Aunt Dahlia had sunk into a chair and was starting to turn purple. Strong emotion always has this effect on her.
‘The only thing left, it seems to me,’ I said, ‘is to put our trust in a higher power.’
‘You’re right,’ said the relative, fanning her brow. ‘Go and fetch Jeeves, Roberta. And what you do, Bertie, is get out that car of yours and scour the countryside for Glossop. It may be possible to head him off. Come on, come on, let’s have some service. What are you waiting for?’
I hadn’t exactly been waiting. I’d only been thinking that the enterprise had more than a touch of looking for a needle in a haystack about it. You can’t find loony-doctors on their afternoon off just by driving around Worcestershire in a car; you need bloodhounds and handkerchiefs for them to sniff at and all that professional stuff. Still, there it was.
‘Right-ho,’ I said. ‘Anything to oblige.’
And, of course, as I had anticipated from the start, the thing was a wash-out. I stuck it out for about an hour and then, apprised by a hollow feeling in the midriff that the dinner hour was approaching, laid a course for home.
Arriving there, I found Bobbie in the drawing-room. She had the air of a girl who was waiting for something, and when she told me that the cocktails would be coming along in a moment, I knew what it was.
‘Cocktails, eh? I could do with one or possibly more,’ I said. ‘My fruitless quest has taken it out of me. I couldn’t find Glossop anywhere. He must be somewhere, of course, but Worcestershire hid its secret well.’
‘Glossop?’ she said, seeming surprised. ‘Oh, he’s been back for ages.’
She wasn’t half as surprised as I was. The calm with which she spoke amazed me.
‘Good Lord! This is the end.’
‘This is. Has he been pinched?’
‘Of course not. He told them who he was and explained everything.’
‘What’s the matter? Oh, of course, I was forgetting. You don’t know the latest developments. Jeeves solved everything.’
‘With a wave of the hand. It was so simple, really. One wondered why one hadn’t thought of it oneself. On his advice, Glossop revealed his identity and said your aunt had got him down here to observe you.’
I reeled, and might have fallen, had I not clutched at a photograph on a near-by table of Uncle Tom in the uniform of the East Worcestershire Volunteers.
‘No?’ I said.
‘And of course it carried immediate conviction with Mrs Cream. Your aunt explained that she had been uneasy about you for a long time, because you were always doing extraordinary things like sliding down water pipes and keeping twenty-three cats in your bedroom and all that, and Mrs Cream recalled the time when she had found you hunting for mice under her son’s dressing-table, so she quite agreed that it was high time you were under the observation of an experienced eye like Glossop’s. She was greatly relieved when Glossop assured her that he was confident of effecting a cure. She said we must all be very, very kind to you. So everything’s nice and smooth. It’s extraordinary how things turn out for the best, isn’t it?’ she said, laughing merrily.
Whether I would or would not at this juncture have taken her in an iron grasp and shaken her till she frothed is a point on which I can make no definite announcement. The chivalrous spirit of the Woosters would probably have restrained me, much as I resented that merry laughter, but as it happened the matter was not put to the test, for at this moment Jeeves entered, bearing a tray on which were glasses and a substantial shaker filled to the brim with the juice of the juniper berry. Bobbie drained her beaker with all possible speed and left us, saying that if she didn’t get dressed, she’d be late for dinner, and Jeeves and I were alone, like a couple of bimbos in one of those movies where two strong men stand face to face and might is the only law.