'I say, Jeeves,' I remarked. 'This is a puzzler and no mistake.'
'Jeeves, I have told you many times not to say 'Indeed, sir' in that particular tone of voice. This goes well beyond an 'Indeed, sir'. This is a time to rally round the young master in his hour of need.'
Never had B. Wooster been so close to drowning in a vat of the old chicken noodle. In the rest of the world, the sun was a-blaze, the stars were in their rightful orbits, and the birds were twittering on every bush. But in No. 6A, Berkeley Mansions, the situation was grim and the odds looked poorer than hoping to see Aunt Dahlia triumph at the baccarat tables.
But now I see I may have left the starter's block before the gun.
One likes to start the thing at the rummiest part. In media res, if that's the adage I mean. One of those Greek chappies began his story ten years after the start of the bang-up, so as to jump in at the important bit. A fellow sitting back with a snifter of something bracing and a relaxing cigarette, who takes a look at the dark-suited man holding a pistol on the cover of a penny-dreadful, would be awfully pipped to start reading and find himself plopped down in the English countryside in a cozy bungalow, and needing the details of every member of the household down to the second-floor chambermaid before getting on with the bit about the mysterious lights in the fen. The state of the kitchen cook's second helper's lumbago, while endlessly fascinating to some, simply cannot compare with a shot ringing out on a dark and stormy night, as Bertram Wooster well knows. And the rummiest part of this morning's encounter was the moment when Sir Roderick Glossop, a sternish fellow who provided the finest service to London's loonybins by assuring the afflicted that they were not, in fact, a bushel of harvest vegetables, kindly asked me to join him on the following day for luncheon.
I put the thing to Jeeves at once for his consideration. One doesn't like to be too close to Sir Roderick, lest he take it into his head that one keeps cats in one's flat and the next instant, one finds oneself rather too comfortably ensconced in the countryside, signing on for a rest-cure without a chance to eye the fine print first.
'And what's more, Jeeves, just before this old Glossop ankled around to start spreading the unlooked for good will and cheer, he was having a bit of a run-in with Stilton Cheesewright.'
'Mr. Cheesewright is in London, sir?'
'Not just in London, Jeeves, but in London having furious rows in the middle of Harley Street, and looking rather tomato-ey in the face.'
Stilton Cheesewright is another chap that has never quite taken a shine to Wooster, B. The cheeriest 'I say, what?' has often been answered with the curled lip and the wordless growl. His hands are large enough to easily imagine them wrapped 'round the neck of the next unfortunate to cross his path on a gloomy morning. The usual course of the wise soul upon encountering him is the recall of a pressing appointment elsewhere and a quick about-face. This morning, the opportunity thankfully passed unremarked, as after a final sharp word to Sir Roderick, he biffed off still looking like an overheated bull terrier.
I sat back to consider the events as I had laid them out. 'So, Jeeves. Any idea why Stilton might have abandoned his post in the constabulary of Steeple Bumpleigh?'
'I cannot speculate, sir.'
'Not enough psychology in that particular individual, eh, Jeeves?'
'Not enough information, sir.'
'Ah, well! Then what about Sir Roderick's invitation?'
'I fear the reason for Sir Roderick's camaraderie is all too clear, sir.'
'Of course it is, Jeeves. Of course it is. Spit it out!'
'Miss Honoria Glossop has recently arrived in London from Ditteridge Hall after her affaire de coeur with a young gentleman ended badly.'
'She's unencumbered and unbetrothed, you mean, Jeeves.'
A shiver worked its way through the bosom and took up lodging just south of the heart. Honoria Glossop is a healthy girl of marriageable years and a way with a cricket bat, such that when in her presence there one feels a tendency to stay well clear, lest one be mistaken for the wicket. I attempted to take a deep breath of a calming nature, but the calmer nature is a rare creature not often espied in the presence of Honoria Glossop. 'It's even worse than I feared, Jeeves. You don't suppose the old barking mad trick will work again?'
'One cannot anticipate it, sir. Sir Roderick has known worse straits than you have yourself since the unfortunate circumstance of the cats in your bedroom.'
'Ah, you refer to the incident of his painting himself with lampblack and dashing about old Chuffy's Hall in the middle of the night?'
