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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> The Intrusion of Jimmy -> Chapter 5

The Intrusion of Jimmy - Chapter 5

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



How long the light had been darting about the room like a very much
enlarged firefly, Jimmy did not know. It seemed to him like hours,
for it had woven itself into an incoherent waking dream of his; and
for a moment, as the mists of sleep passed away from his brain, he
fancied that he was dreaming still. Then, sleep left him, and he
realized that the light, which was now moving slowly across the
bookcase, was a real light.

That the man behind it could not have been there long was plain, or
he would have seen the chair and its occupant. He seemed to be
taking the room step by step. As Jimmy sat up noiselessly and
gripped the arms of the chair in readiness for a spring, the light
passed from the bookcase to the table. Another foot or so to the
left, and it would have fallen on Jimmy.

From the position of the ray, Jimmy could see that the burglar was
approaching on his side of the table. Though until that day he had
not been in the room for two months, its geography was clearly
stamped on his mind's eye. He knew almost to a foot where his
visitor was standing. Consequently, when, rising swiftly from the
chair, he made a football dive into the darkness, it was no
speculative dive. It had a conscious aim, and it was not restrained
by any uncertainty as to whether the road to the burglar's knees was
clear or not.

His shoulder bumped into a human leg. His arms closed
instantaneously on it, and pulled. There was a yelp of dismay, and a
crash. The lantern bounced away across the room, and wrecked itself
on the reef of the steam-heater. Its owner collapsed in a heap on
top of Jimmy.

Jimmy, underneath at the fall, speedily put himself uppermost with a
twist of his body. He had every advantage. The burglar was a small
man, and had been taken very much by surprise, and any fight there
might have been in him in normal circumstances had been shaken out
of him by the fall. He lay still, not attempting to struggle.

Jimmy half-rose, and, pulling his prisoner by inches to the door,
felt up the wall till he found the electric-light button.

The yellow glow that flooded the room disclosed a short, stocky
youth of obviously Bowery extraction. A shock of vivid red hair was
the first thing about him that caught the eye. A poet would have
described it as Titian. Its proprietor's friends and acquaintances
probably called it "carrots." Looking up at Jimmy from under this
wealth of crimson was a not unpleasing face. It was not handsome,
certainly; but there were suggestions of a latent good-humor. The
nose had been broken at one period of its career, and one of the
ears was undeniably of the cauliflower type; but these are little
accidents which may happen to any high-spirited young gentleman. In
costume, the visitor had evidently been guided rather by individual
taste than by the dictates of fashion. His coat was of rusty black,
his trousers of gray, picked out with stains of various colors.
Beneath the coat was a faded red-and-white sweater. A hat of soft
felt lay on the floor by the table.

The cut of the coat was poor, and the fit of it spoiled by a bulge
in one of the pockets. Diagnosing this bulge correctly, Jimmy
inserted his hand, and drew out a dingy revolver.

"Well?" he said, rising.

Like most people, he had often wondered what he should do if he were
to meet a burglar; and he had always come to the conclusion that
curiosity would be his chief emotion. His anticipations were proved
perfectly correct. Now that he had abstracted his visitor's gun, he
had no wish to do anything but engage him in conversation. A
burglar's life was something so entirely outside his experience! He
wanted to learn the burglar's point of view. Incidentally, he
reflected with amusement, as he recalled his wager, he might pick up
a few useful hints.

The man on the floor sat up, and rubbed the back of his head

"Gee!" he muttered. "I t'ought some guy had t'rown de buildin' at

"It was only little me," said Jimmy. "Sorry if I hurt you at all.
You really want a mat for that sort of thing."

The man's hand went furtively to his pocket. Then, his eye caught
sight of the revolver, which Jimmy had placed on the table. With a
sudden dash, he seized it.

"Now, den, boss!" he said, between his teeth.

Jimmy extended his hand, and unclasped it. Six shells lay in the

"Why worry?" he said. "Sit down and let us talk of life."

"It's a fair cop, boss," said the man, resignedly.

"Away with melancholy," said Jimmy. "I'm not going to call the
police. You can beat it whenever you like."

The man stared.

"I mean it," said Jimmy. "What's the trouble? I've no grievance. I
wish, though, if you haven't any important engagement, you would
stop and talk awhile first."

A broad grin spread itself across the other's face. There was
something singularly engaging about him when he grinned.

"Gee! If youse ain't goin' to call de cops, I'll talk till de
chickens roost ag'in."

"Talking, however," said Jimmy, "is dry work. Are you by any chance
on the wagon?"

"What's dat? Me? On your way, boss!"

"Then, you'll find a pretty decent whiskey in that decanter. Help
yourself. I think you'll like it."

A musical gurgling, followed by a contented sigh, showed that the
statement had been tested and proved correct.

