My Man Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Suzanne L. Shell, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
MY MAN JEEVES
BY P. G. WODEHOUSE
LEAVE IT TO JEEVES
JEEVES AND THE UNBIDDEN GUEST
JEEVES AND THE HARD-BOILED EGG
RALLYING ROUND OLD GEORGE
DOING CLARENCE A BIT OF GOOD
THE AUNT AND THE SLUGGARD
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 fiancee, 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?
JEEVES AND THE UNBIDDEN GUEST
I'm not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it's
Shakespeare--or, if not, it's some equally brainy lad--who says that
it's always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and
more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up
behind him with a bit of lead piping. There's no doubt the man's right.
It's absolutely that way with me. Take, for instance, the fairly rummy
matter of Lady Malvern and her son Wilmot. A moment before they turned
up, I was just thinking how thoroughly all right everything was.
It was one of those topping mornings, and I had just climbed out from
under the cold shower, feeling like a two-year-old. As a matter of
fact, I was especially bucked just then because the day before I had
asserted myself with Jeeves--absolutely asserted myself, don't you
know. You see, the way things had been going on I was rapidly becoming
a dashed serf. The man had jolly well oppressed me. I didn't so much
mind when he made me give up one of my new suits, because, Jeeves's
judgment about suits is sound. But I as near as a toucher rebelled when
he wouldn't let me wear a pair of cloth-topped boots which I loved like
a couple of brothers. And when he tried to tread on me like a worm in
the matter of a hat, I jolly well put my foot down and showed him who
was who. It's a long story, and I haven't time to tell you now, but
the point is that he wanted me to wear the Longacre--as worn by John
Drew--when I had set my heart on the Country Gentleman--as worn by
another famous actor chappie--and the end of the matter was that, after
a rather painful scene, I bought the Country Gentleman. So that's how
things stood on this particular morning, and I was feeling kind of
manly and independent.
Well, I was in the bathroom, wondering what there was going to be for
breakfast while I massaged the good old spine with a rough towel and
sang slightly, when there was a tap at the door. I stopped singing and
opened the door an inch.
"What ho without there!"
"Lady Malvern wishes to see you, sir," said Jeeves.
"Lady Malvern, sir. She is waiting in the sitting-room."
"Pull yourself together, Jeeves, my man," I said, rather severely, for
I bar practical jokes before breakfast. "You know perfectly well
there's no one waiting for me in the sitting-room. How could there be
when it's barely ten o'clock yet?"
"I gathered from her ladyship, sir, that she had landed from an ocean
liner at an early hour this morning."
This made the thing a bit more plausible. I remembered that when I had
arrived in America about a year before, the proceedings had begun at
some ghastly hour like six, and that I had been shot out on to a
foreign shore considerably before eight.
"Who the deuce is Lady Malvern, Jeeves?"
"Her ladyship did not confide in me, sir."
"Is she alone?"
"Her ladyship is accompanied by a Lord Pershore, sir. I fancy that his
lordship would be her ladyship's son."
"Oh, well, put out rich raiment of sorts, and I'll be dressing."
"Our heather-mixture lounge is in readiness, sir."
"Then lead me to it."
While I was dressing I kept trying to think who on earth Lady Malvern
could be. It wasn't till I had climbed through the top of my shirt and
was reaching out for the studs that I remembered.
"I've placed her, Jeeves. She's a pal of my Aunt Agatha."
"Yes. I met her at lunch one Sunday before I left
London. A very vicious specimen. Writes books. She wrote a book on
social conditions in India when she came back from the Durbar."
"Yes, sir? Pardon me, sir, but not that tie!"
"Not that tie with the heather-mixture lounge, sir!"
It was a shock to me. I thought I had quelled the fellow. It was rather
a solemn moment. What I mean is, if I weakened now, all my good work
the night before would be thrown away. I braced myself.
"What's wrong with this tie? I've seen you give it a nasty look before.
Speak out like a man! What's the matter with it?"
"Too ornate, sir."
"Nonsense! A cheerful pink. Nothing more."
"Jeeves, this is the tie I wear!"
"Very good, sir."
Dashed unpleasant. I could see that the man was wounded. But I was
firm. I tied the tie, got into the coat and waistcoat, and went into
"Halloa! Halloa! Halloa!" I said. "What?"
"Ah! How do you do, Mr. Wooster? You have never met my son, Wilmot, I
think? Motty, darling, this is Mr. Wooster."
Lady Malvern was a hearty, happy, healthy, overpowering sort of dashed
female, not so very tall but making up for it by measuring about six feet
from the O.P. to the Prompt Side. She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as
if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing
arm-chairs tight about the hips that season. She had bright, bulging
eyes and a lot of yellow hair, and when she spoke she showed about
fifty-seven front teeth. She was one of those women who kind of numb
a fellow's faculties. She made me feel as if I were ten years old and
had been brought into the drawing-room in my Sunday clothes to say
how-d'you-do. Altogether by no means the sort of thing a chappie would
wish to find in his sitting-room before breakfast.
