I meditated pretty freely as I drove down to Brinkley in the old
two-seater that afternoon. The news of this rift or rupture of Angela's
and Tuppy's had disturbed me greatly.
The projected match, you see, was one on which I had always looked with
kindly approval. Too often, when a chap of your acquaintance is planning
to marry a girl you know, you find yourself knitting the brow a bit and
chewing the lower lip dubiously, feeling that he or she, or both, should
be warned while there is yet time.
But I have never felt anything of this nature about Tuppy and Angela.
Tuppy, when not making an ass of himself, is a soundish sort of egg. So
is Angela a soundish sort of egg. And, as far as being in love was
concerned, it had always seemed to me that you wouldn't have been far out
in describing them as two hearts that beat as one.
True, they had had their little tiffs, notably on the occasion when
Tuppy--with what he said was fearless honesty and I considered thorough
goofiness--had told Angela that her new hat made her look like a
Pekingese. But in every romance you have to budget for the occasional
dust-up, and after that incident I had supposed that he had learned his
lesson and that from then on life would be one grand, sweet song.
And now this wholly unforeseen severing of diplomatic relations had
popped up through a trap.
I gave the thing the cream of the Wooster brain all the way down, but it
continued to beat me what could have caused the outbreak of hostilities,
and I bunged my foot sedulously on the accelerator in order to get to
Aunt Dahlia with the greatest possible speed and learn the inside history
straight from the horse's mouth. And what with all six cylinders hitting
nicely, I made good time and found myself closeted with the relative
shortly before the hour of the evening cocktail.
She seemed glad to see me. In fact, she actually said she was glad to see
me--a statement no other aunt on the list would have committed herself
to, the customary reaction of these near and dear ones to the spectacle
of Bertram arriving for a visit being a sort of sick horror.
"Decent of you to rally round, Bertie," she said.
"My place was by your side, Aunt Dahlia," I responded.
I could see at a g. that the unfortunate affair had got in amongst her in
no uncertain manner. Her usually cheerful map was clouded, and the genial
smile conspic. by its a. I pressed her hand sympathetically, to indicate
that my heart bled for her.
"Bad show this, my dear old flesh and blood," I said. "I'm afraid you've
been having a sticky time. You must be worried."
She snorted emotionally. She looked like an aunt who has just bitten into
a bad oyster.
"Worried is right. I haven't had a peaceful moment since I got back from
Cannes. Ever since I put my foot across this blasted threshold," said
Aunt Dahlia, returning for the nonce to the hearty _argot_ of the hunting
field, "everything's been at sixes and sevens. First there was that mix-up
about the prize-giving."
She paused at this point and gave me a look. "I had been meaning to speak
freely to you about your behaviour in that matter, Bertie," she said. "I
had some good things all stored up. But, as you've rallied round like
this, I suppose I shall have to let you off. And, anyway, it is probably
all for the best that you evaded your obligations in that sickeningly
craven way. I have an idea that this Spink-Bottle of yours is going to be
good. If only he can keep off newts."
"Has he been talking about newts?"
"He has. Fixing me with a glittering eye, like the Ancient Mariner. But
if that was the worst I had to bear, I wouldn't mind. What I'm worrying
about is what Tom says when he starts talking."
"I wish there was something else you could call him except 'Uncle Tom',"
said Aunt Dahlia a little testily. "Every time you do it, I expect to see
him turn black and start playing the banjo. Yes, Uncle Tom, if you must
have it. I shall have to tell him soon about losing all that money at
baccarat, and, when I do, he will go up like a rocket."
"Still, no doubt Time, the great healer----"
"Time, the great healer, be blowed. I've got to get a cheque for five
hundred pounds out of him for _Milady's Boudoir_ by August the third at
I was concerned. Apart from a nephew's natural interest in an aunt's
refined weekly paper, I had always had a soft spot in my heart for
_Milady's Boudoir_ ever since I contributed that article to it on What
the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing. Sentimental, possibly, but we old
journalists do have these feelings.
"Is the _Boudoir_ on the rocks?"
"It will be if Tom doesn't cough up. It needs help till it has turned the
"But wasn't it turning the corner two years ago?"
"It was. And it's still at it. Till you've run a weekly paper for women,
you don't know what corners are."
"And you think the chances of getting into uncle--into my uncle by
marriage's ribs are slight?"
"I'll tell you, Bertie. Up till now, when these subsidies were required,
I have always been able to come to Tom in the gay, confident spirit of an
only child touching an indulgent father for chocolate cream. But he's
just had a demand from the income-tax people for an additional fifty-eight
pounds, one and threepence, and all he's been talking about since I got
back has been ruin and the sinister trend of socialistic legislation and
what will become of us all."
