould have happened. if this hadn't turned up to prevent him,young motty would have been in a sanatorium by the time lady malvern got back." "exactly, sir."the more i looked at it in that way, the sounder this prison wheeze seemed to me.there was no doubt in the world that prison was just what the doctor ordered for motty. it was the only thing that could havepulled him up. i was sorry for the poor blighter, but,after all, i reflected, a chappie who had lived all his life with lady malvern, in asmall village in the interior of
shropshire, wouldn't have much to kick atin a prison. altogether, i began to feel absolutelybraced again. life became like what the poet johnniesays--one grand, sweet song. things went on so comfortably andpeacefully for a couple of weeks that i give you my word that i'd almost forgottensuch a person as motty existed. the only flaw in the scheme of things wasthat jeeves was still pained and distant. it wasn't anything he said or did, mindyou, but there was a rummy something about him all the time. once when i was tying the pink tie i caughtsight of him in the looking-glass.
there was a kind of grieved look in hiseye. and then lady malvern came back, a good bitahead of schedule. i hadn't been expecting her for days.i'd forgotten how time had been slipping along. she turned up one morning while i was stillin bed sipping tea and thinking of this and that. jeeves flowed in with the announcement thathe had just loosed her into the sitting- room.i draped a few garments round me and went in.
there she was, sitting in the same arm-chair, looking as massive as ever. the only difference was that she didn'tuncover the teeth, as she had done the first time. "good morning," i said."so you've got back, what?" "i have got back." there was something sort of bleak about hertone, rather as if she had swallowed an east wind.this i took to be due to the fact that she probably hadn't breakfasted. it's only after a bit of breakfast that i'mable to regard the world with that sunny
cheeriness which makes a fellow theuniversal favourite. i'm never much of a lad till i've engulfedan egg or two and a beaker of coffee. "i suppose you haven't breakfasted?""i have not yet breakfasted." "won't you have an egg or something? or a sausage or something?or something?" "no, thank you." she spoke as if she belonged to an anti-sausage society or a league for the suppression of eggs.there was a bit of a silence. "i called on you last night," she said,"but you were out."
"awfully sorry!had a pleasant trip?" "extremely, thank you." "see everything?niag'ra falls, yellowstone park, and the jolly old grand canyon, and what-not?""i saw a great deal." there was another slightly frappe silence. jeeves floated silently into the dining-room and began to lay the breakfast-table. "i hope wilmot was not in your way, mr.wooster?" i had been wondering when she was going tomention motty. "rather not!great pals!
hit it off splendidly." "you were his constant companion, then?""absolutely! we were always together.saw all the sights, don't you know. we'd take in the museum of art in themorning, and have a bit of lunch at some good vegetarian place, and then toddlealong to a sacred concert in the afternoon, and home to an early dinner. we usually played dominoes after dinner.and then the early bed and the refreshing sleep.we had a great time. i was awfully sorry when he went away toboston."
"oh!wilmot is in boston?" "yes. i ought to have let you know, but of coursewe didn't know where you were. you were dodging all over the place like asnipe--i mean, don't you know, dodging all over the place, and we couldn't get at you. yes, motty went off to boston.""you're sure he went to boston?" "oh, absolutely." i called out to jeeves, who was now messingabout in the next room with forks and so forth: "jeeves, lord pershore didn't changehis mind about going to boston, did he?"
"no, sir." "i thought i was right.yes, motty went to boston." "then how do you account, mr. wooster, forthe fact that when i went yesterday afternoon to blackwell's island prison, tosecure material for my book, i saw poor, dear wilmot there, dressed in a striped suit, seated beside a pile of stones with ahammer in his hands?" i tried to think of something to say, butnothing came. a chappie has to be a lot broader about theforehead than i am to handle a jolt like this.
i strained the old bean till it creaked,but between the collar and the hair parting nothing stirred.i was dumb. which was lucky, because i wouldn't havehad a chance to get any persiflage out of my system.lady malvern collared the conversation. she had been bottling it up, and now itcame out with a rush: "so this is how you have looked after mypoor, dear boy, mr. wooster! so this is how you have abused my trust! i left him in your charge, thinking that icould rely on you to shield him from evil. he came to you innocent, unversed in theways of the world, confiding, unused to the
temptations of a large city, and you ledhim astray!" i hadn't any remarks to make. all i could think of was the picture ofaunt agatha drinking all this in and reaching out to sharpen the hatchet againstmy return. "you deliberately----" far away in the misty distance a soft voicespoke: "if i might explain, your ladyship."jeeves had projected himself in from the dining-room and materialized on the rug. lady malvern tried to freeze him with alook, but you can't do that sort of thing
to jeeves.he is look-proof. "i fancy, your ladyship, that you havemisunderstood mr. wooster, and that he may have given you the impression that he wasin new york when his lordship--was removed. when mr. wooster informed your ladyshipthat his lordship had gone to boston, he was relying on the version i had given himof his lordship's movements. mr. wooster was away, visiting a friend inthe country, at the time, and knew nothing of the matter till your ladyship informedhim." lady malvern gave a kind of grunt. it didn't rattle jeeves.
"i feared mr. wooster might be disturbed ifhe knew the truth, as he is so attached to his lordship and has taken such pains tolook after him, so i took the liberty of telling him that his lordship had gone awayfor a visit. it might have been hard for mr. wooster tobelieve that his lordship had gone to prison voluntarily and from the bestmotives, but your ladyship, knowing him better, will readily understand." "what!"lady malvern goggled at him. "did you say that lord pershore went toprison voluntarily?" "if i might explain, your ladyship.
i think that your ladyship's parting wordsmade a deep impression on his lordship. i have frequently heard him speak to mr.wooster of his desire to do something to follow your ladyship's instructions andcollect material for your ladyship's book on america. mr. wooster will bear me out when i saythat his lordship was frequently extremely depressed at the thought that he was doingso little to help." "absolutely, by jove! quite pipped about it!"i said. "the idea of making a personal examinationinto the prison system of the country--from
within--occurred to his lordship verysuddenly one night. he embraced it eagerly. there was no restraining him."lady malvern looked at jeeves, then at me, then at jeeves again.i could see her struggling with the thing. "surely, your ladyship," said jeeves, "itis more reasonable to suppose that a gentleman of his lordship's character wentto prison of his own volition than that he committed some breach of the law whichnecessitated his arrest?" lady malvern blinked.then she got up. "mr. wooster," she said, "i apologize.
i have done you an injustice.i should have known wilmot better. i should have had more faith in his pure,fine spirit." "absolutely!" i said."your breakfast is ready, sir," said jeeves.i sat down and dallied in a dazed sort of way with a poached egg. "jeeves," i said, "you are certainly alife-saver!" "thank you, sir." "nothing would have convinced my auntagatha that i hadn't lured that blighter
into riotous living.""i fancy you are right, sir." i champed my egg for a bit. i was most awfully moved, don't you know,by the way jeeves had rallied round. something seemed to tell me that this wasan occasion that called for rich rewards. for a moment i hesitated. then i made up my mind."jeeves!" "sir?""that pink tie!" "yes, sir?" "burn it!""thank you, sir."
"and, jeeves!""yes, sir?" "take a taxi and get me that longacre hat,as worn by john drew!" "thank you very much, sir."i felt most awfully braced. i felt as if the clouds had rolled away andall was as it used to be. i felt like one of those chappies in thenovels who calls off the fight with his wife in the last chapter and decides toforget and forgive. i felt i wanted to do all sorts of otherthings to show jeeves that i appreciated him."jeeves," i said, "it isn't enough. is there anything else you would like?"
