I entered Mr. Wooster’s usual room at Totleigh Towers and observed him standing by the window, gazing out at the grounds. “Good afternoon, sir,” I greeted him.
“What ho, Jeeves,” he replied, turning to face me. He had not uttered his customary greeting with the usual amount of cheerful enthusiasm, I noted. His brow was furrowed, and his face appeared slightly flushed.
“Are you all right, sir?” I enquired.
“I’m fine, Jeeves. Now that Stiffy has gone, that is.”
“I see, sir.” I had passed Miss Byng about five minutes earlier, walking purposely down the hallway. “Am I right, sir, in thinking that Miss Byng has once again requested your assistance with some matter?”
“You would be correct, Jeeves. I knew she would. I knew I couldn’t be in the same vicinity as Stiffy for any length of time and emerge unscathed, what?”
“That does seem to be true, sir. What task has she volunteered you for?”
“Oh, I didn’t agree to it, Jeeves! No, her methods of persuasion this time around were rather weak, I must say, and this Wooster is made of sterner stuff.”
I was quite pleased by this news. Miss Byng’s schemes rarely boded well for my employer, but she almost always managed to force his participation through blackmail or bribes. “Very good, sir. May I ask why Miss Byng was in need of assistance?”
“You certainly may, Jeeves. Some blasted letter. Apparently, poor Stinker made a fool of himself at Totleigh last week – broke some expensive whatnot or other. Anyway, Stiffy’s uncle has not been too keen on Stinker coming around Totleigh for the time being. So Stinker wrote Stiffy a letter, and the poop dropped it on the floor before he could get the thing into her hot little hands. Old Bassett found it and locked it up in his room. Stiffy’s just frantic to get it back – I imagine it’s full of sentimental drivel and she’s longing to read it because she misses him so desperately. Not my idea of fun, I must say! I will never understand these beazels’ need to run the eyeballs over loads of complete soppiness written down on paper. Isn’t it enough to hear it just once?”
“One would think so, sir,” I said, humouring him. Mr. Wooster was silent for a moment, appearing to be lost in thought. His brow was still furrowed, although the blush on his face had disappeared. It was slightly odd, I thought, that he would be distressed over the conversation with Miss Byng when he had managed to avoid getting involved in her scheme. However, I knew how Miss Byng had the ability to cause people significant stress. I stood quietly as well, waiting for his next words or instructions. Finally, Mr. Wooster roused himself. He shook his head, and smiled up at me.
“Well! I can’t stay in here all day waiting for Stiffy to come back with one of her brilliant blackmail plans. I think I’ll go outside and have a smoke; enjoy this beautiful weather. I say, have you seen Muriel around recently, old thing?”
Muriel Penbroke was a young lady staying at Totleigh Towers. She was a friend of the recently married Madeline Bassett, now Lady Sidcup, who was also here at the moment. “I saw her in the drawing room just before coming here, sir, with Lady Sidcup. The two young ladies were enjoying playing duets at the piano.”
“Oh, jolly good. I should be safe outside, then.”
This last statement of Mr. Wooster’s puzzled me. From what I had seen in the short time since I had met Miss Penbroke, she seemed to be a very pleasant and well-adjusted young woman. In spite of being a friend of Lady Sidcup’s, she did not appear to share what Mr. Wooster saw as negative qualities, such as an overly sentimental or romantic disposition. Additionally, I had seen her and Mr. Wooster talking and laughing quite amiably on several occasions during our stay so far. From all appearances, they got along exceedingly well. Before I had a chance to comment on this, however, Mr. Wooster had was telling me “toodle pip, Jeeves!” and leaving the room.
Later that evening as I was making my way to the hall to assist with dinner, Miss Byng interrupted my progress. “Jeeves!” she cried out in a sharp whisper, “I need to talk to you!”
“Very good, miss.”
“In here!” she hissed, beckoning me to enter her bedroom. I hesitated, for I did not wish to be seen entering the bedroom of a young lady unaccompanied.
Miss Byng rolled her eyes. “Jeeves! This is really very important! Please, just get in here!”
Seeing no one else about, and admittedly rather curious to learn more about the problem Mr. Wooster had refused to help with, I conceded and entered the room. She promptly closed the door and stood with her back to it, facing me. It was a pose I had seen her in several times before, as she interrogated or bribed my employer. “Jeeves, did Bertie tell you I needed his help?”
“He did indeed, Miss Byng.”
“Well, he’s being an absolute bore about the whole thing and won’t do it. I didn’t even try to blackmail him this time!”
“Indeed not! I haven’t found anything good to blackmail him with in this short time, and my old standby of threatening him with marriage to my cousin isn’t going to work now that she’s married to that beastly Spode. But then it came to me – instead of blackmail, I’d reward him for his efforts if he did this very simple job. You know that friend of Madeline with whom he’s been getting along so well? Muriel. Well, Jeeves, Muriel is quite shy. And you know how useless Bertie is with girls. I offered to help things along for the two lovebirds, and he would have none of it.”
“My master has a strict code when it comes to relations between himself and young ladies, Miss Byng –”
“Yes, I know that. His behaviour was awfully strange though, Jeeves. He looked absolutely stricken when I mentioned the plan, as if Spode had dropped off the face of the Earth and marriage to little Madeline was once again a very real possibility. You’d think he hated the girl!”
“You must remember, Miss Byng, that Mr. Wooster met Miss Penbroke a mere three days ago. I think it is quite likely that his reaction to your proposal would be different –”
“No, Jeeves. He told me he did not even want to think about the word marriage, and he’d decided quite some time ago to swear off marriage altogether. He said I might see more cooperation from him if I promised not to encourage Muriel. Then he just left before I could say another word. Why must he be so difficult?”
I must say I was puzzled that Mr. Wooster had had such a violent reaction to the very idea of marriage with Miss Penbroke, for I considered it within the realm of possibilities that he might soon inform me of his intention to marry her.
As I mused on this, Miss Byng continued to pace the room with a scowl on her face. Suddenly she looked up at me with bright, hopeful eyes. “You couldn’t talk to him for me could you, Jeeves? He listens to you better than anyone.”
I had, of course, helped convince Mr. Wooster to lend assistance to various schemes in the past, usually involving my employer’s Aunt Dahlia. However, remembering how distressed my employer had been at the thought of following Miss Byng’s request, and considering that her scheme did not appear to have any benefit for either me or Mr. Wooster, I thought it best to decline her request.
“I am sorry, Miss Byng,” I said, “but I am inclined to respect my master’s wishes in this matter.”
“Oh, blast you!” she huffed. “You’re as bad as Bertie today. You are both being absolute sticks.”
She turned to me sharply, and an uncharacteristic look of distress came over her face. “Jeeves, I don’t mean to be such an annoyance, because I do like you, and you’re usually such a sport, but I really must get that letter back. It has some…highly sensitive material in it. You see…” She paused here, seeming unsure of what to tell me. “Harold and I…have been considering perhaps eloping to France or somewhere and I don’t want Uncle Watty to find out!” She was now blushing, and not quite meeting my eyes. I had to wonder if the “sensitive material” was really as she had described, or something of a more embarrassing nature. But it was not my place to consider such possibilities.
