P.G.Wodehouse. Jeeves in the offing, 1960

‘Yes, but it didn’t penetrate. It’s something to do with some land your uncle owns somewhere, and Mr Cream is thinking of buying it and putting up hotels and things. It doesn’t matter, anyway. The fundamental thing, the thing to glue the eye on, is that the Cream contingent have to be kept sweetened at any cost. So not a word to a soul.’

‘Quite. Bertram Wooster is not a babbler. No spiller of the beans he. But why are you so certain that Wilbert Cream is loopy? He doesn’t look loopy to me.’

‘Have you met him?’

‘Just for a moment. He was in a leafy glade, reading poetry to the Mills girl.’

She took this big.

‘Reading poetry? To Phyllis?’

‘That’s right. I thought it odd that a chap like him should be doing such a thing. Limericks, yes. If he had been reciting limericks to her, I could have understood it. But this was stuff from one of those books they bind in limp purple leather and sell at Christmas. I wouldn’t care to swear to it, but it sounded to me extremely like Omar Khayyam.’

She continued to take it big.

‘Break it up, Bertie, break it up! There’s not a moment to be lost. You must go and break it up immediately.’

‘Who, me? Why me?’

‘That’s what you’re here for. Didn’t your aunt tell you? She wants you to follow Wilbert Cream and Phyllis about everywhere and see that he doesn’t get a chance of proposing.’

‘You mean that I’m to be a sort of private eye or shamus, tailing them up? I don’t like it,’ I said dubiously.

‘You don’t have to like it,’ said Bobbie. ‘You just do it.’


Wax in the hands of the other sex, as the expression is, I went and broke it up as directed, but not blithely. It is never pleasant for a man of sensibility to find himself regarded as a buttinski and a trailing arbutus, and it was thus, I could see at a g., that Wilbert Cream was pencilling me in. At the moment of my arrival he had suspended the poetry reading and had taken Phyllis’s hand in his, evidently saying or about to say something of an intimate and tender nature. Hearing my ‘What ho’, he turned, hurriedly released the fin and directed at me a look very similar to the one I had recently received from Aubrey Upjohn. He muttered something under his breath about someone, whose name I did not catch, apparently having been paid to haunt the place.

‘Oh, it’s you again,’ he said.

Well, it was, of course. No argument about that.

‘Kind of at a loose end?’ he said. ‘Why don’t you settle down somewhere with a good book?’

I explained that I had just popped in to tell them that tea was now being served on the main lawn, and Phyllis squeaked a bit, as if agitated.

‘Oh, dear!’ she said. ‘I must run. Daddy doesn’t like me to be late for tea. He says it’s not respectful to my elders.’

I could see trembling on Wilbert Cream’s lips a suggestion as to where Daddy could stick himself and his views on respect to elders, but with a powerful effort he held it back.

‘I shall take Poppet for a walk,’ he said, chirruping to the dachshund, who was sniffing at my legs, filling his lungs with the delicious Wooster bouquet.

‘No tea?’ I said.


‘There are muffins.’

‘Tchah!’ he ejaculated, if that’s the word, and strode off, followed by the low-slung dog, and it was borne in upon me that here was another source from which I could expect no present at Yule-Tide. His whole demeanour made it plain that I had not added to my little circle of friends. Though going like a breeze with dachshunds, I had failed signally to click with Wilbert Cream.

When Phyllis and I reached the lawn, only Bobbie was at the tea table, and this surprised us both.

‘Where’s Daddy?’ Phyllis asked.

‘He suddenly decided to go to London,’ said Bobbie.

‘To London?’

‘That’s what he said.’


‘He didn’t tell me.’

‘I must go and see him,’ said Phyllis, and buzzed off.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71

Categories: Wodehouse, P G