Motty, the son, was about twenty-three, tall and thin and meek-looking.
He had the same yellow hair as his mother, but he wore it plastered
down and parted in the middle. His eyes bulged, too, but they weren't
bright. They were a dull grey with pink rims. His chin gave up the
struggle about half-way down, and he didn't appear to have any
eyelashes. A mild, furtive, sheepish sort of blighter, in short.
"Awfully glad to see you," I said. "So you've popped over, eh? Making a
long stay in America?"
"About a month. Your aunt gave me your address and told me to be sure
and call on you."
I was glad to hear this, as it showed that Aunt Agatha was beginning to
come round a bit. There had been some unpleasantness a year before,
when she had sent me over to New York to disentangle my Cousin Gussie
from the clutches of a girl on the music-hall stage. When I tell you
that by the time I had finished my operations, Gussie had not only
married the girl but had gone on the stage himself, and was doing well,
you'll understand that Aunt Agatha was upset to no small extent. I
simply hadn't dared go back and face her, and it was a relief to find
that time had healed the wound and all that sort of thing enough to
make her tell her pals to look me up. What I mean is, much as I liked
America, I didn't want to have England barred to me for the rest of my
natural; and, believe me, England is a jolly sight too small for anyone
to live in with Aunt Agatha, if she's really on the warpath. So I
braced on hearing these kind words and smiled genially on the
"Your aunt said that you would do anything that was in your power to be
of assistance to us."
"Rather? Oh, rather! Absolutely!"
"Thank you so much. I want you to put dear Motty up for a little
I didn't get this for a moment.
"Put him up? For my clubs?"
"No, no! Darling Motty is essentially a home bird. Aren't you, Motty
Motty, who was sucking the knob of his stick, uncorked himself.
"Yes, mother," he said, and corked himself up again.
"I should not like him to belong to clubs. I mean put him up here. Have
him to live with you while I am away."
These frightful words trickled out of her like honey. The woman simply
didn't seem to understand the ghastly nature of her proposal. I gave
Motty the swift east-to-west. He was sitting with his mouth nuzzling
the stick, blinking at the wall. The thought of having this planted on
me for an indefinite period appalled me. Absolutely appalled me, don't
you know. I was just starting to say that the shot wasn't on the board
at any price, and that the first sign Motty gave of trying to nestle
into my little home I would yell for the police, when she went on,
rolling placidly over me, as it were.
There was something about this woman that sapped a chappie's will-power.
"I am leaving New York by the midday train, as I have to pay a visit to
Sing-Sing prison. I am extremely interested in prison conditions in
America. After that I work my way gradually across to the coast,
visiting the points of interest on the journey. You see, Mr. Wooster, I
am in America principally on business. No doubt you read my book,
_India and the Indians_? My publishers are anxious for me to write
a companion volume on the United States. I shall not be able to spend
more than a month in the country, as I have to get back for the season,
but a month should be ample. I was less than a month in India, and my
dear friend Sir Roger Cremorne wrote his _America from Within_
after a stay of only two weeks. I should love to take dear Motty with
me, but the poor boy gets so sick when he travels by train. I shall
have to pick him up on my return."
From where I sat I could see Jeeves in the dining-room, laying the
breakfast-table. I wished I could have had a minute with him alone. I
felt certain that he would have been able to think of some way of
putting a stop to this woman.
"It will be such a relief to know that Motty is safe with you, Mr.
Wooster. I know what the temptations of a great city are. Hitherto dear
Motty has been sheltered from them. He has lived quietly with me in the
country. I know that you will look after him carefully, Mr. Wooster. He
will give very little trouble." She talked about the poor blighter as
if he wasn't there. Not that Motty seemed to mind. He had stopped
chewing his walking-stick and was sitting there with his mouth open.
"He is a vegetarian and a teetotaller and is devoted to reading. Give
him a nice book and he will be quite contented." She got up. "Thank you
so much, Mr. Wooster! I don't know what I should have done without your
help. Come, Motty! We have just time to see a few of the sights before
my train goes. But I shall have to rely on you for most of my
information about New York, darling. Be sure to keep your eyes open and
take notes of your impressions! It will be such a help. Good-bye, Mr.
Wooster. I will send Motty back early in the afternoon."
They went out, and I howled for Jeeves.
"Jeeves! What about it?"
"What's to be done? You heard it all, didn't you? You were in the
dining-room most of the time. That pill is coming to stay here."
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
I looked at Jeeves sharply. This sort of thing wasn't like him. It was
as if he were deliberately trying to give me the pip. Then I
understood. The man was really upset about that tie. He was trying to
get his own back.
