It was a spiffing house party. I had just passed the weetabix to a ravenous black pudding called Nigel Hotep and was tucking into my b. and e. and chatting about the brilliant weather we’d been having with a leaning tower of eyeballs known as Yogi Sothoth when the gentle clearing of a throat dragged me forth into the waking world where the blazing sun was muscling its way into the sacred sanctuary of my manly boudoir. “Dash it all, Jeeves,” I mumbled as I pulled a pillow over my head. “You know that I consider your tea to be the milk of life and veritable manna from heaven, but why are you serving it in the middle of the night and who built a lighthouse outside my window?”
Jeeves, unmoved, continued to open curtains, like a nursemaid placidly ripping off sticking plasters as her tender young charge howled at the injustice of life. “Pardon me, sir. I understood from the note you left on the door of my room last night that you wished me to wake you at noon to prepare for the meeting of your new club.”
I had a dim memory of the note in question. I had penned it with the fervor of a new convert returning at dawn from a night spent imbibing gallons of bubbly from the lip of the Holy Grail. I had bumped into my old classmate JoJo Llewellyn-Jones moping about on the pavement after the theatre, looking as though someone had stolen his sweet. He had begged me to attend the meeting of his club. Seems that they needed a bakers’ dozen of chappies for a quorum - by-laws or some such – and they were short one fellow. JoJo was Chair of the membership committee and if a spare cove could not be scrounged up in time, to him the blame would fall. I had obligingly toddled along. Let it never be said that a Wooster let a chum down.
I propped myself up against a phalanx of pillows and sipped my tea, letting it restore the vital tissues and drive forth the lingering fog of Grail bubbles. “Let me tell you about my evening, Jeeves. It was a corker! Mr. Llewellyn-Jones invited me out to his club but wouldn’t tell me where we were going. He made me wrap a necktie round my eyes and promise on my honor not to peek. At first I thought that the Secret Society thing was a bit overdone. JoJo whispered some nonsense through a little window in a stone wall to get us into a whalloping great estate. In the gatehouse, we each had to put on these black robes. You would have liked them, Jeeves, a bit generously cut but good quality wool in a classic midnight black. I felt a bit like a barrister, but instead of a powdered white wig, I had a cavernous black hood. Once all the chaps had gathered … that is, I suppose that they were all chaps. It could really have been anyone under those robes. Anyway, once the quorum was reached, a good-sized flagon of something fruity was passed around and they started in on the secret chant. It started out with ‘Fun-gluey’ something and then there was a bit about ‘achoo-Lou’. Only I didn’t catch who Lou was or why they sneezed his name.”
Jeeves seemed to perk up a bit at that. “Could it possibly have been ‘Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn’, sir?”
Never can stump Jeeves with a quote. “That’s it! You’ve got it in one, Jeeves. It’s not Latin. What is it?”
“I believe it is an ancient language no longer spoken outside certain religious minorities, sir.”
“Anyhoo,” I continued between swallows of tea, “once the grog was quaffed, things livened up a bit. They lit a bonfire and there was a jolly dance to go with the chant and after I raised my right hand and pledged to love, honor, and obey achoo-Lou they taught me the secret sign. It goes something like this …” I placed my hand under my chin and wiggled my fingers. “And I won the door prize! I got a secret statue!” I pointed across to where it stood on the mantel. “I think it’s Lou. Ugly blighter! Looks like the scaly love child of a human and a dragon with an octopus sneaking up from behind and trying to hoover its face off. I feel as if it’s ogling me like I were an especially tasty pie. It does that thing where its eyes follow you around the room like Gussie Fink-Nottle eyeing a particularly juicy newt. Gave me the willies at first, but it’s growing on me. In a day or two we'll be bosom buddies, I expect. I am thinking it could go in the parlor. Maybe on the bookshelf?”
The corners of Jeeves’ lips turned imperceptibly downward. “Indeed, sir. It is certainly a unique item.” I got the impression that he distinctly did not approve of Lou. These are the times that one must be firm and assert one’s personal sense of style. To thine own self be true and all that. It behooves a fellow to maintain a soupcon of frivolity amidst the miasma of decorum spread by even the peaches among gentlemen’s personal gentlemen.
“Unique!” I agreed. “Striking! Mesmerizing, even! There are more things in heaven and earth, Jeeves, and so forth. I may have a glass case made for it. Or a pedestal! That would suit it. But right now, a wash and dress.” I disgorged myself from the satiny comfort of my bed and wandered into the bathroom, whistling a cheery little tune I had picked up from the wireless. I could hear Jeeves bustling about as he laid out suitable attire for the Wooster about town. “Oh,” I said, “and I’m supposed to bring supplies for tonight’s meeting. We’re going to summon Lou or open up Raleigh or some such. I didn’t quite catch the details. Could you pop round to the shops and pick me up thirteen black candles, a pound of opium, and the entrails of a sheep, Jeeves?”
“Of course, sir.”
As I splashed a bit of water over the old visage I heard a crashing from the other room. A slight shiver ran through me as though a cold breeze had blown through or Stiffy Byng had announced that she was recruiting bridesmaids. “What ho, Jeeves. What gives?”
“I regret to inform you, sir, that your new statuette met with a small accident while I was dusting.”
“Well, stick it back together, Jeeves!” I urged. For some reason it seemed terribly important to me that the sculpture be made whole again. “Lou wouldn’t like being in pieces.”
I thought I heard stomping and the world seemed to shift a bit, becoming somehow lighter and more harmonious as if spring had sprung and the world was new again.
“It is most unfortunate, sir. I seem to have trod upon the fragments of the figurine whilst sweeping them up. I am afraid it is beyond repair.”
I felt the weight of a dozen black robes lift from my shoulders. “No matter, Jeeves. Lou had his hour upon the stage. It was a foul statue anyway. And I did feel a bit rummy prancing about in the dark like a giant bat.”
“I take it you will no longer require the candles and offal, sir?”
“And the opium, sir?”
“I think not, Jeeves.”
Somehow Jeeves always gets his way when it comes to matters of aesthetics. In the light of day, I had to admit that it truly had been an eldritch horror of a figurine. No doubt the parlor was better off without it.