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Tinkerty tonks

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Though stoicism is the cornerstone of my profession, my reserve does not render me immune to negative feelings. I have known war. I have known disappointments, untimely loss, and harsh economy. I have known illness. I have suffered slights and sorrows, if you will, the slings as well as the arrows of fortune. However, since I began my post as valet to Mister Bertram Wooster, I have come to recognise a novel despair, singular and heretofore unknown to me. It seizes me when my employer announces he is off to the cinema to view a film featuring Mister David Niven.

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“…No, I shall have to issue them a firm nolle prosequi.”

“Highly advisable, sir.”

“I mean, what would the fighting ancestors say? After all, they were ‘fighting’ ancestors, not ‘walk-all-over-us-mugs-and-clean-our-wallets-out-while-you’re-at-it’ ancestors.”

“Precisely, sir.”

“I’m as sensitive a plant as Shelley ever forgot to water every other day, but no! The Pride of the Woosters shall never be swallowed!”

There was what I believe is called a pregnant silence, then a cough like a sheep clearing its throat.

“Jeeves?”

“I was thinking of my cousin, sir, the, uh, Circus swallower.”

“Circus, eh?”

“Yes, ‘round Piccadilly.”

And with that, he oozed off.

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Brave isn’t always brave. Magazines call certain fashion choices ‘brave’ that Jeeves calls ‘ill-advisable-unless-one-is-pursuing-a-career-in-children’s-entertainment.’ If critics call a play ‘brave,’ then I give it a miss unless I’m two hours short of my requisite number of the dreamless.

Real bravery comes from within and without. For Bertram, the within is the Wooster Code: always come through for a pal (and aged relative), never bandy a woman’s name, and resist all attempts at moulding. The without is, of course, a gentleman’s gentleman who wears a size-10 bowler and swings a dashed efficient cosh (or blackjack, if you prefer the American term).

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“Jeeves! One of your specials! What a day! What does the poet-chappie say about alterations and love? My love for Silverthimble is dead!”

“Your tailor, sir?”

“He won’t make any calico spats! Like the toppin’ ones I wore when I played Mungojerrie to Bingo Little’s Rumpelteazer at the Drones’ Old Possum’s Revue.”

“I’m gratifi—that is—I’m sorry, sir.”

“Is love an ever-fixed mark? Like that spot on the sideboard—I say, Jeeves, where is that spot I made with the squid?”

“I applied Cyril’s Cephalopodic Tonic.”

“Blast! What looks on tempests and is never shaken, Jeeves?”

“Your drink, sir.”

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“Jeeves!”

When I appeared, it was two minds with but a single thought, the thought being costume change for Bertram.

“How, if I may ask, sir…?”

“Got caught in one of those blasted revolving doors!”

Jeeves went stuffed-frog. “Are you injured, sir?”

“No, just the wardrobe. Wouldn’t have been so bad, but there was a bevy of mothers and daughters on one side of the torture wheel and a Mothers and Daughters’ tea on the other!”

“Very distressing, sir.”

“Reminds me of when I threw a chicken leg in the piranha tank at the aquarium. The frenzy, Jeeves! Quelle horror!”

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“I say,” I said at Denniston the next morning whilst he was stabbing his morning kipper like a good ‘un. “What’s over the hill?”

“Over the hill?” squawked Denniston like the dyspeptic crow he’d always been.

“Last night, while I was having a postprandial stroll, I got caught up in the misty fruitiness of the season, as Jeeves and, I believe, Keats like to call it, and ended up on the edge of your kingdom. You know, that bit of the garden with the cheerful nymphs and the sad cypress and the crumbling stone-work. Well, to make a short story even shorter, I spotted a cove standing on the wall and, noticing he wasn’t among the guests here, I asked him where he was from. He said, ‘over the hill.’ I only ask because I’d like to pay him a call, don’t you know, and ask him who his tobacconist is.”

“His tobacconist?!”

“He was smoking Harper’s. You can’t find them anywhere in London. The factory burned down two years ago.”

“The only thing over the hill, my dear Bertie, is the cemetery.”

I gave the hardboiled egg and ham a miss and had a pensive sip of Ceylon’s best.

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I’d taken to greeting Jeeves in the a.m. with a corkin’ first line from the lot my book-monger had sent.

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge’ won me a nod and ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’ a half-smile, but ‘as Bertram Wooster awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect’ resulted in a look of abject panic.

“May I never be forced to choose between feudal loyalty and household hygiene, sir.”

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I have a fine sewing hand, or so Aunt Hexobah, the most exacting of instructresses, has always said. I can darn. I can hem. I can, upon request, make certain alterations to a Sinbad the Sailor costume, which render the wearer significantly more dashing, in his own estimation. I mend my own wardrobe as well as that of my employer unless, of course, circumstances call for significant repairs or a tailor’s specialised knowledge and needlework.

Some things are beyond patching, however. Mister Wooster’s trousers the morning after Boat Race Night have twice fallen into this category. On one occasion, a white mess jacket of Mister Wooster’s which had met with an unfortunate ironing accident also had to be discarded whole cloth.

But that which I could not bear to see cast off would be the high regard and almost child-like trust that Mister Wooster bestows upon me, and such would certainly be the consequence if he ever learned of the depth and the nature of my feelings for him.

Mister Wilde, though hopelessly misguided in his choice of coats, was correct when he called it ‘the love that dare not speak its name.’

Thus, I keep silent, and remain, torn.

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“Well, Jeeves, another betrothal circum-something-ed, I think Magellan enters into it.”

“Circumvented, sir?”

“Yes, I’m dashed weary of being moulded.”

“Understandable, sir.”

“Is it? You’re the worst of the lot. They try, you succeed.”

“Sir?”

“My clothes, my face, my choice of holiday and musical instrument, all your moulding. Even under my own roof, in my own skin, I don’t belong.”

“Sir—”

“Call the garage. I’m going to club, then I’m just going. Take the weekend off.”


With a sweet sorrow, I managed to rescue a pair of purple socks from the bin and slip them into Mister Wooster’s holdall.

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Post Script. As if the day couldn’t get any rummier, not only is the aged relative blackmailing me into playing raconteur at a bally Hallowe’en party as part of her nefarious silver-cockerel-snatching scheme, but I’ve also seen a ghost! Or at least I think I have. I saw him once before when I was visiting my pal Denniston down in Dorset. I just stumbled upon him, the ghost, not Denniston, standing on a garden wall, smoking.

Well, before dinner, I decided to take a stroll in the garden here. And there he was! Standing on the wall, smoking. He was wearing the same clothes as seven years ago and, this is the juicy bit, Jeeves, still smoking Harper’s! And you know very well there isn’t a Harper’s cigarette to be found in the Empire these days!

He and I looked at each other with a wild surmise (silent upon a p. in D.). And then there was nothing to see.

Don’t worry, old thing. Tony’s working out fine. Neither his Nietzsche-quoting nor his resemblance to a Greek statue Bingo and I used to pash at Oxford is interfering with his ability to stud a shirt. But he’s not you. B.

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“Bringing in the Jeeves! Bringing in the Jeeves! We will come rejoicing, bringing in the Jeeves!”

Contrary to the y.m.’s yodeling, it was the pride of the Woosters, and not his gentleman’s gentleman, who was being hoisted like a bale of hay and carried into the Wooster barn, or rather, bathroom.

“Three cheers for Bertram, Jeeves, for First Annual Drones Harvest Festival was an unqualified success!”

“Congratulations, sir.”

Together, they began removing the gentleman’s outer crust, Jeeves doing most of the heavy lifting while Bertie fumbled with a button or two.

“There was a pumpkin carving contest, a couple of corkin’ ghost stories by the fire, darts, of course, and…”

“Cider tasting, sir?”

“I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again, Jeeves. Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t stand a chance! How did you know?”

Jeeves inclined the bean toward the discarded raiment.

“Ah,” said Bertie. “About the suit…”

“I fear it is not salvageable, sir.”

“Yes, well, the cider was flowing rather freely. In and, uh, out. Someone got the bright idea, might have been me, to, uh, make a sport of extinguishing the floating candles in the bathing pond with our own hoses. And then, well, there was a good deal of frolicking in the ruddy garden with God’s own golden watering cans.”

“Indeed, sir.”

“You oblige fellows, fellows oblige you. And then, well, while the works are out, why not have a frig or a suck or whatnot? And the next thing, you know, I’m tied up like a scarecrow with clothing to match.”

“Distressing, sir?”

“Not really, except at the notion of your being cross about the suit. That’s why I had two kegs of the best cider sent ‘round. What do you say?”

He went stuffed frog, then beguiling serpent.

“I say, ‘Bringing in the Jeeves…’

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“What does that brainy chap, you know, the one who isn’t on your Christmas card list, say about abysses, Jeeves?”

“I shouldn’t care to repeat any wisdom attributed to Nietzsche, sir.”

“Well, if you substitute ‘Totleigh Pond’ for abyss, that about sums up my predic. I looked into it, too far, it looked into me, too deep, and—plop!— I went. I say, abysses are hell on the brogues, what?”

“Gentlemen’s footwear is rarely suited to complete submersion in water, sir. Shall I help you remove them?”

“I think you’ll have to. I’ll pull from my end, you from yours. On three.”


POP!

“Your feet, sir.”

“Yes, the native bearers have seen better days, haven’t they? Viz. days when their bearer didn’t fall off a bridge into a pond!”

“Might I suggest ‘Furdy’s Fantastic Foot Fancy, It Frees the Foulest Flipper’? It provided substantial relief to my former employer Colonel Forward-Harch who, though hardly a gentleman of exacting habit, did have a penchant for wearing his old regimental boots long after they ceased to be commodious.”

“Have you any of this miracle worker, Jeeves?”

“Yes, sir. Shall I bring it with your slippers?”

“Toot sweet, Jeeves. These dogs are barking!”


“Oooh. I say, Jeeves, you’re rather good at this, massaging the flippers, I mean.”

“Thank you, sir. I endeavour to give satisfaction.”

“Ever work at the baths?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, you’ve got something to fall back on if you don’t want to earn the envelope at this old stand. Oooh. Speaking of old stands, Jeeves?”

“Sir?”

“Mine’s stiff as a starched collar.”

“I confess I find myself in a similar condition, sir.”

“That Foot Fancy good for other appendages?”

“It is a preparation with a variety of applications, sir.”

“Good. Ugh. You frig mine, I’ll frig yours?”

“Very good, sir.”

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“Don’t suppose this is mentioned in the Gentleman’s Gentleman’s Guide to Gentlemanning, Jeeves?”

“It’s not so irregular, sir, or unprecedented. If you recall, I once made alterations to your Sinbad the Sailor costume. Hold tight to the bedstead, please, and sharp inhale, if you will.”

“Ooof! True. And here we are in the season of misty, mellow fruitiness and, like Cinders, I’m off to the Drones’ Autumn Fancy Dress Ball. That’s dashed tight, Jeeves!”

“The nature of the beast I’m afraid, sir. Now for the dress. Excellent.”

“And the pièce de résistance, Jeeves?”

“Your lamb, sir.”

“He’s sure to go!”

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Inspiration and education may be found unlikely places, for example, those occupied by gentlemen who wear knee britches and spout fascist slogans. Lord Sidcup (née Sir Roderick Spode) though ill-advised in political ideology and crassly narrow-minded in personal outlook, has a sound mind for business. His success with Eulalie Souer, a line of fine ladies’ undergarments, pointed me in the direction of my own success. Eulalie Sir, my line of fine lingerie for gentlemen’s wear, is turning a tidy profit. Two more valuable lessons from Lord Siddcup’s business career: absolute discretion is paramount, and bashful pink is always in style.

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Gentlemen are, naturally, reticent, even bashful, in their disclosures. Only with time and trust does one learn of their indulgences.

In Mister Wooster’s case, it coincided with the arrival of a new wardrobe.

“I’ll take that, Jeeves,” he remarked when I removed a case from the recesses of the old wardrobe.

“Are these instruments for measuring the depth of water, sir?”

His face was blank, then the penny dropped. “Yes! Any experience?”

“Some. In previous posts. I’d be happy to oblige.”

Later, as the rod disappeared inside his prick, he gasped in a manner most gratifying,

“You stand alone, Jeeves!”

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Gentlemen have their preferences. I have, on occasion, overheard my employer expressing admiration for a young lady’s profile, his being a nature quite susceptible to the feminine silhouette. He will, in fact, make allowances for any number of shortcomings if he fancies the ‘side view’ as he calls it.

I, for my part, find no hardship in being asked to locate my employer, say, at a country house whilst he is taking a postprandial stroll about the grounds. Mister Wooster never looks more dashing than when he is bathed in moonlight.
Gentlemen have their preferences. And so do gentlemen’s gentlemen.

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It’s always a bad sign when Jeeves greets me at the door with that sheep’s look on his map.

“Mister Phipps is here, sir.”

“Barmy? Capital!”

Jeeves coughed “He is beset by forniphilia, sir.”

“Egad! Should he be in hospital?!”

“He desires to be a table, sir.”

“A table?”

“Yes, sir. A coffee table to be precise. He is inside, in a state of undress, having taken the place of yours.”

“What am I to do? Prop my brogues up on him?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Right ho, I suppose it could be worse.”

“Sir?”

“He could want to be the tantalus.”

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I've admitted before my appreciation for my employer’s features when bathed in the moonlight. Whenever I’ve viewed him thusly, he has been, quite naturally, attired in formal wear. I would go so far as to say that in evening dress and beneath proper illumination, Mister Wooster is a vision. Nevertheless, I do not dwell on such, if I may be vulgar, cock-warming thoughts. Indeed, I would be inviting what my employer calls ‘a fitting for the tight waistcoat of Colney Hatch,’ i.e. a straightjacket, to show any untoward sign of affection or admiration for his physical form in public. 

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I take pride in all my work, but the care of Mister Wooster’s footwear ranks foremost. Only when it would cause comment, say at a large country house, do I delegate the responsibility, but not even then if Mister Wooster’s plan includes hunting. There is a meditative quality to the cleaning, brushing, and polishing, and, naturally, the pride of a job well done and an employer’s satisfaction, the latter of which Mister Wooster is never parsimonious in expressing. My reason is other, however: as circumstances preclude the worship of the man, I content myself with the worship of the boots.

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There is, I believe, a certain amount of exhibitionism inherent in the life of a typical young-man-about-town. I mean to say, you grow up among other lads, playing sports and whatnot, at various and sundry schools, none of which afford much in the way of bodily privacy, and then, upon reaching manhood, if you’ve means at all, you hire yourself a gentleman’s gentleman. And, of course, a chap might be shy or guarded in his own home, but then he would miss out in some of the great joys of life, like the exchange of witty repartee in the bath.


Some say the best servant, like the best child, is seen but not heard. I would argue that the best servant is not so much seen as seeing. Keen powers of observation are vital to meeting or anticipating an employer’s needs, and if being predisposed to observation makes a good servant, by nature, a voyeur, I offer no protest. I would be a poor valet, indeed, if I took no notice of my employer’s physique. How else could I advise him and guide him with respect to his wardrobe and what styles, colours, and patterns might genuinely flatter his form?

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With every change of post, after the initial period of settling in is past, I indulge in a bit of speculation about my new employer. It is a peculiar hobby of mine, but it helps to pass the time and keeps my mental faculties sharp whilst at the more monotonous of my responsibilities. After pondering various aspects of the matter for many, many weeks, I have finally decided that Mister Wooster would be best ground into a kind of pâté, spread on small squares of very crisp toast, and washed down with a glass of Imperial Tokay, served very cold.

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Some skills a valet cannot learn, as Mister Wooster would say, at his mother’s knee. For six months during my early manhood, I served as an apprentice to a masseur at a Turkish bath. There I acquired more understanding of human anatomy. I also developed the manual dexterity and strength which I’ve since used to bring relief to my more rheumatic of employers. But If ever asked directly about my abilities, especially during a demonstration, such as when I am tending to Mister Wooster after an afternoon of tennis, I am purposefully vague, preferring to preserve the aura of omnipotence.

