Re: Вудхаус П. Г. - Дживс в отпуске на английском языке
He found speech, if you could call making a noise like a buffalo
taking its foot out of a swamp finding speech.
'But, dash it,' he said, finding a bit more, 'it was perfectly
legitimate criticism. I didn't mince my words, of course -'
'It would be interesting to find out what these unminced words
were,' said Aunt Dahlia, 'for among them there appear to have been one
or two which seem likely to set your proprietor back five thousand of
the best and brightest. Bertie, get your car out and go to Market
Snodsbury station and see if the bookstall has a copy of this week's
... No, wait, hold the line. Cancel that order. I shan't be a minute,'
she said, and went out, leaving me totally fogged as to what she was up
to. What aunts are up to is never an easy thing to divine.
I turned to Kipper.
'Bad show,' I said.
From the way he writhed I gathered that he was feeling it could
scarcely be worse.
'What happens when an editorial assistant on a weekly paper lets the
bosses in for substantial libel damages?'
He was able to answer that one.
'He gets the push and, what's more, finds it pretty damned difficult
to land another job. He's on the blacklist.'
I saw what he meant. These birds who run weekly papers believe in
watching the pennies. They like to get all that's coming to them and
when the stuff, instead of pouring in, starts pouring out as the result
of an injudicious move on the part of a unit of the staff, what they do
to that unit is plenty. I think Kipper's outfit was financed by some
sort of board or syndicate, but boards and syndicates are just as
sensitive about having to cough up as individual owners. As Kipper had
indicated, they not only give the erring unit the heave-ho but pass the
word round to the other boards and syndicates.
'Herring?' the latter say when Kipper comes seeking employment.
'Isn't he the bimbo who took the bread out of the mouths of the
Thursday Review people? Chuck the blighter out of the window and we
want to see him bounce.' If this action of Upjohn's went through, his
chances of any sort of salaried post were meagre, if not slim. It might
be years before all was forgiven and forgotten.
'Selling pencils in the gutter is about the best I'll be able to
look forward to,' said Kipper, and he had just buried his face in his
hands, as fellows are apt to do when contemplating a future that's a
bit on the bleak side, when the door opened, to reveal not, as I had
expected, Aunt Dahlia, but Bobbie.
'I got the wrong book,' she said. 'The one I wanted was -'
Then her eye fell on Kipper and she stiffened in every limb, rather
like Lot's wife, who, as you probably know, did the wrong thing that
time there was all that unpleasantness with the cities of the plain and
got turned into a pillar of salt, though what was the thought behind
this I've never been able to understand. Salt, I mean. Seems so bizarre
somehow and not at all what you would expect.
'Oh!' she said haughtily, as if offended by this glimpse into the
underworld, and even as she spoke a hollow groan burst from Kipper's
interior and he raised an ashen face. And at the sight of that ashen f.
the haughtiness went out of Roberta Wickham with a whoosh, to be
replaced by all the old love, sympathy, womanly tenderness and what
not, and she bounded at him like a leopardess getting together with a
'Reggie! Oh, Reggie! Reggie, darling, what is it?' she cried, her
whole demeanour undergoing a marked change for the better. She was, in
short, melted by his distress, as so often happens with the female sex.
Poets have frequently commented on this. You are probably familiar with
the one who said 'Oh, woman in our hours of ease turn tumty tiddly
something please, when something something something something brow, a
something something something thou.'
She turned on me with an animal snarl.
'What have you been doing to the poor lamb?' she demanded, giving me
one of the nastiest looks seen that summer in the midland counties, and
I had just finished explaining that it was not I but Fate or Destiny
that had removed the sunshine from the poor lamb's life, when Aunt
Dahlia returned. She had a slip of paper in her hand.
'I was right,' she said. 'I knew Upjohn's first move on getting a
book published would be to subscribe to a press-cutting agency. I found
this on the hall table. It's your review of his slim volume, young
Herring, and having run an eye over it I'm not surprised that he's a
little upset. I'll read it to you.'
As might have been expected, this having been foreshadowed a good
deal in one way and another, what Kipper had written was on the severe
side, and as far as I was concerned it fell into the rare and
refreshing fruit class. I enjoyed every minute of it. It concluded as
'Aubrey Upjohn might have taken a different view of preparatory
schools if he had done a stretch at the Dotheboys Hall conducted by him
at Malvern House, Bramley-on-Sea, as we had the misfortune to do. We
have not forgotten the sausages on Sunday, which were made not from
contented pigs but from pigs which had expired, regretted by all, of
glanders, the botts and tuberculosis.'
Until this passage left the aged relative's lips Kipper had been
sitting with the tips of his fingers together, nodding from time to
time as much as to say 'Caustic, yes, but perfectly legitimate
criticism,' but on hearing this excerpt he did another of his sitting
high jumps, lowering all previous records by several inches. It
occurred to me as a passing thought that if all other sources of income
failed, he had a promising future as an acrobat.
