You know, the longer I live, the more clearly I see that half the trouble in this bally world is caused by the light-hearted and thoughtless way in which chappies dash off letters of introduction and hand them to other chappies to deliver to chappies of the third part. It's one of those things that make you wish you were living in the Stone Age. What I mean to say is, if a fellow in those days wanted to give anyone a letter of introduction, he had to spend a month or so carving it on a large-sized boulder, and the chances were that the other chappie got so sick of lugging the thing round in the hot sun that he dropped it after the first mile. But nowadays it's so easy to write letters of introduction that everybody does it without a second thought, with the result that some perfectly harmless cove like myself gets in the soup.
Mark you, all the above is what you might call the result of my riper experience. I don't mind admitting that in the first flush of the thing, so to speak, when Jeeves told me - this would be about three weeks after I'd landed in America - that a blighter called Cyril Bassington-Bassington had arrived and I found that he had brought a letter of introduction to me from Aunt Agatha . . . where was I? Oh, yes . . . I don't mind admitting, I was saying, that just at first I was rather bucked. You see, after the painful events which had resulted in my leaving England I hadn't expected to get any sort of letter from Aunt Agatha which would pass the censor, so to speak. And it was a pleasant surprise to open this one and find it almost civil. Chilly, perhaps, in parts, but on the whole quite tolerably polite. I looked on the thing as a hopeful sign. Sort of olive branch, you know. Or do I mean orange blossom? What I'm getting at is that the fact that Aunt Agatha was writing to me without calling me names seemed, more or less, like a step in the direction of peace.
And I was all for peace, and that right speedily. I'm not saying a word against New York, mind you. I liked the place, and was having quite a ripe time there. But the fact remains that a fellow who's been used to London all his life does get a trifle homesick on a foreign strand, and I wanted to pop back to the cosy old flat in Berkeley Street - which could only be done when Aunt Agatha had simmered down and got over the Glossop episode. I know that London is a biggish city, but, believe me, it isn't half big enough for any fellow to live in with Aunt Agatha when she's after him with the old hatchet. And so I'm bound to say I looked on this chump Bassington-Bassington, when he arrived, more or less as a Dove of Peace, and was all for him.
He would seem from contemporary accounts to have blown in one morning at seven forty-five, that being the ghastly sort of hour they shoot you off the liner in New York. He was given the respectful raspberry by Jeeves, and told to try again about three hours later, when there would be a sporting chance of my having sprung from my bed with a glad cry to welcome another day and all that sort of thing. Which was rather decent of Jeeves, by the way, for it so happened that there was a slight estrangement, a touch of coldness, a bit of a row in other words, between us at the moment because of some rather priceless purple socks which I was wearing against his wishes: and a lesser man might easily have snatched at the chance of getting back at me a bit by loosing Cyril into my bedchamber at a moment when I couldn't have stood a two-minutes' conversation with my dearest pal. For until I have had my early cup of tea and have brooded on life for a bit absolutely undisturbed, I'm not much of a lad for the merry chit-chat.
So Jeeves very sportingly shot Cyril out into the crisp morning air, and didn't let me know of his existence till he brought his card in with the Bohea.
'And what might all this be, Jeeves?' I said, giving the thing the glassy gaze.
'The gentleman has arrived from England, I understand, sir. He called to see you earlier in the day.'
'Good Lord, Jeeves! You don't mean to say the day starts earlier than this?
'He desired me to say he would return later, sir.'
'I've never heard of him. Have you ever head of him, Jeeves?'
'I am familiar with the name Bassington-Bassington, sir. There are three branches of the Bassington-Bassington family - the Shropshire Bassington-Bassingtons, the Hampshire Bassington-Bassingtons, and the Kent Bassington-Bassingtons.'
'England seems pretty well stocked up with Bassington-Bassingtons.'
Tolerably so, sir.'
'No chance of a sudden shortage, I mean, what?'
'Presumably not, sir.'
'And what sort of a specimen is this one?'
'I could not say, sir, on such short acquaintance.'
'Will you give me a sporting two to one, Jeeves, judging from what you have seen of him, that this chappie is not a blighter or an excrescence?'
'No, sir. I should not care to venture such liberal odds.'
'I knew it. Well, the only thing that remains to be discovered is what kind of a blighter he is.'
'Time will tell, sir. The gentleman brought a letter for you, sir.'
'Oh, he did, did he?' I said, and grasped the communication. And then I recognized the handwriting. 'I say, Jeeves, this is from my Aunt Agatha!'
'Don't dismiss it in that light way. Don't you see what this means? She says she wants me to look after this excrescence while he's in New York. By Jove, Jeeves, if I only fawn on him a bit, so that he sends back a favourable report to headquarters, I may yet be able to get back to England in time for Goodwood. Now is certainly the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party, Jeeves. We must rally round and cosset this cove in no uncertain manner.'
'He isn't going to stay in New York long,' I said, taking another look at the letter. 'He's headed for Washington. Going to give the nibs there the once-over, apparently, before taking a whirl at the Diplomatic Service. I should say that we can win this lad's esteem and affection with a lunch and a couple of dinners, what?'
'I fancy that should be entirely adequate, sir.'
'This is the jolliest thing that's happened since we left England. It looks to me as if the sun were breaking through the clouds.'
'Very possibly, sir.'
He started to put out my things, and there was an awkward sort of silence.
'Not those socks, Jeeves,' I said, gulping a bit but having a dash at the careless, off-hand tone. 'Give me the purple ones.'
'I beg your pardon, sir?'
'Those jolly purple ones.'
'Very good, sir.'
He lugged them out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of the salad. You could see he was feeling deeply. Deuced painful and all that, this sort of thing, but a chappie has got to assert himself every now and then. Absolutely.
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.
Snippet from The Buried Giant
- Kazuo Ishiguro
Snippet from The Girl on the Train
- Paula Hawkins