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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Indiscretions of Archie -> Chapter 18

Indiscretions of Archie - Chapter 18

1. Chapter 1

2. Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3

4. Chapter 4

5. Chapter 5

6. Chapter 6

7. Chapter 7

8. Chapter 8

9. Chapter 9

10. Chapter 10

11. Chapter 11

12. Chapter 12

13. Chapter 13

14. Chapter 14

15. Chapter 15

16. Chapter 16

17. Chapter 17

18. Chapter 18

19. Chapter 19

20. Chapter 20

21. Chapter 21

22. Chapter 22

23. Chapter 23

24. Chapter 24

25. Chapter 25

26. Chapter 26

27. Dedication and Contents



The personality that wins cost Archie two dollars in cash and a lot
of embarrassment when he asked for it at the store. To buy a
treatise of that name would automatically seem to argue that you
haven't a winning personality already, and Archie was at some pains
to explain to the girl behind the counter that he wanted it for a
friend. The girl seemed more interested in his English accent than
in his explanation, and Archie was uncomfortably aware, as he
receded, that she was practising it in an undertone for the benefit
of her colleagues and fellow-workers. However, what is a little
discomfort, if endured in friendship's name?

He was proceeding up Broadway after leaving the store when he
encountered Reggie van Tuyl, who was drifting along in
somnambulistic fashion near Thirty-Ninth Street.

"Hullo, Reggie old thing!" said Archie.

"Hullo!" said Reggie, a man of few words.

"I've just been buying a book for Bill Brewster," went on Archie.
"It appears that old Bill--What's the matter?"

He broke off his recital abruptly. A sort of spasm had passed across
his companion's features. The hand holding Archie's arm had
tightened convulsively. One would have said that Reginald had
received a shock.

"It's nothing," said Reggie. "I'm all right now. I caught sight of
that fellow's clothes rather suddenly. They shook me a bit. I'm all
right now," he said, bravely.

Archie, following his friend's gaze, understood. Reggie van Tuyl was
never at his strongest in the morning, and he had a sensitive eye
for clothes. He had been known to resign from clubs because members
exceeded the bounds in the matter of soft shirts with dinner-
jackets. And the short, thick-set man who was standing just in front
of them in attitude of restful immobility was certainly no dandy.
His best friend could not have called him dapper. Take him for all
in all and on the hoof, he might have been posing as a model for a
sketch of What the Well-Dressed Man Should Not Wear.

In costume, as in most other things, it is best to take a definite
line and stick to it. This man had obviously vacillated. His neck
was swathed in a green scarf; he wore an evening-dress coat; and his
lower limbs were draped in a pair of tweed trousers built for a
larger man. To the north he was bounded by a straw hat, to the south
by brown shoes.

Archie surveyed the man's back carefully.

"Bit thick!" he said, sympathetically. "But of course Broadway isn't
Fifth Avenue. What I mean to say is, Bohemian licence and what not.
Broadway's crammed with deuced brainy devils who don't care how they
look. Probably this bird is a master-mind of some species."

"All the same, man's no right to wear evening-dress coat with tweed

"Absolutely not! I see what you mean."

At this point the sartorial offender turned. Seen from the front, he
was even more unnerving. He appeared to possess no shirt, though
this defect was offset by the fact that the tweed trousers fitted
snugly under the arms. He was not a handsome man. At his best he
could never have been that, and in the recent past he had managed to
acquire a scar that ran from the corner of his mouth half-way across
his cheek. Even when his face was in repose he had an odd
expression; and when, as he chanced to do now, he smiled, odd became
a mild adjective, quite inadequate for purposes of description. It
was not an unpleasant face, however. Unquestionably genial, indeed.
There was something in it that had a quality of humorous appeal.

Archie started. He stared at the man, Memory stirred.

"Great Scot!" he cried. "It's the Sausage Chappie!"

Reginald van Tuyl gave a little moan. He was not used to this sort
of thing. A sensitive young man as regarded scenes, Archie's
behaviour unmanned him. For Archie, releasing his arm, had bounded
forward and was shaking the other's hand warmly.

"Well, well, well! My dear old chap! You must remember me, what? No?

The man with the scar seemed puzzled. He shuffled the brown shoes,
patted the straw hat, and eyed Archie questioningly.

"I don't seem to place you," he said.

Archie slapped the back of the evening-dress coat. He linked his arm
affectionately with that of the dress-reformer.

