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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 14

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 14

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



Mr. McEachern stood in the doorway, breathing heavily. As the result
of a long connection with evil-doers, the ex-policeman was somewhat
prone to harbor suspicions of those round about him, and at the
present moment his mind was aflame. Indeed, a more trusting man
might have been excused for feeling a little doubtful as to the
intentions of Jimmy and Spike. When McEachern had heard that Lord
Dreever had brought home a casual London acquaintance, he had
suspected as a possible drawback to the visit the existence of
hidden motives on the part of the unknown. Lord Dreever, he had
felt, was precisely the sort of youth to whom the professional
bunco-steerer would attach himself with shouts of joy. Never, he had
assured himself, had there been a softer proposition than his
lordship since bunco-steering became a profession. When he found
that the strange visitor was Jimmy Pitt, his suspicions had
increased a thousand-fold.

And when, going to his room to get ready for dinner, he had nearly
run into Spike Mullins in the corridor, his frame of mind had been
that of a man to whom a sudden ray of light reveals the fact that he
is on the brink of a black precipice. Jimmy and Spike had burgled
his house together in New York. And here they were, together again,
at Dreever Castle. To say that the thing struck McEachern as
sinister is to put the matter baldly. There was once a gentleman who
remarked that he smelt a rat, and saw it floating in the air. Ex-
Constable McEachern smelt a regiment of rats, and the air seemed to
him positively congested with them.

His first impulse had been to rush to Jimmy's room there and then;
but he had learned society's lessons well. Though the heavens might
fall, he must not be late for dinner. So, he went and dressed, and
an obstinate tie put the finishing touches to his wrath.

Jimmy regarded him coolly, without moving from, the chair in which
he had seated himself. Spike, on the other hand, seemed embarrassed.
He stood first on one leg, and then on the other, as if he were
testing the respective merits of each, and would make a definite
choice later on.

"You scoundrels!" growled McEachern.

Spike, who had been standing for a few moments on his right leg, and
seemed at last to have come to, a decision, hastily changed to the
left, and grinned feebly.

"Say, youse won't want me any more, boss?" he whispered.

"No, you can go, Spike."

"You stay where you are, you red-headed devil!" said McEachern,

"Run along, Spike," said Jimmy.

The Bowery boy looked doubtfully at the huge form of the ex-
policeman, which blocked access to the door.

"Would you mind letting my man pass?" said Jimmy.

"You stay--" began McEachern.

Jimmy got up and walked round to the door, which he opened. Spike
shot out. He was not lacking in courage, but he disliked
embarrassing interviews, and it struck him that Jimmy was the man to
handle a situation of this kind. He felt that he himself would only
be in the way.

"Now, we can talk comfortably," said Jimmy, going back to his chair.

McEachern's deep-set eyes gleamed, and his forehead grew red, but he
mastered his feelings.

"And now--" said he, then paused.

"Yes?" asked Jimmy.

"What are you doing here?"

"Nothing, at the moment."

"You know what I mean. Why are you here, you and that red-headed
devil, Spike Mullins?" He jerked his head in the direction of the

"I am here because I was very kindly invited to come by Lord

"I know you."

"You have that privilege. Seeing that we only met once, it's very
good of you to remember me."

"What's your game? What do you mean to do?"

"To do? Well, I shall potter about the garden, you know, and shoot a
bit, perhaps, and look at the horses, and think of life, and feed
the chickens--I suppose there are chickens somewhere about--and
possibly go for an occasional row on the lake. Nothing more. Oh,
yes, I believe they want me to act in some theatricals."

"You'll miss those theatricals. You'll leave here to-morrow."

"To-morrow? But I've only just arrived, dear heart."

"I don't care about that. Out you go to-morrow. I'll give you till

"I congratulate you," said Jimmy. "One of the oldest houses in

"What do you mean?"

"I gathered from what you said that you had bought the Castle. Isn't
that so? If it still belongs to Lord Dreever, don't you think you
ought to consult him before revising his list of guests?"

McEachern looked steadily at him. His manner became quieter.

"Oh, you take that tone, do you?"

"I don't know what you mean by 'that tone.' What tone would you take
if a comparative stranger ordered you to leave another man's house?"

McEachern's massive jaw protruded truculently in the manner that had
scared good behavior into brawling East Siders.

"I know your sort," he said. "I'll call your bluff. And you won't
get till to-morrow, either. It'll be now."

"'Why should we wait for the morrow? You are queen of my heart to-
night," murmured Jimmy, encouragingly.

"I'll expose you before them all. I'll tell them everything."

Jimmy shook his head.

"Too melodramatic," he said. "'I call on heaven to judge between
this man and me!' kind of thing. I shouldn't. What do you propose to
tell, anyway?"

