It really was a rum sitch, and nobody could convince Bertram W. Wooster differently. He stood there in the sitting room, hands propped on his willowy hips, and wagged his head.
'This sitch, Jeeves,' said the young master, 'it's rather rum.'
'Indeed sir,' his valet agreed.
'I mean to say, this is the absolute limit.'
'So it would seem,' Jeeves said.
'One finds oneself craving a stiff belt of the good brandy, forgetting the soda for the mo'. Jeeves?' Bertie sank onto the chesterfield, his fair head cradled in his hands.
Two valets turned to face him. Two equally tall, dark, fish-fed paragons of feudal spirit. Two identically dressed men in pinstripes and morning coats. Two square jaws, two sets of intelligent blue eyes, two expressions of the taxidermied amphibian variety. In short, two Jeeveses.
'Sir?' they both queried in the same concerned rumble.
'I only require one brandy.' Bertie looked between the two of them. 'For now.'
The Jeeveses, for their part, locked eyes in a silent battle of wills to determine who would fetch the drink. Bertie sighed. 'You take turns speaking; you can bally well take turns at pouring cocktails.'
Yes, yes, yes, I know: Hold on a tic, everything's jumped straight to the middle, we've missed a great chunk of exposition, etcetera, etcetera. Well, here we go. I'll bung you into the beginning.
It all started with a blighter Bertie met at the Drones. Oofy Prossor, the resident millionaire, had taken a sudden interest in becoming a patron of the sciences. He had declared to all his fellow club members that he was done with the arts. 'I don't understand any of this modern stuff,' he had complained. 'Now, science! There's a chap who might actually help another chap sometime in the future.' So Oofy had taken it upon himself to find a man of science who needed deep purses in order to embark on earth-shattering discoveries and the like.
Enter Kendall T. Giddlestone, a professor extremis of something or other from Cambridge. Oofy brought him to the Drones, ostensibly to spread the knowledge of Dr Giddlestone's studies round the place, but more probable was his desire to show off his new toy. Bertie had a certain distaste for the cove from first handshake. And Giddlestone's interest in Jeeves hadn't helped matters much.
'Mr Prossor tells me that your manservant is quite a specimen,' the bearded bean said, smacking his lips as if enjoying a fine invisible cigar.
'Yes, well. Quite.'
'I would very much like to hear his opinion on some of my experiments.' Giddlestone scribbled an address on a scrap of notepaper and handed it over to Bertie with nervous fingers. 'Do you think you could spare him for an hour or two tomorrow?'
'But Jeeves isn't a scientist. I mean to say, he's the brainiest thing on two legs in London, but I don't recall him ever mentioning even a passing interest in— I'm sorry, what did you say your field was?' Bertie scrunched his nose at the little scholar.
'Matter recombination.' Giddlestone pushed his round spectacles up the bridge of his nose. 'It's a very new area of study.'
Bertie hadn't the faintest clue what that meant, but he didn't want Jeeves to miss out on any opportunity to pal around with other men of learning, so he dutifully gave Jeeves a rundown when he returned to the flat.
'So that's the posish, Jeeves. Are you going to drop in at this laboratory whatsit?'
'I imagine not, sir,' Jeeves said as he scrubbed the silver.
'No?' Bertie asked.
'Men such as Dr Giddlestone are often on the edge of what they believe to be discovery, when it is actually madness.' Jeeves set aside a perfectly sparkling cake dish with a daintiness that belied his large, capable hands. 'I have no vested interest in the matter.'
'You mean he's a loony?'
'The possibility is not so remote, sir.'
Bertie chewed on his lip thoughtfully while rescuing a gasper from his cigarette case. 'I was only wondering,' he said finally, 'what this whole science patronage was about. I know I'm not the brightest bulb on the string of fairy lights; all this mumbo jumbo would undoubtedly go right over my melon. I only thought maybe I could do some good with my money by forking it over to someone brilliant. But if you don't think this Giddlestone is the real Tabasco . . . .'
Bertie lit his pensive cig. and regarded his man, who was seated at the kitchen table, politely awaiting the end of Bertie's thought.
'Jeeves, I want you to attend to this Giddlestone for the prescribed hour or two tomorrow,' Bertie finally declared. 'See if you can dig some names out of him. Some science coves who are actual hot stuff. I would like to get myself one.'
'I want to fund some man of science. One that will come up with the goods, unlike Oofy's cove. And you have a better eye for genius, what? Will you do this thing for me, Jeeves?' Bertie fidgeted under his man's gaze; though he'd never come out and tell Jeeves in a million years, it was the hope that he might win that paragon's approval that had put the idea into his head. He knew Jeeves liked him well enough, or else he wouldn't deign to work for such a mentally negligible bird, but being merely liked wasn't enough for Bertie these days.
