Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer, by P. G. Wodehouse

Cosmopolitan, October 1922


I SAY, have you ever noticed a rather rummy thing about life? I mean the way something nearly always comes along to give it to you in the neck at the very moment when you’re feeling most braced about things in general. I know it’s like that with me. Fate always seems to wait till I’m in a particularly chirpy mood before heaving the brickbat. Makes an absolute pessimist of a chap.

One morning in January I was having my bath and it suddenly struck me so forcibly that I hadn’t a worry in the world that I began to sing like a bally nightingale as I sploshed the sponge about. It seemed to me that everything was absolutely for the best in the best of all possible worlds. To top it all off, my Aunt Agatha had gone to the south of France and wouldn’t be on hand to snooter me for at least another six weeks. I was conscious of a feeling of perfect peace and contentment. Absolutely.

I might have known it wouldn’t last. No sooner had I dried the old limbs and shoved on the suiting and toddled into the sitting room than the blow fell. There was a letter from Aunt Agatha on the mantelpiece.

“Oh gosh!” I said when I’d read it.

“Sir?” said Jeeves.

“It’s from my Aunt Agatha, Jeeves. Mrs. Gregson, you know.”

“Yes, sir?”

“Ah, you wouldn’t speak in that light, careless tone if you knew what was in it,” I said with a hollow, mirthless laugh. “The curse has come upon us, Jeeves. She wants me to go and join her at—what’s the name of the dashed place?—at Roville-sur-mer. Oh, hang it all!”

“I had better be packing, sir?”

“I suppose so.”

To people who don’t know my Aunt Agatha I find it extraordinarily difficult to explain why it is that she has always put the wind up me to such a frightful extent. I mean, I’m not dependent on her financially or anything like that. It’s simply personality, I’ve come to the conclusion. You see, all through my childhood and when I was a kid at school she was always able to turn me inside out with a single glance, and I haven’t come out from under the ’fluence yet. We run to height a bit in our family, and there’s about five-foot-nine of Aunt Agatha, topped off with a beaky nose, an eagle eye and a lot of gray hair, and the general effect is pretty formidable. Anyway, it never even occurred to me for a moment to give her the miss-in-baulk on this occasion.

“What’s the idea, Jeeves? I wonder why she wants me.”

“I could not say, sir.”

Well, it was no good talking about it. The only gleam of consolation, the only bit of blue among the clouds, was the fact that at Roville I should at last be able to wear the rather fruity cummerbund I had bought six months ago and had never had the nerve to put on. One of those silk contrivances, you know, which you tie round your waist instead of a waistcoat, something on the order of a sash only more substantial. I had never been able to muster up the courage to put it on so far, for I knew that there would be trouble with Jeeves when I did, it being a pretty brightish scarlet. Still, at a place like Roville, presumably dripping with the gaiety and joie de vivre of France, it seemed to me that something might be done.


Roville, which I reached early in the morning after a beastly choppy crossing and a jerky night in the train, is a fairly nifty spot where a chappie without encumbrances in the shape of aunts might spend a somewhat genial week or so. It is like all these South Coast of France places, mainly sands and hotels and casinos. The hotel which had had the bad luck to draw Aunt Agatha’s custom was the Splendide, and by the time I got there there wasn’t a member of the staff who didn’t seem to be feeling it deeply. I sympathized with them. I’ve had experience of Aunt Agatha at hotels before. Of course she had got the whole gang nicely under control by now. The manager, a whiskered cove who looked like a bandit, simply tied himself into knots whenever she looked at him.

All this triumph had produced a sort of grim geniality in her, and she was almost motherly when we met.

“I am so glad you were able to come, Bertie,” she said. “The air will do you so much good. Far better for you than spending your time in stuffy London night clubs.”

“Oh, ah!” I said.

“You will meet some pleasant people, too. I want to introduce you to a Miss Hemmingway and her brother, who have become great friends of mine. I am sure you will like Miss Hemmingway. A nice, quiet, girl, so different from so many of the bold girls one meets in London nowadays. Her brother is curate at Chipley-in-the-Glen in Dorsetshire. He tells me they are connected with the Kent Hemmingways. A very good family. She is a charming girl.”

