Re: Вудхаус П. Г. - Дживс в отпуске на английском языке

'Great help to the vocabulary.'
     'Yes. She was delighted when I told her I was coming home. She wants
to have a long talk.'
     'About me, no doubt?'
     'Yes,  I  expect  your name will crop up. But I mustn't  stay  here
chatting with you, Bertie. If I don't get started, I shan't hit the old
nest till daybreak. It's a pity you made such a mess of things. Poor Mr
Travers, he'll be broken-hearted. Still, into each life some rain  must
fall,' she said, and drove off, spraying gravel in all directions.
     If  Jeeves  had  been there, I would have turned to  him  and  said
'Women,  Jeeves!',  and  he  would have said  'Yes,  sir'  or  possibly
'Precisely,  sir', and this would have healed the bruised spirit  to  a
certain  extent, but as he wasn't I merely laughed a bitter  laugh  and
made  for  the lawn. A go at Ma Cream's goose-flesher might, I thought,
do something to soothe the vibrating ganglions.
     And  it did. I hadn't been reading long when drowsiness stole  over
me,  the tired eyelids closed, and in another couple of ticks I was off
to  dreamland, slumbering as soundly as if I had been the cat Augustus.
I  awoke  to  find  that some two hours had passed, and  it  was  while
stretching  the  limbs that I remembered I hadn't  sent  that  wire  to
Kipper Herring, inviting him to come and join the gang. I went to  Aunt
Dahlia's   boudoir   and  repaired  this  omission,   telephoning   the
communication  to someone at the post office who would have  been  well
advised  to  consult a good aurist. This done, I headed  for  the  open
spaces  again, and was approaching the lawn with a view to  getting  on
with  my  reading  when, hearing engine noises in  the  background  and
turning  to cast an eye in their direction, blow me tight if  I  didn't
behold Kipper alighting from his car at the front door.


     The distance from London to Brinkley Court being a hundred miles or
so  and not much more than two minutes having elapsed since I had  sent
off  that telegram, the fact that he was now outside the Brinkley front
door  struck me as quick service. It lowered the record of the chap  in
the  motoring sketch which Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright sometimes does  at
the Drones Club smoking concert where the fellow tells the other fellow
he's  going to drive to Glasgow and the other fellow says 'How  far  is
that?'  and the fellow says 'Three hundred miles' and the other  fellow
says 'How long will it take you to get there?' and the fellow says 'Oh,
about  half  an  hour, about half an hour.' The What-ho  with  which  I
greeted  the  back of his head as I approached was tinged, accordingly,
with a certain bewilderment.
     At the sound of the old familiar voice he spun around with something
of the agility of a cat on hot bricks, and I saw that his dial, usually
cheerful,  was  contorted with anguish, as if he had  swallowed  a  bad
oyster.  Guessing now what was biting him, I smiled one  of  my  subtle
smiles. I would soon, I told myself, be bringing the roses back to  his
     He  gulped a bit, then spoke in a hollow voice, like a spirit at  a
     'Hullo, Bertie.'
     'So there you are.'
     'Yes, here I am.'
     'I was hoping I might run into you.'
     'And now the dream's come true.'
     'You see, you told me you were staying here.'
     'How's everything?'
     'Pretty fruity.'
     'Your aunt well?'
     'You all right?'
     'More or less.'
     'Capital. Long time since I was at Brinkley.'
     'Nothing much changed, I mean.'
     'Well, that's how it goes.'
     He paused and did another splash of gulping, and I could see that we
were  about  to come to the nub, all that had gone before  having  been
merely what they call pour-parlers. I mean the sort of banana oil  that
passes  between statesmen at conferences conducted in an atmosphere  of
the  utmost cordiality before they tear their whiskers off and get down
to cases.
     I  was right. His face working as if the first bad oyster had  been
followed by a second with even more spin on the ball, he said:
     'I saw that thing in The Times, Bertie.'
     I  dissembled.  I ought, I suppose, to have started bringing  those
roses  back right away, but I felt it would be amusing to kid the  poor
fish along for a while, so I wore the mask.
     'Ah, yes. In The Times. That thing. Quite. You saw it, did you?'
     'At the club, after lunch. I couldn't believe my eyes.'
     Well,  I  hadn't been able to believe mine, either,  but  I  didn't
mention this. I was thinking how like Bobbie it was, when planning this
scheme of hers, not to have let him in on the ground floor. Slipped her
mind, I suppose, or she may have kept it under her hat for some strange
reason of her own. She had always been a girl who moved in a mysterious
way her wonders to perform.
     'And I'll tell you why I couldn't. You'll scarcely credit this, but
only a couple of days ago she was engaged to me.'
     'You don't say?'
     'Yes, I jolly well do.'
     'Engaged to you, eh?'
     'Up to the hilt. And all the while she must have been contemplating
this ghastly bit of treachery.'
     'A bit thick.'
     'If you can tell me anything that's thicker, I shall be glad to hear
it.  It  just  shows you what women are like. A frightful sex,  Bertie.
There  ought to be a law. I hope to live to see the day when women  are
no longer allowed.'
     'That  would rather put a stopper on keeping the human race  going,
wouldn't it?'
     'Well, who wants to keep the human race going?'
     'I see what you mean. Yes, something in that, of course.'
     He  kicked  petulantly  at  a passing beetle,  frowned  awhile  and
     'It's the cold, callous heartlessness of the thing that shocks  me.
Not  a  hint that she was proposing to return me to store. As  short  a
while  ago as last week, when we had a bite of lunch together, she  was
sketching out plans for the honeymoon with the greatest animation.  And
now this! Without a word of warning. You'd have thought that a girl who
was  smashing a fellow's life into hash would have dropped him a  line,
if only a postcard. Apparently that never occurred to her. She just let
me get the news from the morning paper. I was stunned.'
     'I bet you were. Did everything go black?'
     'Pretty black. I took the rest of the day thinking it over, and this
morning wangled leave from the office and got the car out and came down
here to tell you...'
     He paused, seeming overcome with emotion.
     'To  tell you that, whatever we do, we mustn't let this thing break
our old friendship.'
     'Of course not. Damn silly idea.'
     'It's such a very old friendship.'
     'I don't know when I've met an older.'
     'We were boys together.'
     'In Eton jackets and pimples.'
     'Exactly.  And more like brothers than anything. I would  share  my
last  bar  of almond rock with you, and you would cut me in fifty-fifty
on  your last bag of acid drops. When you had mumps, I caught them from
you,  and  when  I had measles, you caught them from me.  Each  helping
each.  So  we  must  carry  on regardless, just  as  if  this  had  not
     'The same old lunches.'
     'Oh, rather.'
     'And golf on Saturdays and the occasional game of squash. And  when
you are married and settled down, I shall frequently look in on you for
a cocktail.'
     'Yes, do.'
     'I will. Though I shall have to exercise an iron self-restraint  to
keep  me  from beaning that pie-faced little hornswoggler  Mrs  Bertram
Wooster, nee Wickham, with the shaker.'
     'Ought you to call her a pie-faced little hornswoggler?'
     'Why,  can you think of something worse?' he said, with the air  of
one always open to suggestions. 'Do you know Thomas Otway?'
     'I don't believe so. Pal of yours?'
     'Seventeenth-century  dramatist. Wrote The Orphan.  In  which  play
these  words occur. "What mighty ills have not been done by Woman?  Who
was't betrayed the Capitol? A woman. Who lost Marc Antony the world?  A
woman. Who was the cause of a long ten years' war and laid at last  old
Troy  in  ashes? Woman. Deceitful, damnable, destructive Woman."  Otway
knew what he was talking about He had the right slant. He couldn't have
put it better if he had known Roberta Wickham personally.'
     I  smiled  another subtle smile. I was finding all  this  extremely
     'I  don't  know  if  it's my imagination,  Kipper,'  I  said,  'but
something gives me the impression that at moment of going to press  you
aren't too sold on Bobbie.'
     He shrugged a shoulder.
     'Oh,  I wouldn't say that. Apart from wishing I could throttle  the
young twister with my bare hands and jump on the remains with hobnailed
boots,  I  don't feel much about her one way or the other. She  prefers
you to me, and there's nothing more to be said. The great thing is that
everything is all right between you and me.'