After a moment of sweltering under Jeeves' stuffed frog expression, Bertie was gifted with the sweetest words in the English language. 'Of course, sir.'
The rum thing was, it turned out this Giddlestone wasn't a complete fraud. Bertie saw the proof of this when he came home and suddenly found two valets reaching for his hat and stick. The Jeeveses had obviously not been aware until that moment that there had been two of them; they stared at each other with what could almost be called widened eyes. Eyebrows were definitely raised.
'What?' Bertie choked.
'What is the meaning of—?' one Jeeves began.
'I suggest you explain your—' the other started at the same time.
'What?' Bertie gasped.
'Sir,' the first said, turning to him, 'I do not know who this impostor might be, but—'
'Sir, I can prove my validity in myriad ways, and—' the second cut in.
'What!?' Bertie repeated for a third go round.
It took a few minutes for the Vaudeville act to calm down and rational discourse to take hold. The facts, as they were hashed out, were these:
Jeeves had arrived at the address that Bertie had given him and met with Dr Giddlestone. The man was alone in the laboratory that had been furnished by Oofy Prossor, and he was eager to show a 'fellow intellectual' (as he called Jeeves) his equipment. There had been, at one end of the basement room, a large machine of gleaming pipes and dials. It had hummed loudly with energetic effort, and Jeeves had politely inquired after its purpose. Giddlestone had happily led him to the thing, encouraging Jeeves to stand within the large, brightly lit chamber. Jeeves recalled a switch being thrown, and a flash of light, and then nothing.
Both Jeeveses reported their next memory as walking back to Berkeley Square. One must have arrived before the other, for the two men had gone about their chores, one tidying the bedroom, the other shining shoes in his lair, with neither of them running into each other until they heard Bertie at the door.
Then the tests began. The Jeeveses, both convinced the other was not the real Jeeves, quizzed each other on Things Only Jeeves Would Know.
'Mr Wooster takes his Darjeeling in the morning at approximately ten thirty-six,' one said with narrowed eyes.
'The bath water is favoured at 107 degrees, with precisely three teaspoons of soap bubbles,' the other sniffed.
'We have twelve city suits in our wardrobe, four travelling tweeds, four suits of black tie and two of white, not including the five suits meant for fancy dress occasions.'
'Mr Wooster's left leg is regrettably half an inch shorter than his right, resulting in the necessity for altered trousers.'
Bertie, who until now had been staring agog at this tennis match of wits, exclaimed, 'Really! Half an inch?'
The Jeeves who had scored that point nodded. 'It is not uncommon, sir. I wouldn't be alarmed.'
The other Jeeves rallied. 'You could find that information at any tailor that Mr Wooster frequents.'
'As you could find your facts with a little investigation,' the first countered.
'Look, I say, stop!' Bertie threw his hands in the air, then propped his fists on his willowy hips.
'This sitch, Jeeves,' said the young master, 'it's rather rum.'
And that's how we came to the present circs., with the Wooster seated on the chesterfield, fielding a tall brandy and eyeing two Jeeveses.
'There must be something that only Jeeves would know. Not something about me or this valeting business, something, I mean to say, personal. Known only to Jeeves himself,' Bertie said, then sipped his drink. The two valets stared at each other.
'Any ideas, my good men?' Bertie needled.
'If you would step into the kitchen,' one Jeeves said to the other with only a modicum of eye contact, 'we might write down such a thing in secret before exchanging our statements.'
'Yes, I believe that might be prudent,' he agreed, and together they glided from the room.
They were only gone for a moment; Bertie wasn't even close to gulping down the last of his drink when the pair materialised into the sitting room once more.
'He is no impostor,' said one with a solemnity befitting a Jeeves.
'And neither is he,' said the other.
Bertie frowned. 'So you're both . . . ?'
Two twin nods.
'We are both Jeeves.'
It was unclear exactly what had happened. Had Jeeves been somehow split in two equal parts? Had a perfect copy been made from the original? Only one fact remained: that the men possessed the same memories, skills, and physique. Bertie was, for obvious reasons, beside himself.
'Well,' he said. 'Well. Well. Well!'
'Indeed, si—' both Jeeveses began to say in tandem before silencing themselves and giving each other disapproving looks.
'I mean to say,' Bertie continued, 'what are we to do now?' He fiddled with a cigarette in a nervous fashion. 'One Jeeves seemed more than enough. That is—' he added hurriedly when he saw the dark looks pass over his manservants ' brows, '—I've often said you have the brains of ten men, Jeeves. It seems that the pair of you combined could run a largish country without breaking a sweat.'
The Jeeves on the left cleared his throat and glanced over at his twin as if asking tacit permission to speak for them both. At the other's nod, he said, 'Do you imply, sir, that you wish for one of us to leave your service immediately?'