I arose from the chesterfield where I had so comfortably retired when relating my tale to Jeeves. The blood of the Woosters coursing through my veins demanded that I face even the most dreadful situations with a look of proud defiance in my steely eye. Action was called for, as well as a glassful of the best to steady the nerves. 'I'll be at the Drones for supper tonight, Jeeves. This is a situation that calls for fortification of the highest order.'
When I arrived at the club, the membership was taking a serious interest in athletics and fiduciary brinksmanship, specifically how many pounds could be won by betting on Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps as the dark horse for form and style when diving into the Drones pool while wearing his best dinner jacket. The dining room itself was rather quiet. Only one table was previously occupied, and that one by none other than Stilton Cheesewright. If before the bull terrier had been overheated, now one could only say that it was a bull terrier with deep doubts about the state of King and country, and a nagging back-ache besides. In short, he had the look of a man in the depths of despair.
'What ho,' I said, with the feeling that we were comrades-in-arms on this stretch of life's meander, and a little sympathy wouldn't go amiss.
'Oh,' Stilton said. 'It's you.'
The visage was morose, and the tone was low-spirited, but nothing that a friend in need couldn't cure. I brought the old w-and-s to Stilton's table and demanded to know what was troubling him. These things are best brought out in the open, rather than festering inside before pouring out all in a rush when the whole world is listening in. Stilton was a chump of the highest order, but clearly a chump with a burdened soul. We Woosters are known for the sympathetic ear and the ready 'There, there,' and I was prepared to provide.
'It's all your fault!' Stilton began, and took a gulp of the strong stuff.
Well, that could hardly be said to be the expected response. 'I say!' I said, in a firm and chiding tone.
'You!' Stilton said, the scarlet starting to make itself known, climbing up his thick neck to his face. 'Florence never would have tested me like this before you.'
At once, the thing became as clear as glass. The heart of man is most easily swayed by a girl with an impressive figure and a face to match, and Florence Craye fit the bill with yards to spare. She had the intellect to make the package complete, and read such things as Critical Theory and Dialogues On Ethics, the sort of brick-sized books that serve best as table-steadiers and doorstops. Stilton had puffed himself up and invited her to share the trough, but the course of true love being a bit more on the rocky side than not, I had yet to partake in the slice of fish. I could see at once Stilton was in mourning, and there was no doubt that the rutty road was once again ascendant, and the smooth sailing a little more far off than one would like to admit.
Thinking on this, I remembered Honoria Glossop and her falling-out with the intended. That was the moment that I was felled in one great swoop by the most marvelous epiphany, if epiphany is the word I want. Anyway, the eyes glowed and the heart raced. I had a plan perfect in every proportion. Two souls, rendered unwhole by the vagaries of love, now stood in the position for me to once more bring joy into the world.
'I know exactly how to cheer you up!' I said.
'I don't want cheering.'
'Cheering is exactly what you want.'
'I am already cheerful!' Stilton said, with a snarl.
'Oh, quite,' I said. 'But this tiff with Florence will blow over, and in the meanwhile, you find yourself in a spot of good fortune.'
'How's that?' Stilton said, with the teeth exposed in what couldn't really be thought of as a friendly sort of smile.
'Sir Roderick Glossop has asked me to luncheon tomorrow. You ought to join in the festivities.'
'Time to bury the old hatchet, old egg! Have you met young Honoria Glossop?'
'I can't say that I have,' Stilton said, with rather more emphasis than the thing called for.
'Wonderful girl,' I said, 'with the soul of a sergeant-major! Full of the old pip.'
'You don't say.'
'Tomorrow, for luncheon.'
'Precisely, old thing.'
'At Sir Roderick Glossop's.'
'No other place!'
The bull terrier returned, this time with the look of one who has spied a cat on a high fence and is judging its form over the quarter-mile. 'I believe I'll take you up on that, Wooster.'
I wondered at the fevered look on the old dial, but it seemed perhaps that he was already dreaming of young Honoria, and love's new day. 'Right ho, then!' I said. 'Toodle-pip!'
I related all to Jeeves the moment I ambled jauntily into the flat, feeling like I could pet a tiger and come away with all limbs in their rightful positions. I proposed to have Stilton Cheesewright and Honoria Glossop met and matched before the sweetmeats were served.
'I see, sir,' Jeeves said.
