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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 25

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 25

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



Jimmy, like his lordship, had been trapped at the beginning of the
duologue, and had not been able to get away till it was nearly over.
He had been introduced by Lady Julia to an elderly and adhesive
baronet, who had recently spent ten days in New York, and escape had
not been won without a struggle. The baronet on his return to
England had published a book, entitled, "Modern America and Its
People," and it was with regard to the opinions expressed in this
volume that he invited Jimmy's views. He had no wish to see the
duologue, and it was only after the loss of much precious time that
Jimmy was enabled to tear himself away on the plea of having to
dress. He cursed the authority on "Modern America and Its People"
freely, as he ran upstairs. While the duologue was in progress,
there had been no chance of Sir Thomas taking it into his head to
visit his dressing-room. He had been, as his valet-detective had
observed to Mr. Galer, too busy jollying along the swells. It would
be the work of a few moments only to restore the necklace to its
place. But for the tenacity of the elderly baronet, the thing would
have been done by this time. Now, however, there was no knowing what
might not happen. Anybody might come along the passage, and see him.
He had one point in his favor. There was no likelihood of the jewels
being required by their owner till the conclusion of the
theatricals. The part that Lady Julia had been persuaded by
Charteris to play mercifully contained no scope for the display of

Before going down to dinner, Jimmy had locked the necklace in a
drawer. It was still there, Spike having been able apparently to
resist the temptation of recapturing it. Jimmy took it, and went
into the corridor. He looked up and down. There was nobody about. He
shut his door, and walked quickly in the direction of the dressing-

He had provided himself with an electric pocket-torch, equipped with
a reflector, which he was in the habit of carrying when on his
travels. Once inside, having closed the door, he set this aglow, and
looked about him.

Spike had given him minute directions as to the position of the
jewel-box. He found it without difficulty. To his untrained eye, it
seemed tolerably massive and impregnable, but Spike had evidently
known how to open it without much difficulty. The lid was shut, but
it came up without an effort when he tried to raise it, and he saw
that the lock had been broken.

"Spike's coming on!" he said.

He was dangling the necklace over the box, preparatory to dropping
it in, when there was a quick rustle at the other side of the room.
The curtain was plucked aside, and Molly came out.

"Jimmy!" she cried.

Jimmy's nerves were always in pretty good order, but at the sight of
this apparition he visibly jumped.

"Great Scott!" he said.

The curtain again became agitated by some unseen force, violently
this time, and from its depths a plaintive voice made itself heard.

"Dash it all," said the voice, "I've stuck!"

There was another upheaval, and his lordship emerged, his yellow
locks ruffled and upstanding, his face crimson.

"Caught my head in a coat or something," he explained at large.
"Hullo, Pitt!"

Pressed rigidly against the wall, Molly had listened with growing
astonishment to the movements on the other side of the curtain. Her
mystification deepened every moment. It seemed to her that the room
was still in darkness. She could hear the sound of breathing; and
then the light of the torch caught her eye. Who could this be, and
why had he not switched on the regular room lights?

She strained her ears to catch a sound. For a while, she heard
nothing except the soft breathing. Then came a voice that she knew
well; and, abandoning her hiding-place, she came out into the room,
and found Jimmy standing, with the torch in his hand, over some dark
object in the corner of the room.

It was a full minute after Jimmy's first exclamation of surprise
before either of them spoke again. The light of the torch hurt
Molly's eyes. She put up a hand, to shade them. It seemed to her
that they had been standing like this for years.

Jimmy had not moved. There was something in his attitude that filled
Molly with a vague fear. In the shadow behind the torch, he looked
shapeless and inhuman.

"You're hurting my eyes," she said, at last.

"I'm sorry," said Jimmy. "I didn't think. Is that better?" He turned
the light from her face. Something in his voice and the apologetic
haste with which he moved the torch seemed to relax the strain of
the situation. The feeling of stunned surprise began to leave her.
She found herself thinking coherently again.

The relief was but momentary. Why was Jimmy in the room at that
time? Why had he a torch? What had he been doing? The questions shot
from her brain like sparks from an anvil.

