LEAVE IT TO JEEVES
Jeeves--my man, you know--is really a most extraordinary chap. So capable.
Honestly, I shouldn't know what to do without him. On broader lines he's
like those chappies who sit peering sadly over the marble battlements
at the Pennsylvania Station in the place marked "Inquiries." You know
the Johnnies I mean. You go up to them and say: "When's the next train
for Melonsquashville, Tennessee?" and they reply, without stopping to
think, "Two-forty-three, track ten, change at San Francisco." And they're
right every time. Well, Jeeves gives you just the same impression of
As an instance of what I mean, I remember meeting Monty Byng in Bond
Street one morning, looking the last word in a grey check suit, and I
felt I should never be happy till I had one like it. I dug the address
of the tailors out of him, and had them working on the thing inside the
"Jeeves," I said that evening. "I'm getting a check suit like that one
of Mr. Byng's."
"Injudicious, sir," he said firmly. "It will not become you."
"What absolute rot! It's the soundest thing I've struck for years."
"Unsuitable for you, sir."
Well, the long and the short of it was that the confounded thing came
home, and I put it on, and when I caught sight of myself in the glass I
nearly swooned. Jeeves was perfectly right. I looked a cross between a
music-hall comedian and a cheap bookie. Yet Monty had looked fine in
absolutely the same stuff. These things are just Life's mysteries, and
that's all there is to it.
But it isn't only that Jeeves's judgment about clothes is infallible,
though, of course, that's really the main thing. The man knows
everything. There was the matter of that tip on the "Lincolnshire."
I forget now how I got it, but it had the aspect of being the real,
"Jeeves," I said, for I'm fond of the man, and like to do him a good
turn when I can, "if you want to make a bit of money have something on
Wonderchild for the 'Lincolnshire.'"
He shook his head.
"I'd rather not, sir."
"But it's the straight goods. I'm going to put my shirt on him."
"I do not recommend it, sir. The animal is not intended to win. Second
place is what the stable is after."
Perfect piffle, I thought, of course. How the deuce could Jeeves know
anything about it? Still, you know what happened. Wonderchild led till
he was breathing on the wire, and then Banana Fritter came along and
nosed him out. I went straight home and rang for Jeeves.
"After this," I said, "not another step for me without your advice.
From now on consider yourself the brains of the establishment."
"Very good, sir. I shall endeavour to give satisfaction."
And he has, by Jove! I'm a bit short on brain myself; the old bean
would appear to have been constructed more for ornament than for use,
don't you know; but give me five minutes to talk the thing over with
Jeeves, and I'm game to advise any one about anything. And that's why,
when Bruce Corcoran came to me with his troubles, my first act was to
ring the bell and put it up to the lad with the bulging forehead.
"Leave it to Jeeves," I said.
I first got to know Corky when I came to New York. He was a pal of my
cousin Gussie, who was in with a lot of people down Washington Square
way. I don't know if I ever told you about it, but the reason why I
left England was because I was sent over by my Aunt Agatha to try to
stop young Gussie marrying a girl on the vaudeville stage, and I got
the whole thing so mixed up that I decided that it would be a sound
scheme for me to stop on in America for a bit instead of going back and
having long cosy chats about the thing with aunt. So I sent Jeeves out
to find a decent apartment, and settled down for a bit of exile. I'm
bound to say that New York's a topping place to be exiled in. Everybody
was awfully good to me, and there seemed to be plenty of things going
on, and I'm a wealthy bird, so everything was fine. Chappies introduced
me to other chappies, and so on and so forth, and it wasn't long before
I knew squads of the right sort, some who rolled in dollars in houses
up by the Park, and others who lived with the gas turned down mostly
around Washington Square--artists and writers and so forth. Brainy
Corky was one of the artists. A portrait-painter, he called himself,
but he hadn't painted any portraits. He was sitting on the side-lines
with a blanket over his shoulders, waiting for a chance to get into the
game. You see, the catch about portrait-painting--I've looked into the
thing a bit--is that you can't start painting portraits till people
come along and ask you to, and they won't come and ask you to until
you've painted a lot first. This makes it kind of difficult for a
chappie. Corky managed to get along by drawing an occasional picture
for the comic papers--he had rather a gift for funny stuff when he got
a good idea--and doing bedsteads and chairs and things for the
advertisements. His principal source of income, however, was derived
from biting the ear of a rich uncle--one Alexander Worple, who was in
the jute business. I'm a bit foggy as to what jute is, but it's
apparently something the populace is pretty keen on, for Mr. Worple had
made quite an indecently large stack out of it.