     'You  came  all  the way here just to make sure of that?'  I  said,
     'Well, there may possibly also have been an idea at the back of  my
mind  that  I  might get invited to dig in at one of those  dinners  of
Anatole's  before  going on to book a room at the "Bull  and  Bush"  in
Market Snodsbury. How is Anatole's cooking these days?'
     'Superber than ever.'
     'Continues to melt in the mouth, does it? It's two years since I bit
into his products, but the taste still lingers. What an artist!'
     'Ah!' I said, and would have bared my head, only I hadn't a hat on.
     'Would it run to a dinner invitation, do you think?'
     'My dear chap, of course. The needy are never turned from our door.'
     'Splendid. And after the meal I shall propose to Phyllis Mills.'
     'Yes, I know what you're thinking. She is closely related to Aubrey
Upjohn, you are saying to yourself. But surely, Bertie, she can't  help
     'More to be pitied than censured, you think?'
     'Exactly. We mustn't be narrow-minded. She is a sweet, gentle girl,
unlike certain scarlet-headed Delilahs who shall be nameless, and I  am
very fond of her.'
     'I thought you scarcely knew her.'
     'Oh  yes,  we saw quite a bit of one another in Switzerland.  We're
great buddies.'
     It seemed to me that the moment had come to bring the good news from
Aix to Ghent, as the expression is.
     'I don't know that I would propose to Phyllis Mills, Kipper. Bobbie
might not like it.'
     'But that's the whole idea, to show her she isn't the only onion in
the  stew  and that if she doesn't want me, there are others  who  feel
differently. What are you grinning about?'
     As a matter of fact, I was smiling subtly, but I let it go.
     'Kipper,' I said, 'I have an amazing story to relate.'
     I  don't  know  if  you  happen to take Old  Doctor  Gordon's  Bile
Magnesia,  which  when  the liver is disordered gives  instant  relief,
acting  like  magic and imparting an inward glow? I  don't  myself,  my
personal  liver being always more or less in mid-season form, but  I've
seen  the  advertisements.  They show the  sufferer  before  and  after
taking,  in  the  first case with drawn face and hollow  eyes  and  the
general  look of one shortly about to hand in his dinner pail,  in  the
second  all  beans and buck and what the French call bien  etre.  Well,
what  I'm  driving  at is that my amazing story had  exactly  the  same
effect on Kipper as the daily dose for adults ... He moved, he stirred,
he  seemed to feel the rush of life along his keel, and while  I  don't
suppose  he  actually  put on several pounds  in  weight  as  the  tale
proceeded, one got the distinct illusion that he was swelling like  one
of  those rubber ducks which you fill with air before inserting them in
the bath tub.
     'Well, I'll be blowed!' he said, when I had placed the facts before
him. 'Well, I'll be a son of a what not!'
     'I thought you would be.'
     'Bless her ingenious little heart! Not many girls would have got the
grey matter working like that.'
     'Very few.'
     'What a helpmeet! Talk about service and co-operation. Have you any
idea how the thing is working out?'
     'Rather smoothly, I think. On reading the announcement in The Times,
Wickham senior had hysterics and swooned in her tracks.'
     'She doesn't like you?'
     'That was the impression I got. It has been confirmed by subsequent
telegrams to Bobbie in which she refers to me as a guffin and  a  gaby.
She also considers me a nincompoop.'
     'Well, that's fine. It looks as though, after you, I shall come  to
her like ... it's on the tip of my tongue.'
     'Rare and refreshing fruit?'
     'Exactly. If you care to have a bet on it, five bob will get you ten
that this scenario will end with a fade-out of Lady Wickham folding  me
in her arms and kissing me on the brow and saying she knows I will make
her little girl happy. Gosh, Bertie, when I think that she - Bobbie,  I
mean,  not  Lady  Wickham - will soon be mine and  that  shortly  after
yonder sun has set I shall be tucking into one of Anatole's dinners,  I
could  dance a saraband. By the way, talking of dinner, do you  suppose
it  would also run to a bed? The "Bull and Bush" is well spoken  of  in
the  Automobile Guide, but I'm always a bit wary of these country pubs.
I'd  much  rather  be at Brinkley Court, of which  I  have  such  happy
memories. Could you swing it with your aunt?'
     'She isn't here. She left to minister to her son Bonzo, who is down
with  German measles at his school. But she rang up this afternoon  and
instructed me to wire you to come and make a prolonged stay.'
     'You're pulling my leg.'
     'No, this is official.'
     'But what made her think of me?'
     'There's something she wants you to do for her.'
     'She  can  have anything she asks, even unto half my kingdom.  What
does she ...' He paused, and a look of alarm came into his face. 'Don't
tell  me she wants me to present the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammer
School, like Gussie?'
     He  was  alluding to a mutual friend of ours of the name of  Gussie
Fink-Nottle,  who, hounded by the aged relative into  undertaking  this
task  in the previous summer, had got pickled to the gills and made  an
outstanding  exhibition of himself, setting up  a  mark  at  which  all
future orators would shoot in vain.
     'No, no, nothing like that. The prizes this year will be distributed
by Aubrey Upjohn.'
     'That's a relief. How is he, by the way? You've met him, of course?'
     'Oh, yes, we got together. I spilled some tea on him.'
     'You couldn't have done better.'
     'He's grown a moustache.'
     'That  eases my mind. I wasn't looking forward to seeing that  bare
upper  lip  of  his.  Remember how it used to make  us  quail  when  he
twitched  it at us? I wonder how he'll react when confronted  with  not
only  one former pupil but two, and those two the very brace that  have
probably haunted him in his dreams for the last fifteen years. Might as
well unleash me on him now.'
     'He isn't here.'
     'You said he was.'
     'Yes, he was and he will be, but he isn't. He's gone up to London.'
     'Isn't anybody here?'
     'Certainly. There's Phyllis Mills -'
     'Nice girl.'
     '  - and Mrs Homer Cream of New York City, NY, and her son Wilbert.
And  that  brings me to the something Aunt Dahlia wants you to  do  for
     I  was  pleased, as I put him hep on the Wilbert -Phyllis situation
and  revealed the part he was expected to play in it, to note  that  he
showed  no  signs  of  being about to issue the presidential  veto.  He
followed the set-up intelligently and when I had finished said that  of
course he would be only too willing to oblige. It wasn't much, he said,
to ask of a fellow who esteemed Aunt Dahlia as highly as he did and who
ever  since she had lushed him up so lavishly two summers ago had  been
wishing there was something he could do in the way of buying back.
     'Rely on me, Bertie,' he said. 'We can't have Phyllis tying herself
up  with  a  man who on the evidence would appear to be as nutty  as  a
fruit  cake.  I  will be about this Cream's bed and  about  his  board,
spying out all his ways. Every time he lures the poor girl into a leafy
glade,  I will be there, nestling behind some wild flower all ready  to
pop out and gum the game at the least indication that he is planning to
get  mushy. And now if you would show me to my room, I will have a bath
and brush-up so as to be all sweet and fresh for the evening meal. Does
Anatole still do those Timbales de ris de veau toulousaine?'
     'And the Sylphides a la creme d'ecrevisses.'
     'There  is none like him, none,' said Kipper, moistening  the  lips
with  the  tip  of  the tongue and looking like a wolf  that  has  just
spotted its Russian peasant. 'He stands alone.'


     As  I  hadn't  the  remotest which rooms were available  and  which
weren't, getting Kipper dug in necessitated ringing for Pop Glossop.  I
pressed the button and he appeared, giving me, as he entered, the  sort
of conspiratorial glance the acting secretary of a secret society would
have given a friend on the membership roll.
     'Oh, Swordfish,' I said, having given him a conspiratorial glance in
return,  for  one  always  likes to do the civil  thing,  'this  is  Mr
Herring, who has come to join our little group.'
     He bowed from the waist, not that he had much waist.
     'Good evening, sir.'
     'He will be staying some time. Where do we park him?'
     'The Red Room suggests itself, sir.'
     'You get the Red Room, Kipper.'
     'I  had it last year. 'Tis not as deep as a well nor as wide  as  a
church door, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve,' I said, recalling a gag of
Jeeves's. 'Will you escort Mr Herring thither, Swordfish?'
     'Very good, sir.'
     'And  when you have got him installed, perhaps I could have a  word
with you in your pantry,' I said, giving him a conspiratorial glance.
