Today marks an occasion. I have finally gotten my foolish nephew Bertram into an engagement that I do not believe he will wriggle out off.
My readers will remember me talking about my nephew Bertram Wooster- called Bertie by his family and friends since he was a child-- while a sweet child, the boy was never much on the bright side and I had resolved to insure he was taken care of by a strong, sensible girl who would mold the fool into respectable member of society. That was many years ago. I had hoped to get him married before he had escaped his twenties. I was foiled in those plans with the arrival of his manservant. A man who I do not much care for but has been a stable fixture in my nephew life for going more than fifteen years now.
While Bertie himself has never called off the engagements following his so called “Code of the Wooster’s” faithfully, which means that he himself never has called off the wedding; he still managed to get out of every engagement I set up for him and even a couple he fell into himself. Eventually I saw what was right under my nose, though this is did not change my resolve to see the boy married and settled before I die. I had promised my late brother that I would take care of his children and so I shall. Bertie’s sister had been much easier to handle. She settled down and married while Bertram himself flitted about in that club of his until soon after his manservant came to the fore. I am a strong woman but I would not be there to manage him forever and while his manservant was uncommonly loyal, he was in no way obligated to stay with the fool of a boy forever.
When all was settled on the legal side of things I called upon my nephew to tell him the news. I told his valet to prepare a luncheon for three.
My nephew greeted me at the door. “What Ho, Aunt!” It pained me to hear that he still used that ridiculous phase as a greeting.
“Bertie get out of the doorway.” I told him, having to push myself past him. One would think he did not want me there.
I wanted to get this whole business done and settled as soon as possible. Blood obliges me to love my nephew, but I cannot truly stand him for long periods of time.
“Is your manservant about Bertie?” I asked him. I knew the answer of course, as though he would be anywhere else. “Well call him over. I have a matter to speak with you both.”
“You, Aunt Agatha?” His eyes seemed to grow even wider than they already are giving the poor boy and even more stupid look than he normally wore. “What could you need to speak with Jeeves about?”
“About the upcoming marriage, of course. Now call him here.”
“Marriage. Marriage? Marriage!” Bertie sounded panicked by that. Perhaps I rushed to point to soon. The fool boy is still in many ways like a young and exceptionally dull bull, easily excited over the littlest things. You think he would have grown out of it by now.
“Is there an echo in here?” From the opened mouth vacant look on his face I truly did not expect an answer. It appeared I would have to have to call for the man myself but I apparently couldn’t help asking one more question of the boy. “Why are you incapable of doing the simplest things? JEEVES!”
I will not admit to be surprised when the man appeared before us; through where he came from I could not say.
“Did Madame call?”
“Yes I did. Sit down Jeeves.”
“I could not, Madame.”
Of course the blasted man could not make this easy. The presence of his manservant seemed to bolster some of my nephew’s brain power.
Though not much.
“Don’t stutter Bertie. It’s the first sign of a feeble mind. And you,” I fixed my eye on Jeeves “Enough of this charade. Sit down we have much to discuss about the upcoming nuptials. And I doubt I’d get far with that one.” I pointed at fool boy who squeaked when I said the word nuptials.
The two of them exchanged looks. If they thought they were keeping anything between them, they were mistaken. I was a married woman for many years before my husband past away and I can read those looks easily as though there words to be read from a book.
Through his eyes, Jeeves asked if Bertie was aware of what I was speaking of.
Bertie’s look answered in the negative with an edge of panic.
Jeeves gave another look meant to comfort and assure the boy and he would find out what was going on before turning back to me.
“Madame, I am afraid I don’t understand your meaning.” Jeeves said, his tone giving nothing away. The perfect gentleman’s gentleman, it is amazing that he wound up with Bertie who may be a gentleman but was in no way perfect.
I resist the urge to roll my eyes at the man. “I trust you have been paying attention to the news.”
“Of course Madame.” The confusion did not lift.
“And then you know of the bill that I have managed, after much difficultly mind you, to insure passed before Parliament not just yesterday. The one concerning marriage laws.” I prompted.
“Oh God!” Bertie exclaimed loudly. “They haven’t made marriage compulsory have they?”
Now I resisted the urge to slap my nephew. It is an urge that I have had to resist many times. “No you complete fool. They are allowing men to marry.”