'Surely you must, Jeeves. Love's wounds, the comfort of the consoling arms, the spark of interest, and all is set right for everyone concerned. Need I add, leaving the young master free as the proverbial bird, if proverbial is the word I want.'
'I believe it is, sir.' Jeeves paused, and I frowned at him. The man's eyebrow was raised in a way most unbecoming to the feudal spirit.
'Jeeves, what is wrong with the plan as I have detailed it to you?'
'Jeeves, your inscrutability does not pass muster today. The toplofty look does not suit. I have shown you how I shall better the lives of all involved, and you stand there and say 'I see, sir'.'
'But there is a concern?'
'Only a small one, sir.'
'Tsk, Jeeves. Tsk. I guarantee I have considered every outcome.'
'Assuredly, sir, insofar as Mr. Cheesewright and Miss Glossop are involved. There is a third party, however, whom you have neglected to mention.'
'And what third party might that be?'
'Miss Florence Craye, sir.'
I stared up at him, feeling as though I had been slapped about the face with a mackerel. Gob-smacked, as I believe the term is. An unpleasant sensation, and an entirely fishy situation. 'Miss Craye, Jeeves?'
'Yes, sir. Mr. Cheesewright's erstwhile fiancée.'
'I know who Miss Craye is, Jeeves.'
'And her history with Mr. Cheesewright.'
'What I meant, Jeeves, in saying, 'Miss Craye?' was simply this: Miss Craye has left Hampshire?'
'And she is now a denizen of the metrop.?'
'So it would appear. I have learned just tonight that Miss Craye is a guest of the Glossops, and she will also be in attendance at tomorrow's luncheon.'
This was entirely rummy. The plot thickened, in the unpleasant manner of a dish of pudding, procured to calm the hunger pangs of the small hours, if left until morning on the bedside table. 'Jeeves,' I said, 'do you suppose that Miss Craye visiting the Glossops has anything to do with Stilton's antagonism towards Sir Roderick?'
'It is entirely possible, sir.'
'Stilton did seem eager to attend.'
'Perhaps he hopes to win back Miss Craye's affections, sir.'
'Ah, but it was not until I described the extent of young Honoria's charms that he decided to come. Positively biffed about the head, he looked.'
'Then perhaps he hopes that he will raise Miss Craye's ire by paying Miss Glossop a call?'
'Her ire is considerable, Jeeves.'
'It's a dangerous move. One would not want to be at the pointed end of that stick.'
'Then, Jeeves, pull on the thinking cap. Brush up that fabulous brain of yours. I would not have it said that Bertram Wooster came upon a happy situation and left it any less than chuffed.'
'Perhaps if Miss Craye joined you for breakfast tomorrow, sir, we might learn more of her intentions?'
I took in a lungful of the freshest. 'Extreme, Jeeves. It will be difficult to face her at such an hour, with the sleave of care still ravelled 'round.'
'Aurora musis amica est, as the poet says, sir.'
'I'm certain he does, Jeeves. I simply doubt he does it earlier than 9 hours of the ack emma.'
'Still, one can't be picky in these matters. Have her join me at ten o'clock.'
'Bung in the tea-tray no earlier than nine, Jeeves.'
'Yes, sir. Sleep well.'
'As I may, Jeeves. As I may.'
Many souls, if faced with the perils that I now found myself embroiled in, might wish to pull the duvet over the ears when the sun came biffing through the window in a bright and frolicsome fashion. The Bard himself put pen to paper on the matter, hoping to give the lark a bit of a breather while the nightingale took top billing. Still, we Woosters are made of sterner stuff, and a preux chevalier leaves no lady waiting. When Jeeves brought in the expected tea along with the young master's morning rasher, I gave a glance to the outside world and steeled my spirit.
'What is the weather today, Jeeves?'
'Quite fine, sir, and looking to remain clear.'
'And Miss Craye?'
'She sends her regards, and she will arrive at ten o'clock, sir.'
'Very good, Jeeves.'
Jeeves shimmered out to draw the wet stuff, and I tucked in to the superb plate of b. and e. It seemed but a moment later that I was perched in the sitting room with a second cup of tea, and Jeeves announced, 'Miss Florence Craye, sir.'