     'Certainly, sir,' he responded, giving me a conspiratorial glance.
     It was one of those big evenings for conspiratorial glances.
     I hadn't been waiting in the pantry long when he navigated over the
threshold,  and my first act was to congratulate him on the  excellence
of  his  technique. I had been much impressed by all that  'Very  good,
sir,' 'Certainly, sir,' bowing-from-the-waist stuff. I said that Jeeves
himself  couldn't have read his lines better, and he simpered  modestly
and said that one picked up these little tricks of the trade from one's
own butler.
     'Oh, by the way,' I said, 'where did you get the Swordfish?'
     He smiled indulgently.
     'That was Miss Wickham's suggestion.'
     'I thought as much.'
     'She  informed me that she had always dreamed of one day meeting  a
butler called Swordfish. A charming young lady. Full of fun.'
     'It  may be fun for her,' I said with one of my bitter laughs, 'but
it isn't so diverting for the unfortunate toads beneath the harrow whom
she  plunges  so ruthlessly in the soup. Let me tell you what  occurred
after I left you this afternoon.'
     'Yes, I am all eagerness to hear.'
     'Then pin your ears back and drink it in.'
     If  I  do say so, I told my story well, omitting no detail  however
slight.  It  had  him  Bless-my-soul-ing throughout,  and  when  I  had
finished  he  t'ck-t'ck-t'ck-ed  and  said  it  must  have  been   most
unpleasant for me, and I said that 'unpleasant' covered the facts  like
the skin on a sausage.
     'But  I  think  that  in your place I should  have  thought  of  an
explanation  of  your  presence  calculated  to  carry  more  immediate
conviction than that you were searching for a mouse.'
     'Such as?'
     'It is hard to say on the spur of the moment.'
     'Well,  it  was  on the spur of the m. that I had  to  say  it,'  I
rejoined  with  some heat. 'You don't get time to polish your  dialogue
and  iron out the bugs in the plot when a woman who looks like Sherlock
Holmes  catches you in her son's room with your rear elevation sticking
out from under the dressing-table.'
     'True. Quite true. But I wonder...'
     'Wonder what?'
     'I do not wish to hurt your feelings.'
     'Go ahead. My feelings have been hurt so much already that a little
bit extra won't make any difference.'
     'I may speak frankly?'
     'Well,  then, I am wondering if it was altogether wise  to  entrust
this  very  delicate operation to a young fellow like  yourself.  I  am
coming  round  to the view you put forward when we were discussing  the
matter  with Miss Wickham. You said, if you recall, that the enterprise
should  have been placed in the hands of a mature, experienced  man  of
the world and not in those of one of less ripe years who as a child had
never  been  expert at hunt-the-slipper. I am, you will agree,  mature,
and in my earlier days I won no little praise for my skill at hunt-the-
slipper.  I  remember  one of the hostesses whose Christmas  parties  I
attended   comparing  me  to  a  juvenile  bloodhound.  An  extravagant
encomium, of course, but that is what she said.'
     I looked at him with a wild surmise. It seemed to me that there was
but one meaning to be attached to his words.
     'You aren't thinking of having a pop at it yourself?'
     'That is precisely my intention, Mr Wooster.'
     'Lord love a duck!'
     'The expression is new to me, but I gather from it that you consider
my conduct eccentric.'
     'Oh,  I  wouldn't say that, but do you realize what you are letting
yourself in for? You won't enjoy meeting Ma Cream. She has an eye  like
... what are those things that have eyes? Basilisks, that's the name  I
was  groping  for. She has an eye like a basilisk. Have you  considered
the  possibility  of  having that eye go through you  like  a  dose  of


Re: Вудхаус П. Г. - Дживс в отпуске на английском языке

'Yes,  I  can  envisage the peril. But the fact is, Mr  Wooster,  I
regard what has happened as a challenge. My blood is up.'
     'Mine froze.'
     'And  you  may possibly not believe me, but I find the prospect  of
searching Mr Cream's room quite enjoyable.'
     'Yes. In a curious way it restores my youth. It brings back to me my
preparatory school days, when I would often steal down at night to  the
headmaster's study to eat his biscuits.'
     I  started. I looked at him with a kindling eye. Deep had called to
deep, and the cockles of the heart were warmed.
     'He kept them in a tin on his desk.'
     'You really used to do that at your prep school?'
     'Many years ago.'
     'So did I,' I said, coming within an ace of saying, 'My brother!'
     He  raised  his bushy eyebrows, and you could see that his  heart's
cockles were warmed, too.
     'Indeed? Fancy that! I had supposed the idea original with  myself,
but  no doubt all over England today the rising generation is doing the
same thing. So you too have lived in Arcady? What kind of biscuits were
yours? Mine were mixed.'
     'The ones with pink and white sugar on?'
     'In many instances, though some were plain.'
     'Mine were ginger nuts.'
     'Those are very good, too, of course, but I prefer the mixed.'
     'So do I. But you had to take what you could get in those days. Were
you ever copped?'
     'I am glad to say never.'
     'I was once. I can feel the place in frosty weather still.'
     'Too  bad.  But these things will happen. Embarking on the  present
venture, I have the sustaining thought that if the worst occurs  and  I
am apprehended, I can scarcely be given six of the best bending over  a
chair,  as  we  used to call it. Yes, you may leave this little  matter
entirely to me, Mr Wooster.'
     'I wish you'd call me Bertie.'
     'Certainly, certainly.'
     'And might I call you Roderick?'
     'I shall be delighted.'
     'Or Roddy? Roderick's rather a mouthful.'
     'Whichever you prefer.'
     'And you are really going to hunt the slipper?'
     'I  am resolved to do so. I have the greatest respect and affection
for your uncle and appreciate how deeply wounded he would be, were this
prized  object to be permanently missing from his collection.  I  would
never  forgive  myself if in the endeavour to recover his  property,  I
were to leave any -'
     'Stone unturned?'
     'I was about to say avenue unexplored. I shall strain every -'
     'I was thinking of the word nerve.'
     'Just as juste. You'll have to bide your time, of course.'
     'And await your opportunity.'
     'Opportunity knocks but once.'
     'So I understand.'
     'I'll  give you one tip. The thing isn't on top of the cupboard  or
     'Ah, that is helpful.'
     'Unless  of course he's put it there since. Well, anyway,  best  of
luck, Roddy.'
     'Thank you, Bertie.'
     If I had been taking Old Doctor Gordon's Bile Magnesia regularly, I
couldn't have felt more of an inward glow as I left him and headed  for
the  lawn  to get the Ma Cream book and return it to its place  on  the
shelves  of Aunt Dahlia's boudoir. I was lost in admiration of  Roddy's
manly  spirit. He was well stricken in years, fifty if a  day,  and  it
thrilled me to think that there was so much life in the old dog  still.
It  just  showed  ... well, I don't know what, but something.  I  found
myself  musing on the boy Glossop, wondering what he had been  like  in
his  biscuit-snitching days. But except that I knew  he  wouldn't  have
been  bald then, I couldn't picture him. It's often this way  when  one
contemplates one's seniors. I remember how amazed I was to  learn  that
my Uncle Percy, a tough old egg with apparently not a spark of humanity
in  him, had once held the metropolitan record for being chucked out of
Covent Garden Balls.
     I  got the book, and ascertaining after reaching Aunt Dahlia's lair
that there remained some twenty minutes before it would be necessary to
start  getting ready for the evening meal I took a seat and resumed  my
reading.  I  had  had to leave off at a point where Ma Cream  had  just
begun  to  spit on her hands and start filling the customers with  pity
and  terror. But I hadn't put more than a couple of clues  and  a  mere
sprinkling  of  human gore under my belt, when the door flew  open  and
Kipper  appeared. And as the eye rested on him, he too filled  me  with
pity and terror, for his map was flushed and his manner distraught.  He
looked like Jack Dempsey at the conclusion of his first conference with
Gene Tunney, the occasion, if you remember, when he forgot to duck.
     He lost no time in bursting into speech.
     'Bertie! I've been hunting for you all over the place!'
     'I was having a chat with Swordfish in his pantry. Something wrong?'
     'Something wrong!'
     'Don't you like the Red Room?'
     'The Red Room!'
     I  gathered from his manner that he had not come to beef about  his
sleeping accommodation.
