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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 12

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 12

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. Chapter 27

28. Chapter 28

29. Chapter 29

30. Chapter 30



Self-possession was one of Jimmy's leading characteristics, but for
the moment he found himself speechless. This girl had been occupying
his thoughts for so long that--in his mind--he had grown very
intimate with her. It was something of a shock to come suddenly out
of his dreams, and face the fact that she was in reality practically
a stranger. He felt as one might with a friend whose memory has been
wiped out. It went against the grain to have to begin again from the
beginning after all the time they had been together.

A curious constraint fell upon him.

"Why, how do you do, Mr. Pitt?" she said, holding out her hand.

Jimmy began to feel better. It was something that she remembered his

"It's like meeting somebody out of a dream," said Molly. "I have
sometimes wondered if you were real. Everything that happened that
night was so like a dream."

Jimmy found his tongue.

"You haven't altered," he said, "you look just the same."

"Well," she laughed, "after all, it's not so long ago, is it?"

He was conscious of a dull hurt. To him, it had seemed years. But he
was nothing to her--just an acquaintance, one of a hundred. But what
more, he asked himself, could he have expected? And with the thought
came consolation. The painful sense of having lost ground left him.
He saw that he had been allowing things to get out of proportion. He
had not lost ground. He had gained it. He had met her again, and she
remembered him. What more had he any right to ask?

"I've crammed a good deal into the time," he explained. "I've been
traveling about a bit since we met."

"Do you live in Shropshire?" asked Molly.

"No. I'm on a visit. At least, I'm supposed to be. But I've lost the
way to the place, and I am beginning to doubt if I shall ever get
there. I was told to go straight on. I've gone straight on, and here
I am, lost in the snow. Do you happen to know whereabouts Dreever
Castle is?"

She laughed.

"Why," she said, "I am staying at Dreever Castle, myself."


"So, the first person you meet turns out to be an experienced guide.
You're lucky, Mr. Pitt."

"You're right," said Jimmy slowly, "I am."

"Did you come down with Lord Dreever? He passed me in the car just
as I was starting out. He was with another man and Lady Julia Blunt.
Surely, he didn't make you walk?"

"I offered to walk. Somebody had to. Apparently, he had forgotten to
let them know he was bringing me."

"And then he misdirected you! He's very casual, I'm afraid."

"Inclined that way, perhaps."

"Have you known Lord Dreever long?"

"Since a quarter past twelve last night."

"Last night!"

"We met at the Savoy, and, later, on the Embankment. We looked at
the river together, and told each other the painful stories of our
lives, and this morning he called, and invited me down here."

Molly looked at him with frank amusement.

"You must be a very restless sort of person," she said. "You seem to
do a great deal of moving about."

"I do," said Jimmy. "I can't keep still. I've got the go-fever, like
that man in Kipling's book."

"But he was in love."

"Yes," said Jimmy. "He was. That's the bacillus, you know."

She shot a quick glance at him. He became suddenly interesting to
her. She was at the age of dreams and speculations. From being
merely an ordinary young man with rather more ease of manner than
the majority of the young men she had met, he developed in an
instant into something worthy of closer attention. He took on a
certain mystery and romance. She wondered what sort of girl it was
that he loved. Examining him in the light of this new discovery, she
found him attractive. Something seemed to have happened to put her
in sympathy with him. She noticed for the first time a latent
forcefulness behind the pleasantness of his manner. His self-
possession was the self-possession of the man who has been tried and
has found himself.

At the bottom of her consciousness, too, there was a faint stirring
of some emotion, which she could not analyze, not unlike pain. It
was vaguely reminiscent of the agony of loneliness which she had
experienced as a small child on the rare occasions when her father
had been busy and distrait, and had shown her by his manner that she
was outside his thoughts. This was but a pale suggestion of that
misery; nevertheless, there was a resemblance. It was a rather
desolate, shut-out sensation, half-resentful.

It was gone in a moment. But it had been there. It had passed over
her heart as the shadow of a cloud moves across a meadow in the

For some moments, she stood without speaking. Jimmy did not break
the silence. He was looking at her with an appeal in his eyes. Why
could she not understand? She must understand.

But the eyes that met his were those of a child.

As they stood there, the horse, which had been cropping in a
perfunctory manner at the short grass by the roadside, raised its
head, and neighed impatiently. There was something so human about
the performance that Jimmy and the girl laughed simultaneously. The
utter materialism of the neigh broke the spell. It was a noisy
demand for food.

"Poor Dandy!" said Molly. "He knows he's near home, and he knows
it's his dinner-time."

"Are we near the castle, then?"

"It's a long way round by the road, but we can cut across the
fields. Aren't these English fields and hedges just perfect! I love
them. Of course, I loved America, but--"

"Have you left New York long?" asked Jimmy.

"We came over here about a month after you were at our house."

"You didn't spend much time there, then."