I stood immediately. Florence wasted not an instant, but stalked into the room like a wild creature who might well turn the tables on the intrepid safari hunter. 'Bertie Wooster, what are you doing?' she asked.
'Tea?' I said.
'This is not a time for tea, Bertie.'
'Ah, well. Scone?'
I could see that Florence was toughened to even the sweetest of blandishments. Hard-hearted strictness was the thing called for. 'What's all this about poor Stilton, Florence?'
'Oh, that chump,' Florence said. 'I told him Spindrift has been getting the most marvelous reviews, and do you know what he said?'
I hadn't the foggiest. 'I haven't the foggiest,' I said.
'He said, 'Oh'. Like a lump, Bertie.'
'Ah,' I said, feeling rather akin to a lump myself.
'Exactly. There was nothing to be said after that, Bertie.'
'Not, 'sorry, Florence old girl, about the lumpishness earlier, I'm awfully chuffed after all'?'
'Hardly that, Bertie.'
'Also, that was the day that I met Honoria.'
'Of course Honoria Glossop, Bertie, honestly.'
'And she had more the spirit of the thing?'
'She appreciated my art.'
I was duly impressed. One can easily imagine Honoria Glossop bellowing after the Quorn and taking the fox to earth well before the hounds. When it comes to pouring over a dusty tome filled with such words as Nicomachean and Eudaimonia, however, one tends to picture Jeeves' well-rounded head rather than young Honoria's.
'I have come to London to meet Honoria's family,' Florence said. 'I have no say in who Sir Roderick invites to his home, but G. D'Arcy Cheesewright is the utter end.'
'Perhaps he wants to make amends.'
'Perhaps he ought to dunk his head in a lake.'
It would seem the bells of reconciliation were not pealing out in freshets of joy just yet. 'Tsk,' I said.
'Did you just tsk me, Bertie?'
'Ah,' I said, 'well--'
'Do not presume to tsk me, Bertie. I don't wish to be squired about by a lump, and that is my final word on the matter.'
With that, young Florence breezed out of the flat, without so much as a drop of tea or a crumb of scone to show for the Wooster hospitality.
I rang for Jeeves and revealed all. Not once had Florence called me a lout or tried to vex the old brain matter with serious reading. It simply wasn't the usual manner of our encounters, and from the barest touch of concern on Jeeves' handsome face, I knew he felt the same.
'Do you think Stilton's been scratched from the form, Jeeves?'
'Miss Craye did seem most emphatic, sir.'
'Then perhaps love will blossom with Honoria after all.'
'I could not say, sir.'
'Have you battened down the hatches and thought up a marvelous plan, Jeeves?'
'Not as yet, sir.'
'Best hop to it, then, Jeeves. There's a gleam in Florence's eye, one that chills the marrow.'
'As Kipling says, sir, When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride, he shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside. But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail, for the female of the species is more deadly than the male.'
'Yes, yes, Jeeves. We are not concerned with peasants.'
'No, indeed, Jeeves! And the metrop. is hardly to be confused with the mountain slopes.' One had to wonder if the marvel of Jeeves' brain might be faltering under the strain of such a dashed awkward situation. 'Were I such a peasant I would seek your advice with conviction,' I said, 'but no poetry has been written about calming the Lady Florence.'
'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, sir?'
'Again you fail to see the point, Jeeves. We do not need more intelligence on the state of Miss Craye's fury--only the wherewithal to rid her of that unhappy emotion.'
'As you say, sir.'
'I do say, Jeeves.'
'Very good, sir. Then perhaps I shall prepare your suit for the luncheon?'
'Excellent, Jeeves. I'll take the brown check.'
'Perhaps the blue serge, instead, sir.'
I could see that this was no moment to tangle with Jeeves on matters sartorial, with the hour of dancing attendance upon both Honoria and Florence edging ever nearer. Still, the young master must keep an eye on the feudal spirit, and I had no intention of letting this insubordination pass without comment. 'The blue serge, then,' I said, and I meant it to sting.
Chez Glossop was an oofy set-up and no mistake. With a hearty 'What ho!' on the lips, I jaunted into the presence of the man himself. Sir Roderick evaluated self and greeting with the sort of eye that accosts the fishmonger each morning.
'Mr. Wooster,' he said. 'If you would kindly keep your voice down. Raised voices are a terror on Mrs. Glossop's sensitive nerves.'