I had a grim foreboding of an awful doom. All this boosting was so unlike Aunt Agatha, who normally is one of the most celebrated right and left hand knockers in London Society. I felt a clammy suspicion. And by Jove, I was right.

“Aline Hemmingway,” said Aunt Agatha, “is just the girl I should like to see you marry, Bertie. You ought to be thinking of getting married. Marriage might make something of you. And I could not wish you a better wife than dear Aline. She would be such a good influence in your life.”

“Here, I say!” I said, chilled to the marrow.

“Bertie!” said Aunt Agatha, dropping the motherly manner for a bit and giving me the cold eye.

“Yes, but I say . . .”

“I hope you do not intend to be foolish and obstinate and . . . But here they are . . . Aline, dear!”

I perceived a girl and a chappie bearing down on me, smiling in a pleased sort of manner.

“I want you to meet my nephew, Bertie Wooster,” said Aunt Agatha. “He has just arrived. Such a surprise! I had no notion that he intended coming to Roville.”

I gave the couple the wary up-and-down, feeling rather like a cat in the middle of a lot of hounds. Sort of trapped feeling, you know what I mean.

The brother was a small round cove with a face rather like a sheep. He wore pince-nez, his expression was benevolent, and he had on one of those collars which button at the back.

“Welcome to Roville, Mr. Wooster,” he said.

“Oh, Sidney!” said the girl. “Doesn’t Mr. Wooster remind you of Canon Blenkinsop, who came to Chipley to preach last Easter?”

“My dear! The resemblance is most striking!”

The girl darted at meThey peered at me for a while as if I were something in a glass case, and I goggled back and had a good look at the girl. There’s no doubt about it, she was different from what Aunt Agatha had called the bold girls one meets in London nowadays. No bobbed hair and gaspers about her! I don’t know when I’ve met anybody who looked so—respectable is the only word. She had on a kind of plain dress, and her hair was plain, and her face was sort of mild and saint-like. I don’t pretend to be good old Sherlock Holmes or anything of that order, but the moment I looked at her I said to myself, “That girl plays the organ in a village church!”

Well, we gazed at one another for a bit, and there was a certain amount of chit-chat, and then I tore myself away. But before I went I had been booked up to take brother and the girl for a nice drive that afternoon. And the thought of it depressed me to such an extent that I felt there was only one thing to be done. I went straight back to my room, dug out the cummerbund and draped it round the old tum. I turned round and Jeeves shied like a startled mustang.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” he said in a sort of hushed voice. “You are surely not proposing to appear in public in that thing?”

“The cummerbund?” I said in a careless, debonair way, passing it off. “Oh, rather!”

“I should not advise it, sir, really I shouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“The effect, sir, is loud in the extreme.”

I tackled the blighter squarely. I mean to say, nobody knows better than I do that Jeeves is a master mind and all that, but, dash it, a fellow must call his soul his own. You can’t be a serf to your valet. Besides, I was feeling pretty low and the cummerbund was the only thing which could cheer me up.

“You know, the trouble with you, Jeeves,” I said, “is that you’re too—what’s the word I want?—too bally insular. You can’t realize that you aren’t in Piccadilly all the time. In a place like this a bit of color and touch of the poetic is expected.”

“Nevertheless, sir——”

“Jeeves,” I said firmly, “my mind is made up. I am feeling a little low spirited and need cheering. Besides, what’s wrong with it? This cummerbund seems to me to be called for. I consider that it has rather a Spanish effect. A touch of the hidalgo. Sort of Vicente y Blasco What’s-his-name stuff. The jolly old hidalgo off to the bull fight.”

“Very good, sir,” said Jeeves coldly.

Dashed upsetting, this sort of thing. Coming on top of Aunt Agatha’s bomb shell about the Hemmingway girl, I don’t mind confessing it made me feel more or less as though nobody loved me.


The drive that afternoon was about as moldy as I had expected. The curate chappie prattled on of this and that; the girl admired the view; and I got a headache early in the proceedings which started at the soles of my feet and got worse all the way up. I tottered back to my room to dress for dinner, feeling like a toad under the harrow. If it hadn’t been for that cummerbund business earlier in the day I could have sobbed on Jeeves’s neck and poured out all my troubles to him. Even as it was, I couldn’t keep the thing entirely to myself.

