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Chapter Three
english, good
backfrommars

Mr. Wooster was out the entire morning, not returning until well after lunch.  The general consensus of the various Travers family members and their guests was that he was too embarrassed to face the party after his ill-thought-out prank “went pear-shaped” (to use a term of young Mr. Glossop’s) and was skulking in the nearest hostelry to drown his mortification. This picture created much amusement at the family breakfast table, and was even the cause of some slight witticisms being made at Mr. Wooster’s expense when they discovered he had still not returned in time to accompany the group on Miss Angela’s picnic.

I, too, suspected as much in regards to Mr. Wooster’s probable location, and so found no reason to ask myself what possible ‘errands’ he might have in Market Snodsbury until much later.  In fact, the only question that did cross my mind - apart from the mystery of the bicycle - was why Mr. Wooster had not decided to return to London, as it was his general habit to retreat when situations grew too onerous.  There was no longer anything here that required our attention in any case. 

However, the question of what happened to the bicycle occupied most of my time as I busied myself with small chores.  That it was missing was not so perplexing: quite probably Mr. Wooster had taken a fall - a circumstance which would explain not only the speckling of blood on his collar (a small amount, I assumed, since Frederick was unsure as to what the stains indeed were), but also his somewhat cross demeanour this morning.  However, though Mr. Wooster had undoubtedly been unnerved by the experience, the evidence suggested the incident had been minor enough, with the only the bicycle suffering any true damage.   It was possible that even that had not been great, perhaps a thrown chain or a bent wheel, but was exaggerated in the mind of Mr. Wooster, who had never been required to fix things himself.  In any case, his generous heart, appalled at the thought of destroying another’s property, would wish him to replace the object, more than likely with something unsuitably fancy.

No, that part of the bicycle problem was easy enough to solve.  The question facing me at that point was exactly how put upon Mr. Wooster was now feeling, and how this would affect my position in the argument.  Clearly the matter had become more delicate, suggesting it might behove me to take a more humble and gentle approach, but it was also important not to let him think I had done something wrong.   He cared greatly for his family and friends, therefore, once he could see my actions had simply been the most expedient way to bring together his loved ones, I felt certain he would feel much better about the slight trick I had been forced to play on him and we would both be more content.  I spent a considerable time pondering how to broach the subject while I rearranged Mr. Wooster’s wardrobe and finally determined that I would simply explain my reasoning fully and trust that he would see the necessity of some small sacrifice on his part for the greater good.
--x--

It was the sight of Iris, one of the Travers’ scullery maids, scrubbing the floor - or I should say, not scrubbing the floor, as her hand was still and her eyes closed with pleasure - at the bottom of the stairwell, that alerted me to my master having returned.  The child had a passionate love of music and almost always contrived to find some work just outside the music room while Mr. Wooster was at the piano.  I could hardly blame her; other than Miss Angela’s and young Master Duncan’s rather painful past forays into a musical education, no one ever used the room apart from my master when he visited.  (1)

Distracted by the sight of the rapt Iris, however, it took me a second to notice what Mr. Wooster was playing.  I frowned when I realized it was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  He usually only played classical music when he was troubled, telling me once that the softer sounds were soothing and the extra concentration needed allowed him to take his mind off whatever was bothering him.

“Oh!”

I gazed down the stairwell.  The piece had finished and Iris had finally looked up and spotted me.  To my surprise, she glared at me and then stuck her nose in the air and made a great show of not rushing back to her task. 

I bit back a sharp retort for her to be about her work.  What was wrong with me?  I had never felt any need to snap at one of the Brinkley servants before. 

Instead, I tried to smile warmly at the girl.  “That’s quite all right, Iris,” I said, as if she had been flustered and anxious of my spotting her dereliction of duty after all.  “There are not many who possess a true appreciation of fine music and you need hardly be defensive.  We are luckier than most in our position to be able to listen to a talented player like Mr. Wooster.”

“Yes, sir,” she answered haughtily.  “In fact, there’s them what never appreciate all sorts of things, from what I hear.”

I stiffened.  “And what exactly do you mean by that, Iris?”

“Why, nothing, I’m sure, Mister Jeeves,” she went on, innocently.  “Only there’s some what don’t know just how lucky they’ve got it.  Don’t you agree?” 

“I do, Iris.  It can be so easy for anyone to overstep their bounds by speaking out of turn to a superior.  Even for such a wise girl as yourself.”

“Hmpf,” was all she said, and she went back to her scrubbing as the sounds of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” began to float from the room beyond.

Still standing where I was, I reflected that Iris’s insolent jab had accomplished one thing: it had hardened my resolve to stand firm with Mr. Wooster.  His unusual selection of more serious music had caused me to falter in a moment of concern, however, that way lead to ruin.   For, no matter whether you believed in letting your master grow attached to you or not,  if there was one thing all intelligent servants could agree on, it was not to let yourself grow attached to your master, and I had been getting far too close to that in my time with Mr. Wooster. 