'But I never wrote that,' he gasped.
'Well, it's here in cold print.'
'Why, that's libellous!'
'So Upjohn and his legal eagle seem to feel. And I must say it reads
like a pretty good five thousand pounds' worth to me.'
'Let me look at that,' yipped Kipper. 'I don't understand this. No,
half a second, darling. Not now. Later. I want to concentrate,' he
said, for Bobbie had flung herself on him and was clinging to him like
the ivy on the old garden wall.
'Reggie!' she wailed - yes, wail's the word. 'It was me!'
'That thing Mrs Travers just read. You remember you showed me the
proof at lunch that day and told me to drop it off at the office, as
you had to rush along to keep a golf date. I read it again after you'd
gone, and saw you had left out that bit about the sausages -
accidentally, I thought - and it seemed to me so frightfully funny and
clever that... Well, I put it in at the end. I felt it just rounded the
There was silence for some moments, broken only by the sound of an
aunt saying 'Lord love a duck!' Kipper stood blinking, as I had
sometimes seen him do at the boxing tourneys in which he indulged when
in receipt of a shrewd buffet on some tender spot like the tip of the
nose. Whether or not the idea of taking Bobbie's neck in both hands and
twisting it into a spiral floated through his mind, I cannot say, but
if so it was merely the ideal dream of a couple of seconds or so, for
almost immediately love prevailed. She had described him as a lamb, and
it was with all the mildness for which lambs are noted that he now
'Oh, I see. So that's how it was.'
'I'm so sorry.'
'Don't mention it.'
'Can you ever forgive me?'
'I meant so well.'
'Of course you did.'
'Will you really get into trouble about this?'
'There may be some slight unpleasantness.'
'Quite all right.'
'I've ruined your life.'
'Nonsense. The Thursday Review isn't the only paper in London. If
they fire me, I'll accept employment elsewhere.'
This scarcely squared with what he had told me about being
blacklisted, but I forbore to mention this, for I saw that his words
had cheered Bobbie up considerably, and I didn't want to bung a spanner
into her mood of bien etre. Never does to dash the cup of happiness
from a girl's lips when after plumbing the depths she has started to
take a swig at it.
'Of course!' she said. 'Any paper would be glad to have a valuable
man like you.'
'They'll fight like tigers for his services,' I said, helping things
along. 'You don't find a chap like Kipper out of circulation for more
than a day or so.'
'You're so clever.'
'I don't mean you, ass, I mean Reggie.'
'Ah, yes. Kipper has what it takes, all right.'
'All the same,' said Aunt Dahlia, 'I think, when Upjohn arrives, you
had better do all you can to ingratiate yourself with him.'
I got her meaning. She was recommending that grappling-to-the-soul-
'Yes,' I said. 'Exert the charm, Kipper, and there's a chance he
might call the thing off.'
'Bound to,' said Bobbie. 'Nobody can resist you, darling.'
'Do you think so, darling?'
'Of course I do, darling.'
'Well, let's hope you're right, darling. In the meantime,' said
Kipper, 'if I don't get that whisky-and-soda soon, I shall
disintegrate. Would you mind if I went in search of it, Mrs Travers?'
'It's the very thing I was about to suggest myself. Dash along and
drink your fill, my unhappy young stag at eve.'
'I'm feeling rather like a restorative, too,' said Bobbie.
'Me also,' I said, swept along on the tide of the popular movement.
'Though I would advise,' I said, when we were outside, 'making it port.
More authority. We'll look in on Swordfish. He will provide.'
We found Pop Glossop in his pantry polishing silver, and put in our
order. He seemed a little surprised at the inrush of such a multitude,
but on learning that our tongues were hanging out obliged with a bottle
of the best, and after we had done a bit of tissue-restoring, Kipper,
who had preserved a brooding silence since entering, rose and left us,
saying that if we didn't mind he would like to muse apart for a while.
I saw Pop Glossop give him a sharp look as he went out and knew that
Kipper's demeanour had roused his professional interest, causing him to
scent in the young visitor a potential customer. These brain
specialists are always on the job and never miss a trick. Tactfully
waiting till the door had closed, he said:
'Is Mr Herring an old friend of yours, Mr Wooster?'
'I beg your pardon. Bertie. You have known him for some time?'
'Practically from the egg.'
'And is Miss Wickham a friend of his?'
'Reggie Herring and I are engaged, Sir Roderick,' said Bobbie. Her
words seemed to seal the Glossop lips. He said 'Oh' and began to talk
about the weather and continued to do so until Bobbie, who since
Kipper's departure had been exhibiting signs of restlessness, said she
thought she would go and see how he was making out. Finding himself de-
Wickham-ed, he unsealed his lips without delay.