"yes, sir.if i may make the suggestion--fifty dollars.""fifty dollars?" "it will enable me to pay a debt of honour,sir. i owe it to his lordship.""you owe lord pershore fifty dollars?" "yes, sir. i happened to meet him in the street thenight his lordship was arrested. i had been thinking a good deal about themost suitable method of inducing him to abandon his mode of living, sir. his lordship was a little over-excited atthe time and i fancy that he mistook me for
a friend of his. at any rate when i took the liberty ofwagering him fifty dollars that he would not punch a passing policeman in the eye,he accepted the bet very cordially and won it." i produced my pocket-book and counted out ahundred. "take this, jeeves," i said; "fifty isn'tenough. do you know, jeeves, you're--well, youabsolutely stand alone!" "i endeavour to give satisfaction, sir,"said jeeves. chapter 3 jeeves and the hard-boiled egg
sometimes of a morning, as i've sat in bedsucking down the early cup of tea and watched my man jeeves flitting about theroom and putting out the raiment for the day, i've wondered what the deuce i should do if the fellow ever took it into his headto leave me. it's not so bad now i'm in new york, but inlondon the anxiety was frightful. there used to be all sorts of attempts onthe part of low blighters to sneak him away from me. young reggie foljambe to my certainknowledge offered him double what i was giving him, and alistair bingham-reeves,who's got a valet who had been known to
press his trousers sideways, used to look at him, when he came to see me, with a kindof glittering hungry eye which disturbed me deucedly.bally pirates! the thing, you see, is that jeeves is sodashed competent. you can spot it even in the way he shovesstuds into a shirt. i rely on him absolutely in every crisis,and he never lets me down. and, what's more, he can always be countedon to extend himself on behalf of any pal of mine who happens to be to allappearances knee-deep in the bouillon. take the rather rummy case, for instance,of dear old bicky and his uncle, the hard-
boiled egg.it happened after i had been in america for a few months. i got back to the flat latish one night,and when jeeves brought me the final drink he said:"mr. bickersteth called to see you this evening, sir, while you were out." "oh?"i said. "twice, sir.he appeared a trifle agitated." "what, pipped?" "he gave that impression, sir."i sipped the whisky.
i was sorry if bicky was in trouble, but,as a matter of fact, i was rather glad to have something i could discuss freely withjeeves just then, because things had been a bit strained between us for some time, and it had been rather difficult to hit onanything to talk about that wasn't apt to take a personal turn. you see, i had decided--rightly or wrongly--to grow a moustache and this had cut jeeves to the quick. he couldn't stick the thing at any price,and i had been living ever since in an atmosphere of bally disapproval till i wasgetting jolly well fed up with it.
what i mean is, while there's no doubt thatin certain matters of dress jeeves's judgment is absolutely sound and should befollowed, it seemed to me that it was getting a bit too thick if he was going toedit my face as well as my costume. no one can call me an unreasonable chappie,and many's the time i've given in like a lamb when jeeves has voted against one ofmy pet suits or ties; but when it comes to a valet's staking out a claim on your upper lip you've simply got to have a bit of thegood old bulldog pluck and defy the blighter."he said that he would call again later, sir."
"something must be up, jeeves.""yes, sir." i gave the moustache a thoughtful twirl.it seemed to hurt jeeves a good deal, so i chucked it. "i see by the paper, sir, that mr.bickersteth's uncle is arriving on the carmantic.""yes?" "his grace the duke of chiswick, sir." this was news to me, that bicky's uncle wasa duke. rum, how little one knows about one's pals! i had met bicky for the first time at aspecies of beano or jamboree down in
washington square, not long after myarrival in new york. i suppose i was a bit homesick at the time,and i rather took to bicky when i found that he was an englishman and had, in fact,been up at oxford with me. besides, he was a frightful chump, so wenaturally drifted together; and while we were taking a quiet snort in a corner thatwasn't all cluttered up with artists and sculptors and what-not, he furthermore endeared himself to me by a mostextraordinarily gifted imitation of a bull- terrier chasing a cat up a tree. but, though we had subsequently becomeextremely pally, all i really knew about
him was that he was generally hard up, andhad an uncle who relieved the strain a bit from time to time by sending him monthlyremittances. "if the duke of chiswick is his uncle," isaid, "why hasn't he a title? why isn't he lord what-not?" "mr. bickersteth is the son of his grace'slate sister, sir, who married captain rollo bickersteth of the coldstream guards."jeeves knows everything. "is mr. bickersteth's father dead, too?" "yes, sir.""leave any money?" "no, sir."i began to understand why poor old bicky
was always more or less on the rocks. to the casual and irreflective observer, ifyou know what i mean, it may sound a pretty good wheeze having a duke for an uncle, butthe trouble about old chiswick was that, though an extremely wealthy old buster, owning half london and about five countiesup north, he was notoriously the most prudent spender in england.he was what american chappies would call a hard-boiled egg. if bicky's people hadn't left him anythingand he depended on what he could prise out of the old duke, he was in a pretty badway.
not that that explained why he was huntingme like this, because he was a chap who never borrowed money.he said he wanted to keep his pals, so never bit any one's ear on principle. at this juncture the door bell rang.jeeves floated out to answer it. "yes, sir.mr. wooster has just returned," i heard him say. and bicky came trickling in, looking prettysorry for himself. "halloa, bicky!"i said. "jeeves told me you had been trying to getme.
jeeves, bring another glass, and let therevels commence. what's the trouble, bicky?" "i'm in a hole, bertie.i want your advice." "say on, old lad!""my uncle's turning up to-morrow, bertie." "so jeeves told me." "the duke of chiswick, you know.""so jeeves told me." bicky seemed a bit surprised."jeeves seems to know everything." "rather rummily, that's exactly what i wasthinking just now myself." "well, i wish," said bicky gloomily, "thathe knew a way to get me out of the hole i'm
in." jeeves shimmered in with the glass, andstuck it competently on the table. "mr. bickersteth is in a bit of a hole,jeeves," i said, "and wants you to rally round." "very good, sir."bicky looked a bit doubtful. "well, of course, you know, bertie, thisthing is by way of being a bit private and all that." "i shouldn't worry about that, old top.i bet jeeves knows all about it already. don't you, jeeves?""yes, sir."
"eh!" said bicky, rattled. "i am open to correction, sir, but is notyour dilemma due to the fact that you are at a loss to explain to his grace why youare in new york instead of in colorado?" bicky rocked like a jelly in a high wind. "how the deuce do you know anything aboutit?" "i chanced to meet his grace's butlerbefore we left england. he informed me that he happened to overhearhis grace speaking to you on the matter, sir, as he passed the library door."bicky gave a hollow sort of laugh. "well, as everybody seems to know all aboutit, there's no need to try to keep it dark.
the old boy turfed me out, bertie, becausehe said i was a brainless nincompoop. the idea was that he would give me aremittance on condition that i dashed out to some blighted locality of the name ofcolorado and learned farming or ranching, or whatever they call it, at some ballyranch or farm or whatever it's called. i didn't fancy the idea a bit.i should have had to ride horses and pursue cows, and so forth. i hate horses.they bite at you. i was all against the scheme.at the same time, don't you know, i had to have that remittance."