Now, a great many fellows think that having a rich uncle is a pretty
soft snap: but, according to Corky, such is not the case. Corky's uncle
was a robust sort of cove, who looked like living for ever. He was
fifty-one, and it seemed as if he might go to par. It was not this,
however, that distressed poor old Corky, for he was not bigoted and had
no objection to the man going on living. What Corky kicked at was the
way the above Worple used to harry him.
Corky's uncle, you see, didn't want him to be an artist. He didn't
think he had any talent in that direction. He was always urging him to
chuck Art and go into the jute business and start at the bottom and
work his way up. Jute had apparently become a sort of obsession with
him. He seemed to attach almost a spiritual importance to it. And what
Corky said was that, while he didn't know what they did at the bottom
of the jute business, instinct told him that it was something too
beastly for words. Corky, moreover, believed in his future as an
artist. Some day, he said, he was going to make a hit. Meanwhile, by
using the utmost tact and persuasiveness, he was inducing his uncle to
cough up very grudgingly a small quarterly allowance.
He wouldn't have got this if his uncle hadn't had a hobby. Mr. Worple
was peculiar in this respect. As a rule, from what I've observed, the
American captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours.
When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night, he
just relapses into a state of coma from which he emerges only to start
being a captain of industry again. But Mr. Worple in his spare time was
what is known as an ornithologist. He had written a book called
_American Birds_, and was writing another, to be called _More
American Birds_. When he had finished that, the presumption was that
he would begin a third, and keep on till the supply of American birds
gave out. Corky used to go to him about once every three months and let
him talk about American birds. Apparently you could do what you liked
with old Worple if you gave him his head first on his pet subject, so
these little chats used to make Corky's allowance all right for the
time being. But it was pretty rotten for the poor chap. There was the
frightful suspense, you see, and, apart from that, birds, except when
broiled and in the society of a cold bottle, bored him stiff.
To complete the character-study of Mr. Worple, he was a man of
extremely uncertain temper, and his general tendency was to think that
Corky was a poor chump and that whatever step he took in any direction
on his own account, was just another proof of his innate idiocy. I
should imagine Jeeves feels very much the same about me.
So when Corky trickled into my apartment one afternoon, shooing a girl
in front of him, and said, "Bertie, I want you to meet my fiancée, Miss
Singer," the aspect of the matter which hit me first was precisely the
one which he had come to consult me about. The very first words I spoke
were, "Corky, how about your uncle?"
The poor chap gave one of those mirthless laughs. He was looking
anxious and worried, like a man who has done the murder all right but
can't think what the deuce to do with the body.
"We're so scared, Mr. Wooster," said the girl. "We were hoping that you
might suggest a way of breaking it to him."
Muriel Singer was one of those very quiet, appealing girls who have a
way of looking at you with their big eyes as if they thought you were
the greatest thing on earth and wondered that you hadn't got on to it
yet yourself. She sat there in a sort of shrinking way, looking at me
as if she were saying to herself, "Oh, I do hope this great strong man
isn't going to hurt me." She gave a fellow a protective kind of
feeling, made him want to stroke her hand and say, "There, there,
little one!" or words to that effect. She made me feel that there was
nothing I wouldn't do for her. She was rather like one of those
innocent-tasting American drinks which creep imperceptibly into your
system so that, before you know what you're doing, you're starting out
to reform the world by force if necessary and pausing on your way to
tell the large man in the corner that, if he looks at you like that,
you will knock his head off. What I mean is, she made me feel alert and
dashing, like a jolly old knight-errant or something of that kind. I
felt that I was with her in this thing to the limit.
