MY MAN JEEVES
MY MAN JEEVES
P. G. WODEHOUSE
LEAVE IT TO JEEVES
JEEVES AND THE UNBIDDEN GUEST
JEEVES AND THE HARD-BOILED EGG
RALLYING ROUND OLD GEORGE
DOING CLARENCE A BIT OF GOOD
THE AUNT AND THE SLUGGARD
LEAVE IT TO JEEVES
Jeeves--my man you know--is really a most extraordinary chap. So capable.
Honestly I shouldn't know what to do without him. On broader lines he's
like those chappies who sit peering sadly over the marble battlements
at the Pennsylvania Station in the place marked "Inquiries." You know
the Johnnies I mean. You go up to them and say: "When's the next train
for Melonsquashville Tennessee?" and they reply without stopping to
think "Two-forty-three track ten change at San Francisco." And they're
right every time. Well Jeeves gives you just the same impression of
As an instance of what I mean I remember meeting Monty Byng in Bond
Street one morning looking the last word in a grey check suit and I
felt I should never be happy till I had one like it. I dug the address
of the tailors out of him and had them working on the thing inside the
"Jeeves" I said that evening. "I'm getting a check suit like that one
of Mr. Byng's."
"Injudicious sir" he said firmly. "It will not become you."
"What absolute rot! It's the soundest thing I've struck for years."
"Unsuitable for you sir."
Well the long and the short of it was that the confounded thing came
home and I put it on and when I caught sight of myself in the glass I
nearly swooned. Jeeves was perfectly right. I looked a cross between a
music-hall comedian and a cheap bookie. Yet Monty had looked fine in
absolutely the same stuff. These things are just Life's mysteries and
that's all there is to it.
But it isn't only that Jeeves's judgment about clothes is infallible
though of course that's really the main thing. The man knows
everything. There was the matter of that tip on the "Lincolnshire."
I forget now how I got it but it had the aspect of being the real
"Jeeves" I said for I'm fond of the man and like to do him a good
turn when I can "if you want to make a bit of money have something on
Wonderchild for the 'Lincolnshire.'"
He shook his head.
"I'd rather not sir."
"But it's the straight goods. I'm going to put my shirt on him."
"I do not recommend it sir. The animal is not intended to win. Second
place is what the stable is after."
Perfect piffle I thought of course. How the deuce could Jeeves know
anything about it? Still you know what happened. Wonderchild led till
he was breathing on the wire and then Banana Fritter came along and
nosed him out. I went straight home and rang for Jeeves.
"After this" I said "not another step for me without your advice.
From now on consider yourself the brains of the establishment."
"Very good sir. I shall endeavour to give satisfaction."
And he has by Jove! I'm a bit short on brain myself; the old bean
would appear to have been constructed more for ornament than for use
don't you know; but give me five minutes to talk the thing over with
Jeeves and I'm game to advise any one about anything. And that's why
when Bruce Corcoran came to me with his troubles my first act was to
ring the bell and put it up to the lad with the bulging forehead.
"Leave it to Jeeves" I said.
I first got to know Corky when I came to New York. He was a pal of my
cousin Gussie who was in with a lot of people down Washington Square
way. I don't know if I ever told you about it but the reason why I
left England was because I was sent over by my Aunt Agatha to try to
stop young Gussie marrying a girl on the vaudeville stage and I got
the whole thing so mixed up that I decided that it would be a sound
scheme for me to stop on in America for a bit instead of going back and
having long cosy chats about the thing with aunt. So I sent Jeeves out
to find a decent apartment and settled down for a bit of exile. I'm
bound to say that New York's a topping place to be exiled in. Everybody
was awfully good to me and there seemed to be plenty of things going
on and I'm a wealthy bird so everything was fine. Chappies introduced
me to other chappies and so on and so forth and it wasn't long before
I knew squads of the right sort some who rolled in dollars in houses
up by the Park and others who lived with the gas turned down mostly
around Washington Square--artists and writers and so forth. Brainy
Corky was one of the artists. A portrait-painter he called himself
but he hadn't painted any portraits. He was sitting on the side-lines
with a blanket over his shoulders waiting for a chance to get into the
game. You see the catch about portrait-painting--I've looked into the
thing a bit--is that you can't start painting portraits till people
come along and ask you to and they won't come and ask you to until
you've painted a lot first. This makes it kind of difficult for a
chappie. Corky managed to get along by drawing an occasional picture
for the comic papers--he had rather a gift for funny stuff when he got
a good idea--and doing bedsteads and chairs and things for the
advertisements. His principal source of income however was derived
from biting the ear of a rich uncle--one Alexander Worple who was in
the jute business. I'm a bit foggy as to what jute is but it's
apparently something the populace is pretty keen on for Mr. Worple had
made quite an indecently large stack out of it.
