home | authors | books | about

Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 29

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 29

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



He had only been gone a few minutes when Mr. McEachern's meditations
were again interrupted. This time, the visitor was a stranger to
him, a dark-faced, clean-shaven man. He did not wear evening
clothes, so could not be one of the guests; and Mr. McEachern could
not place him immediately. Then, he remembered. He had seen him in
Sir Thomas Blunt's dressing-room. This was Sir Thomas's valet.

"Might I have a word with you, sir?"

"What is it?" asked McEachern, staring heavily. His mind had not
recovered from the effect of Lord Dreever's philosophical remarks.
There was something of a cloud on his brain. To judge from his
lordship's words, things had been happening behind his back; and the
idea of Molly's deceiving him was too strange to be assimilated in
an instant. He looked at the valet dully.

"What is it?" he asked again.

"I must apologize for intruding, but I thought it best to approach
you before making my report to Sir Thomas."

"Your report?"

"I am employed by a private inquiry agency."


"Yes, sir. Wragge's. You may have heard of us. In Holborn Bars. Very
old established. Divorce a specialty. You will have seen the
advertisements. Sir Thomas wrote asking for a man, and the governor
sent me down. I have been with the house some years. My job, I
gathered, was to keep my eyes open generally. Sir Thomas, it seemed,
had no suspicions of any definite person. I was to be on the spot
just in case, in a manner of speaking. And it's precious lucky I
was, or her ladyship's jewels would have been gone. I've done a fair
cop this very night."

He paused, and eyed the ex-policeman keenly. McEachern was obviously
excited. Could Jimmy have made an attempt on the jewels during the
dance? or Spike?

"Say," he said, "was it a red-headed--?"

The detective was watching him with a curious smile.

"No, he wasn't red-headed. You seem interested, sir. I thought you
would be. I will tell you all about it. I had had my suspicions of
this party ever since he arrived. And I may say that it struck me at
the time that there was something mighty fishy about the way he got
into the castle."

McEachern started. So, he had not been the only one to suspect
Jimmy's motives in attaching himself to Lord Dreever.

"Go on," he said.

"I suspected that there was some game on, and it struck me that this
would be the day for the attempt, the house being upside down, in a
manner of speaking, on account of the theatricals. And I was right.
I kept near those jewels on and off all day, and, presently, just as
I had thought, along comes this fellow. He'd hardly got to the door
when I was on him."

"Good boy! You're no rube."

"We fought for a while, but, being a bit to the good in strength,
and knowing something about the game, I had the irons on him pretty
quick, and took him off, and locked him in the cellar. That's how it
was, sir."

Mr. McEachern's relief was overwhelming. If Lord Dreever's statement
was correct and Jimmy had really succeeded in winning Molly's
affection, this would indeed be a rescue at the eleventh hour. It
was with a Nunc-Dimittis air that he felt for his cigar-case, and
extended it toward the detective. A cigar from his own private case
was with him a mark of supreme favor and good-will, a sort of
accolade which he bestowed only upon the really meritorious few.

Usually, it was received with becoming deference; but on this
occasion there was a somewhat startling deviation from routine; for,
just as he was opening the case, something cold and hard pressed
against each of his wrists, there was a snap and a click, and,
looking up, dazed, he saw that the detective had sprung back, and
was contemplating him with a grim smile over the barrel of an ugly-
looking little revolver.

Guilty or innocent, the first thing a man does when, he finds
handcuffs on his wrists is to try to get them off. The action is
automatic. Mr. McEachern strained at the steel chain till the veins
stood out on his forehead. His great body shook with rage.

The detective eyed these efforts with some satisfaction. The picture
presented by the other as he heaved and tugged was that of a guilty
man trapped.

"It's no good, my friend," he said.

The voice brought McEachern back to his senses. In the first shock
of the thing, the primitive man in him had led him beyond the
confines of self-restraint. He had simply struggled unthinkingly.
Now, he came to himself again.

He shook his manacled hands furiously.

"What does this mean?" he shouted. "What the--?"

"Less noise," said the detective, sharply. "Get back!" he snapped,
as the other took a step forward.