The blush and embarrassed expression passed as quickly as it had come, and in its place was now a narrow-eyed, calculating expression which was very familiar on this young lady’s face.“You know, Jeeves…I believe I have thought of something that might just get Bertie to help me out. A little extreme, perhaps, but this is an extreme situation. I’ve been thinking about this paranoia Bertie seems to have about getting married. I realize he’s been engaged to some unsuitable girls, my cousin being one of them, but even the thought of marrying nice girls such as Muriel sends him running for the hills.”
“Miss Byng, I know Mr. Wooster is reluctant to get married, but could that not have something to do with the bad luck he has had with various engagements and the forceful manner in which his Aunt Agatha encourages him to marry women he barely knows?”
“Perhaps, Jeeves, but I have a suspicion there is more to it.” She fixed me with a cold, determined stare. “You know what I’m talking about.”
“I am sure I don’t know, miss,” I said, although I was almost certain what she was hinting at.
“Oh, come, Jeeves. I’ve seen some of those friends of Harold’s and Bertie’s, and what they get up to at that Drones Club of theirs, and it does make one wonder…I could start a rumour, you know, about the real reason Bertie doesn’t want to get married.”
“Miss Byng!” I exclaimed with some force, shocked at this bold statement. “You surely would not start a rumour about such a sensitive matter. It would mean social ruin for Mr. Wooster, as well as –”
“All right, Jeeves, calm down. I wouldn’t really do that. I do know how foolish it would be. However, if I were to merely threaten Bertie with starting such a rumour…well, he might reconsider his refusal to help me.”
“If I may say so, Miss Byng, I still would not recommend that course of action. If someone were to overhear you, your threat could be just as powerful as the rumour itself. In addition, it would cause my employer unnecessary mental stress.”
“I want to cause him stress, Jeeves. That’s the point. But oh, all right. What do you suggest?”
“May I offer, miss, to retrieve the letter myself? If I were to know of Sir Watkyn’s whereabouts during the remainder of today I am sure I could determine a way to restore the letter to you.”
“Oh Jeeves, could you? That would be wonderful! You are a specific dream rabbit!
“Thank you, miss,” I said with a slight nod of my head. I left Miss Byng to attend to my duties, confident that procuring the letter myself was the best solution for everyone involved.
That night, at around 9 o’clock, I once again found myself outside the bedroom of Miss Stephanie Byng. I had the Reverend Harold Pinker’s letter in my hand. Miss Byng would surely be pleased to see that the envelope had not yet been opened. It had turned out to be an extremely simple matter to procure the letter; I had found it in an unlocked drawer of Sir Watkyn’s dresser. I felt almost disappointed that the job had not been more challenging, but there was no need to dwell on this. I knocked on the door, and it instantly opened.
“Jeeves! You did it! Oh, thank you thank you thank you!” she gushed. She took the letter from my hand, then stood on her toes and proceeded to kiss me, leaving a sticky red lipstick mark on my cheek.
“It was no problem, miss,” I told her. “If there is nothing more, miss…”
“Oh, no, Jeeves. You did splendidly. I can’t thank you enough!”
Seeing that Miss Byng was already absorbed in the opening of her letter, I retreated into the hallway. As I made my way around a corner, a familiar voice called out.
“Jeeves! There you are! I’ve been looking for you!”
“I am sorry, sir. I was assisting Miss Byng with the retrieval of her letter from Mr. Pinker.”
“Gosh, Jeeves, you were? I’m assuming you were successful. You always are, but if there was still any doubt, that lipstick mark on your face would tell me the answer.”
“Indeed, sir,” I said with a smile.
“I say, did she blackmail you? The girl is more ruthless than I thought, and even more brazen. Imagine trying to blackmail you, of all people! I can’t imagine you bending under the strain, Jeeves.”
“No, sir, she did not have to resort to blackmail. I offered to carry out the task and spare you the trouble.”
“Oh, Jeeves, that was very white of you. I was worried she’d discover some embarrassing thing from my past that I couldn’t even remember, and threaten to tell Aunt Agatha or similar. Is there anything I can do to thank you? Any hats you’d like burned, or overly elaborate ties you’d like to give away to the deserving poor?”
“Thank you for the offer, sir,” I said, “but your choice of clothing has been quite satisfactory as of late.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that, Jeeves! I suppose you’ll have to be content with a verbal thank you for now, then. Anyway, I was looking for you to tell you I’d like to leave Totleigh before she gets a chance to come back for her second course. I know she’s got her bally letter back now, but I still think it would be a good idea to take our leave early, perhaps tomorrow morning if we can manage it, Jeeves. You never know with Stiffy and that scheming brain of hers. She might have another job for me to do by tomorrow.”
“That is probably a wise course of action indeed, sir. If you wish to leave earlier than we had originally planned, that is no problem. I can finish the packing tonight.”
“Topping, Jeeves! What would I do without you, eh? Well, I suppose I’d better go make my excuses to Madeline.” And with that, he was off.
As I made my way Mr. Wooster’s room the next morning, I overheard a heated conversation taking place in Miss Byng’s room. “Really, Muriel! It is so disappointing.”
I do not make a habit of eaves-dropping unless it is a vital component in plotting a solution to a difficult situation, but I could not help but be curious in light of yesterday’s events involving these two young ladies. I also felt it wise to ascertain whether or not Miss Byng was keeping her suspicions regarding Mr. Wooster to herself. I moved closer to the door. Miss Penbroke spoke very quietly, and I had difficulty making out her words. Miss Byng, however, was crystal clear. “Well, I suppose it is sweet, but we had an agreement, Muriel. The letters weren’t supposed to be just sweet… I know I should have written the first one, shown him how it’s done. But the man needs to take initiative sometimes too, you know.” There was another soft string of words, and then, “This is his attempt at poetry. I suppose it’s supposed to be romantic!
"Darling, I think you’re clever
And I never want to sever
My bond with you."
I couldn’t help but wince in sympathy as I heard giggles from inside the room.
“Oh, Muriel, just look at this soppiness.”
I could not hear any words spoken by Miss Penbroke next, except the name “Madeline.”
“He does sound like Madeline, doesn’t he? Not the person you want to sound like when you are trying to write naughty letters to your fiancée!” This telling outburst was followed by high-pitched giggling.
Miss Byng’s secret revealed, I decided I had heard enough. I continued on my way, feeling some satisfaction in that Miss Byng had not had entirely pleasing results.
Mr. Wooster and I arrived back at Berkeley Mansions at around 11:30 that day. After a light luncheon, Mr. Wooster went into the sitting room to read a mystery novel, while I tidied the kitchen.