'I did not like to mention it before Miss Wickham, as she and Mr
Herring are engaged, for one is always loath to occasion anxiety, but
that young man has a neurosis.'
'He isn't always as dippy as he looked just now.'
'And let me tell you something, Roddy. If you were as up against it
as he is, you'd have a neurosis, too.'
And feeling that it would do no harm to get his views on the Kipper
situation, I unfolded the tale.
'So you see the posish,' I concluded. 'The only way he can avoid the
fate that is worse than death - viz. Letting his employers get nicked
for a sum beyond the dreams of avarice - is by ingratiating himself
with Upjohn, which would seem to any thinking man a shot that's not on
the board. I mean, he had four years with him at Malvern House and
didn't ingratiate himself once, so it's difficult to see how he's going
to start doing it now. It seems to me the thing's an impasse. French
expression,' I explained, 'meaning that we're stymied good and proper
with no hope of finding a formula.'
To my surprise, instead of clicking the tongue and waggling the head
gravely to indicate that he saw the stickiness of the dilemma, he
chuckled fatly, as if having spotted an amusing side to the thing which
had escaped me. Having done this, he blessed his soul, which was his
way of saying 'Gorblimey'.
'It really is quite extraordinary, my dear Bertie,' he said, 'how
associating with you restores my youth. Your lightest word seems to
bring back old memories. I find myself recollecting episodes in the
distant past which I have not thought of for years and years. It is as
though you waved a magic wand of some kind. This matter of the problem
confronting your friend Mr Herring is a case in point. While you were
telling me of his troubles, the mists shredded away, the hands of the
clock turned back, and I was once again a young fellow in my early
twenties, deeply involved in the strange affair of Bertha Simmons,
George Lanchester and Bertha's father, old Mr Simmons, who at that time
resided in Putney. He was in the imported lard and butter business.'
'The - what was that strange affair again?'
He repeated the cast of characters, asked me if I would care for
another drop of port, a suggestion with which I readily fell in, and
'George, a young man of volcanic passions, met Bertha Simmons at a
dance at Putney Town Hall in aid of the widows of deceased railway
porters and became instantly enamoured. And his love was returned. When
he encountered Bertha next day in Putney High Street and, taking her
off to a confectioner's for an ice cream, offered her with it his hand
and heart, she accepted them enthusiastically. She said that when they
were dancing together on the previous night something had seemed to go
all over her, and he said he had had exactly the same experience.'
'Twin souls, what?'
'A most accurate description.'
'In fact, so far, so good.'
'Precisely. But there was an obstacle, and a very serious one.
George was a swimming instructor at the local baths, and Mr Simmons had
higher views for his daughter. He forbade the marriage. I am speaking,
of course, of the days when fathers did forbid marriage. It was only
when George saved him from drowning that he relented and gave the young
couple his consent and blessing.'
'How did that happen?'
'Perfectly simple. I took Mr Simmons for a stroll on the river bank
and pushed him in, and George, who was waiting in readiness, dived into
the water and pulled him out. Naturally I had to undergo a certain
amount of criticism of my clumsiness, and it was many weeks before I
received another invitation to Sunday supper at Chatsworth, the Simmons
residence, quite a privation in those days when I was a penniless
medical student and perpetually hungry, but I was glad to sacrifice
myself to help a friend and the results, as far as George was
concerned, were of the happiest. And what crossed my mind, as you were
telling me of Mr Herring's desire to ingratiate himself with Mr Upjohn,
was that a similar -is "set-up" the term you young fellows use? - would
answer in his case. All the facilities are here at Brinkley Court. In
my rambles about the grounds I have noticed a small but quite adequate
lake, and ... well, there you have it, my dear Bertie. I throw it out,
of course, merely as a suggestion.'
His words left me all of a glow. When I thought how I had misjudged
him in the days when our relations had been distant, I burned with
shame and remorse. It seemed incredible that I could ever have looked
on this admirable loony-doctor as the menace in the treatment. What a
lesson, I felt, this should teach all of us that a man may have a bald
head and bushy eyebrows and still remain at heart a jovial sportsman
and one of the boys. There was about an inch of the ruby juice nestling
in my glass, and as he finished speaking I raised the beaker in a
reverent toast. I told him he had hit the bull's eye and was entitled
to a cigar or coconut according to choice.
'I'll go and take the matter up with my principals immediately.'
'Can Mr Herring swim?'
'Like several fishes.'
'Then I see no obstacle in the path.'
We parted with mutual expressions of good will, and it was only
after I had emerged into the summer air that I remembered I hadn't told
him that Wilbert had purchased, not pinched, the cow-creamer, and for a
moment I thought of going back to apprise him. But I thought again, and
didn't. First things first, I said to myself, and the item at the top
of the agenda paper was the bringing of a new sparkle to Kipper's eyes.