"I don't see why your uncle shouldn't be most awfully bucked," I said
to Corky. "He will think Miss Singer the ideal wife for you."
Corky declined to cheer up.
"You don't know him. Even if he did like Muriel he wouldn't admit it.
That's the sort of pig-headed guy he is. It would be a matter of
principle with him to kick. All he would consider would be that I had
gone and taken an important step without asking his advice, and he
would raise Cain automatically. He's always done it."
I strained the old bean to meet this emergency.
"You want to work it so that he makes Miss Singer's acquaintance
without knowing that you know her. Then you come along----"
"But how can I work it that way?"
I saw his point. That was the catch.
"There's only one thing to do," I said.
"Leave it to Jeeves."
And I rang the bell.
"Sir?" said Jeeves, kind of manifesting himself. One of the rummy
things about Jeeves is that, unless you watch like a hawk, you very
seldom see him come into a room. He's like one of those weird chappies
in India who dissolve themselves into thin air and nip through space in
a sort of disembodied way and assemble the parts again just where they
want them. I've got a cousin who's what they call a Theosophist, and he
says he's often nearly worked the thing himself, but couldn't quite
bring it off, probably owing to having fed in his boyhood on the flesh
of animals slain in anger and pie.
The moment I saw the man standing there, registering respectful
attention, a weight seemed to roll off my mind. I felt like a lost
child who spots his father in the offing. There was something about him
that gave me confidence.
Jeeves is a tallish man, with one of those dark, shrewd faces. His eye
gleams with the light of pure intelligence.
"Jeeves, we want your advice."
"Very good, sir."
I boiled down Corky's painful case into a few well-chosen words.
"So you see what it amount to, Jeeves. We want you to suggest some way
by which Mr. Worple can make Miss Singer's acquaintance without getting
on to the fact that Mr. Corcoran already knows her. Understand?"
"Well, try to think of something."
"I have thought of something already, sir."
"The scheme I would suggest cannot fail of success, but it has what may
seem to you a drawback, sir, in that it requires a certain financial
"He means," I translated to Corky, "that he has got a pippin of an
idea, but it's going to cost a bit."
Naturally the poor chap's face dropped, for this seemed to dish the
whole thing. But I was still under the influence of the girl's melting
gaze, and I saw that this was where I started in as a knight-errant.
"You can count on me for all that sort of thing, Corky," I said. "Only
too glad. Carry on, Jeeves."
"I would suggest, sir, that Mr. Corcoran take advantage of Mr. Worple's
attachment to ornithology."
"How on earth did you know that he was fond of birds?"
"It is the way these New York apartments are constructed, sir. Quite
unlike our London houses. The partitions between the rooms are of the
flimsiest nature. With no wish to overhear, I have sometimes heard Mr.
Corcoran expressing himself with a generous strength on the subject I
"Why should not the young lady write a small volume, to be entitled--let
us say--_The Children's Book of American Birds_, and dedicate it
to Mr. Worple! A limited edition could be published at your expense,
sir, and a great deal of the book would, of course, be given over to
eulogistic remarks concerning Mr. Worple's own larger treatise on the
same subject. I should recommend the dispatching of a presentation copy
to Mr. Worple, immediately on publication, accompanied by a letter in
which the young lady asks to be allowed to make the acquaintance of one
to whom she owes so much. This would, I fancy, produce the desired
result, but as I say, the expense involved would be considerable."
I felt like the proprietor of a performing dog on the vaudeville stage
when the tyke has just pulled off his trick without a hitch. I had
betted on Jeeves all along, and I had known that he wouldn't let me
down. It beats me sometimes why a man with his genius is satisfied to
hang around pressing my clothes and whatnot. If I had half Jeeves's
brain, I should have a stab, at being Prime Minister or something.
