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|My Man Jeeves||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Page 6 of 10||
The girl stopped and smiled. I loosed the kid, and he ran to her.
"Well, baby?" she said, bending down to him. "So father found you again, did he? Your little son and I made friends on the beach this morning," she said to me.
This was the limit. Coming on top of that interview with the whiskered lunatic it so utterly unnerved me, don't you know, that she had nodded good-bye and was half-way down the road before I caught up with my breath enough to deny the charge of being the infant's father.
I hadn't expected dear old Freddie to sing with joy when he found out what had happened, but I did think he might have shown a little more manly fortitude. He leaped up, glared at the kid, and clutched his head. He didn't speak for a long time, but, on the other hand, when he began he did not leave off for a long time. He was quite emotional, dear old boy. It beat me where he could have picked up such expressions.
"Well," he said, when he had finished, "say something! Heavens! man, why don't you say something?"
"You don't give me a chance, old top," I said soothingly.
"What are you going to do about it?"
"What can we do about it?"
"We can't spend our time acting as nurses to this--this exhibit."
He got up.
"I'm going back to London," he said.
"Freddie!" I cried. "Freddie, old man!" My voice shook. "Would you desert a pal at a time like this?"
"I would. This is your business, and you've got to manage it."
"Freddie," I said, "you've got to stand by me. You must. Do you realize that this child has to be undressed, and bathed, and dressed again? You wouldn't leave me to do all that single-handed? Freddie, old scout, we were at school together. Your mother likes me. You owe me a tenner."
He sat down again.
"Oh, well," he said resignedly.
"Besides, old top," I said, "I did it all for your sake, don't you know?"
He looked at me in a curious way.
"Reggie," he said, in a strained voice, "one moment. I'll stand a good deal, but I won't stand for being expected to be grateful."
Looking back at it, I see that what saved me from Colney Hatch in that crisis was my bright idea of buying up most of the contents of the local sweet-shop. By serving out sweets to the kid practically incessantly we managed to get through the rest of that day pretty satisfactorily. At eight o'clock he fell asleep in a chair, and, having undressed him by unbuttoning every button in sight and, where there were no buttons, pulling till something gave, we carried him up to bed.
Freddie stood looking at the pile of clothes on the floor and I knew what he was thinking. To get the kid undressed had been simple--a mere matter of muscle. But how were we to get him into his clothes again? I stirred the pile with my foot. There was a long linen arrangement which might have been anything. Also a strip of pink flannel which was like nothing on earth. We looked at each other and smiled wanly.
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|My Man Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
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