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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 27

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 27

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



If Jimmy had entertained any doubts concerning the effectiveness of
this disclosure, they would have vanished at the sight of the
other's face. Just as the rich hues of a sunset pale slowly into an
almost imperceptible green, so did the purple of Sir Thomas's cheeks
become, in stages, first a dull red, then pink, and finally take on
a uniform pallor. His mouth hung open. His attitude of righteous
defiance had crumpled. Unsuspected creases appeared in his clothes.
He had the appearance of one who has been caught in the machinery.

Jimmy was a little puzzled. He had expected to check the enemy, to
bring him to reason, but not to demolish him in this way. There was
something in this which he did not understand. When Spike had handed
him the stones, and his trained eye, after a moment's searching
examination, had made him suspicious, and when, finally, a simple
test had proved his suspicions correct, he was comfortably aware
that, though found with the necklace on his person, he had
knowledge, which, communicated to Sir Thomas, would serve him well.
He knew that Lady Julia was not the sort of lady who would bear
calmly the announcement that her treasured rope of diamonds was a
fraud. He knew enough of her to know that she would demand another
necklace, and see that she got it; and that Sir Thomas was not one
of those generous and expansive natures which think nothing of an
expenditure of twenty thousand pounds.

This was the line of thought that had kept him cheerful during what
might otherwise have been a trying interview. He was aware from the
first that Sir Thomas would not believe in the purity of his
motives; but he was convinced that the knight would be satisfied to
secure his silence on the subject of the paste necklace at any
price. He had looked forward to baffled rage, furious denunciation,
and a dozen other expressions of emotion, but certainly not to
collapse of this kind.

The other had begun to make strange, gurgling noises.

"Mind you," said Jimmy, "it's a very good imitation. I'll say that
for it. I didn't suspect it till I had the thing in my hands.
Looking at it--even quite close--I was taken in for a moment."

Sir Thomas swallowed nervously.

"How did you know?" he muttered.

Again, Jimmy was surprised. He had expected indignant denials and
demands for proof, excited reiteration of the statement that the
stones had cost twenty thousand pounds.

"How did I know?" he repeated. "If you mean what first made me
suspect, I couldn't tell you. It might have been one of a score of
things. A jeweler can't say exactly how he gets on the track of fake
stones. He can feel them. He can almost smell them. I worked with a
jeweler once. That's how I got my knowledge of jewels. But, if you
mean, can I prove what I say about this necklace, that's easy.
There's no deception. It's simple. See here. These stones are
supposed to be diamonds. Well, the diamond is the hardest stone in
existence. Nothing will scratch it. Now, I've got a little ruby, out
of a college pin, which I know is genuine. By rights, then, that
ruby ought not to have scratched these stones. You follow that? But
it did. It scratched two of them, the only two I tried. If you like,
I can continue the experiment. But there's no need. I can tell you
right now what these stones are, I said they were paste, but that
wasn't quite accurate. They're a stuff called white jargoon. It's a
stuff that's very easily faked. You work it with the flame of a
blow-pipe. You don't want a full description, I suppose? Anyway,
what happens is that the blow-pipe sets it up like a tonic. Gives it
increased specific gravity and a healthy complexion and all sorts of
great things of that kind. Two minutes in the flame of a blow-pipe
is like a week at the seashore to a bit of white jargoon. Are you
satisfied? If it comes to that, I guess you can hardly be expected
to be. Convinced is a better word. Are you convinced, or do you
hanker after tests like polarized light and refracting liquids?"

Sir Thomas had staggered to a chair.

"So, that was how you knew!" he said.

"That was--" began Jimmy, when a sudden suspicion flashed across his
mind. He scrutinized Sir Thomas' pallid face keenly.

"Did you know?" he asked.

He wondered that the possibility had not occurred to him earlier.
This would account for much that had puzzled him in the other's
reception of the news. He had supposed, vaguely, without troubling
to go far into the probabilities of such a thing, that the necklace
which Spike had brought to him had been substituted for the genuine
diamonds by a thief. Such things happened frequently, he knew. But,
remembering what Molly had told him of the care which Sir Thomas
took of this particular necklace, and the frequency with which Lady
Julia wore it, he did not see how such a substitution could have
been effected. There had been no chance of anybody's obtaining
access to these stones for the necessary length of time.