Bertie still looked confused. “But they could always marry. I don’t understand you Aunt. Are you saying that all marriages were illegal before now?”
I ignored him as the question was far too ridiculous to answer and turned to Jeeves. “You mean to say you haven’t asked him? I am here to give my permission if that is what you are worried about.”
His face was unreadable and his voice very clam when he replied. “Mister Wooster has often expressed his desire to remain unmarried.” As if that explained everything.
“And I thought you intelligent.” I huffed. ”He has been reluctant to marry women, you stupid man. Why do you think I pushed that dratted law through so hard? If I’m going to see Bertie married before I die, this was the only way to insure it. I trust you have no objections. Good.” Jeeves was actually quite less stupid than most men and so I knew that he knew what I was asking. I didn’t actually give him time to answer because if he had any objections he should have left long before now and I turned my attention back to Bertie.
“Now Bertie,” I made sure to enunciate very clearly. “I’m going to explain this in as small words as I can and hopefully it will get into that thick skull of yours. I have many connections in Parliament. Connection which I have used over the past nine years to get a law passed. A law that allows men to marry other men. I have done this, so that you may marry. I have come to grips that you will not marry a women but I will see that you are settled and to that end, I feel that your manservant is not entirely without prospects. So I will allow this alliance.” Bertie said nothing verbally. “Oh heaven’s sake Bertie! Stop making those ridiculous faces and sit down you look like you are going to faint!”
Bertie up till this point had been standing and for once he listened to me and sat down. But as I have said intelligence is not the boy’s strong point; so, instead of a chair, he sat on the floor right where he was standing. I may have overloaded the simpleminded fool with too much information at once. It is not too difficult to do. Jeeves looked as though he wanted to go to his master’s side and so I waved my hand and turned my head a bit. “If you must make a scene of it.” I huffed.
In the corner of my eye I could see Jeeves had gathered Bertram into his arms and spoke softly to him. Bertie’s voice was also whispered when he answered. My hearing as always been exceptional and the room was not large, thus it was not hard to hear what they were saying.
“She’s known about us.” Bertie said seemingly awed. I don’t know why he was so surprised, any of his family whose known him would have known.
“For nine years at least it would seem.”
“She means for us to marry.”
“If you do not want to, we won’t Sir.”
“What about you? Do you want to?”
There was silence for a heartbeat before the answer.
“I shall always be by your side.”
Not much of an answer I would say.
“Jeeves, will you marry me?”
At this juncture I found it necessary to cough loudly. Such behavior would not have been appropriate in the presence of any company.
“Now that that is settled. We can move on to more important discussions. Will the two of you, kindly move to sit in chairs as is proper.”
“Right Ho dearest Aunt of mine.” Bertie bounced up, forcing his – fiancé to stand as well, rather abruptly.
“Madame if I suggest that we retire to the dining room and continue this conversation there over lunch.” Even Jeeves sounded more animated than I have ever heard in my presence. Though I do suppose the occasion warranted it.
“Very good but before we get much further you understand Jeeves you cannot be both Bertie’s husband and his valet.” It was not a question.
“Of course not Madame.” He sobered a bit.
I nodded. “You may call me Mrs. Gregson at this point, since you are marrying my nephew and all.”
“Thank you. Mrs. Gregson.” I could tell me wanted to add Madame at the end of that, as opposed to saying Mrs. Gregson, and it very much amused me. The first thing to amuse me since I had set foot in the flat, actually.
“You have your work cut out for you if you are to take Bertie as your wife Jeeves.” I told him as we walked to the dining room in front of them.
“Now see here, Aunt Agatha, I am not the wife!” I will admit to being a bit surprised at the high pitch tone the boy’s voice took. I was sure he would have out grown that it by now.
“Ha!”I laughed decisively, “Good luck convincing any one of that piece of fiction.”
“Well I say now.”
“You may say all you like Bertram but you aren’t going to very well convince anyone that Jeeves is the wife that’s for sure. By the way, I am expecting you to adopt children after you are married.”
I heard a thump behind me; the sound of a full grown man fainting. I could not resist rolling my eye sky wards at what I expected to be the antics of my nephew. Since he had always been so strongly against marriage, I had suspected him to be to be against children as well; thus I was introducing the subject as soon as possible in order to forestall objections. Imagine my surprised when it was Jeeves passed out on the floor.