"Jeeves," I said, "that is absolutely ripping! One of your very best
"Thank you, sir."
The girl made an objection.
"But I'm sure I couldn't write a book about anything. I can't even
write good letters."
"Muriel's talents," said Corky, with a little cough "lie more in the
direction of the drama, Bertie. I didn't mention it before, but one of
our reasons for being a trifle nervous as to how Uncle Alexander will
receive the news is that Muriel is in the chorus of that show _Choose
your Exit_ at the Manhattan. It's absurdly unreasonable, but we both
feel that that fact might increase Uncle Alexander's natural tendency
to kick like a steer."
I saw what he meant. Goodness knows there was fuss enough in our family
when I tried to marry into musical comedy a few years ago. And the
recollection of my Aunt Agatha's attitude in the matter of Gussie and
the vaudeville girl was still fresh in my mind. I don't know why it
is--one of these psychology sharps could explain it, I suppose--but
uncles and aunts, as a class, are always dead against the drama,
legitimate or otherwise. They don't seem able to stick it at any price.
But Jeeves had a solution, of course.
"I fancy it would be a simple matter, sir, to find some impecunious
author who would be glad to do the actual composition of the volume for
a small fee. It is only necessary that the young lady's name should
appear on the title page."
"That's true," said Corky. "Sam Patterson would do it for a hundred
dollars. He writes a novelette, three short stories, and ten thousand
words of a serial for one of the all-fiction magazines under different
names every month. A little thing like this would be nothing to him.
I'll get after him right away."
"Will that be all, sir?" said Jeeves. "Very good, sir. Thank you, sir."
I always used to think that publishers had to be devilish intelligent
fellows, loaded down with the grey matter; but I've got their number
now. All a publisher has to do is to write cheques at intervals, while
a lot of deserving and industrious chappies rally round and do the real
work. I know, because I've been one myself. I simply sat tight in the
old apartment with a fountain-pen, and in due season a topping, shiny
book came along.
I happened to be down at Corky's place when the first copies of _The
Children's Book of American Birds_ bobbed up. Muriel Singer was
there, and we were talking of things in general when there was a bang
at the door and the parcel was delivered.
It was certainly some book. It had a red cover with a fowl of some
species on it, and underneath the girl's name in gold letters. I opened
a copy at random.
"Often of a spring morning," it said at the top of page twenty-one, "as
you wander through the fields, you will hear the sweet-toned,
carelessly flowing warble of the purple finch linnet. When you are
older you must read all about him in Mr. Alexander Worple's wonderful
You see. A boost for the uncle right away. And only a few pages later
there he was in the limelight again in connection with the yellow-billed
cuckoo. It was great stuff. The more I read, the more I admired the chap
who had written it and Jeeves's genius in putting us on to the wheeze.
I didn't see how the uncle could fail to drop. You can't call a chap the
world's greatest authority on the yellow-billed cuckoo without rousing a
certain disposition towards chumminess in him.
"It's a cert!" I said.
"An absolute cinch!" said Corky.
And a day or two later he meandered up the Avenue to my apartment to
tell me that all was well. The uncle had written Muriel a letter so
dripping with the milk of human kindness that if he hadn't known Mr.
Worple's handwriting Corky would have refused to believe him the author
of it. Any time it suited Miss Singer to call, said the uncle, he would
be delighted to make her acquaintance.
Shortly after this I had to go out of town. Divers sound sportsmen had
invited me to pay visits to their country places, and it wasn't for
several months that I settled down in the city again. I had been
wondering a lot, of course, about Corky, whether it all turned out
right, and so forth, and my first evening in New York, happening to pop
into a quiet sort of little restaurant which I go to when I don't feel
inclined for the bright lights, I found Muriel Singer there, sitting by
herself at a table near the door. Corky, I took it, was out
telephoning. I went up and passed the time of day.
"Well, well, well, what?" I said.