“I say, Jeeves,” I said, “mix me a stiffish brandy and soda.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Stiffish, Jeeves. Not too much soda, but splash the brandy about a bit.”

After imbibing, I felt a shade better.

“Jeeves,” I said, “I rather fancy I’m in the soup, Jeeves.”

“Indeed, sir?”

I eyed the man narrowly. Dashed aloof his manner was. Still brooding over the cummerbund.

“Yes. Right up to the hocks,” I said, supressing the pride of the Woosters and trying to induce him to be a bit matier. “Have you seen a girl popping about here with a parson brother?”

“Miss Hemmingway, sir? Yes, sir.”

“Aunt Agatha wants me to marry her.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“Well, what about it?”


“I mean, have you anything to suggest?”

“No, sir.”

The blighter’s manner was so cold and unchummy that I bit the bullet and had a dash at being airy.

“Oh well, tra-la-la!” I said.

“Precisely, sir,” said Jeeves.

And that was, so to speak, that.


I remember—it must have been when I was at school because I don’t go in for that sort of thing very largely nowadays—reading a poem or something about something or other in which there was a line which went, if I’ve got it rightly, “Shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy.” Well, what I’m driving at is that during the next two weeks that’s exactly how it was with me. I mean to say, I could hear the wedding bells chiming faintly in the distance and getting louder and louder every day, and how the deuce to slide out of it was more than I could think. Jeeves, no doubt, could have dug up a dozen brainy schemes in a couple of minutes, but he was still aloof and chilly and I couldn’t bring myself to ask him point-blank.

It really was rummy the way the Hemmingway family had taken to me. I wouldn’t have said offhand that there was anything particularly fascinating about me—in fact, most people look on me as rather an ass; but there was no getting away from the fact that I went like a breeze with this girl and her brother. They didn’t seem happy if they were away from me. I couldn’t move a step, dash it, without one of them popping out from somewhere and freezing on. In fact, I’d got into the habit now of retiring to my room when I wanted to take it easy for a bit.

I had gone to earth in my suite one evening and for the first time that day was feeling that life wasn’t so bad after all. Right through the day from lunch time I’d had the Hemmingway girl on my hands, Aunt Agatha having shooed us off together immediately after the midday meal. The result was, as I looked down on the lighted promenade and saw all the people popping happily about on their way to dinner and the Casino and what not, a kind of wistful feeling came over me. I couldn’t help thinking how dashed happy I could have contrived to be in this place if only Aunt Agatha and the other blisters had been elsewhere.

I heaved a sigh, and at that moment there was a knock at the door. “Someone at the door, Jeeves,” I said.

“Yes, sir.”

He opened the door, and in popped Aline Hemmingway and her brother. The last persons I had expected. I mean to say, I had thought that I could be alone for a minute in my own room.

“Oh, hullo!” I said.

“Oh, Mr. Wooster!” said the girl in a gasping sort of way. “I don’t know how to begin.”

Then I noticed that she appeared considerably rattled, and as for the brother, he looked like a sheep with a secret sorrow.

This made me sit up a bit and take notice.

“Is anything up?” I said.

“Poor Sidney—it was my fault—I ought never to have let him go there alone,” said the girl. Dashed agitated.

At this point the brother, who after shedding a floppy overcoat and parking his hat on a chair had been standing by wrapped in the silence, gave a little cough, like a sheep caught in the mist on a mountain top.

“The fact is, Mr. Wooster,” he said, “a sad, a most deplorable thing has occurred. This afternoon, while you were so kindly escorting my sist-ah, I found the time hang a little heavy upon my hands and I was tempted to—ah—gamble at the Casino.”

I looked at the man in a kindlier spirit than I had been able to up to date. This evidence that he had sporting blood in his veins made him seem more human, I’m bound to say. If only I’d known earlier that he went in for that sort of thing I felt that we might have had a better time together.

“Oh!” I said. “Did you click?”

He sighed heavily.

“If you mean was I successful, I must answer in the negative. I rashly persisted in the view that the color red, having appeared no fewer than seven times in succession, must inevitably at no distant date give place to black. I was in error. I lost my little all, Mr. Wooster.”