'We could, if it pleased you, draw straws or use some other game of chance to decide which one should be dismissed,' the other broke in smoothly. 'That is, unless you would like to test us in some other manner?'
Bertie's heart trembled in his chest, and he looked wildly from one Jeeves to the other. 'Certainly not!' he cried. 'I have no intention of ever handing a Jeeves the mitten, regardless of how many there might be. Jeeveses, that is, not mittens.'
One Jeeves gave what nearly approached a relieved sigh. 'Thank you, sir.'
'Although that is gratifying to hear,' the one on the right piped up, 'you do not actually have a need for two valets, do you, sir?'
Bertie finally crushed out his gasper, avoiding eye contact quite deftly. 'Not as such, no. But until we get to the bottom of this bally thing, you both should stay close to the Wooster HQ, what? After all, this Giddlestone's purposes might prove nep . . . nef . . . oh, dash it, what's the baby?'
'Nefarious, sir?' two dulcet tones answered.
'Thank you, Jeeves. Nefarious.' Bertie looked up sharply. 'I say, shall I call one of you something other than Jeeves? To differentiate between the two, I mean.'
The Jeeveses looked uneasy. Both stood a little straighter.
'I would request to keep my usual appellation, sir,' said one.
'I, too, would be disinclined to answer to anything other than my normal title, sir.'
'So no "Jeeves" for one and, I don't know, your Christian name for the other? What is your Christian name anyway, Jeeves?' Bertie asked as he smoked.
'Nothing suitable, sir.'
'Right-ho. "Jeeves" it is for the both of you, then,' Bertie declared.
Bertie still went to his club, of course, and one Jeeves at a time was allowed to venture from the flat on errands, but none had been able to find any clues; Oofy Prossor had been notably absent from the Drones and inquiring after Dr Giddlestone at the laboratory came up with nothing. (The man was, apparently, gone from the city.) So the three of them soldiered onward. A new routine that involved double the amount of Jeeves was not smooth sailing. In those first few days, Bertie would wake to find two cups of tea sitting on his nightstand, with one valet opening the curtains and the other laying out the day's suit.
'Jeeves, erm, I hate to be overly critical, but I really only need one cup of the morning's sweet nectar at a time,' Bertie finally said as he tried to judge which teacup he should pick (impossible, as they were both perfect).
The Jeeveses looked at each other with not a little glint of competition in the baby blues.
'Perhaps you could take turns?' Bertie suggested. 'Maybe one of you could take the day off while the other is hard at work, what?'
They bristled at this quite visibly.
'The thought of working a mere three or four days a week is not a pleasant one for me, sir,' said one.
The other nodded. 'Idle hands, sir, are the Devil's tools.'
'What, is the chappie building a potting shed or something?' Bertie mumbled into his teacup.
'No, sir, the phrase means—'
'Jeeves, forget the Devil.'
'Cast him and all hands from your mind.'
'It is done, sir.'
'Dash it, Jeeveses, there just isn't enough work in the Wooster household to keep you both occupied!' Bertie cried as he set down his first cup of tea and began draining the second. 'I came home yesterday to find the carpets thoroughly beaten, the crown moulding repainted, and two trays of dinner waiting on the table. It's just not cricket. Soon one or both of you will find yourselves supremely bored and will give a go at being Prime Minister just to fill the hours.' Bertie sighed and finished his second cup; he rarely had two doses of the Darjeeling so early in the day, and it made him feel jittery. He considered the delicate china cup in his hands, then looked up at his twin valets. They stood side by capable side, awaiting his instructions.
'Erm, could one of you run the bath? And perhaps the other could get to work on the eggs and b.?'
'Of course, sir.'
Bertie waited until both broad backs were turned before taking his teacup in hand, sticking his arm out, and dropping the cup quite deliberately on the floor, where it shattered into a million glittering pieces. The Jeeveses turned at the sound, brows knit in double concern.
'Oh dear,' Bertie said flatly. 'Would one of you mind clearing that mess?'
One Jeeves looked at the other, both with eyebrows raised to impressive heights.
'I will see to it, sir,' one murmured as he biffed off, presumably to fetch a dustpan.
This new tactic of Bertie's continued for several days. Every so often, Bertie would find himself tipping over table lamps, dropping cocktails on the carpet, and ripping holes in his shirt cuffs. All that, he thought, would be plenty to keep two Jeeveses busy.
Of course, he was mistaken.
Even with the house in a constant state of disrepair, two Jeeveses were more than enough to handle it. The lamps were swiftly glued back together with seamless precision. The stained carpet was scrubbed to gleaming within minutes. The shirts were repaired before Bertie had time to say 'what ho'.