"i get you absolutely, dear boy.""well, when i got to new york it looked a decent sort of place to me, so i thought itwould be a pretty sound notion to stop here. so i cabled to my uncle telling him that ihad dropped into a good business wheeze in the city and wanted to chuck the ranchidea. he wrote back that it was all right, andhere i've been ever since. he thinks i'm doing well at something orother over here. i never dreamed, don't you know, that hewould ever come out here. what on earth am i to do?""jeeves," i said, "what on earth is mr.
bickersteth to do?" "you see," said bicky, "i had a wirelessfrom him to say that he was coming to stay with me--to save hotel bills, i suppose.i've always given him the impression that i was living in pretty good style. i can't have him to stay at my boarding-house." "thought of anything, jeeves?"i said. "to what extent, sir, if the question isnot a delicate one, are you prepared to assist mr. bickersteth?""i'll do anything i can for you, of course, bicky, old man."
"then, if i might make the suggestion, sir,you might lend mr. bickersteth----" "no, by jove!" said bicky firmly."i never have touched you, bertie, and i'm not going to start now. i may be a chump, but it's my boast that idon't owe a penny to a single soul--not counting tradesmen, of course.""i was about to suggest, sir, that you might lend mr. bickersteth this flat. mr. bickersteth could give his grace theimpression that he was the owner of it. with your permission i could convey thenotion that i was in mr. bickersteth's employment, and not in yours.
you would be residing here temporarily asmr. bickersteth's guest. his grace would occupy the second sparebedroom. i fancy that you would find this answersatisfactorily, sir." bicky had stopped rocking himself and wasstaring at jeeves in an awed sort of way. "i would advocate the dispatching of awireless message to his grace on board the vessel, notifying him of the change ofaddress. mr. bickersteth could meet his grace at thedock and proceed directly here. will that meet the situation, sir?""absolutely." bicky followed him with his eye till thedoor closed.
"how does he do it, bertie?" he said."i'll tell you what i think it is. i believe it's something to do with theshape of his head. have you ever noticed his head, bertie, oldman? it sort of sticks out at the back!" i hopped out of bed early next morning, soas to be among those present when the old boy should arrive. i knew from experience that these oceanliners fetch up at the dock at a deucedly ungodly hour. it wasn't much after nine by the time i'ddressed and had my morning tea and was
leaning out of the window, watching thestreet for bicky and his uncle. it was one of those jolly, peacefulmornings that make a chappie wish he'd got a soul or something, and i was justbrooding on life in general when i became aware of the dickens of a spate in progressdown below. a taxi had driven up, and an old boy in atop hat had got out and was kicking up a frightful row about the fare. as far as i could make out, he was tryingto get the cab chappie to switch from new york to london prices, and the cab chappiehad apparently never heard of london before, and didn't seem to think a lot ofit now.
the old boy said that in london the tripwould have set him back eightpence; and the cabby said he should worry. i called to jeeves."the duke has arrived, jeeves." "yes, sir?""that'll be him at the door now." jeeves made a long arm and opened the frontdoor, and the old boy crawled in, looking licked to a splinter."how do you do, sir?" i said, bustling up and being the ray ofsunshine. "your nephew went down to the dock to meetyou, but you must have missed him. my name's wooster, don't you know.
great pal of bicky's, and all that sort ofthing. i'm staying with him, you know.would you like a cup of tea? jeeves, bring a cup of tea." old chiswick had sunk into an arm-chair andwas looking about the room. "does this luxurious flat belong to mynephew francis?" "absolutely." "it must be terribly expensive.""pretty well, of course. everything costs a lot over here, youknow." he moaned.
jeeves filtered in with the tea.old chiswick took a stab at it to restore his tissues, and nodded."a terrible country, mr. wooster! a terrible country! nearly eight shillings for a short cab-drive! iniquitous!"he took another look round the room. it seemed to fascinate him. "have you any idea how much my nephew paysfor this flat, mr. wooster?" "about two hundred dollars a month, ibelieve." "what!
forty pounds a month!"i began to see that, unless i made the thing a bit more plausible, the schememight turn out a frost. i could guess what the old boy wasthinking. he was trying to square all this prosperitywith what he knew of poor old bicky. and one had to admit that it took a lot ofsquaring, for dear old bicky, though a stout fellow and absolutely unrivalled asan imitator of bull-terriers and cats, was in many ways one of the most pronounced fatheads that ever pulled on a suit ofgent's underwear. "i suppose it seems rummy to you," i said,"but the fact is new york often bucks
chappies up and makes them show a flash ofspeed that you wouldn't have imagined them capable of. it sort of develops them.something in the air, don't you know. i imagine that bicky in the past, when youknew him, may have been something of a chump, but it's quite different now. devilish efficient sort of chappie, andlooked on in commercial circles as quite the nib!""i am amazed! what is the nature of my nephew's business,mr. wooster?" "oh, just business, don't you know.
the same sort of thing carnegie androckefeller and all these coves do, you know."i slid for the door. "awfully sorry to leave you, but i've gotto meet some of the lads elsewhere." coming out of the lift i met bicky bustlingin from the street. "halloa, bertie! i missed him.has he turned up?" "he's upstairs now, having some tea.""what does he think of it all?" "he's absolutely rattled." "ripping!i'll be toddling up, then.
toodle-oo, bertie, old man.see you later." "pip-pip, bicky, dear boy." he trotted off, full of merriment and goodcheer, and i went off to the club to sit in the window and watch the traffic coming upone way and going down the other. it was latish in the evening when i lookedin at the flat to dress for dinner. "where's everybody, jeeves?"i said, finding no little feet pattering about the place. "gone out?""his grace desired to see some of the sights of the city, sir.mr. bickersteth is acting as his escort.
i fancy their immediate objective wasgrant's tomb." "i suppose mr. bickersteth is a bit bracedat the way things are going--what?" "i say, i take it that mr. bickersteth istolerably full of beans." "not altogether, sir.""what's his trouble now?" "the scheme which i took the liberty ofsuggesting to mr. bickersteth and yourself has, unfortunately, not answered entirelysatisfactorily, sir." "surely the duke believes that mr.bickersteth is doing well in business, and all that sort of thing?""exactly, sir. with the result that he has decided tocancel mr. bickersteth's monthly allowance,
on the ground that, as mr. bickersteth isdoing so well on his own account, he no longer requires pecuniary assistance." "great scot, jeeves!this is awful." "somewhat disturbing, sir.""i never expected anything like this!" "i confess i scarcely anticipated thecontingency myself, sir." "i suppose it bowled the poor blighter overabsolutely?" "mr. bickersteth appeared somewhat takenaback, sir." my heart bled for bicky."we must do something, jeeves." "can you think of anything?""not at the moment, sir."
"there must be something we can do." "it was a maxim of one of my formeremployers, sir--as i believe i mentioned to you once before--the present lordbridgnorth, that there is always a way. i remember his lordship using theexpression on the occasion--he was then a business gentleman and had not yet receivedhis title--when a patent hair-restorer which he chanced to be promoting failed toattract the public. he put it on the market under another nameas a depilatory, and amassed a substantial fortune. i have generally found his lordship'saphorism based on sound foundations.
no doubt we shall be able to discover somesolution of mr. bickersteth's difficulty, "well, have a stab at it, jeeves!""i will spare no pains, sir." i went and dressed sadly. it will show you pretty well how pipped iwas when i tell you that i near as a toucher put on a white tie with a dinner-jacket. i sallied out for a bit of food more topass the time than because i wanted it. it seemed brutal to be wading into the billof fare with poor old bicky headed for the breadline. when i got back old chiswick had gone tobed, but bicky was there, hunched up in an
arm-chair, brooding pretty tensely, with acigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth and a more or less glassy stare inhis eyes. he had the aspect of one who had beensoaked with what the newspaper chappies call "some blunt instrument." "this is a bit thick, old thing--what!"i said. he picked up his glass and drained itfeverishly, overlooking the fact that it hadn't anything in it. "i'm done, bertie!" he said.he had another go at the glass. it didn't seem to do him any good."if only this had happened a week later,
bertie! my next month's money was due to roll in onsaturday. i could have worked a wheeze i've beenreading about in the magazine advertisements. it seems that you can make a dashed amountof money if you can only collect a few dollars and start a chicken-farm.jolly sound scheme, bertie! say you buy a hen--call it one hen for thesake of argument. it lays an egg every day of the week.you sell the eggs seven for twenty-five cents.