"Why, Mr. Wooster! How do you do?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"You're waiting for Corky, aren't you?"
"Oh, I didn't understand. No, I'm not waiting for him."
It seemed to roe that there was a sort of something in her voice, a
kind of thingummy, you know.
"I say, you haven't had a row with Corky, have you?"
"A spat, don't you know--little misunderstanding--faults on both
sides--er--and all that sort of thing."
"Why, whatever makes you think that?"
"Oh, well, as it were, what? What I mean is--I thought you usually
dined with him before you went to the theatre."
"I've left the stage now."
Suddenly the whole thing dawned on me. I had forgotten what a long time
I had been away.
"Why, of course, I see now! You're married!"
"How perfectly topping! I wish you all kinds of happiness."
"Thank you, so much. Oh Alexander," she said, looking past me, "this is
a friend of mine--Mr. Wooster."
I spun round. A chappie with a lot of stiff grey hair and a red sort of
healthy face was standing there. Rather a formidable Johnnie, he
looked, though quite peaceful at the moment.
"I want you to meet my husband, Mr. Wooster. Mr. Wooster is a friend of
The old boy grasped my hand warmly, and that was all that kept me from
hitting the floor in a heap. The place was rocking. Absolutely.
"So you know my nephew, Mr. Wooster," I heard him say. "I wish you
would try to knock a little sense into him and make him quit this
playing at painting. But I have an idea that he is steadying down. I
noticed it first that night he came to dinner with us, my dear, to be
introduced to you. He seemed altogether quieter and more serious.
Something seemed to have sobered him. Perhaps you will give us the
pleasure of your company at dinner to-night, Mr. Wooster? Or have you
I said I had. What I needed then was air, not dinner. I felt that I
wanted to get into the open and think this thing out.
When I reached my apartment I heard Jeeves moving about in his lair. I
"Jeeves," I said, "now is the time for all good men to come to the aid
of the party. A stiff b.-and-s. first of all, and then I've a bit of
news for you."
He came back with a tray and a long glass.
"Better have one yourself, Jeeves. You'll need it."
"Later on, perhaps, thank you, sir."
"All right. Please yourself. But you're going to get a shock. You
remember my friend, Mr. Corcoran?"
"And the girl who was to slide gracefully into his uncle's esteem by
writing the book on birds?"
"Well, she's slid. She's married the uncle."
He took it without blinking. You can't rattle Jeeves.
"That was always a development to be feared, sir."
"You don't mean to tell me that you were expecting it?"
"It crossed my mind as a possibility."
"Did it, by Jove! Well, I think, you might have warned us!"
"I hardly liked to take the liberty, sir."
Of course, as I saw after I had had a bite to eat and was in a calmer
frame of mind, what had happened wasn't my fault, if you come down to
it. I couldn't be expected to foresee that the scheme, in itself a
cracker-jack, would skid into the ditch as it had done; but all the
same I'm bound to admit that I didn't relish the idea of meeting Corky
again until time, the great healer, had been able to get in a bit of
soothing work. I cut Washington Square out absolutely for the next few
months. I gave it the complete miss-in-baulk. And then, just when I was
beginning to think I might safely pop down in that direction and gather
up the dropped threads, so to speak, time, instead of working the
healing wheeze, went and pulled the most awful bone and put the lid on
it. Opening the paper one morning, I read that Mrs. Alexander Worple
had presented her husband with a son and heir.
I was so darned sorry for poor old Corky that I hadn't the heart to
touch my breakfast. I told Jeeves to drink it himself. I was bowled
over. Absolutely. It was the limit.
I hardly knew what to do. I wanted, of course, to rush down to
Washington Square and grip the poor blighter silently by the hand; and
then, thinking it over, I hadn't the nerve. Absent treatment seemed the
touch. I gave it him in waves.