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I looked down, shook the pins and asked, for the hundredth time,

“Are these sausage casings really necessary, Jeeves?”

“Well, sir, I think you will find the costume quite uncomfortable without a layer protecting your lower limbs.”

I sighed

“I am a preux, Jeeves, a preux chevalier.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The spirit of the preux chevalier is rather straightforward, Jeeves. Never give up. Never let a friend down. Never bandy a woman’s name. Simple.”

“Yes, sir.”

“But the wardrobe, Jeeves, is something else. It requires true bravery.”

“Yes, sir.”

“All right. I am ready. Help me into the armour.”

“Yes, sir.”

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I caught him, of course, and I’ll admit it was through no braininess of my own, but rather that old adage of detective fiction that the culprit always returns to the scene of the crime.

And in this particular case, the culprit was the soon-to-be-receiver-of-the-mitten Meadows and the scene of the crime was my blasted sock drawer.

“Hallo, hallo, hallo, hallo,” said I. And, if I’d known it at the time, which I didn’t, I might have added, “A-hunting we will go, m’lads, a-hunting we will go, in his hands, my socks, that valet fox, I’ll lay the blighter low.”

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“You had a pleasant stroll despite the rain, sir?”

“Yes, I did, Jeeves. You know, it’s extraordinary how one incident can change a fellow’s outlook. I mean to say, there I was, all gloom itself because the skies had decided to darken and let loose their mournful tears upon the earth when, lo and behold, I happened upon a cherub in a wee daffodil-coloured oilskin, matching wellies, and rainbow-striped umbrella. Made my heart leap, Jeeves. Made me wish I was one of those artist chappies, you know, the kind who do watercolour scenes for picture postcards or advertisements for oatmeal or some such. Pretty is what I mean to say.”

“An arresting scene, sir, I’m sure.”

“Yes! I felt like singing. Something along the lines of ‘when my little Dolly takes her little brolly out to cheer the clouds’ something, something, and then the other. But more than that, Jeeves, it gave me, well, a rather fatherly feeling to see the tot skipping about in the puddles.”

“Rather fatherly, sir?” His brow furrowed with concern.

“Oh, don’t worry. The sentiment passed. I gave her a bob and went on my way. I’m susceptible but not a fool.”

“Just so, sir.”

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“G’morning, Jeeves.”

He looked at me with an eyebrow raised one-eighth of an inch.

“It’s the pipes, Jeeves. They’re unaccountably rusty, as if I’ve been out larking with the nightingale ‘til dawn. More ‘oo’ in oolong, if you will. It’s dashed uncomfortable.”

“Honey and lemon, sir?”

“Like mother used to make. Not my mother, of course, but someone’s, I’m certain.”

“Might I take a liberty and suggest your condition is a result of the sleep-talking in which you engaged last night, sir.”

“Sleep-talking? Gosh, that’s a new one. And I was loud enough to disturb you in your den?”

“Yes, sir. I observed you speaking with your eyes closed. You did not respond to my inquiries. I hope I did right, sir, by leaving you to your monologue.”

“I can’t fault you there. What did I say?”

Jeeves went all stuffed frog. “I couldn’t say, sir.”

The blighter was lying, of course.

“If it happens again, Jeeves, I demand a full report!”

“If you insist, sir.”


Jeeves flipped a page.

“There’s more?” I croaked.

“Yes, sir. Where was I? Oh, yes. ‘…bugger me, sod me, ride me you gorgeous, bowler-hat-wearing, horse-hung stallion like Perez the year Scheherazade’s Ex-libris won Epsom…”

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“Jeeves!”

“Sir?”

“Good Gosh, you’re right there?”

“You were sleeping rather fitfully, sir. I thought it prudent to place myself nearby in case you woke and required anything.”

“Well done, good and faithful. I had a nightmare, Jeeves.”

“Most distressing, sir.”

“Have you ever had a nightmare, Jeeves?”

“On very rare occasion, sir.”

“Have you ever had this one: you’re on a rickety bridge high up in the firmament, you know, the kind with the missing planks and the whole mess held together by Methuselah’s bootlaces and despair?”

“Not to my recollection, sir.”

“Well, count yourself among the fortunate, Jeeves, for in this particular scenario on one side of the bridge is angry, revengeful army you’ve just deserted, on the other side, a horde of soul-consuming pestilential beazels who’ve got you on their involuntary conscription list, below you a family reunion of about one hundred or so crocodiles all who haven’t eaten in a year, the United States Marines nowhere in sight, and a strong nor’wester just about to tip the canoe and Wooster, too.”

“Indeed, sir. If I may repeat myself, most distressing, but I think, in the circumstances, not wholly surprising.”

“Really, Jeeves?”

“Well, today is your wedding day, sir, and most young gentlemen are wont to display a bit of anxiety on such a day.”

“Oh, my sainted aunts! Can you believe I forgot? Do you think you can get me out of it, Jeeves?”

“By ‘it’ you are referring to your matrimonial understanding with the young lady, sir?”

“Precisely, Jeeves.”

“Before the ceremony which is scheduled to take place in some twelve hours, sir?”

“Give or take, Reverend Happenstall is usually punctual but he might be late due to an attack of hay fever or sprue or something.”

“I shall give thought to the matter, sir.”


“Jeeves!”

“Sir?”

“Good Gosh, you’re right there?”

“You were sleeping rather fitfully, sir. I thought it prudent to place myself nearby in case you woke and required anything.”

“Well done, good and faithful. I had a nightmare, Jeeves.”

“Most distressing, sir.”

“The one with the bridge, the army, the beazels, the crocodiles, etcetera. The same one I had that day, you remember, when you catapulted me out of the matrimonial consommé in grand style? Really that was one of your brainiest schemes to-date, Jeeves.”

“Yes, sir, I recall the incident vividly and thank you, sir, I endeavour to give satisfaction. But as to your nightmare, you may be suffering from a conflation of events.”

“A con—what?”

“Your mind is joining ideas and, but in this case, it is causing you unnecessary anxiety. The wedding you are attending in twelve hours is not your own, but that of Mister Little.”

“Oh, I see. My thinking about someone else’s sponge bag trousers and gardenia has put ol’ lemon in a squeeze about my own, even though there’s not a single, blessed, matching-making aunt on the horizon?”

“Precisely, sir.”

“Oh, well then, I’ll go back to sleep. Pip-pip, Jeeves.”

“Sleep well, sir.”


“Jeeves!”

“Hmm?”

“Come here, my beloved. I’ve had a nightmare.”

“The one with the bridge?”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“I observed. You appeared distressed and were attempting to cling to something.”

“Astounding!”

“Elementary, my dear Bertram. But, as to the nightmare, just yesterday you sent the letter expressing your deepest regrets that you could not attend the ceremony along with a handsome fish slice to your cousin and his bride-to-be. Your obligations are fulfilled.”

“Whew! Well, since I’m awake…”

“Yes?”

“…and you’re awake…”

“Yes?”

“Why don’t we play a bit of unmindful bather and the hungry crocodile?”

“Excellent idea.”

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“I suppose if one is to be philosophical about it, it is a question of cats and dogs, Jeeves.”

“Indeed, sir? How so?”

“Well, it started with a cat doing its best tightrope dance along the snowy ledge of the balcony where I went to smoke my postprandial cigar. And you know very well that cats love me. And I love cats. All kinds, even royal Alpine teases like that one. It was a pretty puss, Jeeves, big and grey and fluffy. Well, I reached out to give the blessed creature a nice scratch behind the ears. It seemed to be taken with the notion, but then it jumped back. I reached. It jumped. One more of this mano-a-gato paso doble, and I reached so far that I tumbled base over apex and apex over base and so on, right off the balcony. I landed on my feet by the front door precisely on one of those smooth boards, you know, the kind that the lodge chappies put on the ground so that you don’t get your brogues covered in snow and mud when you first arrive. Well, the board and I began to slide down the drive. My balance is quite good when I’m not trying to caress finicky felines. And so there I was, skimming along the snow, in the soup-and-fish, of course, the ol’ Havana, quite naturally, having been lost somewhere along the way. Providence allowed that I missed every single tree, but then I hit a bump and whoosh! Like the chappie with the melted wings! Flying high, crashing low.”

“And it was all on account of a cat, sir?”

“Believe me or believe me not, Jeeves.”

“And the dog?”

“Well, you, of course, my good and faithful, trudging after me through the drifts of white and executing an Alpine rescue worthy of the most stalwart Saint Bernard. Another brandy, Jeeves from the wee keg, and one for you, of course.”

“Thank you, sir. Cheers.”

“Mud in your eye, Jeeves. But after we warm the interiors, it’s time to get me into those snowshoes and begin the return journey to the lodge. It’s getting rather chilly out here, and I shouldn’t want to have to gut you and sleep inside your hollowed carcass all night.”

“That avenue does indeed leave much to be desired, sir, but your mishap gives me an idea for a promising sport…”

Chapter Text

I threw down my pen just as Jeeves wafted into the room.

“Have you not arrived at a decision, sir?”

“I haven’t, Jeeves. I’ve written the columns, for and against. Look here. ‘Wooster Winter Holiday in the Alps.’ One, snow on trees is pretty.”

“Very true, sir.”

“But,” I raised a pointer, “snow is also bally cold.”

Jeeves gave a nod of the onion. “Also true, sir.”

“Skiing is jolly fun. Falling into snowdrifts, not fun. Then there’s the hot toddies.”

“Which, I see, appear in both columns.”

“Depending on the quantity you’ve imbibed.”

“Ah, yes, sir.”

“Then there’s getting caught in a blizzard with a homicidal murderer on the loose…”

“Excuse me, sir, that is the telephone."


“That was Mrs. Spenser-Gregson, sir.”

“Aunt Agatha?! What did she want?!”

“She informed me that she was coming ‘round for tea, accompanied by a young lady to whom she greatly desired to introduce you.”

“Lord love a duck, Jeeves! You know what that means?”

“I am afraid so, sir.”

“Jeeves, it’s the time for all good snowshoes to come to aid of the Berties! How soon can you have ours packed?”

“They are already packed, sir, and here is your fur-lined Inverness.”

 

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“I’m much obliged, Jeeves.”

“I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir. But if I may take a liberty and ask a question about the incident, did you not see a sign?”

“Of course, I saw a sign! I was en route to wee skate pond, perched on the lemon the ol’ Alpine lid and bladed boots thrown over the shoulder in rakish fashion, when I spied a curious path and, being a curious Bertram, I set about a solo exploratory expedition faster than you can say ‘Major Plank.’ And there was a lake! What a surface, Jeeves! Just like glass! And not a soul on it! And a beautiful scene in the distance. Snow-capped mountains, rolling white hills, stately pines. It was a sign, Jeeves, a sign that I should perfect my double axle on that ice, before all that winter majesty.”

“With all due respect, sir, I mean, the sign that read ‘Danger. Thin Ice.’”

“Oh, no. I must’ve breezed right by that. It was a miracle that you arrived when you did, Jeeves. Having cracked through the frozen water, I could already hear them chiseling ye ol’ epitaph: ‘Bertram Wooster, he ought to have been in some home.’”

“Your boots make a distinctive track, sir. It was no great challenge to follow them and quickly surmise your fate.”

“You’re certainly earning your badges this holiday, Eagle Scout. Do they give one for hot toddy preparation?”

“I think not, sir.”

“Well, this cup right here is like a distinctly warming cousin of your usual pick-me-up. I can feel my pins for the first time since you dragged the ice-sculpture-formerly-known-as-Bertram-Wooster back to the lodge.”

“Shall I add another log to the fire, sir? Do you require another blanket?”

“I’ve got all the I need, Jeeves, you human furnace.”

“Just so, sir.”

Chapter Text

Reluctantly abandoning my cosy nook by the fire, I bid the colonel good night and toddled back to my room, certain as I had ever been that Bertram Wilberforce Wooster was decidedly not the sort of chappie to rouse himself from the dreamless at two in the ack emma in the quixotic—if that means what Jeeves says it means, viz. something that bloody well is never going to happen—hope of seeing a spectre float across the Alpine sky, even if the view from the balcony of his very accommodating accommodations is said to be the toppin’ point for eyeballing said apparition.

Blast this Silver Sugarplum Fairy! She could launch herself ‘cross the firmament at a civilized hour if she wanted the pleasure of Bertram’s gaze upon her.

Disappointed, I closed the French doors to the balcony and conjectured that it was probably an astronomical phenomenon, a pinch of silver sage in the onions of the night’s sky, that appeared once in a tortoise age.

Thank goodness I hadn’t mentioned it to Jeeves. Who knows what he would’ve…

But as I slipped between the sheets, my toes touched a very toasty hot water bottle.

Prescient, accommodating, bloody useful sod!


“Will you be keeping vigil tonight, sir?”

“No, dash it! What do they say about fooling someone once and then twice? Well, four times is shame on the mare who bore you! I’ve lost enough of the dreamless on the fabled Silver Sugarplum Fairy.”

“In that case, sir, might I have the evening off?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you, sir. I’d like to go to town and attend the final performance of The Nutcracker.”

“Didn’t you already see that?”

“A matinee, sir. It is not the same.”

“Don’t tell me that you’re tipping your size 10 bowler at a ballerina!”

“Perish the thought, sir.”

I caught the faintest twitch of his lips as he shimmered out.


“Sir!”

“Oh, Jeeves, shut it.”

“Sir! The balcony! The Fairy!”

“What?!”

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter while Jeeves tore open the proverbial shutters and threw up the sash.

“OH, MY SAINTED AUNTS!”

But it could not have been my sainted aunts who floated cross the firmament. She was a slim, delicate creature, a radiant beauty flying through the air, leaving behind a cascade of otherworldly luminescence.

And then she was gone.

I sighed.

“That was extraordinary, Jeeves!”

“Indeed, sir.”


“Oh, Jeeves, it may be taking a liberty, but I happened to eyeball you saying good bye to your ballerina.”

“Yes, sir. The ballet company is moving on to their next destination.”

“She seemed quite taken with you. And why shouldn't she be?”

“Her esteem might be related to the fifty pounds I gave her.”

“Fifty quid! Good Lord, Jeeves! Whatever for? A bet?”

“No, sir. Services rendered.”

Oh, Jeeves.”

“You misunderstand, sir. Dancing lessons.”

“You! Dancing!”

“Miss Katarina was also once a circus performer, sir. So, it was almost like, well, flying.”

“Like the Silver Sugarplum Fairy?”

“Precisely, sir.”

Chapter Text

What are you doing?
I hear cupboards open, pans shiftin'.
What are you doing?
Eggs are crackin’. Flour’s siftin'.
I hear mutterin' and mixin'.
Just what is it that you’re fixin'?
I hear the cooker squeakin’
But wish it was this ol’ bed creakin’
I hear your ol’ tea cup.
And then the washing up.
The aroma’s awful sweet,
but nothing can compete
with you.
Forget about that bakin’.
Your baby’s in here quakin’.
Yank those biscuits from the oven ‘n’ shove your buns back in bed!
Yank those biscuits from the oven ‘n’ shove your buns back in bed!

Chapter Text

“Oh, very well but may I state for the record that I think your taste is a tad hidebound, Jeeves?”

“You may state whatever you wish, sir, but if you leave the residence wearing this waistcoat rather than that one, my heart will beat on.”

“But it’s the Drones’ Holly Jolly, Jeeves! This doesn’t say ‘holly’ or ‘jolly’ to me.”

“But, if you’ll forgive me, it does say ‘I ought not to be in a home,’ sir. Enjoy your evening.”

“Thank you. One last thing.”

“Your hat, sir?”

“Not exactly.”

Jingle-jingle-jingle!

“My Holly Jolly reindeer antlers! Toodle-pip!”

“Oh, siiiir…”

THUNK!

Chapter Text

And I heard the voice of the Jeeves in the cosiness of the afternoon, but I didn’t hide myself because it was my bally bedroom and my bally Jeeves and if I desire to putt a golf ball into a teacup and hum “Once in Royal David’s City” in the nude, well, a man’s castle is his Eden.