"Lord Pershore will be staying here from to-night, Jeeves," I said
"Very good, sir. Breakfast is ready, sir."
I could have sobbed into the bacon and eggs. That there wasn't any
sympathy to be got out of Jeeves was what put the lid on it. For a
moment I almost weakened and told him to destroy the hat and tie if he
didn't like them, but I pulled myself together again. I was dashed if I
was going to let Jeeves treat me like a bally one-man chain-gang!
But, what with brooding on Jeeves and brooding on Motty, I was in a
pretty reduced sort of state. The more I examined the situation, the
more blighted it became. There was nothing I could do. If I slung Motty
out, he would report to his mother, and she would pass it on to Aunt
Agatha, and I didn't like to think what would happen then. Sooner or
later, I should be wanting to go back to England, and I didn't want to
get there and find Aunt Agatha waiting on the quay for me with a
stuffed eelskin. There was absolutely nothing for it but to put the
fellow up and make the best of it.
About midday Motty's luggage arrived, and soon afterward a large parcel
of what I took to be nice books. I brightened up a little when I saw
it. It was one of those massive parcels and looked as if it had enough
in it to keep the chappie busy for a year. I felt a trifle more
cheerful, and I got my Country Gentleman hat and stuck it on my head,
and gave the pink tie a twist, and reeled out to take a bite of lunch
with one or two of the lads at a neighbouring hostelry; and what with
excellent browsing and sluicing and cheery conversation and what-not,
the afternoon passed quite happily. By dinner-time I had almost
forgotten blighted Motty's existence.
I dined at the club and looked in at a show afterward, and it wasn't
till fairly late that I got back to the flat. There were no signs of
Motty, and I took it that he had gone to bed.
It seemed rummy to me, though, that the parcel of nice books was still
there with the string and paper on it. It looked as if Motty, after
seeing mother off at the station, had decided to call it a day.
Jeeves came in with the nightly whisky-and-soda. I could tell by the
chappie's manner that he was still upset.
"Lord Pershore gone to bed, Jeeves?" I asked, with reserved hauteur and
"No, sir. His lordship has not yet returned."
"Not returned? What do you mean?"
"His lordship came in shortly after six-thirty, and, having dressed,
went out again."
At this moment there was a noise outside the front door, a sort of
scrabbling noise, as if somebody were trying to paw his way through the
woodwork. Then a sort of thud.
"Better go and see what that is, Jeeves."
"Very good, sir."
He went out and came back again.
"If you would not mind stepping this way, sir, I think we might be able
to carry him in."
"Carry him in?"
"His lordship is lying on the mat, sir."
I went to the front door. The man was right. There was Motty huddled up
outside on the floor. He was moaning a bit.
"He's had some sort of dashed fit," I said. I took another look.
"Jeeves! Someone's been feeding him meat!"
"He's a vegetarian, you know. He must have been digging into a steak or
something. Call up a doctor!"
"I hardly think it will be necessary, sir. If you would take his
lordship's legs, while I----"
"Great Scot, Jeeves! You don't think--he can't be----"
"I am inclined to think so, sir."
And, by Jove, he was right! Once on the right track, you couldn't
mistake it. Motty was under the surface.
It was the deuce of a shock.
"You never can tell, Jeeves!"
"Very seldom, sir."
"Remove the eye of authority and where are you?"
"Where is my wandering boy to-night and all that sort of thing, what?"
"It would seem so, sir."
"Well, we had better bring him in, eh?"
So we lugged him in, and Jeeves put him to bed, and I lit a cigarette
and sat down to think the thing over. I had a kind of foreboding. It
seemed to me that I had let myself in for something pretty rocky.
Next morning, after I had sucked down a thoughtful cup of tea, I went
into Motty's room to investigate. I expected to find the fellow a
wreck, but there he was, sitting up in bed, quite chirpy, reading
"What ho!" I said.
"What ho!" said Motty.
"What ho! What ho!"
"What ho! What ho! What ho!"
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.
"How are you feeling this morning?" I asked.
"Topping!" replied Motty, blithely and with abandon. "I say, you know,
that fellow of yours--Jeeves, you know--is a corker. I had a most
frightful headache when I woke up, and he brought me a sort of rummy
dark drink, and it put me right again at once. Said it was his own
invention. I must see more of that lad. He seems to me distinctly one
of the ones!"
I couldn't believe that this was the same blighter who had sat and
sucked his stick the day before.
"You ate something that disagreed with you last night, didn't you?" I
said, by way of giving him a chance to slide out of it if he wanted to.
But he wouldn't have it, at any price.
"No!" he replied firmly. "I didn't do anything of the kind. I drank too
much! Much too much. Lots and lots too much! And, what's more, I'm
going to do it again! I'm going to do it every night. If ever you see
me sober, old top," he said, with a kind of holy exaltation, "tap me on
the shoulder and say, 'Tut! Tut!' and I'll apologize and remedy the
"But I say, you know, what about me?"
