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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 15

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 15

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



Life at the castle during the first few days of his visit filled
Jimmy with a curious blend of emotions, mainly unpleasant. Fate, in
its pro-Jimmy capacity, seemed to be taking a rest. In the first
place, the part allotted to him was not that of Lord Herbert, the
character who talked to Molly most of the time. The instant
Charteris learned from Lord Dreever that Jimmy had at one time
actually been on the stage professionally, he decided that Lord
Herbert offered too little scope for the new man's talents.

"Absolutely no good to you, my dear chap," he said. "It's just a
small dude part. He's simply got to be a silly ass."

Jimmy pleaded that he could be a sillier ass than anybody living;
but Charteris was firm.

"No," he said. "You must be Captain Browne. Fine acting part. The
biggest in the piece. Full of fat lines. Spennie was to have played
it, and we were in for the worst frost in the history of the stage.
Now you've come, it's all right. Spennie's the ideal Lord Herbert.
He's simply got to be him-self. We've got a success now, my boy.
Rehearsal after lunch. Don't be late." And he was off to beat up the
rest of the company.

From that moment, Jimmy's troubles began. Charteris was a young man
in whom a passion for the stage was ineradicably implanted. It
mattered nothing to him during these days that the sun shone, that
it was pleasant on the lake, and that Jimmy would have given five
pounds a minute to be allowed to get Molly to himself for half-an-
hour every afternoon. All he knew or cared about was that the local
nobility and gentry were due to arrive at the castle within a week,
and that, as yet, very few of the company even knew their lines.
Having hustled Jimmy into the part of CAPTAIN BROWNE, he gave his
energy free play. He conducted rehearsals with a vigor that
occasionally almost welded the rabble he was coaching into something
approaching coherency. He painted scenery, and left it about--wet,
and people sat on it. He nailed up horseshoes for luck, and they
fell on people. But nothing daunted him. He never rested.

"Mr. Charteris," said Lady Julia, rather frigidly, after one
energetic rehearsal, "is indefatigable. He whirled me about!"

It was perhaps his greatest triumph, properly considered, that he
had induced Lady Julia to take a part in his piece; but to the born
organizer of amateur theatricals no miracle of this kind is
impossible, and Charteris was one of the most inveterate organizers
in the country. There had been some talk--late at night, in the
billiard room--of his being about to write in a comic footman role
for Sir Thomas; but it had fallen through, not, it was felt, because
Charteris could not have hypnotized his host into undertaking the
part, but rather because Sir Thomas was histrionically unfit.

Mainly as a result of the producer's energy, Jimmy found himself one
of a crowd, and disliked the sensation. He had not experienced much
difficulty in mastering the scenes in which lie appeared; but
unfortunately those who appeared with him had. It occurred to Jimmy
daily, after he had finished "running through the lines" with a
series of agitated amateurs, male and female, that for all practical
purposes he might just as well have gone to Japan. In this confused
welter of rehearsers, his opportunities of talking with Molly were
infinitesimal. And, worse, she did not appear to mind. She was
cheerful and apparently quite content to be engulfed in a crowd.
Probably, he thought with some melancholy, if she met his eye and
noted in it a distracted gleam, she put it down to the cause that
made other eyes in the company gleam distractedly during this week.

Jimmy began to take a thoroughly jaundiced view of amateur
theatricals, and of these amateur theatricals in particular. He felt
that in the electric flame department of the infernal regions there
should be a special gridiron, reserved exclusively for the man who
invented these performances, so diametrically opposed to the true
spirit of civilization. At the close of each day, he cursed
Charteris with unfailing regularity.

There was another thing that disturbed him. That he should be unable
to talk with Molly was an evil, but a negative evil. It was
supplemented by one that was positive. Even in the midst of the
chaos of rehearsals, he could not help noticing that Molly and Lord
Dreever were very much together. Also--and this was even more
sinister--he observed that both Sir Thomas Blunt and Mr. McEachern
were making determined efforts to foster the state of affairs.