"Father had just made a good deal of money in Wall Street. He must
have been making it when I was on the Lusitania. He wanted to leave
New York, so we didn't wait. We were in London all the winter. Then,
we went over to Paris. It was there we met Sir Thomas Blunt and Lady
Julia. Have you met them? They are Lord Dreever's uncle and aunt."

"I've met Lady Julia."

"Do you like her?"

Jimmy hesitated.

"Well, you see--"

"I know. She's your hostess, but you haven't started your visit yet.
So, you've just got time to say what you really think of her, before
you have to pretend she's perfect."


"I detest her," said Molly, crisply. "I think she's hard and

"Well, I can't say she struck me as a sort of female Cheeryble
Brother. Lord Dreever introduced me to her at the station. She
seemed to bear it pluckily, but with some difficulty."

"She's hateful," repeated Molly. "So is he, Sir Thomas, I mean. He's
one of those fussy, bullying little men. They both bully poor Lord
Dreever till I wonder he doesn't rebel. They treat him like a
school-boy. It makes me wild. It's such a shame--he's so nice and
good-natured! I am so sorry for him!"

Jimmy listened to this outburst with mixed feelings. It was sweet of
her to be so sympathetic, but was it merely sympathy? There had been
a ring in her voice and a flush on her cheek that had suggested to
Jimmy's sensitive mind a personal interest in the down-trodden peer.
Reason told him that it was foolish to be jealous of Lord Dreever, a
good fellow, of course, but not to be taken seriously. The primitive
man in him, on the other hand, made him hate all Molly's male
friends with an unreasoning hatred. Not that he hated Lord Dreever:
he liked him. But he doubted if he could go on liking him for long
if Molly were to continue in this sympathetic strain.

His affection for the absent one was not put to the test. Molly's
next remark had to do with Sir Thomas.

"The worst of it is," she said, "father and Sir Thomas are such
friends. In Paris, they were always together. Father did him a very
good turn."

"How was that?"

"It was one afternoon, just after we arrived. A man got into Lady
Julia's room while we were all out except father. Father saw him go
into the room, and suspected something was wrong, and went in after
him. The man was trying to steal Lady Julia's jewels. He had opened
the box where they were kept, and was actually holding her rope of
diamonds in his hand when father found him. It's the most
magnificent thing I ever saw. Sir Thomas told father he gave a
hundred thousand dollars for it."

"But, surely," said Jimmy, "hadn't the management of the hotel a
safe for valuables?"

"Of course, they had; but you don't know Sir Thomas. He wasn't going
to trust any hotel safe. He's the sort of a man who insists on doing
everything in his own way, and who always imagines he can do things
better himself than anyone else can do them for him. He had had this
special box made, and would never keep the diamonds anywhere else.
Naturally, the thief opened it in a minute. A clever thief would
have no difficulty with a thing like that."

"What happened?"

"Oh, the man saw father, and dropped the jewels, and ran off down
the corridor. Father chased him a little way, but of course it was
no good; so he went back and shouted, and rang every bell he could
see, and gave the alarm; but the man was never found. Still, he left
the diamonds. That was the great thing, after all. You must look at
them to-night at dinner. They really are wonderful. Are you a judge
of precious stones at all?"

"I am rather," said Jimmy. "In fact, a jeweler I once knew told me I
had a natural gift in that direction. And so, of course, Sir Thomas
was pretty grateful to your father?"

"He simply gushed. He couldn't do enough for him. You see, if the
diamonds had been stolen, I'm sure Lady Julia would have made Sir
Thomas buy her another rope just as good. He's terrified of her, I'm
certain. He tries not to show it, but he is. And, besides having to
pay another hundred thousand dollars, he would never have heard the
last of it. It would have ruined his reputation for being infallible
and doing everything better than anybody else."

"But didn't the mere fact that the thief got the jewels, and was
only stopped by a fluke from getting away with them, do that?"

Molly bubbled with laughter.

"She never knew. Sir Thomas got back to the hotel an hour before she
did. I've never seen such a busy hour. He had the manager up,
harangued him, and swore him to secrecy--which the poor manager was
only too glad to agree to, because it wouldn't have done the hotel
any good to have it known. And the manager harangued the servants,
and the servants harangued one another, and everybody talked at the
same time; and father and I promised not to tell a soul; so Lady
Julia doesn't know a word about it to this day. And I don't see why
she ever should--though, one of these days, I've a good mind to tell
Lord Dreever. Think what a hold he would have over them! They'd
never be able to bully him again."

"I shouldn't," said Jimmy, trying to keep a touch of coldness out of
his voice. This championship of Lord Dreever, however sweet and
admirable, was a little distressing.

She looked up quickly.

"You don't think I really meant to, do you?"

"No, no," said Jimmy, hastily. "Of course not."

"Well, I should think so!" said Molly, indignantly. "After I
promised not to tell a soul about it!"