As I worked, my mind was occupied with troubling thoughts. On occasion, I had wondered whether Mr. Wooster might be an invert, but I had not dwelled on these thoughts long as I felt it was none of my business, and I had no real evidence. I knew Mr. Wooster had been reluctant to get married to several women, but those women were loud, unkind, or overly sentimental; in short, their personalities clashed with that of my employer. Then there were the women he had initially expressed interest in marrying, such as Bobbie Wickham and Florence Craye, whose personalities were also unsuitable. It had been my opinion, up until now, that eventually Mr. Wooster would find a woman whom he both wanted to marry, and was a suitable match. I had not realized, until yesterday, how opposed Mr. Wooster now was to the very idea of marriage to any woman.
If Mr. Wooster was indeed attracted to the male of the species, he might not necessarily act on this attraction. On the other hand, maybe he did act on it, and I was unaware of it. The thought filled me with anxiety, for Mr. Wooster has an open disposition, and is not particularly skilled at hiding things from others. I had not noticed anything out of the ordinary, but there were often long periods of time during which I was not in contact with him. If Mr. Wooster was involved with another gentleman, the risk of discovery for him was fairly great because of his personality and his difficulty in coping with unusual situations.
As his faithful valet, I felt it was my duty to ensure his safety as best I could. I would make an effort to pay more careful attention to Mr. Wooster’s activities outside the flat, in order to determine if there was any chance he was putting his reputation at risk by having indiscretions with other young gentlemen. The most likely place to gather hints was at my employer’s Drones Club. It would be a simple matter to begin walking Mr. Wooster home more regularly after he had spent an evening there. If I came a little earlier than Mr. Wooster was supposed to be finished, I might be able to catch glimpses of my employer’s behaviour and actions around other men. I would have to be very careful, of course, not to intrude into Mr. Wooster’s private life too much, for that would be improper, and had the potential to be embarrassing for all parties involved. I did not want to cause Mr. Wooster distress or unhappiness. If Mr. Wooster showed frustration at my increased presence at his club, I would have to find some other way to determine whether or not he was in a safe situation.
Over the next few weeks, I walked to the Drones to meet Mr. Wooster on most evenings he spent time there. Rather than appear frustrated, he always expressed his happiness upon seeing me, and appreciated my having his hat and coat ready for him. Those evenings when I had to wait some minutes for Mr. Wooster to emerge, I was able to observe some of the young gentlemen’s activities. I discovered that one of the club members’ favourite pastimes was giving each other rides on their backs. While this struck me as an overly intimate game for grown men to participate in, I saw that it was harmless, drunken fun. I did not often observe Mr. Wooster participating in these active games. When I caught sight of him, he was usually more subdued than the others, observing the goings-on around him while sipping a drink or eating. On several occasions I saw him speaking with one of his friends, such as Mr. Glossop or Mr. Potter-Pirbright. Over time, I began to feel foolish for having been worried. I could see no evidence that Mr. Wooster had any sort of special relationship with any of the men he knew. Of course, Mr. Wooster’s club was not the only place for him to be in the society of other men, but I believed that I was rather skilled at interpreting my employer’s thoughts, and the idea of him keeping such an affair completely secret from me seemed unlikely. At the end of the second week, I had all but given up on the notion that Mr. Wooster was acting on any inverted tendencies, whether he was actually an invert or not. I continued to walk him home quite regularly, however, as I could not discontinue the practice abruptly without it being noticed.
Mr. Wooster had gone to his club to celebrate his birthday, and had given me the evening off. “No need to pick me up, Jeeves, or even wait up for me at home,” he had told me as he was putting on his hat. “You know how long these Drones celebration thingummies can go on; no need to miss your beauty sleep on my account.”
“Very good, sir,” I had replied, feeling not a little uncomfortable. Was Mr. Wooster hinting that he had become annoyed at my frequent presence at his club, or perhaps even making excuses because he had other plans following tonight’s celebration?
My worries were mostly put to rest the next moment when he told me, “Not that I don’t appreciate being picked up, mind you. It’s dashed nice to have you ready with the coat and hat, but it really isn’t necessary tonight, old thing. Don’t worry; I’ll try not to get too tight either.”
“Very well, sir. I will see you later, sir,” I said, as I handed him his walking stick.
“See you later then, Jeeves! Probably in the morning, eh?” He gave me a broad grin, and was off.
I spent a couple of hours reading, and then dropped into the Junior Ganymede for a drink. When I returned to the flat, I felt restless and did a little tidying in the sitting room, although it didn’t much need it. Had Mr. Wooster been home, he would have demanded me to stop working on my evening off. By 11 o’clock I was in bed, but I found myself lying there awake. I did not feel that I could sleep while Mr. Wooster was still out. I suppose he would call it my “feudal spirit” preventing me from relaxing before every one of my employer’s needs was seen to. Just when I was about to give up on sleep and return to my book in the sitting room, there was a knock at the door. I frowned. Either Mr. Wooster had forgotten his key, was too drunk to open the door himself, or it was someone else entirely – but who could it possibly be at this hour? I opened the door and the sight of my employer’s flushed, happy face and unsteady legs confirmed that it was the second option. “Good evening, sir,” I said.
“Good evening, Jeeves!” he blurted rather too loudly for the hallway at this time of night, and stumbled into the flat. I was helping him off with his hat and coat, when Mr. Wooster went limp and sagged against me.
“Sir,” I said softly when I had hung up his coat, “let’s get you into a chair and I will assist you with your shoes.”
“Topping idea, my man!” Mr. Wooster exclaimed, again very loudly.
“Did you have a pleasant time, sir?” The answer was obvious, but I asked him all the same, thinking continued conversation would keep him awake long enough to allow me to guide him into his bedroom.
“Oh, absolutely! Just topping! The boys had a cake for me and we all sang songs…” he trailed off and hiccupped, once, then continued with, “and it was all, well, just topping!”
“I am glad to hear it, sir.”
“I even brought you home a piece of cake!” He thrust a rather flat-looking brown paper package into my hands.
“Thank you, sir; that was very kind of you.” I put the package aside and finished pulling off his second shoe. “Sir, if you would stand up, I will assist you to your bedroom.”
“Oh, right ho!” he said and shot quickly up out of his seat. He swayed on his feet, and I slid my left arm under his shoulders to support him. “Thank you, Jeeves, you’re a marvel,” he said, this time his voice much softer. Before I knew what was happening, and to my great surprise, Mr. Wooster had turned around to face me and had flung his left arm around my right shoulder. His right arm was still around my left shoulder, so that he was now fully embracing me. “Mr. Wooster,” I began, but he interrupted me.
“Jeeves, Jeeves…you are truly a marvel. Did I say that already? Well, it’s bally well true, Jeeves. I would be lost without you and…and you always know just what to do. I know I’m not, well, I mean to say…” his voice trailed off.
“Mr. Wooster,” I tried again, “if you could release one of your arms from around my person and face forward, I can better assist you to your bedroom. I can not move with you in this particular position.”
