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

I saw her quiver and kept a wary eye on the ginger ale bottle. But even if she had raised it and brought it down on the Wooster bean, I couldn’t have been more stunned than I was by the words that left her lips.

‘The poor lamb!’

I had ordered a gin and tonic. I now spilled a portion of this.

‘Did you say poor lamb?’

‘You bet I said poor lamb, though “Poor sap” would perhaps be a better description. Just imagine him taking all that stuff I said seriously. He ought to have known I didn’t mean it.’

I groped for the gist.

‘You were just making conversation?’

‘Well, blowing off steam. For heaven’s sake, isn’t a girl allowed to blow off some steam occasionally? I never dreamed it would really upset him. Reggie always takes everything so literally.’

‘Then is the position that the laughing love god is once more working at the old stand?’

‘Like a beaver.’

‘In fact, to coin a phrase, you’re sweethearts still?’

‘Of course. I may have meant what I said at the time, but only for about five minutes.’

I drew a deep breath, and a moment later wished I hadn’t, because I drew it while drinking the remains of my gin and tonic.

‘Does Kipper know of this?’ I said, when I had finished coughing.

‘Not yet. I’m on my way to tell him.’

I raised a point on which I particularly desired assurance.

‘Then what it boils down to is – No wedding bells for me?’

‘I’m afraid not.’

‘Quite all right. Anything that suits you.’

‘I don’t want to get jugged for bigamy.’

‘No, one sees that. And your selection for the day is Kipper. I don’t blame you. The ideal mate.’

‘Just the way I look at it. He’s terrific, isn’t he?’


‘I wouldn’t marry anyone else if they came to me bringing apes, ivory and peacocks. Tell me what he was like as a boy.’

‘Oh, much the same as the rest of us.’


‘Except, of course, for rescuing people from burning buildings and saving blue-eyed children from getting squashed by runaway horses.’

‘He did that a lot?’

‘Almost daily.’

‘Was he the Pride of the School?’

‘Oh, rather.’

‘Not that it was much of a school to be the pride of, from what he tells me. A sort of Dotheboys Hall, wasn’t it?’

‘Conditions under Aubrey Upjohn were fairly tough. One’s mind reverts particularly to the sausages on Sunday.’

‘Reggie was very funny about those. He said they were made not from contented pigs but from pigs which had expired, regretted by all, of glanders, the botts and tuberculosis.’

‘Yes, that would be quite a fair description of them, I suppose. You going?’ I said, for she had risen.

‘I can’t wait for another minute. I want to fling myself into Reggie’s arms. If I don’t see him soon, I shall pass out.’

‘I know how you feel. The chap in the Yeoman’s Wedding Song thought along those same lines, only the way he put it was “Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, I hurry along”. At one time I often used to render the number at village concerts, and there was a nasty Becher’s Brook to get over when you got to “For it is my wedding morning,” because you had to stretch out the “mor” for about ten minutes, which tested the lung power severely. I remember the vicar once telling me -‘

Here I was interrupted, as I’m so often interrupted when giving my views on the Yeoman’s Wedding Song, by her saying that she was dying to hear all about it but would rather wait till she could get it in my autobiography. We went out together, and I saw her off and returned to where Jeeves kept his vigil in the car, all smiles. I was all smiles, I mean, not Jeeves. The best he ever does is to let his mouth twitch slightly on one side, generally the left. I was in rare fettle, and the heart had touched a new high. I don’t know anything that braces one up like finding you haven’t got to get married after all.

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Categories: Wodehouse, P G