Тема: Вудхаус П. Г. - Дживс в отпуске на английском языке
Пэлем Грэнвил Вудхауз. Дживс в отпуске
Jeeves placed the sizzling eggs and b. on the breakfast table, and
Reginald ('Kipper') Herring and I, licking the lips, squared our elbows
and got down to it. A lifelong buddy of mine, this Herring, linked to
me by what are called imperishable memories. Years ago, when
striplings, he and I had done a stretch together at Malvern House,
Bramley-on-Sea, the preparatory school conducted by that prince of
stinkers, Aubrey Upjohn MA, and had frequently stood side by side in
the Upjohn study awaiting the receipt of six of the juiciest from a
cane of the type that biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder,
as the fellow said. So we were, you might say, rather like a couple of
old sweats who had fought shoulder to shoulder on Crispin's Day, if
I've got the name right.
The plat du jour having gone down the hatch, accompanied by some
fluid ounces of strengthening coffee, I was about to reach for the
marmalade, when I heard the telephone tootling out in the hall and rose
to attend to it.
'Bertram Wooster's residence, 'I said, having connected with the
instrument. 'Wooster in person at this end. Oh hullo, ' I added, for
the voice that boomed over the wire was that of Mrs Thomas
Portarlington Travers of Brinkley Court, Market Snodsbury, near
Droitwich - or, putting it another way, my good and deserving Aunt
Dahlia. 'A very hearty pip-pip to you, old ancestor, ' I said, well
pleased, for she is a woman with whom it is always a privilege to chew
'And a rousing toodle-oo to you, you young blot on the landscape,'
she replied cordially. 'I'm surprised to find you up as early as this.
Or have you just got in from a night on the tiles?'
I hastened to rebut this slur.
'Certainly not. Nothing of that description whatsoever. I've been
upping with the lark this last week, to keep Kipper Herring company.
He's staying with me till he can get into his new flat. You remember
old Kipper? I brought him down to Brinkley one summer. Chap with a
'I know who you mean. Looks like Jack Dempsey.'
'That's right. Far more, indeed, than Jack Dempsey does. He's on the
staff of the Thursday Review, a periodical of which you may or may not
be a reader, and has to clock in at the office at daybreak. No doubt,
when I apprise him of your call, he will send you his love, for I know
he holds you in high esteem. The perfect hostess, he often describes
you as. Well, it's nice to hear your voice again, old flesh-and-blood.
How's everything down Market Snodsbury way?'
'Oh, we're jogging along. But I'm not speaking from Brinkley. I'm in
'Driving back this afternoon.'
'I'll give you lunch.'
'Sorry, can't manage it. I'm putting on the nosebag with Sir
This surprised me. The eminent brain specialist to whom she alluded
was a man I would not have cared to lunch with myself, our relations
having been on the stiff side since the night at Lady Wickham's place
in Hertfordshire when, acting on the advice of my hostess's daughter
Roberta, I had punctured his hot-water bottle with a darning needle in
the small hours of the morning. Quite unintentional, of course. I had
planned to puncture the h-w-b of his nephew Tuppy Glossop, with whom I
had a feud on, and unknown to me they had changed rooms, fust one of
those unfortunate misunderstandings.
'What on earth are you doing that for?'
'Why shouldn't I? He's paying.'
I saw her point - a penny saved is a penny earned and all that sort
of thing - but I continued surprised. It amazed me that Aunt Dahlia,
presumably a free agent, should have selected this very formidable
loony-doctor to chew the mid-day chop with. However, one of the first
lessons life teaches us is that aunts will be aunts, so I merely
shrugged a couple of shoulders.
'Well, it's up to you, of course, but it seems a rash act. Did you
come to London just to revel with Glossop?'
'No, I'm here to collect my new butler and take him home with me.'
'New butler? What's become of Seppings?'
I clicked the tongue. I was very fond of the major-domo in question,
having enjoyed many a port in his pantry, and this news saddened me.
'No, really?' I said. 'Too bad. I thought he looked a little frail
when I last saw him. Well, that's how it goes. All flesh is grass, I
'To Bognor Regis, for his holiday.'