But after a month or so I began to hesitate again. It struck me that it
was playing it a bit low-down on the poor chap, avoiding him like this
just when he probably wanted his pals to surge round him most. I
pictured him sitting in his lonely studio with no company but his
bitter thoughts, and the pathos of it got me to such an extent that I
bounded straight into a taxi and told the driver to go all out for the
I rushed in, and there was Corky, hunched up at the easel, painting
away, while on the model throne sat a severe-looking female of middle
age, holding a baby.
A fellow has to be ready for that sort of thing.
"Oh, ah!" I said, and started to back out.
Corky looked over his shoulder.
"Halloa, Bertie. Don't go. We're just finishing for the day. That will
be all this afternoon," he said to the nurse, who got up with the baby
and decanted it into a perambulator which was standing in the fairway.
"At the same hour to-morrow, Mr. Corcoran?"
Corky stood there, looking at the door, and then he turned to me and
began to get it off his chest. Fortunately, he seemed to take it for
granted that I knew all about what had happened, so it wasn't as
awkward as it might have been.
"It's my uncle's idea," he said. "Muriel doesn't know about it yet. The
portrait's to be a surprise for her on her birthday. The nurse takes
the kid out ostensibly to get a breather, and they beat it down here.
If you want an instance of the irony of fate, Bertie, get acquainted
with this. Here's the first commission I have ever had to paint a
portrait, and the sitter is that human poached egg that has butted in
and bounced me out of my inheritance. Can you beat it! I call it
rubbing the thing in to expect me to spend my afternoons gazing into
the ugly face of a little brat who to all intents and purposes has hit
me behind the ear with a blackjack and swiped all I possess. I can't
refuse to paint the portrait because if I did my uncle would stop my
allowance; yet every time I look up and catch that kid's vacant eye, I
suffer agonies. I tell you, Bertie, sometimes when he gives me a
patronizing glance and then turns away and is sick, as if it revolted
him to look at me, I come within an ace of occupying the entire front
page of the evening papers as the latest murder sensation. There are
moments when I can almost see the headlines: 'Promising Young Artist
Beans Baby With Axe.'"
I patted his shoulder silently. My sympathy for the poor old scout was
too deep for words.
I kept away from the studio for some time after that, because it didn't
seem right to me to intrude on the poor chappie's sorrow. Besides, I'm
bound to say that nurse intimidated me. She reminded me so infernally
of Aunt Agatha. She was the same gimlet-eyed type.
But one afternoon Corky called me on the 'phone.
"Are you doing anything this afternoon?"
"You couldn't come down here, could you?"
"What's the trouble? Anything up?"
"I've finished the portrait."
"Good boy! Stout work!"
"Yes." His voice sounded rather doubtful. "The fact is, Bertie, it
doesn't look quite right to me. There's something about it--My uncle's
coming in half an hour to inspect it, and--I don't know why it is, but
I kind of feel I'd like your moral support!"
I began to see that I was letting myself in for something. The
sympathetic co-operation of Jeeves seemed to me to be indicated.
"You think he'll cut up rough?"
I threw my mind back to the red-faced chappie I had met at the
restaurant, and tried to picture him cutting up rough. It was only too
easy. I spoke to Corky firmly on the telephone.
"I'll come," I said.
"But only if I may bring Jeeves!"
"Why Jeeves? What's Jeeves got to do with it? Who wants Jeeves? Jeeves
is the fool who suggested the scheme that has led----"
"Listen, Corky, old top! If you think I am going to face that uncle of
yours without Jeeves's support, you're mistaken. I'd sooner go into a
den of wild beasts and bite a lion on the back of the neck."
"Oh, all right," said Corky. Not cordially, but he said it; so I rang
for Jeeves, and explained the situation.
"Very good, sir," said Jeeves.
That's the sort of chap he is. You can't rattle him.
We found Corky near the door, looking at the picture, with one hand up
in a defensive sort of way, as if he thought it might swing on him.
"Stand right where you are, Bertie," he said, without moving. "Now,
tell me honestly, how does it strike you?"
The light from the big window fell right on the picture. I took a good
look at it. Then I shifted a bit nearer and took another look. Then I
went back to where I had been at first, because it hadn't seemed quite
so bad from there.