“Up, Good Christian Jeeves and Listen!” I warbled, switching song sheets as I answered the good and faithful’s summons. “And ding-dong, ding; ding-a-dong-a-ding! Polish the fig leaf! Bring me a Yuletide version of that special of yours.”

“Yes, sir. Your bath’s ready.”


“You know, Jeeves, life has many lessons to teach a cove like me,” I said as the seasonal pick-me-up trickled down the gullet and the corpus sank into to fragrant, steaming bathwaters.

“Indeed, sir?”

“Like never throw a grenade into one’s own Christmas Eve plans by agreeing to accompany an aged relative and her carbuncle of an offspring to an interminable church service!”

“Shan’t you derive pleasure from the music, sir?”

“Always looking for the silver lining of the waistcoat, Jeeves. That’s why there are bally Eves and beguiling serpents, but I harken only to thee and need not more.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Sweet and blissful was the song / Chanted of the Angel throng, Jeeves.”

“So I understand, sir.”

Compromise is another of life’s lesson. When men of iron wills live in close quarters like Jeeves and self, clashes are inevitable.

Take Christmas. I’m all for decking the halls while Jeeves is solidly in the ‘are there no workhouses?’ camp, viz. three ghosts and a pal in chains would never win him over.

He allows some hidebound holly and ivy about the flat, but when I want to run with the deer and rise with the sun, I biff off to the Drones.  

Chapter Text

The third of life’s lessons that flitted across the cerebellum as I introduced the business touch to the soak and sang…

As up the frame I took my sponge

the torso lean and bare

and all about the water smelt

the water smelt

the water smelt

and all about the water smelt

of pastry and éclair

…was what a gift from the gods a good cup of tea is. I mean, for breaking the ice, it’s exceptional. I cast my mind back to when my pal Rocky Todd’s aunt showed up unexpectedly at my flat in New York; it proved an exceptionally sharp hatchet to the glacial floes in that fruity circ. And that’s just one of many examples. When facing an aunt, any aunt, tea is like an elephant in the platoon.

A good cup of tea also cheers but does not inebriate, so it’s toppin’ for when one wants to keep one’s smile as one’s umbrella while exercising the ol’ onion on a matter of grave importance, such as how one might be permitted by one’s hidebound Scrooge of a valet to leave the flat in a pair of debonair, holly-jolly, sugar-plum-coloured braces.

A good cup of tea is, en fin, as our Gallic neighbours say, the heart’s only desire when first giving the new day the glad-eye—every morning save the one after Boat Race Night when a stronger restorative is usually called, that is, groaned for.

And Jeeves, of course, makes the best cup of tea there is. By a kind of Santa Claus telepathy—for he knows when I am sleeping and knows when I’m awake—he floats into my bedroom and sets it on the table beside my bed about two minutes after I’ve come to life. I take that first, refreshing sip and sigh. Not too hot, not too sweet, not too weak, not too strong, not too much milk, and not a drop spilled in the saucer.

“Jeeves?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Permission to blaspheme?”

“Permission granted, sir.”

“The Wooster that bathes in water has felt a great need: he that soak in the tub of the well-drawn of Jeeves, upon him hath the want of tannins shined.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“And its name shall be called Wonder-Cup, Steeped-o-Joy, The mighty Brew, The everlasting Bohea, The Oo of Long. You understand me, Jeeves?”

“Yes, sir, perfectly. I shall put the kettle—oh!”

“Jeeves?”

“Sir! Braces!”

Chapter Text

Now some chappies rely on instinct. ‘Think it. Do it.’ is their motto. All well and good for some, but the years have taught the pride of the Woosters the value of taking a moment to reflect on one’s gut notion to see if, perhaps, a better idea might not come along.

And thus, while Jeeveses scoured the Wooster raiment by afternoon for more sartorial crimes against his dear-ol-Uncle-Ebenezer-sense of style, I was massaging my left foot with a sponge and contemplating a Plan B for getting out of the flat with my sugar-plum braces firmly attached to my trousers.

Chapter Text

Aloud, I had just reached the part of ‘Unto Us is Born a Son’ when Herod ‘slew the little childer’ when it occurred to me, silently, of course, that if I presented Jeeves with his Christmas gift, a handsome volume of Spinoza wrapped in shiny red paper and tied with a bow as tartaned as the Scots allowed, a bit earlier than was our custom, viz. right then, then perhaps he would be so overjoyed that he would, as the song went:

O and A, A and O,

Cum cantibas in choro

Let our merry sugar-plum-coloured braces go

Benedicamus Domino.

Chapter Text

I've learned, too, one should never wait on doing a good turn. If it's the heart’s desire, jump in with both feet before it passes you by like the night’s last Pony Express.

And so, without further adieu, I called:

“O Come Ye Good and Faithful!”

“Yes, sir?”

“Permission to blaspheme, Jeeves?”

“Permission granted, sir.”

I cleared my throat and announced to the tiles and the tub and the fragrant waters.

“In the beginning was the Meadows and the Meadows was with the Y.M.’s Socks and the Meadows was with the Mitten.”

I paused for an interjection, which was duly given.

“Alleluia, sir.”

“And the Jeeves was made flesh and sent by the agency to dwell among us and our socks and our shirt studs and our spats and our whangee (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the non-clomping shoes, the perfect cup of tea, the size-10 bowler, the fish-fed brain, and the Y.M.-sized, out-of-soup catapult employed so often and freely).”

“Amen, sir.”

Then I switched to song, which is my wont.

“Yea, Jeeves we greet thee!

On this happy afternoon

Jeeves, to the glory given

Keeper of the Master

Now in flesh appearing!”

Chapter Text

Now, there’s also the wisdom of one’s elders. I can never forget a lesson my Uncle Henry told me. He said,

‘Never forget, my boy, that if you stand outside Romano’s in the Strand, you can see the clock on the wall of the Law Courts down in Fleet Street. Most people who don’t know don’t believe it’s possible, because there are a couple of churches in the middle of the road, and you would think they would be in the way. But you can, and it’s worth knowing. You can win a lot of money betting on it with fellows who haven’t found it out.’

And, by Jove, he was perfectly right.

And I’m quite certain that, on that glorious night, the shepherds who were abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night, were up to the same tricks with any green ewe wranglers that came by and then, of course, the glory of the Lord shone upon them and the gig was up. They had something more important to wonder about.

‘Childing of a maiden bright
Life to-day hath brought to light
a trick and punters betting right
are naught but flock of fiends tonight.’

Chapter Text

Now forgetting the ewe guard, let’s take those other visitors to the manager, the three kings. They were following yonder star, or so the story goes, but they were also said, by some, to be wise. And just as this gentleman would never dream of saddling up my camel and loading ye ol’ caravan and setting out with a couple of pals of rank same, say, Bingo Little and Gussie Fink-Nottle, without having my gentleman’s gentleman in the side car, so I’m betting these wise men didn’t stir without have wise men’s wise men.

“In Ducli Jublio

Let me my homage shew

My corpus reclineth

In rapidly cooling bath-io

Jeeves et es Oooo!

Jeeves et es Oooo!”

My serenade was cut short by the doorbell.

“Excuse me, sir.”

“Jeeves? What is it?”

“A gift, sir.”

I made like a corkscrew, the better to properly eyeball the offering, a flat gold box.

“What do you suppose it is, Jeeves?”

“If my senses don’t fail me, sir, it smells and looks as like the Classic Chocolate Cabinet, a two-tiered assortment of the finest.”

“Goodness. Let’s have a look-see. Who’s it from?”

“Lord Yaxley, sir, with his compliments of the season.”

“Oh, Uncle George! Well, if it was from Aunt Agatha, we’d have to get a host of canaries to throw down the mine shaft to make certain there wasn’t arsenic or perhaps, if she’s reading her goosefleshers, a secret untraceable poison, like shame or something, injected to the bottom with a hypodermic. And it couldn’t be from my Aunt Dahlia because she’d only send something after I escorted her and young Bonzo to the service tonight. Uncle George devotes himself to the pleasures of the table these days, so you can be certain he got one of those for himself. By Jove, Jeeves, that is quite the In Dulcio Jublio. What'll you have?”

“Sir?”

“Oh, come on. My chocolates are your chocolates. You first.”

“The treacle tart truffle, sir, if you’d be so kind.”

“Good choice. What would I like?”

“This, sir, is an Eton mess truffle.”

“Is it really? I think I rather start with this Jolly Penguin.”

I popped the Antarctic bird into my mouth and chewed and hummed.

Jeeves was doing the same with his t. t. t.

We inclined our onions at one another.

“There’s gold, frankincense, myrrh, Jeeves.”

“And then there’s chocolate, sir. I have to agree.”

Chapter Text

After Jeeves and I had partaken of a few, or perhaps a few more than few, of the top-shelf chocolates my Uncle George had sent ‘round, I was thinking that it was about time for me to, like Venus, rise from the sea of now rather chilly bathwater.

But then the phone rang.

Jeeves left to answer it, and then I heard his return.

Now most people would find not a single alarming word in that statement, but I knew that something was wrong, very wrong, because, you see, Jeeves floats, he shimmies, he feels absolutely nothing beneath his keel because he is always astral projecting himself and not using rubber-bearing weight on floorboards like the rest of us mortals to get from point A to point B.

So, when you can hear him, it means that he is agitated and if he is agitated, that means there is something wrong.

“Sir?”

“Yes.” I was already half out of the tub in anticipation of the bad news.

“That was Mrs. Travers. You are to go immediately to Bosher Street Police Station. Apparently Master Bonham and Master Thomas are in police custody and if an intervention is not made at once, they may remain there, that is, spend their Christmas as guests of Her Majesty.”

I sprang.

“Jeeves! Now’s the time!”

I didn’t have to finish the phrase. Jeeves knew what I meant.

It was time for all good men to come to the aide of the party. Good men meaning the preux chevalier Bertram Wilberforce Wooster and the party meaning the family or rather the rottenest tendrils of the tree.

Now you might say to yourself at this point, all right, Wooster, that’s the end, right? No more bath, no more carols, no more lessons.

Hindsight will turn its spectacles on the matter and show you to be wrong, so let me bend your ear for just a few minutes more.

Before I knew it, I was dressed from top hat to whangee and in a taxi that was made—or perhaps paid for—speed.

The paid part was, of course, all Jeeves’ doing. I’m not certain what quantity of notes he slipped the driver to make it snappy and I don’t rightly care because it was snappy and snappy was all in the aide of the best causes, that is, preventing my cousins, the blighters Bonzo and Thos, from spending Christmas in a cell. I mean, they are a pair of excrescences, but they’re Wooster excrescences, and no aunt wants their partridges in pear trees to be jail birds.

Between the bath and the taxi, I don’t remember anything. That, too, was Jeeves’ doing.

You wouldn’t think it to look at him, I mean, he’s built along the lines of the Albert Hall, but Jeeves can, when the circs require, also be a bit like a tornado, and I usually play the role of the barn or perhaps the farmhouse somewhere in the middle part of America caught up in its winds.

And, like the barn, I was spit out into the taxi, with no real memory of what had just occurred.

But I was clear-headed enough that when I got to the police station, I started to throw my weight about, which got me to the town of absolutely nowhere. Then I tried throwing money about, for I found that Jeeves had filled the y.m.’s wallet with ample of the ready for financial negotiations. But the officer in charge issues a firm nolle prosequi on that, too.

I laid my overcoat, whangee and hat on a chair of ill-repute and unbuttoned my suit jacket, preparing to go mano-a-mano with the branch of law and order if necessary when the rozzer’s eyes lit up like the Christmas tree that Ebenezer Jeeves forbids.

“You’d do anything for the young’un?”

“Of course, I would. The Code of the Woosters…”

But the officer had a line of thought that did not include learning about the fighting ancestors.

“Give ‘em the shirt off your back?”

“Of course!” I bellowed. The exterior was loud and proud, but interior was a bit fuzzy. Monetary negotiations had gotten nowhere with this bastion of ethics, so why was he bringing up the gent’s chemise? But then my eyes followed his, and I gasped.

I was wearing the sugar-plum braces!

“The fellers are having a bit of a do-dah tonight, and those would be somethin’ special.”

The decision was the work of less than a moment.

“Yours,” I said. “In exchange for my cousins’ freedom.”

It was a deal.

Of course, I never ended up going to the service; by the time the young blighters were uncaged it was too late to do anything but send them back to their mothers’ knees.

So perhaps it was well that I sang all the carols in the bath.

Much later, when Jeeves and I were enjoying a hot toddy by the fire, I asked him about the braces.

“Life has taught me many lessons, sir. One is to think ahead. When Mrs. Travers mentioned the police station, I was immediately aware of the officer you would most likely encounter and some of his habits, and all I can say is that it is quite fortunate that the officer is required to wear a uniform most of the time.”

“And you knew he’d been keen on my braces.”

“I suspected that, yes. That was the ideal scenario and the one that, gratefully, transpired.”

“But what if it hadn’t been him?”

“If it had been the officer’s partner, then I was hoping that the braces would indicate to him a certain strain of madness and perhaps he would think that Master Bonham and Master Thomas suffered in similar conditions and therefore were not responsible for their actions.”

“You think of everything!”

“I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir. And life has taught me that a true victory is shared. You were able to secure your cousins’ release, which is both a boon to them as well as to you in the face of your aunts.”

“Most definitely! Aunt Dahlia squeezed me like a python and promised the moon! Not that I need a planet, really. The guest room’s not big enough. And I suppose your part of triumph is getting my sugar-plum braces banished from the wardrobe.”

“There is that, sir, but it wasn’t the only benefit to me.”

“Oh, no? What else?”

“I'm spending Christmas Eve with the person with whom I’d most like to spend it. I have no need to watch the service on television or listen to it on the radio. I’ve had the much superior version already.”

“Oh, Jeeves, you ol’ romantic. You did it just so that I wouldn’t go to the service? Just so I’d spend Christmas Eve at home with you?”

Jeeves inclined the lemon, and it might have been the fire, but I thought the skin ‘round his collar turned a shade or two pinker.

“Well, go on,” I said, nodding at the red box beneath the tree. “Knowing you, you’ve already deduced it.”

“Thank you, sir! Happy Christmas. Thank you for the carols.”

“Happy Christmas, Jeeves. Thank you for the lessons.”

Chapter Text

I’d been on edge all day, as Mister Wooster was himself yet again on the verge of betrothal to a person of highly unsuitable character. I was facing, once more, the prospect of playing spectator while he entangled himself and playing savior when he realised what he had done and wanted out of his predicament.

Yes, I was on the edge of reason, and with three simple unguarded words, I felt the ground beneath my feet crumble.

Mister Wooster said I must think it a good match to which I replied,

“On the contrary.”

What followed was a veritable torrent of words, quite unsolicited, I might add, wherein I bandied a woman’s name, Mister Wooster’s name, my own name and went on to confess the depth and nature of sentiments quite unacceptable for a valet to maintain for his employer.

When I finished my speech and my descent was complete, I felt a broken man at the bottom of a ravine, awaiting vultures.

But Mister Wooster is no bird of prey.

He could have fired me. Or ruined me. He could have had me arrested, impoverished, or even confined to an asylum.

He did none of it.

He simply smiled.


“I’m a good sport, Jeeves.”

“Queensbury rules, sir,” said Jeeves looking like a chappie whose just got an invitation to sup with the Borgias.

“Queensbury was an ass! The Code of the Wooster is what matters!” I cried and thumped the table for good measure.

“And what does the Code say about this matter, sir?”

“A Wooster’s always true to his heart. And my heart is yours—along with all the other assorted bits and bobs.”

As anticipated, Jeeves went all stuffed frog for a while. I waited.

“I’m gratified to understand my sentiments are reciprocated, sir.”

“Score’s love all.”

 

Chapter Text

“Jeeves, if Aunt Agatha calls, please tell her I’m dead. Wait, no, tell her I’ve drowned like the lady of the green onions.”

I threw my head back and did my best imitation of said maiden, floating atop the bath-sluice, with my ankles sticking out over the edge, of course.

