‘Yes, I get you now,’ I said. I remembered that Aunt Dahlia had spoken to me of Upjohn’s political ambitions.
‘So that fixes that,’ said Bobbie. ‘His future hangs on this speech, and we’ve got it and he hasn’t. We take it from there.’
‘And what exactly is the procedure?’
‘That’s all arranged. He’ll be ringing up any moment now, making inquiries. When he does, you step to the telephone and outline the position of affairs to him.’
‘Jeeves deems it best.’
‘Well, really, Jeeves! Why not Kipper?’
‘Mr Herring and Mr Upjohn are not on speaking terms, sir.’
‘So you can see what would happen if he heard Reggie’s voice. He would hang up haughtily, and all the weary work to do again. Whereas he’ll drink in your every word.’
‘But, dash it-‘
‘And, anyway, Reggie’s gone for a walk and isn’t available. I do wish you wouldn’t always be so difficult, Bertie. Your aunt tells me it was just the same when you were a child. She’d want you to eat your cereal, and you would stick your ears back and be stubborn and non-co- operative, like Jonah’s ass in the Bible.’
I could not let this go uncorrected. It’s pretty generally known that when at school I won a prize for Scripture Knowledge.
‘Balaam’s ass. Jonah was the chap who had the whale. Jeeves!’
‘To settle a bet, wasn’t it Balaam’s ass that entered the nolle prosequi?’
‘I told you so,’ I said to Bobbie, and would have continued grinding her into the dust, had not the telephone at this moment tinkled, diverting my mind from the point at issue. The sound sent a sudden chill through the Wooster limbs, for I knew what it portended.
Bobbie, too, was not unmoved.
‘Hullo!’ she said. ‘This, if I mistake not, is our client now. In you go, Bertie. Over the top and best of luck.’
I have mentioned before that Bertram Wooster, chilled steel when dealing with the sterner sex, is always wax in a woman’s hands, and the present case was no exception to the r. Short of going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, I could think of nothing I wanted to do less than chat with Aubrey Upjohn at this juncture, especially along the lines indicated, but having been requested by one of the delicately nurtured to take on the grim task, I had no option. I mean, either a chap’s preux or he isn’t, as the Chevalier Bayard used to say.
But as I approached the instrument and unhooked the thing you unhook, I was far from being at my most nonchalant, and when I heard Upjohn are-you-there-ing at the other end my manly spirit definitely blew a fuse. For I could tell by his voice that he was in the testiest of moods. Not even when conferring with me at Malvern House, Bramley-on- Sea, on the occasion when I put sherbet in the ink, had I sensed in him a more marked stirred-up-ness.
‘Hullo? Hullo? Hullo? Are you there? Will you kindly answer me? This is Mr Upjohn speaking.’
They always say that when the nervous system isn’t all it should be the thing to do is to take a couple of deep breaths. I took six, which of course occupied a certain amount of time, and the delay noticeably increased his umbrage. Even at this distance one could spot what I believe is called the deleterious animal magnetism.
‘Is that Brinkley Court?’
I could put him straight there. None other, I told him.
‘Who are you?’
I had to think for a moment. Then I remembered.
‘This is Wooster, Mr Upjohn,’
‘Well, listen to me carefully, Wooster.’
‘Yes, Mr Upjohn. How do you like the “Bull and Bush”? Everything pretty snug?’
‘What did you say?’
‘I was asking if you like the “Bull and Bush”.’
‘Never mind the “Bull and Bush”.’
‘No, Mr Upjohn.’
‘This is of vital importance. I wish to speak to the man who packed my things.’
‘What do you mean by Jeeves?’
‘You keep saying “Jeeves” and it makes no sense. Who packed my belongings?’
‘Oh, Jeeves is the man’s name?’