keep of hen costs nothing.profit practically twenty-five cents on every seven eggs.or look at it another way: suppose you have a dozen eggs. each of the hens has a dozen chickens.the chickens grow up and have more chickens. why, in no time you'd have the placecovered knee-deep in hens, all laying eggs, at twenty-five cents for every seven.you'd make a fortune. jolly life, too, keeping hens!" he had begun to get quite worked up at thethought of it, but he slopped back in his
chair at this juncture with a good deal ofgloom. "but, of course, it's no good," he said,"because i haven't the cash." "you've only to say the word, you know,bicky, old top." "thanks awfully, bertie, but i'm not goingto sponge on you." that's always the way in this world. the chappies you'd like to lend money towon't let you, whereas the chappies you don't want to lend it to will do everythingexcept actually stand you on your head and lift the specie out of your pockets. as a lad who has always rolled tolerablyfree in the right stuff, i've had lots of
experience of the second class. many's the time, back in london, i'vehurried along piccadilly and felt the hot breath of the toucher on the back of myneck and heard his sharp, excited yapping as he closed in on me. i've simply spent my life scatteringlargesse to blighters i didn't care a hang for; yet here was i now, dripping doubloonsand pieces of eight and longing to hand them over, and bicky, poor fish, absolutelyon his uppers, not taking any at any price. "well, there's only one hope, then.""what's that?" "jeeves."
"sir?"there was jeeves, standing behind me, full of zeal.in this matter of shimmering into rooms the chappie is rummy to a degree. you're sitting in the old armchair,thinking of this and that, and then suddenly you look up, and there he is.he moves from point to point with as little uproar as a jelly fish. the thing startled poor old bickyconsiderably. he rose from his seat like a rocketingpheasant. i'm used to jeeves now, but often in thedays when he first came to me i've bitten
my tongue freely on finding himunexpectedly in my midst. "oh, there you are, jeeves!""precisely, sir." "jeeves, mr. bickersteth is still up thepole. any ideas?" "why, yes, sir.since we had our recent conversation i fancy i have found what may prove asolution. i do not wish to appear to be taking aliberty, sir, but i think that we have overlooked his grace's potentialities as asource of revenue." bicky laughed, what i have sometimes seendescribed as a hollow, mocking laugh, a
sort of bitter cackle from the back of thethroat, rather like a gargle. "i do not allude, sir," explained jeeves,"to the possibility of inducing his grace to part with money. i am taking the liberty of regarding hisgrace in the light of an at present--if i may say so--useless property, which iscapable of being developed." bicky looked at me in a helpless kind ofway. i'm bound to say i didn't get it myself."couldn't you make it a bit easier, jeeves!" "in a nutshell, sir, what i mean is this:his grace is, in a sense, a prominent
personage. the inhabitants of this country, as nodoubt you are aware, sir, are peculiarly addicted to shaking hands with prominentpersonages. it occurred to me that mr. bickersteth oryourself might know of persons who would be willing to pay a small fee--let us say twodollars or three--for the privilege of an introduction, including handshake, to hisgrace." bicky didn't seem to think much of it. "do you mean to say that anyone would bemug enough to part with solid cash just to shake hands with my uncle?"
"i have an aunt, sir, who paid fiveshillings to a young fellow for bringing a moving-picture actor to tea at her houseone sunday. it gave her social standing among theneighbours." bicky wavered."if you think it could be done----" "i feel convinced of it, sir." "what do you think, bertie?""i'm for it, old boy, absolutely. a very brainy wheeze.""thank you, sir. will there be anything further? good night, sir."and he floated out, leaving us to discuss
details. until we started this business of floatingold chiswick as a money-making proposition i had never realized what a perfectly foultime those stock exchange chappies must have when the public isn't biting freely. nowadays i read that bit they put in thefinancial reports about "the market opened quietly" with a sympathetic eye, for, byjove, it certainly opened quietly for us! you'd hardly believe how difficult it wasto interest the public and make them take a flutter on the old boy. by the end of the week the only name we hadon our list was a delicatessen-store keeper
down in bicky's part of the town, and as hewanted us to take it out in sliced ham instead of cash that didn't help much. there was a gleam of light when the brotherof bicky's pawnbroker offered ten dollars, money down, for an introduction to oldchiswick, but the deal fell through, owing to its turning out that the chap was an anarchist and intended to kick the old boyinstead of shaking hands with him. at that, it took me the deuce of a time topersuade bicky not to grab the cash and let things take their course. he seemed to regard the pawnbroker'sbrother rather as a sportsman and
benefactor of his species than otherwise. the whole thing, i'm inclined to think,would have been off if it hadn't been for jeeves.there is no doubt that jeeves is in a class of his own. in the matter of brain and resource i don'tthink i have ever met a chappie so supremely like mother made. he trickled into my room one morning with agood old cup of tea, and intimated that there was something doing."might i speak to you with regard to that matter of his grace, sir?"
"it's all off.we've decided to chuck it." "sir?""it won't work. we can't get anybody to come." "i fancy i can arrange that aspect of thematter, sir." "do you mean to say you've managed to getanybody?" eighty-seven gentlemen from birdsburg,sir." i sat up in bed and spilt the tea."birdsburg?" "birdsburg, missouri, sir." "how did you get them?"
"i happened last night, sir, as you hadintimated that you would be absent from home, to attend a theatrical performance,and entered into conversation between the acts with the occupant of the adjoiningseat. i had observed that he was wearing asomewhat ornate decoration in his buttonhole, sir--a large blue button withthe words 'boost for birdsburg' upon it in red letters, scarcely a judicious additionto a gentleman's evening costume. to my surprise i noticed that theauditorium was full of persons similarly decorated. i ventured to inquire the explanation, andwas informed that these gentlemen, forming
a party of eighty-seven, are a conventionfrom a town of the name if birdsburg, in the state of missouri. their visit, i gathered, was purely of asocial and pleasurable nature, and my informant spoke at some length of theentertainments arranged for their stay in the city. it was when he related with a considerableamount of satisfaction and pride, that a deputation of their number had beenintroduced to and had shaken hands with a well-known prizefighter, that it occurredto me to broach the subject of his grace. to make a long story short, sir, i havearranged, subject to your approval, that
the entire convention shall be presented tohis grace to-morrow afternoon." i was amazed. this chappie was a napoleon."eighty-seven, jeeves. at how much a head?""i was obliged to agree to a reduction for quantity, sir. the terms finally arrived at were onehundred and fifty dollars for the party." i thought a bit."payable in advance?" "no, sir. i endeavoured to obtain payment in advance,but was not successful."
"well, any way, when we get it i'll make itup to five hundred. bicky'll never know. do you suspect mr. bickersteth wouldsuspect anything, jeeves, if i made it up to five hundred?""i fancy not, sir. mr. bickersteth is an agreeable gentleman,but not bright." "all right, then.after breakfast run down to the bank and get me some money." "yes, sir.""you know, you're a bit of a marvel, jeeves.""thank you, sir."