“Yes, sir, but green onions?”

“You know, the ‘four grey walls and four grey towers’ business. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to take Aunt Agatha’s horrid goddaughter Cecelia to the circus. The circus! Worse than when I took Thos to the Old Vic!”

“I believe there’s a relevant bit of wisdom, usually, but perhaps erroneously, attributed to Mister P. T. Barnum, he of circus promotion fame.”

I raised the corpus to sitting. “Sucker born every tick of the long hand, you mean.”

“Something to that effect, I believe, sir.”

I huffed. “Stuffing the cherub full of candy floss, toffee apple, and popcorn…”

“Yes,” agreed Jeeves, casting a rueful glance toward a divested suit with its wide variety of stains.

“…parading her before the lions and tigers—resisting the urge to give the King of Beasts a royal snack in the form of a ringlet-ed wee-shrew…”

“The feeling’s easily understandable. You were brave to resist it.”

“We Woosters can wear the mask, Jeeves.”

“Yes, sir, speaking of which…?”

“Well, they were down a clown, and I mean, the show had to go on, didn’t it?”

I handed him a flannel thoroughly besmirched with white, blue, red, and yellow. He took it with a barely disguised grimace.

I turned Ye Ol’ Countenance toward him. “Did I get it all, Jeeves?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I didn’t really have to act. I mean, I can drive a small car and save a terrier from a burning building, can’t I?”

“Just so, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Jeeves, if that blasted butler Precipice is going to lollygag about whacking the dress-for-dinner gong then noblesse oblige says I must take up ye ol’ baton and—”

“Sir!”

“By Jove, Jeeves, there’s the blighter’s! And half his onion’s diced!”

“Look carefully, sir, it is not Precipice.”

“Egad, Jeeves! It’s Sir Robert!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, you know what they say.”

“Sir?”

“Where there’s a will—and an unctuous old patriarch determined to cut his nearest and dearest out of it—there might be a murder!”

“Yes, sir. I will ring for the police, but the dinner-gong mallet?”

“Oh, my sainted fingerprints!”

Chapter Text

The two-seater came to a halt as hay and not a few chickens rained down upon driver and passenger.

“We’ve reached the end of the road, Jeeves.”

“If I may take a liberty, sir, it might be more precise to say the road left us some ten minutes ago,” replied Jeeves, carefully depositing the poultry outside the vehicle.

“This map is useless,” said Bertie as he gave the offending guide a far-from-gruntled flick and looked over his shoulder. “And I’m not certain that the Charge of the Light Brigade works with equal robustness in reverse.”

A loud, futile whir of tires startled the few feathered guests that had not yet received Jeeves’ attention.

“It’s too bad, Jeeves. You took such care to stow all those corkin’ rations. Aunt Agatha will be disappointed if we don’t show up to the picnic.”

“So will Miss Lilac.”

“Who?”

“Miss Lilac Woe-Be-Gone, the young lady she wishes to bring to your notice.”

Their eyes met, and they exchanged significant glances.

“It will take some effort to get the chariot back on the straight-and-narrow, Jeeves.”

“Considerable effort, sir.”

“Perhaps we should indulge in a few ham sandwiches before we begin.”

The fowl clucked their approval.

Chapter Text

“…but, Bertie, she’s perfect!”

“How I can get it through your onion, Bingo? Oh! The wisdom of our elders: never trust a big butt and a smile.”

“Bertie…no!”

Bertie sidled to his electric keyboard and switched it on. “Oh, yes.”

“But, Bertie, we were at school together!”

“So you know just what caliber of magic’s in store,” He called towards the door. “You ready, Jeeves?”

Jeeves manifested with the tea things. “I’m ready, Slick, are you?”

DUM-DUH-DAH-DUM-DUH-DAH-DUMPA-DUMP-DUMP!

“Girl, I must warn you!” crooned Bertie. “I sense something strange in your mind. Yeah your situation is serious.”

“Serious,” echoed Jeeves.

Chapter Text

I hissed like the deaf adder as Jeeves applied some foulness to my battered mizzen.

“Don’t drag me with ‘liberties taken,” Jeeves. How much did you hear?”

“Enough, sir.” Jeeves was doing his Nightingale gig, Florence, that is, not poor Keats’ bird. “’That gentleman’s gentleman is worth a deuce more than the gentleman he gentlemans!’”

I had to admit it was a fair-to-middlin’ imitation of the y. m.’s voice.

“It was very good of you, sir. Lord Cavendish’s treatment of Simpson has always been cruel, but until tonight, circumstances prevented any alteration.”

“Well, if this,” I waved a mitten at the tenderized steak that used to be my face, “is a small serving of the meal that poor sod’s been getting, I’m glad to provide the distraction. Simpson’s flown the coop?”

“Yes, sir.”

I giggled. “Cavy will have to press those ridiculous trousers of his himself!”

“No servant will oblige him, sir, I’m certain.” Jeeves went a bit stuffed frog. “I cannot say which emotion is stronger, sir.”

“Preux, old fruit. Thinking of giving me your token?”

“Or asking for yours?”

Jeeves gave the front of my trousers a bit of the ‘Here’s a Howdy doo.’

“Both is good.”

Chapter Text

“What’s this, Jeeves?” I called, eyeballing the newest addition to the lotions and potions cast in the stage production of Bertram Wilberforce Wooster’s bathroom.

“Doctor Popper’s Putty,” replied a disem-Jeeves-ed voice from the bedroom. “For the Poked and Prodded Posterior.”

I rolled this about the onion, then asked,

“How did you know, Jeeves?”

“You’ve just returned from a cream tea at your club, sir, and, if you’ll forgive an observation, the way you entered your bath.”

“I used to use…”

“Setter’s Salve for the Sore Sitter? This is far superior. It’s for self or assisted application.”

Now that was news.


I shifted. And winced.

“I don’t deserve you,” I said, addressing the fine chop on my dinner plate. “Jeeves?”

“Yes, sir?”

We exchanged sig. glances.

“Putty in your hands, Jeeves.”

“Yes, sir.”

A few minutes later, I was on the receiving end of Jeeves’ ministrations and Doctor Popper’s chemistry. Both, I’m not too proud to admit, geniuses in their respective fields.

“OH, GOD, JEEVES!”

“Feeling better, sir?”

I managed a wheeze, the sound of a gale-force wind going through a cucumber.

“Much…better…than…Setter’s.”

“Yes, sir. Would this be the spot, sir?”

“ARRGH!”

“I aim to give satisfaction, sir.”

Chapter Text

“I am sorry, sir.”

I goggled at the teak-coloured drop in the saucer, the first I’d ever known Jeeves to spill in our long association.

“The fishmonger’s boy brought the halibut I’d planned for your luncheon, sir.”

This poached the egg. “It’s too early for riddles, Jeeves.”

“The boy spoke of the devil, sir.”

“Oh! And it appeared?”

“Naturally.”

“And you had to repel him with one of those recipes from your late Aunt Hexobath’s cookery book.”

“More than one, sir, and that’s how my hand came to fall short of its usual steadiness.”

“All that. Just for the halibut!”

Chapter Text

A dream?

Or perhaps an apparition? A Marley to my Scrooge?

But then full wakefulness dawned, and I realised it was quite outside the Yuletide season and, yes, my employer was at my bedside bearing a tray of burnt toast; watery eggs; a cup and saucer, both half-filled with tea; and something that might have in a former life been a tomato or perhaps a kipper.

“Happy anniversary, old thing! Breakfast in bed!”

“Sir?”

“Happiest of days. When the Wooster script read ‘Answer to prayer enter stage left.’

I looked at the feast knowing I would cheerfully consume every bite.

 

Chapter Text

I sat smoking a melancholy cigarette.

“I’m not a hero, Jeeves.”

“Sir?”

Jeeves was fussing about with something off stage while the y. m. was doing his best Hamlet. Being all out of skulls, a glass of port was understudying as Poor Yorick.

“Just look at that business with young Oswald on the bridge,” I said. “I buggered that up, didn’t I? I mean to say, what? Pushing a lad off a bridge into a pond. Then when your accomplice, the pal you’re trying to help, is a no-show, jumping in and trying to save the excrescence yourself even though he hardly needs saving. And then, getting yourself engaged to the bezel Honoria Glossip for your pains! Nothing heroic about that.”

“Sir…”
“But the Code of the Wooster demands that I try, Jeeves! It calls me to be, to the best of my ability, preux regardless of the circs. I do try, but I always fail, so I guess the moral of the story is that I just don’t know what heroism is.” I sighed. “Smoke on your pipe and put that in it, what? I’m off to the Drones.”

Jeeves’ thoughtful gaze followed his employer out of the room.

Chapter Text

“Jeeves, get the car! Let’s make our egress toot sweet!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Aunts or no aunts, sixty grains dropping in the hourglass is quite long enough for a confirmed bachelor to pass at a petting zoo full of wee livestock and a gaggle of the devil’s own cherubim, what?”

“I agree, sir, though the weather is exceptionally clement.”

“Let’s enjoy it somewhere else!”

“Right you are, sir.”

“Jeeves, do you still have my handkerchief? I’ve got something rather sticky on this paw.”

“Here you are, sir.”

“This isn’t the new mauve one! This is the old hidebound white one.”

“I’m afraid the original handkerchief you presented me for safe-keeping is no longer with us.”

“What? I know you didn’t like it, but what happened to it?”

“It was eaten. By a kid.”

“Jeeves! When I said ‘safe-keeping’ I didn’t mean safely kept inside the belly of one of these pigtailed, adenoidal monsters. And are you telling me that one of these excrescences, not content with their buns and their lemonades and their ice creams, gobbled down my purple silk? The fiends!”

“A juvenile goat, sir, not a child.”

“Oh, well, that’s all right, I guess.”

“I’ll get the car, sir.” 

Chapter Text

“It’s a bit late in the day, Jeeves.”

“Indeed, sir.”

“But a juicy afternoon, what?”

“I couldn’t agree more, sir. The weather is exceptionally clement.”

“Jeeves, would you care for a pre-prandial stroll?”

Jeeves went a tad stuffed frog. “You wish to stroll with me, sir?”

“Oh, I know it’s not ‘done,’ waltzing about stately home gardens with one’s manservant, but…”

“Yes, sir?”

“…bugger ‘done,’ Jeeves, bugger it up the arse and not the jolly ol’ Etonian way. I search my heart and mind and find there’s no one, not a single soul, with whom I’d rather enjoy this fine late summer afternoon than you, and it may not be ‘done,’ but it’s how I feel and the Code of the Woosters has no truck with dishonesty. So, there you have it.”

Jeeves went full-blown stuffed frog, like a stuffed frog balloon, in fact, at a taxidermists’ annual fete.

Sensing his distress, I hastened to add, “Unless you’d rather not, Jeeves. I know I’m not the most intellectually stimulating company. Can’t dazzle with insights on Spinoza’s whatsits or his whatnot, but…”

“I’d love to, sir.”

“I appreciate the frankness, Jeeves.”

“A bit late in the day for anything else, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Lie to me, Jeeves. Tell me that I am not, once again, promised in holy matrimony to Pauline Stoker.”

“You are not engaged to Lady Pauline, sir!”

“Oh, how sweet the sound!”

“I am speaking in earnest, sir. You cannot be engaged to her ladyship because, as the American Mark Twain so appropriately puts it, reports of the demise of Lord Chuffnall are highly exaggerated.”

“Chuffy’s not dead?!”

“No, sir. He’s been found alive, if not completely well. He was attacked, hit on the head, and is suffering from a severe loss of memory. He was being cared for in the home of the pair of Good Samaritans who found him. The incident was, as I understand it, related to the robbery of the Irish Mail train, but that matter has been cleared up.”

“Does Pauline know?”

“Yes, sir. I had the pleasure of informing her ladyship before I came here. I considered it to be the priority.”

“Of course! Jeeves, did you happen to find him?”

“I had a slight hand in the search, sir. The reach of the Junior Ganymede Club is extensive.”

“And doing God’s work, apparently! Shall we celebrate another near escape?”

“By all means, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Can the suit be repaired, Jeeves?”

“With care, sir.”

“And Oofy’s heart when he finds out his beloved steeple jumper has hoofed it, can that be repaired?”

“Perhaps, but I am more concerned at the moment with the repair of your skin, sir. Taking another man’s horsewhipping, quite literally, upon your own back is…”

“The preux thing to do, Jeeves. Code of Woosters. I couldn’t let a pal down.”

“Yes, sir, but I beg that you permit me to apply some soothing ointment.”

“No need to beg, Jeeves,” I said and let him ease the dressing gown from my shoulders.

Chapter Text

“…a bit strange, I know, but sometimes ol’ Jeeves here likes to fancy he’s a chair, and so I sort of oblige him, what?” I squirmed in my seat and patted the arms. “It’s the preux thing to do.”

Honoria Glossop shot us a look that said she was chuffed to have dodged the bullet engraved ‘Mrs. B. W. Wooster’ and legged it.

I looked over my shoulder.

“That was close, Jeeves! We’ve got to get that diamond-and-emerald necklace back in the safe before anyone notices it’s missing! Be a chap and retrieve it from under me and stick it in your pocket. I’ll cover for you, then shuffle off to buffalo toot sweet.”

“An admirable plan, sir, but I fear another problem has,” Jeeves coughed, “arisen.”

“Great Scott, Jeeves, I don’t think I can take any more! What now?”

“Well, sir, your movements and the resulting,” he coughed again, “friction has left me in a condition.”

“Jeeves, you don’t mean to say that hard thing prodding the Wooster seat isn’t a precious stone?!”

“Lamentably not, sir. I fear there would be great embarrassment for us both if you were to vacate my lap at this moment.”

“Egad! I’m dashed sorry, Jeeves.”

“You couldn’t have foreseen the consequence of your restlessness, sir.”

“True, but we can’t sit here all night, Jeeves!”

“No, sir.”

“And if we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives in chokey, we’ve got to act! I don’t suppose bringing your state to its natural conclusion is the right answer.”

“I think not, sir.”

“Well, you’ve just got to think of something sobering. How ‘bout Aunt Agatha in her bathing dress?”

Jeeves hummed.

“That turquoise-and-silver bolero tie George Caffyn sent me from New Mexico?”

Jeeves closed his eyes and shuddered.

“It’s working, sir. Thank you.”  

Chapter Text

“Jeeves?”

Jeeves oozed in from the bedroom and looked over my shoulder.

“Do you need a hand, sir?”

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all, sir.”

Now, normally, when I rise from the foamy bathwater, like Venus from the sea, the pride of the Woosters is, well, a bit like the last balloon at the school treat. Deflated, I mean to say, wrinkled and pruney, but on this fine morning, my soldier was standing at attention, ready to march into Agincourt at the sound of the trumpets.

Ever obliging, Jeeves wrapped an oiled palm ‘round the whangee.

“Stroke or jerk, sir?”

“Jerk, Jeeves. I’ve got to meet Barmy at the club for luncheon.”

“Very well, sir.”

In about three deft tugs of a lamb’s tail, there was a plop in the bath sluice, and I could once more call my onion my own.

“Jeeves, I say, that new bath sponge? A Parisian import or something?”

“No, sir. I bought it from an itinerant salesman who stopped by the flat yesterday.”

“A bit stimulating, what?”

“You wish that I dispose of it, sir?”

“No,” I considered, “but let’s keep it for special occasions, the King’s birthday and Michaelmas Eve.”

“Very good, sir.”

Chapter Text

“…it's as I always say, Jeeves, ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth’—

You say that, sir?”

“And one or two other brainy coves, but as I was saying, though improbable, I’ve examined the body and deduced how Lord Cod-Bottom died: an icicle dagger. We’ve a fatal wound but no murder weapon. It must’ve melted.”

“And the murderer, sir?”

“Who would wield an icicle dagger best?”

“An abominable snowman!”

“No, Jeeves, I think that’s a bit impossible—”

“Only highly improbable, sir. Look!”

“By Jove, Jeeves! The code of the Woosters says: RUN!”

Chapter Text

Jeeves turned the corner and crashed into his employer carrying a hamper.