He looked up at me with confusion in his wide eyes, and exclaimed, “Oh! Sorry, Jeeves.” He did not move from his position, however. Instead, to my horror, he gripped me even tighter, letting his head fall against my chest, and heaved out a great sigh. I could feel the warmth of his breath through the thin fabric of my pyjama top. I was frozen in place. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I had no idea what to do. “Jeeves…” Mr. Wooster murmured again and I felt his lips move against my chest.
“Sir!” I gasped, loudly, feeling colour come into my cheeks and my heart hammering in my chest. I reached behind myself, grabbed his wrists in a strong grip, and pulled him off and away from me.
“Sir, we must get you into bed as soon as possible,” I said with more force than I had intended. “You need your rest.”
“Right ho…” he sighed, and promptly collapsed on the floor in front of me.
Once again, I managed to get one arm under his shoulders, and we made it to his bedroom without further mishap. I deposited him so that he was sitting on the bed, and removed his dinner jacket. Then I removed his tie. I loosened his collar, but then hesitated. After what had just occurred, I was reluctant to divest him of more clothing than was necessary, but letting him sleep fully clothed was equally disturbing. As I pondered what my next actions should be, Mr. Wooster fell back on the bed and appeared to fall instantly asleep. It pains me now to admit that I did not do much more to ensure his comfort, so shaken was I by what had occurred in the sitting room. I lifted his legs by the ankles and swung them on the bed, and covered him with a blanket.
I brought in Mr. Wooster’s tea the following morning, feeling no little anxiety. I wondered if he would remember his unusual actions the previous night. I delayed bringing in the customary restorative, for I was selfishly hoping he would forget last night’s events, and did not wish to aid his recall with the special mixture. However, when he woke and looked up at me with blurry, red eyes and gaping mouth, seeming unable to speak, I saw that the restorative would be necessary after all. After fetching it from the kitchen and watching it have its effect on Mr. Wooster, I said, “Good morning, sir. How are you feeling?”
Following a few seconds’ pause for him to get his breath back, he began his usual cheerful babble. “Just fine, Jeeves, thanks to that brilliant mix of yours. I don’t know what you do to that stuff, but it always does the trick. I’m feeling rather braced, now.”
“I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir. I trust that your celebration yesterday was satisfactory?” Although I had asked him this upon his arrival home last night, I thought to determine how well his memory was faring.
“It was excellent fun, Jeeves! The chaps had a nice cake for me, and we played some stupid games…and well, I don’t really remember all that much detail, to tell you the truth. I’m afraid I got tight as an owl rather quickly. Something about one’s birthday tends to make one take leave of his senses a bit, what?”
“Indeed, sir,” I responded, breathing an internal sigh of relief at hearing him describe the extent of his memories. Mr. Wooster’s next words, however, caused me some alarm.
“Oh, gosh. I hope I didn’t behave too dreadfully when I got home last night. I did get home, didn’t I? I didn’t have to be carried or have you come pick me up, did I?”
“No, sir. To my knowledge, you found your way home on your own.”
“Well, there’s that at least.” He chuckled softly. “Did I give you a lot of trouble, old thing? I see you let me sleep in my clothes…I must have been flopping around and acting like a prize idiot!”
“It is all right, sir; do not trouble yourself. I am sorry for letting you sleep in such a condition, but you seemed exhausted, sir, and I thought it best.”
“Don’t be sorry, Jeeves! I just marvel at your ability to get me into bed at all. Well, no more about it, eh? How about some breakfast?”
“Of course, sir,” I replied, and headed back to the kitchen.
I was relieved when, later that morning, Mr. Wooster went for a stroll and left me alone in the flat. I needed time to myself to gather my thoughts. I had never felt such a lack of control over my emotions, and it was highly disconcerting. I was significantly affected by the way Mr. Wooster had touched me last night, but I did not know the meaning of his actions. They could have meant nothing at all. Everything could be explained in a logical manner. Yes, Mr. Wooster had given me excessive praise. There is nothing particularly unusual in this, as it is something he does frequently already. Yes, Mr. Wooster had embraced me, but I was already supporting his body weight in order to assist him to his bedroom. Of course the embrace was friendlier than it should have been between master and servant, but he had been extremely drunk and surely felt the embrace was needed to keep his frame upright. His last action – leaning his head against my chest – well, that could have been due to tiredness or simply not being aware of his actions. The simple fact was that if it hadn’t been for Miss Byng so directly insinuating that Mr. Wooster might be an invert, I would probably not be feeling uncomfortable now. I silently cursed both her for putting the idea into my head in the first place, and myself for so easily being taken in by it. It was weak. Whatever the reason behind Mr. Wooster’s actions, I could not deny that when he had embraced me and I had felt his lips against my chest, it had excited both my mind and my body. It was true, though I desperately wished it not to be. I was attracted to Mr. Wooster. Now that I had realized this, everything made much more sense. Why had I been so insistent on ensuring Mr. Wooster got home safely from his club, instead of enjoying the company of a man? I thought back to an incident that had occurred the previous weekend at Mr. Wooster’s club. When my employer had come to greet me, a young man whom I had never seen before had his arms wrapped around Mr. Wooster’s neck, and the two men were laughing. I quickly realized that they were both under the influence, and their actions had been entirely innocent. However, I now realized that the uneasy sensations I had initially experienced upon witnessing this sight were not only fear and worry on behalf of my young master, but jealousy as well.
I could not accept this new realization. The feelings Mr. Wooster were inspiring in me were, I must admit, frightening. Never before had I felt any inclination towards the male form. I had always thought my mind and body were swayed only by the female of the species. I thought about all the men besides Mr. Wooster in my acquaintance, and I could not imagine myself having similar feelings about any of them. So what was different about Mr. Wooster? Well, I certainly had never known a man as kind-hearted and generous as my employer. However, I felt that it was my close study of Mr. Wooster during the last couple of weeks that had led my mind to more easily focus on him as an object of desire. It was possible that my attraction to him was temporary and my new feelings would quickly dissipate. I hoped sincerely that this was the case, for it would be difficult to continue serving as his valet, otherwise.
I did not long consider the possibility of my master having similar feelings for me in turn. He had always expressed his fondness for me, but always in terms of a capable employee, or perhaps a loyal friend. While I could think of many ways I could attempt to determine his true nature and feelings towards me, I could think of no circumstances under which it would be appropriate to do so. It would make my job easier if I assumed he held no real affection for me, and that my attraction to him was a passing fancy. I must go on serving him as I had always done, continuing the balanced relationship and friendship we had enjoyed until this point.
My resolution, I discovered, was not going to be easy.
Since the evening of Mr. Wooster’s birthday, my hitherto pleasant life in his employ became trying. My desire for Mr. Wooster did not diminish; if anything, it became stronger. I was made ultra-aware of his presence, and routine tasks became an exercise in self control.
