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|My Man Jeeves||P. G. Wodehouse|
Doing Clarence A Bit Of Good
|Page 7 of 11||
This was so absolutely true, that I had no remark to make. She came up to me, and put her hand on my arm.
"I'm sorry, Reggie. I didn't mean to be cross. Only I do want to make you understand that Clarence is suffering. Suppose--suppose--well, let us take the case of a great musician. Suppose a great musician had to sit and listen to a cheap vulgar tune--the same tune--day after day, day after day, wouldn't you expect his nerves to break! Well, it's just like that with Clarence. Now you see?"
"But what? Surely I've put it plainly enough?"
"Yes. But what I mean is, where do I come in? What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to steal the 'Venus.'"
I looked at her.
"You want me to----?"
"Steal it. Reggie!" Her eyes were shining with excitement. "Don't you see? It's Providence. When I asked you to come here, I had just got the idea. I knew I could rely on you. And then by a miracle this robbery of the Romney takes place at a house not two miles away. It removes the last chance of the poor old man suspecting anything and having his feelings hurt. Why, it's the most wonderful compliment to him. Think! One night thieves steal a splendid Romney; the next the same gang take his 'Venus.' It will be the proudest moment of his life. Do it to-night, Reggie. I'll give you a sharp knife. You simply cut the canvas out of the frame, and it's done."
"But one moment," I said. "I'd be delighted to be of any use to you, but in a purely family affair like this, wouldn't it be better--in fact, how about tackling old Bill on the subject?"
"I have asked Bill already. Yesterday. He refused."
"But if I'm caught?"
"You can't be. All you have to do is to take the picture, open one of the windows, leave it open, and go back to your room."
It sounded simple enough.
"And as to the picture itself--when I've got it?"
"Burn it. I'll see that you have a good fire in your room."
She looked at me. She always did have the most wonderful eyes.
"Reggie," she said; nothing more. Just "Reggie."
She looked at me.
"Well, after all, if you see what I mean--The days that are no more, don't you know. Auld Lang Syne, and all that sort of thing. You follow me?"
"All right," I said. "I'll do it."
I don't know if you happen to be one of those Johnnies who are steeped in crime, and so forth, and think nothing of pinching diamond necklaces. If you're not, you'll understand that I felt a lot less keen on the job I'd taken on when I sat in my room, waiting to get busy, than I had done when I promised to tackle it in the dining-room. On paper it all seemed easy enough, but I couldn't help feeling there was a catch somewhere, and I've never known time pass slower. The kick-off was scheduled for one o'clock in the morning, when the household might be expected to be pretty sound asleep, but at a quarter to I couldn't stand it any longer. I lit the lantern I had taken from Bill's bicycle, took a grip of my knife, and slunk downstairs.
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|My Man Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
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