“Sir?”

“Jeeves! Apologies and whatnot, but I can’t talk now. I’m in desperate need of children. Cherubs, you know. Wee ones. Pitter-patter of little feet.”

“Indeed, sir?” Jeeves’ brow crinkled an eighth of an inch. “Confirmed bachelor, no longer?” 

“Don’t be daft! I found these, and if I don’t pawn them off on some unsuspecting excrescences soon, I might succumb to their siren charms and then we’ll be the proud owners of…”

He lifted the lid.

“…a pair of Christmas kittens.” 

“Oh, dear. I’ll help you look, sir.”

Chapter Text

“I say, Jeeves, what do you think that species of tall and needled over there is? I don’t believe I’ve seen one quite like that before.”

“That is a Christmas pine, sir. During the Yuletide season, it stands stoic and stalwart and silent in the face of that which it most desires and denies its own longings, preferring to guard its tenderest elements from the scorn or, indeed, the very recognition of its beloved.”

“You don’t say. Do you think I should, oh, I don’t know, slip it fiver or give it a fraternal pat on the trunk or something?”    

Chapter Text

“Sir!” Jeeves set his improving book aside and got to his feet.

“At ease, soldier. My return’s much earlier than anticipated. The Drones’ Yuletide pantomime took on an entirely different tone when Barmy Phipps showed up with the Christmas baby. Young, blonde, waifish, and half nude.” 

“Most surprising, sir.” 

“Yes, apparently, the instructions to ‘bring a doll’ weren’t specific enough. Anyway, in short order, I myself yearning for the crackling fire of home and…”

“A good book, sir?”

“You read the book. I’ll fix us a couple of brandy and sodas.”

“As you wish, sir. Happy Christmas.”

“Happy Christmas, Jeeves.”

Chapter Text

“…you know who also has to deal with letter-opening, Jeeves?”

“No, sir.” 

“Santa Claus. Not our Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas, you know, the Time Square fellow in the red suit. He opens heaps of letters from blighted offspring around the globe.” 

“True, sir. You’ve not yet opened Mrs. Gregson’s missive.”

“Aunt Agatha wants the pride of the Wooster in a pair of sponge bag trousers for Christmas. No, let it simmer a while longer. Better yet, why don’t you Sherlock Holmes it?”

“Sir?”

“Skewer it to the mantelpiece!” 

Jeeves frowned. “Might I just lay something heavy on it, sir?”

Chapter Text

Some lovers turn to Shakespeare for their words,
while some compose the poetry themselves.
In declarations penned, some soar like birds
then dip wherever inspiration delves.

Some lovers use ambrosia, honeyed phrases,
while some declare themselves in simple oath.
Some letters reek of perfume, fragrant praises.
Some woo. Some win. Some even manage both.

My lover knows my heart, what makes it pound,
what’ll draw a certain something to my lips.
Like this hastily scrawled missive I’ve just found,
which thrills me to my well-buffed fingertips.

“Give the pink spats to the deserving poor. 
I shan’t ever wear them anymore.” 

Chapter Text

“That’s where you make your bloomers, Jeeves?” I asked pointing in the direction of a discreet warehouse with a discreet nod of the onion. 

“That’s where you make your blunder, sir. That’s the former headquarters of Lord Siddcup’s enterprise.” 

“Former? Does Eulalie Souer no longer provide the delicately nurtured with fashionable unmentionables?”

“Unfortunately, the business was seized when his lordship was imprisoned, sir, but its exit created a gap in the market, which I was able to fill. Eulalie’s now has two divisions, Sir and Souer, for gentlemen and ladies of style and discretion. Obviously, a larger facility was indicated.” 

Chapter Text

“We must act, Jeeves! Now is that time for all good witches, warlocks, and otherwise supernaturally inclined gentlemen’s gentlemen to come to the aid of the party!”

“Yes, sir!”

Despite the rousing reply, I knew Jeeves didn’t like to broadcast his ability to abracadabra on the wireless, and so it was a tentative Bertram Wooster who crossed the threshold of #3A Berkeley Mansions with a cat-and-mouse show in hand.

Specifically, at the end of one Wooster mitt was a trembling and tear-streaked specimen of the delicately natured named Squeaks (christened Guinevere Annabelle Prufrock Delagardie and, thus, who can blame her for taking a one-syllable nom de drupe at the tender age of three?). In a cardboard box tucked under the other Wooster upper limb was what I and Squeaks dearly hoped was some remnant of Squeaks’ best gal pal, as the newspapers call them, the American Kitty Rockefeller.

Yes, those Rockefellers.

“Jeeves, my chum Squeaks is in dire need of your assistance in launching her beloved out of the spicy gumbo!”

Now, Jeeves, like the y. m., has a soft spot for damsels in d., and accordingly, said,

“How may I be of service, Miss?”

Squeaks disassembled into fits and sobs, and so it was up to the preux chevalier to take up the mantle of raconteur.

“Squeaks is a Bohemian artist, shares a few square feet of squalor in Soho with her Kitty. She spends most of her waking hours decorating blank canvases with scenes of stevedores in the nude—”

“Firemen,” corrected Squeaks after blowing her nose on the square of cambric Jeeves had offered, “coal-shoveling, not conflagration-extinguishing variety.”

“—right,” I continued, “and Kitty writes poems that don’t rhyme. Anyway, they’ve been hit by a beastly concatenation, if that’s the word I want. Kitty had, of late, been dabbling in the ‘double, double, toil, etcetera’ without a permit, you know how these modern girls are, give ‘em a library card, and—”

Both Squeaks and Jeeves shot me looks that said it was time to sequitur off to Buffalo or, perhaps, the point, and stop being an ass.

“—and, well, the upshot is that Squeaks thinks Kitty did the voodoo that you do, only without your level of expertise, Jeeves, that is to say, she got tongue-tied with the spell-casting, wound up trapped in here.” I inclined the lemon toward the box. “Or that is to say, what’s in here.”

“I see, sir. May I look?”

Squeaks and I nodded. Jeeves took the box, pushed apart the sides at the top, and peered inside.

I knew he was shaken because one of his eyebrows rose a whole one-fourth of an inch.

“Can she be saved?” I asked.

“Yes, sir, the act of recovery itself is straightforward, but the object in which she is trapped, you’ll allow, gives decided pause.”

He didn’t have to tell me that. I dare anyone to take a gander at a replica of a monkey with an orange face, soul-sucking beady eyes, and purple mohair fur to keep singin’ the same ol’ song without at least a quarter beat of rest.

‘Lord, love a duck’ is not putting it too strongly because that’s how I put it.

“It’s got a mirror in it, Jeeves, if you do the judgement of Solomon up the middle.”

“Ah” is all Jeeves said to that, but he nodded the bulging-at-back in that manner that, if not precisely sagely, was, at least, a little on the bay leaf side. Then he looked up and asked, as cool as a c.,

“It may take some time. Would you care for some refreshment, Miss?”

“Oh, I’ll take care of hosp, Jeeves,” I interjected. “You just see if you can give Kitty the Burke and Hare.”

“Oh, please, Mister Jeeves, please. I’d be ever so grateful!” squeaked Squeaks. “She’s my all, you see, and she didn’t know what she was doing. Just messin’ at this and that, but heart of gold, Kitty’s got. Though, you know, sometimes,” she threw a rueful glance at the box, “questionable taste in accessories.”

“Some of the finest people in the world are guilty of that,” replied Jeeves evenly while I studied the wall, rocked back on my Oxfords, and whistled a happy tune.

As Jeeves made to take his leave, I pulled him aside and muttered,

“I don’t mean to tell you your business, Jeeves, but just a word to the wise about unnatural monkeys, if the matter of three wishes arises, don’t. Just don’t.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll keep that in mind,” he said, then retired toot sweet to what used to be the lumber room but had, since Jeeves’ late aunt had given him his occult inheritance, been converted into a sort of study and workshop for the magical arts.

I mixed Squeaks and myself two stiffish brandy and s.’s and got the gramophone spindling, and by the time I was halfway through showing her young Bertram’s award-winning collection of dried wildflowers, a joyous and slightly marble-mouthed noise rumbled like a troop of U.S. Marines from the end of the hall.

What transpired next was a tender scene. I confess that Jeeves and I each moistened a corner of shared cambric at the sight of the gal pals reunited.

After profuse thanks were scattered like V day confetti, the ladies exited chez Wooster et Jeeves arm-in-arm.

There was a post-script to this happy ending.

Jeeves was richly rewarded for his soul-dislodging efforts with three gifts: a painting of a very flattering likeness of the pride of the Woosters giving the ol’ heave ho in his altogether; some lines of verse that neither Jeeves nor I could make heads or tails of; and a large cheque. The first of these Jeeves proudly hung in his study; the second he discreetly buried in a volume of Early Christian Sermons for safe-keeping; and the last he deposited and leveraged to buy the company which had made the monkey mirror compact and shut down production for all eternity.

Chapter Text

The occasions are rare and few, but when I do cross paths with another member of the Ganymede Club in public while in the company of Mister Wooster, what follows never fails: a look at the gentleman, a look at the gentleman’s gentleman, and a minute nod, which I return. Not a gentleman in all the world can hold a candle to Mister Wooster when he is at his best, and the members of my guild know it. Mister Wooster is a masterpiece. Fine material and wonderfully pliable in the master’s, that is to say, of course, the servant’s hands.


“Modern art, sir.”

“Oh, I know all about modern art, Jeeves.” 

“Indeed, sir?”

“And I feel the coves’ plight. I wish I could capture in oils or charcoal or bits of broken glass the way you come into my bedroom every morning with at the perfect time with the perfect cup of tea. I’d take the deuce of good that it does to a fellow’s day and hang it on the wall and charge the unwashed a bob to goggle at it!”

“That’s kind of you to say, sir.”

“It’s not kindness, Jeeves, it’s art, and you’re a bally masterpiece.”  

Chapter Text

“Okay, listen, Jeeves: one fellow points to the very large slimy creature slung ‘bout his shoulder and says to another fellow, ‘Here’s my newt. His name is Tiny.’ And the other fellow asks, ‘Why’s he called Tiny?’ And the first fellow answers, ‘Because he’s my newt.’”

Jeeves did not blink. “I surrender, sir.”

“Don’t despair, Jeeves, many a strong man has been felled by a sharp pun.”

“I’m gratified to hear it, sir. Here is the garment we were discussing, the…puce…waistcoat. Enjoy your luncheon with Mister Fink-Nottle.”

“By Jove, Gussie’s going to love the joke and the raiment!”

Chapter Text

“Oh dear.”

I knew something was amiss because Jeeves never says ‘Oh dear.’

I oozed round to the back of the chariot.

Jeeves was ogling the hamper and going ‘stuffed frog.’

“Did the champagne explode, Jeeves? That happened once on the way to the Drones’ Annual Picnic in the Park.”

“No, sir, I’m afraid there was a mix-up at the petrol station.”

“There was another goodish sized group of sun-worshipping revelers there at the same time, what?”

“Yes, sir. I set the hamper down on the ground in order to rearrange items, and I believe the other party did the same. It’s a very popular style of hamper.”

“Oh, I’ve read that story! Switched at birth! Or rather, in our case, at the petrol station, which doesn’t really sound as catchy, does it?”

“No, sir.”

“So, they got our boiled eggs, and we got theirs, what?”

Jeeves opened the hamper.

“Lord love a duck!”

“That sums it up well, sir.”

“Those are…”

“A wide assortment of sexual accoutrement.”

Mais, oui, Jeeves. I don’t suppose their boiled eggs are like ours at all, are they?”

“Not likely, sir.”

“Well, you know what they say: one man’s picnic is another’s man orgy!”

Chapter Text

“Will you be dining out, sir?”

“No, tonight’s the Drones’ annual Golden Duck race.”

“I don’t recollect you mentioning it, sir.”

“Probably not. Do you know that game, popular at country fairs and rural church fetes, where you and pal pump water, sending a couple of rubber ducks down narrow chutes towards a finish line?” 

“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure, sir, but I can readily envision it.”

“Well, tonight’s a variation on that except the lads load up on beer and make themselves into pumps. It’s hosted in the main lavatory. The water’s golden and niffs, if you catch me.”

“I do, sir.”

“It’s a relay, of course.”

“Of course, sir.”

“And afterwards those among the company who fancy that sort of thing continue to frolic with like-minded gents. I gave it a go once, but, eh, messy and woefully hard on the wardrobe.”

“I can imagine, sir,” said Jeeves, trying not to shudder.

“But, to each his own. I prefer my duck in a clear bath which smells of, uh, what does my bath smell of, Jeeves?”

“It is March, sir, therefore, eucalyptus and mint.”

“Capital! No more talk of this, what?”

“Silence is also golden, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Inevitable, I suppose, Jeeves,” I said with a sigh which indicate I was about to unburden myself of a secret sorrow.

“What’s that, sir?” prompted Jeeves politely as he peeled the outer layer of the gent’s crust from my corpus delecti.

“For me to return to the homestead on Boat Race Night not under the influence.”

Jeeves’ hard stare pierced me like a stiletto through the base of my neck, and I detected a slight incredulity in the way he unstudded my shirt and wrangled the sodden garment off me. He offered a steadying hand during the last campaign.

“Gone are the salad days when I confronted the representatives of law and order with my vintage of high spirits. No policeman’s helmet pilfering for me!”

I was trying to get my trousers off, but it was as if the manufacturers had come out with a new-fangled mechanism to keep them on and installed it when I wasn’t looking. 

Jeeves swooped in, as always, like the United States Marines, and helped me out of them. 

“But there’s one thing, Jeeves, that age cannot wither, nor custom prevent one from falling into on Boat Race Night.”

“The river, sir?”

“The river, Jeeves.”

Chapter Text

“Sir?”

Jeeves put the good old knuckles of his hand softly to the door of the bathroom, and I took a refreshing sip of air. Just right, as usual. Not too loud, not too harsh, not too demanding, and not a second too soon. A most amazing cove, Jeeves, so dashed competent in every respect. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I mean to say, take just one small instance. Every other valet I’ve ever had used to barge into my bath in the morning while I was practicing the ancient art of self-love, causing much misery: but Jeeves seems to knew when I’ve stuck my landing, to borrow a phrase from equestrians of pommel horse stables, by a sort of telepathy. He always announces himself exactly two minutes after I’ve had my little death. Makes a deuce of a lot of difference to a fellow’s day.


“One of your specials, Jeeves, please,” I gurgled from the graveyard of bedclothes in which I was interred. I kept the peepers shut, afraid to discover that what I thought was the headboard was, in fact, a granite slab engraved with ‘Here lies Bertram, he supped with the lads once too often.’”

“It is my grievous duty to inform you, sir, that we are out of Worcestershire sauce. I have already dispatched a messenger. The wait should not be long. Might I offer a substitute in the meantime?”

Jeeves spoke with the bedside manner he usually employed in such circs, viz. that of a royal doctor, and I groaned my assent like the sickly prince in desperate need of a bracer.

No sooner had I rolled onto my back than the duvet and sheets were thrown back, and a solid paw with its palm well-greased was burrowing into the ground floor of my heliotrope pyjamas.

“A little preparation of your own invention, Jeeves?”

“Precisely, sir.”

It was the long strokes from base to head which gave the Wooster tumescence its colour. It was the tight grip of the fist which made it erect. And it was the furious rhythm which gave a bite, that is to say, the sinking of my chompers in the pillow as my cock went off like a circus cannon, popping the daredevil into the net of Jeeves’s flannel.

Somewhere in a far corner of Xanadu, a service bell rang.

“That would be the delivery, sir.”

Chapter Text

The fish are biting. 

The fish are biting, and the weather is exceptionally clement. 

The fish are biting, and the weather is exceptionally clement, and the sumptuous luncheon tucked away in the hamper is yet untouched. A trove of iced beer, too, awaits plundering. 

The fish, the weather, the hamper, and him. 

