I’ve been reading this one at cons for a few years now, and figured I’d share. It’s silly. Enjoy!
“I say, Jeeves, Gussie and the fellows in the main lodge seem to be having one hell of a smashing party,” I said to the old fellow as I came in from my walk, positively encrusted in the cold white.
“Yes, sir,” he said, brushing the snow off me.
“Do you know, they spelled out ELP on their roof in fire? What is ELP, Jeeves, Swedish, do you think? Maybe a kind of newt? Gussie’s mad about newts.”
“I believe sir may be thinking of efts. No, I’m rather inclined to believe that their ‘H’ went out, sir.”
“Ah,” I said.
“Oh!” I said. “Do you suppose we ought to dash up there and have a look-round?”
“I had anticipated such a venture, sir, and am provisioned accordingly. Will sir be requiring anything before we depart?”
I was, as it happened. I’d been peering around our beastly little cabin looking for one item in particular: a rather dashing magenta kerchief that I’d bought for a song just the week prior. Jeeves disapproved of it, I’m afraid, even went so far as hiding it, but even so fetched it for me. He held it out rather like a dead toad, but I pretended not to notice as I fastened it about my neck in a jaunty fashion, and off we went.
The discerning reader may be wondering just what on this Earth could bring one Bertram Wooster and his faithful valet up to the wilds of Scotland in the middle of a snowstorm, and I’m just about to tell you. You see, my old chum Gussie Fink-Nottle is engaged to be married to Madeleine Bassington, she the proud owner of some ghastly enormous poodle or wolfhound or other. It’s the sort of beast that gets trotted out at the Kennel Club and wins just pots of awards. Well, dear Madeleine asked her darling fiancé if he would take care of this pup of hers for a fortnight or five while she went to New York and scouted out the perfect doggie husband for the beastly thing.
Now, between you and me and Jeeves, Gussie Fink-Nottle is entirely at sea with any vertebrate larger than a newt, of which he is uncommonly fond. At the end of the day, sad to relate, the poor fellow found that the beast had gotten herself in the family way, if you catch my meaning, after escaping into the wilds for a week-end. And wouldn’t you know it, just about the time this dog is scheduled to have her pups, Gussie gets a telegram telling him that dearest Madeleine is on her way back across the pond!
That was quite the pickle, but Jeeves—cracking fellow, Jeeves, frightfully good at this sort of conundrum—proposed an outing to whisk us all conveniently away before Bassington set next her foot upon these hallowed shores. Sir Roderick Spode, a frightful fellow unless you knew how to handle him, had been prevailed upon to let us accompany him to Scotland and Tuppy Glossop was mixed up in it too somehow. Anyhow, Jeeves had all that sorted out in that remarkable brain of his in a way that didn’t seem likely to end with me engaged to Madeleine or held on charges, so that’s all right. As for myself, I’d been having a frankly miserable time out here, but dash it all, one’s got to support his friends if he’s to hold his head up high at the club.
Which is all to say, that’s how I happened to find myself bundled up like Captain Scott and trudging up a snow-laden hill to the main lodge where Gussie, Tuppy, Barmy, and Roderick Spode were holed up to wait out the white and the production of new hounds. The front door waited open to us.
“Bertie! Is that you? Is it really you?”
I responded in the affirmative, and mentioned in an off-hand way that Jeeves was along, news that was seized upon by the speaker, one Tuppy Glossop who, I must sadly relate, had apparently been imbibing freely.
“Jeeves! Thank Heavens! You’re just who we need.”
“Indeed, sir. What seems to be the trouble, sir?”
Poor Tuppy managed through a remarkable imitation of a wounded pigeon to usher us into the warm and d.
“It’s the dog, Jeeves.”
“Oh dear. Am I to understand, sir, that the whelping has not gone well?”
“Well! Well?” Tuppy laughed like a hiccough. “No, Jeeves, it hasn’t gone well at all.”
