"Jeeves, old thing, would you be so good as to come to the library? There's a tome I want upon a lofty shelf, which requires someone with Viking blood in his veins to reach it."
"Certainly, Mrs. Travers."
"Can you close the door behind you, dear? And you'd better park yourself somewhere. Over on that squashy wing chair. No need to stand on ceremony for me."
"Now. I'm sure that piscine-glutted grey matter of yours has already deduced what I dragged you in here to talk about. Am I right?"
"I confess, Madam, though I posses a few suspicions as to the subject of your discourse, regrettably I am not entirely certain of the matter."
"I imagine it concerns my young master, Madam."
"What about him?"
"Out with it, Jeeves."
Would it be accurate to presume that relations between Mr Wooster and his former schoolmate Mr Winship are of a particulary intimate nature, Madam?"
"Bang on the money as usual, crumpet. Just had to be sure you weren't losing your touch. Now, as I said before, I suspect you might have already figured out his proclivites. Even before you had to bear witness to he and Ginger draping themselves all over each other today."
"I did not wish to envision an imprudent hypothesis, Madam. Especially considering that Mr Wooster's private life is not a domain that should be trespassed upon by his manservant."
"What rot, Jeeves! You are his private life! And, as such, I now implore of you a covenant, of sorts."
I must know whether remaining in the employ of an invert causes you any misgivings. Any at all."
"I can say with confidence that I am content to continue as Mr Wooster's valet. Even taking into account his inclinations, he is unquestionably the most morally upstanding and generous employer I have known."
"And you can swear to me that you shall never betray him to those would seek to punish him? Bar yours truly?"
"Mr Wooster's safety and wellbeing is the definitive concern of my position, Madam."
"Oh, you have no idea how much I am comforted. You really are a bally shining example, Jeeves. Cigarette?"
"No thank you, Madam."
"You know, there's a big part of me that's relieved at the young blot being a whoopsie."
"Well, it seems every true aristocrat has to have a reigning vice to indulge in routinely. And when compared with the penchants of some others: cocaine, prostitutes, self-harm, absinthe, silver collections, not to mention some of the truly abhorrent things I've heard involving acts of violence
Well, Bertie's decadence may not win him any brownie points, but it's downright meek in contrast. But look who I'm telling this to. I'm sure you've seen your fair share of it whilst waiting on us toffs, what?"
"Shakespeare told us 'the better part of valour is discretion', Madam."
"Very good, very good. Anyway, he's not the sort who preys on other boys. There was an uncle of mine who gave every toothsome lad who passed his way a look comparable to a hungry wolverine eyeing an exposed jugular vein. No
Bertie has something of the soft, fluttery principle about him. Little milksop. He falls in love with men, Jeeves. He dithers, he moons about, he sighs and simpers. Just like a woman. I suppose I should have figured him out earlier his first Summer home from Oxford, he drifted about clutching a photograph of that Valentino chap to his bosom. Probably went about pretending he was Agnes Ayres or something."
"If I may be so bold to ask, Mrs Travers, when did you discover my master's nature?"
"Oh, that was the next Summer. That Potter-Pirbright boy came to visit for a few weeks, and while I was out riding I came upon them in a secluded corner of the estate, gnawing at each other like starved rodents. I screamed myself hoarse, mostly because I feared they might have been discovered by an unsuspecting gardener. From then on, I resolved myself. If my favourite nephew had been designed this way, then at least he could satisfy his yen safely under my roof. I told him if there was any boy he fancied, he would only be allowed to entertain him here at Brinkley Court, behind a locked door, and not while I was away. When he moved to London, I prayed that he'd be blessed with a bit of bloody discretion and common sense. Obviously, my plea has not been answered. Which is why I thank God he's got you, Jeeves."
kindness knows no equal, Madam."
"Anyway. I'm more than a little miffed to see Ginger making eyes at my young blot, given his existing romantic entaglements. Not that his betrothal to Florence will amount to anything, but I've noticed how keen he is on that little secretary he hired. As such, the way he and Bertie reunited was most inappropriate. Bertie has probably got it into his thick head that Ginger is full of tender pash for him, but I reckon he just wants one more tumble with a cove before he commits himself to a member of the fairer sex. Tell me, Jeeves would you say there have been any romances in Bertie's life lately? At least, ones that are more than mere infatuations with moving picture stars?"