     'Then what is your little trouble?'
     'My little trouble!'
     I felt that this sort of thing must be stopped at its source. It was
only  ten minutes to dressing-for-dinner time, and we could go on along
these lines for hours.
     'Listen, old crumpet,' I said patiently. 'Make up your mind whether
you  are  my  old  friend Reginald Herring or  an  echo  in  the  Swiss
mountains. If you're simply going to repeat every word I say -'
     At  this  moment  Pop Glossop entered with the  cocktails,  and  we
cheesed  the  give-and-take. Kipper drained his glass to the  lees  and
seemed  to become calmer. When the door closed behind Roddy and he  was
at liberty to speak, he did so quite coherently. Taking another beaker,
he said:
     'Bertie, the most frightful thing has happened.'
     I  don't  mind  saying that the heart did a bit of sinking.  In  an
earlier conversation with Bobbie Wickham it will be recalled that I had
compared Brinkley Court to one of those joints the late Edgar Allan Poe
used  to  write about. If you are acquainted with his works,  you  will
remember that in them it was always tough going for those who stayed in
country-houses, the visitor being likely at any moment to  encounter  a
walking  corpse  in a winding sheet with blood all over it.  Prevailing
conditions at Brinkley were not perhaps quite as testing as  that,  but
the atmosphere had undeniably become sinister, and here was Kipper more
than  hinting  that  he had a story to relate which  would  deepen  the
general feeling that things were hotting up.
     'What's the matter?' I said.
     'I'll tell you what's the matter,' he said.
     'Yes, do,' I said, and he did.
     'Bertie,' he said, taking a third one. 'I think you will understand
that  when  I read that announcement in The Times I was utterly  bowled
     'Oh quite. Perfectly natural.'
     'My head swam, and -'
     'Yes, you told me. Everything went black.'
     'I  wish  it had stayed black,' he said bitterly, 'but  it  didn't.
After awhile the mists cleared, and I sat there seething with fury. And
after  I  had seethed for a bit I rose from my chair, took pen in  hand
and wrote Bobbie a stinker.'
     'Oh, gosh!'
     'I put my whole soul into it.'
     'Oh, golly!'
     'I accused her in set terms of giving me the heave-ho in order that
she  could mercenarily marry a richer man. I called her a carrot-topped
Jezebel  whom  I was thankful to have got out of my hair.  I...  Oh,  I
can't remember what else I said but, as I say, it was a stinker.'
     'But you never mentioned a word about this when I met you.'
     'In  the ecstasy of learning that that Times thing was just a  ruse
and that she loved me still it passed completely from my mind. When  it
suddenly came back to me just now, it was like getting hit in  the  eye
with a wet fish. I reeled.'
     'Reeled.  I felt absolutely boneless. But I had enough strength  to
stagger  to  the telephone. I rang up Skeldings Hall and  was  informed
that she had just arrived.'
     'She must have driven like an inebriated racing motorist.'
     'No doubt she did. Girls will be girls. Anyway, she was there.  She
told me with a merry lilt in her voice that she had found a letter from
me  on  the  hall table and could hardly wait to open it. In a  shaking
voice I told her not to.'
     'So you were in time.'
     'In time, my foot! Bertie, you're a man of the world. You've known a
good  many  members of the other sex in your day. What does a  girl  do
when she is told not to open a letter?'
     I got his drift.
     'Opens it?'
     'Exactly. I heard the envelope rip, and the next moment... No,  I'd
rather not think of it.'
     'She took umbrage?'
     'Yes, and she also took my head off. I don't know if you have  ever
been in a typhoon on the Indian Ocean.'
     'No, I've never visited those parts.'
     'Nor have I, but from what people tell me what ensued must have been
very like being in one. She spoke for perhaps five minutes -'
     'By Shrewsbury clock.'
     'Nothing. What did she say?'
     'I can't repeat it all, and wouldn't if I could.'
     'And what did you say?'
     'I couldn't get a word in edgeways.'
     'One can't sometimes.'
     'Women talk so damn quick.'
     'How well I know it! And what was the final score?'
     'She said she was thankful that I was glad to have got her out of my
hair,  because she was immensely relieved to have got me out  of  hers,
and  that  I had made her very happy because now she was free to  marry
you, which had always been her dearest wish.'
     In  this hair-raiser of Ma Cream's which I had been perusing  there
was  a  chap of the name of Scarface McColl, a gangster of sorts,  who,
climbing  into the old car one morning and twiddling the starting  key,
went  up in fragments owing to a business competitor having inserted  a
bomb  in  his engine, and I had speculated for a moment, while reading,
as to how he must have felt. I knew now. Just as he had done, I rose. I
sprang to the door, and Kipper raised an eyebrow.
     'Am I boring you?' he said rather stiffly.
     'No, no. But I must go and get my car.'
     'You going for a ride?'
     'But it's nearly dinner-time.'
     'I don't want any dinner.'
     'Where are you going?'
     'Herne Bay.'
     'Why Herne Bay?'
     'Because Jeeves is there, and this thing must be placed in his hands
without a moment's delay.'
     'What can Jeeves do?'
     'That,' I said, 'I cannot say, but he will do something. If he  has
been  eating plenty of fish, as no doubt he would at a seashore resort,
his brain will be at the top of its form, and when Jeeves's brain is at
the top of its form, all you have to do is press a button and stand out
of the way while he takes charge.'


     It's considerably more than a step from Brinkley Court to Herne Bay,
the  one  being in the middle of Worcestershire and the  other  on  the
coast  of Kent, and even under the best of conditions you don't  expect
to do the trip in a flash. On the present occasion, held up by the Arab
steed getting taken with a fit of the vapours and having to be towed to
a garage for medical treatment, I didn't fetch up at journey's end till
well past midnight. And when I rolled round to Jeeves's address on  the
morrow, I was informed that he had gone out early and they didn't  know
when he would be back. Leaving word for him to ring me at the Drones, I
returned  to the metropolis and was having the pre-dinner keg of  nails
in the smoking-room when his call came through.
     'Mr Wooster? Good evening, sir. This is Jeeves.'
     'And not a moment too soon,' I said, speaking with the emotion of a
lost  lamb  which after long separation from the parent  sheep  finally
manages  to  spot it across the meadow. 'Where have you been  all  this
     'I had an appointment to lunch with a friend at Folkestone, sir, and
while  there  was  persuaded to extend my visit in  order  to  judge  a
seaside bathing belles contest.'
     'No, really? You do live, don't you?'
     'Yes, sir.'
     'How did it go off?'
     'Quite satisfactorily, sir, thank you.'
     'Who won?'
     'A  Miss  Marlene Higgins of Brixton, sir, with Miss Lana Brown  of
Tulse Hill and Miss Marilyn Bunting of Penge honourably mentioned.  All
most attractive young ladies.'
     'Extremely so.'
     'Well, let me tell you, Jeeves, and you can paste this in your hat,
shapeliness isn't everything in this world. In fact, it sometimes seems
to me that the more curved and lissome the members of the opposite sex,
the  more  likely  they  are to set Hell's foundations  quivering.  I'm
sorely  beset, Jeeves. Do you recall telling me once about someone  who
told somebody he could tell him something which would make him think  a
bit? Knitted socks and porcupines entered into it, I remember.'
     'I think you may be referring to the ghost of the father of Hamlet,
Prince  of  Denmark, sir. Addressing his son, he said "I could  a  tale
unfold  whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy  young
blood,  make  thy two eyes, like stars, start from their  spheres,  thy
knotted and combined locks to part and each particular hair to stand on
end like quills upon the fretful porpentine."'
     'That's right. Locks, of course, not socks. Odd that he should have
said  porpentine when he meant porcupine. Slip of the tongue, no doubt,
as  so  often happens with ghosts. Well, he had nothing on me,  Jeeves.
It's  a tale of that precise nature that I am about to unfold. Are  you
     'Yes, sir.'
     'Then hold on to your hat and don't miss a word.'
     When  I  had finished unfolding, he said, 'I can readily appreciate
your  concern,  sir.  The situation, as you say, is  one  fraught  with
anxiety,'  which is pitching it strong for Jeeves, he as a rule  coming
through with a mere 'Most disturbing, sir.'
     'I will come to Brinkley Court immediately, sir.'