“Tough luck,” I said.

“I left the Casino,” proceeded the chappie, “and returned to the hotel. There I encountered one of my parishioners, a Colonel Musgrave, who chanced to be holiday making over here. I—er—induced him to cash me a check for one hundred pounds on my little account in my London bank.”

“Well, that was all to the good, what?” I said, hoping to induce the poor fish to look on the bright side. “I mean, bit of luck finding someone to slip it into first crack out of the box.”

“On the contrary, Mr. Wooster, it did but make matters worse. I burn with shame as I make the confession, but I immediately went back to the Casino and lost the entire sum—this time under the mistaken supposition that the color black was, as I believe the expression is, due for a run.”

“I say!” I said. “You are having a night out!”

“And,” concluded the chappie, “the most lamentable feature of the whole affair is that I have no funds in the bank to meet the check when presented.”

I’m free to confess that, though I realized by this time that all this was leading up to a touch and that my ear was shortly going to be bitten in no uncertain manner, my heart warmed to the poor prune. Indeed, I gazed at him with no little interest and admiration. Never before had I encountered a curate so genuinely all to the mustard.

“Colonel Musgrave,” he went on, gulping somewhat, “is not a man who would be likely to overlook the matter. He is a hard man. He will expose me to my vic-ah. My vic-ah is a hard man. In short, Mr. Wooster, if Colonel Musgrave presents that check I shall be ruined. And he leaves for England tonight.”

The girl, who had been standing by biting her handkerchief and gurgling at intervals while the brother got the above off his chest, now started in once more.

“Mr. Wooster,” she cried, “won’t you, won’t you help us? Oh, do say you will! We must have the money to get back the check from Colonel Musgrave before nine o’clock—he leaves on the nine-twenty. I was at my wits’ end what to do when I remembered how kind you had always been. Mr. Wooster, will you lend Sidney the money and take these as security?” And before I knew what she was doing she had dived into her bag, produced a case, and opened it. “My pearls,” she said. “I don’t know what they are worth—they were a present from my poor father . . .”

“Now, alas, no more . . .” chipped in the brother.

“But I know they must be worth ever so much more than the amount we want.”

Dashed embarrassing. Made me feel like a pawnbroker.

“No, I say, really,” I protested. “There’s no need of any security, you know, or any rot of that kind. Only too glad to let you have the money. I’ve got it on me, as a matter of fact. Rather luckily drew some this morning.”

And I fished it out and pushed it across. The brother shook his head.

“Mr Wooster,” he said, “we appreciate your generosity, your heartening confidence in us, but we cannot permit this.”

“What Sidney means,” said the girl, “is that you really don’t know anything about us when you come to think of it. You mustn’t risk lending all this money without any security at all to two people, who, after all, are almost strangers. If I hadn’t thought that you would be quite businesslike about this I would never have dared to come to you.”

“The idea of—er—pledging the pearls at the local Mont de Pieté was, you will readily understand, repugnant to us,” said the brother.

“If you will just give me a receipt, as a matter of form——”

“Oh, right-o!”

I wrote out the receipt and handed it over, feeling more or less of an ass. “Here you are,” I said.

The girl darted at meThe girl took the piece of paper, shoved it in her bag, grabbed the money and slipped it to brother Sidney, and then, before I knew what was happening, she had darted at me, kissed me, and legged it from the room.

I’m bound to say the thing rattled me. So dashed sudden and unexpected. I mean, a girl like that. Always been quiet and demure and what not—by no means the sort of female you’d have expected to go about the place kissing fellows. Through a sort of mist I could see that Jeeves had appeared from the background and was helping the brother on with his coat. Then the brother came up to me and grasped my hand.

“I cannot thank you sufficiently, Mr. Wooster!”

“Oh, right-o!”

“You have saved my good name. Good name in man or woman, dear my lord,” he said, massaging the fin with some fervor, “is the immediate jewel of their souls. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Good night, Mr. Wooster.”

“Good night, old thing,” I said. I blinked at Jeeves as the door shut. “Rather a sad affair, Jeeves,” I said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Lucky I happened to have all that money handy.”

“Well—er—yes, sir.”