'Ah,' I said, 'bit of a busman's holiday?'
'My wife is not my patient!'
'Er,' I said. 'Ah.'
'And, Mr. Wooster, am I to understand that a Mr. D'Arcy Cheesewright is here at your invitation?'
'Topping fellow, Stilton.'
'I do not care if he is a Member of Parliament! Was it at your insistence that he wished to make my Honoria's acquaintance?'
'Ah. Quite,' I said, bucking up to do my part in the old call-and-response. The conversation seemed destined for Antarctic climes, but the Glossop gave a snort that wouldn't go amiss in a creature of more equine persuasion and held up his end admirably.
'My daughter requests the pleasure of your company walking in the garden.'
'Oh, I say,' I said. 'I'll just biff off to join her then, what?'
'Indeed, Mr. Wooster.'
'Right ho, then.'
I took a stroll 'round the garden, glancing behind bushes that may have contained certain Glossops, Crayes, or Cheesewrights. None of these appeared, however, and I soon found myself on a bench in a quiet corner, enjoying the morning cigarette. It was not long thereafter that Honoria marched into view, with a look about the eyes that was rather Basset-like in its soppiness.
'What ho!' I said, standing up and giving the cheery wave.
'Why, Bertie,' Honoria said. 'It's marvelous to see you. The most wonderful thing has happened.'
'I know exactly the content of the matter,' I said. 'Cupid's arrow has flown true, and no alterations found or necessary.'
'Oh, yes,' Honoria said. 'And I have you to thank.'
Clearly Stilton had made the acquaintance with the dazzling speed of the lightning bolt. 'Nothing to it, old thing,' I said. 'Stilton has made the necessary introductions, I presume?'
'D'Arcy? He's about somewhere,' Honoria said.
To see love's dawning was a bracing thing indeed, especially as B. Wooster was not slated for the final call. Nevertheless, certain facts had to be entered into the court's consideration. The best policy and all that. I said, 'Then you know that Stilton had asked Florence to tie the knot?'
'Oh, you must know that was never serious, Bertie! It was over when D'Arcy did that terrible thing to poor Florence.'
'Said 'pass the butter' instead of 'jolly good news about the book', you mean?'
'Yes. It's over between them.'
'And your soul longs to fill the void?'
Honoria was looking rather gleamish about the eye, not unlike Bingo Little when he is first bowled down by the sight of a pretty girl in a tea shop. 'This time it's for keeps, Bertie!'
One does not like to put a damper on such enthusiasm. To wound the delicate heart goes against the code of the Woosters. Still, one cannot let the thing pass without a word of caution. I drew myself up to take one on the nose. 'Are you truly happy?'
'Of course, Bertie.'
'And this is what Stilton wants?'
'Oh, who cares what he wants.'
I was rather taken aback by this. It seemed the love light did not shine for Honoria as it did for other girls. 'I say, Honoria--'
Honoria took me by the arm and steered me rather forcefully into another tour of the greenery. 'Can't you just be happy for me, Bertie?'
Indeed, I could. 'Certainly,' I said. 'But about this Stilton--'
'Oh, that cheesehead.'
Dahlia, my aunt and dearest of that name, often chucks books at self with an affectionate shout of 'Dunderhead!', and I could only assume that Honoria's terms of endearment were similar. 'Then you plan to entwine your lives? Forsaking all others, and that sort of thing?'
'Really, Bertie,' Honoria said, and biffed me on the shoulder with an iron fist. 'I knew you would understand!'
And with that she left self in the Glossop garden, with the whole situation happily resolved. It was with the warm heart and light step that I returned to the luncheon.
Biffing up to refresh myself before the noon meal, I found Jeeves bearing a message for the young master.
'Divulge its contents, Jeeves,' said I. 'There can be no missive today that can tarnish the spirits of Bertram Wooster.'
'Honoria's affections have been safely bestowed elsewhere.'
'Quite right, Jeeves.' I could still feel the mark on my shoulder where Honoria had offered a friendly pat, and I could only be thankful that I had escaped her fondness along with her wrath. 'Enough of the delay. What message for the young master?'
'No message, sir. I am afraid I used the subterfuge in order to bring you my plan.'
'Ah, Jeeves. Your efforts are appreciated, as always. But as you can see, there is no longer any need.'