Bertie was in the process of scuffing his shoes with some steel wool in his bedroom when the two Jeeveses floated in on silent feet. The young master hid the implement behind his back with a rather guilty smile. 'Hullo there, Jeeveses,' he said.
'Sir, while we are grateful that you have endeavoured to create enough work to satisfy the both of us,' the one on the right said, 'we would appreciate it if you used some other method. We are fast running out of cleaning solution and glue.'
Bertie sighed and handed his ruined shoes over to the Jeeves on the left, who produced a pot of polish from his trouser pocket and immediately set to work on them as he walked from the room. 'You're right, I suppose,' Bertie said to the remaining Jeeves. 'I am running out of things to break, tear, drop, and ruin. We shall just have to—'
Then the doorbell rang.
Instincts ingrained deep in Jeeves' soul made him glide from the room to answer it, even as Bertie's jaw dropped open in voiceless protest. Before they could be stopped, both Jeeveses arrived in the vestibule, with the one arriving a moment sooner and opening the door to Mr Bingo Little. Bertie trailed behind just in time to see Bingo's open-mouthed shock at two twin valets reaching for his hat and stick.
'Oh dear,' Bertie muttered.
The Jeeveses seemed to realise their error too late. By then, Bingo was already exclaiming, 'Why, Bertie! You never told me Jeeves had a twin brother.'
'Oh, erm, yes. Quite.' Bertie gestured to the Jeeves nearest him. 'This is, uh, well, he's Jeeves too, obviously. Being brothers, that is. Their names would be the same, what?'
'I say!' Bingo handed his hat over to the door-answering Jeeves, his eyes still fixed on the other one. 'And you're both valets, then? That's lucky!'
'Thank you, Mr Little,' said the newly minted fraternal Jeeves.
'My brother worked for a gentleman on the continent,' the other Jeeves lied smoothly. 'Said employer has since passed away. My twin is currently visiting me on his way to Scotland, where he has procured a new position.'
'Oh, he's already found one, you mean? Too bad. Oofy would have snapped him up in an instant. He's always going on about wanting a Jeeves of his own.' Bingo ambled into the sitting room, snatching a cigarette from the silver case on the mantle as he passed. 'And to think, he might have gotten his wish quite literally. Well, he'd have to fight off any number of chaps who wanted a valet like Jeeves, myself included!'
Bertie exchanged worried glances with both his valets, and they all moved into position round young Bingo in unspoken formation.
'Has Oofy really said that? What a strange thing to mention,' Bertie said with typical caution.
'Oh, yes.' Bingo lit his cig. and flopped into a chair. 'He doesn't like to talk about it in front of you, old bean; doesn't want you getting the wrong impression. He knows no amount of money would cause Jeeves to leave your employ. Already tried that, of course.'
'Did he!?' Bertie turned to scowl at his Jeeveses, who coughed in sheepy tandem. One replied, 'On several occasions, sir. But as Mr Little has reported, to no avail.'
'Well! That's just not sporting, trying to finagle a man's man right out from under his nose!' Bertie stamped his foot. 'I'll be dashed if I'd let someone like Oofy Prossor—'
'Sir,' Jeeves cut in smoothly, 'perhaps Mr Little has some idea of what Mr Prossor has commissioned Dr Giddlestone to explore, if Mr Prossor was so given to speaking of his plans in his presence.' This was accompanied by a meaningful eyebrow.
'That Giddlestone fellow? Complete crackpot, I heard. No idea what Oofy thought he was capable of. I say, Bertie, are you free on Thursday? Rosie is hosting a bit of a dinner party; I'm meant to invite you.'
'What? Yes, of course, of course,' Bertie said, not a little distracted.
'Really, though. Two Jeeveses. Wait till Oofy hears about this!' Bingo laughed. 'He'll be absolutely blowed.'
Snapping to sudden attention, Bertie joined in with a nervous laugh of his own. 'About that, Bingo, would you mind awfully not mentioning Jeeves' brother to Oofy? It's only that, well . . . .' He trailed off and looked helplessly over at his two valets. One stepped up with great aplomb.
'Mr Wooster means to say, Mr Little, that my brother has already made plans for employment in Scotland and would not entertain an offer here in London. He is not as enamoured of city life as I, and he fears he would appear ungrateful if he were forced to turn down what would no doubt be a generous offer from Mr Prossor.'
'Oh, but the look on his face!' Bingo cried. 'It would be grand.'
'Bingo. Need I remind you,' Bertie said, 'that we were at school together?'
The Little frowned. 'Bertie, that's really rather unfair of you. It would just be—'
'I'm serious, Bingo. Not a word to Oofy. Please?'