His linen trousers are the perfect shade of tan and without a crease. His crisp white shirt is, also unmarred, save for the rolled shirtsleeves. His eyes are closed. His hat is resting at a rakish, sun-shielding tilt. Beneath the hat, he has a kiss of the sun across the bridge of his nose. This swathe of bronze doubly charms, of its own handsomeness and as a reminder of the similarly coloured freckles across his shoulders.

Those freckles are my secret pleasure.

He’s napping. Not pretending to fish, not pretending to be anything other than what he is.

He is where he wants to be. 

And so am I. 

It is my experience that one rarely gets a taste of paradise in this life.

But the fish are biting, the weather is exceptionally clement, the hamper is full and untouched, and I am with the one I love.  

Chapter Text

“Ugh!”

“The book does not give satisfaction, sir?”

“It does not, Jeeves! To borrow a phrase, my suspenders of disbelief are not quite snappy enough for that stocking!”

“If I may ask, sir, from whom is that phrase borrowed?”

“Our Gallic neighbours have words for everything, Jeeves. I just can’t believe that the main character, a comely lass, has been betrothed five times, but each time her lady’s maid intervenes, and she doesn’t arrive at the altar.” 

“But, sir…”

“Florence, Pauline, Honoria, Madeline, Bobbie…egad, Jeeves. I stand mistaken!”

“Yes, sir. The truth is often no more stranger than fiction.”

Chapter Text

“Jeeves! How long have I been gone?”

“Seven minutes, sir. I confess confusion at your sudden absence. You gave no indication you were leaving the residence.”

“I gave no indication because I had no indication. I dug into the wardrobe in search of my green homburg and suddenly found myself somewhere else! Or more precisely somewhen else!”

“Sir?”

“Believe me or believe me not, but I somehow wandered about a hundred years into the future!”

Jeeves opened the door of the wardrobe and peered inside.

“And would you believe it, I got my own show on what passes for the wireless. Except they can see you, too. They’re gaga about the way I talk. People pay money, ridiculous sums, to have me read the newspaper, well, it isn’t paper, exactly, and tell them what I think. I had hundreds of thousands of followers on, what’s the word, the You tube and the Instant gram. I was what they call an influencer. But I had to return.”

“Why, sir?”

“For a good reason. There are virtually no gentlemen’s personal gentlemen in the future, Jeeves, and I simply couldn’t do with you.”

“Next time, sir, we shall look for the homburg together.” 

Chapter Text

The word I want is disaster. 

My hand, peeking out of a heliotrope pyjama sleeve, found my cigarette case easily enough but, in doing so, I sent the lamp careening to the floor. I lunged to catch the lamp and found myself following in its wake. In the darkness, on the floor, I groped for a box of matches and found it empty.

“Dash it all!”

A rap on the door. “Sir?”

“Sorry to wake you, Jeeves. I’m all right.”

“May I enter, sir?”

“Of course, but I don’t see why you’d wish to.” 

Light from the hall slanted in. 

“Allow me, sir.” 

I half-expected Jeeves to hoist the tableau onto the bed in one unholy bundle. Instead, he took the cigarette case and opened it. 

I removed a cigarette. 

Jeeves fished a lighter from the pocket of his dressing gown.

He bent low and lit my cigarette. 

“I say, Jeeves,” I said as I exhaled a stream of smoke. “Help yourself.” I nodded to the case. 

Jeeves took a cigarette and joined me on the floor.

“I had a naughty dream, Jeeves.”

“As did I, sir.”

“Shall we grope in the dark together, old thing?”

“An admirable suggestion, sir.” 

Chapter Text

“Can I have this dance?”

The question in the familiar baritone surprised me. I looked up from some steady trenchwork I’d been doing on a second plate of Baked Alaska with custard, a dish of which I am inordinately fond and thus the encore serving.

I looked up into Jeeves’ big blue e.’s and noted his outstretched paw and then I took a quick gander at my surroundings.

The hall looked like a street of Pamplona after the bulls have passed. Even the band had packed it in for the evening or perhaps they’d just headed off to the next gig.

I took Jeeves’ hand and got to my feet. “Uh, I supposed there’s always the beat of our hearts,” I remarked, only hearing the sounds of the custodians about to fold the chairs and pass the mop under tables.

“I’ve asked Mister Sylvester to give us a final tune, and he has agreed.”

Jeeves stepped aside, and by the bandstand I saw a kindly-looking man with a saxophone.

He waved. I waved back.

“So, sir, can I have this dance?”

“You can and may.”

The mitts were already joined, so all that was left was for Jeeves to lead me to the empty dance floor.

There was a moment’s confusion as our arms went up and down, and we looked like a pair of penguins on their first day of traffic school.

But then Mister Sylvester launched into the first notes of a mellow “It Had to Be You,” and things seemed to settle.

Jeeves slipped his arm around my waist, and I rested mine on his shoulder.

And off we went.

“The course of true love never ran smoothly, Jeeves,” I remarked as we glided hither and thither.

“So I’m told, sir. I suppose this outcome is to be expected when you run away with your groom before the ceremony’s conclusion.”

“Her groom?”

“Her horse’s groom, not her betrothed.”

“Oh, so that’s who that fellow was! He made quite the entrance. And exit. With her.”

“He did, indeed.”

Well, it stands to reason.”

“Sir?”

“Once they’ve had you in the saddle.”

I made a face. Jeeves chuckled.

“But I suppose that’s another wasted fish slice.”

“You look very dashing tonight, sir.”

“So do you, Jeeves. Well, not really. You look rather like you always look which is how I like you. Handsome. Solid. You’re rather light on your feet. You know, Jeeves, this dancing business.”

“Yes, sir?”

“I think I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. It’s much easier this way. More natural, what?”

“I’m glad you think so, sir.”

We tripped the light fantastic for a few more bars and then Jeeves hummed.

“It had to be you.”

“Wonderful you,” I replied.

“It had to be you.”

Jeeves spun me, brought me close, and dipped me, and as he drew me up to standing, I said,

“Can I have this dance, Jeeves? And by ‘this dance,’ I mean ‘all of them.’”

“Yes, sir, you may.”

Chapter Text

“I’m not going to abandon him, Jeeves!” I declared. The canine at my chest trembled. 

“Sir, it isn’t abandoning, it’s relinquishing stolen property.”
“She only wants to,” I dropped my voice and covered the flappy ears, “breed him with her own mongrel. He wants that about as much as I want a dozen fish slices. Just look!”

Jeeves looked, and the dog had the good sense to whimper plaintively on cue.

Jeeves sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “If I can find a suitable confirmed bachelor’s establishment which not our own…”

“I told you he’d fix things, sport.” 

Chapter Text

“There, there,” I said unconvincingly and passed the new widow my most preux cambric square.

The door opened, and I shot a silent beseeching appeal for aid at Jeeves.

“My father,” sobbed Lady Elizabeth, “sold me to Hubert for that painting!”

I eyed the work in question. “Really?”

“Well, that and the estate and the holdings.”

“Right. Jeeves, that canvas…?”

Jeeves bent his onion toward the frame. “It is velvet, sir.”

“And those dogs are playing poker?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Daddy and Hubert thought it was so funny!”

“But, I say,” I said, “your father’s dead.”

“Yes.”

“And now your husband’s dead, too.”

“Yes.”

“Well, you’ve the last laugh, what? Come on, Lizzie, m’girl, buck up. D’you know what I think that painting needs?”

She blew her nose. “What?”

I exchanged glances with Jeeves, and he scanned the walls. He found what he was looking for and successfully dislodged it from its mount.

“Will it do, Jeeves? Looks like it was last used at Agincourt.”

“I think m’lady will find it serves her purpose nicely.”

Lady Elizabeth wiped her eyes and took the heavy axe from Jeeves’ hands with a smile. As she raised it, I said,

“Here’s to art appreciation.” 

Chapter Text

I spied a chair swaddled like a babe in manager. “What’s this?”

“From Sotheby’s, sir.” He brandished a bill of sale.

“The auction, Jeeves! Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright begged me to go. They were getting rid of some do-dahs of theatrical significance. I told him the only way was if I was royally snozzled. He took me at my word and proceeded to ply me with spirits.”

“It’s called The Gentleman’s Surprise Chair, sir.”

“Well, let’s see what surprises are in store.”

Minutes later we were eyeing the throne with wonder. It was a large affair, polished wood, dark red leather, black carved panels, and no fewer than a dozen secret drawers!

“Jeeves!”

“Yes, sir!”

“So, the decanters are here,” I drew down a panel in the seat, “snifters, there,” another panel by the headboard.

“Drawers with cards, dice, pistols, and tobacco, sir.”

“That covers a multitude of sins, Jeeves. All but one really.”

Jeeves pushed a button. The seatback fell to reveal little shelves each bearing a postcard of a specimen of the delicately nurtured in her altogether.

“Jeeves!” I cried, covering my eyes like a true preux.

“Yes, sir,” he said, “with a bit of customising, it should do nicely.” 

Chapter Text

The crash was inevitable.

It was the first year in many my employer had elected not to grace another’s residence with his presence at Christmastime. He’d consented to a New Year’s Mediterranean holiday as well as donating his Sugar Plum Fairy braces to the deserving poor, and thus I was compelled to assent to his request for a fir.

I’d stepped to the kitchen at the kettle’s whistle.

CRASH!

I raced to the sitting room and discovered the tree and my employer horizontal, the former atop the latter.

“Sometimes you deck the halls, Jeeves, and sometimes the halls deck you!”

Chapter Text

Why Turkish?

That’s what Sherlock Holmes asks Doctor Watson in one of those famous detective stories, which proves you can be a know-it-all and not, in fact, know it all. But Sherlock Holmes learns, and in a later story, he and Watson are regular patrons.

Why Turkish?

The reasons are simple. First, no aunts allowed. At home, aunts can breech your sitting room and hurl abuse at you through the door. Even the Drones, on rare occasion, has been known to be lax on enforcement when, say, my Aunt Agatha has an especially angry bee in her bonnet and Sniffy at the door is short on funds and spine, but as soon as a nephew enters the inner sanctum of the Turkish b. and sheds the gent’s outer crust, all auntly cares are left behind.

Second, there’s the experience. After greetings and salutations, a cove can choose roasting or poaching. He can be kneaded like dough, marinated in fine oils, or tenderised like choice cut of beef. The menu is lengthy, and all of it toothsome.

But even if a fellow doesn’t want to be the entrée, he can elect to extend his corpus on a chair and savour the simple pleasure of a daydream about his manservant, from opening scene to closing credits, without interruption.      

Why Turkish?

It’s the healing flow of persp. It’s the plunge in the icy tank. It’s forty winks in a cubicle with “Shirt Studs and Stolen Hearts” playing in the cinema of one’s onion.

It’s always been my practice to linger over a Turkish bath. It is a sanctuary, an oasis, where I can forget about things like eighteenth century silver cow creamers and sponge bag trousers and class distinctions which prevent a gentleman from wooing his gentleman’s gentleman.

And that is why Turkish.

Chapter Text

Now that the first volume of my memoirs has reached the bedside tables, train carriages, and lending library shelves of the reading public, and, if I may be so bold, caused something of a stir, I am the object of journalistic inquiry. Why just the other day a bright young thing drove his two-seater all the way to Groaning Spinney, which has been re-christened Droning Spinney for the number of club members who’ve decided to pass the autumns of their lives there, to ask me about my daily schedule.

This is, in essence, what I told the chappie.

I rise each morning and step out onto the back porch and do a few calisthenics. As the grey has displaced the brown in my coiffure, I find this bit of windmilling serves to keep the Wooster frame willowy. I do not do these in the nude, like that dolt Stilton Cheesewright, because I do not wish to disturb the wildlife of which there is much about the country idyll.

During the week, Jeeves with Queen Mab at this hour, so I tiptoe to the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee, cut a slab of coffee cake or whatever other toothsome confection is on hand, and settle down to read a few chapters of a breakfast book, you know, Archie and Nero, a body in the library, Campion and Lugg, or some fiend sending poisoned pen letters to everyone in village.

I read until Jeeves decides to give the day the glad eye. He has his breakfast, and afterwards, together, we take our canine companions, Holmes and Watson, for their morning constitutional.  We might give a ‘what ho!’ to any neighbours we meet, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, Gussie Fink-Nottle, or even ol’ Oofy Prosser.

By nine, I’m in my study, ready haul up my slacks and get down to remembering the past and putting it down as cheerfully as my aging onion and well-thumbed thesaurus can manage.

I break for lunch around one o’clock. Then there’s another jaunt with man’s best friends around two o’clock, sometimes accompanied, sometimes a solo flight. More serious chinwags are conducted, and gossip, as well as remembrances, are exchanged. Inevitably, I return home by four to listen to Like Sands in the Hourglass on the wireless with Jeeves.

Then it’s a dozen winks in my armchair, another thousand words or so of memory, or answering bally silly questions posed by seedy-looking pips who probably wouldn’t be able to tell a gentleman’s gentleman’s who’s your soulmate from one who pinches your socks.

Then Jeeves makes us both a nice libation, and we sup, usually at home, but occasionally with one of our friends. When home, we eat in a parlour that overlooks veritable Eden which Jeeves tends with all the love and care he used to give my sock drawer.

Then it’s reading or playing cards and listening to the gramophone. We have a good night waltz about our cosy quarters and call it a day well spent.  

Chapter Text


“It wasn’t a love match, my mother and father, Jeeves.”

“No, sir?”

“No, but there was an understanding between them.”

“There is much to be said for the pragmatic approach, sir. Not every union need be a great passion.”

“True. No matter what the poet johnnies would have you believe, passion fades, except perhaps that of Gussie for his newts. I think my parents wanted the same things out of life. Not to say that they were the same, but they complimented each other. Much like this tie and this waistcoat.”

“Oh, not like that tie and that waistcoat, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Say what you will, Jeeves, but we Drones know how to rally round, viz. to come to the aid of a brother in need. Why, I recall an instance, era B. J., meaning Before Jeeves, when Freddie Widgeon quite innocently ended up with seven pounds of lobster he hadn’t purchased, and there was a fishmonger at the door of the club with a pair of sharp knives in his hands and nothing but Widgeon ceviche on his menu. And what did we do? Did we quake and quiver? No, sir, we barred the door with Horace, the taxidermied moose.”

“Indeed, sir.”

“Just like in ye olden days, Jeeves, we gave sanctuary, faster than you can say ‘a priest, a vicar, and a rabbit went into a bar, and the rabbit says, ‘I believe there’s been a clerical error.’”

“Expeditious, sir.”

“Bless you, Jeeves. Of course, we also passed around the proverbial hat and sent Oofy Prosser out to negotiate terms. And tucked into one of the most toothsome luncheons on record. But that is what membership in the Drones is all about, Jeeves. Not idleness, no, brotherly love.”

“Philia, sir.”

“Dear me, Jeeves, are you coming down with a cold?” 

Chapter Text

“The moon, Jeeves!”

“Yes, sir. Origin of the word ‘lunacy.’”

“Did you see it?”

“I did, sir. Most illuminating.”

“Oh, Jeeves. It was enchanting! And where better to see admire it than in that little boat? A sensitive plant like myself couldn’t help becoming enraptured! The moonlight on the water! The poet johnnies got it right! You just want to touch it!”

“But, sir, when gazing at the moon and its reflection on the water, it is advisable,” he wrung another stream of water from the y. m.’s evening jacket, “to remember that one is no longer on dry land.” 

Chapter Text

“Oh, Jeeves! Toppin’ gooseflesher!” I cried, throwing the tome on the bed.

“You enjoyed it, sir?”

“Did I ever!” I sighed. “But, you know, Jeeves, there’s just one part I don’t believe.”

“Just one, sir? I understood the plot involved ten people being lured to a remote island and murdered one by one according to the text of a nursery rhyme.”

“Yes, that’s all good, but in the end, the murderer places a written confession in a bottle and throws the bottle into the sea. I simply don’t believe something so important, so evil could just wash up in a fisherman’s net on a shore like that.”

“I’ll allow the chances are slim, sir.”

“Now here we are on holiday on the East Coast in Burnstow and today I was treading the shore this morning and lo and behold, do you know what I found?”