"Well?" said Corky, anxiously.
I hesitated a bit.
"Of course, old man, I only saw the kid once, and then only for a
moment, but--but it _was_ an ugly sort of kid, wasn't it, if I
"As ugly as that?"
I looked again, and honesty compelled me to be frank.
"I don't see how it could have been, old chap."
Poor old Corky ran his fingers through his hair in a temperamental sort
of way. He groaned.
"You're right quite, Bertie. Something's gone wrong with the darned
thing. My private impression is that, without knowing it, I've worked
that stunt that Sargent and those fellows pull--painting the soul of
the sitter. I've got through the mere outward appearance, and have put
the child's soul on canvas."
"But could a child of that age have a soul like that? I don't see how
he could have managed it in the time. What do you think, Jeeves?"
"I doubt it, sir."
"It--it sorts of leers at you, doesn't it?"
"You've noticed that, too?" said Corky.
"I don't see how one could help noticing."
"All I tried to do was to give the little brute a cheerful expression.
But, as it worked out, he looks positively dissipated."
"Just what I was going to suggest, old man. He looks as if he were in
the middle of a colossal spree, and enjoying every minute of it. Don't
you think so, Jeeves?"
"He has a decidedly inebriated air, sir."
Corky was starting to say something when the door opened, and the uncle
For about three seconds all was joy, jollity, and goodwill. The old boy
shook hands with me, slapped Corky on the back, said that he didn't
think he had ever seen such a fine day, and whacked his leg with his
stick. Jeeves had projected himself into the background, and he didn't
"Well, Bruce, my boy; so the portrait is really finished, is it--really
finished? Well, bring it out. Let's have a look at it. This will be a
wonderful surprise for your aunt. Where is it? Let's----"
And then he got it--suddenly, when he wasn't set for the punch; and he
rocked back on his heels.
"Oosh!" he exclaimed. And for perhaps a minute there was one of the
scaliest silences I've ever run up against.
"Is this a practical joke?" he said at last, in a way that set about
sixteen draughts cutting through the room at once.
I thought it was up to me to rally round old Corky.
"You want to stand a bit farther away from it," I said.
"You're perfectly right!" he snorted. "I do! I want to stand so far
away from it that I can't see the thing with a telescope!" He turned on
Corky like an untamed tiger of the jungle who has just located a chunk
of meat. "And this--this--is what you have been wasting your time and
my money for all these years! A painter! I wouldn't let you paint a
house of mine! I gave you this commission, thinking that you were a
competent worker, and this--this--this extract from a comic coloured
supplement is the result!" He swung towards the door, lashing his tail
and growling to himself. "This ends it! If you wish to continue this
foolery of pretending to be an artist because you want an excuse for
idleness, please yourself. But let me tell you this. Unless you report
at my office on Monday morning, prepared to abandon all this idiocy and
start in at the bottom of the business to work your way up, as you
should have done half a dozen years ago, not another cent--not another
Then the door closed, and he was no longer with us. And I crawled out
of the bombproof shelter.
"Corky, old top!" I whispered faintly.
Corky was standing staring at the picture. His face was set. There was
a hunted look in his eye.
"Well, that finishes it!" he muttered brokenly.
"What are you going to do?"
"Do? What can I do? I can't stick on here if he cuts off supplies. You
heard what he said. I shall have to go to the office on Monday."
I couldn't think of a thing to say. I knew exactly how he felt about
the office. I don't know when I've been so infernally uncomfortable. It
was like hanging round trying to make conversation to a pal who's just
been sentenced to twenty years in quod.
And then a soothing voice broke the silence.
"If I might make a suggestion, sir!"
It was Jeeves. He had slid from the shadows and was gazing gravely at
the picture. Upon my word, I can't give you a better idea of the
shattering effect of Corky's uncle Alexander when in action than by
saying that he had absolutely made me forget for the moment that Jeeves
"I wonder if I have ever happened to mention to you, sir, a Mr. Digby
Thistleton, with whom I was once in service? Perhaps you have met him?