Later on, I told myself, would do, and carried on to where he and
Bobbie were pacing the lawn with bowed heads. It would not be long, I
anticipated, before I would be bringing those heads up with a jerk.
Nor was I in error. Their enthusiasm was unstinted. Both agreed
unreservedly that if Upjohn had the merest spark of human feeling in
him, which of course had still to be proved, the thing was in the bag.
'But you never thought this up yourself, Bertie,' said Bobbie,
always inclined to underestimate the Wooster shrewdness. 'You've been
talking to Jeeves.'
'No, as a matter of fact, it was Swordfish who had the idea.'
Kipper seemed surprised.
'You mean you told him about it?'
'I thought it the strategic move. Four heads are better than three.'
'And he advised shoving Upjohn into the lake?'
'Rather a peculiar butler.'
I turned this over in my mind.
'Peculiar? Oh, I don't know. Fairly run-of-the-mill I should call
him. Yes, more or less the usual type,' I said.
With self all eagerness and enthusiasm for the work in hand,
straining at the leash, as you might say, and full of the will to win,
it came as a bit of a damper when I found on the following afternoon
that Jeeves didn't think highly of Operation Upjohn. I told him about
it just before starting out for the tryst, feeling that it would be
helpful to have his moral support, and was stunned to see that his
manner was austere and even puff-faced. He was giving me a description
at the time of how it felt to act as judge at a seaside bathing belles
contest, and it was with regret that I was compelled to break into
this, for he had been holding me spellbound.
'I'm sorry, Jeeves,' I said, consulting my watch, 'but I shall have
to be dashing off. Urgent appointment. You must tell me the rest
'At any time that suits you, sir.'
'Are you doing anything for the next half-hour or so?'
'Not planning to curl up in some shady nook with a cigarette and
'Then I strongly advise you to come down to the lake and witness a
And in a few brief words I outlined the programme and the events
which had led up to it. He listened attentively and raised his left
eyebrow a fraction of an inch.
'Was this Miss Wickham's idea, sir?'
'No. I agree that it sounds like one of hers, but actually it was
Sir Roderick Glossop who suggested it. By the way, you were probably
surprised to find him buttling here.'
'It did occasion me a momentary astonishment, but Sir Roderick
explained the circumstances.'
'Fearing that if he didn't let you in on it, you might unmask him in
front of Mrs Cream?'
'No doubt, sir. He would naturally wish to take all precautions. I
gathered from his remarks that he has not yet reached a definite
conclusion regarding the mental condition of Mr Cream.'
'No, he's still observing. Well, as I say, it was from his fertile
bean that the idea sprang. What do you think of it?'
'Ill-advised, sir, in my opinion.'
I was amazed. I could hardly b. my e.
'But it worked without a hitch in the case of Bertha Simmons, George
Lanchester and old Mr Simmons.'
'Very possibly, sir.'
Then why this defeatist attitude?'
'It is merely a feeling, sir, due probably to my preference for
finesse. I mistrust these elaborate schemes. One cannot depend on them.
As the poet Burns says, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft
'Scotch, isn't it, that word?'
'I thought as much. The "gang" told the story. Why do Scotsmen say
'I have no information, sir. They have not confided in me.'
I was getting a bit peeved by now, not at all liking the sniffiness
of his manner. I had expected him to speed me on my way with words of
encouragement and.uplift, not to go trying to blunt the keen edge of my
zest like this. I was rather in the position of a child who runs to his
mother hoping for approval and endorsement of something he's done, and
is awarded instead a brusque kick in the pants. It was with a good deal
of warmth that I came back at him.
'So you think the poet Burns would look askance at this enterprise
of ours, do you? Well, you can tell him from me he's an ass. We've
thought the thing out to the last detail. Miss Wickham asks Mr Upjohn
to come for a stroll with her. She leads him to the lake. I am standing
on the brink, ostensibly taking a look at the fishes playing amongst
the reeds. Kipper, ready to the last button, is behind a neighbouring
tree. On the cue "Oh, look!" from Miss Wickham, accompanied by business
of pointing with girlish excitement at something in the water, Upjohn
bends over to peer. I push, Kipper dives in, and there we are. Nothing
can possibly go wrong.'
'Just as you say, sir. But I still have that feeling.'
The blood of the Woosters is hot, and I was about to tell him in set
terms what I thought of his bally feeling, when I suddenly spotted what
it was that was making him crab the act. The green-eyed monster had
bitten him. He was miffed because he wasn't the brains behind this
binge, the blue prints for it having been laid down by a rival. Even
great men have their weaknesses. So I held back the acid crack I might
have made, and went off with a mere 'Oh, yeah?' No sense in twisting
the knife in the wound, I mean.