As the weeks went on, the hardship did lessen somewhat as I became more accustomed to the reactions Mr. Wooster caused in me. Some things, however, continued to be a source of mental stress. I had long ago admitted to myself, if not to my master, that I enjoyed Mr. Wooster’s singing and piano playing. Now, of course, it affected me more strongly. I would try to stay out of his sight in the kitchen and listen to him from there, for I did not wish him to guess how much I was affected by his beautiful voice. One day I caught myself staring at his lips as he sang, and realized I desired to kiss those lips more than almost anything.
Assisting him to dress or undress was the most difficult. I was thankful Mr. Wooster was a talkative man. I listened to his chatter (although remained careful not to focus on his mouth) while tying his tie, to distract myself from the feel of his skin as my fingers occasionally brushed across his bare neck or wrist.
I have always taken pride in my ability to hide my true emotions. It is a skill, in my opinion, that any good valet should have. I took some comfort in knowing that whatever emotions I was experiencing should not be obvious on my face. This small comfort was tempered by knowing that Mr. Wooster was actually quite adept at determining my true thoughts and feelings, knowing me as well as he did. However, as of yet Mr. Wooster had not indicated that he had noticed my discomfort around him.
The awkward circumstances could not continue forever without incident, and the balance was upset one morning when I was bringing Mr. Wooster his morning tea. Just before entering, I heard a succession of short gasps come from within Mr. Wooster’s bedroom. I opened the door, and could not have been prepared for the sight that greeted me. My employer was still asleep, but obviously dreaming. His hips were making small forward motions repeatedly under the bedclothes, this movement accompanied by gasps from his mouth and the occasional soft whimper or moan. The only possible explanation that I could see for this was that Mr. Wooster was having an erotic dream. I did not stop to wonder whom my employer might be dreaming about, for all I could focus on was the sight before me. I was immediately more aroused then I can ever remember being, and stood frozen in the doorway for several moments before coming to my senses. I felt an overwhelming sense of shame. How could I stand here and watch my employer in what was obviously a private moment, especially when there was no way he would be aware of my presence? I turned on my heel, shut his door, and returned to the kitchen with my tea tray. Setting it down on the table, I sat down and put my head in my hands, trying to think nothing at all. I was sorely tempted to retreat to my own room instead and find release, but the thought of it shamed me. I would simply have to wait until the feeling passed, and then, after about ten minutes or so, return to Mr. Wooster’s bedroom with fresh tea. If I did not, he would likely question it.
Once my breathing and heart rate had returned to normal, I poured Mr. Wooster’s tea down the drain and put the kettle back on. I opened a cupboard and began reorganizing it, in order to keep my mind busy.
“Morning, Jeeves,” a familiar voice said behind me.
“Sir!” I’m afraid I started quite badly.
“Oh, sorry, Jeeves! I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It is quite all right, sir,” I replied, calming. “I was just about to bring in your morning tea, sir. I apologize that I did not more accurately predict your waking time.”
“Not to worry, Jeeves. I could just have my tea here, what? Now that I’m up there’s not much point getting back in bed. I’ll just sit in here and chat while I watch you do whatever it is you do in the kitchen in the morning.”
“Certainly, sir. I had just begun to determine whether there was a more efficient way to organize this cupboard.”
“Gosh, you do think of everything, Jeeves. It makes me wonder how many times you have done a job and I didn’t notice because I didn’t even know it was necessary!”
“It is no trouble, sir. I often find the act of cleaning and organizing to be relaxing.”
“Do you?” said Mr. Wooster with some considerable surprise. “Well, that’s good for me, I suppose!”
I was about to respond, but my fingers slipped on a plate and it dropped to the floor and shattered.
“I apologize, sir. I’m afraid I was clumsy.”
“Jeeves, you are never clumsy. I firmly believe that rebellious plate must have had a mind of its own. Don’t worry about it, my man, I have plenty more of them.”
“Thank you, sir,” I replied, ever grateful for Mr. Wooster’s easy-going nature. I knew why I had dropped the plate. While it was true that I considered cleaning and organizing to be relaxing, I’m afraid I still wasn’t at my best after what I had seen in my employer’s bedroom earlier that morning.
“I say, Jeeves, are you feeling completely boomps-a-daisy? You are looking quite pale. I mean to say, you’re always rather pale, and nothing wrong with that, Jeeves, but I’m afraid you look a bit ill. Did you get enough shut-eye last night?”
I quickly invented an excuse. “Perhaps not, sir. I confess to staying up rather late reading an improving book.”
“Oh, dear. While I’m sure it had benefits for your marvellous brain, Jeeves, I’m not sure it was entirely beneficial to the Jeeves corpus.”
I couldn’t help a little smile come to my lips. Mr. Wooster’s way with words never failed to charm me, even more so now. “I’m sure you are correct, sir. I shall endeavour to get more rest tonight.”
“I’m glad, Jeeves. Can’t have my valet keeling over during his duties. And you’ll hear no complaints from me, old thing. The young master’s opinion on sleep is that you can never have too much.”
“Thank you, sir.”
We both went back to what we had been occupied with before the breaking of the plate; I to my organizing and Mr. Wooster to his paper. When I next glanced at him, he was no longer reading but was looking straight ahead, appearing to be deep in thought.
“Jeeves,” he said when he noticed my gaze on him. “Are you sure all you need is a good night’s sleep? I mean to say, there have been other times lately when you’ve seemed, well, quieter than usual. Not up to your usual snuff, that is to say. Nothing particularly obvious, old thing, but seeing you all pale and breaking things today…I just wanted to make sure there was nothing, well, troubling you.”
I do not enjoying lying to someone I admire and respect as much as Mr. Wooster, but I felt at this juncture that it was necessary. “Thank you for your concern, sir. I…recently had developed an understanding with a young lady, but we came to a mutual agreement to sever our relations, and I am still perhaps a little saddened by this development.”
“Oh, Jeeves, I am sorry! Perfectly understandable you’d be feeling under the weather. Well, you would probably say I’m taking a liberty, but I say that any girl who can’t seem to stick with a deserving chap like you, Jeeves, is probably not worth it anyway, what?”
“Thank you, sir. You are too kind.”
“Not at all, Jeeves!” said Mr. Wooster happily, apparently satisfied with my vague explanation.
I was understandably shaken by Mr. Wooster’s enquiry into my well-being. I could only hope that he would not attempt to pry further, and that I could better control my emotions in the future. Fortunately, during the next several days he mentioned no more about it.
“Jeeves,” said Mr. Wooster one afternoon, looking up from his paper.
“I was in a music shop yesterday, and a thought knocked me on the old bean. You and I haven’t tickled the ivories together for quite a while, what?”
“No, sir, we have not.” The last time had been, in fact, before our recent visit to Totleigh Towers.
“Well, I think it’s been too long. What do you say to a bit of playing once I’m finished this tea and you’re finished your…what are you doing right now, Jeeves?”
“A spot of dusting, sir.”
“Oh. I’m sure that could easily be taken up again later, eh Jeeves? So, what do you say? I bought some new sheet music at the shop – two jazz tunes from America – I’m sure you’ll like them.”