Bingo sighed as if he were being crushed by a great weight of responsibility. 'As you wish, Bertie, seeing as we were at school together. Haven't seen Oofy in ages, anyway. Who knows where he's gone?'
After some idle chatter and a cocktail, Bingo was summarily pushed from the Wooster abode. It was then and only then that Wooster, B. was able to whirl on his doppelganger valets and I-say his head off.
'I say, Jeeveses!'
'Most disturbing, sir.'
'Do you think that Oofy had hired that scientific cove to, to, to make a Jeeves for himself?' Bertie staggered into the nearest armchair. A b. and s. appeared at his elbow on a small salver, and from the other side, the silver cigarette case was offered. 'Thank you for the fortifying instruments, Jeeveses,' Bertie said, availing himself of both. 'I just can't believe Oofy would do such a thing.'
'And yet it would appear to be the case, sir,' the salver-bearing Jeeves said.
'But dash it, Jeeves, you're not some sort of cheap greeting card whatsit! You're not meant to be carbon copied!' Bertie tipped back his drink in one go and then went for the cig. 'Doesn't Oofy realise that even if there were a million of you in the world, if they were truly all still you, not a single one would deign to serve a man like that?' Bertie glanced up quickly, two spots of colour rising on his cheeks. He had spoken much too passionately, and he feared the Jeeveses would notice.
The other Jeeves lit his gasper with a single regal click of the lighter, and Bertie leaned into the flame. After a few meditative puffs, he continued, 'That was probably a bit harsh on old Oofy, what? That is, one can't blame him for wanting a Jeeves of his own,' Bertie said carefully.
'No, sir. However, you are correct in your sentiments.' Jeeves replaced the special case of cigarettes on the mantle.
'I would never wish to enter Mr Prossor's employ, especially now knowing the depths to which he'd sink, if you will forgive me for saying so.' The other Jeeves spirited the empty glass and salver back to the sideboard.
'Well, if I have my way, you'll never have to. Either of you. I may not be a millionaire like Oofy, but I have enough of the folding ready. I can employ the both of you for as long as you wish to remain here.'
Both Jeeveses stopped their tasks of tidying up their respective corners of the sitting room and turned to trade looks over Bertie's head.
'Is that acceptable?' Bertie asked with not a little trepidation.
'More than acceptable, sir,' said one quietly.
'Two salaries are not really necessary—' one ventured.
Bertie waved this away. 'Tosh. You're two men, and you do the work of two men. You deserve the pay of two men. Dash it, of ten men.'
'Thank you, sir.'
'You are generous as always, sir.'
'Good. That's settled for now, then.' Bertie tapped away some ash from his pensive cig. 'I say, Jeeveses, what was the thing you two shared in the kitchen that first day? The thing that proved that you were both the real deal, I mean.'
The two valets turned on their blank mask faces. 'Nothing of importance, sir.'
'A mere trifle,' the other added.
And so they continued on, a household of three instead of two. Bertie was perfectly content, and the two Jeeveses fell into a rather smooth routine. Double cups of tea and twice the amount of dinner no longer made an appearance. The valet double act seemed more at ease as well. They appeared to be working in peaceful unison, communicating without need for words even. Bertie watched them drift about the flat shoulder-to-shoulder, using only eyebrows and light touches on a wrist or elbow to say what they meant. Bertie was glad; it wouldn't do to have not one but two Jeeveses unhappy.
It may have kept going on like this forever, except one day Bertie became trapped in the pantry.
Bertie hadn't set out to be trapped in the pantry, but it happened like this: he'd wandered into the kitchen looking for a tin of beans to act as a weight for some flowers he wanted to press between the pages of his diary (a hobby he had adopted as a child and was not wont to share with anyone, but the blossoms in the square that morning had been just topping, and, well, a gentleman could press flowers if he wanted to press flowers). He was in the pantry taking just such a tin of beans from the shelf when he heard the kitchen door swing open. Through the slightly cracked pantry door, he saw a Jeeves in his black pinstripes and shirtsleeves station himself at the sink. Jeeves started in on the dirty dishes, and Bertie suppressed a sigh. He decided to just wait until Jeeves finished and left, as he didn't relish the thought of explaining to his valet why he was lurking in the pantry with a tin of beans; he feared Jeeves would look askance at flower pressing the same way he looked askance at a flowered tie.
But then the second Jeeves entered the kitchen as well, fresh from the market and dressed in his tweed leisure suit. The two valets bid each other a good afternoon.
'Has Mr Wooster left for the day?' the tweed-clad Jeeves asked.
'I did not hear him announce his departure; he might be reading in his study,' said the pinstripes.
'Did he allow you to recommend the blue tie, or did he decide on the orange?' Bertie was sure he could detect the smallest amount of humour in that Jeeves' near-smile.