I unclicked the tongue.
'Oh, I see. That puts a different complexion on the matter. Odd how
all these pillars of the home seem to be dashing away on toots these
days. It's like what Jeeves was telling me about the great race
movements of the Middle Ages. Jeeves starts his holiday this morning.
He's off to Herne Bay for the shrimping, and I'm feeling like that bird
in the poem who lost his pet gazelle or whatever the animal was. I
don't know what I'm going to do without him.'
'I'll tell you what you're going to do. Have you a clean shirt?'
'And a toothbrush?'
'Two, both of the finest quality.'
'Then pack them. You're coming to Brinkley tomorrow.'
The gloom which always envelops Bertram Wooster like a fog when
Jeeves is about to take his annual vacation lightened perceptibly.
There are few things I find more agreeable than a sojourn at Aunt
Dahlia's rural lair. Picturesque scenery, gravel soil, main drainage,
company's own water and, above all, the superb French cheffing of her
French chef Anatole, God's gift to the gastric juices. A full hand, as
you might put it.
'What an admirable suggestion,' I said. 'You solve all my problems
and bring the blue bird out of a hat. Rely on me. You will observe me
bowling up in the Wooster sports model tomorrow afternoon with my hair
in a braid and a song on my lips. My presence will, I feel sure,
stimulate Anatole to new heights of endeavour. Got anybody else staying
at the old snake pit?'
'Five inmates in all.'
'Five?' I resumed my tongue-clicking. 'Golly! Uncle Tom must be
frothing at the mouth a bit,' I said, for I knew the old buster's
distaste for guests in the home. Even a single weekender is sometimes
enough to make him drain the bitter cup.
'Tom's not there. He's gone to Harrogate with Cream.'
'You mean lumbago.'
'I don't mean lumbago. I mean Cream. Homer Cream. Big American
tycoon, who is visiting these shores. He suffers from ulcers, and his
medicine man has ordered him to take the waters at Harrogate. Tom has
gone with him to hold his hand and listen to him of an evening while he
tells him how filthy the stuff tastes.'
'I mean altruistic. You are probably not familiar with the word, but
it's one I've heard Jeeves use. It's what you say of a fellow who gives
selfless service, not counting the cost.'
'Selfless service, my foot! Tom's in the middle of a very important
business deal with Cream. If it goes through, he'll make a packet free
of income tax. So he's sucking up to him like a Hollywood Yes-man.'
I gave an intelligent nod, though this of course was wasted on her
because she couldn't see me. I could readily understand my uncle-by-
marriage's mental processes. T. Portarlington Travers is a man who has
accumulated the pieces of eight in sackfuls, but he is always more than
willing to shove a bit extra away behind the brick in the fireplace,
feeling - and rightly -that every little bit added to what you've got
makes just a little bit more. And if there's one thing that's right up
his street, it is not paying income tax. He grudges every penny the
Government nicks him for.
'That is why, when kissing me goodbye, he urged me with tears in his
eyes to lush Mrs Cream and her son Willie up and treat them like
royalty. So they're at Brinkley, dug into the woodwork.'
'Willie, did you say?'
'Short for Wilbert.'
I mused. Willie Cream. The name seemed familiar somehow. I seemed to
have heard it or seen it in the papers somewhere. But it eluded me.
'Adela Cream writes mystery stories. Are you a fan of hers? No?
Well, start boning up on them, directly you arrive, because every
little helps. I've bought a complete set. They're very good.'
'I shall be delighted to run an eye over her material,' I said, for
I am what they call an a-something of novels of suspense. Aficionado,
would that be it? 'I can always do with another corpse or two. We have
established, then, that among the inmates are this Mrs Cream and her
son Wilbert. Who are the other three?'
'Well, there's Lady Wickham's daughter Roberta.'
I started violently, as if some unseen hand had goosed me.
'What! Bobbie Wickham? Oh, my gosh!'
'Why the agitation? Do you know her?'
'You bet I know her.'
