“I'm terribly sorry about that, Jeeves.” I said, and I did feel terribly sorry, after all, ejaculating on one’s valet’s shoes is hardly preux chevalier behavior. True, it's not specifically outlined in the Code of Wooster's, but I believe it was definitely present in the spirit of the thing. It likely hovers somewhere between thou shalt not kill and never wear gray in the country.
“I admit, sir, I had been aware of this as a potentiality.” He didn’t seem all that pipped, which surprised me, since in matters of sartorial Jeeves was quite particular. Even a chump like me could see that stains like that are Not Done.
He ran a hand, still gloved in lily white, through my hair. My spine turned into a substance somewhat less solid than the savory squash soup he served earlier this evening.
Now, I can see that I have gotten ahead of myself in the telling of this anecdote. Completely missed some key action, I think is what those Hollywood types would say, shaking their heads and cigars at me. Though I don't think this sort of interlude would fly a bit, over there, that corn… or was it grass… no it was that Hays whatsit you know? Or at least, I know because Boko spent a good deal of time solemnly shaking his head and cigar about it as we circled round.
Now, to set stage properly: let's begin in the late morning, a good number of hours before the scene I previously sketched out to you. I was reclining on a couch in chez Wooster, busy digesting a delectable breakfast of b. and e. which, when combined with Jeeves’s potion, was just the thing to make a young master feel nearly human again after a markedly merry night at the Drones. Thinking back to the Drones, I remembered something rather urgent. I called for Jeeves.
“Jeeves!” I called.
At the young master’s summons, that valiant valet, that fish-fed friend of the unhappily engaged, shimmered into the room with eyebrows slightly raised.
“Sir?” Said this paragon, and that was where things took a turn for the sticky.
“Yes. You see. What.” I said, for while we Woosters are a true and hardy breed it can be said that among the males we are ‘of a slow tongue’. The sort of affliction found among even the best, I'm reliably told.
Jeeves’s eyebrows only raised another centimeter or so, but otherwise stood firm as if standing there was entirely where he intended to stand, unbothered until the end of the age.
“Yes. I will be hosting a dinner party for a few fellows from the Drones Club.”
“Tonight, sir?” Jeeves asked, and I could already see his mind whirring with time tables in the slightest tightness of his eyes.
“Yes, tonight, Jeeves.” I hoped I sounded quite firm and even imperious, if imperious is the word I'm searching for. Something to do with those Roman chappies who say “Do this” and everyone else hops to it.
If Jeeves was quite affected by my imperiousness he hid it well, and simply slightly inclined head, on which a size 15 hat could perch quite happily, and requested leave to go purchase the necessary ingredients.
I will not say that the Wooster eyes did not peek over the lip of the sofa and attempt to watch as Jeeves floated out of the living room. There is a song I think, something about a true love whose feet made no din, that rather comes to mind whenever I try to follow Jeeves’ comings and goings.
With a sigh, I draped myself more fully over the sofa, possibly wrinkling my suit jacket in the process. A dreadful consequence the circs warranted, I felt. I could only hope this wouldn't lead to a period of coolness between the young master and valet, especially when recent relations have been, well, oojah-cum-spiff.
I had, after all, not been the one to even suggest this dratted party. Boko had come back to London after finishing some big feature. Of course, we welcomed back the returning hero in proper Drone fashion and somewhere between a very nice brandy and soda and using my left shoe to play a spiffing new game that involved potatoes in a way I can't entirely remember, they all pounced on me to host what in American parlance might be called a shindig at my apartment.
I, of course, had quite firmly tried to refuse. This only lead for them to point out that between them all they had a total of over thirty years of tender school memories with which to twist both the heartstrings and the arm of one, Bertram Wooster.
There had been no action left to me then but to turn the saber in, toddle home, and alert Jeeves of the changed circs.
Still, even with these clouds lurking so low, a silver lining could be picked out. I rallied and raised myself from the couch. Piled on the table by the old ivories were some fruity numbers I had only picked up the other day. Settling on the bench, I tinkled a few keys before declaring it good and reaching for the first leaf of sheet music that came in hand.
