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Excerpt from

The Inimitable Jeeves  


- P. G. Wodehouse


Satire





'Morning, Jeeves,' I said.


'Good morning, sir,' said Jeeves.


He put the good old cup of tea softly on the table by my bed,and I took a refreshing sip. Just right, as usual. Not too hot, not too sweet, not too weak, not too strong, not too much milk, and not a drop spilled in the saucer. 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 room in the morning while I was still asleep, causing much misery: but Jeeves seems to know when I'm awake by a sort of telepathy. He always floats in with the cup exactly two minutes after I come to life. Makes a deuce of a lot of difference to a fellow's day.


'How's the weather, Jeeves?'


'Exceptionally clement, sir.'


'Anything in the papers?'


'Some slight friction threatening in the Balkans, sir. Otherwise, nothing.'


'I say, Jeeves, a man I met at the club last night told me to put my shirt on Privateer for the two o'clock race this afternoon. How about it?'


'I should not advocate it, sir. The stable is not sanguine.'


That was enough for me. Jeeves knows. How, I couldn't say, but he knows. There was a time when I would laugh lightly, and go ahead, and lose my little all against his advice, but not now.


'Talking of shirts,' I said, 'have those mauve ones I ordered arrived yet?'


'Yes, sir. I sent them back.'


'Sent them back?'


'Yes, sir. They would not have become you.'


Well, I must say I'd thought fairly highly of those shirtings, but I bowed to superior knowledge. Weak? I don't know. Most fellows, no doubt, are all for having their valets confine their activities to creasing trousers and what not without trying to run the home; but it's different with Jeeves. Right from the first day he came to me, I have looked on him as a sort of guide, philosopher, and friend.


'Mr Little rang up on the telephone a few moments ago, sir. I informed him that you were not yet awake.'


'Did he leave a message?'


'No, sir. He mentioned that he had a matter of importance to discuss with you, but confided no details.'


'Oh, well, I expect I shall be seeing him at the club.'


'No doubt, sir.'


I wasn't what you might call in a fever of impatience. Bingo Little is a chap I was at school with, and we see a lot of each other still. He's the nephew of old Mortimer Little, who retired from business recently with a goodish pile. (You've probably heard of Little's Liniment - It Limbers Up the Legs.) Bingo biffs about London on a pretty comfortable allowance given him by his uncle, and leads on the whole a fairly unclouded life. It wasn't likely that anything which he described as a matter of importance would turn out to be really so frightfully important. I took it that he had discovered some new brand of cigarette which he wanted me to try, or something like that, and didn't spoil my breakfast by worrying.


After breakfast I lit a cigarette and went to the open window to inspect the day. It certainly was one of the best and brightest.


'Jeeves,' I said.


'Sir?' said Jeeves. He had been clearing away the breakfast things, but at the sound of the young master's voice cheesed it courteously.


'You were absolutely right about the weather. It is a juicy morning.'


'Decidedly, sir.'


'Spring and all that.'


'Yes, sir.'


'In the spring, Jeeves, a livelier iris gleams upon the burnished dove.'


'So I have been informed, sir.'


'Right ho! Then bring me my whangee, my yellowest shoes, and the old green Homburg. I'm going into the Park to do pastoral dances.'


I don't know if you know that sort of feeling you get on these days round about the end of April and the beginning of May, when the sky's a light blue, with cotton-wool clouds, and there's a bit of a breeze blowing from the west? Kind of uplifted feeling.


Romantic, if you know what I mean. I'm not much of a ladies' man, but on this particular morning it seemed to me that what I really wanted was some charming girl to buzz up and ask me to save her from assassins or something. So that it was a bit of an anti-climax when I merely ran into young Bingo Little, looking perfectly foul in a crimson satin tie decorated with horseshoes.


'Hallo, Bertie,' said Bingo.


'My God, man!' I gargled. 'The cravat! The gent's neckwear! Why? For what reason?'


'Oh, the tie?' He blushed. 'I - er - I was given it.'


He seemed embarrassed, so I dropped the subject. We toddled along a bit, and sat down on a couple of chairs by the Serpentine.


'Jeeves tells me you want to talk to me about something,' I said.


