‘Mrs Travers was showing it to Willie the other day, and he was thrilled. Willie collects old silver himself.’
With each hour that passed I was finding it more and more difficult to get a toe-hold on the character of W. Cream. An in-and-out performer, if ever there was one. First all that poetry, I mean, and now this. I had always supposed that playboys didn’t give a hoot for anything except blondes and cold bottles. It just showed once again that half the world doesn’t know how the other three-quarters lives.
‘He says there are any number of things in Mr Travers’s collection that he would give his back teeth for. There was an eighteenth-century cow-creamer he particularly coveted. So keep your eye on that butler. I’m certainly going to keep mine. Well,’ said the Cream, rising, ‘I must be getting back to my work. I always like to rough out a new chapter before finishing for the day.’
She legged it, and for a moment silence reigned. Then Bobbie said, ‘Phew!’ and I agreed that ‘Phew!’ was the mot juste.
‘We’d better get Glossop out of here quick,’ I said.
‘How can we? It’s up to your aunt to do that, and she’s away.’
‘Then I’m jolly well going to get out myself. There’s too much impending doom buzzing around these parts for my taste. Brinkley Court, once a peaceful country-house, has become like something sinister out of Edgar Allan Poe, and it makes my feet cold. I’m leaving.’
‘You can’t till your aunt gets back. There has to be some sort of host or hostess here, and I simply must go home tomorrow and see Mother. You’ll have to clench your teeth and stick it.’
‘And the severe mental strain to which I am being subjected doesn’t matter, I suppose?’
‘Not a bit. Does you good. Keeps your pores open.’
I should probably have said something pretty cutting in reply to this, if I could have thought of anything, but as I couldn’t I didn’t.
‘What’s Aunt Dahlia’s address?’ I said.
‘Royal Hotel, Eastbourne. Why?’
‘Because,’ I said, taking another cucumber sandwich, ‘I’m going to wire her to ring me up tomorrow without fail, so that I can apprise her of what’s going on in this joint.’
I forget how the subject arose, but I remember Jeeves once saying that sleep knits up the ravelled sleave of care. Balm of hurt minds, he described it as. The idea being, I took it, that if things are getting sticky, they tend to seem less glutinous after you’ve had your eight hours.
Apple sauce, in my opinion. It seldom pans out that way with me, and it didn’t now. I had retired to rest taking a dim view of the current situation at Brinkley Court and opening my eyes to a new day, as the expression is, I found myself taking an even dimmer. Who knew, I asked myself as I practically pushed the breakfast egg away untasted, what Ma Cream might not at any moment uncover? And who could say how soon, if I continued to be always at his side, Wilbert Cream would get it up his nose and start attacking me with tooth and claw? Already his manner was that of a man whom the society of Bertram Wooster had fed to the tonsils, and one more sight of the latter at his elbow might quite easily make him decide to take prompt steps through the proper channels.
Musing along these lines, I had little appetite for lunch, though Anatole had extended himself to the utmost. I winced every time the Cream shot a sharp, suspicious look at Pop Glossop as he messed about at the sideboard, and the long, loving looks her son Wilbert kept directing at Phyllis Mills chilled me to the marrow. At the conclusion of the meal he would, I presumed, invite the girl to accompany him again to that leafy glade, and it was idle to suppose that there would not be pique on his part, or even chagrin, when I came along, too.
Fortunately, as we rose from the table, Phyllis said she was going to her room to finish typing Daddy’s speech, and my mind was eased for the nonce. Even a New York playboy, accustomed from his earliest years to pursue blondes like a bloodhound, would hardly follow her there and press his suit.