'Honoria bunged off into Stilton's arms. The reverse also the case. The love light shining merrily about the Glossop domicile.'
'And Miss Craye, sir?'
'I think one need hardly worry, Jeeves. It is clear that Literature is a higher calling for Miss Craye than the old siren song.'
Jeeves did not answer, but there was a rather soupy look about the countenance that seemed uncalled for.
'That soupy look is uncalled for, Jeeves,' I said.
There was a knock at the door of the drawing room.
'The Wooster intellect has taken the situation well in hand,' I said, as Jeeves floated off to answer the call.
'Of course, sir.' Jeeves opened the door and announced, 'Miss Florence Craye, sir.'
One look at the girl thus introduced to the room and it seemed clear that Literature was not the higher calling after all. Indeed, there was a set to the shoulders that had more the look of the lady scorned than one properly hopes to encounter in the cloudless life. I could only hope that Jeeves' plan was well in evidence.
'Bertie, what's this about Stilton proposing to Honoria?'
'Ah, you've heard the happy news, then!'
'Hardly, Bertie. Honoria wants no part of him, I can assure you of that.'
Given the soppy state of Honoria when last seen, I was ready to interpose with something of a different view of the situation. However, before I could share my v. of s., Jeeves interjected.
'If I may make a suggestion, miss?'
Florence gave Jeeves the considering look. The man's brains are indeed considerable, and from the high brow and the head sticking out in back, the casual observer is left in no doubt of his prowess. 'Yes?'
'When Mr. Wooster wishes to absent himself from London society, miss, he often finds that a cruise to the Americas provides ample time for contemplation.'
Florence raised her chin in a thoughtful sort of way. 'And I assume you accompany him?'
'I endeavour to give satisfaction, miss,' Jeeves said, with a look in the young master's direction.
'I say, what?' I said. The slight lift of Jeeves' eyebrow made the shape of the thing clear. 'Ah, that is, complete satisfaction, Jeeves. Never better.'
Florence was giving self and Jeeves a bit of the rummy look, and I wondered if Jeeves' plan, if plan it was, had derailed and left holiday-makers on the 9.02 to Brighton hopelessly foundered.
'I see,' Florence said.
'Indeed, travel is most broadening for the young mind, and provides scope for the writer's art,' Jeeves said.
'That is an excellent suggestion,' Florence said. 'Bertie, for once you haven't been an ass after all. One might almost think there is hope for you.'
'Ah,' I said. 'Er. Thank you.'
'I believe a trip to the Mediterranean might be exactly the answer,' Florence said.
'The isle of the poet Sappho is said to be particularly lovely,' Jeeves said.
'Hm,' Florence said, with a look almost as soppy as the young Glossop's. With no word further, she departed the way she had come.
'Well, I say, Jeeves,' I said. 'That was rather unexpected.'
'Varium et mutabile semper femina, sir.'
'Changeable and capricious indeed. Truer words were never spoken, Jeeves. I certainly hope that this is all a part of your plan?'
'Yes, sir. In fact, there is only one more aim that must be accomplished.'
'And what is that, Jeeves?'
'If you will tell Mr. Cheesewright of Miss Glossop's affection for him, then I believe the matter will be concluded satisfactorily.'
I gave the issue some thought, but what Jeeves hoped to bring about was well beyond the ken of Bertram Wooster. 'Surely Stilton is already aware of Honoria's feelings, Jeeves?'
'Perhaps. However, sir, 'When love speaks, the voice of all the gods makes heaven drowsy with the harmony'.'
'Yes, sir, the Bard of Avon.'
'Rather the soppy sort.'
'Serviceable nevertheless, sir.'
'Quite right. And all this before a bite of lunch, Jeeves.' Never let it be said, however, that the Woosters leave love in the fickle hands of Lady Fortune. 'I shall tell Stilton directly, Jeeves.'
'Very good, sir.'
Stilton Cheesewright was no trencherman on the scale of one such as young Tuppy Glossop, who has been known to eat a steak and kidney pie entire and then hope for seconds; however, it was at the luncheon buffet that I found him, digging in to a hearty helping of the cook's finest.
'Best of news, old man,' I said, quite bucked to be delivering the first felicitations.