'Eh?' said Bingo, with a start. 'Oh yes, yes. Yes.'


I waited for him to unleash the topic of the day, but he didn't seem to want to get along. Conversation languished. He stared straight ahead of him in a glassy sort of manner.


'I say, Bertie,' he said, after a pause of about an hour and a quarter.


'Hallo!'


'Do you like the name Mabel?'


'No.'


'No?'


'No.'


'You don't think there's a kind of music in the word, like the wind rustling gently through the tree-tops?'


'No.'


He seemed disappointed for a moment; then cheered up.


'Of course, you wouldn't. You always were a fat-headed worm without any soul, weren't you?'


'Just as you say. Who is she? Tell me all.'


For I realized now that poor old Bingo was going through it once again. Ever since I have known him - and we were at school together - he has been perpetually falling in love with someone, generally in the spring, which seems to act on him like magic.


At school he had the finest collection of actresses' photographs of anyone of his time; and at Oxford his romantic nature was a byword.


'You'd better come along and meet her at lunch,' he said, looking at his watch.


'A ripe suggestion,' I said. 'Where are you meeting her? At the Ritz?'


'Near the Ritz.'


He was geographically accurate. About fifty yards east of the Ritz there is one of those blighted tea-and-bun shops you see dotted about all over London, and into this, if you'll believe me, young Bingo dived like a homing rabbit; and before I had time to say a word we were wedged in at a table, on the brink of a silent pool of coffee left there by an early luncher.


I'm bound to say I couldn't quite follow the development of the scenario. Bingo, while not absolutely rolling in the stuff, has always had a fair amount of the ready. Apart from what he got from his uncle, I knew that he had finished up the jumping season well on the right side of the ledger. Why, then, was he lunching the girl at this God-forsaken eatery? It couldn't be because he was hard up.


Just then the waitress arrived. Rather a pretty girl.


'Aren't we going to wait--?' I started to say to Bingo, thinking it somewhat thick that, in addition to asking a girl to lunch with him in a place like this, he should fling himself on the foodstuffs before she turned up, when I caught sight of his face, and stopped.


The man was goggling. His entire map was suffused with a rich blush. He looked like the Soul's Awakening done in pink.


'Hullo, Mabel!' he said, with a sort of gulp.


'Hallo!' said the girl.


'Mabel,' said Bingo, 'this is Bertie Wooster, a pal of mine.'


'Pleased to meet you,' she said. 'Nice morning.'


'Fine,' I said.


You see I'm wearing the tie,' said Bingo.


It suits you beautiful,' said the girl.


Personally, if anyone had told me that a tie like that suited me, I should have risen and struck them on the mazzard, regardless of their age and sex; but poor old Bingo simply got all flustered with gratification, and smirked in the most gruesome manner. 'Well, what's it going to be today?' asked the girl, introducing the business touch into the conversation.


Bingo studied the menu devoutly.


'I'll have a cup of cocoa, cold veal and ham pie, slice of fruit cake, and a macaroon. Same for you, Bertie?'


I gazed at the man, revolted. That he could have been a pal of mine all these years and think me capable of insulting the old tum with this sort of stuff cut me to the quick.


'Or how about a bit of hot steak-pudding, with a sparkling limado to wash it down?' said Bingo.


You know, the way love can change a fellow is really frightful to contemplate. This chappie before me, who spoke in that absolutely careless way of macaroons and limado, was the man I had seen in happier days telling the head-waiter at Claridge's exactly how he wanted the chef to prepare the sole frite au gourmet aux champignons, and saying he would jolly well sling it back if it wasn't just right. Ghastly! Ghastly!






About the book:


The Inimitable Jeeves is a fun light read of 18 short stories with a common thread.Our heroes are the simple and good at heart Bertie Wooster and his intelligent and supremely marvellous valet Jeeves. The stories concern Bingo's amours, for which, as a dutiful friend, Bertie lands himself in troubles at every turn.


Wodehouse's ability to make the readers cackle and guffaw like innocent children using just the written word is nothing short of miraculous. Even the most depressed individual will split his sides laughing, if he ever has the good fortune to lay his hands on a Wodehouse book.




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