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

It wasn’t the usual guff by a mile and a quarter. One glance at its contents and I was Gosh-ing sharply, causing Pop Glossop to regard me with a concerned eye.

‘No bad news, I trust, Mr Wooster?’

‘It depends what you call bad news. It’s front-page stuff, all right. This is from Jeeves, my man, now shrimping at Herne Bay, and it casts a blinding light on the private life of Wilbert Cream.’

‘Indeed? This is most interesting.’

‘I must begin by saying that when Jeeves was leaving for his annual vacation, the subject of W. Cream came up in the home, Aunt Dahlia having told me he was one of the inmates here, and we discussed him at some length. I said this, if you see what I mean, and Jeeves said that, if you follow me. Well, just before Jeeves pushed off, he let fall that significant remark I mentioned just now, the one about having heard something about Wilbert and having forgotten it. If it came back to him, he said, he would communicate with me. And he has, by Jove! Do you know what he says in this missive? Give you three guesses.’

‘Surely this is hardly the time for guessing games?’

‘Perhaps you’re right, though they’re great fun, don’t you think? Well, he says that Wilbert Cream is a … what’s the word?’ I referred to the letter. ‘A kleptomaniac,’ I said. ‘Which means, if the term is not familiar to you, a chap who flits hither and thither pinching everything he can lay his hands on.’

‘Good gracious!’

‘You might even go so far as “Lor’ lumme!”‘

‘I never suspected this.’

‘I told you he was wearing a mask. I suppose they took him abroad to get him away from it all.’

‘No doubt.’

‘Overlooking the fact that there are just as many things to pinch in England as in America. Does any thought occur to you?’

‘It most certainly does. I am thinking of your uncle’s collection of old silver.’

‘Me, too.’

‘It presents a grave temptation to the unhappy young man.’

‘I don’t know that I’d call him unhappy. He probably thoroughly enjoys lifting the stuff.’

‘We must go to the collection room immediately. There may be something missing.’

‘Everything except the floor and ceiling, I expect. He would have had difficulty in getting away with those.’

To reach the collection room was not the work of an instant with us, for Pop Glossop was built for stability rather than speed, but we fetched up there in due course and my first emotion on giving it the once-over was one of relief, all the junk appearing to be in statu quo. It was only after Pop Glossop had said ‘Woof!’ and was starting to dry off the brow, for the going had been fast, that I spotted the hiatus.

The cow-creamer was not among those present.


This cow-creamer, in case you’re interested, was a silver jug or pitcher or whatever you call it shaped, of all silly things, like a cow with an arching tail and a juvenile-delinquent expression on its face, a cow that looked as if it were planning, next time it was milked, to haul off and let the milkmaid have it in the lower ribs. Its back opened on a hinge and the tip of the tail touched the spine, thus giving the householder something to catch hold of when pouring. Why anyone should want such a revolting object had always been a mystery to me, it ranking high up on the list of things I would have been reluctant to be found dead in a ditch with, but apparently they liked that sort of jug in the eighteenth century and, coming down to more modern times, Uncle Tom was all for it and so, according to the evidence of the witness Glossop, was Wilbert. No accounting for tastes is the way one has to look at these things, one man’s caviar being another man’s major-general, as the old saw says.

However, be that as it may and whether you liked the bally thing or didn’t, the point was that it had vanished, leaving not a wrack behind, and I was about to apprise Pop Glossop of this and canvass his views, when we were joined by Bobbie Wickham. She had doffed the shirt and Bermuda-shorts which she had been wearing and was now dressed for her journey home.

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Categories: Wodehouse, P G