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
'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.'
'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
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,
'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.'
'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
'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
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.'
'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 -'
' - 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
'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.'
'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...'
'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