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

‘How did that happen?’

‘Perfectly simple. I took Mr Simmons for a stroll on the river bank and pushed him in, and George, who was waiting in readiness, dived into the water and pulled him out. Naturally I had to undergo a certain amount of criticism of my clumsiness, and it was many weeks before I received another invitation to Sunday supper at Chatsworth, the Simmons residence, quite a privation in those days when I was a penniless medical student and perpetually hungry, but I was glad to sacrifice myself to help a friend and the results, as far as George was concerned, were of the happiest. And what crossed my mind, as you were telling me of Mr Herring’s desire to ingratiate himself with Mr Upjohn, was that a similar -is “set-up” the term you young fellows use? – would answer in his case. All the facilities are here at Brinkley Court. In my rambles about the grounds I have noticed a small but quite adequate lake, and … well, there you have it, my dear Bertie. I throw it out, of course, merely as a suggestion.’

His words left me all of a glow. When I thought how I had misjudged him in the days when our relations had been distant, I burned with shame and remorse. It seemed incredible that I could ever have looked on this admirable loony-doctor as the menace in the treatment. What a lesson, I felt, this should teach all of us that a man may have a bald head and bushy eyebrows and still remain at heart a jovial sportsman and one of the boys. There was about an inch of the ruby juice nestling in my glass, and as he finished speaking I raised the beaker in a reverent toast. I told him he had hit the bull’s eye and was entitled to a cigar or coconut according to choice.

‘I’ll go and take the matter up with my principals immediately.’

‘Can Mr Herring swim?’

‘Like several fishes.’

‘Then I see no obstacle in the path.’

We parted with mutual expressions of good will, and it was only after I had emerged into the summer air that I remembered I hadn’t told him that Wilbert had purchased, not pinched, the cow-creamer, and for a moment I thought of going back to apprise him. But I thought again, and didn’t. First things first, I said to myself, and the item at the top of the agenda paper was the bringing of a new sparkle to Kipper’s eyes. Later on, I told myself, would do, and carried on to where he and Bobbie were pacing the lawn with bowed heads. It would not be long, I anticipated, before I would be bringing those heads up with a jerk.

Nor was I in error. Their enthusiasm was unstinted. Both agreed unreservedly that if Upjohn had the merest spark of human feeling in him, which of course had still to be proved, the thing was in the bag.

‘But you never thought this up yourself, Bertie,’ said Bobbie, always inclined to underestimate the Wooster shrewdness. ‘You’ve been talking to Jeeves.’

‘No, as a matter of fact, it was Swordfish who had the idea.’

Kipper seemed surprised.

‘You mean you told him about it?’

‘I thought it the strategic move. Four heads are better than three.’

‘And he advised shoving Upjohn into the lake?’

‘That’s right.’

‘Rather a peculiar butler.’

I turned this over in my mind.

‘Peculiar? Oh, I don’t know. Fairly run-of-the-mill I should call him. Yes, more or less the usual type,’ I said.


With self all eagerness and enthusiasm for the work in hand, straining at the leash, as you might say, and full of the will to win, it came as a bit of a damper when I found on the following afternoon that Jeeves didn’t think highly of Operation Upjohn. I told him about it just before starting out for the tryst, feeling that it would be helpful to have his moral support, and was stunned to see that his manner was austere and even puff-faced. He was giving me a description at the time of how it felt to act as judge at a seaside bathing belles contest, and it was with regret that I was compelled to break into this, for he had been holding me spellbound.

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Categories: Wodehouse, P G