"To my knowledge, Madam, there have only been ill-fated flirtations and engagements to an assortment of young ladies. These you already know about."
"Hm. Can you honestly say his heart's really been in any of them?"
"Oh dear. Then I wouldn't be surprised if the silly boy has been carrying a torch for Ginger since his Oxford days. I wouldn't have thought him capable of such long-lasting devotion."
"It is an acutely painful circumstance to be in, Madam. As Lord Byron once wrote, he himself the victim of such a cruel situation: 'Past pleasure doubles present pain, to sorrow adds regret'"
"Oh, dash Lord Byron, Jeeves! I have half a mind to lug Ginger himself in here tonight and tell him that if he breaks my nephew's heart, I'll break his neck. I'm sure it couldn't do his campaign any harm were he to sport a battle scar or two
"Very good, Madam."
"And don't get all soupy with me like that. I want you to keep an eye on him. Should you notice any melancholy thoughts clouding the Wooster brow, any drippy moping or any banging out of maudlin love songs on the piano, you are to bolster his sprits in any way you can. Coerce him into a trip to New York. Get him to throw a party for those dratted Drones of his. Hide his favourite socks. Anything to take his mind off it. You will do this, Jeeves
"If I may, Madam?"
"Oh, what? I suppose you've got some convoluted moral objection to this, do you?"
"Not as such, Madam. I would not be disinclined to offer cheerful diversions to Mr Wooster if he is truly languishing in love. However, I feel that as attempts to blot his beloved from his memory, they will be in vain. Disappointed love is a grievous wound, Mrs Travers, one that can only heal of its own accord. Whether this would take weeks, months or years depends on the violence of Mr Wooster's feelings for Mr Winship. I myself hope that whatever affection lingers in my master's heart for the young man is casual and not deeply rooted."
what if it's not?... Not just a casual affection?..."
"In all good faith, without deceit,
I love the fairest and the best:
So sigh, my heart, and weep, my eyes
I love so much the one who hurts:
I can no more, if Love takes me,
and for the jails he's put me in,
no key will open, sparing me,
but haven't I been spared too much?
"This love gives me a gentle wound
that leaves a sweetness in the heart:
I die twelve times a day of pain,
twelve more I am reborn to joy.
My illness is attractive, though,
it's worth more than my wellness is,
and just as it is good to me
so's wellness after all the pain."
was that Byron?"
"The 12th century troubador Bernart de Ventadorn."
"I see. Jeeves?"
"What if, once he has gotten over Ginger, Bertie should fall in love with you? It's not entirely unlikely."
My response would be firm but gentle. Mr Wooster would be left humbled yet reassured, with no doubt in his mind of the exact truth of my relationship with him. My interest in his wellbeing would remain the same as before."
"You're a good man, Jeeves."
"Thank you, Madam."
"Come on, then. I think I hear the dinner bell. If you see Ginger flirting with anyone over his pommes de terre, be so good as to direct him to the library after the meal."
"As you wish, Madam."
"You alright, old thing?"
"Quite alright, Ginger. Why?"
I don't remember you being this dashed silent. Not unless you thought the Head of House was lurking at the doorway. Usually you babbled and brayed and squealed through the entire thing, excluding the bits requiring oral ministrations."
"Hm. Guess I've just been thinking."
"This is news indeed! And what has got the pretty little Wooster head whirled up in such a state?"
"Oh, this and that. It's nothing. Anyway, you've got enough to worry about without humouring my bally whinging. At least when I was engaged to Lady Florence, I wasn't caught up in a crusade to be elected an MP."
"Go on. I'd love a bit of juicy soul-baring. It's not like you've ever hidden anything else from me. Is it a beazel or something? An inkling to join the army and biff off to the Levant? You'd look quite corking kitted out in those black and white Arab robes. And I bet you could get those whiffy Turkish cigarettes of yours for"
"Ginger. I think I'm falling in love with my manservant."
"It's kind of been dawning on me as the months have passed. Tonight rather clinched it. I realised: everything you and I used to enjoy doing together, well, I want to do such things with him."
"What, you mean sneaking into the dorms at St. Catz's and short-sheeting all the undergraduates' beds?"
"You know what I mean, fathead. He's
he's a marvel."