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|Right Ho, Jeeves||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Page 6 of 13||
"Certainly he gave it to me. He brassed up like an officer and a gentleman. That was the money I lost at baccarat."
"Oh? I didn't know that."
"There isn't much you do know."
A nephew's love made me overlook the slur.
"Tut!" I said.
"What did you say?"
"I said 'Tut!'"
"Say it once again, and I'll biff you where you stand. I've enough to endure without being tutted at."
"Any tutting that's required, I'll attend to myself. And the same applies to clicking the tongue, if you were thinking of doing that."
"Far from it."
I stood awhile in thought. I was concerned to the core. My heart, if you remember, had already bled once for Aunt Dahlia this evening. It now bled again. I knew how deeply attached she was to this paper of hers. Seeing it go down the drain would be for her like watching a loved child sink for the third time in some pond or mere.
And there was no question that, unless carefully prepared for the touch, Uncle Tom would see a hundred Milady's Boudoirs go phut rather than take the rap.
Then I saw how the thing could be handled. This aunt, I perceived, must fall into line with my other clients. Tuppy Glossop was knocking off dinner to melt Angela. Gussie Fink-Nottle was knocking off dinner to impress the Bassett. Aunt Dahlia must knock off dinner to soften Uncle Tom. For the beauty of this scheme of mine was that there was no limit to the number of entrants. Come one, come all, the more the merrier, and satisfaction guaranteed in every case.
"I've got it," I said. "There is only one course to pursue. Eat less meat."
She looked at me in a pleading sort of way. I wouldn't swear that her eyes were wet with unshed tears, but I rather think they were, certainly she clasped her hands in piteous appeal.
"Must you drivel, Bertie? Won't you stop it just this once? Just for tonight, to please Aunt Dahlia?"
"I'm not drivelling."
"I dare say that to a man of your high standards it doesn't come under the head of drivel, but----"
I saw what had happened. I hadn't made myself quite clear.
"It's all right," I said. "Have no misgivings. This is the real Tabasco. When I said 'Eat less meat', what I meant was that you must refuse your oats at dinner tonight. Just sit there, looking blistered, and wave away each course as it comes with a weary gesture of resignation. You see what will happen. Uncle Tom will notice your loss of appetite, and I am prepared to bet that at the conclusion of the meal he will come to you and say 'Dahlia, darling'--I take it he calls you 'Dahlia'--'Dahlia darling,' he will say, 'I noticed at dinner tonight that you were a bit off your feed. Is anything the matter, Dahlia, darling?' 'Why, yes, Tom, darling,' you will reply. 'It is kind of you to ask, darling. The fact is, darling, I am terribly worried.' 'My darling,' he will say----"
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|Right Ho, Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
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