"What about you?"
"Well, I'm so to speak, as it were, kind of responsible for you. What I
mean to say is, if you go doing this sort of thing I'm apt to get in
the soup somewhat."
"I can't help your troubles," said Motty firmly. "Listen to me, old
thing: this is the first time in my life that I've had a real chance to
yield to the temptations of a great city. What's the use of a great
city having temptations if fellows don't yield to them? Makes it so
bally discouraging for a great city. Besides, mother told me to keep my
eyes open and collect impressions."
I sat on the edge of the bed. I felt dizzy.
"I know just how you feel, old dear," said Motty consolingly. "And, if
my principles would permit it, I would simmer down for your sake. But
duty first! This is the first time I've been let out alone, and I mean
to make the most of it. We're only young once. Why interfere with
life's morning? Young man, rejoice in thy youth! Tra-la! What ho!"
Put like that, it did seem reasonable.
"All my bally life, dear boy," Motty went on, "I've been cooped up in
the ancestral home at Much Middlefold, in Shropshire, and till you've
been cooped up in Much Middlefold you don't know what cooping is! The
only time we get any excitement is when one of the choir-boys is caught
sucking chocolate during the sermon. When that happens, we talk about
it for days. I've got about a month of New York, and I mean to store up
a few happy memories for the long winter evenings. This is my only
chance to collect a past, and I'm going to do it. Now tell me, old
sport, as man to man, how does one get in touch with that very decent
chappie Jeeves? Does one ring a bell or shout a bit? I should like to
discuss the subject of a good stiff b.-and-s. with him!"
* * * * *
I had had a sort of vague idea, don't you know, that if I stuck close
to Motty and went about the place with him, I might act as a bit of a
damper on the gaiety. What I mean is, I thought that if, when he was
being the life and soul of the party, he were to catch my reproving eye
he might ease up a trifle on the revelry. So the next night I took him
along to supper with me. It was the last time. I'm a quiet, peaceful
sort of chappie who has lived all his life in London, and I can't stand
the pace these swift sportsmen from the rural districts set. What I
mean to say is this, I'm all for rational enjoyment and so forth, but I
think a chappie makes himself conspicuous when he throws soft-boiled
eggs at the electric fan. And decent mirth and all that sort of thing
are all right, but I do bar dancing on tables and having to dash all
over the place dodging waiters, managers, and chuckers-out, just when
you want to sit still and digest.
Directly I managed to tear myself away that night and get home, I made
up my mind that this was jolly well the last time that I went about
with Motty. The only time I met him late at night after that was once
when I passed the door of a fairly low-down sort of restaurant and had
to step aside to dodge him as he sailed through the air _en route_
for the opposite pavement, with a muscular sort of looking chappie
peering out after him with a kind of gloomy satisfaction.
In a way, I couldn't help sympathizing with the fellow. He had about
four weeks to have the good time that ought to have been spread over
about ten years, and I didn't wonder at his wanting to be pretty busy.
I should have been just the same in his place. Still, there was no
denying that it was a bit thick. If it hadn't been for the thought of
Lady Malvern and Aunt Agatha in the background, I should have regarded
Motty's rapid work with an indulgent smile. But I couldn't get rid of
the feeling that, sooner or later, I was the lad who was scheduled to
get it behind the ear. And what with brooding on this prospect, and
sitting up in the old flat waiting for the familiar footstep, and
putting it to bed when it got there, and stealing into the sick-chamber
next morning to contemplate the wreckage, I was beginning to lose
weight. Absolutely becoming the good old shadow, I give you my honest
word. Starting at sudden noises and what-not.
And no sympathy from Jeeves. That was what cut me to the quick. The man
was still thoroughly pipped about the hat and tie, and simply wouldn't
rally round. One morning I wanted comforting so much that I sank the
pride of the Woosters and appealed to the fellow direct.
"Jeeves," I said, "this is getting a bit thick!"
"Sir?" Business and cold respectfulness.
"You know what I mean. This lad seems to have chucked all the
principles of a well-spent boyhood. He has got it up his nose!"
"Well, I shall get blamed, don't you know. You know what my Aunt Agatha
"Very well, then."
I waited a moment, but he wouldn't unbend.
"Jeeves," I said, "haven't you any scheme up your sleeve for coping
with this blighter?"
And he shimmered off to his lair. Obstinate devil! So dashed absurd,
don't you know. It wasn't as if there was anything wrong with that
Country Gentleman hat. It was a remarkably priceless effort, and much
admired by the lads. But, just because he preferred the Longacre, he
left me flat.
It was shortly after this that young Motty got the idea of bringing
pals back in the small hours to continue the gay revels in the home.
This was where I began to crack under the strain. You see, the part of
town where I was living wasn't the right place for that sort of thing.