“I would be delighted to accompany you at the piano, sir,” I replied. In truth, I was not particularly thrilled at the thought of sitting in close proximity to Mr. Wooster on the piano bench. Since our visits to New York when I had played jazz duets with him for the first time, I had greatly enjoyed the pastime. Now, however, I could see the potential for awkwardness. Of course I had to take Mr. Wooster up on his offer. If I did not, he would wonder why, and it would do no good for him to notice any more odd behaviour.
Ten minutes later, we were seated at the piano in front of a piece called “West End Blues.” I had offered to cover the bass line, and Mr. Wooster was on treble. We read it through once to get a feel for the notes and tempo. It was a simple blues progression, perfect for improvising. The second time we played the piece, we took advantage of this feature and improvised many new verses of music. As I played, I thought to myself that I needn’t have been worried, for I was finding the activity greatly relaxing. Mr. Wooster and I continued to repeat the chord progression for quite some time, making our melodies and chords more complex with each repetition. Finally Mr. Wooster caught my eye and nodded, indicating that we should return to the opening melody and finish the piece.
“I say, that was corking!” Mr. Wooster exclaimed happily when the last chords had faded away.
“Indeed it was, sir,” I had to agree.
“This chap really knows how to write a tune!”
“Shall we play the next one, then?”
The next piece Mr. Wooster placed on the piano was “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington. It was different from the blues in that it had more complex chords and was meant to be played at a slower tempo. Again, we played it through once before we attempted to improvise. Although the chords were more sophisticated, I found the challenge of finding notes and melodies that would fit with the chords very pleasurable. I know Mr. Wooster enjoyed it too, because he kept casting his gaze over to me and smiling as he played. The longer we played, the more comfortable we became and no longer needed to keep our eyes on the music. Mr. Wooster was looking at me more frequently and for longer periods of time, and I was doing likewise.
Finally, we were gazing only at each other, and for the briefest moment, I was not sure whether or not we were still playing. I felt one of Mr. Wooster’s fingers touch my own, and it quickly returned me to reality. I looked back at my hands on the keys, as Mr. Wooster said, “Sorry, old thing! Didn’t mean to collide with you.”
“It is quite all right, sir,” I replied softly. We found our place in the music once again, and made our way to the end of the piece, thankfully keeping our eyes on the piano keys or the sheet music rather than on each other.
“I say, Jeeves,” said Mr. Wooster when it was over, “I noticed while we were playing that you were using some bally huge chords. I’m curious, old thing - how far can your hands stretch?” I showed him on the piano keyboard. “Eleven keys, almost twelve! I’m quite jealous, Jeeves. I can reach ten, but it gets dashed uncomfortable sometimes when I have to add too many notes within that. How big are your hands? Let’s see.”
Suddenly Mr. Wooster had grabbed hold of my right hand, and held his left hand up against it. “Just as I thought. Your fingers are almost an inch longer than mine! You’ve got bally massive hands, Jeeves. It makes perfect sense, of course, since you have a massive brain. I mean to say, you’re all quite large. In a good way, mind you!” I noticed with a start that Mr. Wooster’s face was slightly flushed.
He was also keeping his own hand pressed against my own. Our eyes met once again, and I felt an even greater sense of tension than I had the first time we had looked at each other in this way. Mr. Wooster continued to stare at me, unblinking. It felt almost as if he were attempting to test me in some way. The look in his eyes gave me an uneasy feeling; I felt certain he must have discovered my secret.
It had been long enough. I dropped my gaze and pulled my hand away, hoping I looked calm and collected. “Thank you, sir, for asking me to play the piano with you. It was most enjoyable, but I really must return to my dusting.”
“All right, Jeeves,” Mr. Wooster said in a soft voice, not looking at me. The next second he was his cheerful self again. “Jeeves, I think I’m going to head down and see if I can catch old Tuppy. He expressed interest in meeting me for dinner.”
“Very good, sir. I will see you later.”
Once Mr. Wooster had closed the door of the flat behind him, I retreated into what Mr. Wooster calls my “lair.” I had blundered, and done just what I was trying my best to avoid – shown too much emotion. I knew Mr. Wooster had noticed it, and returning to our pleasant, relaxed existence would be very difficult, if not impossible.
I could act as if the two moments at the piano had not affected me at all, and again try my best to regain my “feudal spirit” around my employer. But how could I? The memory of his hand against mine was still having an effect on me, and to continue as I used to, dressing him, undressing him, seeing him naked in the bath…no. I briefly considered asking him for an early holiday, but that would do no good. It would only draw attention to my discomfort around my employer, and I knew that when I returned, my feelings were likely to be even more intense.
I lay on my bed, unable to stop myself from running over the scene at the piano bench yet again. I thought of Mr. Wooster’s soft, warm hand. I recalled his striking, large blue eyes gazing intently into mine. I imagined his pink lips and wondered what it would be like to be kissed by them. Heavenly, I am sure. There was no stopping what I was about to do next – I had resisted for too long. I reached down to my trousers and opened my flies. Shame flooded me as I began to stroke myself, imagining it was Mr. Wooster’s hand wrapped around me instead of my own. I thought of Mr. Wooster kissing me, on top of me, both of us unclothed as we thrust against each other, and it was this image that brought me to a forceful climax. As I lay there panting, my shame mixed with the relief I felt at finally giving in and fully accepting my attraction to Mr. Wooster. Along with this acceptance came clarity, for I knew what my next action should be. I must confess my secret to him – I would do it tomorrow night. Then, I would have to resign. Even in the unlikely event that Mr. Wooster wanted from me what I wanted from him, I could not risk putting both our lives in danger.
I returned around 7 o’clock the next evening with the shopping, expecting Mr. Wooster to still be at his club for at least a few more hours. I was surprised, therefore, to see him relaxing on the sofa in the sitting room.
“Good evening, sir, I did not expect you to be home at this hour.”
“The club was bally boring tonight, Jeeves. Not many chaps there. Rather rummy. But the Drones don’t matter, Jeeves. I want to talk to you.”
My heart was in my throat. Surely Mr. Wooster wished to talk about what had occurred yesterday at the piano. “Very well, sir. If you will just let me deposit the groceries in the kitchen, I will join you directly.”
Minutes later, I again emerged from the kitchen. Mr. Wooster was pacing the sitting room floor, a drink in his hand. “Jeeves, I have a confession to make. First of all – wait, make that two confessions. The first one is that I am rather drunk. I suppose I didn’t really need to make that confession, did I, Jeeves? As if a cove like you wouldn’t notice something that obvious instantly.” Here my master giggled, and was silent for a few moments, staring into his glass and turning it this way and that in his hand.
“Second of all, this sozzled condition you see your young master in is necessary for me because I need it to tell you…what I want to tell you.” At these words, my heart rate increased even further. Was my master about to inform me that he had had enough of my inappropriate glances, and that I was to pack my bags? I had been about to tell him that I would indeed pack my bags, but I had hoped I could at least depart without Mr. Wooster being completely disgusted by me. I noticed Mr. Wooster was still speaking, but I had become so absorbed in my thoughts I had ceased to hear what he was saying.