"Will you deny that you were a crook in New York?"

"I will. I was nothing of the kind."


"If you'll listen, I can explain--"

"Explain!" The other's voice rose again. "You talk about explaining,
you scum, when I caught you in my own parlor at three in the

The smile faded from Jimmy's face.

"Half a minute," he said. It might be that the ideal course would be
to let the storm expend itself, and then to explain quietly the
whole matter of Arthur Mifflin and the bet that had led to his one
excursion into burglary; but he doubted it. Things--including his
temper--had got beyond the stage of quiet explanations. McEachern
would most certainly disbelieve his story. What would happen after
that he did not know. A scene, probably: a melodramatic
denunciation, at the worst, before the other guests; at the best,
before Sir Thomas alone. He saw nothing but chaos beyond that. His
story was thin to a degree, unless backed by witnesses, and his
witnesses were three thousand miles away. Worse, he had not been
alone in the policeman's parlor. A man who is burgling a house for a
bet does not usually do it in the company of a professional burglar,
well known to the police.

No, quiet explanations must be postponed. They could do no good, and
would probably lead to his spending the night and the next few
nights at the local police-station. And, even if he were spared that
fate, it was certain that he would have to leave the castle--leave
the castle and Molly!

He jumped up. The thought had stung him.

"One moment," he said.

McEachern stopped.


"You're going to tell them that?" asked Jimmy.

"I am."

Jimmy walked up to him.

"Are you also going to tell them why you didn't have me arrested
that night?" he said.

McEachern started. Jimmy planted himself in front of him, and glared
up into his face. It would have been hard to say which of the two
was the angrier. The policeman was flushed, and the veins stood out
on his forehead. Jimmy was in a white heat of rage. He had turned
very pale, and his muscles were quivering. Jimmy in this mood had
once cleared a Los Angeles bar-room with the leg of a chair in the
space of two and a quarter minutes by the clock.

"Are you?" he demanded. "Are you?"

McEachern's hand, hanging at his side, lifted itself hesitatingly.
The fingers brushed against Jimmy's shoulder.

Jimmy's lip twitched.

"Yes," he said, "do it! Do it, and see what happens. By God, if you
put a hand on me, I'll finish you. Do you think you can bully me? Do
you think I care for your size?"

McEachern dropped his hand. For the first time in his life, he had
met a man who, instinct told him, was his match and more. He stepped
back a pace.

Jimmy put his hands in his pockets, and turned away. He walked to
the mantelpiece, and leaned his back against it.

"You haven't answered my question," he said. "Perhaps, you can't?"

McEachern was wiping his forehead, and breathing quickly.

"If you like," said Jimmy, "we'll go down to the drawing-room now,
and you shall tell your story, and I'll tell mine. I wonder which
they will think the more interesting. Damn you," he went on, his
anger rising once more, "what do you mean by it? You come into my
room, and bluster, and talk big about exposing crooks. What do you
call yourself, I wonder? Do you realize what you are? Why, poor
Spike's an angel compared with you. He did take chances. He wasn't
in a position of trust. You--"

He stopped.

"Hadn't you better get out of here, don't you think?" he said,

Without a word, McEachern walked to the door, and went out.

Jimmy dropped into a chair with a deep breath. He took up his
cigarette-case, but before he could light a match the gong sounded
from the distance.

He rose, and laughed rather shakily. He felt limp. "As an effort at
conciliating papa," he said, "I'm afraid that wasn't much of a

It was not often that McEachern was visited by ideas. He ran rather
to muscle than to brain. But he had one that evening during dinner.
His interview with Jimmy had left him furious, but baffled. He knew
that his hands were tied. Frontal attack was useless. To drive Jimmy
from the castle would be out of the question. All that could be done
was to watch him while he was there. For he had never been more
convinced of anything in his life than that Jimmy had wormed his way
into the house-party with felonious intent. The appearance of Lady
Julia at dinner, wearing the famous rope of diamonds, supplied an
obvious motive. The necklace had an international reputation.
Probably, there was not a prominent thief in England or on the
Continent who had not marked it down as a possible prey. It had
already been tried for, once. It was big game, just the sort of lure
that would draw the type of criminal McEachern imagined Jimmy to be.

From his seat at the far end of the table, Jimmy looked at the
jewels as they gleamed on their wearer's neck. They were almost too
ostentatious for what was, after all, an informal dinner. It was not
a rope of diamonds. It was a collar. There was something Oriental
and barbaric in the overwhelming display of jewelry. It was a prize
for which a thief would risk much.

The conversation, becoming general with the fish, was not of a kind
to remove from his mind the impression made by the sight of the
gems. It turned on burglary.

