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|Right Ho, Jeeves||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Page 5 of 10||
"Oh, hither and thither."
"Then I wonder if you would mind doing something for me."
"Give it a name."
"It won't take you long. You know that path that runs past the greenhouses into the kitchen garden. If you go along it, you come to a pond."
"Well, will you get a good, stout piece of rope or cord and go down that path till you come to the pond----"
"To the pond. Right."
"--and look about you till you find a nice, heavy stone. Or a fairly large brick would do."
"I see," I said, though I didn't, being still fogged. "Stone or brick. Yes. And then?"
"Then," said the relative, "I want you, like a good boy, to fasten the rope to the brick and tie it around your damned neck and jump into the pond and drown yourself. In a few days I will send and have you fished up and buried because I shall need to dance on your grave."
I was more fogged than ever. And not only fogged--wounded and resentful. I remember reading a book where a girl "suddenly fled from the room, afraid to stay for fear dreadful things would come tumbling from her lips; determined that she would not remain another day in this house to be insulted and misunderstood." I felt much about the same.
Then I reminded myself that one has got to make allowances for a woman with only about half a spoonful of soup inside her, and I checked the red-hot crack that rose to the lips.
"What," I said gently, "is this all about? You seem pipped with Bertram."
"Noticeably pipped. Why this ill-concealed animus?"
A sudden flame shot from her eyes, singeing my hair.
"Who was the ass, who was the chump, who was the dithering idiot who talked me, against my better judgment, into going without my dinner? I might have guessed----"
I saw that I had divined correctly the cause of her strange mood.
"It's all right. Aunt Dahlia. I know just how you're feeling. A bit on the hollow side, what? But the agony will pass. If I were you, I'd sneak down and raid the larder after the household have gone to bed. I am told there's a pretty good steak-and-kidney pie there which will repay inspection. Have faith, Aunt Dahlia," I urged. "Pretty soon Uncle Tom will be along, full of sympathy and anxious inquiries."
"Will he? Do you know where he is now?"
"I haven't seen him."
"He is in the study with his face buried in his hands, muttering about civilization and melting pots."
"Because it has just been my painful duty to inform him that Anatole has given notice."
I own that I reeled.
"Given notice. As the result of that drivelling scheme of yours. What did you expect a sensitive, temperamental French cook to do, if you went about urging everybody to refuse all food? I hear that when the first two courses came back to the kitchen practically untouched, his feelings were so hurt that he cried like a child. And when the rest of the dinner followed, he came to the conclusion that the whole thing was a studied and calculated insult, and decided to hand in his portfolio."
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|Right Ho, Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
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