I hummed as I played, remembering the nightclub where I first heard the song. It would take some sweat, spit, and other liquids to make it shine, but I knew it could be done. By the end of the evening I expected the old boys to be dazzled. There was even the possibility that a piece or two might reach Jeeves approval, a happy thought that lead my fingers merrily down that stream of music, where time seems nothing more than a dream.
Readers know, of course, that Jeeves is a complete marvel. In my previous works I have outlined his schemes, many of which would make Machiavelli, Napoleon, and that Chinese chap all clasp hands together and go, “What ho!”
Jeeves is more than a simple genius. Not only can he get a man unengaged with two shakes of a lamby tail, but he wouldn't even know how to clomp about the apartment. Not only can he face down a rabid swan as easily as a beast tamer who reduces lions to kittens, but he can make a brandy and s. with just the right amount of s. as the situation warrants. Not only can he get you out of a lunch with a dreaded aunt whose wishes have crushed many a great man of state or captain of industry, but he also knows exactly how to place a young master's boutonnière just so that he looks positively dashing.
What I am trying to say is that Jeeves is no mere genius, but a genius of his craft. With less than a full day to plan, he put together a smashing little soiree, with the perfect amount of food and cocktails that ensured an absolutely ripping time was had by one and all.
That is, I might have enjoyed it more if Jeeves gave the young master more than a passing glance.
Over drinks we listened to Boko bemoan a Hollywood which seemed to be not as silver as the silver screen might suggest.
“Then the chap after completely destroying my script had the gall to-- well, he said 'fella, I think your wardrobe is more in need of fixing than your script.’” Boko fumed, like my two-seater when broken down on the side of a country backroad. I couldn't resist sharing a look with Jeeves who hovered by the table. There was something in his eyes that suggested his estimation of Hollywood directors had risen considerably.
I hid my smile by downing the rest of my cocktail. Boko was an excellent bird, an old school chum of the highest order, but in terms of dress he had fallen into the eccentricity of the writing class and not even Nobby's steadying hand could change his habit of wearing of oversized shirt pockets and felt trousers. That's the thing about marriage, I'm reliably told, names may change, but not necessarily nature.
My cocktail glass was empty and Jeeves eyes were still on me, and I couldn't say which made me feel absolutely light headed and floated me over to the piano bench.
My guests broke out into applause as I began with a club standard of 'forty-seven ginger-headed sailors’ which I belted with much aplomb. If Jeeves’s concoctions did not improve my coordination at the keys, I think they did something to improve my performance. If I might say so myself, I was in top form.
I moved my way through a few new numbers, which were well received, especially the one from a film Boko had had a hand in, or rather, two hands and a leg as he told it.
It was a fast-paced, pattery number that left a fellow gasping. Not a moment after my fingers left the keys did Jeeves press a glass into my hand before immediately shimmering back to attend the rest of the party.
Taking a short break to drink the energy-restoring draught, allowed me to observe my man.There are few things I love more than watching Jeeves be a complete master of his element. In true Jeeves fashion, he floated from guest to guest offering another drink or perhaps a cigarette. His hair shined with brilliantined shininess, and his gloves were white and spotless. In that moment I couldn't think of a single actor in all those Hollywood pictures who could so much as hold a matchstick to Jeeves.
The only problem is that all this made me rather desperate to throw my arms around him, call him darling, and sit him down next to me on the bench.
I was a soppy mess. Any moment now I was liable to start crooning about June roses, flittering turtledoves, and melting rocks. It’s wonder, sometimes, that Jeeves puts up with me the way he does.
I couldn't help it, without my knowledge, my fingers began another number, a soupy little ballad:
“You came to me from out of nowhere. You took my heart and found it free.” At that little juncture I added a few fast improvised notes, so the boys would know I wasn't completely gone.
“Wonderful dreams, wonderful schemes, from nowhere, made every hour, sweet as a flower, to me!”
I could see out of the corner of my eye Jeeves stood still. I warbled on, making a great deal about how I wouldn't know what to do if he went away. Fervent readers of my works, of course, know this is a falsehood.