"By George, I believe you did!" he cried. "You must have! So, that's
how it happened, is it? I don't wonder it was a shock when I said I
knew about the necklace."

"Mr. Pitt!"


"I have something to say to you."

"I'm listening."

Sir Thomas tried to rally. There was a touch of the old pomposity in
his manner when he spoke.

"Mr. Pitt, I find you in an unpleasant position--"

Jimmy interrupted.

"Don't you worry about my unpleasant position," he said. "Fix your
attention exclusively upon your own. Let us be frank with one
another. You're in the cart. What do you propose to do about it?"

Sir Thomas rallied again, with the desperation of one fighting a
lost cause.

"I do not understand you--" he began.

"No?" said Jimmy. "I'll try and make my meaning clear. Correct me
from time to time, if I am wrong. The way I size the thing up is as
follows: When you married Lady Julia, I gather that it was, so to
speak, up to you to some extent. People knew you were a millionaire,
and they expected something special in the way of gifts from the
bridegroom to the bride. Now, you, being of a prudent and economical
nature, began to wonder if there wasn't some way of getting a
reputation for lavishness without actually unbelting to any great
extent. Am I right?"

Sir Thomas did not answer.

"I am," said Jimmy. "Well, it occurred to you, naturally enough,
that a properly-selected gift of jewelry might work the trick. It
only needed a little nerve. When you give a present of diamonds to a
lady, she is not likely to call for polarized light and refracting
liquids and the rest of the circus. In ninety-nine cases out of a
hundred, she will take the things on trust. Very well. You trotted
off to a jeweler, and put the thing to him confidentially. I guess
you suggested paste. But, being a wily person, he pointed out that
paste has a habit of not wearing well. It is pretty enough when it's
new, but quite a small amount of ordinary wear and tear destroys the
polish of the surface and the sharpness of the cutting. It gets
scratched easily. Having heard this, and reflecting that Lady Julia
was not likely to keep the necklace under a glass case, you rejected
paste as too risky. The genial jeweler then suggested white jargoon,
mentioning, as I have done, that, after an application or so of the
blow-pipe, it's own mother wouldn't know it. If he was a bit of an
antiquary, he probably added that, in the eighteenth century,
jargoon stones were supposed to be actually an inferior sort of
diamond. What could be more suitable? 'Make it jargoon, dear heart,'
you cried joyfully, and all was well. Am I right? I notice that you
have not corrected me so far."

Whether or not Sir Thomas would have replied in the affirmative is
uncertain. He was opening his mouth to speak, when the curtain at
the end of the room heaved, and Lord Dreever burst out like a
cannon-ball in tweeds.

The apparition effectually checked any speech that Sir Thomas might
have been intending to make. Lying back in his chair, he goggled
silently at the new arrival. Even Jimmy, though knowing that his
lordship had been in hiding, was taken aback. His attention had
become so concentrated on his duel with the knight that he had
almost forgotten they had an audience.

His lordship broke the silence.

"Great Scott!" he cried.

Neither Jimmy nor Sir Thomas seemed to consider the observation
unsound or inadequate. They permitted it to pass without comment.

"You old scoundrel!" added his lordship, addressing Sir Thomas. "And
you're the man who called me a welsher!" There were signs of a
flicker of spirit in the knight's prominent eyes, but they died
away. He made no reply.

"Great Scott!" moaned his lordship, in a fervor of self-pity. "Here
have I been all these years letting you give me Hades in every shape
and form, when all the while--My goodness, if I'd only known

He turned to Jimmy.

"Pitt, old man," he said warmly, "I--dash it! I don't know what to
say. If it hadn't been for you--I always did like Americans. I
always thought it bally rot that that fuss happened in--in--whenever
it was. If it hadn't been for fellows like you," he continued,
addressing Sir Thomas once more, "there wouldn't have been any of
that frightful Declaration of Independence business. Would there,
Pitt, old man?"

