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Jeeves and the Incalculable Mistake - Chapter 9
english, good

I was not prepared for my first sight of Mr. Wooster in his hospital bed to affect me as it did.

Why it should be so, I do not know.  He did not appear gravely injured.  There were no casts on his limbs and the bandages I knew must wrap his torso were hidden by his nightwear and the blankets.  There was no cough to be heard, nor were his cheeks flushed with fever.  No, I had seen him in more obvious physical discomfort several times before during our association, and yet…

And yet there was something about his face as he slept that marked this occasion as being far more serious.   A fancy perhaps, whether born by guilt or simply the knowledge that his life had been in the balance, but to me there was some indefinable quality to his look that frightened me, and drove home the fact that this had been a much more serious incident than anything he had been stricken with before.  An added strain about his features, an expression of despair enhanced by the dark circles under his eyes, a fragility displayed in the paleness of his complexion - whatever it was, it seemed to hit me almost as a blow to the chest. 

I moved softly to his side and placed my hand lightly atop his, as if I was merely going to gently awaken him.  “Oh, sir,” was all I could say.  I wished to apologise, but it was so very difficult to even know where to begin.  All I could feel was this overwhelming wash of pity and sorrow; I believe I could have wept at that moment and that brought with it a tremendous realization:

His pain caused me pain. 

That I felt guilt was not a surprise; while I was just beginning to see how manipulative and unfeeling I could be, I did not think myself a monster.  I knew I was capable of remorse, and given the circumstances, feeling it was only a natural occurrence.  I had hurt someone, and regretted it deeply.   It was also only natural to feel it more so for a person I knew, and one whom I saw as an innocent victim.  But this was a revelation!  It hurt me to see him like this.   It was as simple and as shocking and as brutal as that.  

The force of this discovery caused me to unthinkingly squeeze the hand I held in mine, which brought me back to myself.  It felt a little chilled to me, and so I quickly let go in order to adjust the blankets more completely around him.  Mr. Wooster didn’t stir; so deeply asleep as he was, I think I could have picked him up and carried him out of the room without there being any alteration to his breathing.

Then, as quietly as I could, I moved a nearby chair to his bedside and sat down to watch the rain outside, waiting for the moment when he would need me. 

“I thought this would be where I would find you,” Mrs. Travers said in a quiet voice.  (Well, as quiet a voice as I had ever heard from her.)

I stood.  I had been aware of her approach for some minutes - the sound of her shoes on the floor of the hospital was vastly different from that of the nurses - but I had been reluctant to cease my contemplation by Mr. Wooster’s side until I absolutely had to.  “Can I assist you in any way, Madam?”

I removed myself as she made her way over to the bed.  From just inside the door I watched as she brushed his hair back and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead.  “Poor blot,” she said.  “Well, never you mind - we’ll see you well again.”  Then she straightened and gestured to me to precede her out of the room.

“Will you come with me, Jeeves.  I wish to talk to you,” she said once we were in the corridor.  She lead me to the old servant’s parlour, where we had all gathered the day before, and sat at one end of the chesterfield under the window.  She motioned for me to sit at the other end.  I hesitated, always disapproving of the idea of sitting in the presence of those not of my class, but the quick, determined frown she gave let me know that it would not be appreciated if I refused.

“Jeeves,” she began, her usual geniality swiftly returning to her face, “I understand that there has been some sort of… disharmony that has cropped up in the relationship between you and my nephew.  Whatever it is, I am here to ask you to forgive him.   I know he can be a silly ass, but he means - ”

I was momentarily speechless.  She had so “got the wrong end of the stick”, as my master might say, that my thoughts stumbled one over another in my attempts to know where to begin in explaining the matter.  Finally I looked down, unable to meet her eyes.  “I am afraid, Mrs. Travers,” I said, interrupting, “that it is not a matter of my forgiving him, but of his forgiving me.”

She regarded me quizzically.  “Jeeves?”

I took a deep breath and slowly began to relate the entire narrative.  How pulling the fire bell had been my idea, how I had sent Mr. Wooster out without a lamp but with a cruel joke in his ear, what I knew of the accident afterwards and how Mr. Wooster had apparently arranged for presence of Doctor Richardson to save the little Davies boy.  I even told her of the unwitting disclosure of my part in the affair of the speech at the girl’s school, and how Mr. Wooster had reacted to this latest example of my machinations.

When I finished, I heard her sigh.  “Oh, my dear Jeeves, that does complicate things, doesn’t it?  I wish I could be angry, but when I consider my own behaviour towards Bertie over the last few days… well, it would be unbearably hypocritical for me to start shouting at you, to say the least.”


Now she could not look at me.  I followed the line of her gaze out the rain spattered window, but was unaware of what she saw.  “I told him I wished he would drown himself in the pond, Jeeves.”

“Madam, I hardly think - ”

She waved off my feeble attempt at comfort.  “I know, I know.  Even the young blot wouldn’t be silly enough to take me at my word.  But, given all that has happened, I most certainly regret saying such a thing now.  Especially when I consider that he only came down to Brinkley for me.  And that, while he might not have known the full details of your scheme, in the end he still put himself in your hands in order to fish all the rest of us out of the soup.”

Hearing her sound so much like my master at that moment was both comforting and very distressing.

“In any case, Jeeves, it is what Bertie needs that is paramount at the moment.  Which is why I wished to speak with you.   Your recent actions may have been questionable, but deep down I feel that you are fond of the young hound.”  She locked her eyes on mine.  “I trust that is so?”

“Yes, madam.  I am most fond of Mr. Wooster.”

“Good.  He’s going to need someone like you to be close by, Jeeves.”

“I am afraid I don’t understand, madam.”

“It has to do with what the doctors informed Mr. Travers and me of yesterday.   Bertie’s health may not be completely up to snuff from now on.  Apparently the spleen is quite an important part of something called the ‘immune system’.  It was all frightfully medical, but the gist of it was that Bertie may get sick more easily now.   Make no mistake, he’ll still be able to live a normal life; don’t worry that I’m asking you to sacrifice yourself to taking care of a proper invalid, Jeeves.  It is simply that he must be much more careful now.  He must avoid any exposure to illness, even minor colds, because he’ll catch them more easily, and if he does, there will be a stronger likelihood of them becoming more serious.  At the very least, he’ll have a more difficult time fighting them off.   The same holds true for any cuts or scrapes - they must be taken care of immediately because of the risk of infection.”

“That is why I wish for you to stay with him, Jeeves,” she went on.  “You’ve always been so vigilant and so capable, I know you’ll watch him much more carefully than some strange servant would.  I know can trust you completely to take the proper precautions and care for him.”

Unfortunately, she then added, “Of course, all of this is contingent on his not sacking you.”

“Yes, madam, that is indeed the proverbial fly in the ointment.” It was an understatement of monumental proportions.

“Well, we’ll work it out.  I’m certain we can talk him round and make him see sense.  You just think about what I said and let me know how you feel,” she told me, and then she patted my hand, rose to her feet and calmly left to have her visit with Mr. Wooster.  

I, however, was left in a quandary.  This new information not only horrified me and brought on a new wave of remorse, it also forced me to re-examine a resolution I had made only the night before. 

After the party’s return to Brinkley the previous evening, my hours had been filled by serving drinks and a light repast to the group, all of whom were too agitated by the day’s events to think of retiring, and I was forced to endure a tailor-made hell as I was made to listen to the dozens of warm reminiscences of the wonderful man I had nearly killed.  Therefore, it was in an exhausted and severely dispirited state of mind that I finally retired for the evening, and in this mood, sleep was chased away by a whirl of defeatist thoughts. 

My first decision was that I should immediately give my notice to Mr. Wooster and spare him the necessity of dismissing me.   It seemed petty to force him into the role of the hard master after all he had been through and my resignation would also be my way of acknowledging that I had wronged him terribly.

However, I then considered that Mr. Wooster might need to, and certainly had a right to, express his anger, and so, in allowing him to dismiss me himself, I would be accepting nothing but my due punishment. 

As I pondered the matter further though, I realized that leaving at all was perhaps a cowardly response.   Toting up the ledger of all I had to feel guilty for, I recollected my master’s own reactions to the current situation.    I had no doubt that he blamed himself for the accident, but still, he had not run away.  No, he called his solicitor, Mr. Henshaw, and arranged for him to not only track down the specialist the boy needed, but to arrange it with his bankers to pay for the entire operation as well.  When he felt he had destroyed the gardener’s bicycle, he had replaced it.  (I had checked with Mrs. Dodd that very evening; it was being delivered at the end of the week.)  I had no doubt that if I asked, I would find that he had even arranged for the Davies’ auto to be repaired.

The point was, he had not abandoned the Davies family after delivering some worthless apology.   He had stayed and done everything in his power to amend the situation.  So for me to do less would be the act of an abominable cad. 

Therefore I was determined to do my utmost to persuade him to let me stay on.  For only by remaining with him would I have the opportunity to fully make it up to him.   But I was also determined that I would never manipulate him again.  Persuade him, yes.  Even beg.  But not trick, not coerce by some scheme. 

But now the issue was more dire.  While I did not have the same faith as Mrs. Travers that I had always cared for him properly, the very picture of my master having to rely on some new servant, some stranger, to monitor something so vital to his wellbeing as his health, made me sick to my very soul.   I could not allow it. 

On the other hand, how could I break my own vow?  And if I did, and Mr. Wooster found out, would not that manipulation hurt him even more?   I was at a loss in a way that I had never been before in my life.  I had to talk him into keeping me on with only my apology, but what could I possibly say that would convince him?

I had waited for hours and now I watched anxiously as he begin to stir.   I saw him open his eyes and regard me sharply.

“Sir, I fear I have made an incalculable mistake.”

Sorry to all of those waiting for some Jeevesian grovelling.  I honestly thought it would be this chapter, but it should definitely be in the next one!

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Seriously love this story. I adore Jeeves but he sometimes needs to be taken down a peg or two.

Commence with the Groveling!!!

Yay, new part!! I love this story to bits! (but I put it together again every time!) I've always wished that Jeeves would see what he's doing so this is the fic I've always waited for. Can't wait for the next part though!

Reminds me of the saying: "Jongens plagen is om liefde vragen" translated as "Teasing boys is asking for love"...

'Jeevesian grovelling' can wait till the next chapter, surely. The more the better, for it's such an enthralling story. How will this much anticipated heart-to-heart go, between Jeeves and Bertie? Hope we find out soon.


*cough* I mean, I will be patient and see where this goes. Obviously. :D

Yay! Loving this, of course, but I'm ready for some Jeeves/Bertie interaction. Jeeves REALLY needs to talk to our Bertie and apologize. I can't get it out of my mind that poor sweet Bertie thinks Jeeves hates him.

And I like the last line that incorporates the title.

Yessss. I almost jumped trough the roof when I saw you had updated! This is so good. Ah. It's like a drug to me.

I am impatiently waiting for the next chapter! *bites nails*

Finally, Jeeves! I look forward to his apology. :D

Bring on the grovelling!

I'm so very happy to see a new chapter! You've done a marvelous job so far. Please, continue, grovelling Jeeves is much awaited :)

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