"Do you know who I am?" thundered McEachern.

"No," said the detective. "And that's just why you're wearing those
bracelets. Come, now, don't be a fool. The game's up. Can't you see

McEachern leaned helplessly against the billiard-table. He felt
weak. Everything was unreal. Had he gone mad? he wondered.

"That's right," said the detective. "Stay there. You can't do any
harm there. It was a pretty little game, I'll admit. You worked it
well. Meeting your old friend from New York and all, and having him
invited to the castle. Very pretty. New York, indeed! Seen about as
much of New York as I have of Timbuctoo. I saw through him."

Some inkling of the truth began to penetrate McEachern's
consciousness. He had become obsessed with the idea that, as the
captive was not Spike, it must be Jimmy. The possibility of Mr.
Galer's being the subject of discussion only dawned upon him now.

"What do you mean?" he cried. "Who is it that you have arrested?"

"Blest if I know. You can tell me that, I should think, seeing he's
an old Timbuctoo friend of yours. Galer's the name he goes by here."


"That's the man. And do you know what he had the impudence, the
gall, to tell me? That he was in my own line of business. A
detective! He said you had sent for him to come here!"

The detective laughed amusedly at the recollection.

"And so he is, you fool. So I did."

"Oh, you did, did you? And what business had you bringing detectives
into other people's houses?"

Mr. McEachern started to answer, but checked himself. Never before
had he appreciated to the full the depth and truth of the proverb
relating to the frying-pan and the fire. To clear himself, he must
mention his suspicions of Jimmy, and also his reasons for those
suspicions. And to do that would mean revealing his past. It was
Scylla and Charybdis.

A drop of perspiration trickled down his temple.

"What's the good?" said the detective. "Mighty ingenious idea, that,
only you hadn't allowed for there being a real detective in the
house. It was that chap pitching me that yarn that made me
suspicious of you. I put two and two together. 'Partners,' I said to
myself. I'd heard all about you, scraping acquaintance with Sir
Thomas and all. Mighty ingenious. You become the old family friend,
and then you let in your pal. He gets the stuff, and hands it over
to you. Nobody dreams of suspecting you, and there you are.
Honestly, now, wasn't that the game?"

"It's all a mistake--" McEachern was beginning, when the door-handle

The detective looked over his shoulder. McEachern glared dumbly.
This was the crowning blow, that there should be spectators of his

Jimmy strolled into the room.

"Dreever told me you were in here," he said to McEachern. "Can you
spare me a--Hullo!"

The detective had pocketed his revolver at the first sound of the
handle. To be discreet was one of the chief articles in the creed of
the young men from Wragge's Detective Agency. But handcuffs are not
easily concealed. Jimmy stood staring in amazement at McEachern's

"Some sort of a round game?" he enquired with interest.

The detective became confidential.

"It's this way, Mr. Pitt. There's been some pretty deep work going
on here. There's a regular gang of burglars in the place. This chap
here's one of them."

"What, Mr. McEachern!"

"That's what he calls himself."

It was all Jimmy could do to keep himself from asking Mr. McEachern
whether he attributed his downfall to drink. He contented himself
with a sorrowful shake of the head at the fermenting captive. Then,
he took up the part of the prisoner's attorney.

"I don't believe it," he said. "What makes you. think so?"

"Why, this afternoon, I caught this man's pal, the fellow that calls
himself Galer--"

"I know the man," said Jimmy. "He's a detective, really. Mr.
McEachern brought him down here."

The sleuth's jaw dropped limply, as if he had received a blow.

"What?" he said, in a feeble voice.

"Didn't I tell you--?" began Mr. McEachern; but the sleuth was
occupied with Jimmy. That sickening premonition of disaster was
beginning to steal over him. Dimly, he began to perceive that he had

"Yes," said Jimmy. "Why, I can't say; but Mr. McEachern was afraid
someone might try to steal Lady Julia Blunt's rope of diamonds. So,
he wrote to London for this man, Galer. It was officious, perhaps,
but not criminal. I doubt if, legally, you could handcuff a man for
a thing like that. What have you done with good Mr. Galer?"