“I am sorry, sir,” I said quietly, “I am afraid I did not catch your last words. Could you please repeat them?”
“Happens to the best of us, what? I was saying, Jeeves, that I must not remember much of my school Arithmetic, because I can’t even seem to count to three. I have three confessions in total, Jeeves, three.” Mr. Wooster held up two fingers to demonstrate as he swayed on his feet. Frowning, he realized his error and added a third finger.
“And what is the third one, sir?” I almost whispered.
Mr. Wooster let out a nervous laugh and promptly swallowed another mouthful of his drink. “Confession number three is…confession number three is a bit difficult, you see. But I need to tell you, Jeeves.” He fixed me with a wide, blue-eyed stare and at once his face looked grave, a great contrast to his previous mood.
“Jeeves, I – that is to say, I have…for quite some time now, been rather attracted to you, Jeeves. That is, quite smitten. I think I might even, well, be in love with you, Jeeves." He closed his eyes, fell backwards onto the sofa, and seemed to sink down into the cushions as far as physically possible.
I found myself stunned by this revelation. Although I had wondered if Mr. Wooster indeed returned my feelings, I had almost completely convinced myself that it was wishful thinking.
As I had formulated no suitable response to Mr. Wooster’s unexpected confession, I proceeded to say what I originally had planned to tell him tonight.
“Sir, I also have a confession to make.”
“I know, Jeeves.” Mr. Wooster morosely looked down at the carpet. “You’re repulsed by what the silly young master has just said.”
“No, sir, not at all. I wished to confess that I too, have found myself attracted to you, and –”
“What? Did you just say…oh, Jeeves!” Mr. Wooster jumped off the sofa, and quickly made his way toward me.
“Sir,” I said in a warning tone, quite alarmed. However, Mr. Wooster did not get further than a couple of paces before catching his ankle on a table leg and tumbling over. Luckily, I was close enough that I was able to reach out and break his fall.
Mr. Wooster let out an “oof!” as he fell into my arms. “Thank you, Jeeves. That was rather silly of me.”
“All you quite all right, sir?”
“Of course I am, Jeeves, my wonderful valet caught me!” He grinned, his face flushed from the alcohol. I helped him to his feet, all the while thinking how similar this situation was to the event that had first triggered my realization. Once we were both standing again, I attempted to disentangle myself from my employer, but he held on tightly. The previous time I had been embraced like this by Mr. Wooster in the sitting room, he had been dazed and barely able to stand. This time, I could tell he had not imbibed as much, and in contrast was looking at me with determination in his eyes. This was not at all going to plan – I had to separate from Mr. Wooster and tell him what I had intended to say, that even though he returned my feelings, it would be risky for us to come to an understanding.
Before I could speak one word, Mr. Wooster was kissing me. I stiffened, and felt his hand slide up my neck to pull my head closer to his. I was certainly strong enough to pull away from him, but I found that I no longer had the will. One brush of his lips and I was lost. It was clumsier than any kiss in my admittedly limited experience, but it was also much more pleasant and exciting. Mr. Wooster released my lips for a brief moment to place some small kisses on my cheeks before moving back once more to my mouth. This time the kiss was more intense and I could taste the alcohol on Mr. Wooster’s breath. I was shocked at how much this detail seemed to please me. I let out involuntary groan, and Mr. Wooster gripped me even tighter.
I knew, then, that I could never leave Mr. Wooster and have a satisfactory life. It may have been selfish and immoral, but I would risk everything to be able to have access to this pleasure. However, I could not let this escalate any further right now. Mr. Wooster was drunk, and could not be held accountable for his actions. We had not yet had the necessary conversation for this to be acceptable.
I pushed him away gently, and the sight of Mr. Wooster before me – flushed face, closed lids, and swollen lips – sent a shot of desire through my body. “No,” he murmured, attempting to regain the kiss.
“Sir,” I said as evenly as I could, “you are not fully yourself tonight. I cannot…take advantage of you in this condition. We need to have a discussion, but first you need to rest. Come with me, sir.” I began urging him towards his bedroom, my hands on his shoulders.
“Jeeves?” He turned to look at me with a hopeful expression in his eyes.
“Do you love me?”
Once again I was stunned into silence, for I had no idea how to respond. I therefore pretended I had not heard his question, and continued speaking. “Almost there, sir,” I said, now at the doorway of his bedroom. I directed him to sit on his bed, and laid out his light blue pyjamas. “If you will change into your pyjamas, sir…”
“All right, Jeeves,” said my master in a whisper, following my instructions.
Once his pyjamas were on, I turned down the bedspread and he climbed in. His eyes were downcast, and I couldn’t help thinking that he resembled a chastised child. I could not bear to leave him for the night thinking I was angry with him, so I attempted to reassure him in some way.
“We will speak in the morning, sir,” I said, and summoning my courage, leant down to place a soft kiss on his forehead.
Happiness came over his features again, and he settled under the covers. “Good night, Jeeves.”
“Good night, sir.”
It is probably needless to say that I did not find it easy to sleep that night, for my mind would not rest. It was occupied with the question I had not been able to answer – did I love Mr. Wooster? When considering my attraction towards my employer, I had never framed my feelings in this particular way. However, it only took a few minutes of quiet reflection to realize that, of course I did. When I had first come to be in my master’s employ, I had thought him foolish and often mentally negligible. Over time, my opinion of him had changed as our relationship grew closer. I had become utterly devoted to serving him, and what had initially been merely a job, had become an act of love. I could see now that the physical attraction I felt for him now was merely one more aspect of the love I had harboured for him longer than I had even realized.
I brought in Mr. Wooster’s restorative the next morning, assuming he would need it. To my surprise, he was already sitting up in bed, awake. Still, he took the offered mixture and thanked me once it had taken effect.
“Here is your tea, sir,” I said, setting the tray down on the bedside table.
“Thank you, Jeeves,” he said simply. Mr. Wooster was uncharacteristically quiet this morning. I am sure he wanted to speak to me about what had occurred last night, but, like me, was not sure how to broach the subject.
“I will be in the kitchen, sir, if you require me.”
“Right ho, Jeeves,” he replied. I could feel his gaze on me as I left the room.
I began to polish the silver, wondering how long it would be before Mr. Wooster sought my company. There was much I wanted to say to him, but I felt it necessary that he be the one to initiate any conversation about how recent events would affect our relationship from now on. Mr. Wooster could easily be led; other people, myself included, had often used this to their advantage. This was no time to lead Mr. Wooster.
Not ten minutes later, the kitchen door opened and Mr. Wooster entered.
“What ho, Jeeves,” he chirped happily.
“Good morning, sir,” I replied, as I began to stand up.
“No, no, Jeeves. Don’t get up. Please.” I sat back down and turned my attention back to the silver.