'Mr Wooster is wearing the blue, thankfully.' The other Jeeves gave an answering almost-smile and turned off the water taps, having finished with the dishes. Bertie watched from his hiding place as the half-happy look fell slowly from Jeeves' face; his hands braced against the lip of the sink; his shoulders sagging with some unseen pressure.
'Today is one of the difficult ones,' the tweed Jeeves murmured knowingly.
The other nodded.
The parcels from the market were placed on the kitchen table, and Jeeves approached his twin at the sink. Bertie nearly gasped as he saw the tweed Jeeves place a reassuring hand on the shirtsleeved Jeeves' shoulder. Jeeves, as a rule, was not given to casual touches. Bertie had once attempted to clasp his hand, and even that had been a step out of bounds. But now, with his doppelganger, Jeeves seemed to relax into the supporting palm.
'You must not weaken. We cannot afford to, especially now. You must turn to me if you need assistance,' said the tweed.
'Yes, I know. I do not believe I could have made it this far without an understanding heart on which to rely,' the shirtsleeves said softly.
'The same holds true for me.' And, to Bertie's complete shock, Jeeves leaned forward and brushed his lips against the nape of his double's neck. The Jeeves in shirtsleeves turned and pressed a kiss to the other's mouth. Their arms wound round each other, and the Jeeves in tweed coaxed the other to rest his head upon his shoulder. They stood like that for a moment, their eyes shut tight, their hands clutching desperately.
'He is so beautiful today,' whispered one.
'He is beautiful every day,' said the other. There was a small pause, and then he added, 'If he has left for his club, would you like to lay in bed with me for an hour or two?'
Bertie gave a start. Since the arrival of the pair of Jeeveses, he hadn't considered it, but it was obvious now: they shared a room and a bed. They hadn't made use of the guest room; feudal spirits prevented that. Well, Bertie thought, that was a tad strange but— Wait a mo'! Bertie's mind raced. When he leaves for his club? He is so beautiful? Were they talking about the young master? The idea made Bertie's head spin. He nearly dropped his tin of beans in happy shock. Jeeves! And himself! And, well, also the other Jeeves! Erm. Bertie worked his brain for a moment, trying to come to terms with it all. The hardest part was trying to equate Wooster, B. with 'beautiful'. He of the beakish nose and unruly hair and rail-thin frame was not the essence of manly beauty, as far as Bertie could see. Jeeves, on the other hand . . . .
But the Jeeveses continued conversing. 'I would enjoy that. I will have to finish the ironing first, however.'
'I finished the ironing this morning while you were cooking Mr Wooster's breakfast. Come, help me turn down the bed. You're exhausted.'
The other Jeeves nodded in what seemed like defeat. 'Thank you,' he said, 'for tending to me when I cannot seem to manage it myself.' Bertie felt a sickening falling sort of feeling in his stomach. Vis-à-vis 'who will guard the guards?' was the question 'who will take care of the man who takes care of you?' Poor Jeeves, having been run down like he was and having no one to turn to—
'You did the same for me just the other day. Now come along.' And Jeeves led his twin out of the kitchen with a tenderness that surprised Bertie: his hand on the small of the other's back, his voice a low murmur.
Ah. So Jeeves did have someone to turn to. Himself.
It was a shaken Bertram indeed that emerged from the pantry a few moments later. He kept his tread silent as he pushed his way past the kitchen door and into the hallway. 'Mr Wooster must have left without alerting you,' the one Jeeves' voice floated from around the corner. 'He isn't in the study. Here, let me take your waistcoat and . . . .' And the voice trailed off as it headed in the direction of Jeeves' lair.
Bertie was not normally the sort of employer that peered through keyholes at his personal gentleman (or gentlemen, as the case may be), but he considered this a special circ. He crept down the hallway, slipping his shoes off after a few steps so that his socked feet would be quiet. The door to the Jeeveses private quarters was shut, but light shone from beneath it. Two deep voices rumbled from within, but Bertie couldn't make out any words. He pressed his eyeball to the little keyhole and saw, well, not much, to be honest. A dark shape would flit by every few seconds, one of the Jeeveses walking past, no doubt. But Bertie could at least hear them more clearly.
'Relax,' came a calm whisper.
There was the rustling of bedsheets, and Bertie could see the shape of feet moving under the covers at the foot of the bed. A small sigh escaped from the bed's occupant, and an answering hum accompanied it.
'Will you disrobe as well?'
'Certainly, you need only make a little space for me.' A short pause. 'Thank you.'
Bertie's eyes went wide, and he felt that his baby blues must be positively bursting through the keyhole. Though he could see only a bit of the bed and the floor, just knowing that two nude Jeeveses were cuddled up beside each other under the bedclothes was enough to set his imagination afire. Every creak of the bed-frame, every wordless murmur, every intake of breath, every hiss of fabric against skin sent Bertie's brain to churning. For all he knew, the two men were just taking an afternoon nap in their skivvies, but really, how could Bertie expect his mind to be content with that?
