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|My Man Jeeves||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Page 5 of 10||
"You can't come in," said the face. "Hello, is that Tootles?"
"My name is not Tootles, and I don't want to come in," I said. "Are you Mr. Medwin? I've brought back your son."
"I see him. Peep-bo, Tootles! Dadda can see 'oo!"
The face disappeared with a jerk. I could hear voices. The face reappeared.
I churned the gravel madly.
"Do you live here?" said the face.
"I'm staying here for a few weeks."
"What's your name?"
"Pepper? Any relation to Edward Pepper, the colliery owner?"
"My uncle. But----"
"I used to know him well. Dear old Edward Pepper! I wish I was with him now."
"I wish you were," I said.
He beamed down at me.
"This is most fortunate," he said. "We were wondering what we were to do with Tootles. You see, we have the mumps here. My daughter Bootles has just developed mumps. Tootles must not be exposed to the risk of infection. We could not think what we were to do with him. It was most fortunate your finding him. He strayed from his nurse. I would hesitate to trust him to the care of a stranger, but you are different. Any nephew of Edward Pepper's has my implicit confidence. You must take Tootles to your house. It will be an ideal arrangement. I have written to my brother in London to come and fetch him. He may be here in a few days."
"He is a busy man, of course; but he should certainly be here within a week. Till then Tootles can stop with you. It is an excellent plan. Very much obliged to you. Your wife will like Tootles."
"I haven't got a wife," I yelled; but the window had closed with a bang, as if the man with the whiskers had found a germ trying to escape, don't you know, and had headed it off just in time.
I breathed a deep breath and wiped my forehead.
The window flew up again.
A package weighing about a ton hit me on the head and burst like a bomb.
"Did you catch it?" said the face, reappearing. "Dear me, you missed it! Never mind. You can get it at the grocer's. Ask for Bailey's Granulated Breakfast Chips. Tootles takes them for breakfast with a little milk. Be certain to get Bailey's."
My spirit was broken, if you know what I mean. I accepted the situation. Taking Tootles by the hand, I walked slowly away. Napoleon's retreat from Moscow was a picnic by the side of it.
As we turned up the road we met Freddie's Angela.
The sight of her had a marked effect on the kid Tootles. He pointed at her and said, "Wah!"
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|My Man Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
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