I knew lots of chappies down Washington Square way who started the
evening at about 2 a.m.--artists and writers and what-not, who
frolicked considerably till checked by the arrival of the morning milk.
That was all right. They like that sort of thing down there. The
neighbours can't get to sleep unless there's someone dancing Hawaiian
dances over their heads. But on Fifty-seventh Street the atmosphere
wasn't right, and when Motty turned up at three in the morning with a
collection of hearty lads, who only stopped singing their college song
when they started singing "The Old Oaken Bucket," there was a marked
peevishness among the old settlers in the flats. The management was
extremely terse over the telephone at breakfast-time, and took a lot of
The next night I came home early, after a lonely dinner at a place
which I'd chosen because there didn't seem any chance of meeting Motty
there. The sitting-room was quite dark, and I was just moving to switch
on the light, when there was a sort of explosion and something collared
hold of my trouser-leg. Living with Motty had reduced me to such an
extent that I was simply unable to cope with this thing. I jumped
backward with a loud yell of anguish, and tumbled out into the hall
just as Jeeves came out of his den to see what the matter was.
"Did you call, sir?"
"Jeeves! There's something in there that grabs you by the leg!"
"That would be Rollo, sir."
"I would have warned you of his presence, but I did not hear you come
in. His temper is a little uncertain at present, as he has not yet
"Who the deuce is Rollo?"
"His lordship's bull-terrier, sir. His lordship won him in a raffle,
and tied him to the leg of the table. If you will allow me, sir, I will
go in and switch on the light."
There really is nobody like Jeeves. He walked straight into the
sitting-room, the biggest feat since Daniel and the lions' den, without
a quiver. What's more, his magnetism or whatever they call it was such
that the dashed animal, instead of pinning him by the leg, calmed down
as if he had had a bromide, and rolled over on his back with all his
paws in the air. If Jeeves had been his rich uncle he couldn't have
been more chummy. Yet directly he caught sight of me again, he got all
worked up and seemed to have only one idea in life--to start chewing me
where he had left off.
"Rollo is not used to you yet, sir," said Jeeves, regarding the bally
quadruped in an admiring sort of way. "He is an excellent watchdog."
"I don't want a watchdog to keep me out of my rooms."
"Well, what am I to do?"
"No doubt in time the animal will learn to discriminate, sir. He will
learn to distinguish your peculiar scent."
"What do you mean--my peculiar scent? Correct the impression that I
intend to hang about in the hall while life slips by, in the hope that
one of these days that dashed animal will decide that I smell all
right." I thought for a bit. "Jeeves!"
"I'm going away--to-morrow morning by the first train. I shall go and
stop with Mr. Todd in the country."
"Do you wish me to accompany you, sir?"
"Very good, sir."
"I don't know when I shall be back. Forward my letters."
* * * * *
As a matter of fact, I was back within the week. Rocky Todd, the pal I
went to stay with, is a rummy sort of a chap who lives all alone in the
wilds of Long Island, and likes it; but a little of that sort of thing
goes a long way with me. Dear old Rocky is one of the best, but after a
few days in his cottage in the woods, miles away from anywhere, New
York, even with Motty on the premises, began to look pretty good to me.
The days down on Long Island have forty-eight hours in them; you can't
get to sleep at night because of the bellowing of the crickets; and you
have to walk two miles for a drink and six for an evening paper. I
thanked Rocky for his kind hospitality, and caught the only train they
have down in those parts. It landed me in New York about dinner-time. I
went straight to the old flat. Jeeves came out of his lair. I looked
round cautiously for Rollo.
"Where's that dog, Jeeves? Have you got him tied up?"
"The animal is no longer here, sir. His lordship gave him to the
porter, who sold him. His lordship took a prejudice against the animal
on account of being bitten by him in the calf of the leg."
I don't think I've ever been so bucked by a bit of news. I felt I had
misjudged Rollo. Evidently, when you got to know him better, he had a
lot of intelligence in him.
"Ripping!" I said. "Is Lord Pershore in, Jeeves?"
"Do you expect him back to dinner?"
"Where is he?"
"In prison, sir."
Have you ever trodden on a rake and had the handle jump up and hit you?
That's how I felt then.
"You don't mean--in prison?"
I lowered myself into a chair.
"Why?" I said.
"He assaulted a constable, sir."
"Lord Pershore assaulted a constable!"
I digested this.
"But, Jeeves, I say! This is frightful!"
"What will Lady Malvern say when she finds out?"
"I do not fancy that her ladyship will find out, sir."
"But she'll come back and want to know where he is."
"I rather fancy, sir, that his lordship's bit of time will have run out
"But supposing it hasn't?"
"In that event, sir, it may be judicious to prevaricate a little."
"If I might make the suggestion, sir, I should inform her ladyship that
his lordship has left for a short visit to Boston."
"Very interesting and respectable centre, sir."