Of this, he had sufficient proof one evening when, after scheming
and plotting in a way that had made the great efforts of Machiavelli
and Eichlieu seem like the work of raw novices, he had cut Molly out
from the throng, and carried her off for the alleged purpose of
helping him feed the chickens. There were, as he had suspected,
chickens attached to the castle. They lived in a little world of
noise and smells at the back of the stables. Bearing an iron pot
full of a poisonous-looking mash, and accompanied by Molly, he had
felt for perhaps a minute and a half like a successful general. It
is difficult to be romantic when you are laden with chicken-feed in
an unwieldy iron pot, but he had resolved that this portion of the
proceedings should be brief. The birds should dine that evening on
the quick-lunch principle. Then--to the more fitting surroundings of
the rose-garden! There was plenty of time before the hour of the
sounding of the dressing-gong. Perhaps, even a row on the lake--

"What ho!" said a voice.

Behind them, with a propitiatory smile on his face, stood his
lordship of Dreever.

"My uncle told me I should find you out here. What have you got in
there, Pitt? Is this what you feed them on? I say, you know, queer
coves, hens! I wouldn't touch that stuff for a fortune, what? Looks
to me poisonous."

He met Jimmy's eye, and stopped. There was that in Jimmy's eye that
would have stopped an avalanche. His lordship twiddled his fingers
in pink embarrassment.

"Oh, look!" said Molly. "There's a poor little chicken out there in
the cold. It hasn't had a morsel. Give me the spoon, Mr. Pitt. Here,
chick, chick! Don't be silly, I'm not going to hurt you. I've
brought you your dinner."

She moved off in pursuit of the solitary fowl, which had edged
nervously away. Lord Dreever bent toward Jimmy.

"Frightfully sorry, Pitt, old man," he whispered, feverishly.
"Didn't want to come. Couldn't help it. He sent me out." He half-
looked over his shoulder. "And," he added rapidly, as Molly came
back, "the old boy's up at his bedroom window now, watching us
through his opera-glasses!"

The return journey to the house was performed in silence--on Jimmy's
part, in thoughtful silence. He thought hard, and he had been
thinking ever since.

He had material for thought. That Lord Dreever was as clay in his
uncle's hands he was aware. He had not known his lordship long, but
he had known him long enough to realize that a backbone had been
carelessly omitted from his composition. What his uncle directed,
that would he do. The situation looked bad to Jimmy. The order, he
knew, had gone out that Lord Dreever was to marry money. And Molly
was an heiress. He did not know how much Mr. McEachern had amassed
in his dealings with New York crime, but it must be something
considerable. Things looked black.

Then, Jimmy had a reaction. He was taking much for granted. Lord
Dreever might be hounded into proposing to Molly, but what earthly
reason was there for supposing that Molly would accept him? He
declined even for an instant to look upon Spennie's title in the
light of a lure. Molly was not the girl to marry for a title. He
endeavored to examine impartially his lordship's other claims. He
was a pleasant fellow, with--to judge on short acquaintanceship--an
undeniably amiable disposition. That much must be conceded. But
against this must be placed the equally undeniable fact that he was
also, as he would have put it himself, a most frightful ass. He was
weak. Pie had no character. Altogether, the examination made Jimmy
more cheerful. He could not see the light-haired one, even with Sir
Thomas Blunt shoving behind, as it were, accomplishing the knight's
ends. Shove he never so wisely, Sir Thomas could never make a Romeo
out of Spennie Dreever.