"right-o!" "very good, sir."when i took dear old bicky aside in the course of the morning and told him what hadhappened he nearly broke down. he tottered into the sitting-room andbuttonholed old chiswick, who was reading the comic section of the morning paper witha kind of grim resolution. "uncle," he said, "are you doing anythingspecial to-morrow afternoon? i mean to say, i've asked a few of my palsin to meet you, don't you know." the old boy cocked a speculative eye athim. "there will be no reporters among them?""reporters?
rather not! why?""i refuse to be badgered by reporters. there were a number of adhesive young menwho endeavoured to elicit from me my views on america while the boat was approachingthe dock. i will not be subjected to this persecutionagain." "that'll be absolutely all right, uncle.there won't be a newspaper-man in the place." "in that case i shall be glad to make theacquaintance of your friends." "you'll shake hands with them and soforth?"
"i shall naturally order my behaviouraccording to the accepted rules of civilized intercourse." bicky thanked him heartily and came off tolunch with me at the club, where he babbled freely of hens, incubators, and otherrotten things. after mature consideration we had decidedto unleash the birdsburg contingent on the old boy ten at a time. jeeves brought his theatre pal round to seeus, and we arranged the whole thing with him. a very decent chappie, but rather inclinedto collar the conversation and turn it in
the direction of his home-town's new water-supply system. we settled that, as an hour was about allhe would be likely to stand, each gang should consider itself entitled to sevenminutes of the duke's society by jeeves's stop-watch, and that when their time was up jeeves should slide into the room and coughmeaningly. then we parted with what i believe arecalled mutual expressions of goodwill, the birdsburg chappie extending a cordialinvitation to us all to pop out some day and take a look at the new water-supplysystem, for which we thanked him. next day the deputation rolled in.
the first shift consisted of the cove wehad met and nine others almost exactly like him in every respect. they all looked deuced keen andbusinesslike, as if from youth up they had been working in the office and catching theboss's eye and what-not. they shook hands with the old boy with agood deal of apparent satisfaction--all except one chappie, who seemed to bebrooding about something--and then they stood off and became chatty. "what message have you for birdsburg,duke?" asked our pal. the old boy seemed a bit rattled."i have never been to birdsburg."
the chappie seemed pained. "you should pay it a visit," he said."the most rapidly-growing city in the country.boost for birdsburg!" "boost for birdsburg!" said the otherchappies reverently. the chappie who had been brooding suddenlygave tongue. "say!" he was a stout sort of well-fed cove withone of those determined chins and a cold eye.the assemblage looked at him. "as a matter of business," said thechappie--"mind you, i'm not questioning
anybody's good faith, but, as a matter ofstrict business--i think this gentleman here ought to put himself on record before witnesses as stating that he really is aduke." "what do you mean, sir?" cried the old boy,getting purple. "no offence, simply business. i'm not saying anything, mind you, butthere's one thing that seems kind of funny to me.this gentleman here says his name's mr. bickersteth, as i understand it. well, if you're the duke of chiswick, whyisn't he lord percy something?
i've read english novels, and i know allabout it." "this is monstrous!" "now don't get hot under the collar.i'm only asking. i've a right to know. you're going to take our money, so it'sonly fair that we should see that we get our money's worth."the water-supply cove chipped in: "you're quite right, simms. i overlooked that when making theagreement. you see, gentlemen, as business men we've aright to reasonable guarantees of good
faith. we are paying mr. bickersteth here ahundred and fifty dollars for this reception, and we naturally want to know----" old chiswick gave bicky a searching look;then he turned to the water-supply chappie. he was frightfully calm."i can assure you that i know nothing of this," he said, quite politely. "i should be grateful if you wouldexplain." "well, we arranged with mr. bickersteththat eighty-seven citizens of birdsburg should have the privilege of meeting andshaking hands with you for a financial
consideration mutually arranged, and what my friend simms here means--and i'm withhim--is that we have only mr. bickersteth's word for it--and he is a stranger to us--that you are the duke of chiswick at all." old chiswick gulped. "allow me to assure you, sir," he said, ina rummy kind of voice, "that i am the duke of chiswick.""then that's all right," said the chappie heartily. "that was all we wanted to know.let the thing go on." "i am sorry to say," said old chiswick,"that it cannot go on.
i am feeling a little tired. i fear i must ask to be excused.""but there are seventy-seven of the boys waiting round the corner at this moment,duke, to be introduced to you." "i fear i must disappoint them." "but in that case the deal would have to beoff." "that is a matter for you and my nephew todiscuss." the chappie seemed troubled. "you really won't meet the rest of them?""no!" "well, then, i guess we'll be going."they went out, and there was a pretty solid
then old chiswick turned to bicky:"well?" bicky didn't seem to have anything to say."was it true what that man said?" "yes, uncle." "what do you mean by playing this trick?"bicky seemed pretty well knocked out, so i put in a word."i think you'd better explain the whole thing, bicky, old top." bicky's adam's-apple jumped about a bit;then he started: "you see, you had cut off my allowance,uncle, and i wanted a bit of money to start a chicken farm.
i mean to say it's an absolute cert if youonce get a bit of capital. you buy a hen, and it lays an egg every dayof the week, and you sell the eggs, say, seven for twenty-five cents. "keep of hens cost nothing.profit practically----" "what is all this nonsense about hens?you led me to suppose you were a substantial business man." "old bicky rather exaggerated, sir," isaid, helping the chappie out. "the fact is, the poor old lad isabsolutely dependent on that remittance of yours, and when you cut it off, don't youknow, he was pretty solidly in the soup,
and had to think of some way of closing inon a bit of the ready pretty quick. that's why we thought of this handshakingscheme." old chiswick foamed at the mouth. "so you have lied to me!you have deliberately deceived me as to your financial status!""poor old bicky didn't want to go to that ranch," i explained. "he doesn't like cows and horses, but herather thinks he would be hot stuff among the hens.all he wants is a bit of capital. don't you think it would be rather a wheezeif you were to----"
"after what has happened?after this--this deceit and foolery? not a penny!" "but----""not a penny!" there was a respectful cough in thebackground. "if i might make a suggestion, sir?" jeeves was standing on the horizon, lookingdevilish brainy. "go ahead, jeeves!"i said. "i would merely suggest, sir, that if mr.bickersteth is in need of a little ready money, and is at a loss to obtain itelsewhere, he might secure the sum he
requires by describing the occurrences of this afternoon for the sunday issue of oneof the more spirited and enterprising newspapers.""by jove!" "by george!" said bicky."great heavens!" said old chiswick. "very good, sir," said jeeves.bicky turned to old chiswick with a gleaming eye. "jeeves is right.i'll do it! the chronicle would jump at it.they eat that sort of stuff." old chiswick gave a kind of moaning howl.
"i absolutely forbid you, francis, to dothis thing!" "that's all very well," said bicky,wonderfully braced, "but if i can't get the money any other way----" "wait!er--wait, my boy! you are so impetuous!we might arrange something." "i won't go to that bally ranch." "no, no!no, no, my boy! i would not suggest it.i would not for a moment suggest it. i--i think----"
he seemed to have a bit of a struggle withhimself. "i--i think that, on the whole, it would bebest if you returned with me to england. i--i might--in fact, i think i see my wayto doing--to--i might be able to utilize your services in some secretarialposition." "i shouldn't mind that." "i should not be able to offer you asalary, but, as you know, in english political life the unpaid secretary is arecognized figure----" "the only figure i'll recognize," saidbicky firmly, "is five hundred quid a year, paid quarterly.""my dear boy!"