"Jeeves, I believe you've hit it."
"I fancy so, sir."
"Why, this is really the best thing that could have happened. If this
hadn't turned up to prevent him, young Motty would have been in a
sanatorium by the time Lady Malvern got back."
The more I looked at it in that way, the sounder this prison wheeze
seemed to me. There was no doubt in the world that prison was just what
the doctor ordered for Motty. It was the only thing that could have
pulled him up. I was sorry for the poor blighter, but, after all, I
reflected, a chappie who had lived all his life with Lady Malvern, in a
small village in the interior of Shropshire, wouldn't have much to kick
at in a prison. Altogether, I began to feel absolutely braced again.
Life became like what the poet Johnnie says--one grand, sweet song.
Things went on so comfortably and peacefully for a couple of weeks that
I give you my word that I'd almost forgotten such a person as Motty
existed. The only flaw in the scheme of things was that Jeeves was
still pained and distant. It wasn't anything he said or did, mind you,
but there was a rummy something about him all the time. Once when I was
tying the pink tie I caught sight of him in the looking-glass. There
was a kind of grieved look in his eye.
And then Lady Malvern came back, a good bit ahead of schedule. I hadn't
been expecting her for days. I'd forgotten how time had been slipping
along. She turned up one morning while I was still in bed sipping tea
and thinking of this and that. Jeeves flowed in with the announcement
that he had just loosed her into the sitting-room. I draped a few
garments round me and went in.
There she was, sitting in the same arm-chair, looking as massive as
ever. The only difference was that she didn't uncover the teeth, as she
had done the first time.
"Good morning," I said. "So you've got back, what?"
"I have got back."
There was something sort of bleak about her tone, rather as if she had
swallowed an east wind. This I took to be due to the fact that she
probably hadn't breakfasted. It's only after a bit of breakfast that
I'm able to regard the world with that sunny cheeriness which makes a
fellow the universal favourite. I'm never much of a lad till I've
engulfed an egg or two and a beaker of coffee.
"I suppose you haven't breakfasted?"
"I have not yet breakfasted."
"Won't you have an egg or something? Or a sausage or something? Or
"No, thank you."
She spoke as if she belonged to an anti-sausage society or a league for
the suppression of eggs. There was a bit of a silence.
"I called on you last night," she said, "but you were out."
"Awfully sorry! Had a pleasant trip?"
"Extremely, thank you."
"See everything? Niag'ra Falls, Yellowstone Park, and the jolly old
Grand Canyon, and what-not?"
"I saw a great deal."
There was another slightly _frappe_ silence. Jeeves floated
silently into the dining-room and began to lay the breakfast-table.
"I hope Wilmot was not in your way, Mr. Wooster?"
I had been wondering when she was going to mention Motty.
"Rather not! Great pals! Hit it off splendidly."
"You were his constant companion, then?"
"Absolutely! We were always together. Saw all the sights, don't you
know. We'd take in the Museum of Art in the morning, and have a bit of
lunch at some good vegetarian place, and then toddle along to a sacred
concert in the afternoon, and home to an early dinner. We usually
played dominoes after dinner. And then the early bed and the refreshing
sleep. We had a great time. I was awfully sorry when he went away to
"Oh! Wilmot is in Boston?"
"Yes. I ought to have let you know, but of course we didn't know where
you were. You were dodging all over the place like a snipe--I mean,
don't you know, dodging all over the place, and we couldn't get at you.
Yes, Motty went off to Boston."
"You're sure he went to Boston?"
"Oh, absolutely." I called out to Jeeves, who was now messing about in
the next room with forks and so forth: "Jeeves, Lord Pershore didn't
change his mind about going to Boston, did he?"
"I thought I was right. Yes, Motty went to Boston."
"Then how do you account, Mr. Wooster, for the fact that when I went
yesterday afternoon to Blackwell's Island prison, to secure material
for my book, I saw poor, dear Wilmot there, dressed in a striped suit,
seated beside a pile of stones with a hammer in his hands?"
I tried to think of something to say, but nothing came. A chappie has
to be a lot broader about the forehead than I am to handle a jolt like
this. I strained the old bean till it creaked, but between the collar
and the hair parting nothing stirred. I was dumb. Which was lucky,
because I wouldn't have had a chance to get any persiflage out of my
system. Lady Malvern collared the conversation. She had been bottling
it up, and now it came out with a rush:
"So this is how you have looked after my poor, dear boy, Mr. Wooster!
So this is how you have abused my trust! I left him in your charge,
thinking that I could rely on you to shield him from evil. He came to
you innocent, unversed in the ways of the world, confiding, unused to
the temptations of a large city, and you led him astray!"
I hadn't any remarks to make. All I could think of was the picture of
Aunt Agatha drinking all this in and reaching out to sharpen the
hatchet against my return.
Far away in the misty distance a soft voice spoke:
"If I might explain, your ladyship."
