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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Mike and Psmith -> Chapter 12

Mike and Psmith - Chapter 12

1. Preface

2. Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 9

11. Chapter 10

12. Chapter 11

13. Chapter 12

14. Chapter 13

15. Chapter 14

16. Chapter 15

17. Chapter 16

18. Chapter 17

19. Chapter 18

20. Chapter 19

21. Chapter 20

22. Chapter 21

23. Chapter 22

24. Chapter 23

25. Chapter 24

26. Chapter 25

27. Chapter 26

28. Chapter 27

29. Chapter 28

30. Chapter 29

31. Chapter 30



Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. Mike, if he had cared to
take the part, could have been the Petted Hero. But a cordial invitation
from the senior day room to be the guest of the evening at about the
biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. One
does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without
feeling the effects, even if one has scored mainly by the medium of
boundaries; and Mike, as he lay back in Psmith's deck chair, felt that
all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. His hands and
arms burned as if they were red-hot, and his eyes were so tired that he
could not keep them open.

Psmith, leaning against the mantlepiece, discoursed in a desultory way
on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. Downing, the undeniable
annoyance of that battered bowler, and the probability of his venting
his annoyance on Mike next day.

"In theory," said he, "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all
that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck tomorrow and weep
over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. But I am prepared to bet a
reasonable sum that he will give no jujitsu exhibition of this kind. In
fact, from what I have seen of our bright little friend, I should say
that, in a small way, he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for
you, here and there."

"I don't care," murmured Mike, shifting his aching limbs in the chair.

"In an ordinary way, I suppose, a man can put up with having his bowling
hit a little. But your performance was cruelty to animals. Twenty-eight
off one over, not to mention three wides, would have made Job foam at
the mouth. You will probably get sacked. On the other hand, it's worth
it. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. You
have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought
to be treated. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket."

"He doesn't deserve to."

Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again.

"The only blot on this day of mirth and goodwill is," he said, "the
singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. When all the place was ringing
with song and merriment, Comrade Jellicoe crept to my side, and,
slipping his little hand in mine, touched me for three quid."

This interested Mike, tired as he was.

"What! Three quid!"

"Three crisp, crackling quid. He wanted four."

"But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. It was
only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!"

"He must be saving money fast. There appear to be the makings of a
financier about Comrade Jellicoe. Well, I hope, when he's collected
enough for his needs, he'll pay me back a bit. I'm pretty well
cleaned out."

"I got some from my brother at Oxford."

"Perhaps he's saving up to get married. We may be helping toward
furnishing the home. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at
Eton who had four wives when he arrived, and gathered in a fifth during
his first summer holidays. It was done on the correspondence system. His
Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end, and sent him the glad news
on a picture post card. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade

* * * * *

Mike tumbled into bed that night like a log, but he could not sleep. He
ached all over. Psmith chatted for a time on human affairs in general,
and then dropped gently off. Jellicoe, who appeared to be wrapped in
gloom, contributed nothing to the conversation.

After Psmith had gone to sleep, Mike lay for some time running over in
his mind, as the best substitute for sleep, the various points of his
innings that day. He felt very hot and uncomfortable.

Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up
and have a cold bath, a voice spoke from the darkness at his side.

"Are you asleep, Jackson?"

"Who's that?"

"Me--Jellicoe. I can't get to sleep."

"Nor can I. I'm stiff all over."

"I'll come over and sit on your bed."

There was a creaking, and then a weight descended in the neighborhood of
Mike's toes.

Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. He uttered no word
for quite three minutes. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway
between a snort and a sigh.

"I say, Jackson!" he said.


"Have you--oh, nothing."

Silence again.



"I say, what would your people say if you got sacked?"

"All sorts of things. Especially my father. Why?"

"Oh, I don't know. So would mine."

"Everybody's would, I expect."


The bed creaked, as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. Then he
spoke again.

"It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked."

Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. He was not really
listening. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way.

"You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon, I suppose, and you'd
drive up to the house, and the servant would open the door, and you'd go
in. They might all be out, and then you'd have to hang about, and wait;
and presently you'd hear them come in, and you'd go out into the
passage, and they'd say 'Hello!'"

Jellicoe, in order to give verisimilitude, as it were, to an otherwise
bald and unconvincing narrative, flung so much agitated surprise into
the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he
had fallen.

"Hello?" he said. "What's up?"

"Then you'd say, 'Hello!' And then they'd say, 'What are you doing
here?' And you'd say--"

"What on earth are you talking about?"

"About what would happen."

"Happen when?"

"When you got home. After being sacked, you know."

"Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud.

"Nobody. But if you were, I meant. And then I suppose there'd be an
awful row and general sickness, and all that. And then you'd be sent
into a bank, or to Australia, or something."

Mike dozed off again.

"My father would be frightfully sick. My mater would be sick. My sister
would be jolly sick, too. Have you got any sisters, Jackson? I
say, Jackson!"

"Hello! What's the matter? Who's that?"


"What's up?"

"I asked you if you'd got any sisters."

"Any _what?_"


"Whose sisters?"

"Yours. I asked if you'd got any."

"Any what?"


"What about them?"

The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He changed the

"I say, Jackson!"


"I say, you don't know anyone who could lend me a pound, do you?"

"What!" cried Mike, sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness
in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding.
"Do _what?_"

"I say, look out. You'll wake Psmith."

"Did you say you wanted someone to lend you a quid?"

"Yes," said Jellicoe eagerly. "Do you know anyone?"

Mike's head throbbed. This thing was too much. The human brain could not
be expected to cope with it. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound
from one friend the day before, and three pounds from another friend
that very afternoon, already looking about him for further loans. Was it
a hobby, or was he saving up to buy an airplane?

"What on earth do you want a pound for?"

"I don't want to tell anybody. But it's jolly serious. I shall get
sacked if I don't get it."

Mike pondered.

Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present
historian will have realized by this time that he was a good long way
from being perfect. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank
failure. Except on the cricket field, where he was a natural genius, he
was just ordinary. He resembled ninety percent of other members of
English public schools. He had some virtues and a good many defects. He
was as obstinate as a mule, though people whom he liked could do as they
pleased with him. He was good-natured as a general thing, but on
occasion his temper could be of the worst, and had, in his childhood,
been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. He was rigidly
truthful, where the issue concerned only himself. Where it was a case of
saving a friend, he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an
American expert witness.

He had, in addition, one good quality without any defect to balance it.
He was always ready to help people. And when he set himself to do this,
he was never put off by discomfort or risk. He went at the thing with a
singleness of purpose that asked no questions.

Bob's postal order which had arrived that evening, was reposing in the
breast pocket of his coat.

It was a wrench, but, if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe, it
had to be done.

Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost
tearful protestations of gratitude, and the postal order had moved from
one side of the dormitory to the other.

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