No, I had done what I had had to do, what I had been asked to do by Mrs. Travers, and if my solution was a little cold, then perhaps that would help to re-establish the proper distance between master and servant. 

I strode purposefully down the stairs and knocked on the door of the music room and requested leave to speak to my master.

--x--

“Mutual animosity?” Mr. Wooster repeated numbly. 

I had explained the psychological basis for my scheme of the night before, but Mr. Wooster was reacting rather strangely. 

“It is a recognized fact, sir, that there is nothing that so satisfactorily unites individuals who have been so unfortunate as to quarrel amongst themselves as a strong mutual dislike for some definite person.  In my own family, if I may give a homely illustration, it was a generally accepted axiom that in times of domestic disagreement it was necessary only to invite my Aunt Annie for a visit to heal all breaches between the other members of the household.”  (2)

“Aunt Annie, eh?”   

I was slightly concerned that he would not look at me; he kept his eyes to the far wall.  I tried to clarify things further.  “Yes, sir.  In the mutual animosity excited by Aunt Annie, those who had become estranged were reconciled almost immediately.  Remembering this, it occurred to me that were you, sir, to be established as the person responsible for the ladies and gentlemen being forced to spend the night in the garden, everybody would take so strong a dislike to you that in this common sympathy they would sooner or later come together.”

 “I wonder how she felt about it.”

“Sir?”

“Your Aunt Annie, Jeeves.  I wonder how she felt about it.  Because I can tell you how I felt about it.”  He turned glistening eyes to mine, and I was horrified at the bitter laugh he let out.  “I should say cut to the quick, Jeeves, or even…” he took a shuddery breath, “hurt… But it’s just too funny.”

“Funny, sir?”  This was not going at all how I thought.

“Funny, Jeeves.  Downright hilarious, in fact.  Here you are, wracking that marvellous fish-fed brain to find some way of turning Aunt Dahlia and the rest against me, and all the time it was completely unnecessary.  I mean, my God, man!  Do you have any idea of what they’ve put me through in the last few days?”

I did not know what to say.

He stood and started pacing wildly in front of me.  “Do you?” he shouted.  “Do you really think anyone in this house - any one of them at all - actually needed your help to hate me?”

“Sir, I don’t understand - ”

“Why, Jeeves,  I’m just saying that it’s funny, that’s all!  I mean, you’ve got to laugh, don’t you, after finding out that your valet is straining his every bit of intellect to find some way to make all your friends and relations think badly of you?  And all for nothing!”   He stopped pacing and stood not six inches in front of me, angry tears trickling down his cheeks.

“Goodness me, Jeeves, but you must feel very foolish.  Very foolish indeed.   I know you must have gone to so much work to get everyone view me with contempt, but considering that my very own aunt asked me to kill myself just the other day, one thinks you hardly needed to have bothered.” 

“Sir, if I may, perhaps you are being a little over-dramatic.  I cannot believe your aunt was serious - ”

“Do you think that matters, Jeeves?” he demanded furiously of me.  “Do you think it feels good to hear the person that’s the closest thing to a mother you’ve got say that to you?”

“I…I don’t - ”

“Well, it doesn’t!  No more than I suspect your Aunt Annie enjoys being some sort of…sacrificial goat… for the rest of your family.  I don’t care how much of a blister she is, no one deserves to be nothing more than an object of her loved ones’ hatred! To have no other purpose than to let her family gang up on her and insult her behind her back like group of bullying schoolgirls!” 

“It was never like that!” I shouted without thinking. 

Mr. Wooster blinked, slightly stunned, but only for a moment.  “Oh no, Jeeves?” he continued, “Because that’s what it sounds like to me.  It sounds like no one in your family can be happy without a pawn to push around the board.”

At that moment there was a small cough from by the door.  Mr. Seppings had entered the room without our even hearing him.

“My apologies, Mr. Wooster, but there’s a telephone call for you.  From London.”

“A call?  Who…oh!  Yes.  Yes, of course.  Thank you, Seppings.   I’ll take it in the library.”

“Very good, sir.  I’ll see to it that you’re not disturbed.”

“Thank you, Seppings,” Mr. Wooster said again, and followed the man out. 

I, on the other hand, was left to wonder how much of this had been heard, and how much would have gone round the household by dinner.

--x--


1) I know even Dahlia seems to use the nickname Bonzo when talking about her son, but I figured a visiting servant - even one as close to the family as Jeeves - might consider it a liberty and so use his real name instead.  However, the problem is that I have NO IDEA what Bonzo’s actual name is, or even if he has one, so I decided to call him Duncan. 

2) The text in bold is taken directly from “Right Ho, Jeeves”.


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*sniffles* Jeeves just does have a clue does he? Poor Bertie. Keep up the good work!

This is very good! I'm really enjoying reading it!

D: Jeeves, you are not handling this very well at ALL.

Ohhhh I hope he figures it out and makes amends.

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YESS! A new valet would be great; imagine Jeeves' reaction! Maybe then he'd realise his master's true worth >:D
It also occured to me he might have visisted the doctor - Jeeves thought the blood stain was unrecognisable because it was too small, but then surely the shirt wouldn't be 'beyond saving'..? Also, if the bloodstain was too BIG they might have found it hard to believe he had bled so much.
... Anyway, i think we all know i'm NOT the writer, and we're all thankful for it; i enjoy hurting the characters so much I'd probably do anything short of killing them... ahhh... happy days :DD
xx

I am in love with the -for lack of better word maybe- psychology of this fic :)

This is just delicious. (And in very lovely language.)
Having such a bastard main character, over a very real slight, and the grand Revelation of the error of his ways hanging overhead and getting irreversably closer, - hits all the right buttons. What will the catharsis be like? How deeply will Jeeves be affected? What are Bertie's mysterious 'errands'?
The servants taking Bertie's side is precious and adorable, and makes me wonder about, generally, their possible attitude to Jeeves. Envy and dislike are quite probable, I think, despite even, or maybe because of, Jeeves's masterful tactics of ingratiating himself to everyone.

What you say about the servants taking sides is interesting; it just struck me that most of them would have known Bertie much longer than Jeeves. And also, some of the servants (such as Seppings) would have known Bertie as a boy, and perhaps would have been there as he lost his parents. It begs the question of how tolerant they would be toward Jeeves; seeing him repeatedly humiliate the y.m. in order to help his aunts and, as you say, ingratiate himself.
A true point.
Jeeves ought watch his back, methinks.

This continues to be fantastically...dashed brilliant! I loved the shouting match et al. *hugs Bertie*


You ACTUALLY made me cry. I usually never cry. I did this time. (What I mean to say, that's something like a knighthood by my standards.)

And I hated Jeeves in that story because I thought EXACTLY the same. I'm so grateful you picked up the other side of the story, I've always wanted to read that.

Is it really sick that when you said I made you cry, my first impulse was to say 'thank you'? Thank you for the compliment to my work, and...um... thank you for the compliment to my ability for inflicting emotional distress.

Anyway, I completely agree about the story. It may be the one Wodehouse book I would actually be reluctant to read again. The television scene of the throughly soaked Bertie peering in the window to see the whole party laughing at him is heart-rending enough (and what made me want to write this story), but the book is just downright brutal! Since I went read it with an eye to writing an angsty-Jeeves-gets-his-comeuppance maybe I was more sensitive to signs of Bertie whumping, but still! I've literally got pages and pages of notes dealing with how badly EVERYONE treated him in that book.

And it doesn't even end with Jeeves and Bertie having made up! Jeeves talks Bertie round about the bike ride, but then tells him about the mess jacket, so the story actually ends with Bertie angry once more, but deciding to say nothing for the sake of harmony. At least in the tv show, we get to see Jeeves taking care of Bertie - wrapping him in a blanket, get hot water for his feet, going to make him an omelet, etc. While I don't think he regretted his actions, he at least looked sympathetic at Bertie's plight and you get the feeling Jeeves has forgiven him for heaven-knows-what. (Trying to replace him? Implying he'd lost his smarts?)

And that helped, because it's really hard to get around the fact that the ride was more than the usual Jeevesian scheme - it was out and out punishment on Jeeves' part. (Especially when considering the Nicholls/Jackson joke; there was no need for that other than for him to be additionally cruel.)

Anyway, sorry, I needed to get that rant out. I won't be entirely cruel to Jeeves - he will (hopefully) get to talk about his reasons for doing what he did at some point in the story - but he's got at least one more unexpected kick in the pants coming in chapter 7 or 8, and if people start to wonder why I'm torturing him, this is why!




No, it's an appropriate response and I meant it as a compliment. :)

I've only seen the episode, I'm afraid, I haven't read the book but after only seeing that, I was pretty sure I don't want to. (I'm even more sure now.)One does wonder sometimes if Jeeves isn't just a despicable, sneering, manipulating, conceited a*hole who enjoys making Bertie dance without anyone realizing it. Another sore spot is the story where Bertie overhears Jeeves saying that he, Bertie, was "mentally negligible". That doesn't exactly betray honest affection for
the young master...

As geniuses go, I prefer Sherlock Holmes... he's not much nicer but a) everybody knows he's a sociopath and b) he's only arrogant, not perfidious.

And I liked your rant. My thoughts exactly!


Oh, and I'm SO looking forward to the next chapter here. I'm detoxing!

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