These were deep problems, too spacious for casual examination. Jimmy
shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, I guess Sir Thomas might not have got along with George
Washington, anyway," he said.

"Of course not. Well"--Spennie moved toward the door--"I'm off
downstairs to see what Aunt Julia has to say about it all."

A shudder, as if from some electric shock, shook Sir Thomas. He
leaped to his feet.

"Spencer," he cried, "I forbid you to say a word to your aunt."

"Oh!" said his lordship. "You do, do you?"

Sir Thomas shivered.

"She would never let me hear the last of it."

"I bet she wouldn't. I'll go and see."



Sir Thomas dabbed at his forehead with his handkerchief. He dared
not face the vision of Lady Julia in possession of the truth. At one
time, the fear lest she might discover the harmless little deception
he had practised had kept him awake at night, but gradually, as the
days went by and the excellence of the imitation stones had
continued to impose upon her and upon everyone else who saw them,
the fear had diminished. But it had always been at the back of his
mind. Even in her calmer moments, his wife was a source of mild
terror to him. His imagination reeled at the thought of what depths
of aristocratic scorn and indignation she would plumb in a ease like

"Spencer," he said, "I insist that you shall not inform your aunt of

"What? You want me to keep my mouth shut? You want me to become an
accomplice in this beastly, low-down deception? I like that!"

"The point," said Jimmy, "is well taken. Noblesse oblige, and all
that sort of thing. The blood of the Dreevers boils furiously at the
idea. Listen! You can hear it sizzling."

Lord Dreever moved a step nearer the door.

"Stop!" cried Sir Thomas again. "Spencer!"


"Spencer, my boy, it occurs to me that perhaps I have not always
treated you very well--"

"'Perhaps!' 'Not always!' Great Scott, I'll have a fiver each way on
both those. Considering you've treated me like a frightful kid
practically ever since you've known me, I call that pretty rich!
Why, what about this very night, when I asked you for a few pounds?"

"It was only the thought that you had been gambling--"

"Gambling! How about palming off faked diamonds on Aunt Julia for a

"A game of skill, surely?" murmured Jimmy.

"I have been thinking the matter over," said Sir Thomas, "and, if
you really need the--was it not fifty pounds?"

"It was twenty," said his lordship. "And I don't need it. Keep it.
You'll want all you can save for a new necklace."

His fingers closed on the door-handle.

"Spencer, stop!"


"We must talk this over. We must not be hasty."

Sir Thomas passed the handkerchief over his forehead.

"In the past, perhaps," he resumed, "our relations have not been
quite--the fault was mine. I have always endeavored to do my duty.
It is a difficult task to look after a young man of your age--"

His lordship's sense of his grievance made him eloquent.

"Dash it all!" he cried. "That's just what I jolly well complain of.
Who the dickens wanted you to look after me? Hang it, you've kept
your eye on me all these years like a frightful policeman! You cut
off my allowance right in the middle of my time at college, just
when I needed it most, and I had to come and beg for money whenever
I wanted to buy a cigarette. I looked a fearful ass, I can tell you!
Men who knew me used to be dashed funny about it. I'm sick of the
whole bally business. You've given me a jolly thin time all this
while, and now I'm going to get a bit of my own back. Wouldn't you,
Pitt, old man?"

Jimmy, thus suddenly appealed to, admitted that, in his lordship's
place, he might have experienced a momentary temptation to do
something of the kind.

"Of course," said his lordship; "any fellow would."

"But, Spencer, let met--"

"You've soured my life," said his lordship, frowning a tense,
Byronic frown. "That's what you've done--soured my whole bally life.
I've had a rotten time. I've had to go about touching my friends for
money to keep me going. Why, I owe you a fiver, don't I, Pitt, old

It was a tenner, to be finnickingly accurate about details, but
Jimmy did not say so. He concluded, rightly, that the memory of the
original five pounds which he had lent Lord Dreever at the Savoy
Hotel had faded from the other's mind.

"Don't mention it," he said.

"But I do mention it," protested his lordship, shrilly. "It just
proves what I say. If I had had a decent allowance, it wouldn't have
happened. And you wouldn't give me enough to set me going in the
diplomatic service. That's another thing. Why wouldn't you do that?"