"I've locked him in the coal-cellar," said the detective, dismally.
The thought of the interview in prospect with the human bloodhound
he had so mishandled was not exhilarating.

"Locked him in the cellar, did you?" said Jimmy. "Well, well, I
daresay he's very happy there. He's probably busy detecting black-
beetles. Still, perhaps you had better go and let him out. Possibly,
if you were to apologize to him--? Eh? Just as you think. I only
suggest. If you want somebody to vouch for Mr. McEachern's non-
burglariousness, I can do it. He is a gentleman of private means,
and we knew each other out in New York--we are old acquaintances."

"I never thought--"

"That," said Jimmy, with sympathetic friendliness, "if you will
allow me to say so, is the cardinal mistake you detectives make. You
never do think."

"It never occurred to me--"

The detective looked uneasily at Mr. McEachern. There were
indications in the policeman's demeanor that the moment following
release would be devoted exclusively to a carnival of violence, with
a certain sleuth-hound playing a prominent role.

He took the key of the handcuffs from his pocket, and toyed with it.
Mr. McEachern emitted a low growl. It was enough.

"If you wouldn't mind, Mr. Pitt," said the sleuth, obsequiously. He
thrust the key into Jimmy's hands, and fled.

Jimmy unlocked the handcuffs. Mr. McEachern rubbed his wrists.

"Ingenious little things," said Jimmy.

"I'm much obliged to you," growled Mr. McEachern, without looking

"Not at all. A pleasure. This circumstantial evidence thing is the
devil, isn't it? I knew a man who broke into a house in New York to
win a bet, and to this day the owner of that house thinks him a
professional burglar."

"What's that?" said Mr. McEachern, sharply.

"Why do I say 'a man '? Why am I so elusive and mysterious? You're
quite right. It sounds more dramatic, but after all what you want is
facts. Very well. I broke into your house that night to win a bet.
That's the limpid truth."

McEachern was staring at him. Jimmy proceeded.

"You are just about to ask--what was Spike Mullins doing with me?
Well, Spike had broken into my flat an hour before, and I took him
along with me as a sort of guide, philosopher, and friend."

"Spike Mullins said you were a burglar from England."

"I'm afraid I rather led him to think so. I had been to see the
opening performance of a burglar-play called, 'Love, the Cracksman,'
that night, and I worked off on Spike some severely technical
information I had received from a pal of mine who played lead in the
show. I told you when I came in that I had been talking to Lord
Dreever. Well, what he was saying to me was that he had met this
very actor man, a fellow called Mifflin--Arthur Mifflin--in London
just before he met me. He's in London now, rehearsing for a show
that's come over from America. You see the importance of this item?
It means that, if you doubt my story, all you need do is to find
Mifflin--I forgot what theater his play is coming on at, but you
could find out in a second--and ask him to corroborate. Are you

McEachern did not answer. An hour before, he would have fought to
the last ditch for his belief in Jimmy's crookedness; but the events
of the last ten minutes had shaken him. He could not forget that it
was Jimmy who had extricated him from a very uncomfortable position.
He saw now that that position was not so bad as it had seemed at the
time, for the establishing of the innocence of Mr. Galer could have
been effected on the morrow by an exchange of telegrams between the
castle and Dodson's Private Inquiry Agency; yet it had certainly
been bad enough. But for Jimmy, there would have been several hours
of acute embarrassment, if nothing worse. He felt something of a
reaction in Jimmy's favor.

Still, it is hard to overcome a deep-rooted prejudice in an instant.
He stared doubtfully.

"See here, Mr. McEachern," said Jimmy, "I wish you would listen
quietly to me for a minute or two. There's really no reason on earth
why we should be at one another's throats in this way. We might just
as well be friends. Let's shake, and call the fight off. I guess you
know why I came in here to see you?"

McEachern did not speak.

"You know that your daughter has broken off her engagement to Lord

"Then, he was right!" said McEachern, half to himself. "It is you?"

Jimmy nodded. McEachern drummed his fingers on the table, and gazed
thoughtfully at him.

"Is Molly--?" he said at length. "Does Molly--?"