Mr. Wooster let out a frustrated sigh. “Jeeves, you’re not…pipped at the young master, are you? I mean, about what happened last night.”
“Really, Jeeves? I can’t remember all the details, but, well…I kissed you, didn’t I?”
“You did, sir.” I continued my polishing.
“And you didn’t mind?”
“It was an unexpected action, sir, but not unpleasant.”
Mr. Wooster smiled at me shyly. “Well, that’s good. And Jeeves…was it my imagination, or did you really tell me that my affections for you were returned?” His blue eyes were wide and questioning.
“Indeed I did, sir.”
“Oh, Jeeves,” said Mr. Wooster, letter out what sounded like a relieved sigh. “I was wondering if I’d dreamt it all. You know how it is, when one is fried to the gills…”
Mr. Wooster rose from his seat across the table and took a few paces towards me, but then stopped. I looked at him, unsure what he was going to do. “I say, Jeeves…you’re sure, aren’t you? You’re not just saying this to, I don’t know, spare Bertram’s feelings? I mean to say, your tone is rather soupy, Jeeves.” He looked at me expectantly, biting his lip.
“Forgive me, sir. I have never before had a conversation of this type, and – ”
“Neither have I, Jeeves!”
“– but you did nothing last night that displeased me, sir. The, as you say, “soupy” tone you hear is merely due to apprehension.”
Mr. Wooster grinned, a sight which calmed me somewhat. “Well, Jeeves, that’s understandable! I mean, I was a bundle of nerves too last night. That’s why I decided to get sozzled before making my confession, Jeeves, even though I…well, I wasn’t sure of course…oh, but I was so afraid I had got it all wrong and would make an ass of myself!”
“Sir? Did you suspect that I harboured feelings for you before you made your confession?”
“Oh, rather! I would have been too terrified to tell you if I hadn’t had some inkling, but I still thought it might have been all in my head, so – Jeeves! You’re looking a little pink-cheeked! I say, are you actually blushing?”
“I am sorry, sir. I hoped that I had better kept my secret from you.”
“Sorry? Jeeves, there is absolutely nothing to be sorry about! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you blush before; I must say it suits you!”
To my chagrin, I felt my cheeks redden further. I cast my eyes down to the table, but suddenly Mr. Wooster was by my side. “Jeeves, come here, you darling man.” Mr. Wooster took hold of my left wrist, pulled me up to stand before him, and embraced me.
“I can’t tell you how relieved I am, Jeeves,” he murmured against my front. “But I don’t understand – why didn’t you tell me earlier? You must have known I was potty about you.”
“No, sir, I did not realize. I had wondered, but I felt I had no evidence to suggest –”
Mr. Wooster pulled back and looked at me with an incredulous expression. “No evidence? Have you been getting your daily quota of fish, Jeeves? I mean to say, the number of times I thought I had given myself away completely…”
“What made you suspect my own feelings, sir?”
“Well, just little things like the way you’d look at me a bit funny while you were helping me dress...at first I thought I was imagining everything because I wanted to see it, but you also seemed, well, jumpy. You threw me off the trail, though, when you told me about that girl you had an understanding with –“
“I must confess at this point, sir, that I purposely invented that story. I am sorry for misleading you, sir, but I desperately wanted to keep my secret from you.”
“Don’t worry Jeeves, I’m not pipped. And I know I said I was sorry it hadn’t worked out, but I was really rather relieved. What I said about girls being foolish not to stick with you still stands, though,” he added.
“Thank you, sir," I said, feeling the blush threatening to return.
“Anyway, Jeeves, you don’t need to be embarrassed about being too obvious, if you are. You have to understand I was so desperate for any sign that I was constantly on the lookout. But then, at the piano…”
“Indeed, sir,” I said. “It was that moment when I feared I had revealed my secret, and must confess all as soon as possible.”
“Well, it worked out quite well for us, eh?” Again, Mr. Wooster smiled at me, and we were both silent for a moment. “So, Jeeves…does all this mean you would like to, well, come to an understanding with the young master?”
“If it pleases you, sir.”
“It bally well does!” he exclaimed. Mr. Wooster’s hand came to rest lightly upon my cheek, and I realized the situation was not playing out any better than it had last night. Mr. Wooster was about to kiss me again, and once that had happened, I would likely not be able to speak properly for quite some time.
“Sir,” I said softly but forcefully, and pushed him gently away from me. “I must make something clear before we proceed.”
“What is that, Jeeves?” he asked, his brow furrowed with worry.
“I had decided that I would make my confession to you last night, for I could no longer bear to keep it a secret. I had intended to inform you of my feelings for you, and then resign.”
“Resign, Jeeves?” Mr. Wooster’s eyes were wide with shock and surprise. “But you just said –”
“I never wanted to resign sir, but I originally thought it would be necessary. I felt that even if you returned my feelings, of which I was doubtful, it would not be wise to enter a dangerous liaison with you.”
“Dangerous, Jeeves? I would never –”
“Sir, I am referring to the dangers facing men who enter into romantic relationships with other men, rather than with women.”
“I do know that, Jeeves,” he sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’ve known I wasn’t cut out to ever marry a filly, Jeeves, even before I met you. Except I’d never really met the right chap, either, so I thought I might as well take the easy way out and get married. That’s why I was so keen on some girls at first, like Florence or Bobbie or Pauline.
“So then I met you, Jeeves. I quickly realized that if I was going to be happy with a chap, you were perfect, in more ways than one. You’re Reginald Jeeves, master or getting anyone and everyone out of tight spots. You would know just what to do to prevent us from being thrown in chokey. I trust you, Jeeves, with everything. Can you trust me, Jeeves?”
I took a steadying breath before replying. I wanted to make all my thoughts and intentions clear to Mr. Wooster. “The last thing I want to do is put you at risk, sir, and you must understand that there will always be risk involved if we undertake this together. However, I promise I will do everything in my power to protect you, and make you happy.” I wanted to tell him so much more – that I had no personal experience in relations with men, about my fear of disappointing him during the intimate moments that we would surely share – but I did not have the will at the moment. There would be plenty of time to speak later, and I did trust him. Who, indeed, could I trust to enter into a relationship of this sort, if not with Mr. Wooster? He was the kindest, most generous and caring soul I knew.
Mr. Wooster embraced me once again. “Thank you, Jeeves, I’m glad. The same goes for me, Jeeves. I mean, about protecting you and making you happy. I know my protecting skills aren’t the greatest, Jeeves, but I guess it’s the thought that counts, what? And I hope I can make up for it by making you happy.” His last words were accompanied by the fingers of his right hand stroking through my hair.
“Indeed, sir,” I said, as my eyelids slid closed.
“Jeeves, one more thing I need to know.”
I opened my eyes again. “Yes, sir?”
“Do…I mean to say, do you love me?”
“Yes,” I was now able to reply without hesitation. I was treated to the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
"Right ho, Jeeves."