Jeeves and the Wedding Bells

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

Book: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sebastian Faulks
imagined – his restful studies at Gonville and Caius.
    I was not at all keen to find myself in the shoes of that young man, especially since in the intervening years Woody had almost certainly moved up a division.
    ‘Golly, Jeeves. How on earth are we going to keep Amelia sweet until Sunday night?’
    ‘I have been reflecting on the matter, sir and I have—’
    But what exactly he had, I did not at once find out, as there was a knock at the door.
    ‘Come in,’ we said in unison.
    The door opened and the space filled. When I say ‘filled’, I mean that there was nothing between lintel, jamb and floor that was not solid butler.
    ‘I beg your, pardon, my lord,’ said Bicknell. ‘I was looking for Mr Wilberforce.’
    ‘You came to the right place, Mr Bicknell,’ I said.
    ‘With Lord Etringham’s permission, I wondered if I might ask your assistance, Mr Wilberforce.’
    ‘Of course,’ said Jeeves.
    ‘Anything you like, Mr Bicknell,’ I said. ‘As I told you this morning, we Woo … Wilberforces like to make ourselves useful. No General Striking for us.’
    ‘Hoad, the temporary footman, finds himself indisposed. We sit down ten to dinner this evening and I need you to wait at table.’
    ‘Love to help,’ I said, thinking rapidly on my feet, ‘but Ihaven’t yet had a chance to get down to the village and make that call about the telephone line, so—’
    ‘There’s no hurry for that, Mr Wilberforce. I can go tomorrow.’
    ‘It’s just that I can’t …’
    I looked across to Jeeves for salvation, but his face was expressionless and his lips remained sealed.
    ‘I am most grateful,’ said Bicknell. ‘I shall be serving cocktails in the drawing room from seven o’clock and Sir Henry likes to sit down no later than eight. Perhaps you could report to Mrs Padgett at seven-thirty.’
    The doorway emptied.
    I may have got out a weak ‘Right ho’, or I may not. It is immaterial.

‘JEEVES,’ I SAID , when I had finally regained the power of speech. ‘This is the bally end.’
    ‘It would appear that confusion now hath made his masterpiece, sir.’
    ‘Well, I jolly well wish his masterpiece didn’t involve me in a starring role.’
    ‘It is a most vexed state of affairs, sir, though perhaps not beyond hope.’
    Then I noticed that Jeeves had a glint in his eye. There had been times over the last forty-eight hours when I had doubted the fellow. I had thought he was perhaps partaking in the workshy public mood; I wondered if as well as Spinoza he had been dipping into a bit of Karl Marx. Not for the first time, I had underestimated him.
    ‘It is a fact of life, sir,’ he said, ‘that in the course of a large dinner party those at table barely notice those who wait on them.’
    ‘Unless they make an ass of themselves.’
    ‘Indeed, sir. Otherwise, the company tends to take the service for granted and to be absorbed in its own conversation.’
    ‘That sounds a bit ungrateful.’
    ‘It is the way of the world, sir, and not ours to question. Might I for instance ask you who waited on you last time you stayed at Brinkley Court?’
    ‘No, sir. Mr Seppings was indisposed. It was Mr Easton, a young man from the village.’
    ‘I didn’t notice.’
    ‘Exactly, sir.’
    I pondered this for a moment. ‘It’s still a blood-curdling prospect.’
    ‘I understand your trepidation, sir. Remember, however, that your disguise has been unremarked thus far. Then, to make assurance doubly sure, as it were, it might be advisable to alter your appearance in a small way.’
    ‘A false beard?’
    ‘No, sir. The footman you are replacing–’
    ‘Hoad? The gargoyle?’
    ‘Mr Hoad also has a pair of side-whiskers.’
    ‘Are you saying the whiskers naturally go with the corkscrew and the folded white napkin?’
    ‘They are more frequently worn by the serving classes, sir.’
    There are times to take offence, but this was not one of them. I left my high horse unmounted – though tethered

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