"but your recompense, my dear francis,would consist in the unrivalled opportunities you would have, as mysecretary, to gain experience, to accustom yourself to the intricacies of political life, to--in fact, you would be in anexceedingly advantageous position." "five hundred a year!" said bicky, rollingit round his tongue. "why, that would be nothing to what i couldmake if i started a chicken farm. it stands to reason.suppose you have a dozen hens. each of the hens has a dozen chickens. after a bit the chickens grow up and have adozen chickens each themselves, and then
they all start laying eggs!there's a fortune in it. you can get anything you like for eggs inamerica. chappies keep them on ice for years andyears, and don't sell them till they fetch about a dollar a whirl. you don't think i'm going to chuck a futurelike this for anything under five hundred o' goblins a year--what?" a look of anguish passed over oldchiswick's face, then he seemed to be resigned to it."very well, my boy," he said. "what-o!" said bicky.
"all right, then.""jeeves," i said. bicky had taken the old boy off to dinnerto celebrate, and we were alone. "jeeves, this has been one of your bestefforts." "thank you, sir.""it beats me how you do it." "the only trouble is you haven't got muchout of it--what!" "i fancy mr. bickersteth intends--i judgefrom his remarks--to signify his appreciation of anything i have beenfortunate enough to do to assist him, at some later date when he is in a morefavourable position to do so." "it isn't enough, jeeves!""sir?"
it was a wrench, but i felt it was the onlypossible thing to be done. "bring my shaving things."a gleam of hope shone in the chappie's eye, mixed with doubt. "you mean, sir?""and shave off my moustache." there was a moment's silence.i could see the fellow was deeply moved. "thank you very much indeed, sir," he said,in a low voice, and popped off. chapter 4 absent treatment i want to tell you all about dear oldbobbie cardew. it's a most interesting story.
i can't put in any literary style and allthat; but i don't have to, don't you know, because it goes on its moral lesson. if you're a man you mustn't miss it,because it'll be a warning to you; and if you're a woman you won't want to, becauseit's all about how a girl made a man feel pretty well fed up with things. if you're a recent acquaintance ofbobbie's, you'll probably be surprised to hear that there was a time when he was moreremarkable for the weakness of his memory than anything else. dozens of fellows, who have only met bobbiesince the change took place, have been
surprised when i told them that.yet it's true. believe me. in the days when i first knew him bobbiecardew was about the most pronounced young rotter inside the four-mile radius.people have called me a silly ass, but i was never in the same class with bobbie. when it came to being a silly ass, he was aplus-four man, while my handicap was about six. why, if i wanted him to dine with me, iused to post him a letter at the beginning of the week, and then the day before sendhim a telegram and a phone-call on the day
itself, and--half an hour before the time we'd fixed--a messenger in a taxi, whosebusiness it was to see that he got in and that the chauffeur had the address allcorrect. by doing this i generally managed to gethim, unless he had left town before my messenger arrived.the funny thing was that he wasn't altogether a fool in other ways. deep down in him there was a kind ofstratum of sense. i had known him, once or twice, show analmost human intelligence. but to reach that stratum, mind you, youneeded dynamite.
at least, that's what i thought.but there was another way which hadn't occurred to me. marriage, i mean.marriage, the dynamite of the soul; that was what hit bobbie.he married. have you ever seen a bull-pup chasing abee? the pup sees the bee.it looks good to him. but he still doesn't know what's at the endof it till he gets there. it was like that with bobbie. he fell in love, got married--with a sortof whoop, as if it were the greatest fun in
the world--and then began to find outthings. she wasn't the sort of girl you would haveexpected bobbie to rave about. and yet, i don't know. what i mean is, she worked for her living;and to a fellow who has never done a hand's turn in his life there's undoubtedly a sortof fascination, a kind of romance, about a girl who works for her living. her name was anthony.mary anthony. she was about five feet six; she had a tonand a half of red-gold hair, grey eyes, and one of those determined chins.
she was a hospital nurse. when bobbie smashed himself up at polo, shewas told off by the authorities to smooth his brow and rally round with coolingunguents and all that; and the old boy hadn't been up and about again for more than a week before they popped off to theregistrar's and fixed it up. quite the romance. bobbie broke the news to me at the club oneevening, and next day he introduced me to her.i admired her. i've never worked myself--my name's pepper,by the way.
almost forgot to mention it.reggie pepper. my uncle edward was pepper, wells, and co.,the colliery people. he left me a sizable chunk of bullion--isay i've never worked myself, but i admire any one who earns a living underdifficulties, especially a girl. and this girl had had a rather unusuallytough time of it, being an orphan and all that, and having had to do everything offher own bat for years. mary and i got along together splendidly. we don't now, but we'll come to that later.i'm speaking of the past. she seemed to think bobbie the greatestthing on earth, judging by the way she
looked at him when she thought i wasn'tnoticing. and bobbie seemed to think the same abouther. so that i came to the conclusion that, ifonly dear old bobbie didn't forget to go to the wedding, they had a sporting chance ofbeing quite happy. well, let's brisk up a bit here, and jump ayear. the story doesn't really start till then.they took a flat and settled down. i was in and out of the place quite a gooddeal. i kept my eyes open, and everything seemedto me to be running along as smoothly as you could want.
if this was marriage, i thought, i couldn'tsee why fellows were so frightened of it. there were a lot of worse things that couldhappen to a man. but we now come to the incident of thequiet dinner, and it's just here that love's young dream hits a snag, and thingsbegin to occur. i happened to meet bobbie in piccadilly,and he asked me to come back to dinner at the flat. and, like a fool, instead of bolting andputting myself under police protection, i went. when we got to the flat, there was mrs.bobbie looking--well, i tell you, it
staggered me. her gold hair was all piled up in waves andcrinkles and things, with a what-d'-you- call-it of diamonds in it.and she was wearing the most perfectly ripping dress. i couldn't begin to describe it.i can only say it was the limit. it struck me that if this was how she wasin the habit of looking every night when they were dining quietly at home together,it was no wonder that bobbie liked domesticity. "here's old reggie, dear," said bobbie."i've brought him home to have a bit of
dinner.i'll phone down to the kitchen and ask them to send it up now--what?" she stared at him as if she had never seenhim before. then she turned scarlet.then she turned as white as a sheet. then she gave a little laugh. it was most interesting to watch.made me wish i was up a tree about eight hundred miles away.then she recovered herself. "i am so glad you were able to come, mr.pepper," she said, smiling at me. and after that she was all right.at least, you would have said so.
she talked a lot at dinner, and chaffedbobbie, and played us ragtime on the piano afterwards, as if she hadn't a care in theworld. quite a jolly little party it was--not. i'm no lynx-eyed sleuth, and all that sortof thing, but i had seen her face at the beginning, and i knew that she was workingthe whole time and working hard, to keep herself in hand, and that she would have given that diamond what's-its-name in herhair and everything else she possessed to have one good scream--just one. i've sat through some pretty thick eveningsin my time, but that one had the rest
beaten in a canter.at the very earliest moment i grabbed my hat and got away. having seen what i did, i wasn'tparticularly surprised to meet bobbie at the club next day looking about as merryand bright as a lonely gum-drop at an eskimo tea-party. he started in straightway.he seemed glad to have someone to talk to about it."do you know how long i've been married?" he said. i didn't exactly."about a year, isn't it?"