The darkness began to tear at her nerves. She felt along the wall
for the switch, and flooded the whole room with light.

Jimmy laid down the torch, and stood for a moment, undecided. He had
concealed the necklace behind him. Now, he brought it forward, and
dangled it silently before the eyes of Molly and his lordship.
Excellent as were his motives for being in. that room with the
necklace in his hand, he could not help feeling, as he met Molly's
startled gaze, quite as guilty as if his intentions had been
altogether different.

His lordship, having by this time pulled himself together to some
extent, was the first to speak.

"I say, you know, what ho!" he observed, not without emotion.

Molly drew back.

"Jimmy! You were--oh, you can't have been!"

"Looks jolly like it!" said his lordship, judicially.

"I wasn't," said Jimmy. "I was putting them back."

"Putting them back?"

"Pitt, old man," said his lordship solemnly, "that sounds a bit

"Dreever, old man," said Jimmy. "I know it does. But it's the

His lordship's manner became kindly.

"Now, look here, Pitt, old son," he said, "there's nothing to worry
about. We're all pals here. You can pitch it straight to us. We
won't give you away. We--"

"Be quiet!" cried Molly. "Jimmy!"

Her voice was strained. She spoke with an effort. She was suffering
torments. The words her father had said to her on the terrace were
pouring back into her mind. She seemed to hear his voice now, cool
and confident, warning her against Jimmy, saying that he was
crooked. There was a curious whirring in her head. Everything in the
room was growing large and misty. She heard Lord Dreever begin to
say something that sounded as if someone were speaking at the end of
a telephone; and, then, she was aware that Jimmy was holding her in
his arms, and calling to Lord Dreever to bring water,

"When a girl goes like that," said his lordship with an insufferable
air of omniscience, "you want to cut her--"

"Come along!" said Jimmy. "Are you going to be a week getting that

His lordship proceeded to soak a sponge without further parley; but,
as he carried his dripping burden across the room, Molly recovered.
She tried weakly to free herself.

Jimmy helped her to a chair. He had dropped the necklace on the
floor, and Lord Dreever nearly trod on it.

"What ho!" observed his lordship, picking it up. "Go easy with the

Jimmy was bending over Molly. Neither of them seemed to be aware of
his lordship's presence. Spennie was the sort of person whose
existence is apt to be forgotten. Jimmy had had a flash of
intuition. For the first time, it had occurred to him that Mr.
McEachern might have hinted to Molly something of his own

"Molly, dear," he said, "it isn't what you think. I can explain
everything. Do you feel better now? Can you listen? I can explain

"Pitt, old boy," protested his lordship, "you don't understand. We
aren't going to give you away. We're all--"

Jimmy ignored him.

"Molly, listen," he said.

She sat up.

"Go on, Jimmy," she said.

"I wasn't stealing the necklace. I was putting it back. The man who
came to the castle with me, Spike Mullins, took it this afternoon,
and brought it to me."

Spike Mullins! Molly remembered the name.

"He thinks I am a crook, a sort of Raffles. It was my fault. I was a
fool. It all began that night in New York, when we met at your
house. I had been to the opening performance of a play called,
'Love, the Cracksman,' one of those burglar plays."

"Jolly good show," interpolated his lordship, chattily. "It was at
the Circle over here. I went twice."

"A friend of mine, a man named Mifflin, had been playing the hero in
it, and after the show, at the club, he started in talking about the
art of burglary--he'd been studying it--and I said that anybody
could burgle a house. And, in another minute, it somehow happened
that I had made a bet that I would do it that night. Heaven knows
whether I ever really meant to; but, that same night, this man
Mullins broke into my flat, and I caught him. We got into
conversation, and I worked off on him a lot of technical stuff I'd
heard from this actor friend of mine, and he jumped to the
conclusion that I was an expert. And, then, it suddenly occurred to
me that it would be a good joke on Mifflin if I went out with
Mullins, and did break into a house. I wasn't in the mood to think
what a fool I was at the time. Well, anyway, we went out, and--well,
that's how it all happened. And, then, I met Spike in London, down
and out, and brought him here."