“You speak as though you didn’t think much of it.”

“It is not my place to criticize your actions, sir, but I will venture to say that I think you behaved a little rashly.”

“What, lending that money?”

“Yes, sir. These fashionable French watering places are notoriously infested by dishonest characters.”

This was a bit too thick.

“Now look here, Jeeves,” I said, “I can stand a lot but when it comes to your casting asp-whatever-the-word-is on a bird in Holy Orders——”

“Perhaps I am over-suspicious, sir. But I have seen a great deal of these resorts. When I was in the employment of Lord Frederick Ranelagh, shortly before I entered your service, his lordship was very neatly swindled by a criminal known, I believe, by the sobriquet of Soapy Sid, who scraped acquaintance with us in Monte Carlo with the assistance of a female accomplice. I have never forgotten the circumstance and never shall.”

“I don’t want to butt in on your reminiscences, Jeeves,” I said, coldly, “but you’re talking through your hat. How can there have been anything fishy about this business? They’ve left me the pearls, haven’t they? Very well, then, think before you speak. You had better be tooling down to the desk now and having these things shoved in the hotel safe.” I picked up the case and opened it. “Oh, Great Scott!”

The bally thing was empty!

Don't tell me there's been dirty work at the crossroads!

“Oh, my Lord!” I said, staring. “Don’t tell me there’s been dirty work at the crossroads after all!”

“Precisely, sir. It was in exactly the same manner that Lord Frederick was swindled on the occasion to which I have alluded. While his female accomplice was gratefully embracing his lordship, Soapy Sid substituted a duplicate case for the one containing the pearls and went off with the jewels, the money and the receipt. On the strength of the receipt he subsequently demanded from his lordship the return of the pearls, and his lordship, not being able to produce them, was obliged to pay a heavy sum in compensation. It is a simple but effective ruse.”

I felt as if the bottom had dropped out of things with a jerk.

“Soapy Sid? Sid! Sidney! Brother Sidney! Why, by Jove, Jeeves, do you think that parson was Soapy Sid?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But it seems so extraordinary. Why, his collar buttoned at the back—I mean, he would have deceived a bishop. Do you really think he was Soapy Sid?”

“Yes, sir. I recognized him directly he came into the room.”

I stared at the blighter. “You recognized him?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, dash it all,” I said, deeply moved, “I think you might have told me.”

“I thought it would save disturbance and unpleasantness if I merely abstracted the case from the man’s pocket as I assisted him with his coat, sir. Here it is.”

He laid another case on the table beside the dud one, and by Jove you couldn’t tell them apart. I opened it and there were the good old pearls, as merry and bright as dammit, smiling up at me. I gazed feebly at the man. I was feeling a bit overwrought.

“Jeeves,” I said. “You’re an absolute genius!”

“Yes, sir.”

Relief was surging over me in great chunks by now. Thanks to Jeeves I was not going to be called on to cough up several thousand quid.

“It looks to me as though you had saved the old home. I mean, even a chappie endowed with the immortal rind of dear old Sid is hardly likely to have the nerve to come back and retrieve these little chaps.”

“I should imagine not, sir.”

“Well, then——Oh, I say, you don’t think they are just paste or anything like that?”

“No, sir. These are genuine pearls, and extremely valuable.”

“Well, then, dash it, I’m on velvet. Absolutely reclining on the good old plush! I may be down a hundred quid but I’m up a jolly good string of pearls. Am I right or wrong?”

“Hardly that, sir. I think that you will have to restore the pearls.”

“What! To Sid? Not while I have my physique!”

“No, sir. To their rightful owner.”

“But who is their rightful owner?”

“Mrs. Gregson, sir.”

“What! How do you know?”

“It was all over the hotel an hour ago that Mrs. Gregson’s pearls had been abstracted. I was speaking to Mrs. Gregson’s maid shortly before you came in and she informed me that the manager of the hotel is now in Mrs. Gregson’s suite.”

“And having a devil of a time, what?”

“So I should be disposed to imagine, sir.”

The situation was beginning to unfold before me. “I’ll go and give them back to her, eh? It’ll put me one up, what?”

“Precisely, sir. And I think it might be judicious to stress the fact that they were stolen by . . .”