"We met outside St Mihiel in the war. You gave me a bit of sausage.
One of the most sporting events in history. Nobody but a real
sportsman would have parted with a bit of sausage at that moment to
a stranger. Never forgotten it, by Jove. Saved my life, absolutely.
Hadn't chewed a morse for eight hours. Well, have you got anything
on? I mean to say, you aren't booked for lunch or any rot of that
species, are you? Fine! Then I move we all toddle off and get a bite
somewhere." He squeezed the other's arm fondly. "Fancy meeting you
again like this! I've often wondered what became of you. But, by
Jove, I was forgetting. Dashed rude of me. My friend, Mr. van Tuyl."

Reggie gulped. The longer he looked at it, the harder this man's
costume was to bear. His eye passed shudderingly from the brown
shoes to the tweed trousers, to the green scarf, from the green
scarf to the straw hat.

"Sorry," he mumbled. "Just remembered. Important date. Late already.
Er--see you some time--"

He melted away, a broken man. Archie was not sorry to see him go.
Reggie was a good chap, but he would undoubtedly have been de trop
at this reunion.

"I vote we go to the Cosmopolis," he said, steering his newly-found
friend through the crowd. "The browsing and sluicing isn't bad
there, and I can sign the bill which is no small consideration

The Sausage Chappie chuckled amusedly.

"I can't go to a place like the Cosmopolis looking like this."

Archie, was a little embarrassed.

"Oh, I don't know, you know, don't you know!" he said. "Still, since
you have brought the topic up, you DID get the good old wardrobe a
bit mixed this morning what? I mean to say, you seem absent-
mindedly, as it were, to have got hold of samples from a good number
of your various suitings."

"Suitings? How do you mean, suitings? I haven't any suitings! Who do
you think I am? Vincent Astor? All I have is what I stand up in."

Archie was shocked. This tragedy touched him. He himself had never
had any money in his life, but somehow he had always seemed to
manage to have plenty of clothes. How this was he could not say. He
had always had a vague sort of idea that tailors were kindly birds
who never failed to have a pair of trousers or something up their
sleeve to present to the deserving. There was the drawback, of
course, that once they had given you things they were apt to write
you rather a lot of letters about it; but you soon managed to
recognise their handwriting, and then it was a simple task to
extract their communications from your morning mail and drop them in
the waste-paper basket. This was the first case he had encountered
of a man who was really short of clothes.

"My dear old lad," he said, briskly, "this must be remedied! Oh,
positively! This must be remedied at once! I suppose my things
wouldn't fit you? No. Well, I tell you what. We'll wangle something
from my father-in-law. Old Brewster, you know, the fellow who runs
the Cosmopolis. His'll fit you like the paper on the wall, because
he's a tubby little blighter, too. What I mean to say is, he's also
one of those sturdy, square, fine-looking chappies of about the
middle height. By the way, where are you stopping these days?"

"Nowhere just at present. I thought of taking one of those self-
contained Park benches."

"Are you broke?"

"Am I!"

Archie was concerned.

"You ought to get a job."

"I ought. But somehow I don't seem able to."

"What did you do before the war?"

"I've forgotten."



"How do you mean--forgotten? You can't mean--FORGOTTEN?"

"Yes. It's quite gone."

"But I mean to say. You can't have forgotten a thing like that."

"Can't I! I've forgotten all sorts of things. Where I was born. How
old I am. Whether I'm married or single. What my name is--"

"Well, I'm dashed!" said Archie, staggered. "But you remembered
about giving me a bit of sausage outside St. Mihiel?"

"No, I didn't. I'm taking your word for it. For all I know you may
be luring me into some den to rob me of my straw hat. I don't know
you from Adam. But I like your conversation--especially the part
about eating--and I'm taking a chance."

Archie was concerned.

"Listen, old bean. Make an effort. You must remember that sausage
episode? It was just outside St. Mihiel, about five in the evening.
Your little lot were lying next to my little lot, and we happened to
meet, and I said 'What ho!' and you said 'Halloa!' and I said 'What
ho! What ho!' and you said 'Have a bit of sausage?' and I said 'What
ho! What ho! What HO!'"

"The dialogue seems to have been darned sparkling but I don't
remember it. It must have been after that that I stopped one. I
don't seem quite to have caught up with myself since I got hit."

"Oh! That's how you got that scar?"

"No. I got that jumping through a plate-glass window in London on
Armistice night."

"What on earth did you do that for?"

"Oh, I don't know. It seemed a good idea at the time."

"But if you can remember a thing like that, why can't you remember
your name?"

"I remember everything that happened after I came out of hospital.
It's the part before that's gone."

Archie patted him on the shoulder.

"I know just what you want. You need a bit of quiet and repose, to
think things over and so forth. You mustn't go sleeping on Park
benches. Won't do at all. Not a bit like it. You must shift to the
Cosmopolis. It isn't half a bad spot, the old Cosmop. I didn't like
it much the first night I was there, because there was a dashed tap
that went drip-drip-drip all night and kept me awake, but the place
has its points."