"not about a year," he said sadly."exactly a year--yesterday!" then i understood. i saw light--a regular flash of light."yesterday was----?" "the anniversary of the wedding.i'd arranged to take mary to the savoy, and on to covent garden. she particularly wanted to hear caruso.i had the ticket for the box in my pocket. do you know, all through dinner i had akind of rummy idea that there was something i'd forgotten, but i couldn't think what?" "till your wife mentioned it?"he nodded----
"she--mentioned it," he said thoughtfully.i didn't ask for details. women with hair and chins like mary's maybe angels most of the time, but, when they take off their wings for a bit, they aren'thalf-hearted about it. "to be absolutely frank, old top," saidpoor old bobbie, in a broken sort of way, "my stock's pretty low at home."there didn't seem much to be done. i just lit a cigarette and sat there. he didn't want to talk.presently he went out. i stood at the window of our upper smoking-room, which looks out on to piccadilly, and watched him.
he walked slowly along for a few yards,stopped, then walked on again, and finally turned into a jeweller's. which was an instance of what i meant wheni said that deep down in him there was a certain stratum of sense. it was from now on that i began to bereally interested in this problem of bobbie's married life. of course, one's always mildly interestedin one's friends' marriages, hoping they'll turn out well and all that; but this wasdifferent. the average man isn't like bobbie, and theaverage girl isn't like mary.
it was that old business of the immovablemass and the irresistible force. there was bobbie, ambling gently throughlife, a dear old chap in a hundred ways, but undoubtedly a chump of the first water.and there was mary, determined that he shouldn't be a chump. and nature, mind you, on bobbie's side.when nature makes a chump like dear old bobbie, she's proud of him, and doesn'twant her handiwork disturbed. she gives him a sort of natural armour toprotect him against outside interference. and that armour is shortness of memory.shortness of memory keeps a man a chump, when, but for it, he might cease to be one.
take my case, for instance.i'm a chump. well, if i had remembered half the thingspeople have tried to teach me during my life, my size in hats would be about numbernine. but i didn't. i forgot them.and it was just the same with bobbie. for about a week, perhaps a bit more, therecollection of that quiet little domestic evening bucked him up like a tonic. elephants, i read somewhere, are championsat the memory business, but they were fools to bobbie during that week.but, bless you, the shock wasn't nearly big
enough. it had dinted the armour, but it hadn'tmade a hole in it. pretty soon he was back at the old game.it was pathetic, don't you know. the poor girl loved him, and she wasfrightened. it was the thin edge of the wedge, you see,and she knew it. a man who forgets what day he was married,when he's been married one year, will forget, at about the end of the fourth,that he's married at all. if she meant to get him in hand at all, shehad got to do it now, before he began to drift away.
i saw that clearly enough, and i tried tomake bobbie see it, when he was by way of pouring out his troubles to me oneafternoon. i can't remember what it was that he hadforgotten the day before, but it was something she had asked him to bring homefor her--it may have been a book. "it's such a little thing to make a fussabout," said bobbie. "and she knows that it's simply becausei've got such an infernal memory about everything. i can't remember anything.never could." he talked on for a while, and, just as hewas going, he pulled out a couple of
sovereigns. "oh, by the way," he said."what's this for?" i asked, though i knew."i owe it you." "how's that?" i said."why, that bet on tuesday. in the billiard-room. murray and brown were playing a hundred up,and i gave you two to one that brown would win, and murray beat him by twenty odd.""so you do remember some things?" he got quite excited.
said that if i thought he was the sort ofrotter who forgot to pay when he lost a bet, it was pretty rotten of me afterknowing him all these years, and a lot more like that. "subside, laddie," i said.then i spoke to him like a father. "what you've got to do, my old collegechum," i said, "is to pull yourself together, and jolly quick, too. as things are shaping, you're due for anasty knock before you know what's hit you. you've got to make an effort.don't say you can't. this two quid business shows that, even ifyour memory is rocky, you can remember some
things. what you've got to do is to see thatwedding anniversaries and so on are included in the list.it may be a brainstrain, but you can't get out of it." "i suppose you're right," said bobbie."but it beats me why she thinks such a lot of these rotten little dates. what's it matter if i forgot what day wewere married on or what day she was born on or what day the cat had the measles?she knows i love her just as much as if i were a memorizing freak at the halls."
"that's not enough for a woman," i said."they want to be shown. bear that in mind, and you're all right.forget it, and there'll be trouble." he chewed the knob of his stick. "women are frightfully rummy," he saidgloomily. "you should have thought of that before youmarried one," i said. i don't see that i could have done anymore. i had put the whole thing in a nutshell forhim. you would have thought he'd have seen thepoint, and that it would have made him brace up and get a hold on himself.but no.
off he went again in the same old way. i gave up arguing with him.i had a good deal of time on my hands, but not enough to amount to anything when itwas a question of reforming dear old bobbie by argument. if you see a man asking for trouble, andinsisting on getting it, the only thing to do is to stand by and wait till it comes tohim. after that you may get a chance. but till then there's nothing to be done.but i thought a lot about him. bobbie didn't get into the soup all atonce.
weeks went by, and months, and stillnothing happened. now and then he'd come into the club with akind of cloud on his shining morning face, and i'd know that there had been doings inthe home; but it wasn't till well on in the spring that he got the thunderbolt just where he had been asking for it--in thethorax. i was smoking a quiet cigarette one morningin the window looking out over piccadilly, and watching the buses and motors going upone way and down the other--most interesting it is; i often do it--when in rushed bobbie, with his eyes bulging andhis face the colour of an oyster, waving a
piece of paper in his hand."reggie," he said. "reggie, old top, she's gone!" "gone!"i said. "who?""mary, of course! gone! left me!gone!" "where?"i said. silly question? perhaps you're right.anyhow, dear old bobbie nearly foamed at
the mouth."where? how should i know where? here, read this."he pushed the paper into my hand. it was a letter."go on," said bobbie. "read it." so i did.it certainly was quite a letter. there was not much of it, but it was all tothe point. this is what it said: "my dear bobbie,--i am going away.when you care enough about me to remember
to wish me many happy returns on mybirthday, i will come back. my address will be box 341, london morningnews." i read it twice, then i said, "well, whydon't you?" "why don't i what?" "why don't you wish her many happy returns?it doesn't seem much to ask." "but she says on her birthday.""well, when is her birthday?" "can't you understand?" said bobbie. "i've forgotten.""forgotten!" i said."yes," said bobbie.
"forgotten." "how do you mean, forgotten?"i said. "forgotten whether it's the twentieth orthe twenty-first, or what? how near do you get to it?" "i know it came somewhere between the firstof january and the thirty-first of december.that's how near i get to it." "think." "think?what's the use of saying 'think'? think i haven't thought?i've been knocking sparks out of my brain
ever since i opened that letter." "and you can't remember?""no." i rang the bell and ordered restoratives. "well, bobbie," i said, "it's a pretty hardcase to spring on an untrained amateur like me. suppose someone had come to sherlock holmesand said, 'mr. holmes, here's a case for you.when is my wife's birthday?' wouldn't that have given sherlock a jolt? however, i know enough about the game tounderstand that a fellow can't shoot off
his deductive theories unless you start himwith a clue, so rouse yourself out of that pop-eyed trance and come across with two orthree. for instance, can't you remember the lasttime she had a birthday? what sort of weather was it? that might fix the month."bobbie shook his head. "it was just ordinary weather, as near as ican recollect." "warm?" "warmish.""or cold?" "well, fairly cold, perhaps.i can't remember."
i ordered two more of the same. they seemed indicated in the youngdetective's manual. "you're a great help, bobbie," i said."an invaluable assistant. one of those indispensable adjuncts withoutwhich no home is complete." bobbie seemed to be thinking."i've got it," he said suddenly. "look here. i gave her a present on her last birthday.all we have to do is to go to the shop, hunt up the date when it was bought, andthe thing's done." "absolutely.