He looked at her anxiously. It did not need his lordship's owlish
expression of doubt to tell him how weak his story must sound. He
had felt it even as he was telling it. He was bound to admit that,
if ever a story rang false in every sentence, it was this one.

"Pitt, old man," said his lordship, shaking his head, more in sorrow
than in anger, "it won't do, old top. What's the point of putting up
any old yarn like that? Don't you see, what I mean is, it's not as
if we minded. Don't I keep telling you we're all pals here? I've
often thought what a jolly good feller old Raffles was. Regular
sportsman! I don't blame a chappie for doing the gentleman burglar
touch. Seems to me it's a dashed sporting--"

Molly turned on him suddenly, cutting short his views on the ethics
of gentlemanly theft in a blaze of indignation.

"What do you mean?" she cried. "Do you think I don't believe every
word Jimmy has said?"

His lordship jumped.

"Well, don't you know, it seemed to me a bit thin. What I mean is--"
He met Molly's eye. "Oh, well!" he concluded, lamely.

Molly turned to Jimmy.

"Jimmy, of course, I believe you. I believe every word."


His lordship looked on, marveling. The thought crossed his mind that
he had lost the ideal wife. A girl who would believe any old yarn a
feller cared to--If it hadn't been for Katie! For a moment, he felt
almost sad.

Jimmy and Molly were looking at each other in silence. From the
expression on their faces, his lordship gathered that his existence
had once more been forgotten. He saw her hold out her hands to
Jimmy, and it seemed to him that the time had come to look away. It
was embarrassing for a chap! He looked away.

The next moment, the door opened and closed again, and she had gone.

He looked at Jimmy. Jimmy was still apparently unconscious of his

His lordship coughed.

"Pitt, old man--"

"Hullo!" said Jimmy, coming out of his thoughts with a start. "You
still here? By the way--" he eyed Lord Dreever curiously--"I never
thought of asking before--what on earth are you doing here? Why were
you behind the curtain? Were you playing hide-and-seek?"

His lordship was not one of those who invent circumstantial stories
easily on the spur of the moment. He searched rapidly for something
that would pass muster, then abandoned the hopeless struggle. After
all, why not be frank? He still believed Jimmy to be of the class of
the hero of "Love, the Cracksman." There would be no harm in
confiding in him. He was a good fellow, a kindred soul, and would

"It's like this," he said. And, having prefaced his narrative with
the sound remark that he had been a bit of an ass, he gave Jimmy a
summary of recent events.

"What!" said Jimmy. "You taught Hargate picquet? Why, my dear man,
he was playing picquet like a professor when you were in short
frocks. He's a wonder at it."

His lordship started.

"How's that?" he said. "You don't know him, do you?"

"I met him in New York, at the Strollers' Club. A pal of mine, an
actor, this fellow Mifflin I mentioned just now, put him up as a
guest. He coined money at picquet. And there were some pretty
useful players in the place, too. I don't wonder you found him a
promising pupil."

"Then--then--why, dash it, then he's a bally sharper!"

"You're a genius at crisp description," said Jimmy. "You've got him
summed up to rights first shot."

"I sha'n't pay him a bally penny!"

"Of course not. If he makes any objection, refer him to me."

His lordship's relief was extreme. The more overpowering effects of
the elixir had passed away, and he saw now, what he had not seen in
his more exuberant frame of mind, the cloud of suspicion that must
have hung over him when the loss of the banknotes was discovered.

He wiped his forehead.

"By Jove!" he said. "That's something off my mind! By George, I feel
like a two-year-old. I say, you're a dashed good sort, Pitt."

"You flatter me," said Jimmy. "I strive to please."

"I say, Pitt, that yarn you told us just now--the bet, and all that.
Honestly, you don't mean to say that was true, was it? I mean--By
Jove! I've got an idea."

"We live in stirring times!"

"Did you say your actor pal's name was Mifflin?" He broke off
suddenly before Jimmy could answer. "Great Scott!" he whispered.
"What's that! Good lord! Somebody's coming!"

He dived behind the curtain, like a rabbit. The drapery had only
just ceased to shake when the door opened, and Sir Thomas Blunt
walked in.

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