It was while sitting in the billiard-room one night after dinner,
watching his rival play a hundred up with the silent Hargate, that
Jimmy came definitely to this conclusion. He had stopped there to
watch, more because he wished to study his man at close range than
because the game was anything out of the common as an exposition of
billiards. As a matter of fact, it would have been hard to imagine a
worse game. Lord Dreever, who was conceding twenty, was poor, and
his opponent an obvious beginner. Again, as he looked on, Jimmy was
possessed of an idea that he had met Hargate before. But, once more,
he searched his memory, and drew blank. He did not give the thing
much thought, being intent on his diagnosis of Lord Dreever, who by
a fluky series of cannons had wobbled into the forties, and was now
a few points ahead of his opponent.

Presently, having summed his lordship up to his satisfaction and
grown bored with the game, Jimmy strolled out of the room. He paused
outside the door for a moment, wondering what to do. There was
bridge in the smoking-room, but he did not feel inclined for bridge.
From the drawing-room came sounds of music. He turned in that
direction, then stopped again. He came to the conclusion that he did
not feel sociable. He wanted to think. A cigar on the terrace would
meet his needs.

He went up to his room for his cigar-case. The window was open. He
leaned out. There was almost a full moon, and it was very light out
of doors. His eye was caught by a movement at the further end of the
terrace, where the shadow was. A girl came out of the shadow,
walking slowly.

Not since early boyhood had Jimmy descended stairs with such a rare
burst of speed. He negotiated the nasty turn at the end of the first
flight at quite a suicidal pace. Fate, however, had apparently
wakened again and resumed business, for he did not break his neck. A
few moments later, he was out on the terrace, bearing a cloak which,
he had snatched up en route in the hall.

"I thought you might be cold," he said, breathing quickly.

"Oh, thank you," said Molly. "How kind of you!" He put it round her
shoulders. "Have you. been running?"

"I came downstairs rather fast."

"Were you afraid the boogaboos would get you?" she laughed. "I was
thinking of when I was a small child. I was always afraid of them. I
used, to race downstairs when I had to go to my room in the dark,
unless I could persuade someone to hold my hand all the way there
and back."

Her spirits had risen with Jimmy's arrival. Things had been
happening that worried her. She had gone out on to the terrace to be
alone. When she heard his footsteps, she had dreaded the advent of
some garrulous fellow-guest, full of small talk. Jimmy, somehow, was
a comfort. He did not disturb the atmosphere. Little as they had
seen of each other, something in him--she could not say what--had
drawn her to him. He was a man whom she could trust instinctively.

They walked on in silence. Words were pouring into Jimmy's mind, but
he could not frame them. He seemed to have lost the power of
coherent thought.

Molly said nothing. It was not a night for conversation. The moon
had turned terrace and garden into a fairyland of black and silver.
It was a night to look and listen and think.

They walked slowly up and down. As they turned for the second time,
Molly's thoughts formed themselves into a question. Twice she was on
the point of asking it, but each time she checked herself. It was an
impossible question. She had no right to put it, and he had no right
to answer. Yet, something was driving her on to ask it.

It came out suddenly, without warning.

"Mr. Pitt, what do you think of Lord Dreever?"

Jimmy started. No question could have chimed in more aptly with his
thoughts. Even as she spoke, he was struggling to keep himself from
asking her the same thing.

"Oh, I know I ought not to ask," she went on. "He's your host, and
you're his friend. I know. But--"

Her voice trailed off. The muscles of Jimmy's back tightened and
quivered. But he could find no words.

"I wouldn't ask anyone else. But you're--different, somehow. I don't
know what I mean. We hardly know each other. But--"

She stopped again; and still he was dumb.

"I feel so alone," she said very quietly, almost to herself.
Something seemed to break in Jimmy's head. His brain suddenly
cleared. He took a step forward.

A huge shadow blackened the white grass. Jimmy wheeled round. It was

"I have been looking for you, Molly, my dear," he said, heavily. "I
thought you must have gone to bed."

He turned to Jimmy, and addressed him for the first time since their
meeting in the bedroom.

"Will you excuse us, Mr. Pitt?"

Jimmy bowed, and walked rapidly toward the house. At the door, he
stopped and looked back. The two were standing where he had left

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