Jeeves and I paid close attention as a seriously soused Glossop tried his best to narrate. Part the first was as clear as you like: the dog made doggie noises so that they all had the idea that the pups were forthcoming. They prevailed upon the hearty Scot who kept this lodge to do the honors, as it were. Blankets were fetched, water was boiled to some unfathomable purpose, and the mother-to-be confined in a nearby shed.
Part the second is where things got a mite unclear — confused, even, not to disparage old Glossop’s skills as a raconteur — but apparently the mum-to-be took a nip at the old Scotch cove.
“I am led to believe, sir, that a certain amount of defensiveness is to be expected during a whelping. I do hope Mr. MacGregor did not take it too badly.”
“Badly!” Tuppy seemed to find that the funniest thing in the world, though I confess I didn’t quite get the joke. I suppose there was some crude humor in it — haha, Scots getting bit by dogs! But Tuppy seemed to veer rather more toward the hysterical than even that amusing thought would seem to warrant.
I felt a bit of good Wooster sense was called for. “Steady on, Tuppy. Just how much have you tossed down the old gullet? These Scotch do like their hooch on the strong side—”
Tuppy leapt to his feat in a rather un-Glossop-like display of athleticism and seized my lapels. “I hadn’t had a drop, Bertie, I swear. I was sober as a church mouse. Jeeves, you have to believe me. That dog took his hands clear off. Its— Its— ” he waved at his burgeoning middle. He must be upset to call attention to it after my cousin Angela had accused him of putting on a half stone. “Teeth, Jeeves, teeth!”
That was all the poor blighter could manage before going right off his onion. I looked to Jeeves, whose fizzog had a grave cast indeed.
“I think, sir, that it would be prudent to check in on Mr. MacGregor.”
The lodge was downright hollow: no sign of Gussie Fink-Nottle or anyone else who could lend a hand searching. But we did locate the Scotch chappie, poor sod. He lay in bed, looking rather like one of those Egyptian biffs with all the bandages, only MacGregor’s were just around the hands, you see, a big wodge of red bandages at the end of each beefy arm.
Jeeves tutted and set to tidying them up. He loosened them a tad before winding them up nice and tight and neat, and I dare say I haven’t seen Jeeves so pale since I came home with that straw hat of mine. That time, he didn’t quite regain his full Jeeves-y composure until I graciously agreed to hand the thing over to be burned.
“Mr. MacGregor appears to have succumbed to his wounds, sir.”
“Oh.” I clapped hand to mouth. “Oh, I say. That’s… well, `rum’ isn’t the word, is it? It’s positively awful.”
We paid the poor fellow a moment of silence.
“I do believe, sir, that as scarce as it is to credit, Mr. Glossop may not have exaggerated.”
I fair boggled. “You mean, that dog of Madeleine’s took his gloves off?”
“Indeed sir. Or rather, something did, sir.”
We found ourselves a Fink-Nottle. Or rather, the nervous blighter found us whilst peering around one of the back entrances to the lodge. “Did you see it, Bertie? Jeeves?”
“Sorry, Gussie old chum, we’ve been looking for you, in fact.”
Gussie wagged his head and pointed to an avenue of altogether misshaped footprints in the snow. “It just came this way.” He stopped, looking a little dazed. “Oh, I guess not. Or you would have said yes.”
He pushed past us in rather a sprightly fashion — I wouldn’t have thought the newt-fancier quite capable of that sort of energy. Jeeves looked rather put out by the pushing and tried to arrest the fellow’s forward momentum, as it were.
“Excuse me, sir, but do you think that entirely wise?”
“I’ve got to find that dog, Jeeves! Madeleine will kill me!” Tuppy caught up to us three, looking a bit more sober than before and wearing a greatcoat.
“Indeed, sir, but perhaps the canine in question is a more present danger than Miss Bassington?”
Dazed, Gussie sort of swiveled. “I can’t— you’ll just have to help me.”
“You’re barmy,” Tuppy snorted.
“That reminds me,” I told Tuppy, “Where is old Barmy anyway?” Referring, of course, to our bosom chum Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps.
“He went to take the motorcycle down into the village, to see about getting help if they hadn’t seen our sign.” A troubled look crossed his brow. “He was supposed to go get you and Jeeves first. He didn’t?”
“Not that I noticed,” I said. “What about Spode? Is he skulking about?”
“Him.” Tuppy’s humor failed to improve. “That blighter ran off the minute it all happened. With a nasty look in his eye, too.” Having known Roderick Spode, I should have thought that the aforementioned nasty look was his eye.
Jeeves coughed. “I believe, sirs, that Mr. Fink-Nottle has taken advantage of our distraction.”
He’d scarpered! Fortunately for us, we were able to follow the sound of his trudging through the snow. And as luck would have it, there was the pup in question! I’m not one for the hounds myself, I admit, but she seemed not a beast to trifle with at that particular tick-tock: She stood her ground in a clearing in the snow, just sort of growling at us. Gussie wavered nearby, looking altogether at sea.
And then from behind me: kaBOOM! My ears rang like I’d been standing next to a gong, and the dog flew back. Or, part of it did: its hindquarters sort of erupted, as it were. I staggered, and turned to see Tuppy, white as a ghost and clutching an enormous shotgun. He fired again, though this time I had warning enough to clap hands over ears.
Gussie was despondent, positively on his knees and weeping. Tuppy didn’t object in the slightest when Jeeves removed the gun from his trembling mitts and handed it to me. The dog— well, blast me if I can find a good way to describe that dog. It wasn’t dead, that was for certain. The front half sort of grew a new back half and was off into the snow like a hare or something. One of the hound’s legs sort of sprouted its own legs and dashed about in little circles.
We all watched the spectacle dumbfounded until the performers had finally shown themselves off into the snow.
“Sir,” Jeeves broke the abominable silence at long last, “I am entirely certain that the dog in question was, shall we say, actually a dog before we left.”
I wasn’t entirely sure what to say to that, so I changed the subject to what seemed to me a rather more immediate danger. “Where did you get this shotgun, Tuppy?” I inquired politely, in case he’d secreted another about his rotund person.
He stared at me like I was some kind of an idiot. “It’s a hunting lodge, Bertie. Got to have guns.” He frowned down at the one in my hands. “I’d better get another one and hope it’s loaded.” He disappeared back into the lodge, and we followed.
“I am unsure how to say this, sir. I believe that I am at fault for this turn of events.”
“What’s that? Nonsense, Jeeves, these things just happen. Birds and bees and happenstance and all that.”
“Thank you sir, but I mean that I had contrived to bring everyone together to this lodge, suspecting by the farmer’s almanack that there would be an early snow. By that I intended to ensure that the dog would have its pups well away from Miss Madeleine’s eyes, but also to ensure that you re-entered your Aunt’s good graces and possibly even effect a reconciliation between Sir Roderick and Mr. Glossop, and…” I do believe the poor fellow choked up a bit there. “It’s very convoluted, sir. My plans have always worked as intended in the past, you understand, and I didn’t foresee any problems of this kind with this one. I am very, very sorry, sir.”
I felt an intense pity for my valet just then. “I say, Jeeves, think nothing of it. No man is perfect. It’s true that we’ve relied on the Jeeves brain from time to time to get us out of the occasional jam, but we’ve got the Wooster brain on the matter now, so buck up!”
Jeeves is not the sort to display emotion, even after such a rousing speech as mine, but I do believe I saw the beginnings of a smile just then, just a bit of a twitch. We joined Tuppy and Gussie in the entrance hall, where the great fire was only just dying down a bit. Jeeves stole over to the hearth and bunged something in. Tuppy was going through the firearms that had decorated the walls. A fair few lay scattered on the floor, looking for all the world bereft of ammunition.
“Excuse me, sirs.” Jeeves had all ears on him: friends, Romans, and countrymen alike, believe you me! “We appear to have encountered a creature capable of mimicking the shapes of others. It has taken the shape of a dog that has been with us for a great many weeks now. Such a creature could conceivably take the shape of one of us as well.” Bally well informed, I should say Jeeves was. That certainly did seem to be the case to me.
“It would behoove us,” and here my estimable man’s man coughed. “To determine whether any of us are not what we appear to be.”
“Do you mean to say, Jeeves,” Tuppy said, “that one of us might not be us?”
“I feel like me,” spake the Fink-Nottle, feeling at his proud chest with both hands. He gave Jeeves a look of alarm. “Aren’t I me? I’m not Bertie, anyway, I think I’d notice that.”
“You are undoubtedly you, sir. The question is whether you are also Augustus Fink-Nottle.”
“Oh.” He looked relieved, and then more alarmed than ever. Jeeves sailed on.
“I believe I have observed a phenomenon that may of be use to us. Apparently this… thing is rather more divisible than one would expect. If you recall, the leg of the unfortunate dog moved of its own accord, even after being severed from its body.” We all shuddered at that. “My surmise is that this divisibility may allow us to identify it.”
“At the risk of being thought obtuse,” I started with care. (“Too late,” grumbled Tuppy.) “Do you propose to chop bits of us off and see if they wiggle?”
“Oh no, sir. I believe that a more subtle test will suffice. Observe.”
From the pocket of his scrupulously clean jacket, Jeeves removed a little tin. He crossed the room to the fireplace where the cheery little blaze still crackled. From the fire he plucked a hot iron.
“The tin contains a small sample of the erstwhile dog,” Jeeves explained as he unlidded the container. “I took the liberty of acquiring it in the hopes that it would prove useful.” We all peered in. It didn’t look like much, I thought, just a purple gummy gob like a cross between a slug and a boiled sweet. I reached out a finger, but Jeeves took the tin firmly away.
“I would not advise that, sir. We do not know exactly how this creature operates.” He placed it on the stone floor.
Jeeves thrust the red-hot poker into the tin, looking for all the world like King George slaying that bally dragon of his. A great cloud of steam puffed out and there was an awful sort of squealing noise like a skidding roadster with bald tyres. Gussie cringed with his hands over his ears. Tuppy and Jeeves didn’t seem to hear it at all, they just stared into the tin where that purple boiled-sweet slug thing was making all kinds of contortions, waving little fronds of something or other about. The d—ned thing seemed liable to leap right out of the tin.
That went on for rather too long before Jeeves spared the rod, as it were. He replaced the iron in the fire and took a fresh tin from on top the mantle.
Gussy pulled at his collar. “I hope you’re not planning on doing that to us. I— I scar easily.”
“Oh no, sir, even that should scarcely be necessary. Only a little blood should be required.”
I must say, I didn’t much like the sound of that either! Jeeves unbuttoned his left cuff and actually demonstrated several whole inches of bare forearm. He produced a wicked-looking instrument, which he anon thrust into his skin, drawing a couple drops of the red stuff. He positioned the tin to catch a goodly dash of the old hemoglobin: drip, drip, drip until a rather alarming quantity had glugged in.
In went the poker, hot as blazes, and there was a great crackle and burst of steam — but none of that thrashing and wriggling that we’d seen prior, and certainly none of that awful racket.
“Well,” I said, “That cracking well proves it. Jeeves, old boy, you’re as human as they come and no doubt about it.”
“Indeed, sir, thank you sir, it’s most kind of you to say so. I do hope that sir will not find it amiss if sir is next.”
Jeeves raised that great sharp pigsticker so the light glinted nastily off its tip, and I found that I required a sit-down rather urgently.
I woke dripping wet, freezing cold, and spluttering.
“Is he awake?” My vision filled with Fink-Nottle. “I don’t think he’s awake, maybe you should slap him.”
“I’m awake!” I pronounced. “Was I attacked? Did I fight them all off?”
Tuppy snorted. “You fainted.” He tossed away an empty bucket.
I protested: a Wooster does not faint, even in the most trying of circumstances, not even when presented with a great shining saber… I sank back onto the chesterfield.
“I am afraid it’s true, sir.” Jeeves’s look of concern was positively touching, but I didn’t care to think what he held behind his back.
I felt about my neck, finding it startlingly bare. My jaunty magenta kerchief had been kerchief-napped! Having the decency to look just a bit bashful, Jeeves admitted he’d untied it to allow me a bit of air. I was mindful of the fact that Jeeves had resigned the service of Lord Worplesdon over the matter of the old fellow’s preference for wearing flannel to dinner, so I knew he meant business. Nevertheless, a principle was at stake: I insisted, and with an ungentlemanly reserve he relinquished it.
“If sir is feeling revived, we should perhaps continue.”
“Forget it, Jeeves.” Tuppy’s expression contained rather more contempt than concern. “That’s Bertie all right, there’s no mistaking it. Come on, I’d like to get this over with.”
Tuppy held out his arm, and barely trembled at all as Jeeves used that bit of brass to harvest some of the red stuff. Not a whimper from that brave chap; he held up like a true Drone.
Into the tin it went, plink, plink, plink. We held our breaths as Jeeves applied the brand. A good head of steam, but none of the heebie-jeebies. And that settled it: Tuppy was just what he appeared to be, if not less.
“Thank you, sir.” Jeeves produced a handkerchief and wiped down the dagger. “Mr. Fink-Nottle?”
Gussie gulped. “I— I really don’t want to.”
“Come on, Gussie,” Tuppy said. His voice seemed a bit strange. Strained. “It’s not so bad.”
“But it’s my blood!”
“We really require very little, Mr. Fink-Nottle, sir.”
Gussie tried to make a break for it, so Tuppy grabbed for him. That’s when things got hairy. I don’t know quite how to explain the whole beastly show. Tuppy laid hand on Gussie’s arm. Gussie made a sort of shrieking noise, as he does. But not exactly as he does, if you catch my meaning. There was rather a difference of timbre, you see: his normal shriek is kind of an “AIIIEEEEEEEEE!” and this was rather more of an “EEEEEEEEEEEIIIIA!”. I chalk it up to a surfeit of newts. Anyhow, his arm came off.
As soon as we saw that, we had rather an inkling that the Fink-Nottle wasn’t a Fink-Nottle. He got just a bit blurry then, suggesting a family resemblance less to the illustrious Finks (certainly not the Nottles) and more to a plate of calamari. I hit him with a handy shooting stick, which seemed the thing to do under the circumstances. What with one thing and another, we managed to drive the not-actually-Gussie into a broom closet with the shed appendage and shut the door.
I dare say the whole contretemps gave Tuppy quite the wind-up. Frightened half out of his wits, I should think. We Woosters are made of sterner stuff than that, of course! Still, and this is not a thing I say lightly, I’d have been glad just then to have clapped a friendly hand on Roderick Spode, founder of the Black Shorts.
Instead, I clapped nose on a bit of smoke. “I say, Tuppy.” I cleared my throat. “I say, Tuppy, I rather think there’s something clogging the flue.”
“The fire’s fine, Bertie, I just checked it.” There was a frightful crash up above us, and I realized that it was actually rather on the warm side.
“I think, sirs, that evacuation of the premises may be indicated.” Jeeves coughed, though not his usual polite getter-of-Wooster-attention, but a jolly good hack. “I believe the lodge to be aflame.”
I looked to the closet. “What about Gussie?”
Tuppy looked at me like I’d proposed becoming a teetotaller. “Don’t be daft, that’s not Gussie. Not any more.”
I didn’t like it— didn’t seem quite on, you know— but I had been the one to lay about him with the stick earlier, and a Wooster trusts his instincts. As much as the fellows back at the Drones Club wouldn’t approve, we left him behind.
On vacating the lodge, we found that our situation was rather more dire than we had expected. Direr? Is that the word? The other buildings were also on fire, is what I’m trying to convey. We three stood in the cold white for rather a long time, just sort of taking it all in.
“Ah hah!” From down the hill, framed by leaping flames, strode a figure silhouetted black. It was none other than our resident fascist and Black Shorts founder, bearing aloft what looked to be a lit torch made of a chair leg.
Tuppy exploded. “Spode, you maniac! What did you do?”
“I’ve nipped the problem in the bud and saved King and country from monsters!” Spode’s sneering face was smudged black and white with soot and ash. He wore a deerstalker cap and Inverness cape — I didn’t need to turn my head to picture Jeeves’s stern disapproval! — and a grin like a crazed ourangutan. “And what have you done, Glossop? You milk-sops hid under the bed the moment trouble showed its teeth. Why…”
I confess that I lost the thread of his monologue after a moment, and found myself paying attention to the falling snow and the ordinarily-delightful sound of crackling timber. I picked it up again when he produced a shotgun and aimed it at us.
“I can’t risk one of you being infected. For the good of the British Empire, I’m afraid you’ll be staying here permanently.” He bloody well didn’t look too afraid, pardon my French. I should say he looked like a cat gotten into the cream.
What came next rather startled everyone involved. Screaming like a banshee, streaming fire, and waving tentacles and claws, something came dashing out of the burning lodge, running pell-mell toward that torch Spode still held aloft. Spode stood stunned as MacGregor — or something jolly well like him except for the crustacean bits — took him by the midsection in a finely executed rugby tackle. They tumbled down the hillside and plowed through the crumbling wall of my burning cabin.
So much for Roderick Spode. Although, dashed well so much for Wooster, Glossop and Jeeves, too: out in the snow in the middle of the night in winter. In Scotland!
Tuppy slapped himself on the forehead. “The carriage house!”
We all three ran for it, and were delighted to discover that what with all the wet hay and snow on the roof, the fire there hadn’t yet consumed the thing. Some smoke billowed out, but I thought we stood rather a good chance of escaping to the village with our story of monsters and villainy. We threw open the left-hand door, and saw that someone had left a motorbike with a sidecar there.
“I say, Tuppy. Where did you say Barmy had gone?”
“He took the motorcycle and went to town for help.”
“This motorcycle,” he confirmed through gritted teeth. “Let’s get it out of the way, then.”
Jeeves and Tuppy dragged it and the sidecar away from the door. While they wrestled with that, I went to see about the roadster.
Ordinarily, Woosters are renowned for speed, bravery, and agility. Under the circumstances, I should be well proud of managing the first two. But in my haste, I overturned a container of petrol all under the remaining automobiles. There was then a sort of whoosh, I think, and a lesser man might have lost his eyebrows. I remember a distinct feeling of flight.
The world went dark and cold. I’ll have to remember that: The world went dark and cold. Jolly poetic way of saying I’d landed head-first in a pile of something icy and wet and seeping into my trousers.
“Is he alive, Jeeves?”
I groaned, feeling as though the very planet had given me a wallop.
“I believe so, sir.”
The carriage house had gone up with spirit. There was no getting in there now. We did have the motorcycle. The primary difficulty, you see, is that even with the sidecar, it is a two-seater. And we, as it happens, were three.
“All right.” Tuppy rubbed his hands together. His manic grin made him look positively demonic in the flickering firelight. “We can overcome this. We haven’t seen Barmy in hours. He’s had plenty of time to make it down to the village. There’s bound to be all sorts of people coming up here, any minute now.” He hugged his arms around him and stamped his feet. His breath came out in great puffs. “Any minute now. Barmy and the cavalry. Right over that hill.”
Jeeves coughed. “I hesitate to mention it, sir, but that seems distinctly unlikely.” He nodded toward the snowbank I had just exited. Just where I had landed he had cleared the snow away. In the hole lay one Cyril “Barmy” Fotheringay-Phipps, stiff and blue.
Tuppy’s chuckle broke. He shut his eyes tight, threw back his head and let out a great scream. He started rummaging his coat, pulling one pocket out after another until he found a small black gun, a wicked-looking thing. He pointed it at Jeeves.
“This is your fault! You’re the one who got us all up here! You’re the one with the schemes and the plans and all the batty little things that always work out at the last minute. Well, this is bloody well the last minute, Jeeves, so why isn’t this all working out?”
“Steady on, Tuppy!”
Tuppy turned toward me, lowering his shooter. “You have no idea what’s going on, do you? He’s a creature, Bertie! He lured us all up here, and he faked the test and he infected the dog and the dog killed MacGregor, and MacGregor killed Spode, and I suppose that’s all right, really, but Gussie’s dead and Barmy’s dead, and we’re going to freeze to death! In bleeding Scotland!”
I don’t know from where, exactly, or why everyone else seemed to have handy arsenals but me, but Jeeves produced a pistol then and aimed it very convincingly at Glossop.
“Now Jeeves.” Tuppy’s mouth gaped like a goldfish. “I— I didn’t mean it about you being the, er, you know.” He chuckled nervously. “I’m just talking, that’s all. Just sounding things out.”
“I’m very sorry, sir.”
Tuppy’s eyes went wide, and a funny look crossed his face. “Wait, Jeeves!” He backed away from us, waving his hands like conducting Back in Nagasaki, which was rather disconcerting with a loaded pistol and no trombones. His aim waved back and forth between Jeeves and my self.
And then Jeeves shot him. Tuppy dropped like a stone, looking altogether more shocked than anything else.
“My God, Jeeves! Tuppy was a creature?” I prodded him with a finger, lifted an arm and dropped it. He didn’t look like a creature, he was just sort of an ex-Glossop.
“No, sir.” Jeeves sounded more shaken than I’d ever heard him. “Not a creature. But I couldn’t… I couldn’t let him shoot. I…”
I looked up, because it’s not every day that the estimable Reginald Jeeves falls short of words. You could have knocked me down with a feather — faithful Jeeves turned the pistol on me! He looked rather the worst for wear, I thought, positively junky. I could see that this breach in the jolly old feudal spirit was rather wearing on him. Went against the grain, I should think. I’d have felt sorry for the chap, except, well, you know.
“I’m very, very sorry,” he said, sounding not at all Jeeves-ish. This was decidedly not the Jeeves who glides in at the crack of eleven bearing hangover cure, but something rather outside my experience. “But… we didn’t test you. And you were out for a walk… I just need to think. I’m so sorry.”
I must say that I had some thinking of my own to do! Jeeves’s speech was distressingly short on ‘sir’s for my liking. Me, a monster? I didn’t feel like a monster, but then neither did Gussie. Or so he said. What does a monster feel like, I wondered. Don’t they have warts? Perhaps it’s a monster in more of the metaphorical sense, like that Nietzsche chap drones on about voids running around staring into people.
Jeeves’s gun wavered and then steadied on me. How the devil could I persuade someone that I was Bertram Wooster and not a monster? It didn’t seem quite the venue to bring up my Scripture-knowledge prize. And I could hardly demonstrate club loyalties with Barmy frozen, Gussie burned up, and Tuppy shot. Maybe Bertram Wooster is a monster, really, himself or no. What a rum job that would be.
In the end, I did the only thing a brave chappie could do. It was over. The proverbial jig was up. I loosened my magenta kerchief, lifted it up over my chin and nose, and raised it up over my eyes. With a touch of regret, sighing the sigh of a man who knows in his heart that he has lost a noble fight, I pulled it free of my troubled brow and held it out.
The gun wavered, and this time fell. Jeeves hesitated, then reached and took the proffered scrap. In passing the kerchief we clasped hands in a firm hand-shake.
“Thank you, sir,” he said with such relieved gusto that I’m not at all sure he was talking of the sacrifice of my kerchief. Either way, I think we both had a profound feeling that all was right in the world.
I looked to the horizon, where the sun was just peeking up. Ghastly sight, dawn, but at least I was alive to see it.
“Well then!” I looked around, breathing in the smokey acrid smell of a brand new day. “I think, Jeeves, that on the whole I’d rather not be sitting out in the cold when the locals come up to see what all the fuss is about, would you? What with the dead bodies and monsters and all.”
“Jolly good,” I said, wheeling round the motorbike. “I’ll drive.”
“…Very good, sir.”
Jeeves settled himself in the sidecar, and I sat astride my trusty steed. With one hand I pulled on the goggles, with my other hand I adjusted the mirror, and with my other hand I started her up. We set off for home.