“I know a great deal of sand found its way into your clothes, sir,” observed Jeeves with a grimace.

“I found a whistle! Look!” I produced the piper for his inspection. “Just washed up on shore like the proverbial message in a bottle. If I blow on it, do you think anything will happen?”

Chapter Text

Sometimes Hal the bartender liked to guess his customers’ woes by the way they held their chin and the way their shoulders hung.

When he watched the well-dressed gent with the sad face belly up to the bar, he supposed it was a love affair gone wrong, his expression was wistful tinged with the tiniest bit of shock.

“Used to be mine,” the gent mumbled into his brandy and soda, and Hal congratulated himself.

The gent had one of those toffee accents that sound like gin. Hal liked it.

“Got a trip down memory lane you weren’t expecting?” said Hal.

“Yeah, in a lift.”

Hal frowned.

“I mean, an elevator,” the gent amended.

“Someone else’s pride and joy now?” suggested Hal, instantly regretful that he was pouring salt in the gent’s wound.

“You said it. Looked good. Real good.” The gent raised his drink at Hal and sipped.

“Lots of fish in the sea,” said Hal, picking up a glass and wiping it.

“Not a lot of socks, though.”

Hal frowned again. “Socks?”

“A splendid pair of purple socks. My valet gave them away. Now they’re on a lift attendant’s ankles. And I’m here.”

“Sounds like a song,” said Hal. 

Chapter Text

“I owe you an apology, Jeeves. I shouldn’t have barged in here and searched the place like the hounds on the scent of a fugitive convict.”

“Not at all, madame.”

“I thought you were lying when you said Bertie was out. I wanted him to take Thomas to a lecture today on the economics of the Empire. Claude and Eustace were supposed to have taken him, but they have mysteriously come down with chicken pox.”

“Indeed, madame? Most disturbing.”

“But I see Bertie’s not here. Very well. I must say that new chair is quite the monstrosity, isn’t it?”

“We are all given to the occasional impulsive purchase. It was bought at auction.”

“Yes, it would have been, wouldn’t it?” said Aunt Agatha disapprovingly before making her egress.

Jeeves stood at the window for a few minutes, looking down at the taxis and the traffic, and then he stepped swiftly to the chair. He unbuttoned the back panel and peeled it down and extended a steadying hand.

His employer unfolded himself and stood up and brushed the front of his clothes while Jeeves re-buttoned the back of the chair.

“I say, Jeeves, worth every penny, what?”

“Without a doubt, sir.” 

Chapter Text

“There’s nothing like a hot bath,” I confessed aloud as I lowered the Wooster corpus into the steaming sluice. “Especially on a crisp evening such as this one. We are well into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, or so sayeth the poet Keats.”

Jeeves had left me to my ablutions, retiring to the kitchen with a tome he’d inherited from his late Aunt Hexobah, the better to practice some of the family spells and incantations.

To be frank, there isn’t much difference between Jeeves before he was a practician of ye olde hocus pocus and now. He’s always worked in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

So, there we were, Jeeves in the kitchen, doing magic, and I in the bath, warbling, if I remember correctly, “Autumn in New York,” and playing tugboat on the Hudson with the sponge, when I began to notice something odd.

The temperature of the water seemed to be rising.

At first, of course, I thought it was my imagination, a product of the natural persp. brought about by the rising vapours, but, no, after a spate, I confirmed my first impression.

The water was getting hotter.

At first, it troubled me not, for the pride of the Wooster enjoys a good wet sauna as much as the next fellow, and I’ve been known to spend a decent epoch in the one at the Turkish bath on Northumberland Avenue when I determine the Wooster pores are too clogged with city’s grime and an aunt’s bitter disappointment.

But as the mercury rose, the Wooster dermis began to object.

“I say!” I said. “I mean, I say!”

I must admit science was never my strong suit in the school, I generally excelled at things like summer wildflower collecting and Scripture knowledge, but this predicament of the bath definitely seemed against the laws of nature, science, and the likelihood of my internal organs remaining in a more than gelatinous state.

At last, fearing that Wooster stew might be on the menu, I leapt from the bath and went scurrying in the direction help, that is to say, Jeeves.

“Jeeves! The bath! It’s boiling!”

I burst into the kitchen wearing only a swaddling of terrycloth just as Jeeves was doing a most extraordinary thing.

He was smacking his size-10-bowler head.

“My pronunciation, sir, is not what it should be. Your bath is on, but the kettle isn’t.”

Chapter Text

“It’s the height of indignities, Jeeves!” I exclaimed as the queue advanced. “I should be wearing a fake moustache and nose so no one will recognise me!”

“That would not improve the dearth of dignity, sir.”

“Perhaps, but being snookered by Aunt Agatha into escorting McIntosh,” I cast pity upon the Aberdeen terrier at the end of the lead, “to have his photograph taken with Father Christmas!”

“Yuletide spirit, sir?”

“Spiced mulled insanity. Well, nothing for it. Our turn. I can’t look. The horror!”


“All done?”

“Sir?”

“What?”

“Look!”

“By Jove, this Aberdeen isn’t ours! Kris Kringle’s snatched our pup!” 

Chapter Text

“Normally, Jeeves, I would balk at being anywhere other than England this time of year. Yuletide spirits, what?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But upon learning Aunt Agatha had me locked me into playing Father Christmas at the church treat and had cast the beazel she wants me marry as Mrs. Kringle, I saw the wisdom in your suggestion of putting an ocean between myself a traditional English Christmas. I mean, when it’s your own chestnuts about to be roasted on an open fire, well, it puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?”

“There is truth in what you say, sir.”

“And the islands are lovely this time of year.”

“They are, indeed, sir.”

We’d reached the final course in our picnic by the sea, the Caribbean blue sparkling just within reach.

“I say, Jeeves, what is the name of this most toothsome delicacy?”

“It is called red velvet cake, sir.”

“Red velvet, you say, well, that’s a bit of holly in the buttonhole if every I heard it!”

“It is the cocoa powder which gives the dessert a richer texture.”

“Bit of the old bubbly, Jeeves?” I asked, digging out the flutes.

“If you insist, sir.”

“Happy Christmas, Jeeves.”

“Happy Christmas.” 

Chapter Text

“I say, Jeeves, and I know I’ve said it before, but you are the goods, the very goods.”

“Thank you, sir. I am gratified to hear you say so.”

“I mean, I got—accidentally, through no fault whatsoever of my own, as a result of a complete misunderstanding and, as odd as it sounds, a saltshaker with a lid that wasn’t entirely screwed on correctly—betrothed to a beazel at lunch, and by teatime, the shackles were off, and it was all thanks to you and your size-10, fish-fed, bulging-in-the-back brain.”

“I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir. I am glad the situation could be remedied, to the benefit of all parties involved, with all due haste.”

“But how do you do it, Jeeves?”

“You’ll allow that during the course of my employment similar circumstances requiring similar outcomes arise at rather regular intervals.”

“Ah, it’s the ol’ ‘practice makes perfect’ song. I know that tune.”

“As you say, sir.”

“I practice getting accidentally engaged and you practice getting me deliberately un-engaged.”

“It is a point of view, sir.”

“But why doesn’t it work on getting rid of aunts? We do plenty of that.”

“Some forces of nature cannot be altered, sir.” 

Chapter Text

“Jeeves, I don’t know what today’s youth are coming to!”

“Difficult to say, sir.”

“The dewy Tulip professed a desire to engage in some ‘pillow talk.’”

“Oh, yes?”

“I’m an obliging cove, don’t you know? So, I got a downy cushion, cut it up myself, drew on a rather good likeness of Clara Bow and had her sing ‘Pale Hands I Loved Beside the Shalimar,’ but apparently that wasn’t what Tulip meant. Anyway, the engagement’s off. She said she was fearful for the mental aptitude of our offspring, and I can’t say I blame her.”

“It’s for the best, sir.”

Chapter Text

I heard a discreet cough like a sheep clearing its throat politely on a mountaintop.

“Sir?”

“Oh, hallo, Jeeves,” I responded joylessly. “Nice time at the pictures?”

“Yes, sir. I was given to understand that you did not require me for the night.” Jeeves shimmied into the living room and did his best impression of Genesis 1:3. And then there was light.

“Bugger-all rang up just after you left saying he couldn’t make it, so I ended up staying in.”

“Disappointing.”

“Yes, but not wholly unexpected given that his name is Bugger-all.”

“Is your cancelled engagement the source of your disquietude, sir, and your election to consume whiskey unaccompanied in your domicile in the darkness?”

“Not a bit of it, Jeeves. You should know by now that cancelled engagements are the serenade of seraphim and thingagummies to me. No, I stayed in and did a bit of this and that and then I read the evening paper.”

“That was most unwise, sir.”

Jeeves had said something, but I scarcely harkened it, stumbling along as I was on my own line of thought.

“Jeeves, do you know there is more to an evening paper than the Sport and Society pages? And the funnies and the crossword, of course.”

“There is not usually more to your evening paper, sir, because I take the liberty of removing the sections that might distress you.”

“I read the paper, Jeeves, and I learned there are a lot of horrible things happening in the world!”

“Yes, sir.”

“And a lot of horrible coves, too!”

“Yes, sir.”

“I haven’t a bally clue what to do about it all!”

“Would you care for a turn down service, sir?”

“Do you think it would help?”

“It might.”

“Very well.” I sighed at the relief of no longer nursing a secret sorrow.

Now, Jeeves’s turn down service is not like that of top shelf hotels. You can’t go to the Ritz or the Four Seasons and expect anything more than a plumped pillow with a chocolate on it. But, on occasion, Jeeves will take the role of pillow and I’m the bonbon and, well, he unwraps and then…damn, the metaphor breaks down.

What I mean to say is Jeeves coils his very efficient hand round the Wooster trouser snake and makes it shed its skin…wait, that’s also a rather disconcerting analogy, given all the sloughing and what not.

Call it what you will, I found myself in bed in a two-man toboggan position with Jeeves as anchor and his slicked fist on my rudder.

After the pride of the Woosters had shouted its hurrah, I turned to the keeper of my heart (and my wardrobe) and queried,

“What do you do, Jeeves, when the world gets to be too beastly for words?”

“I polish your silver, sir. I find the rhythm and the result effective remedies to despair.”

I looked down at the spent phallus and nodded. “I can see the parallel, Jeeves. Both heirloom.”

“Indeed, sir.” 

Chapter Text

“This heatwave, Jeeves, is there anything good coming of it? I suppose the laundress is rolling in the needful, seeing as how, due to an overabundance of persp, I’m going through five shirts a day!”
“Perhaps, this will improve your mood, sir. I just learned that owing to the risk of harm to the equine population, all racing events are postponed until further notice.”

“What?! The Derby’s cancelled?!”

“Postponed, sir.”

“But that means Aunt Dahilia’s wild gambling scheme falls to pieces!”

“Exactly, sir!”

“Put some more ice in the paddle pool, Jeeves, it’s time to celebrate!”

“Right you are, sir!”

Chapter Text

It was a fizzing hot day.

Jeeves and I were returning to London in the two-seater after an adventure of the usual sort: long weekend in the countryside with the requisite shenanigans and hijinks. We’d decided to stop in the village of Mere at a hotel for some cooling refreshment.

I’d taken my first sip of gin and ginger beer when from outside there came the roar of an engine.

“If I’m not mistaken, Jeeves…”

Jeeves had already risen to his feet and moved toward the window, distancing himself from the little table and discarding the bosom companion mantle for that of the proper gentleman’s gentleman.

“Yes, sir. A Super-Sports Dalmain.”

“The only chap I know who has, or who used to have, one of those is…”

The front door opened and in walked what might have been the model for one of those sculptor coves who like ‘em bronzed, fit, and chiseled.

“Bertie, you ol’ blighter, didn’t think I’d run into someone I knew in this out of the way spot!”

“What news on the Rialto, Tony?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. Fizzing hot day.” Anthony Marston folded himself into the chair opposite me in a manner that I know for certain is to the manor born and not made.

“You said it. This is my man, Jeeves.”

There was a glance and grunt in Jeeves’ direction, then a public school voice said, “Gin and ginger beer.”

Jeeves turned on his heel and took the request to the bar and if he was especially alive to class distinctions, it didn’t show.

“You’ve got your chariot back,” I observed, nodding toward the shiny machine beyond the window.

“Such a nuisance,” whined the young god, “that license suspension. But the road here in England are hopeless. Not like France where you really can let go.”

I made some noncommittal noises. Jeeves arrived with the drinks, murmured something, and silently floated away.

I nursed one drink in the time it took my companion to down a trio of the same. Conversation flowed along the normal lines, then Tony yawned and said he’d best be off.

He exited stage left in a ground-shaking roar.

“Excellent taste in automobiles,” I remarked when Jeeves took his former place.

“Indeed.”

I took a thoughtful sip.

“I must say I am pleased our journey takes us in the opposite direction of Mister Anthony Marston. He is a menace on the road, and I rather fancy my two-seater not wrapped around a tree.”

“I share your sentiments, sir.”

“Is there a chapter on him in the Ganymede Club book? Notes from his valet, butler, etcetera on behaviour unfitting?”

“Yes, sir,” said Jeeves. He added, “Egregious.”

I didn’t need a dictionary to tell me that meant ‘bad.’ I tilted the onion. “He killed two kids, Jeeves. All he got was a driver’s license suspended. I bet he doesn’t even remember their names.”

“The wheels of justice, sir.”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” I drained my glass, then frowned. “He’s headed to Soldier Island.”

Jeeves’ eyebrow almost quivered. “Indeed, sir? There’s been a lot about it in the papers.”

“But it’s strange. He said Badger Berkley invited him, and I know for a fact Badger’s in Oslo. Oofy got a postcard from him just the other day.”

“Perhaps the rumours about the actress Gabrielle Turl are true?” suggested Jeeves.

“I’m certain Tony would love the film lot. As debauched as he is.” I sighed a weary sigh. “But a young god, still, no? The kind Rocky Todd writes poems about. Like consequences can’t touch him.”

“Perhaps one day, soon, they will, sir.” 

Chapter Text

“Love’s young dream, what, Jeeves?”

“Indeed, sir.”

The couple before us made a picture postcard scene, standing together, wrapped up together, with eyes only for one another, as an imposing Gallic monument stood tall in the background.

“They say one story’s end is another beginning, Jeeves, and for once, I suppose they might be right. I mean to say, the story of our flight from an aunt’s wrath to The City of Lights; that business with the train; the misunderstanding with the baguette and the six bottles of wine; the proposal, which wasn’t a proposal at all, but that’s neither here nor there; the betrothal; the dissolution of same, merci beaucoup, Jeeves—”

“I’m glad to give satisfaction, sir.”

“—and, in the end, that picture postcard scene there, the reunion of the star-crossed, well, it’s the end of one story, and those two can waltz off into the sunset and begin another happier yarn, one which doesn’t include the pride of the Wooster in sponge bag trousers, what?”

“A salient point, sir.”

I couldn't see what boats had to do with it, but I forbore to say so.

“But, I mean to say,” I continued, and it was at this point that the leading man of the feature swept the y. m.’s most recent fiancée into his arms, dipped her like Fred Astaire, and kissed her squarely on the lips while the lights twinkled and the Arc arched triumphantly, “you have to admit, it is bally romantic, what?”

I sighed wistfully and, perhaps, mistfully because Jeeves popped the umbrella as he replied,

“I think we’d best be going, sir.”



I took notice of the late hour as Jeeves and I strolled. It was well past Cinderella hour, and the day’s events had taken their toll on the Wooster reserves. I was ready to call it a night.

The direction, too, began to give me pause.

“Jeeves, I love the Seine as much as the next chapeau, but I thought we were returning to the hotel.”

“A brief stop, sir, if you will be so kind. Inspired by the touching scene we just witnessed.”

Though not befuddled precisely, I was far from fuddled.

“We don’t need to buy the fish slice quite yet, do we? Surely it can wait until the morning.”

“If you will, sir.”



“Here, sir, this way.”

“Jeeves?”