     'Will you really? I hate to interrupt your holiday.'
     'Not at all, sir.'
     'You can resume it later.'
     'Certainly, sir, if that is convenient to you.'
     'But now -'
     'Precisely sir. Now, if I may borrow a familiar phrase -'
     ' - is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party?'
     'The  very  words I was about to employ, sir. I will  call  at  the
apartment at as early an hour tomorrow as is possible.'
     'And we'll drive down together. Right,' I said, and went off to  my
simple but wholesome dinner.
     It was with ... well, not quite an uplifted heart... call it a heart
lifted  about  half  way ... that I started out  for  Brinkley  on  the
following afternoon. The thought that Jeeves was at my side, his  fish-
fed  brain  at  my  disposal, caused a spot of silver lining  to  gleam
through  the storm clouds, but only a spot, for I was asking myself  if
even  Jeeves might not fail to find a solution of the problem that  had
raised  its  ugly  head. Admittedly expert though  he  was  at  joining
sundered  hearts, he had rarely been up against a rift within the  lute
so  complete  as that within the lute of Roberta Wickham  and  Reginald
Herring, and as I remember hearing him say once, 'tis not in mortals to
command  success. And at the thought of what would ensue,  were  he  to
fall  down  on the assignment, I quivered like something  in  aspic.  I
could  not  forget  that  Bobbie, while handing  Kipper  his  hat,  had
expressed  in set terms her intention of lugging me to the altar  rails
and  signalling to the clergyman to do his stuff. So as I  drove  along
the heart, as I have indicated, was uplifted only to a medium extent.
     When  we  were  out of the London traffic and it  was  possible  to
converse  without  bumping  into buses and  pedestrians,  I  threw  the
meeting open for debate.
     'You  have  not forgotten our telephone conversation  of  yestreen,
     'No, sir.'
     'You have the salient points docketed in your mind?'
     'Yes, sir.'
     'Have you been brooding on them?'
     'Yes, sir.'
     'Got a bite of any sort?'
     'Not yet, sir.'
     'No, I hardly expected you would. These things always take time.'
     'Yes, sir.'
     'The core of the matter is,' I said, twiddling the wheel to avoid a
passing  hen, 'that in Roberta Wickham we are dealing with  a  girl  of
high and haughty spirit.'
     'Yes, sir.'
     'And  girls  of  high and haughty spirit need kidding  along.  This
cannot be done by calling them carrot-topped Jezebels.'
     'No, sir.'
     'I know if anyone called me a carrot-topped Jezebel, umbrage is the
first  thing  I'd  take. Who was Jezebel, by the way?  The  name  seems
familiar, but I can't place her.'
     'A character in the Old Testament, sir. A queen of Israel.'
     'Of  course,  yes. Be forgetting my own name next. Eaten  by  dogs,
wasn't she?'
     'Yes, sir.'
     'Can't have been pleasant for her.'
     'No, sir.'
     'Still,  that's the way the ball rolls. Talking of being  eaten  by
dogs, there's a dachshund at Brinkley who when you first meet him  will
give you the impression that he plans to convert you into a light snack
between  his  regular meals. Pay no attention. It's  all  eyewash.  His
belligerent attitude is simply -'
     'Sound and fury signifying nothing, sir?'
     'That's it. Pure swank. A few civil words, and he will be grappling
you ... what's that expression I've heard you use?'
     'Grappling me to his soul with hoops of steel, sir?'
     'In the first two minutes. He wouldn't hurt a fly, but he has to put
up  a  front because his name's Poppet. One can readily appreciate that
when  a  dog  hears himself addressed day in and day out as Poppet,  he
feels he must throw his weight about. His self-respect demands it.'
     'Precisely, sir.'
     'You'll  like Poppet. Nice dog. Wears his ears inside out.  Why  do
dachshunds wear their ears inside out?'
     'I could not say, sir.'
     'Nor  me. I've often wondered. But this won't do, Jeeves.  Here  we
are,  yakking  about  Jezebels and dachshunds,  when  we  ought  to  be
concentrating our minds on...'
     I broke off abruptly. My eye had been caught by a wayside inn. Well,
not actually so much by the wayside inn as by what was standing outside
it  -  to wit, a scarlet roadster which I recognized instantly  as  the
property of Bobbie Wickham. One saw what had happened. Driving back  to
Brinkley after a couple of nights with Mother, she had found the  going
a  bit warm and had stopped off at this hostelry for a quick one. And a
very  sensible thing to do, too. Nothing picks one up more than a  spot
of sluicing on a hot summer afternoon.
     I applied the brakes.
     'Mind waiting here a minute, Jeeves?'
     'Certainly, sir. You wish to speak to Miss Wickham?'
     'Ah, you spotted her car?'
     'Yes, sir. It is distinctly individual.'
     'Like  its owner. I have a feeling that I may be able to accomplish
something  in the breach-healing way with a honeyed word or two.  Worth
trying, don't you think?'
     'Unquestionably, sir.'
     'At a time like this one doesn't want to leave any avenue unturned.'
     The interior of the wayside inn - the 'Fox and Goose', not that  it
matters - was like the interiors of all wayside inns, dark and cool and
smelling  of  beer,  cheese, coffee, pickles  and  the  sturdy  English
peasantry. Entering, you found yourself in a cosy nook with tankards on
the  walls and chairs and tables dotted hither and thither. On  one  of
the  chairs at one of the tables Bobbie was seated with a glass  and  a
bottle of ginger ale before her.
     'Good Lord, Bertie!' she said as I stepped up and what-ho-ed. 'Where
did you spring from?'
     I explained that I was on my way back to Brinkley from London in my
     'Be careful someone doesn't pinch it. I'll bet you haven't taken out
the keys.'
     'No, but Jeeves is there, keeping watch and ward, as you might say.'
     'Oh,  you've  brought  Jeeves with you? I thought  he  was  on  his
     'He very decently cancelled it.'
     'Pretty feudal.'
     'Very. When I told him I needed him at my side, he didn't hesitate.'
     'What do you need him at your side for?'
     The  moment had come for the honeyed word. I lowered my voice to  a
confidential murmur, but on her inquiring if I had laryngitis raised it
     'I had an idea that he might be able to do something.'
     'What about?'
     'About  you  and  Kipper,'  I said, and  started  to  feel  my  way
cautiously towards the core and centre. It would be necessary, I  knew,
to pick my words with c., for with girls of high and haughty spirit you
have to watch your step, especially if they have red hair, like Bobbie.
If  they  think you're talking out of turn, dudgeon ensues, and dudgeon
might  easily lead her to reach for the ginger ale bottle and  bean  me
with it. I don't say she would, but it was a possibility that had to be
taken into account. So I sort of eased into the agenda.
     'I must begin by saying that Kipper has given me a full eyewitness's
-  well, earwitness's I suppose you'd say -report of that chat you  and
he had over the telephone, and no doubt you are saying to yourself that
it  would  have been in better taste for him to have kept it under  his
hat.  But  you must remember that we were boys together, and  a  fellow
naturally confides in a chap he was boys together with. Anyway, be that
as  it  may,  he poured out his soul to me, and he hadn't been  pouring
long  before I was able to see that he was cut to the quick. His  blood
pressure was high, his eye rolled in what they call a fine frenzy,  and
he was death-where-is-thy-sting-ing like nobody's business.'
     I  saw her quiver and kept a wary eye on the ginger ale bottle. But
even  if  she had raised it and brought it down on the Wooster bean,  I
couldn't  have been more stunned than I was by the words that left  her
     'The poor lamb!'
     I had ordered a gin and tonic. I now spilled a portion of this.
     'Did you say poor lamb?'
     'You  bet  I said poor lamb, though "Poor sap" would perhaps  be  a
better  description.  Just imagine him taking all  that  stuff  I  said
seriously. He ought to have known I didn't mean it.'
     I groped for the gist.
     'You were just making conversation?'
     'Well, blowing off steam. For heaven's sake, isn't a girl allowed to
blow off some steam occasionally? I never dreamed it would really upset
him. Reggie always takes everything so literally.'
     'Then  is  the  position that the laughing love god  is  once  more
working at the old stand?'
     'Like a beaver.'
     'In fact, to coin a phrase, you're sweethearts still?'
     'Of course. I may have meant what I said at the time, but only  for
about five minutes.'
