‘Hullo, souls,’ she said. ‘How goes it? You look a bit hot and bothered, Bertie. What’s up?’
I made no attempt to break the n. gently.
‘I’ll tell you what’s up. You know that cow-creamer of Uncle Tom’s?’
‘No, I don’t. What is it?’
‘Sort of cream jug kind of thing, ghastly but very valuable. One would not be far out in describing it as Uncle Tom’s ewe lamb. He loves it dearly.’
‘Bless his heart.’
‘It’s all right blessing his heart, but the damn thing’s gone.’
The still summer air was disturbed by a sound like beer coming out of a bottle. It was Pop Glossop gurgling. His eyes were round, his nose wiggled, and one could readily discern that this news item had come to him not as rare and refreshing fruit but more like a buffet on the base of the skull with a sock full of wet sand.
‘Are you sure?’
I said that sure was just what I wasn’t anything but.
‘It is not possible that you may have overlooked it?’
‘You can’t overlook a thing like that.’
‘But this is terrible.’
‘Might be considerably better, I agree.’
‘Your uncle will be most upset.’
‘He’ll have kittens.’
From the look on Bobbie’s face, as she stood listening to our cross- talk act, I could see that the inner gist was passing over her head. Cryptic, she seemed to be registering it as.
‘I don’t get this,’ she said. ‘How do you mean it’s gone?’
‘It’s been pinched.’
‘Things don’t get pinched in country-houses.’
‘They do if there’s a Wilbert Cream on the premises. He’s a klep- whatever-it-is,’ I said, and thrust Jeeves’s letter on her. She perused it with an interested eye and having mastered its contents said, ‘Cor chase my Aunt Fanny up a gum tree,’ adding that you never knew what was going to happen next these days. There was, however, she said, a bright side.
‘You’ll be able now to give it as your considered opinion that the man is as loony as a coot, Sir Roderick.’
A pause ensued during which Pop Glossop appeared to be weighing this, possibly thinking back to coots he had met in the course of his professional career and trying to estimate their dippiness as compared with that of W. Cream.
‘Unquestionably his metabolism is unduly susceptible to stresses resulting from the interaction of external excitations,’ he said, and Bobbie patted him on the shoulder in a maternal sort of way, a thing I wouldn’t have cared to do myself though our relations were, as I have indicated, more cordial than they had been at one time, and told him he had said a mouthful.
‘That’s how I like to hear you talk. You must tell Mrs Travers that when she gets back. It’ll put her in a strong position to cope with Upjohn in this matter of Wilbert and Phyllis. With this under her belt, she’ll be able to forbid the banns in no uncertain manner. “What price his metabolism?” she’ll say, and Upjohn won’t know which way to look. So everything’s fine.’
‘Everything,’ I pointed out, ‘except that Uncle Tom is short one ewe lamb.’
She chewed the lower lip.
‘Yes, that’s true. You have a point there. What steps do we take about that?’
She looked at me, and I said I didn’t know, and then she looked at Pop Glossop, and he said he didn’t know.
‘The situation is an extremely delicate one. You concur, Mr Wooster?’
‘Placed as he is, your uncle can hardly go to the young man and demand restitution. Mrs Travers impressed it upon me with all the emphasis at her disposal that the greatest care must be exercised to prevent Mr and Mrs Cream taking -‘
‘I was about to say offence.’
‘Just as good, probably. Not much in it either way.’
‘And they would certainly take offence, were their son to be accused of theft.’
‘It would stir them up like an egg whisk. I mean, however well they know that Wilbert is a pincher, they don’t want to have it rubbed in.’