"Yes," said Jimmy.

McEachern continued his drumming. "Don't think there's been anything
underhand about this," said Jimmy. "She absolutely refused to do
anything unless you gave your consent. She said you had been
partners all her life, and she was going to do the square thing by

"She did?" said McEachern, eagerly.

"I think you ought to do the square thing by her. I'm not much, but
she wants me. Do the square thing by her."

He stretched out his hand, but he saw that the other did not notice
the movement. McEachern was staring straight in front of him. There
was a look in his eyes that Jimmy had never seen there before, a
frightened, hunted look. The rugged aggressiveness of his mouth and
chin showed up in strange contrast. The knuckles of his clenched
fists were white.

"It's too late," he burst out. "I'll be square with her now, but
it's too late. I won't stand in her way when I can make her happy.
But I'll lose her! Oh, my God, I'll lose her!"

He gripped the edge of the table.

"Did you think I had never said to myself," he went on, "the things
you said to me that day when we met here? Did you think I didn't
know what I was? Who should know it better than myself? But she
didn't. I'd kept it from her. I'd sweat for fear she would find out
some day. When I came over here, I thought I was safe. And, then,
you came, and I saw you together. I thought you were a crook. You
were with Mullins in New York. I told her you were a crook."

"You told her that!"

"I said I knew it. I couldn't tell her the truth--why I thought so.
I said I had made inquiries in New York, and found out about you."

Jimmy saw now. The mystery was solved. So, that was why Molly had
allowed them to force her into the engagement with Dreever. For a
moment, a rush of anger filled him; but he looked at McEachern, and
it died away. He could not be vindictive now. It would be like
hitting a beaten man. He saw things suddenly from the other's view-
point, and he pitied him.

"I see," he said, slowly.

McEachern gripped the table in silence.

"I see," said Jimmy again. "You mean, she'll want an explanation."

He thought for a moment.

"You must tell her," he said, quickly. "For your own sake, you must
tell her. Go and do it now. Wake up, man!" He shook him by the
shoulder. "Go and do it now. She'll forgive you. Don't be afraid of
that. Go and look for her, and tell her now."

McEachern roused himself.

"I will," he said.

"It's the only way," said Jimmy.

McEachern opened the door, then fell back a pace. Jimmy could hear
voices in the passage outside. He recognized Lord Dreever's.

McEachern continued to back away from the door.

Lord Dreever entered, with Molly on his arm.

"Hullo," said his lordship, looking round. "Hullo, Pitt! Here we all
are, what?"

"Lord Dreever wanted to smoke," said Molly.

She smiled, but there was anxiety in her eyes. She looked quickly at
her father and at Jimmy.

"Molly, my dear," said McEachern huskily, "I to speak to you for a

Jimmy took his lordship by the arm.

"Come along, Dreever," he said. "You can come and sit out with me.
We'll go and smoke on the terrace."

They left the room together.

"What does the old boy want?" inquired his lordship. "Are you and
Miss McEachern--?"

"We are," said Jimmy.

"By Jove, I say, old chap! Million congratulations, and all that
sort of rot, you know!"

"Thanks," said Jimmy. "Have a cigarette?"

His lordship had to resume his duties in the ballroom after awhile;
but Jimmy sat on, smoking and thinking. The night was very still.
Now and then, a sparrow would rustle in the ivy on the castle wall,
and somewhere in the distance a dog was barking. The music had begun
again in the ball-room. It sounded faint and thin where he sat.

In the general stillness, the opening of the door at the top of the
steps came sharply to his ears. He looked up. Two figures were
silhouetted for a moment against the light, and then the door closed
again. They began to move slowly down the steps.

Jimmy had recognized them. He got up. He was in the shadow. They
could not see him. They began to walk down the terrace. They were
quite close now. Neither was speaking; but, presently when they were
but a few feet away, they stopped. There was the splutter of a match,
and McEachern lighted a cigar. In the yellow light, his face was
clearly visible. Jimmy looked, and was content.

He edged softly toward the shrubbery at the end of the terrace, and,
entering it without a sound, began to make his way back to the

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary