Jeeves and the unbidden guest
I'm not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it's
Shakespeare — or, if not, it's some equally brainy lad — who says that
it's always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and
more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up
behind him with a bit of lead piping. There's no doubt the man's right.
It's absolutely that way with me. Take, for instance, the fairly rummy
matter of Lady Malvern and her son Wilmot. A moment before they turned
up, I was just thinking how thoroughly all right everything was.
It was one of those topping mornings, and I had just climbed out from
under the cold shower, feeling like a two-year-old. As a matter of
fact, I was especially bucked just then because the day before I had
asserted myself with Jeeves — absolutely asserted myself, don't you
know. You see, the way things had been going on I was rapidly becoming
a dashed serf. The man had jolly well oppressed me. I didn't so much
mind when he made me give up one of my new suits, because, Jeeves's
judgment about suits is sound. But I as near as a toucher rebelled when
he wouldn't let me wear a pair of cloth-topped boots which I loved like
a couple of brothers. And when he tried to tread on me like a worm in
the matter of a hat, I jolly well put my foot down and showed him who
was who. It's a long story, and I haven't time to tell you now, but
the point is that he wanted me to wear the Longacre — as worn by John
Drew — when I had set my heart on the Country Gentleman — as worn by
another famous actor chappie — and the end of the matter was that, after
a rather painful scene, I bought the Country Gentleman. So that's how
things stood on this particular morning, and I was feeling kind of
manly and independent.
Well, I was in the bathroom, wondering what there was going to be for
breakfast while I massaged the good old spine with a rough towel and
sang slightly, when there was a tap at the door. I stopped singing and
opened the door an inch.
"What ho without there!"
"Lady Malvern wishes to see you, sir," said Jeeves.
"Lady Malvern, sir. She is waiting in the sitting-room."
"Pull yourself together, Jeeves, my man," I said, rather severely, for
I bar practical jokes before breakfast. "You know perfectly well
there's no one waiting for me in the sitting-room. How could there be
when it's barely ten o'clock yet?"
"I gathered from her ladyship, sir, that she had landed from an ocean
liner at an early hour this morning."
This made the thing a bit more plausible. I remembered that when I had
arrived in America about a year before, the proceedings had begun at
some ghastly hour like six, and that I had been shot out on to a
foreign shore considerably before eight.
"Who the deuce is Lady Malvern, Jeeves?"
"Her ladyship did not confide in me, sir."
"Is she alone?"
"Her ladyship is accompanied by a Lord Pershore, sir. I fancy that his
lordship would be her ladyship's son."
"Oh, well, put out rich raiment of sorts, and I'll be dressing."
"Our heather-mixture lounge is in readiness, sir."
"Then lead me to it."
While I was dressing I kept trying to think who on earth Lady Malvern
could be. It wasn't till I had climbed through the top of my shirt and
was reaching out for the studs that I remembered.
"I've placed her, Jeeves. She's a pal of my Aunt Agatha."
"Yes. I met her at lunch one Sunday before I left
London. A very vicious specimen. Writes books. She wrote a book on