“Great Scott! By the dashed girl she was hounding me on to marry, by Jove!”

“Exactly, sir.”

“Jeeves,” I said, “this is going to be the biggest score off my jolly old relative that has ever occurred in history.”

“I fancy so, sir.”

“Keep her quiet for a bit, what? Make her stop snootering me for a while?”

“It should have that effect, sir.”

“Golly!” I said, bounding for the door.


Long before I reached Aunt Agatha’s lair I could tell that the hunt was up. Divers chappies in hotel uniform and not a few chambermaids of sorts were hanging about in the corridor and through the panels I could hear a mixed assortment of voices, with Aunt Agatha’s topping the lot. I knocked but no one took any notice, so I trickled in. Among those present I noticed a chambermaid in hysterics, Aunt Agatha with her hair bristling, and the whiskered cove who looked like a bandit, the hotel manager fellow.

“Oh, hullo!” I said. “Hullo-ullo-ullo!”

Aunt Agatha shooshed me away.

“Don’t bother me now, Bertie,” she snapped, looking at me as if I were more or less the last straw.

“Something up?” I asked carelessly.

“Yes, yes, yes! I’ve lost my pearls.”

“Pearls? Pearls? Pearls?” I said. “No, really? Dashed annoying. Where did you see them last?”

“What does it matter where I saw them last? They have been stolen.”

Here Wilfred, the Whisker King, who seemed to have been taking a rest between rounds, stepped into the ring again and began to talk rapidly in French. Cut to the quick he seemed. The chambermaid whooped in the corner.

“Sure you’ve looked everywhere?” I said.

“Of course I’ve looked everywhere.”

“Well, you know, I’ve often lost a collar stud and——”

“Do try not to be so maddening, Bertie! I have enough to bear without your imbecilities. Oh, be quiet! Be quiet!” she shouted in the sort of voice used by sergeant-majors and those who call the cattle home across the Sands of Dee. And such was the magnetism of her forceful personality that Wilfred subsided as if he had run into a wall. The chambermaid continued to go strong.

“I say,” I said, “I think there’s something the matter with this girl. Isn’t she crying or something? You may not have spotted it, but I’m rather quick at noticing things.”

“She stole my pearls! I am convinced of it.”

This started the whisker specialist off again, and in about a couple of minutes Aunt Agatha had reached the frozen grande-dame stage and was putting the last of the bandits through it in the voice she usually reserves for snubbing waiters in restaurants.

“I tell you, my good man, for the hundredth time . . .”

These aren't the little chaps by any chance?“I say,” I said, “don’t want to interrupt you and all that sort of thing, but these aren’t the little chaps by any chance?” I pulled the pearls out of my pocket and held them up. “These look like pearls, what?”

Aunt Agatha simply deflated before my eyes.I don’t know when I’ve had a more juicy moment. It was one of those occasions about which I shall prattle to my grandchildren—if I ever have any, which at the moment of going to press seems more or less of a hundred-to-one shot. Aunt Agatha simply deflated before my eyes. “Where—where—where——” she gurgled.

“I got them from your friend Miss Hemmingway.” Even now she didn’t get it.

“From Miss Hemmingway. Miss Hemmingway! But—but how did they come into her possession?”

“How?” I said. “Because she jolly well stole them. Pinched them! Swiped them! Because that’s how she makes her living, dash it—palling up to unsuspicious people in hotels and sneaking their jewelry. I don’t know what her alias is but her bally brother, the chap whose collar buttons at the back, is known in criminal circles as Soapy Sid.”

She blinked.

“Miss Hemmingway a thief! I—I——” She stopped and looked feebly at me. “But how did you manage to recover the pearls, Bertie dear?”

“Never mind,” I said crisply. “I have my methods.” I dug out my entire stock of manly courage, breathed a short prayer and let her have it right in the thorax.

“I must say, Aunt Agatha, dash it all,” I said severely, “I think you have been infernally careless. There’s a printed notice in every bedroom in this place saying that there’s a safe in the manager’s office where jewelry and valuables ought to be placed and you absolutely disregarded it. And what’s the result? The first thief who came along simply walked into your room and pinched your pearls. And instead of admitting that it was all your fault, you started biting this poor man here in the gizzard. You have been very, very unjust to this poor man.”

