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

This, as I had explained to Jeeves, should have been the cue for Upjohn to bend over, too, thus making it a simple task for me to do my stuff, but he didn’t bend over an inch. And why? Because at this moment the goof Phyllis, suddenly appearing in our midst, said:

‘Daddy, dear, you’re wanted on the telephone.’

Upon which, standing not on the order of his going, Upjohn was off as if propelled from a gun. He couldn’t have moved quicker if he had been the dachshund Poppet, who at this juncture was running round in circles, trying, if I read his thoughts aright, to work off the rather heavy lunch he had had earlier in the afternoon.

One began to see what the poet Burns had meant. I don’t know anything that more promptly gums up a dramatic sequence than the sudden and unexpected exit of an important member of the cast at a critical point in the proceedings. I was reminded of the time when we did Charley’s Aunt at the Market Snodsbury Town Hall in aid of the local church organ fund and half-way through the second act, just when we were all giving of our best, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, who was playing Lord Fancourt Babberley, left the stage abruptly to attend to an unforeseen nose bleed.

As far as Bobbie and I were concerned, silence reigned, this novel twist in the scenario having wiped speech from our lips, as the expression is, but Phyllis continued vocal.

‘I found this darling pussycat in the garden,’ she said, and for the first time I observed that she was bearing Augustus in her arms. He was looking a bit disgruntled, and one could readily see why. He wanted to catch up with his sleep and was being kept awake by the endearments she was murmuring in his ear.

She lowered him to the ground.

‘I brought him here to talk to Poppet. Poppet loves cats, don’t you angel? Come and say how-d’you-do to the sweet pussykins, darling.’

I shot a quick look at Wilbert Cream, to see how he was reacting to this. It was the sort of observation which might well have quenched the spark of love in his bosom, for nothing tends to cool the human heart more swiftly than babytalk. But so far from being revolted he was gazing yearningly at her as if her words were music to his ears. Very odd, I felt, and I was just saying to myself that you never could tell, when I became aware of a certain liveliness in my immediate vicinity.

At the moment when Augustus touched ground and curling himself into a ball fell into a light doze, Poppet had completed his tenth lap and was preparing to start on his eleventh. Seeing Augustus, he halted in mid-stride, smiled broadly, turned his ears inside out, stuck his tail straight up at right angles to the parent body and bounded forward, barking merrily.

I could have told the silly ass his attitude was all wrong. Roused abruptly from slumber, the most easy-going cat is apt to wake up cross. Already Augustus had had much to endure from Phyllis, who had doubtless jerked him out of dreamland when scooping him up in the garden, and all this noise and heartiness breaking out just as he dropped off again put the lid on his sullen mood. He spat peevishly, there was a sharp yelp, and something long and brown came shooting between my legs, precipitating itself and me into the depths. The waters closed about me, and for an instant I knew no more.

When I rose to the surface, I found that Poppet and I were not the only bathers. We had been joined by Wilbert Cream, who had dived in, seized the hound by the scruff of the neck, and was towing him at a brisk pace to the shore. And by one of those odd coincidences I was at this moment seized by the scruff of the neck myself.

‘It’s all right, Mr Upjohn, keep quite cool, keep quite … What the hell are you doing here, Bertie?’ said Kipper, for it was he. I may have been wrong, but it seemed to me that he spoke petulantly.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71

Categories: Wodehouse, P G