"Is the Cosmopolis giving free board and lodging these days?"

"Rather! That'll be all right. Well, this is the spot. We'll start
by trickling up to the old boy's suite and looking over his reach-
me-downs. I know the waiter on his floor. A very sound chappie.
He'll let us in with his pass-key."

And so it came about that Mr. Daniel Brewster, returning to his
suite in the middle of lunch in order to find a paper dealing with
the subject he was discussing with his guest, the architect of his
new hotel, was aware of a murmur of voices behind the closed door of
his bedroom. Recognising the accents of his son-in-law, he breathed
an oath and charged in. He objected to Archie wandering at large
about his suite.

The sight that met his eyes when he opened the door did nothing to
soothe him. The floor was a sea of clothes. There were coats on the
chairs, trousers on the bed, shirts on the bookshelf. And in the
middle of his welter stood Archie, with a man who, to Mr. Brewster's
heated eye, looked like a tramp comedian out of a burlesque show.

"Great Godfrey!" ejaculated Mr. Brewster.

Archie looked up with a friendly smile.

"Oh, halloa-halloa!" he said, affably, "We were just glancing
through your spare scenery to see if we couldn't find something for
my pal here. This is Mr. Brewster, my father-in-law, old man."

Archie scanned his relative's twisted features. Something in his
expression seemed not altogether encouraging. He decided that the
negotiations had better be conducted in private. "One moment, old
lad," he said to his new friend. "I just want to have a little talk
with my father-in-law in the other room. Just a little friendly
business chat. You stay here."

In the other room Mr. Brewster turned on Archie like a wounded lion
of the desert.

"What the--!"

Archie secured one of his coat-buttons and began to massage it

"Ought to have explained!" said Archie, "only didn't want to
interrupt your lunch. The sportsman on the horizon is a dear old pal
of mine--"

Mr. Brewster wrenched himself free.

"What the devil do you mean, you worm, by bringing tramps into my
bedroom and messing about with my clothes?"

"That's just what I'm trying to explain, if you'll only listen. This
bird is a bird I met in France during the war. He gave me a bit of
sausage outside St. Mihiel--"

"Damn you and him and the sausage!"

"Absolutely. But listen. He can't remember who he is or where he was
born or what his name is, and he's broke; so, dash it, I must look
after him. You see, he gave me a bit of sausage."

Mr. Brewster's frenzy gave way to an ominous calm.

"I'll give him two seconds to clear out of here. If he isn't gone by
then I'll have him thrown out"

Archie was shocked.

"You don't mean that?"

"I do mean that."

"But where is he to go?"


"But you don't understand. This chappie has lost his memory because
he was wounded in the war. Keep that fact firmly fixed in the old
bean. He fought for you. Fought and bled for you. Bled profusely, by
Jove. AND he saved my life!"

"If I'd got nothing else against him, that would be enough."

"But you can't sling a chappie out into the cold hard world who bled
in gallons to make the world safe for the Hotel Cosmopolis."

Mr. Brewster looked ostentatiously at his watch.

"Two seconds!" he said.

There was a silence. Archie appeared to be thinking. "Right-o!" he
said at last. "No need to get the wind up. I know where he can go.
It's just occurred to me I'll put him up at my little shop."

The purple ebbed from Mr. Brewster's face. Such was his emotion that
he had forgotten that infernal shop. He sat down. There was more

"Oh, gosh!" said Mr. Brewster.

"I knew you would be reasonable about it," said Archie, approvingly.
"Now, honestly, as man to man, how do we go?"

"What do you want me to do?" growled Mr. Brewster.

"I thought you might put the chappie up for a while, and give him a
chance to look round and nose about a bit"

"I absolutely refuse to give any more loafers free board and

"Any MORE?"

"Well, he would be the second, wouldn't he?"

Archie looked pained.

"It's true," he said, "that when I first came here I was temporarily
resting, so to speak; but didn't I go right out and grab the
managership of your new hotel? Positively!"

"I will NOT adopt this tramp."

"Well, find him a job, then."

"What sort of a job?"

"Oh, any old sort"

"He can be a waiter if he likes."

"All right; I'll put the matter before him."

He returned to the bedroom. The Sausage Chappie was gazing fondly
into the mirror with a spotted tie draped round his neck.

"I say, old top," said Archie, apologetically, "the Emperor of the
Blighters out yonder says you can have a job here as waiter, and he
won't do another dashed thing for you. How about it?"

"Do waiters eat?"

"I suppose so. Though, by Jove, come to think of it, I've never seen
one at it."

"That's good enough for me!" said the Sausage Chappie. "When do I

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