What happened last time Jeeves went away is I nearly got stabbed by a carving-knife-wielding radical, escaped a burning cottage and spent a great deal of time crammed under a desk.
I sang out the last few lines with a great deal of feeling, “You make each dream of mine come true.”
If this was a Hollywood picture, Jeeves probably would have come over and joined in at this properly dramatic moment.
“And if it's clear or raining, there's no explaining, things just happen and so did you!”
I ended with a flourish, and accepted a great deal of applause and I expect, if this was the Drones Club, I would have been pelted with a fair number of bread rolls.
I couldn't keep my eyes from wandering to Jeeves, who had recovered his composure and was filling up another fellow’s glass. He didn't give me a glance.
I gave up my seat and the party began to wind down. Bingo left first, claiming his little woman would be waiting for him. Tuppy and Ginger headed out together, with the excuse they both needed to travel early the next day. Catsmeat dragged a stumbling Barmy out, saying something about rehearsal.
At last it was just Boko and I, standing by the door as Jeeves ordered his taxi.
“Give Nobby my best.” I said.
“You'll have to come over for dinner, sometime before we head back. She's always mentioning how things are so much less exciting without you around.” He said, buttoning his coat.
“It's not exciting enough out in Hollywood? Now that I don't believe.” Nobby was a good egg, I've always thought, if a bit known for exaggeration. It was part of what made her and Boko such a good match, I suppose.
“You should, some of those big birds down there wouldn't know a good time if it dressed in pearls and danced the can-can.” He paused, “say, that's a good line. Do you have a pen?”
I handed him one and he scribbled on a notebook he kept in that peculiar front pocket. A fact that explained that particular eccentricity, now if I could only learn the reason for the felt trousers.
“But truly, Bertie, you should come visit us.”
“Nothing will please me more than strapping the feedbag on with you and your beloved.”
“I don't mean dinner, I mean down in Hollywood. If you were to play a few of those tunes to some of my pals, I bet we could even get you a few bit parts.”
I laughed at even the idea of someone wanting to film yours truly. Bulstrode the butler in amateur theatricals came uneasily to mind. “I think I'll have to decline that one, Boko. Besides, what would Jeeves think?”
“What does it matter what Jeeves thinks? This doesn't really concern him does it? I know the man’s a genius, but sometimes I swear you act like he's--”
A cough like a sheep on a distant hillside interrupted Boko’s tirade. We turned to see Jeeves standing there.
“Mr. Fittleworth’s taxi has arrived, sir.” He said.
“Great.” Boko wrapped an eye-watering scarf of red and ruffles around his neck. “We'll talk more later Bertie. Thanks for the great shindig.” He said before stepping out.
It was now just Jeeves and I. One might expect at this moment, having sung my little heart out, that all would be forgiven and Jeeves would sweep me up in his arms and have his way with me, preferably on the sofa, since I know that Jeeves’s knees have been giving him a little trouble the past few months. Though, let it be said I'm not a close minded man, and if a floor must serve, then it must. Even the piano, I'm willing to admit, could have it's possible charms, if Jeeves were so inclined.
However, it seemed that Jeeves only inclination was to begin collecting cocktail glasses from the side table.
I am a fervent Jeeves observer, and if that could be a salaried occupation, why I'd jump into the working classes with eager feet. But this evening, unsteady and anxious, I watched as Jeeves reverted the entire apartment back to pristine condition even as I grew more wretched.
After he brought the glasses back to the kitchen, he began rearranging the chairs. Once they were in proper position he started straightening the vases. By the time he started emptying ashtrays with that intent focus of his, I feared the arm of the sofa I clutched would never be the same. His every movement seemed to reinforce my own awareness how my tie hung around my neck limply and my hair was escaping its hold. Jeeves was of course devastating immaculate.
Finally, he deigned to glance in my direction and with a single look take me all in, body and soul, before flicking his eyes back to the cushion between his hands. He fluffed it with a single gesture before moving onto the cushion on the neighboring chair.