“Yes, yes,” chipped in the poor man.

“And this unfortunate girl, what about her? Where does she get off? You’ve accused her of stealing the things on absolutely no evidence. I think she would be jolly well advised to bring an action for—for whatever it is and soak you for substantial damages.”

Mais oui, mais oui, c’est trop fort! shouted the Bandit Chief, backing me up like a good ’un. And the chambermaid looked up inquiringly, as if the sun was breaking through the clouds.

“I shall recompense her,” said Aunt Agatha feebly.

“If you take my tip you jolly well will, and that eftsoons or right speedily. She’s got a cast-iron case, and if I were her I wouldn’t take a penny under twenty quid. But what gives me the pip most is the way you’ve unjustly abused this poor man here and tried to give his hotel a bad name——”

“Yes, by damn! It’s too bad!” cried the whiskered marvel. “You careless old woman! You give my hotel bad names, would you or wasn’t it? Tomorrow you leave my hotel, by great Scotland!”

And more to the same effect, all good, ripe stuff. And presently having said his say he withdrew, taking the chambermaid with him, the latter with a crisp tenner clutched in a vise-like grip. I suppose she and the bandit split it outside.

I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanor was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down express in the small of the back.

“I don’t want to rub it in, Aunt Agatha,” I said coldly, “but I should just like to point out before I go that the girl who stole your pearls is the girl you’ve been hounding me on to marry ever since I got here. Good Heavens! Do you realize that if you had brought the thing off I should probably have had children who would have sneaked my watch while I was dandling them on my knee? I’m not a complaining sort of chap as a rule but I must say that another time I do think you might be more careful how you go about egging me on to marry females.”

I gave her one look, turned on my heel and left the room.


“Ten o’clock, a clear night, and all’s well, Jeeves,” I said, breezing back into the good old suite.

“I am gratified to hear it, sir.”

“If twenty quid would be any use to you, Jeeves——”

“I am much obliged, sir.”

There was a pause. And then—well, it was a wrench, but I did it. I unstripped the cummerbund and handed it over.

“Do you wish me to press this, sir?”

I gave the thing one last, longing look. It had been very dear to me.

“No,” I said, “take it away; give it to the deserving poor—I shall never wear it again.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Jeeves.


In the November Cosmopolitananother laugh-maker by P. G. Wodehouse


Editor’s notes:
This is probably the most substantially rewritten Bertie & Jeeves short story. In the original Strand version, as collected in The World of Jeeves, the story follows “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”, with Bertie escaping to France after his engagement to Honoria Glossop is broken off. Bertie meets Aline Hemmingway on the train from Paris to Roville; Sidney then joins Aline in Roville. Aunt Agatha pursues Bertie from London to Roville later, apparently still angry about the Honoria situation, and never suggests Aline as a potential bride. Bertie restores Aunt Agatha’s pearls by pretending to find them in a drawer. The Cosmopolitan version reprinted here is much stronger, since it allows Bertie to tick off Aunt Agatha for recommending that he marry a thief, not merely for overlooking the pearls in a drawer. Wodehouse included this revised version in The Inimitable Jeeves, with added opening transition and a few other expansions, and split into the two chapters “Aunt Agatha Speaks Her Mind” and “Pearls Mean Tears.”
Vicente y Blasco What’s-his-name: Vicente Blasco Ibañez (1867–1928), Spanish author best remembered today for Hollywood films adapted from his novels, including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Blood and Sand, and Greta Garbo’s first American films The Temptress and The Torrent.
Printer’s errors corrected above:
Magazine omitted comma in “I am so glad you were able to come, Bertie”; several other commas are missing according to Wodehouse’s style, but are not absolutely required by grammar, so those choices of the Cosmopolitan editors remain above as printed. A few missing quotation marks have been silently inserted.
Magazine had “you” instead of “your” in “ ‘I beg your pardon, sir,’ he said in a sort of hushed voice.”
Magazine had “cummberbund” in “This cummerbund seems to me to be called for.”
Magazine had “things” in “I don’t go in for that sort of thing very largely nowadays.”
Transcription, notes, and image processing by Neil Midkiff.