Jeeves had projected himself in from the dining-room and materialized
on the rug. Lady Malvern tried to freeze him with a look, but you can't
do that sort of thing to Jeeves. He is look-proof.
"I fancy, your ladyship, that you have misunderstood Mr. Wooster, and
that he may have given you the impression that he was in New York when
his lordship--was removed. When Mr. Wooster informed your ladyship that
his lordship had gone to Boston, he was relying on the version I had
given him of his lordship's movements. Mr. Wooster was away, visiting a
friend in the country, at the time, and knew nothing of the matter till
your ladyship informed him."
Lady Malvern gave a kind of grunt. It didn't rattle Jeeves.
"I feared Mr. Wooster might be disturbed if he knew the truth, as he is
so attached to his lordship and has taken such pains to look after him,
so I took the liberty of telling him that his lordship had gone away
for a visit. It might have been hard for Mr. Wooster to believe that
his lordship had gone to prison voluntarily and from the best motives,
but your ladyship, knowing him better, will readily understand."
"What!" Lady Malvern goggled at him. "Did you say that Lord Pershore
went to prison voluntarily?"
"If I might explain, your ladyship. I think that your ladyship's
parting words made a deep impression on his lordship. I have frequently
heard him speak to Mr. Wooster of his desire to do something to follow
your ladyship's instructions and collect material for your ladyship's
book on America. Mr. Wooster will bear me out when I say that his
lordship was frequently extremely depressed at the thought that he was
doing so little to help."
"Absolutely, by Jove! Quite pipped about it!" I said.
"The idea of making a personal examination into the prison system of
the country--from within--occurred to his lordship very suddenly one
night. He embraced it eagerly. There was no restraining him."
Lady Malvern looked at Jeeves, then at me, then at Jeeves again. I
could see her struggling with the thing.
"Surely, your ladyship," said Jeeves, "it is more reasonable to suppose
that a gentleman of his lordship's character went to prison of his own
volition than that he committed some breach of the law which
necessitated his arrest?"
Lady Malvern blinked. Then she got up.
"Mr. Wooster," she said, "I apologize. I have done you an injustice. I
should have known Wilmot better. I should have had more faith in his
pure, fine spirit."
"Absolutely!" I said.
"Your breakfast is ready, sir," said Jeeves.
I sat down and dallied in a dazed sort of way with a poached egg.
"Jeeves," I said, "you are certainly a life-saver!"
"Thank you, sir."
"Nothing would have convinced my Aunt Agatha that I hadn't lured that
blighter into riotous living."
"I fancy you are right, sir."
I champed my egg for a bit. I was most awfully moved, don't you know,
by the way Jeeves had rallied round. Something seemed to tell me that
this was an occasion that called for rich rewards. For a moment I
hesitated. Then I made up my mind.
"That pink tie!"
"Thank you, sir."
"Take a taxi and get me that Longacre hat, as worn by John Drew!"
"Thank you very much, sir."
I felt most awfully braced. I felt as if the clouds had rolled away and
all was as it used to be. I felt like one of those chappies in the
novels who calls off the fight with his wife in the last chapter and
decides to forget and forgive. I felt I wanted to do all sorts of other
things to show Jeeves that I appreciated him.
"Jeeves," I said, "it isn't enough. Is there anything else you would
"Yes, sir. If I may make the suggestion--fifty dollars."
"It will enable me to pay a debt of honour, sir. I owe it to his
"You owe Lord Pershore fifty dollars?"
"Yes, sir. I happened to meet him in the street the night his lordship
was arrested. I had been thinking a good deal about the most suitable
method of inducing him to abandon his mode of living, sir. His lordship
was a little over-excited at the time and I fancy that he mistook me
for a friend of his. At any rate when I took the liberty of wagering
him fifty dollars that he would not punch a passing policeman in the
eye, he accepted the bet very cordially and won it."
I produced my pocket-book and counted out a hundred.
"Take this, Jeeves," I said; "fifty isn't enough. Do you know, Jeeves,
you're--well, you absolutely stand alone!"
"I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir," said Jeeves.
JEEVES AND THE HARD-BOILED EGG
Sometimes of a morning, as I've sat in bed sucking down the early cup
of tea and watched my man Jeeves flitting about the room and putting
out the raiment for the day, I've wondered what the deuce I should do
if the fellow ever took it into his head to leave me. It's not so bad
now I'm in New York, but in London the anxiety was frightful. There
used to be all sorts of attempts on the part of low blighters to sneak
him away from me. Young Reggie Foljambe to my certain knowledge offered
him double what I was giving him, and Alistair Bingham-Reeves, who's
got a valet who had been known to press his trousers sideways, used to
look at him, when he came to see me, with a kind of glittering hungry
eye which disturbed me deucedly. Bally pirates!