     I drew a deep breath, and a moment later wished I hadn't, because I
drew it while drinking the remains of my gin and tonic.
     'Does Kipper know of this?' I said, when I had finished coughing.
     'Not yet. I'm on my way to tell him.'
     I raised a point on which I particularly desired assurance.
     'Then what it boils down to is - No wedding bells for me?'
     'I'm afraid not.'
     'Quite all right. Anything that suits you.'
     'I don't want to get jugged for bigamy.'
     'No,  one  sees that. And your selection for the day is  Kipper.  I
don't blame you. The ideal mate.'
     'Just the way I look at it. He's terrific, isn't he?'
     'I  wouldn't  marry anyone else if they came to me  bringing  apes,
ivory and peacocks. Tell me what he was like as a boy.'
     'Oh, much the same as the rest of us.'


Re: Вудхаус П. Г. - Дживс в отпуске на английском языке

'Except, of course, for rescuing people from burning buildings  and
saving blue-eyed children from getting squashed by runaway horses.'
     'He did that a lot?'
     'Almost daily.'
     'Was he the Pride of the School?'
     'Oh, rather.'
     'Not that it was much of a school to be the pride of, from what  he
tells me. A sort of Dotheboys Hall, wasn't it?'
     'Conditions  under  Aubrey Upjohn were  fairly  tough.  One's  mind
reverts particularly to the sausages on Sunday.'
     'Reggie was very funny about those. He said they were made not from
contented  pigs but from pigs which had expired, regretted by  all,  of
glanders, the botts and tuberculosis.'
     'Yes, that would be quite a fair description of them, I suppose. You
going?' I said, for she had risen.
     'I  can't  wait  for another minute. I want to  fling  myself  into
Reggie's arms. If I don't see him soon, I shall pass out.'
     'I know how you feel. The chap in the Yeoman's Wedding Song thought
along  those  same lines, only the way he put it was "Ding  dong,  ding
dong, ding dong, I hurry along". At one time I often used to render the
number at village concerts, and there was a nasty Becher's Brook to get
over when you got to "For it is my wedding morning," because you had to
stretch  out  the  "mor" for about ten minutes, which tested  the  lung
power severely. I remember the vicar once telling me -'
     Here I was interrupted, as I'm so often interrupted when giving  my
views on the Yeoman's Wedding Song, by her saying that she was dying to
hear  all  about it but would rather wait till she could get it  in  my
autobiography. We went out together, and I saw her off and returned  to
where Jeeves kept his vigil in the car, all smiles. I was all smiles, I
mean,  not  Jeeves. The best he ever does is to let  his  mouth  twitch
slightly on one side, generally the left. I was in rare fettle, and the
heart had touched a new high. I don't know anything that braces one  up
like finding you haven't got to get married after all.
     'Sorry  to  keep  you waiting, Jeeves,' I said. 'Hope  you  weren't
     'Oh no, sir, thank you. I was quite happy with my Spinoza.'
     'The  copy of Spinoza's Ethics which you kindly gave me  some  time
     'Oh, ah, yes, I remember. Good stuff?'
     'Extremely, sir.'
     'I  suppose it turns out in the end that the butler did  it.  Well,
Jeeves, you'll be glad to hear that everything's under control.'
     'Indeed, sir?'
     'Yes,  rift in lute mended and wedding bells liable to ring out  at
any moment. She's changed her mind.'
     'Varium et mutabile semper femina, sir.'
     'I  shouldn't wonder. And now,' I said, climbing in and taking  the
wheel,  'I'll  unfold the tale of Wilbert and the cow-creamer,  and  if
that  doesn't make your knotted locks do a bit of starting  from  their
spheres, I for one shall be greatly surprised.'


     Arriving  at  Brinkley in the quiet evenfall and  putting  the  old
machine away in the garage, I noticed that Aunt Dahlia's car was  there
and gathered from this that the aged relative was around and about once
more. Nor was I in error. I found her in her boudoir getting outside  a
dish  of  tea and a crumpet. She greeted me with one of those  piercing
view-halloos which she had picked up on the hunting field in  the  days
when  she had been an energetic chivvier of the British fox. It sounded
like  a gas explosion and went through me from stem to stem. I've never
hunted  myself, but I understand that half the battle is being able  to
make  noises like some jungle animal with dyspepsia, and I believe that
Aunt  Dahlia  in her prime could lift fellow-members of the  Quorn  and
Pytchley out of their saddles with a single yip, though separated  from
them by two ploughed fields and a spinney.
     'Hullo, ugly,' she said. 'Turned up again, have you?'
     'Just this moment breasted the tape.'
     'Been to Herne Bay, young Herring tells me.'
     'Yes, to fetch Jeeves. How's Bonzo?'
     'Spotty but cheerful. What did you want Jeeves for?'
     'Well,  as  it  turns out, his presence isn't needed,  but  I  only
discovered that when I was half-way here. I was bringing him  along  to
meditate  ...  no, it isn't meditate ... to mediate, that's  the  word,
between Bobbie Wickham and Kipper. You knew they were betrothed?'
     'Yes, she told me.'
     'Did she tell you about shoving that thing in The Times saying  she
was engaged to me?'
     'I  was the first in whom she confided. I got a good laugh  out  of
     'More  than  Kipper did, because it hadn't occurred to  the  cloth-
headed  young  nitwit to confide in him. When he read the announcement,
he  reeled and everything went black. It knocked his faith in woman for
a  loop,  and  after seething for a while he sat down and wrote  her  a
letter in the Thomas Otway vein.'
     'In the who's vein?'
     'You  are  not  familiar  with  Thomas  Otway?  Seventeenth-century
dramatist,  celebrated for making bitter cracks about  the  other  sex.
Wrote a play called The Orphan, which is full of them.'
     'So you do read something beside the comics?'
     'Well,  actually I haven't steeped myself to any  great  extent  in
Thos's  output,  but Kipper told me about him. He held  the  view  that
women  are  a mess, and Kipper passed this information on to Bobbie  in
this letter of which I speak. It was a snorter.'
     'And you never thought of explaining to him, I suppose?'
     'Of course I did. But by that time she'd got the letter.'
     'Why didn't the idiot tell her not to open it?'
     'It  was  his  first  move. "I've found a  letter  from  you  here,
precious,"  she said. "On no account open it, angel," he  said.  So  of
course she opened it.'
     She  pursed  the lips, nodded the loaf, and ate a  moody  piece  of
     'So  that's why he's been going about looking like a dead  fish.  I
suppose Roberta broke the engagement?'
     'In a speech lasting five minutes without a pause for breath.'
     'And you brought Jeeves along to mediate?'
     'That was the idea.'
     'But if things have gone as far as that...'
     'You doubt whether even Jeeves can heal the rift?' I patted her  on
the  top knot. 'Dry the starting tear, old ancestor, it's healed. I met
her  at  a pub on the way here, and she told me that almost immediately
after  she had flipped her lid in the manner described she had a change
of  heart. She loves him still with a passion that's more like  boiling
oil  than anything, and when we parted she was tooling off to tell  him
so.  By  this time they must be like ham and eggs again. It's  a  great
burden off my mind, because, having parted brass rags with Kipper,  she
announced her intention of marrying me.'
     'A bit of luck for you, I should have thought.'
     'Far from it.'
     'Why? You were crazy about the girl once.' 'But no longer. The fever
has  passed, the scales have fallen from my eyes, and we're  just  good
friends.  The snag in this business of falling in love, aged  relative,
is  that  the parties of the first part so often get mixed up with  the
wrong  parties of the second part, robbed of their cooler  judgment  by
the  parties of the second part's glamour. Put it like this.  The  male
sex  is  divided into rabbits and non-rabbits and the female  sex  into
dashers and dormice, and the trouble is that the male rabbit has a  way
of  getting attracted by the female dasher (who would be fine  for  the
male  non-rabbit)  and realizing too late that he ought  to  have  been
concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he  could  settle
down peacefully and nibble lettuce.'