"Cigar?" asked Jimmy.

"Me fer dat," assented his visitor.

"Take a handful."

"I eats dem alive," said the marauder jovially, gathering in the

Jimmy crossed his legs.

"By the way," he said, "let there be no secrets between us. What's
your name? Mine is Pitt. James Willoughby Pitt."

"Mullins is my monaker, boss. Spike, dey calls me."

"And you make a living at this sort of thing?"

"Not so woise."

"How did you get in here?"

Spike Mullins grinned.

"Gee! Ain't de window open?"

"If it hadn't been?"

"I'd a' busted it."

Jimmy eyed the fellow fixedly.

"Can you use an oxy-acetylene blow-pipe?" he demanded.

Spike was on the point of drinking. He lowered his glass, and gaped.

"What's dat?" he said.

"An oxy-acetylene blow-pipe."

"Search me," said Spike, blankly. "Dat gets past me."

Jimmy's manner grew more severe.

"Can you make soup?"

"Soup, boss?"

"He doesn't know what soup is," said Jimmy, despairingly. "My good
man, I'm afraid you have missed your vocation. You have no business
to be trying to burgle. You don't know the first thing about the

Spike was regarding the speaker with disquiet over his glass. Till
now, the red-haired one had been very well satisfied with his
methods, but criticism was beginning to sap his nerve. He had heard
tales of masters of his craft who made use of fearsome implements
such as Jimmy had mentioned; burglars who had an airy
acquaintanceship, bordering on insolent familiarity, with the
marvels of science; men to whom the latest inventions were as
familiar as his own jemmy was to himself. Could this be one of that
select band? His host began to take on a new aspect in his eyes.

"Spike," said Jimmy.


"Have you a thorough knowledge of chemistry, physics--"

"On your way, boss!"


"Search me!"

"--electricity and microscopy?"

"... Nine, ten. Dat's de finish. I'm down an' out."

Jimmy shook his head, sadly.

"Give up burglary," he said. "It's not in your line. Better try

Spike twiddled his glass, abashed.

"Now, I," said Jimmy airily, "am thinking of breaking into a house

"Gee!" exclaimed Spike, his suspicions confirmed at last. "I t'ought
youse was in de game, boss. Sure, you're de guy dat's onto all de
curves. I t'ought so all along."

"I should like to hear," said Jimmy amusedly, as one who draws out
an intelligent child, "how you would set about burgling one of those
up-town villas. My own work has been on a somewhat larger scale and
on the other side of the Atlantic."

"De odder side?"

"I have done as much in London, as anywhere else," said Jimmy. "A
great town, London, full of opportunities for the fine worker. Did
you hear of the cracking of the New Asiatic Bank in Lombard Street?"

"No, boss," whispered Spike. "Was dat you?"

Jimmy laughed.

"The police would like an answer to the same question," he said,
self-consciously. "Perhaps, you heard nothing of the disappearance
of the Duchess of Havant's diamonds?"


"The thief," said Jimmy, flicking a speck of dust from his coat
sleeve, "was discovered to have used an oxy-acetylene blow-pipe."

The rapturous intake of Spike's breath was the only sound that broke
the silence. Through the smoke, his eyes could be seen slowly

"But about this villa," said Jimmy. "I am always interested even in
the humblest sides of the profession. Now, tell me, supposing you
were going to break into a villa, what time of night would you do

"I always t'inks it's best either late like dis or when de folks is
in at supper," said Spike, respectfully.

Jimmy smiled a faint, patronizing smile, and nodded.

"Well, and what would you do?"

"I'd rubber around some to see isn't dere a window open somewheres,"
said Spike, diffidently.

"And if there wasn't?"

"I'd climb up de porch an' into one of de bedrooms," said Spike,
almost blushing. He felt like a boy reading his first attempts at
original poetry to an established critic. What would this master
cracksman, this polished wielder of the oxy-acetylene blow-pipe,
this expert in toxicology, microscopy and physics think of his
callow outpourings!

"How would you get into the bedroom?"

Spike hung his head.

"Bust de catch wit' me jemmy," he whispered, shamefacedly.

"Burst the catch with your jemmy?"

"It's de only way I ever learned," pleaded Spike.

The expert was silent. He seemed to be thinking. The other watched
his face, humbly.

"How would youse do it, boss?" he ventured timidly, at last.


"How would youse do it?"

"Why, I'm not sure," said the master, graciously, "whether your way
might not do in a case like that. It's crude, of course, but with a
few changes it would do."

"Gee, boss! Is dat right?" queried the astonished disciple.

"It would do," said the master, frowning thoughtfully; "it would do
quite well--quite well!"

Spike drew a deep breath of joy and astonishment. That his methods
should meet with approval from such a mind...!

"Gee!" he whispered--as who would say, "I and Napoleon."

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