I could readily believe it. This Tom has a peculiarity I've noticed in
other very oofy men. Nick him for the paltriest sum, and he lets out a
squawk you can hear at Land's End. He has the stuff in gobs, but he hates
"If it wasn't for Anatole's cooking, I doubt if he would bother to carry
on. Thank God for Anatole, I say."
I bowed my head reverently.
"Good old Anatole," I said.
"Amen," said Aunt Dahlia.
Then the look of holy ecstasy, which is always the result of letting the
mind dwell, however briefly, on Anatole's cooking, died out of her face.
"But don't let me wander from the subject," she resumed. "I was telling
you of the way hell's foundations have been quivering since I got home.
First the prize-giving, then Tom, and now, on top of everything else,
this infernal quarrel between Angela and young Glossop."
I nodded gravely. "I was frightfully sorry to hear of that. Terrible
shock. What was the row about?"
"Sharks. Or, rather, one individual shark. The brute that went for the
poor child when she was aquaplaning at Cannes. You remember Angela's
Certainly I remembered Angela's shark. A man of sensibility does not
forget about a cousin nearly being chewed by monsters of the deep. The
episode was still green in my memory.
In a nutshell, what had occurred was this: You know how you aquaplane. A
motor-boat nips on ahead, trailing a rope. You stand on a board, holding
the rope, and the boat tows you along. And every now and then you lose
your grip on the rope and plunge into the sea and have to swim to your
A silly process it has always seemed to me, though many find it
Well, on the occasion referred to, Angela had just regained her board
after taking a toss, when a great beastly shark came along and cannoned
into it, flinging her into the salty once more. It took her quite a bit
of time to get on again and make the motor-boat chap realize what was up
and haul her to safety, and during that interval you can readily picture
According to Angela, the finny denizen kept snapping at her ankles
virtually without cessation, so that by the time help arrived, she was
feeling more like a salted almond at a public dinner than anything human.
Very shaken the poor child had been, I recall, and had talked of nothing
else for weeks.
"I remember the whole incident vividly," I said. "But how did that start
"She was telling him the story last night."
"Her eyes shining and her little hands clasped in girlish excitement."
"And instead of giving her the understanding and sympathy to which she
was entitled, what do you think this blasted Glossop did? He sat
listening like a lump of dough, as if she had been talking about the
weather, and when she had finished, he took his cigarette holder out of
his mouth and said, 'I expect it was only a floating log'!"
"He did. And when Angela described how the thing had jumped and snapped
at her, he took his cigarette holder out of his mouth again, and said,
'Ah! Probably a flatfish. Quite harmless. No doubt it was just trying to
play.' Well, I mean! What would you have done if you had been Angela? She
has pride, sensibility, all the natural feelings of a good woman. She
told him he was an ass and a fool and an idiot, and didn't know what he
was talking about."
I must say I saw the girl's viewpoint. It's only about once in a lifetime
that anything sensational ever happens to one, and when it does, you
don't want people taking all the colour out of it. I remember at school
having to read that stuff where that chap, Othello, tells the girl what a
hell of a time he'd been having among the cannibals and what not. Well,
imagine his feelings if, after he had described some particularly sticky
passage with a cannibal chief and was waiting for the awestruck "Oh-h!
Not really?", she had said that the whole thing had no doubt been greatly
exaggerated and that the man had probably really been a prominent local
Yes, I saw Angela's point of view.
"But don't tell me that when he saw how shirty she was about it, the
chump didn't back down?"
"He didn't. He argued. And one thing led to another until, by easy
stages, they had arrived at the point where she was saying that she
didn't know if he was aware of it, but if he didn't knock off starchy
foods and do exercises every morning, he would be getting as fat as a
pig, and he was talking about this modern habit of girls putting make-up
on their faces, of which he had always disapproved. This continued for a
while, and then there was a loud pop and the air was full of mangled
fragments of their engagement. I'm distracted about it. Thank goodness
you've come, Bertie."
"Nothing could have kept me away," I replied, touched. "I felt you needed
"Or, rather," she said, "not you, of course, but Jeeves. The minute all
this happened, I thought of him. The situation obviously cries out for
Jeeves. If ever in the whole history of human affairs there was a moment
when that lofty brain was required about the home, this is it."
I think, if I had been standing up, I would have staggered. In fact, I'm
pretty sure I would. But it isn't so dashed easy to stagger when you're
sitting in an arm-chair. Only my face, therefore, showed how deeply I had
been stung by these words.
Until she spoke them, I had been all sweetness and light--the sympathetic
nephew prepared to strain every nerve to do his bit. I now froze, and the
face became hard and set.
"Jeeves!" I said, between clenched teeth.
"Oom beroofen," said Aunt Dahlia.