Finishing that, he coughed very gently, as if he considered interrupting my desperate staring at him to still be an interruption. “Perhaps you should take a bath before turning in, sir?”
I'm utterly overcome, “Jeeves.” It was supposed to come out stern, but somewhere the mutinous breathe lost its way in my throat and came out decidedly keening.
But I forgave my voice’s indiscretion when Jeeves came over to my side. He put a single gloved hand on the juncture where the jaw meets ear and I rather jellied to my knees in front of him. If floors must serve, then they must.
He looked imposing but fond, staring down at me.
“Jeeves. I'm sorry for dropping this dinner party on you.” And now the treasonous vocal chords sounded positively soppy. I reached for the fastening of his trousers if only to prevent myself from starting up some sentimental rhapsodizing.
I ended up pawing at them for a moment before Jeeves took mercy and unfastened them himself.
I nuzzled at Jeeves if only to be friendly and polite, like it was one of those continental friends who you forget what number of kisses they require and you don't want them to think you cold.
There was no art when I took him into my mouth and Jeeves hand curled in my hair, the fabric of his gloves coming in contact with my scalp driving me out of the frying pan and into the most delicious fire.
One often hears tales of desperate mothers who are able to accomplish remarkable feats in defense of their young, in a similar sort of way I credit my ability in unfastening my own trousers, one-handed, as an achievement brought about by these extraordinary circs. A Jeeves’ gloved hand in one’s hair is not by any means a common posish to be found in.
Then Jeeves, clever Jeeves, the Jeeves who wears a size 16 hat, knowing it would destroy me utterly said, “Bertie” in a gentle voice, and in light of that I don't think I can be entirely held accountable for what immediately followed that sort of declaration.
A bit of lightning, not the sort that coshes constables, made its way down the Wooster spinal column leaving pleasurable destruction in its wake. If my mouth had been unoccupied it might have cried out, “Loo-loo-loo,” or “What ho, what,” or even, I admit this at the expense of my more delicate readers, “Reginald.”
Jeeves understood my predicament at once, he pulled out and immediately finished himself off. Once in recovery, I felt half a moment of frustration at that, before I glanced down and realized what I had done to Jeeves’ shoes. Horrible. Absolutely ungentlemanly. What would the ancestor who carried the day at Agincourt think of me?
“I'll buy you a new pair.” I said, mostly for the intention of the thing, Jeeves had taken the reigns of my purse strings long ago.
“Very kind of you, sir.” Jeeves said, he sounded a bit like the cat who had swallowed the canary, which didn't make much sense since in this scenario as I would be the proverbial canary, but I know for a fact that I was the only one swallowing anything. I dropped this flight pattern of thought as he drew me to my feet and shuffled me to the bathroom.
In a few blinks, a bath of perfect temperature was drawn and the young master was divested of his vestments.
Jeeves took off his gloves at last and not only that, he rolled back his cuffs to display a pair of forearms over which the angels sigh. If angels did in fact sigh over valet forearms. I've gleaned from Madeline Basset that angels sigh over nothing less than baby bunny noses and golden curls on tots, so I can't help but feel that adding Jeeves’s forearms could only be a marked improvement.
He grabbed a hand towel, dipping it into the steaming bath water and began to clean my face. Focusing, of course, where Jeeves’s own work had rendered me unfit for public appearance. However, he continued to wash the entire Wooster map, with a resolution somewhere between Columbus and that gelatin fellow, ending with a gentle rub down on the back of my neck.
I was reduced to an absolute puddle, and would have stayed there happy as a prune, if Jeeves hadn't finally declared me good and bunged me out of the tub with the aid of his angel-sighing forearms.
My pajamas were quickly enough donned and I was guided and nestled into bed. But here came the best part, from my vantage in my nest I could observe my man undress and don his own pajamas.
Once Jeeves settled in, I latched on with little dignity, his shoulder a firm but not uncomfortable support, much like the man it was attached to.
“Hallo, hallo, hallo, hallo.” I said.
“Indeed, sir.” Jeeves replied and stretched an arm just far enough to turn off the lamp.