Lord Dreever began it.

"Oh, I say," he said, "I forgot to tell you, Aunt Julia, Number Six
was burgled the other night."

Number 6a, Eaton Square, was the family's London house.

"Burgled!" cried Sir Thomas.

"Well, broken into," said his lordship, gratified to find that he
had got the ear of his entire audience. Even Lady Julia was silent
and attentive. "Chap got in through the scullery window about one
o'clock in the morning."

"And what did you do?" inquired Sir Thomas.

"Oh, I--er--I was out at the time," said Lord Dreever. "But
something frightened the feller," he went on hurriedly, "and he made
a bolt for it without taking anything."

"Burglary," said a young man, whom Jimmy subsequently discovered to
be the drama-loving Charteris, leaning back and taking advantage of
a pause, "is the hobby of the sportsman and the life work of the
avaricious." He took a little pencil from his waistcoat pocket, and
made a rapid note on his cuff.

Everybody seemed to have something to say on. the subject. One young
lady gave it as her opinion that she would not like to find a
burglar under her bed. Somebody else had heard of a fellow whose
father had fired at the butler, under the impression that he was a
house-breaker, and had broken a valuable bust of Socrates. Lord
Dreever had known a man at college whose brother wrote lyrics for
musical comedy, and had done one about a burglar's best friend being
his mother.

"Life," said Charteris, who had had time for reflection, "is a house
which we all burgle. We enter it uninvited, take all that we can lay
hands on, and go out again." He scribbled, "Life--house--burgle," on
his cuff, and replaced the pencil.

"This man's brother I was telling you about," said Lord Dreever,
"says there's only one rhyme in the English language to 'burglar,'
and that's 'gurgler--' unless you count 'pergola'! He says--"

"Personally," said Jimmy, with a glance at McEachern, "I have rather
a sympathy for burglars. After all, they are one of the hardest-
working classes in existence. They toil while everybody else is
asleep. Besides, a burglar is only a practical socialist. People
talk a lot about the redistribution of wealth. The burglar goes out
and does it. I have found burglars some of the decentest criminals I
have ever met."

"I despise burglars!" ejaculated Lady Julia, with a suddenness that
stopped Jimmy's eloquence as if a tap had been turned off. "If I
found one coming after my jewels, and I had a pistol, I'd shoot

Jimmy met McEachern's eye, and smiled kindly at him. The ex-
policeman was looking at him with the gaze of a baffled, but
malignant basilisk.

"I take very good care no one gets a chance at your diamonds, my
dear," said Sir Thomas, without a blush. "I have had a steel box
made for me," he added to the company in general, "with a special
lock. A very ingenious arrangement. Quite unbreakable, I imagine."

Jimmy, with Molly's story fresh in his mind, could not check a rapid
smile. Mr. McEachern, watching intently, saw it. To him, it was
fresh evidence, if any had been wanted, of Jimmy's intentions and of
his confidence of success. McEachern's brow darkened. During the
rest of the meal, tense thought rendered him even more silent than
was his wont at the dinner-table. The difficulty of his position
was, he saw, great. Jimmy, to be foiled, must be watched, and how
could he watch him?

It was not until the coffee arrived that he found an answer to the
question. With his first cigarette came the idea. That night, in his
room, before going to bed, he wrote a letter. It was an unusual
letter, but, singularly enough, almost identical with one Sir Thomas
Blunt had written that very morning.

It was addressed to the Manager of Dodson's Private Inquiry Agency,
of Bishopsgate Street, E. C., and ran as follows:


On receipt of this, kindly send down one of your smartest men.
Instruct him to stay at the village inn in character of American
seeing sights of England, and anxious to inspect Dreever Castle. I
will meet him in the village and recognize him as old New York
friend, and will then give him further instructions. Yours


P. S. Kindly not send a rube, but a real smart man.

This brief, but pregnant letter cost some pains in its composition.
McEachern was not a ready writer. But he completed it at last to his
satisfaction. There was a crisp purity in the style that pleased
him. He sealed up the envelope, and slipped it into his pocket. He
felt more at ease now. Such was the friendship that had sprung up
between Sir Thomas Blunt and himself as the result of the jewel
episode in Paris that he could count with certainty on the
successful working of his scheme. The grateful knight would not be
likely to allow any old New York friend of his preserver to languish
at the village inn. The sleuth-hound would at once be installed at
the castle, where, unsuspected by Jimmy, he could keep an eye on the
course of events. Any looking after that Mr. James Pitt might
require could safely be left in the hands of this expert.

With considerable fervor, Mr. McEachern congratulated himself on his
astuteness. With Jimmy above stairs and Spike below, the sleuth-
hound would have his hands full.

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