Jimmy chuckled.

"It's nothing," he said, in answer to her look of inquiry.

"You laughed at something."

"Well," said Jimmy apologetically, "it's only--it's nothing really--
only, what I mean is, you have just told one soul a good deal about
it, haven't you?"

Molly turned pink. Then, she smiled.

"I don't know how I came to do it," she declared. "It just rushed
out of its own accord. I suppose it is because I know I can trust

Jimmy flushed with pleasure. He turned to her, and half-halted, but
she continued to walk on.

"You can," he said, "but how do you know you can?"

She seemed surprised.

"Why--" she said. She stopped for a moment, and then went on
hurriedly, with a touch of embarrassment. "Why, how absurd! Of
course, I know. Can't you read faces? I can. Look," she said,
pointing, "now you can see the castle. How do you like it?"

They had reached a point where the fields sloped sharply downward. A
few hundred yards away, backed by woods, stood the gray mass of
stone which had proved such a kill-joy of old to the Welsh sportsmen
during the pheasant season. Even now, it had a certain air of
defiance. The setting sun lighted the waters of the lake. No figures
were to be seen moving in the grounds. The place resembled a palace
of sleep.

"Well?" said Molly.

"It's wonderful!"

"Isn't it! I'm so glad it strikes you like that. I always feel as if
I had invented everything round here. It hurts me if people don't
appreciate it."

They went down the hill.

"By the way," said Jimmy, "are you acting in these theatricals they
are getting up?"

"Yes. Are you the other man they were going to get? That's why Lord
Dreever went up to London, to see if he couldn't find somebody. The
man who was going to play one of the parts had to go back to London
on business."

"Poor brute!" said Jimmy. It seemed to him at this moment that there
was only one place in the world where a man might be even reasonably
happy. "What sort of part is it? Lord Dreever said I should be
wanted to act. What do I do?"

"If you're Lord Herbert, which is the part they wanted a man for,
you talk to me most of the time."

Jimmy decided that the piece had been well cast.

The dressing-gong sounded just as they entered the hall. From a
door on the left, there emerged two men, a big man and a little one,
in friendly conversation. The big man's back struck Jimmy as

"Oh, father," Molly called. And Jimmy knew where he had seen the
back before.

The two men stopped.

"Sir Thomas," said Molly, "this is Mr. Pitt."

The little man gave Jimmy a rapid glance, possibly with the object
of detecting his more immediately obvious criminal points; then, as
if satisfied as to his honesty, became genial.

"I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Pitt, very glad," he said. "We have
been expecting you for some time."

Jimmy explained that he had lost his way.

"Exactly. It was ridiculous that you should be compelled to walk,
perfectly ridiculous. It was grossly careless of my nephew not to
let us know that you were coming. My wife told him so in the car."

"I bet she did," said Jimmy to himself. "Really," he said aloud, by
way of lending a helping hand to a friend in trouble, "I preferred
to walk. I have not been on a country road since I landed in
England." He turned to the big man, and held out his hand. "I don't
suppose you remember me, Mr. McEachern? We met in New York."

"You remember the night Mr. Pitt scared away our burglar, father,"
said Molly.

Mr. McEachern was momentarily silent. On his native asphalt, there
are few situations capable of throwing the New York policeman off
his balance. In that favored clime, savoir faire is represented by a
shrewd blow of the fist, and a masterful stroke with the truncheon
amounts to a satisfactory repartee. Thus shall you never take the
policeman of Manhattan without his answer. In other surroundings,
Mr. McEachern would have known how to deal with the young man whom
with such good reason he believed to be an expert criminal. But
another plan of action was needed here. First and foremost, of all
the hints on etiquette that he had imbibed since he entered this
more reposeful life, came the maxim: "Never make a scene." Scenes,
he had gathered, were of all things what polite society most
resolutely abhorred. The natural man in him must be bound in chains.
The sturdy blow must give way to the honeyed word. A cold, "Really!"
was the most vigorous retort that the best circles would
countenance. It had cost Mr. McEachern some pains to learn this
lesson, but he had done it. He shook hands, and gruffly acknowledged
the acquaintanceship.

"Really, really!" chirped Sir Thomas, amiably. "So, you find
yourself among old friends, Mr. Pitt."

"Old friends," echoed Jimmy, painfully conscious of the ex-
policeman's eyes, which were boring holes in him.

"Excellent, excellent! Let me take you to your room. It is just
opposite my own. This way."

In his younger days, Sir Thomas had been a floor-walker of no mean
caliber. A touch of the professional still lingered in his brisk
movements. He preceded Jimmy upstairs with the restrained suavity
that can be learned in no other school.

They parted from Mr. McEachern on the first landing, but Jimmy could
still feel those eyes. The policeman's stare had been of the sort
that turns corners, goes upstairs, and pierces walls.

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