The thing, you see, is that Jeeves is so dashed competent. You can spot
it even in the way he shoves studs into a shirt.
I rely on him absolutely in every crisis, and he never lets me down.
And, what's more, he can always be counted on to extend himself
on behalf of any pal of mine who happens to be to all appearances
knee-deep in the bouillon. Take the rather rummy case, for instance,
of dear old Bicky and his uncle, the hard-boiled egg.
It happened after I had been in America for a few months. I got back to
the flat latish one night, and when Jeeves brought me the final drink
"Mr. Bickersteth called to see you this evening, sir, while you were
"Oh?" I said.
"Twice, sir. He appeared a trifle agitated."
"He gave that impression, sir."
I sipped the whisky. I was sorry if Bicky was in trouble, but, as a
matter of fact, I was rather glad to have something I could discuss
freely with Jeeves just then, because things had been a bit strained
between us for some time, and it had been rather difficult to hit on
anything to talk about that wasn't apt to take a personal turn. You
see, I had decided--rightly or wrongly--to grow a moustache and this
had cut Jeeves to the quick. He couldn't stick the thing at any price,
and I had been living ever since in an atmosphere of bally disapproval
till I was getting jolly well fed up with it. What I mean is, while
there's no doubt that in certain matters of dress Jeeves's judgment is
absolutely sound and should be followed, it seemed to me that it was
getting a bit too thick if he was going to edit my face as well as my
costume. No one can call me an unreasonable chappie, and many's the
time I've given in like a lamb when Jeeves has voted against one of my
pet suits or ties; but when it comes to a valet's staking out a claim
on your upper lip you've simply got to have a bit of the good old
bulldog pluck and defy the blighter.
"He said that he would call again later, sir."
"Something must be up, Jeeves."
I gave the moustache a thoughtful twirl. It seemed to hurt Jeeves a
good deal, so I chucked it.
"I see by the paper, sir, that Mr. Bickersteth's uncle is arriving on
"His Grace the Duke of Chiswick, sir."
This was news to me, that Bicky's uncle was a duke. Rum, how little one
knows about one's pals! I had met Bicky for the first time at a species
of beano or jamboree down in Washington Square, not long after my
arrival in New York. I suppose I was a bit homesick at the time, and I
rather took to Bicky when I found that he was an Englishman and had, in
fact, been up at Oxford with me. Besides, he was a frightful chump, so
we naturally drifted together; and while we were taking a quiet snort
in a corner that wasn't all cluttered up with artists and sculptors and
what-not, he furthermore endeared himself to me by a most extraordinarily
gifted imitation of a bull-terrier chasing a cat up a tree. But, though
we had subsequently become extremely pally, all I really knew about him
was that he was generally hard up, and had an uncle who relieved the
strain a bit from time to time by sending him monthly remittances.
"If the Duke of Chiswick is his uncle," I said, "why hasn't he a title?
Why isn't he Lord What-Not?"
"Mr. Bickersteth is the son of his grace's late sister, sir, who
married Captain Rollo Bickersteth of the Coldstream Guards."
Jeeves knows everything.
"Is Mr. Bickersteth's father dead, too?"
"Leave any money?"
I began to understand why poor old Bicky was always more or less on the
rocks. To the casual and irreflective observer, if you know what I
mean, it may sound a pretty good wheeze having a duke for an uncle, but
the trouble about old Chiswick was that, though an extremely wealthy
old buster, owning half London and about five counties up north, he was
notoriously the most prudent spender in England. He was what American
chappies would call a hard-boiled egg. If Bicky's people hadn't left
him anything and he depended on what he could prise out of the old
duke, he was in a pretty bad way. Not that that explained why he was
hunting me like this, because he was a chap who never borrowed money.
He said he wanted to keep his pals, so never bit any one's ear on
At this juncture the door bell rang. Jeeves floated out to answer it.
"Yes, sir. Mr. Wooster has just returned," I heard him say. And Bicky
came trickling in, looking pretty sorry for himself.
"Halloa, Bicky!" I said. "Jeeves told me you had been trying to get me.
Jeeves, bring another glass, and let the revels commence. What's the
"I'm in a hole, Bertie. I want your advice."
"Say on, old lad!"
"My uncle's turning up to-morrow, Bertie."
"So Jeeves told me."
"The Duke of Chiswick, you know."
"So Jeeves told me."
Bicky seemed a bit surprised.
"Jeeves seems to know everything."
"Rather rummily, that's exactly what I was thinking
just now myself."
"Well, I wish," said Bicky gloomily, "that he knew a way to get me out
of the hole I'm in."
Jeeves shimmered in with the glass, and stuck it competently on the
"Mr. Bickersteth is in a bit of a hole, Jeeves," I said, "and wants you
to rally round."
"Very good, sir."
Bicky looked a bit doubtful.
"Well, of course, you know, Bertie, this thing is by way of being a bit
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