'I begin to see Is she one of the gaggle of girls you've been
'Not actually, no. We were never engaged. But that was merely
because she wouldn't meet me half-way.'
'Turned you down, did she?'
'Yes, thank goodness '
'Why thank goodness? She's a one-girl beauty chorus '
'She doesn't try the eyes, I agree.'
'A pippin, if ever there was one.'
'Very true, but is being a pippin everything? What price the soul?'
'Isn't her soul like mother makes?'
'Far from it. Much below par. What I could tell you ... But no, let
it go Painful subj.'
I had been about to mention fifty-seven or so of the reasons why the
prudent operator, if he valued his peace of mind, deemed it best to
stay well away from the red-headed menace under advisement, but
realized that at a moment when I was wanting to get back to the
marmalade it would occupy too much time. It will be enough to say that
I had long since come out of the ether and was fully cognizant of the
fact that in declining to fall in with my suggestion that we should
start rounding up clergymen and bridesmaids, the beasel had rendered me
a signal service, and I'll tell you why.
Aunt Dahlia, describing this young blister as a one-girl beauty
chorus, had called her shots perfectly correctly. Her outer crust was
indeed of a nature to cause those beholding it to rock back on their
heels with a startled whistle But while equipped with eyes like twin
stars, hair ruddier than the cherry, oomph, espieglene and all the
fixings, B. Wickham had also the disposition and general outlook on
life of a ticking bomb In her society you always had the uneasy feeling
that something was likely to go off at any moment with a pop. You never
knew what she was going to do next or into what murky depths of soup
she would carelessly plunge you.
'Miss Wickham, sir,' Jeeves had once said to me warningly at the
time when the fever was at its height, 'lacks seriousness She is
volatile and frivolous. I would always hesitate to recommend as a life
partner a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair.'
His judgment was sound I have already mentioned how with her subtle
wiles this girl had induced me to sneak into Sir Roderick Glossop's
sleeping apartment and apply the darning needle to his hot-water
bottle, and that was comparatively mild going for her. In a word,
Roberta, daughter of the late Sir Cuthbert and Lady Wickham of
Skeldings Hall, Herts, was pure dynamite and better kept at a distance
by all those who aimed at leading the peaceful life The prospect of
being immured with her in the same house, with all the facilities a
country-house affords an enterprising girl for landing her nearest and
dearest in the mulligatawny, made me singularly dubious about the shape
of things to come.
And I was tottering under this blow when the old relative
administered another, and it was a haymaker.
'And there's Aubrey Upjohn and his stepdaughter Phyllis Mills,' she
said That's the lot What's the matter with you? Got asthma?'
I took her to be alluding to the sharp gasp which had escaped my
lips, and I must confess that it had come out not unlike the last words
of a dying duck. But I felt perfectly justified in gasping A weaker man
would have howled like a banshee. There floated into my mind something
Kipper Herring had once said to me. 'You know, Bertie,' he had said, in
philosophical mood, 'we have much to be thankful for in this life of
ours, you and I However rough the going, there is one sustaining
thought to which we can hold. The storm clouds may lower and the
horizon grow dark, we may get a nail in our shoe and be caught in the
rain without an umbrella, we may come down to breakfast and find that
someone else has taken the brown egg, but at least we have the
consolation of knowing that we shall never see Aubrey Gawd-help-us
Upjohn again. Always remember this in times of despondency,' he said,
and I always had. And now here the bounder was, bobbing up right in my
midst. Enough to make the stoutest-hearted go into his dying-duck
'Aubrey Upjohn?' I quavered. 'You mean my Aubrey Upjohn?'
'That's the one. Soon after you made your escape from his chain gang
he married Jane Mills, a friend of mine with a colossal amount of
money. She died, leaving a daughter. I'm the daughter's godmother.
Upjohn's retired now and going in for politics. The hot tip is that the
boys in the back room are going to run him as the Conservative
candidate in the Market Snodsbury division at the next by-election.
What a thrill it'll be for you, meeting him again. Or does the prospect
'Certainly not. We Woosters are intrepid. But what on earth did you
invite him to Brinkley for?'