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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Piccadilly Jim -> Chapter 10

Piccadilly Jim - Chapter 10

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


While the feast of reason and flow of soul had been in progress
in the drawing-room, in the gymnasium on the top floor Jerry
Mitchell, awaiting the coming of Mr. Pett, had been passing the
time in improving with strenuous exercise his already impressive
physique. If Mrs. Pett's guests had been less noisily
concentrated on their conversation, they might have heard the
muffled _tap-tap-tap_ that proclaimed that Jerry Mitchell was
punching the bag upstairs.

It was not until he had punched it for perhaps five minutes that,
desisting from his labours, he perceived that he had the pleasure
of the company of little Ogden Ford. The stout boy was standing
in the doorway, observing him with an attentive eye.

"What are you doing?" enquired Ogden.

Jerry passed a gloved fist over his damp brow.

"Punchin' the bag."

He began to remove his gloves, eyeing Ogden the while with a
disapproval which he made no attempt to conceal. An extremist on
the subject of keeping in condition, the spectacle of the bulbous
stripling was a constant offence to him. Ogden, in pursuance of
his invariable custom on the days when Mrs. Pett entertained, had
been lurking on the stairs outside the drawing-room for the past
hour, levying toll on the food-stuffs that passed his way. He
wore a congested look, and there was jam about his mouth.

"Why?" he said, retrieving a morsel of jam from his right cheek
with the tip of his tongue.

"To keep in condition."

"Why do you want to keep in condition?"

Jerry flung the gloves into their locker.

"Fade!" he said wearily. "Fade!"


"Beat it!"

"Huh?" Much pastry seemed to have clouded the boy's mind.

"Run away."

"Don't want to run away."

The annoyed pugilist sat down and scrutinised his visitor

"You never do anything you don't want to, I guess?"

"No," said Ogden simply. "You've got a funny nose," he added
dispassionately. "What did you do to it to make it like that?"

Mr. Mitchell shifted restlessly on his chair. He was not a vain
man, but he was a little sensitive about that particular item in
his make-up.

"Lizzie says it's the funniest nose she ever saw. She says it's
something out of a comic supplement."

A dull flush, such as five minutes with the bag had been unable
to produce, appeared on Jerry Mitchell's peculiar countenance. It
was not that he looked on Lizzie Murphy, herself no Lillian
Russell, as an accepted authority on the subject of facial
beauty; but he was aware that in this instance she spoke not
without reason, and he was vexed, moreover, as many another had
been before him, by the note of indulgent patronage in Ogden's
voice. His fingers twitched a little eagerly, and he looked
sullenly at his tactless junior.

"Get out!"


"Get outa here!"

"Don't want to get out of here," said Ogden with finality. He put
his hand in his trouser-pocket and pulled out a sticky mass which
looked as if it might once have been a cream-puff or a meringue.
He swallowed it contentedly. "I'd forgotten I had that," he
explained. "Mary gave it to me on the stairs. Mary thinks you've
a funny nose, too," he proceeded, as one relating agreeable

"Can it! Can it!" exclaimed the exasperated pugilist.

"I'm only telling you what I heard her say."

Mr. Mitchell rose convulsively and took a step towards his
persecutor, breathing noisily through the criticised organ. He
was a chivalrous man, a warm admirer of the sex, but he was
conscious of a wish that it was in his power to give Mary what he
would have described as "hers." She was one of the parlour-maids,
a homely woman with a hard eye, and it was part of his grievance
against her that his Maggie, alias Celestine, Mrs. Pett's maid,
had formed an enthusiastic friendship with her. He had no
evidence to go on, but he suspected Mary of using her influence
with Celestine to urge the suit of his leading rival for the
latter's hand, Biggs the chauffeur. He disliked Mary intensely,
even on general grounds. Ogden's revelation added fuel to his
aversion. For a moment he toyed with the fascinating thought of
relieving his feelings by spanking the boy, but restrained
himself reluctantly at the thought of the inevitable ruin which
would ensue. He had been an inmate of the house long enough to
know, with a completeness which would have embarrassed that
gentleman, what a cipher Mr. Pett was in the home and how little
his championship would avail in the event of a clash with Mrs.
Pett. And to give Ogden that physical treatment which should long
since have formed the main plank in the platform of his education
would be to invite her wrath as nothing else could. He checked
himself, and reached out for the skipping-rope, hoping to ease
his mind by further exercise.

Ogden, chewing the remains of the cream-puff, eyed him with
languid curiosity.

"What are you doing that for?"

Mr. Mitchell skipped grimly on.

"What are you doing that for? I thought only girls skipped."

Mr. Mitchell paid no heed. Ogden, after a moment's silent
contemplation, returned to his original train of thought.

"I saw an advertisement in a magazine the other day of a sort of
machine for altering the shape of noses. You strap it on when you
go to bed. You ought to get pop to blow you to one."

Jerry Mitchell breathed in a laboured way.

"You want to look nice about the place, don't you? Well, then!
there's no sense in going around looking like that if you don't
have to, is there? I heard Mary talking about your nose to Biggs
and Celestine. She said she had to laugh every time she saw it."

The skipping-rope faltered in its sweep, caught in the skipper's
legs, and sent him staggering across the room. Ogden threw back
his head and laughed merrily. He liked free entertainments, and
this struck him as a particularly enjoyable one.

There are moments in the life of every man when the impulse
attacks him to sacrifice his future to the alluring gratification
of the present. The strong man resists such impulses. Jerry
Mitchell was not a weak man, but he had been sorely tried. The
annoyance of Ogden's presence and conversation had sapped his
self-restraint, as dripping water will wear away a rock. A short
while before, he had fought down the urgent temptation to
massacre this exasperating child, but now, despised love adding
its sting to that of injured vanity, he forgot the consequences.
Bounding across the room, he seized Ogden in a powerful grip, and
the next instant the latter's education, in the true sense of the
word, so long postponed, had begun; and with it that avalanche of
sound which, rolling down into the drawing-room, hurled Mrs. Pett
so violently and with such abruptness from the society of her

Disposing of the last flight of stairs with the agility of the
chamois which leaps from crag to crag of the snow-topped Alps,
Mrs. Pett finished with a fine burst of speed along the passage
on the top floor, and rushed into the gymnasium just as Jerry's
avenging hand was descending for the eleventh time.

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