what did you give her?"he sagged. "i can't remember," he said.getting ideas is like golf. some days you're right off, others it's aseasy as falling off a log. i don't suppose dear old bobbie had everhad two ideas in the same morning before in his life; but now he did it without aneffort. he just loosed another dry martini into theundergrowth, and before you could turn round it had flushed quite a brain-wave.do you know those little books called when were you born? there's one for each month.they tell you your character, your talents,
your strong points, and your weak points atfourpence halfpenny a go. bobbie's idea was to buy the whole twelve,and go through them till we found out which month hit off mary's character.that would give us the month, and narrow it down a whole lot. a pretty hot idea for a non-thinker likedear old bobbie. we sallied out at once.he took half and i took half, and we settled down to work. as i say, it sounded good.but when we came to go into the thing, we saw that there was a flaw.
there was plenty of information all right,but there wasn't a single month that didn't have something that exactly hit off mary. for instance, in the december book it said,"december people are apt to keep their own secrets.they are extensive travellers." well, mary had certainly kept her secret,and she had travelled quite extensively enough for bobbie's needs.then, october people were "born with original ideas" and "loved moving." you couldn't have summed up mary's littlejaunt more neatly. february people had "wonderful memories"--mary's speciality.
we took a bit of a rest, then had anothergo at the thing. bobbie was all for may, because the booksaid that women born in that month were "inclined to be capricious, which is alwaysa barrier to a happy married life"; but i plumped for february, because february women "are unusually determined to havetheir own way, are very earnest, and expect a full return in their companion or mates."which he owned was about as like mary as anything could be. in the end he tore the books up, stamped onthem, burnt them, and went home. it was wonderful what a change the next fewdays made in dear old bobbie.
have you ever seen that picture, "thesoul's awakening"? it represents a flapper of sorts gazing ina startled sort of way into the middle distance with a look in her eyes that seemsto say, "surely that is george's step i hear on the mat! can this be love?"well, bobbie had a soul's awakening too. i don't suppose he had ever troubled tothink in his life before--not really think. but now he was wearing his brain to thebone. it was painful in a way, of course, to seea fellow human being so thoroughly in the soup, but i felt strongly that it was allfor the best.
i could see as plainly as possible that allthese brainstorms were improving bobbie out of knowledge. when it was all over he might possiblybecome a rotter again of a sort, but it would only be a pale reflection of therotter he had been. it bore out the idea i had always had thatwhat he needed was a real good jolt. i saw a great deal of him these days.i was his best friend, and he came to me for sympathy. i gave it him, too, with both hands, but inever failed to hand him the moral lesson when i had him weak.
one day he came to me as i was sitting inthe club, and i could see that he had had an idea.he looked happier than he had done in weeks. "reggie," he said, "i'm on the trail.this time i'm convinced that i shall pull it off.i've remembered something of vital importance." "yes?"i said. "i remember distinctly," he said, "that onmary's last birthday we went together to the coliseum.
how does that hit you?""it's a fine bit of memorizing," i said; "but how does it help?""why, they change the programme every week there." "ah!"i said. "now you are talking.""and the week we went one of the turns was professor some one's terpsichorean cats. i recollect them distinctly.now, are we narrowing it down, or aren't we? reggie, i'm going round to the coliseumthis minute, and i'm going to dig the date
of those terpsichorean cats out of them, ifi have to use a crowbar." so that got him within six days; for themanagement treated us like brothers; brought out the archives, and ran agilefingers over the pages till they treed the cats in the middle of may. "i told you it was may," said bobbie."maybe you'll listen to me another time." "if you've any sense," i said, "there won'tbe another time." and bobbie said that there wouldn't. once you get your money on the run, itparts as if it enjoyed doing it. i had just got off to sleep that night whenmy telephone-bell rang.
it was bobbie, of course. he didn't apologize."reggie," he said, "i've got it now for certain.it's just come to me. we saw those terpsichorean cats at amatinee, old man." "well, don't you see that that brings itdown to two days? it must have been either wednesday theseventh or saturday the tenth." "yes," i said, "if they didn't have dailymatinees at the coliseum." i heard him give a sort of howl."bobbie," i said. my feet were freezing, but i was fond ofhim.
"well?""i've remembered something too. it's this. the day you went to the coliseum i lunchedwith you both at the ritz. you had forgotten to bring any money withyou, so you wrote a cheque." "but i'm always writing cheques." "you are.but this was for a tenner, and made out to the hotel. hunt up your cheque-book and see how manycheques for ten pounds payable to the ritz hotel you wrote out between may the fifthand may the tenth."
he gave a kind of gulp. "reggie," he said, "you're a genius.i've always said so. i believe you've got it.hold the line." presently he came back again. "halloa!" he said."i'm here," i said. "it was the eighth.reggie, old man, i----" "topping," i said. "good night."it was working along into the small hours now, but i thought i might as well make anight of it and finish the thing up, so i
rang up an hotel near the strand. "put me through to mrs. cardew," i said."it's late," said the man at the other end. "and getting later every minute," i said."buck along, laddie." i waited patiently. i had missed my beauty-sleep, and my feethad frozen hard, but i was past regrets. "what is the matter?" said mary's voice."my feet are cold," i said. "but i didn't call you up to tell you thatparticularly. i've just been chatting with bobbie, mrs.cardew." "oh! is that mr. pepper?"
"yes.he's remembered it, mrs. cardew." she gave a sort of scream.i've often thought how interesting it must be to be one of those exchange girls. the things they must hear, don't you know.bobbie's howl and gulp and mrs. bobbie's scream and all about my feet and all that.most interesting it must be. "he's remembered it!" she gasped. "did you tell him?""no." well, i hadn't."mr. pepper." "yes?"
"was he--has he been--was he very worried?"i chuckled. this was where i was billed to be the lifeand soul of the party. "worried! he was about the most worried man betweenhere and edinburgh. he has been worrying as if he was paid todo it by the nation. he has started out to worry afterbreakfast, and----" oh, well, you can never tell with women. my idea was that we should pass the rest ofthe night slapping each other on the back across the wire, and telling each otherwhat bally brainy conspirators we were,
don't you know, and all that. but i'd got just as far as this, when shebit at me. absolutely!i heard the snap. and then she said "oh!" in that choked kindof way. and when a woman says "oh!" like that, itmeans all the bad words she'd love to say if she only knew them. and then she began."what brutes men are! what horrid brutes! how you could stand by and see poor dearbobbie worrying himself into a fever, when
a word from you would have put everythingright, i can't----" "but----" "and you call yourself his friend!his friend!" (metallic laugh, most unpleasant.)"it shows how one can be deceived. i used to think you a kind-hearted man." "but, i say, when i suggested the thing,you thought it perfectly----" "i thought it hateful, abominable.""but you said it was absolutely top----" "i said nothing of the kind. and if i did, i didn't mean it.
i don't wish to be unjust, mr. pepper, buti must say that to me there seems to be something positively fiendish in a man whocan go out of his way to separate a husband from his wife, simply in order to amusehimself by gloating over his agony----" "but----!""when one single word would have----" "but you made me promise not to----" ibleated. "and if i did, do you suppose i didn'texpect you to have the sense to break your promise?" i had finished.i had no further observations to make. i hung up the receiver, and crawled intobed.
i still see bobbie when he comes to theclub, but i do not visit the old homestead. he is friendly, but he stops short ofissuing invitations. i ran across mary at the academy last week,and her eyes went through me like a couple of bullets through a pat of butter. and as they came out the other side, and ilimped off to piece myself together again, there occurred to me the simple epitaphwhich, when i am no more, i intend to have inscribed on my tombstone. it was this: "he was a man who acted fromthe best motives. there is one born every minute."