Jeeves left me momentarily to converse with a fellow and, if I’m not mistaken, surreptitiously slip him a sizeable amount of the needful.

We were, I realised, at the feet of the most famous landmark in all of France.

Then Jeeves and I were through a gate and into a lift.

And then…

“I say, Jeeves! The view’s spectacular!”

“I couldn’t agree more, sir.”

And with that, Jeeves swept me into his arms, dipped me like Fred Astaire, and planted a kiss squarely on my lips while the City of Lights twinkled and the Eiffel, with us like grooms atop the wedding cake, towered.

“Love’s young dream!”

“Indeed, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Jeeves! I’m not hurt!” I cried.

I know Jeeves was cut to the quick because his eyebrow twitched for a whole eight seconds before he replied,

“I wish I would say the same for the state of your trousers, sir.”

I looked down and nodded.

“I know, there’s a good deal of dust down in the wine cellar, but trousers aside…”

Jeeves’ horror was something more felt than seen but it was there. Nevertheless, I persevered.

“Listen, Jeeves, I’m in a bit of situation. Not the kind about cats. I think drums enter into it.”

“A conundrum, sir?”

“Yes, that’s the baby! I’m in a conundrum.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“It is down in the cellar. Yes, yes, down in the cellar, I was looking for the Chateau d’Thinggummy 19-Whatever-Whaever that Aunt Dahlia wanted to have a table tonight with the toothsome ensemble Anatole has planned for us. It was a solo venture, but I was careful, mind you. I mean I’ve read my Poe as well as the next chappie. I mean to say, I was sober and on the alert for anyone who might want to trick me into being walled up.”

“Your concerns are alarming, sir. Pray continue.”

“Not half as alarming as what happened, Jeeves. I had a bit of a mishap, really, could’ve happened to anyone, probably, but well…”

“Yes?”

“The long and the short and the round of it is I’ve opened a portal to another dimension.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“The bad news is that it may be up to me to save the world, and by me, of course, I mean…”

“Us, sir?”

“Yes. The good news…”

“Yes?”

“…is that I found that pair of scissors you lost last week.”

Producing the pair of clippers did have the effect intended.

Jeeves almost smiled. “Well done, sir.”

Chapter Text

I once hauled up my gentleman's slacks when a chappie, who happened to be my bridge partner at the time, accused me of having a supercilious manner. At least, I think that was the word. At the time, I understood the gauntlet thrown to be something to do with Jeeves’ kindred spirit Mary Poppins, but Jeeves later explained that supercilious meant thinking you’re better than everyone else. Even so, I maintain my reaction stands. Bertram Wooster is not supercilious at all. I mean to say, can anyone who most regard as belonging in a glass house for the feeble-minded really toss stones? Or something to that effect. I think Aunt Agatha had paired me with the blighter in an effort to demonstrate what a dutiful nephew should be, but she should’ve known the lesson was wasted. I simply didn’t like the cove’s brand of tobacco and told him so while recommending the shop I frequent, and the other took unnecessary offense. Some will do that. Can’t be helped.

But this is all unnecessary preamble to the incident of the buzzing underpants.

“Jeeves!” I called after returning from that bromide of an evening. I was sore because I had been blackmailed into spending far too many hours playing bridge with Aunt Agatha and her passel of barbed-wired-next-the-skin cronies.

I’d gone to my room to rid myself of the raiment but quickly returned to the common areas with news from my Rialto.

“My underpants are buzzing, Jeeves!”

I must add here that Jeeves and I were not in London but rather on a kind of rural jaunt in the hinterlands, staying in a gamekeeper’s cottage oozing with bucolic charms.

“Indeed, sir?” responded Jeeves. “Most unsettling.”

“Can you do something about it?”

“Certainly, sir.”

It turned out what he could do was drop to his knees, make deft work on the front of my trousers, and proceed to give the pride of the Woosters a most glorious seeing-to.

When I could call my soul my own again, I gasped. “Fabulous, Jeeves. Really, you’ve out done yourself and out done me, but, and not to put too fine a point on it, it doesn’t really solve the case of the buzzing underpants.”

“No, sir?”

“I don’t mean these underpants; I mean the ones folded up in my wardrobe. They’re buzzing.”

Jeeves rose and followed me into the bedroom.

“Ah,” he said when the folded cotton began to vibrate. “Allow me, sir.”

“I always do, Jeeves.”

“If you will open that window, sir.”

It was the work of a moment to have the night air drifting in.

Jeeves carefully carried the garment to the window, then extending it into the exterior, shook it.

It was then that a big fat honeymaker escaped the confines of the gent’s unmentionable and took flight, no doubt to return to the hive and tell all its apiarian pals about the adventure he’d had.

“It had to be a drone, Jeeves. To get in a predicament like that. Super silly us.”

Chapter Text

“Jeeves! What are you doing here?”

That inestimable gentleman’s gentleman was kneeling before the hearth in the morning room. He sprang to his feet at once. “You required me, sir?”

“No, not really, but what with a death in the house, I was feeling a bit uneasy, but answer my question, what are you doing?”

“Flossie said yesterday afternoon her late mistress ordered a fire laid in this room, sir.”
“In this weather? I know it’s September, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature it’s time to cool things off a bit, what? I’m on my third clean collar, and it isn’t luncheon yet!”

“Precisely, sir.”

“The old lady was burning papers, I’ll bet. Important papers. That’s what happens in books.”

“You understand my curiosity, sir.”

“You’re doing a spot of amateur sleuthing!”

“You may call it that, sir.”

“I’m affronted! I’m offended! I’m far from gruntled!”

“Indeed, sir?”

“That you would go looking for clues without the y. m. cuts to the quick, Jeeves, to the quick!”

“I thought you were occupied with organising tomorrow’s cricket match.”

“As if cricket even compares to clue hunting!”

“Indeed, sir? I had no notion.”

“Well, now you do, let’s get at it!”

Chapter Text

When I could call my soul my own again, I felt the ground, and by ‘ground’ I mean the bricks, beneath me shift. There was a scraping noise that might have been thoroughly unsettling if I didn’t know it to be liberating in the literal sense of word.

Then there was a tapping, which I understood as a warning, followed by a careful but firm grip on my torso. I covered my face and head with my hands as I was dragged backwards.

“Sir.”

The concern in the tone was gratifying.

“Jeeves.”

My gentleman’s gentleman took me into his arms like a babe, and I made no protest.

When I found my voice, I said,

“I hope the stripling I sent to alert you of my predicament wasn’t witness to, uh, the preamble to the rescue.”

“He is a reliable young gentleman. I am doubtful he left the lookout post I assigned him, sir.”

“I don’t know, Jeeves. His mother did name him Oscar Wilde Blenkinsop.”

“True.” Jeeves’ lips twitched, and his eyes shone with mirth.

“I apologise for the state of my trousers, Jeeves.”

“I could offer the same apology, sir.”

It was my turn to smirk. I relaxed in his embrace. “So, Jeeves, you get word that the y. m. has—through no fault of his own, mind you, I want that noted for the record—”

“So noted.”  

“—got himself stuck in a wall in the old, abandoned wine cellar on the premises. Completely stuck. Unable to move, forwards or backwards. Like the lady sawed in half Head and shoulders on one side, knees and toes on the other, and your first instinct—”

“After I learned you were uninjured and not unduly distressed,” interjected Jeeves, adding a not-unwelcome press of his kisser to the Wooster crown.

“—was to perform high adulations on the hindquarters! Not that I’m complaining. I mean, flattery like that will get you, well, you know what it got you, but still, a bit unexpected, what? Not exactly on the menu, what? A la carte, as the French say, and they ought to know.”

“But, sir, even given your colourful history, you’ll allow it was an exceedingly singular, not to say rare, circumstance in which you found yourself?”

“Getting stuck in a wall isn’t anyone’s idea of routine, Jeeves. I mean, not even Winnie the Pooh or Peter Rabbit do it with frequency.”

“Just so. And given the unlikely prospect of it ever occurring again, I was compelled to take full advantage of the situation.”

“Is that what they’re calling it? I hope I don’t have to ask for a cushion at dinner.”

“You could ask for a tray in your room,” suggested Jeeves mildly.

“What, plead being overwrought by my ordeal?” I hummed. “There’s something in that. But would the weekend country house party believe that I was prostrate with nerves from being stuck in a wall in an old wine cellar? Perhaps. Oh, I bet Oscar Wilde will back me up!”

“In more ways than one,” quipped Jeeves dryly. “If you take your repast in your room, I will be free to apply appropriate remedies.”

“Tend to my needs as adroitly and expertly as ever?”

“I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir.”

“God, do you ever! Very good, Jeeves.” I began to untangle myself from his embrace and, with his assistance, got to my pins under me.

“Do you think we should fix it?” I asked, looking at the wall and the gaping Wooster-sized hole in it.

“We could.”

“No, on second thought, let’s leave it. Someone might...you know...”

 “As you say, sir.”

Chapter Text

“The American president Thomas Jefferson once wrote ‘The wealth acquired by speculation and plunder, is fugacious in its nature, and fills society with the spirit of gambling,’” remarked Jeeves as he and I stood on the balcony overlooking the casino floor.

I hummed. “I don’t suppose he had anything pithy to say about wealth acquired by the exploitation and enslavement of one’s fellow human beings.”

“If he did, I’m ignorant of it,” answered Jeeves. “But, speaking of the spirit of gambling,” he held up a chip. “I propose a wager, sir.”

I had an inkling of what the proposal would entail but noblesse oblige begged indulgent benevolence as well as feigned ignorance.

“I’ll entertain the proposal.”

“I shall take this down to that roulette table, and if I win, then the,” he coughed discreetly, “cape you are currently wearing will be donated to the deserving poor.”

“You really hate it, don’t you?” I plucked at the gold-fringed raiment. “I thought it gave some something of a sorcerer’s air. You know, man of mystery and all that.”

“Some mysteries are better left undiscovered, sir.”

“Very well. You’ve a deal. Now go press your luck. I’ll watch from here.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Chapter Text

You might think that my friend Rocky Todd, that poet chappie who lives a life so quiet and peaceful as to be trance-like in the wilds of Long Island, would be content. After he secured that allowance from his aunt in the affair I recorded for posterity in “The Aunt and The Sluggard,” you would think he would be happy to rest on his laurels for the natural life. In fact, you might suppose, as I did, that Rocky Todd would be precisely the kind of person the laurel inventor had envisioned when he set about his ground-breaking work.

You’d think Rocky was set for his whole, retired, tranquil snail-watching life. No more scribbling exhortations for young men to lead the strenuous life in unrhymed verse. No more wowing American magazine editors with classics like ‘Be!’ No more poems at all, even ones illustrated with photographs of half-nude coves bulging with muscles giving the dawn the glad eye!

You’d think there’ll be no more work for Rocky Todd.

And you’d be right. Mostly.

Rocky Todd didn’t work, but someone, a Rocky Todd enthusiast of the first order, thought it would be a corkin’ good idea to do an anthology of the sluggard’s works. And not just a pamphlet, like the kind Jimmy Munday hands out to entice sheep to his flock, no.

On my last visit, Rocky confessed himself that it was going to be large affair with glossy photos.

And the title?

Carpe Diem!

‘Seize the day’ was the leitmotif, if I may borrow the Gallic twice, of Rocky’s whole oeuvre.

Seize the day, well, yes, I mean, of course, notwithstanding the fact that Rocky Todd’s day usually started somewhere around half two in the afternoon and adjourned about four hours later with him never getting out of his flannel pajamas.

This last fact, by the way, is why Jeeves never joins me on my sojourns to Long Island. There are some horrors a man cannot force a gentleman’s gentleman to endure.

It was about a year after my last visit to New York that I received an unexpected parcel on my Berkley Mansions doorstep.

“Jeeves, whatever can this be?”

Jeeves was as puzzled as the y. m.

I slit open the box. Inside was a large tome, its title screaming from the cover in large print.

CARPE DIEM!

“JEEVES!”

“Sir!”

We were both arrested by the photograph on the cover. It was the back view of a nude chappie, crouching, muscles taut, haunches poised, ready to spring, to make a dive into the bucolic body of water in the background.

A certain mole at the top of the right thigh gave us both pause.

“Jeeves, I give you permission to state the obvious.”

“It’s you, sir.”

“Rocky must’ve taken it when he and I went for a bathe at that lake near his cottage last year. I didn’t know I’d be modeling! Or on the cover!”

“It’s flattering, sir.”

“A bit fruity, though.”

Jeeves made a noncommittal noise. He lifted the book from the box and began to flip through the pages while I pondered the meaning of it all.

“It appears that is the only likeness of you, sir.”

“That’s enough. Thank goodness they don’t show my face. I suppose they were looking for a more willowy figure. The usual illustrations for Rocky’s works are much beefier.”

“Shall we give it pride of place, sir?”

Jeeves and I exchanged significant glances.

“For a while,” I conceded. “Art is art, after all.”

Jeeves floated into the sitting room and placed the book in the centre of the table.

Chapter Text

“It was you, wasn’t it, Bertie?”

The accusatory glares of the gathered aunts, cousins, and other assorted dignitaries turned toward the pride of the Woosters.

“It wasn’t me!” I protested. “My alibi wears the proverbial iron shirt! I was in the park! Doing autumnal dances!” I improvised an encore, throwing up my hands and commencing a leaf-falling jig. “You know, like the poet Keats says, we are in the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,’ etcetera.”

I was fixed with a collective stare which was equal parts curious, incredulous, and professional, viz., assessing me for the correct size of Colney Hatch waistcoat.

By the time I’d finished a twirl, the party had moved on. Greener, less looney pastures, what?

Later that evening, Jeeves was assisting me in dressing for dinner.

“But, sir, it was you, wasn’t it?”

I was as flattered as Watson scoring one over on Sherlock Holmes

“Of course it was me! There aren’t many advantages to being the kind of fellow folks think ought to be in a home, but one of them is spewing the most ridiculous bilge and no one batting an eye.”

“Not negligible at all, sir.”

“Help me with this bally cuff, Jeeves.” 

Chapter Text

We rammed the door with the force that only a trio of gentlemen’s gentlemen who’ve been searching for their young masters can possess.

My anxieties vanished at the sight of my charge sitting placidly as if awaiting his breakfast tray. My companion valets could not say the same about their employers: one was curled in like a baby whimpering, and the other was propped against a wall in staring blankly.

“What ho, Jeeves!”

“Sir!”

“For the record, being trapped in a wax museum overnight is without its charms, especially when there’s a lunatic running about trying to frighten you out of your wits. And all because you voted ‘nay’ on his membership application for the Drones Club. Poor Bingo and Oofy. They’ve had it rough. Baxter’s in the closet, by the way, but I couldn’t find the keys on him, so here we are.”

Without words, I fell back on my training. “Yes, sir.” I helped my charge to his feet.

“Sorry about the trousers,” he said, brushing the heather tweed.

“It can be remedied, sir. I am gratified you maintained your equilibrium throughout the ordeal.”

“Well, it wasn’t like I was engaged to Baxter, was it?”

“Very true, sir.”

Chapter Text

I turned the last page of the book, read, then closed it and set it on the little table beside my armchair with a heavy sigh.

Jeeves, who knows my sighs like the back of his hand, oozed in with a b. and s. on a salver.

“Not to your liking, sir?” he asked, with a glance at the book.

“I don’t know, Jeeves. Rosie M. Banks usually delivers the goods, but this time, my suspenders of disbelief are to the snapping point.”

“Indeed, sir? How distressing for you.”

I hummed and took a ruminative sip of Ye Olde Elixir. “It’s the plot twist at the end. She wants me to believe that a gentleman’s gentleman, a valet, like yourself, has been in love with his employer’s wife for years without making the feelings known to the party of the second part, so to speak. That between the packing and unpacking, the ironing and studding of collars, the poor blighter’s been pining away. Never seeking another post, and never declaring his sentiments. And the employer, and the missus, are clueless. Do you think it could happen?”

“Difficult to say, sir.”

“Better open a window, Jeeves, you look a bit flushed.”