It was obvious that whatever was happening within that lair was not for public consumption, and Bertie slunk away from the door and took his hat from the stand; he needed to leg it to the Drones in actuality so that the Jeeveses would never know what he'd seen. While at the Drones, Bertie allowed the dinner roll cricket and games of card-in-the-topper to pass him by in favour of staring into space and letting his mind wander. Every so often a fellow would attempt to rouse him from his distraction, but Bertie would not be moved. After a few hours, he went home in more of a daze than ever. But his mind, at least, was made up.
He found a Jeeves there to greet him when he returned. This Jeeves wore the tails and pinstripes, but it was impossible to tell if he had been wearing that ensemble earlier or not. So Bertie accepted this Jeeves' welcome and handed over his hat.
'Jeeves,' Bertie said, 'where is the other Jeeves?'
'He is,' a short pause, 'feeling unwell, sir. He is abed. Do you wish me to fetch him, sir?'
'No, no.' Bertie chewed his lip. 'Are you feeling ill too, Jeeves?'
'No, sir. I am in fine health.'
'Ah. Good. I've never known you, either of you, to be under the weather.' Bertie looked up at his valet, his perfect stalwart. 'I worry about you, you know.'
Jeeves swallowed, his throat moving visibly as he hung Bertie's hat in its place. 'You needn't, sir.'
'But I do, Jeeves. I do need.' And, spurned onward by the images of his valets locked in a passionate embrace, Bertie stood on his tip-toes and crushed his lips to Jeeves'.
It was, in a word, absolutely topping. Wait, no, Bertie thought, that's two words. Oh, what does it matter how many words he used to describe it? A million would never be enough. Bertie unsealed his lips from Jeeves' mouth and opened his eyes slowly, as if waking from a dream. Jeeves stared back at him, his eyes dark with some unspoken emotion. His lips, Bertie noted with some satisfaction, were reddened and slightly parted as if in wonder.
Bertie could have stared at the sight all day, but another Jeevesian sight caught his eye over the broad valety shoulder. Bertie gasped as he saw the other Jeeves, standing there at the other side of the room in his dressing gown, his face drawn and pale, the pain of a broken heart clearly painted on his visage. This Jeeves' brow was drawn, his mouth twisted in a way that spoke of betrayal. There may have even been a glint of tears in his eyes; Bertie couldn't tell, as the Jeeves materialised from the spot too quickly.
'Wait, Jeeves!' Bertie raced down the hall to the open door of the servants' quarters. 'You mustn't—'
He entered the lair to find the dressing gown Jeeves already making a neat pile of shirts and socks on the mussed bed. His movements were measured and calm as he emptied half of the drawers in his dressing table.
'Jeeves, what are you doing?' Bertie cried. He sagged against the door-frame, catching himself with his hand at the last moment. 'You can't leave, I—'
'I am not needed here, sir,' Jeeves said in a low voice, 'in any capacity.'
'But,' Bertie took a step forward, only to be treated to a withering glare from Jeeves. He gulped and tried anew: 'But I do need you, Jeeves.'
Jeeves turned back to folding his socks into a neat pile, his back to Bertie. 'You must have me confused with my double,' he said with not a little bitterness. The sock he was kneading became balled up in his hands. 'The strange thing, sir,' he said quietly, 'is that you cannot even tell us apart. It might have so easily been me. If chance had been on my side.'
'Jeeves, please listen—'
Jeeves silenced him with a mere gesture, a hand held up with tired acceptance. 'The choice left to me is clear, sir. Please do not make this more difficult.'
'Reginald.' The pleading voice, the twin voice, caused Jeeves to finally turn. Bertie turned as well to find the pinstriped Jeeves standing there in the hallway. That recently kissed valet nodded sadly. 'Do not do this. I should be the one to leave.'
'No one is bally leaving!' Bertie exploded. Then, 'Wait. "Reginald"?'
The be-gowned Jeeves sighed. 'My—our—Christian name.'
'You don't look like a Reginald at all.' Bertie considered the two of them. 'Either one of you, I mean. Dash it, I'm getting off course!'
'If I may be so bold as to inquire, sir,' said the Jeeves in the morning coat, 'what is your proposed course of action?'
Bertie hesitated but a mo', and then he laced his fingers with those of that Jeeves. The other Jeeves turned away at the sight, as if it sent daggers through his heart to witness it, but Bertie tugged at his companion's hand until they approached the wronged party together. Then, slowly, Bertie laid his other hand on that Jeeves' shoulder.