     'The  whole thing, in short, a bit of a mix-up?' 'Exactly. Take  me
and  Bobbie.  I yield to no one in my appreciation of her  espieglerie,
but  I'm one of the rabbits and always have been while she is about  as
pronounced a dasher as ever dashed. What I like is the quiet life,  and
Roberta Wickham wouldn't recognize the quiet life if you brought it  to
her  on a plate with watercress round it. She's all for not letting the
sun  go  down  without having started something calculated  to  stagger
humanity.  In a word, she needs the guiding hand, which is  a  thing  I
couldn't  supply  her with. Whereas from Kipper  she  will  get  it  in
abundance,  he  being one of those tough non-rabbits  for  whom  it  is
child's play to make the little woman draw the line somewhere. That  is
why  the union of these twain has my support and approval and why, when
she  told  me  all  that in the pub, I felt like doing a  buck-and-wing
dance. Where is Kipper? I should like to shake him by the hand and  pat
his back.'
     'He went on a picnic with Wilbert and Phyllis.'
     The significance of this did not escape me.
     'Tailing up stuff, eh? Right on the job, is he?'
     'Wilbert is constantly under his eye.'
     'And  if ever a man needed to be constantly under an eye, it's  the
above kleptomaniac.'
     'The what?'
     'Haven't you been told? Wilbert's a pincher.'
     'How do you mean, a pincher?'
     'He  pinches things. Everything that isn't nailed down is grist  to
his mill.'
     'Don't be an ass.'
     'I'm not being an ass. He's got Uncle Tom's cow-creamer.'
     'I know.'
     'You know?'
     'Of course I know.'
     Her ... what's the word? ... phlegm, is it? ... something beginning
with  a  p...  astounded me. I had expected to freeze her young  -  or,
rather,  middle-aged -blood and have her perm stand on end like  quills
upon the fretful porpentine, and she hadn't moved a muscle.
     'Beshrew me,' I said, 'you take it pretty calmly.'
     'Well, what's there to get excited about? Tom sold him the thing.'
     'Wilbert got in touch with him at Harrogate and put in his bid, and
Tom  phoned  me to give it to him. Just shows how important  that  deal
must  be to Tom. I'd have thought he would rather have parted with  his
     I  drew  a deep breath, this time fortunately unmixed with gin  and
tonic. I was profoundly stirred.
     'You  mean,'  said, my voice quavering like that  of  a  coloratura
soprano, 'that I went through that soul-shattering experience  all  for
     'Who's been shattering your soul, if any?'
     'Ma  Cream. By popping in while I was searching Wilbert's room  for
the loathsome object. Naturally I thought he'd swiped it and hidden  it
     'And she caught you?'
     'Not once, but twice.'
     'What did she say?'
     'She  recommended me to take treatment from Roddy Glossop, of whose
skill in ministering to the mentally afflicted she had heard such  good
reports.  One  sees  what gave her the idea. I was half-way  under  the
dressing-table at the moment, and no doubt she thought it odd.'
     'Bertie! How absolutely priceless!'
     The adjective 'priceless' seemed to me an ill-chosen one, and I said
so.  But  my  words were lost in the gale of mirth into which  she  now
exploded.  I had never heard anyone laugh so heartily, not even  Bobbie
on  the  occasion when the rake jumped up and hit me on the tip of  the
     'I'd have given fifty quid to have been there,' she said, when  she
was  able to get the vocal cords working. 'Half-way under the dressing-
table, were you?'
'The second time. When we first forgathered, I was sitting on the floor
with a chair round my neck.'
     'Like an Elizabethan ruff, as worn by Thomas Botway.'
     'Otway,' I said stiffly. As I have mentioned, I like to get  things
right.  And  I was about to tell her that what I had hoped for  from  a
blood  relation was sympathy and condolence rather than this  crackling
of  thorns under a pot, as it is sometimes called, when the door opened
and Bobbie came in.
     The  moment  I cast an eye on her, it seemed to me that  there  was
something  strange about her aspect. Normally, this beasel presents  to
the  world  the appearance of one who is feeling that if it  isn't  the
best of all possible worlds, it's quite good enough to be going on with
till  a  better one comes along. Verve, I mean, and animation  and  all
that sort of thing. But now there was a listlessness about her, not the
listlessness  of the cat Augustus but more that of the  female  in  the
picture  in the Louvre, of whom Jeeves, on the occasion when he  lugged
me there to take a dekko at her, said that here was the head upon which
all  the  ends of the world are come. He drew my attention, I remember,
to  the  weariness  of the eyelids. I got just the same  impression  of
weariness from Bobbie's eyelids.
     Unparting her lips which were set in a thin line as if she had just
been taking a suck at a lemon, she said:
     'I  came  to  get that book of Mrs Cream's that I was reading,  Mrs
     'Help yourself, child,' said the ancestor. 'The more people in this
joint  reading  her  stuff,  the  better.  It  all  goes  to  help  the
     'So you got here all right, Bobbie,' I said. 'Have you seen Kipper?'
     I wouldn't say she snorted, but she certainly sniffed.
     'Bertie,'  she said in a voice straight from the frigidaire,  'will
you do me a favour?'
     'Of course. What?'
     'Don't mention that rat's name in my presence,' she said, and pushed
off, the eyelids still weary.
     She  left me fogged and groping for the inner meaning, and I  could
see  from  Aunt Dahlia's goggling eyes that the basic idea  hadn't  got
across with her either.
'Well!'  she  said. 'What's all this? I thought you told me  she  loved
young Herring with a passion like boiling oil.'
     'That was her story.'
     'The oil seems to have gone off the boil. Yes, sir, if that was the
language  of love, I'll eat my hat,' said the blood relation, alluding,
I  took  it,  to the beastly straw contraption in which  she  does  her
gardening, concerning which I can only say that it is almost as foul as
Uncle  Tom's  Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, which  has  frightened  more
crows  than  any  other lid in Worcestershire. 'They must  have  had  a
     'It does look like it,' I agreed, 'and I don't understand how it can
have  happened considering that she left me with the love light in  her
eyes  and can't have been back here more than about half an hour. What,
one  asks oneself, in so short a time can have changed a girl  full  of
love  and  ginger  ale into a girl who speaks of the adored  object  as
"that rat" and doesn't want to hear his name mentioned? These are  deep
waters. Should I send for Jeeves?'
     'What on earth can Jeeves do?'
     'Well,  now  you put it that way, I'm bound to admit that  I  don't
know.  It's  just that one drops into the habit of sending  for  Jeeves
whenever  things have gone agley, if that's the word I'm  thinking  of.
Scotch,  isn't  it?  Agley, I mean. It sounds Scotch  to  me.  However,
passing  lightly over that, the thing to do when you want the  low-down
is  to  go  to  the fountainhead and get it straight from  the  horse's
mouth. Kipper can solve this mystery. I'll pop along and find him.'
     I was, however, spared the trouble of popping, for at this moment he
entered left centre.
     'Oh, there you are, Bertie,' he said. 'I heard you were back. I was
looking for you.'
     He  had  spoken in a low, husky sort of way, like a voice from  the
tomb,  and I now saw that he was exhibiting all the earmarks of  a  man
who  has  recently  had a bomb explode in his vicinity.  His  shoulders
sagged  and his eyes were glassy. He looked, in short, like the  fellow
who  hadn't  started to take Old Doctor Gordon's Bile Magnesia,  and  I
snapped  into  it without preamble. This was no time for being  tactful
and pretending not to notice.
     'What's  all this strained-relations stuff between you and  Bobbie,
Kipper?'  I  said,  and when he said, 'Oh, nothing,' rapped  the  table
sharply and told him to cut out the coy stuff and come clean.
     'Yes,' said Aunt Dahlia. 'What's happened, young Herring?'
     I  think for a moment he was about to draw himself up with  hauteur
and  say he would prefer, if we didn't mind, not to discuss his private
affairs,  but when he was half-way up he caught Aunt Dahlia's  eye  and
returned  to  position one. Aunt Dahlia's eye, while not  in  the  same
class  as that of my Aunt Agatha, who is known to devour her young  and
conduct  human  sacrifices at the time of the full moon,  has  lots  of
authority. He subsided into a chair and sat there looking filleted.
     'Well, if you must know,' he said, 'she's broken the engagement.'
     This didn't get us any farther. We had assumed as much. You don't go
calling people rats if love still lingers.
     'But it's only an hour or so,' I said, 'since I left her outside  a
hostelry called the "Fox and Goose", and she had just been giving you a
rave notice. What came unstuck? What did you do to the girl?'
