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

‘Yes, Mr Upjohn.’

‘Well, he carelessly omitted to pack the notes for my speech at Market Snodsbury Grammar School tomorrow.’

‘No, really! I don’t wonder you’re sore.’

‘Saw whom?’

‘Sore with an r.’


‘No, sorry. I mean with an o-r-e.’


‘Yes, Mr Upjohn.’

‘Are you intoxicated?’

‘No, Mr Upjohn.’

‘Then you are drivelling. Stop drivelling, Wooster.’

‘Yes, Mr Upjohn.’

‘Send for this man Jeeves immediately and ask him what he did with the notes for my speech.’

‘Yes, Mr Upjohn.’

‘At once! Don’t stand there saying “Yes, Mr Upjohn”.’

‘No, Mr Upjohn.’

‘It is imperative that I have them in my possession immediately.’

‘Yes, Mr Upjohn.’

Well, I suppose, looking at it squarely, I hadn’t made much real progress and a not too close observer might quite possibly have got the impression that I had lost my nerve and was shirking the issue, but that didn’t in my opinion justify Bobbie at this point in snatching the receiver from my grasp and bellowing the word ‘Worm!’ at me.

‘What did you call me?’ said Upjohn.

‘I didn’t call you anything,’ I said. ‘Somebody called me something.’

‘I wish to speak to this man Jeeves.’

‘You do, do you?’ said Bobbie. ‘Well, you’re going to speak to me. This is Roberta Wickham, Upjohn. If I might have your kind attention for a moment.’

I must say that, much as I disapproved in many ways of this carrot- topped Jezebel, as she was sometimes called, there was no getting away from it that she had mastered the art of talking to retired preparatory schoolmasters. The golden words came pouring out like syrup. Of course, she wasn’t handicapped, as I had been, by having sojourned for some years beneath the roof of Malvern House, Bramley-on-Sea, and having at a malleable age associated with this old Frankenstein’s monster when he was going good, but even so her performance deserved credit.

Beginning with a curt ‘Listen, Buster,’ she proceeded to sketch out with admirable clearness the salient points in the situation as she envisaged it, and judging from the loud buzzing noises that came over the wire, clearly audible to me though now standing in the background, it was evident that the nub was not escaping him. They were the buzzing noises of a man slowly coming to the realization that a woman’s hand had got him by the short hairs.

Presently they died away, and Bobbie spoke.

‘That’s fine,’ she said. ‘I was sure you’d come round to our view. Then I will be with you shortly. Mind there’s plenty of ink in your fountain pen.’

She hung up and legged it from the room, once more giving vent to those animal cries, and I turned to Jeeves as I had so often turned to him before when musing on the activities of the other sex.

‘Women, Jeeves!’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Were you following all that?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘I gather that Upjohn, vowing … How does it go?’

‘Vowing he would ne’er consent, consented, sir.’

‘He’s withdrawing the suit.’

‘Yes, sir. And Miss Wickham prudently specified that he do so in writing.’

‘Thus avoiding all rannygazoo?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘She thinks of everything.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘I thought she was splendidly firm.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘It’s the red hair that does it, I imagine.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘If anyone had told me that I should live to hear Aubrey Upjohn addressed as “Buster” …’

I would have spoken further, but before I could get under way the door opened, revealing Ma Cream, and he shimmered silently from the room. Unless expressly desired to remain, he always shimmers off when what is called the Quality arrive.


This was the first time I had seen Ma Cream today, she having gone off around noon to lunch with some friends in Birmingham, and I would willingly not have seen her now, for something in her manner seemed to suggest that she spelled trouble. She was looking more like Sherlock Holmes than ever. Slap a dressing-gown on her and give her a violin, and she could have walked straight into Baker Street and no questions asked. Fixing me with a penetrating eye, she said:

‘Oh, there you are, Mr Wooster. I was looking for you.’

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Categories: Wodehouse, P G