'I am sorry I kissed this Jeeves without your— Presence? Permission? Knowledge? Some thingummy like that,' Bertie said. 'I never intended for you to feel like a third wheel. Jeeves, will you look at me, please?'
Jeeves turned to regard his doppelganger and his master, his stoic mask firmly in place.
Bertie blushed under the scrutiny, but soldiered on. 'It's not one or the other, old thing. It's the both of you that make the Wooster heart pound in the Wooster chest.'
Both Jeeveses were now looking at Bertie with the same expressions reserved for the more ill-advised spats in the wardrobe.
'Sir?' they both asked at the same time.
Bertie shrugged helplessly. 'Odd, I know, but it's how things are, what? That is, you're both, well, Jeeves. And it's Jeeves that I want.'
'Sir.' The previously packing Jeeves placed his socks on the bed and focused his full attention on the young master. 'I am not certain what you are proposing, but I fear you are broaching a subject which is unnatural as it is . . . .'
'Unseemly,' the other Jeeves supplied.
Bertie sputtered. 'How can it be unseemly!? Two chaps are unseemly enough for most people, so how much worse can three be?'
'Your logic, sir, isn't exactly infallible.'
'Do you imagine we would be content to share you between us, acting as your lover only every other day?'
'Every other day? Why, of course not. I don't see why we all couldn't—'
'Sir!' Both Jeeveses appeared scandalised, their eyebrows hooking high on their foreheads. Almost a full quarter inch, in fact.
'Oh, I saw you two necking in the kitchen earlier!' Bertie finally confessed. 'Don't pretend the idea is so foreign to you.'
Both valets had the courtesy to look a little sheepish at that. Both sets of dark blue eyes neatly avoided Bertie's gaze.
Bertie sighed. 'I'm not angry about it. In fact, it was quite the fruity sight. I only wish I had known sooner, so you two wouldn't have felt as alone as you must have.'
The Jeeveses exchanged a pair of those knowing glances which were becoming increasingly familiar to Bertie. Silent communication completed, the Jeeves in the dressing gown asked, 'Are you certain of your feelings, sir? Might you merely be possessed of a lustful urge?'
Bertie grinned and slipped his hand into Jeeves', so that he was now holding two square, work-roughened hands. 'I am certain,' he said, 'that Fate sent me this gift because my heart overflowed with love enough for two of you.'
It was a sentiment Bertie had been working on for some time at the Drones, and it was just the ticket. The cold Jeeves melted, the warm Jeeves warmed even more, and Bertie found himself engulfed in twin embraces, with two sets of strong arms squeezing him about his waist.
'Oh, hullo,' he murmured, his mouth muffled against a Jeevesish chest.
'We love you as well, sir,' rumbled one voice.
'We've loved you for so long,' said the other, this time vibrating against Bertie's spine.
'I know.' Bertie squirmed happily between his two valets. 'After a long round of thinking, I realised it must've been the password, what? The thing that proved your Jeevesness to each other.'
'It was. Our darkest secret, our shared pain.'
'Sir,' said the morning coated Jeeves, 'would you grant me a favour?'
Bertie shuddered at the feel of those soft lips tickling the back of his neck, and he nodded. 'Of course.'
'Would you give my double his kiss? He has desired it for some time.'
The young master looked up at that still-unkissed Jeeves before him, and the man wouldn't meet his eyes.
'Is this true, Jeeves?' Bertie meant to be playful, but the hesitant nod he received in reply told him all: this Jeeves still believed himself to be unlucky and unloved. Unable to see him suffer any further, Bertie threaded his fingers in his thick black hair and pulled him down to meet his kiss. It contained all the passion of the other Jeeves', but Bertie tempered it with gentle reassurance: a lick there, an additional nip here. The Jeeves in the morning coat, for his part, made a small noise in the back of his throat and continued to cling to Bertie, his chin hooked over a willowy shoulder, enjoying his front row seat.
'I say,' Bertie whispered when he surfaced from the liplock, 'I might just be the happiest cove in the world. I could go on kissing you two all night.' Bertie watched as the Jeeveses gave each other a look above his fair head, followed by matching near-smirks. 'What's this now?' Bertie goaded. 'Are you both plotting against me?'
Bertie knew they could be speedy; dash it, they were probably the world's fastest men. And so he was bemused to find himself bookended by two chaps whose hands appeared to be moving slower than a snail on its thorn. Oh, they caressed his flanks and stomach, those hands, but they did so slowly. Four large yet strangely delicate palms smoothing over his waistcoat, sliding under his suit jacket. Slipping up to his shirt collar, fingering the knot of his beloved blue tie.
After freeing his lips from yet another Jeevesian kiss, Bertie panted, 'I do hope you two be undressing me at some future point?'