     'Oh, nothing.'
     'Come, come!'
     'Well, it was this way.'
     There  was a pause here while he said that he would give a  hundred
quid  for a stiff whisky-and-soda, but as this would have involved  all
the  delay  of ringing for Pop Glossop and having it fetched  from  the
lowest  bin, Aunt Dahlia would have none of it. In lieu of the  desired
refreshment she offered him a cold crumpet, which he declined, and told
him to get on with it.
     'Where  I  went wrong,' he said, still speaking in that low,  husky
voice as if he had been a ghost suffering from catarrh, 'was in getting
engaged to Phyllis Mills.'
     'What?' I cried.
     'What?' cried Aunt Dahlia.
     'Egad!' I said.
     'What on earth did you do that for?' said Aunt Dahlia.
     He shifted uneasily in his chair, like a man troubled with ants  in
the pants.
'It  seemed a good idea at the time,' he said. 'Bobbie had told  me  on
the  telephone that she never wanted to speak to me again in this world
or  the  next, and Phyllis had been telling me that, while  she  shrank
from Wilbert Cream because of his murky past, she found him so magnetic
that she knew she wouldn't be able to refuse him if he proposed, and  I
had  been commissioned to stop him proposing, so I thought the simplest
thing to do was to get engaged to her myself. So we talked it over, and
having  reached a thorough understanding that it was simply a ruse  and
nothing binding on either side, we announced it to Cream.'
     'Very shrewd,' said Aunt Dahlia. 'How did he take it?'
     'He reeled.'
     'Lot of reeling there's been in this business,' I said. 'You reeled,
if  you  recollect, when you remembered you'd written  that  letter  to
     'And I reeled again when she suddenly appeared from nowhere just as
I was kissing Phyllis.'
     I pursed the lips. Getting a bit French, this sequence, it seemed to
     'There was no need for you to do that.'
     'No need, perhaps, but I wanted to make it look natural to Cream.'
     'Oh, I see. Driving it home, as it were?'
     'That was the idea. Of course I wouldn't have done it if I'd  known
that  Bobbie had changed her mind and wanted things to be as they  were
before that telephone
conversation.  But  I  didn't know. It's  just  one  of  life's  little
ironies. You get the same sort of thing in Thomas Hardy.'
     I knew nothing of this T. Hardy of whom he spoke, but I saw what he
meant.  It  was like what's always happening in the novels of suspense,
where the girl goes around saying, 'Had I but known.'
     'Didn't you explain?'
     He gave me a pitying look.
     'Have you ever tried explaining something to a red-haired girl who's
madder than a wet hen?'
     I took his point.
     'What happened then?'
     'Oh,  she was very lady-like. Talked amiably of this and that  till
Phyllis  had left us. Then she started in. She said she had raced  here
with  a  heart overflowing with love, longing to be in my arms,  and  a
jolly surprise it was to find those arms squeezing the stuffing out  of
another and ... Oh, well, a lot more along those lines. The trouble is,
she's  always  been  a  bit  squiggle-eyed about  Phyllis,  because  in
Switzerland  she held the view that we were a shade too matey.  Nothing
in it, of course.'
     'Just good friends?'
     'Well, if you want to know what I think,' said Aunt Dahlia.
     But we never did get around to knowing what she thought, for at this
moment Phyllis came in.


     Giving the wench the once-over as she entered, I found myself  well
able  to  understand why Bobbie on observing her entangled with  Kipper
had  exploded  with  so loud a report. I'm not myself,  of  course,  an
idealistic  girl  in love with a member of the staff  of  the  Thursday
Review  and  never have been, but if I were I know I'd get the  megrims
somewhat severely if I caught him in a clinch with anyone as personable
as  this  stepdaughter of Aubrey Upjohn, for though shaky  on  the  IQ,
physically  she  was  a  pipterino of the first water.  Her  eyes  were
considerably  bluer  than the skies above, she  was  wearing  a  simple
summer dress which accentuated rather than hid the graceful outlines of
her  figure,  if  you know what I mean, and it was not surprising  that
Wilbert Cream, seeing her, should have lost no time in reaching for the
book  of  poetry  and making a bee line with her to the  nearest  leafy
     'Oh, Mrs Travers,' she said, spotting Aunt Dahlia, 'I've just  been
talking to Daddy on the telephone.'
     This took the old ancestor's mind right off the tangled affairs  of
the Kipper-Bobbie axis, to which a moment before she had been according
her  best  attention,  and I didn't wonder. With  the  prize-giving  at
Market  Snodsbury  Grammar School, a function at  which  all  that  was
bravest  and  fairest in the neighbourhood would be present,  only  two
days away, she must have been getting pretty uneasy about the continued
absence of the big shot slated to address the young scholars on  ideals
and life in the world outside. If you are on the board of governors  of
a  school and have contracted to supply an orator for the great day  of
the year, you can be forgiven for feeling a trifle jumpy when you learn
that  the silver-tongued one has gadded off to the metropolis,  leaving
no  word  as to when he will be returning, if ever. For all  she  knew,
Upjohn  might  have  got the holiday spirit and be planning  to  remain
burning  up the boulevards indefinitely, and of course nothing gives  a
big  beano a black eye more surely than the failure to show up  of  the
principal speaker. So now she quite naturally blossomed like a rose  in
June  and  asked  if  the old son of a bachelor had mentioned  anything
about when he was coming back.
     'He's  coming  back  tonight. He says he  hopes  you  haven't  been
     A  snort of about the calibre of an explosion in an ammunition dump
escaped my late father's sister.
     'Oh,  does  he?  Well, I've a piece of news for him.  I  have  been
worrying. What's kept him in London so long?'
     'He's  been seeing his lawyer about this libel action he's bringing
against the Thursday Review.'
     I have often asked myself how many inches it was that Kipper leaped
from  his chair at these words. Sometimes I think it was ten, sometimes
only  six,  but  whichever it was he unquestionably came  up  from  the
padded  seat like an athlete competing in the Sitting High Jump  event.
Scarface McColl couldn't have risen more nippily.
     'Against the Thursday Review?' said Aunt Dahlia. 'That's your  rag,
isn't it, young Herring? What have they done to stir him up?'
     'It's  this book Daddy wrote about preparatory schools. He wrote  a
book  about  preparatory schools. Did you know he had  written  a  book
about preparatory schools?'
     'Hadn't an inkling. Nobody tells me anything.'
     'Well,  he wrote this book about preparatory schools. It was  about
preparatory schools.'
     'About preparatory schools, was it?'
     'Yes, about preparatory schools.'
     'Thank God we've got that straightened out at last. I had a feeling
we should get somewhere if we dug long enough. And - ?'
     'And  the  Thursday Review said something libellous about  it,  and
Daddy's lawyer says the jury ought to give Daddy at least five thousand
pounds. Because they libelled him. So he's been in London all this time
seeing his lawyer. But he's coming back tonight. He'll be here for  the
prize-giving, and I've got his speech all typed out and ready for  him.
Oh,  there's  my  precious Poppet,' said Phyllis, as a distant  barking
reached the ears. 'He's asking for his dinner, the sweet little  angel.
All right, darling, Mother's coming,' she fluted, and buzzed off on the
errand of mercy.
     A brief silence followed her departure.
     'I don't care what you say,' said Aunt Dahlia at length in a defiant
sort  of  way. 'Brains aren't everything. She's a dear, sweet  girl.  I
love her like a daughter, and to hell with anyone who calls her a half-
wit. Why, hullo,' she proceeded, seeing that Kipper was slumped back in
his chair trying without much success to hitch up a drooping lower jaw.
'What's eating you, young Herring?'
     I could see that Kipper was in no shape for conversation, so took it
upon myself to explain.
     'A certain stickiness has arisen, aged relative. You heard what  P.
Mills  said  before going to minister to Poppet. Those words  tell  the
     'What do you mean?'
     'The facts are readily stated. Upjohn wrote this slim volume, which,
if  you  recall, was about preparatory schools, and in  it,  so  Kipper
tells  me,  said  that the time spent in these establishments  was  the
happiest  of  our lives. Ye Ed passed it on to Kipper for comment,  and
he, remembering the dark days at Malvern House, Bramley-on-Sea, when he
and  I were plucking the gowans fine there, slated it with no uncertain
hand. Correct, Kipper?'