I saw that she had got the wrong angle.
"I was not sneezing. I was saying 'Jeeves!'"
"And well you may. What a man! I'm going to put the whole thing up to
him. There's nobody like Jeeves."
My frigidity became more marked.
"I venture to take issue with you, Aunt Dahlia."
"You take what?"
"You do, do you?"
"I emphatically do. Jeeves is hopeless."
"Quite hopeless. He has lost his grip completely. Only a couple of days
ago I was compelled to take him off a case because his handling of it was
so footling. And, anyway, I resent this assumption, if assumption is the
word I want, that Jeeves is the only fellow with brain. I object to the
way everybody puts things up to him without consulting me and letting me
have a stab at them first."
She seemed about to speak, but I checked her with a gesture.
"It is true that in the past I have sometimes seen fit to seek Jeeves's
advice. It is possible that in the future I may seek it again. But I
claim the right to have a pop at these problems, as they arise, in
person, without having everybody behave as if Jeeves was the only onion
in the hash. I sometimes feel that Jeeves, though admittedly not
unsuccessful in the past, has been lucky rather than gifted."
"Have you and Jeeves had a row?"
"Nothing of the kind."
"You seem to have it in for him."
"Not at all."
And yet I must admit that there was a modicum of truth in what she said.
I had been feeling pretty austere about the man all day, and I'll tell
You remember that he caught that 12.45 train with the luggage, while I
remained on in order to keep a luncheon engagement. Well, just before I
started out to the tryst, I was pottering about the flat, and suddenly--I
don't know what put the suspicion into my head, possibly the fellow's
manner had been furtive--something seemed to whisper to me to go and have
a look in the wardrobe.
And it was as I had suspected. There was the mess-jacket still on its
hanger. The hound hadn't packed it.
Well, as anybody at the Drones will tell you, Bertram Wooster is a pretty
hard chap to outgeneral. I shoved the thing in a brown-paper parcel and
put it in the back of the car, and it was on a chair in the hall now. But
that didn't alter the fact that Jeeves had attempted to do the dirty on
me, and I suppose a certain what-d'you-call-it had crept into my manner
during the above remarks.
"There has been no breach," I said. "You might describe it as a passing
coolness, but no more. We did not happen to see eye to eye with regard to
my white mess-jacket with the brass buttons and I was compelled to assert
my personality. But----"
"Well, it doesn't matter, anyway. The thing that matters is that you are
talking piffle, you poor fish. Jeeves lost his grip? Absurd. Why, I saw
him for a moment when he arrived, and his eyes were absolutely glittering
with intelligence. I said to myself 'Trust Jeeves,' and I intend to."
"You would be far better advised to let me see what I can accomplish,
"For heaven's sake, don't you start butting in. You'll only make matters
"On the contrary, it may interest you to know that while driving here I
concentrated deeply on this trouble of Angela's and was successful in
formulating a plan, based on the psychology of the individual, which I am
proposing to put into effect at an early moment."
"Oh, my God!"
"My knowledge of human nature tells me it will work."
"Bertie," said Aunt Dahlia, and her manner struck me as febrile, "lay
off, lay off! For pity's sake, lay off. I know these plans of yours. I
suppose you want to shove Angela into the lake and push young Glossop in
after her to save her life, or something like that."
"Nothing of the kind."
"It's the sort of thing you would do."
"My scheme is far more subtle. Let me outline it for you."
"I say to myself----"
"But not to me."
"Do listen for a second."
"Right ho, then. I am dumb."
"And have been from a child."
I perceived that little good could result from continuing the discussion.
I waved a hand and shrugged a shoulder.
"Very well, Aunt Dahlia," I said, with dignity, "if you don't want to be
in on the ground floor, that is your affair. But you are missing an
intellectual treat. And, anyway, no matter how much you may behave like
the deaf adder of Scripture which, as you are doubtless aware, the more
one piped, the less it danced, or words to that effect, I shall carry on
as planned. I am extremely fond of Angela, and I shall spare no effort to
bring the sunshine back into her heart."
"Bertie, you abysmal chump, I appeal to you once more. Will you please
lay off? You'll only make things ten times as bad as they are already."
I remember reading in one of those historical novels once about a chap--a
buck he would have been, no doubt, or a macaroni or some such bird as
that--who, when people said the wrong thing, merely laughed down from
lazy eyelids and flicked a speck of dust from the irreproachable Mechlin
lace at his wrists. This was practically what I did now. At least, I
straightened my tie and smiled one of those inscrutable smiles of mine. I
then withdrew and went out for a saunter in the garden.
And the first chap I ran into was young Tuppy. His brow was furrowed, and
he was moodily bunging stones at a flowerpot.