Sir Thomas pulled himself together.

"I hardly thought you qualified, my dear boy--"

His lordship did not actually foam at the mouth, but he looked as if
he might do so at any moment. Excitement and the memory of his
wrongs, lubricated, as it were, by the champagne he had consumed
both at and after dinner, had produced in him a frame of mind far
removed from the normal. His manners no longer had that repose which
stamps the caste of Vere de Vere. He waved his hands:

"I know, I know!" he shouted. "I know you didn't. You thought me a
fearful fool. I tell you, I'm sick of it. And always trying to make
me marry money! Dashed humiliating! If she hadn't been a jolly
sensible girl, you'd have spoiled Miss McEachern's life as well as
mine. You came very near it. I tell you, I've had enough of it. I'm
in love. I'm in love with the rippingest girl in England. You've
seen her, Pitt, old top. Isn't she a ripper?"

Jimmy stamped the absent lady with the seal of his approval.

"I tell you, if she'll have me, I'm going to marry her."

The dismay written on every inch of Sir Thomas's countenance became
intensified at these terrific words. Great as had been his contempt
for the actual holder of the title, considered simply as a young
man, he had always been filled with a supreme respect for the
Dreever name.

"But, Spencer," he almost howled, "consider your position! You

"Can't I, by Jove! If she'll have me! And damn my position! What's
my position got to do with it? Katie's the daughter of a general, if
it comes to that. Her brother was at college with me. If I'd had a
penny to call my own, I'd have asked her to marry me ages ago. Don't
you worry about my position!"

Sir Thomas croaked feebly.

"Now, look here," said his lordship, with determination. "Here's the
whole thing in a jolly old nutshell. If you want me to forget about
this little flutter in fake diamonds of yours, you've got to pull up
your socks, and start in to do things. You've got to get me attached
to some embassy for a beginning. It won't be difficult. There's
dozens of old boys in London, who knew the governor when he was
alive, who will jump at the chance of doing me a good turn. I know
I'm a bit of an ass in some ways, but that's expected of you in the
diplomatic service. They only want you to wear evening clothes as if
you were used to them, and be a bit of a flyer at dancing, and I can
fill the bill all right as far as that goes. And you've got to give
your jolly old blessing to Katie and me--if she'll have me. That's
about all I can think of for the moment. How do we go? Are you on?"

"It's preposterous," began Sir Thomas.

Lord Dreever gave the door-handle a rattle.

"It's a hold-up all right," said Jimmy, soothingly. "I don't want to
butt in on a family conclave, but my advice, if asked, would be to
unbelt before the shooting begins. You've got something worse than a
pipe pointing at you, now. As regards my position in the business,
don't worry. My silence is presented gratis. Give me a loving smile,
and my lips are sealed."

Sir Thomas turned on the speaker.

"As for you--" he cried.

"Never mind about Pitt," said his lordship. "He's a dashed good
fellow, Pitt. I wish there were more like him. And he wasn't
pinching the stuff, either. If you had only listened when he tried
to tell you, you mightn't be in such a frightful hole. He was
putting the things back, as he said. I know all about it. Well,
what's the answer?"

For a moment, Sir Thomas seemed on the point of refusal. But, just
as he was about to speak, his lordship opened the door, and at the
movement he collapsed again.

"I will," he cried. "I will!"

"Good," said his lordship with satisfaction. "That's a bargain.
Coming downstairs, Pitt, old man? We shall be wanted on the stage in
about half a minute."

"As an antidote to stage fright," said Jimmy, as they went along the
corridor, "little discussions of that kind may be highly
recommended. I shouldn't mind betting that you feel fit for

"I feel like a two-year-old," assented his lordship,
enthusiastically. "I've forgotten all my part, but I don't care.
I'll just go on and talk to them."

"That," said Jimmy, "is the right spirit. Charteris will get heart-
disease, but it's the right spirit. A little more of that sort of
thing, and amateur theatricals would be worth listening to. Step
lively, Roscius; the stage waits."

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