He was a financier. He is now Lord Bridgnorth. It was a favourite
saying of his that there is always a way. The first time I heard him
use the expression was after the failure of a patent depilatory which
"Jeeves," I said, "what on earth are you talking about?"
"I mentioned Mr. Thistleton, sir, because his was in some respects
a parallel case to the present one. His depilatory failed, but he
did not despair. He put it on the market again under the name of
Hair-o, guaranteed to produce a full crop of hair in a few months.
It was advertised, if you remember, sir, by a humorous picture of a
billiard-ball, before and after taking, and made such a substantial
fortune that Mr. Thistleton was soon afterwards elevated to the peerage
for services to his Party. It seems to me that, if Mr. Corcoran looks
into the matter, he will find, like Mr. Thistleton, that there is always
a way. Mr. Worple himself suggested the solution of the difficulty. In
the heat of the moment he compared the portrait to an extract from a
coloured comic supplement. I consider the suggestion a very valuable
one, sir. Mr. Corcoran's portrait may not have pleased Mr. Worple as a
likeness of his only child, but I have no doubt that editors would gladly
consider it as a foundation for a series of humorous drawings. If Mr.
Corcoran will allow me to make the suggestion, his talent has always been
for the humorous. There is something about this picture--something bold
and vigorous, which arrests the attention. I feel sure it would be highly
Corky was glaring at the picture, and making a sort of dry, sucking
noise with his mouth. He seemed completely overwrought.
And then suddenly he began to laugh in a wild way.
"Corky, old man!" I said, massaging him tenderly. I feared the poor
blighter was hysterical.
He began to stagger about all over the floor.
"He's right! The man's absolutely right! Jeeves, you're a life-saver!
You've hit on the greatest idea of the age! Report at the office on
Monday! Start at the bottom of the business! I'll buy the business if I
feel like it. I know the man who runs the comic section of the
_Sunday Star_. He'll eat this thing. He was telling me only the
other day how hard it was to get a good new series. He'll give me
anything I ask for a real winner like this. I've got a gold-mine.
Where's my hat? I've got an income for life! Where's that confounded
hat? Lend me a fiver, Bertie. I want to take a taxi down to Park Row!"
Jeeves smiled paternally. Or, rather, he had a kind of paternal
muscular spasm about the mouth, which is the nearest he ever gets to
"If I might make the suggestion, Mr. Corcoran--for a title of the
series which you have in mind--'The Adventures of Baby Blobbs.'"
Corky and I looked at the picture, then at each other in an awed way.
Jeeves was right. There could be no other title.
"Jeeves," I said. It was a few weeks later, and I had just finished
looking at the comic section of the _Sunday Star_. "I'm an
optimist. I always have been. The older I get, the more I agree with
Shakespeare and those poet Johnnies about it always being darkest
before the dawn and there's a silver lining and what you lose on the
swings you make up on the roundabouts. Look at Mr. Corcoran, for
instance. There was a fellow, one would have said, clear up to the
eyebrows in the soup. To all appearances he had got it right in the
neck. Yet look at him now. Have you seen these pictures?"
"I took the liberty of glancing at them before bringing them to you,
sir. Extremely diverting."
"They have made a big hit, you know."
"I anticipated it, sir."
I leaned back against the pillows.
"You know, Jeeves, you're a genius. You ought to be drawing a
commission on these things."
"I have nothing to complain of in that respect, sir. Mr. Corcoran has
been most generous. I am putting out the brown suit, sir."
"No, I think I'll wear the blue with the faint red stripe."
"Not the blue with the faint red stripe, sir."
"But I rather fancy myself in it."
"Not the blue with the faint red stripe, sir."
"Oh, all right, have it your own way."
"Very good, sir. Thank you, sir."
Of course, I know it's as bad as being henpecked; but then Jeeves is
always right. You've got to consider that, you know. What?