THE AUNT AND THE SLUGGARD
by P. G. Wodehouse
... continued ...
I didn't get it for the moment; then it hit me.
"What! Here?" I gurgled.
"Certainly! Where else should I go?"
The full horror of the situation rolled over me like a wave. I couldn't
see what on earth I was to do. I couldn't explain that this wasn't
Rocky's flat without giving the poor old chap away hopelessly, because
she would then ask me where he did live, and then he would be right in
the soup. I was trying to induce the old bean to recover from the shock
and produce some results when she spoke again.
"Will you kindly tell my nephew's man-servant to prepare my room? I
wish to lie down."
"Your nephew's man-servant?"
"The man you call Jeeves. If Rockmetteller has gone for an automobile
ride, there is no need for you to wait for him. He will naturally wish
to be alone with me when he returns."
I found myself tottering out of the room. The thing was too much for
me. I crept into Jeeves's den.
"Jeeves!" I whispered.
"Mix me a b.-and-s., Jeeves. I feel weak."
"Very good, sir."
"This is getting thicker every minute, Jeeves."
"She thinks you're Mr. Todd's man. She thinks the whole place is his,
and everything in it. I don't see what you're to do, except stay on and
keep it up. We can't say anything or she'll get on to the whole thing,
and I don't want to let Mr. Todd down. By the way, Jeeves, she wants
you to prepare her bed."
He looked wounded.
"It is hardly my place, sir----"
"I know--I know. But do it as a personal favour to me. If you come to
that, it's hardly my place to be flung out of the flat like this and
have to go to an hotel, what?"
"Is it your intention to go to an hotel, sir? What will you do for
"Good Lord! I hadn't thought of that. Can you put a few things in a bag
when she isn't looking, and sneak them down to me at the St. Aurea?"
"I will endeavour to do so, sir."
"Well, I don't think there's anything more, is there? Tell Mr. Todd
where I am when he gets here."
"Very good, sir."
I looked round the place. The moment of parting had come. I felt sad.
The whole thing reminded me of one of those melodramas where they drive
chappies out of the old homestead into the snow.
"Good-bye, Jeeves," I said.
And I staggered out.
* * * * *
You know, I rather think I agree with those poet-and-philosopher
Johnnies who insist that a fellow ought to be devilish pleased if he
has a bit of trouble. All that stuff about being refined by suffering,
you know. Suffering does give a chap a sort of broader and more
sympathetic outlook. It helps you to understand other people's
misfortunes if you've been through the same thing yourself.
As I stood in my lonely bedroom at the hotel, trying to tie my white
tie myself, it struck me for the first time that there must be whole
squads of chappies in the world who had to get along without a man to
look after them. I'd always thought of Jeeves as a kind of natural
phenomenon; but, by Jove! of course, when you come to think of it,
there must be quite a lot of fellows who have to press their own
clothes themselves and haven't got anybody to bring them tea in the
morning, and so on. It was rather a solemn thought, don't you know. I
mean to say, ever since then I've been able to appreciate the frightful
privations the poor have to stick.
I got dressed somehow. Jeeves hadn't forgotten a thing in his packing.
Everything was there, down to the final stud. I'm not sure this didn't
make me feel worse. It kind of deepened the pathos. It was like what
somebody or other wrote about the touch of a vanished hand.
I had a bit of dinner somewhere and went to a show of some kind; but
nothing seemed to make any difference. I simply hadn't the heart to go
on to supper anywhere. I just sucked down a whisky-and-soda in the
hotel smoking-room and went straight up to bed. I don't know when I've
felt so rotten. Somehow I found myself moving about the room softly, as
if there had been a death in the family. If I had anybody to talk to I
should have talked in a whisper; in fact, when the telephone-bell rang
I answered in such a sad, hushed voice that the fellow at the other end
of the wire said "Halloa!" five times, thinking he hadn't got me.
It was Rocky. The poor old scout was deeply agitated.
... to be continued ...