Stilton gave a glare in the suspicious vein, not unlike an unhelmeted policeman on Boat Race night, when presented with Wooster, B., hands firmly behind his back. 'Sir Roderick Glossop has been locked up in his own loonybin?' Stilton asked.
'Ah, no,' I said. 'Ought he to be?'
'Forthwith,' Stilton said. 'The man presumes to instruct me in my business. He thinks I should take up with Florence again.'
'Not the fondest desire of your heart?'
'The furthest thing from it.'
I nodded in the wise and knowing fashion.
Stilton gave the w. and k. nod a dismissive look. 'Stop bobbing your head like a pigeon, Wooster.'
'Right ho. I know exactly why the Craye no longer engages your tender sensibilities.'
'To the letter.'
'Because her book is the best excuse I've had for a paperweight since I was up at Oxford?'
'No,' I said. 'There is another whose spirit glows in sympathy with your own. Who dreams of you with the warm-hearted regard.'
'Who's that?' Stilton asked.
'Honoria Glossop,' I said.
'The very same.'
'Is she the romantic sort?'
'Hardly, but in this instance, the tears were welling and the voice was a-tremble.'
Stilton abandoned the trough with an eager look. 'Wooster, you've made me a happy man.'
I beamed about the room. At one point, I beamed a bit too hard at Sir Roderick, and he returned the look with a quelling glare of his own, so I pointed the dial safely elsewhere. Once again, Jeeves had been proven correct. Stilton would serenade Honoria with one or two of the choicest love-words, and all would be well.
'I am going to tell every last word of this to Florence.'
'What?' I said. 'I mean to say, what?'
'Florence will soon learn that there are other girls interested in D'Arcy Cheesewright.'
'Whether he is a Member of Parliament or no.'
'Well, that is--'
'Mustache or no.'
'Ah, yes, but--'
'And then I shall never speak to her again.'
'Precisely, Wooster. I shall have the last word. And then back to Steeple Bumpleigh.'
'Not staying about town?'
'I've only just met the girl, Wooster.'
'Well, yes, but what about the loving glance? The yearning heart?'
'She's entirely too large about the shoulders. And she biffs one in the arm like a championship boxer. It's not meant to be.'
'You look entirely too much like a fish, Wooster.'
'Well, I say--'
'Goodbye, Wooster. I shall forget at this point that you once tried to steal Florence away from me. We are now quits.'
And with that, this chump of the first class ankled off in the highest dudgeon.
'Well, that was a dashed uncomfortable luncheon, Jeeves.'
'I am sorry to hear that, sir.'
'I'm afraid Sir Roderick is once again under the impression that Bertram Wooster is one of the world's foremost loonies.'
'However, some lessons were learned, and learned well. I am duly impressed with Stilton Cheesewright's promise as a sprinter.'
'Under a handicap of a tembleque custard to the face, he was indeed impressive, sir.'
'And Miss Craye's arm is a strong one. She might even best Miss Glossop in an even trial.'
'She might, at that, sir.'
'Was this the happy ending that you envisioned, Jeeves?'
'A posse ad esse non valet consequentia, sir. From a thing's possibility one cannot be certain of its reality.'
'Ah, but the reality now arrived at is a satisfactory one, Jeeves. You've done it again.'
'Thank you, sir. Miss Glossop has told Sir Roderick that she will be sojourning in the Mediterranean in order to recover from her romantic entanglements.'
'Love's cruel sting, eh, Jeeves?'
'As you say, sir.'
'Odd that she should choose to knock about in the same neighborhood as Florence Craye, though.'
'A most extraordinary coincidence, sir.'
'Still, I think we ought not push our luck with an ocean voyage of our own any time soon.'
'No, sir. I am quite content with the environs of London for the foreseeable future.'
'Quite right, Jeeves. To everything there is a season, as the saying goes.'
'A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing, sir.'
'If you like, Jeeves. Though, with both Miss Craye and Miss Glossop travelling in foreign climes, I believe the bit you're looking for is A time to love, and a time of peace.'
'It will be a well-earned rest, sir.'
'All thanks to you, Jeeves. You are a marvel.'
'Thank you, sir.'
I shook my head in awe. The man was indeed a wonder, and no better words for it than the poet's best, Amicus optima vitae possessio.
If that is the one I mean.