Now a great many fellows think that having a rich uncle is a pretty
soft snap: but according to Corky such is not the case. Corky's uncle
was a robust sort of cove who looked like living for ever. He was
fifty-one and it seemed as if he might go to par. It was not this
however that distressed poor old Corky for he was not bigoted and had
no objection to the man going on living. What Corky kicked at was the
way the above Worple used to harry him.
Corky's uncle you see didn't want him to be an artist. He didn't
think he had any talent in that direction. He was always urging him to
chuck Art and go into the jute business and start at the bottom and
work his way up. Jute had apparently become a sort of obsession with
him. He seemed to attach almost a spiritual importance to it. And what
Corky said was that while he didn't know what they did at the bottom
of the jute business instinct told him that it was something too
beastly for words. Corky moreover believed in his future as an
artist. Some day he said he was going to make a hit. Meanwhile by
using the utmost tact and persuasiveness he was inducing his uncle to
cough up very grudgingly a small quarterly allowance.
He wouldn't have got this if his uncle hadn't had a hobby. Mr. Worple
was peculiar in this respect. As a rule from what I've observed the
American captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours.
When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night he
just relapses into a state of coma from which he emerges only to start
being a captain of industry again. But Mr. Worple in his spare time was
what is known as an ornithologist. He had written a book called
_American Birds_ and was writing another to be called _More
American Birds_. When he had finished that the presumption was that
he would begin a third and keep on till the supply of American birds
gave out. Corky used to go to him about once every three months and let
him talk about American birds. Apparently you could do what you liked
with old Worple if you gave him his head first on his pet subject so
these little chats used to make Corky's allowance all right for the
time being. But it was pretty rotten for the poor chap. There was the
frightful suspense you see and apart from that birds except when
broiled and in the society of a cold bottle bored him stiff.
To complete the character-study of Mr. Worple he was a man of
extremely uncertain temper and his general tendency was to think that
Corky was a poor chump and that whatever step he took in any direction
on his own account was just another proof of his innate idiocy. I
should imagine Jeeves feels very much the same about me.
So when Corky trickled into my apartment one afternoon shooing a girl
in front of him and said "Bertie I want you to meet my fiancee Miss
Singer" the aspect of the matter which hit me first was precisely the
one which he had come to consult me about. The very first words I spoke
were "Corky how about your uncle?"
The poor chap gave one of those mirthless laughs. He was looking
anxious and worried like a man who has done the murder all right but
can't think what the deuce to do with the body.
"We're so scared Mr. Wooster" said the girl. "We were hoping that you
might suggest a way of breaking it to him."
Muriel Singer was one of those very quiet appealing girls who have a
way of looking at you with their big eyes as if they thought you were
the greatest thing on earth and wondered that you hadn't got on to it
yet yourself. She sat there in a sort of shrinking way looking at me
as if she were saying to herself "Oh I do hope this great strong man
isn't going to hurt me." She gave a fellow a protective kind of
feeling made him want to stroke her hand and say "There there
little one!" or words to that effect. She made me feel that there was
nothing I wouldn't do for her. She was rather like one of those
innocent-tasting American drinks which creep imperceptibly into your
system so that before you know what you're doing you're starting out
to reform the world by force if necessary and pausing on your way to
tell the large man in the corner that if he looks at you like that
you will knock his head off. What I mean is she made me feel alert and
dashing like a jolly old knight-errant or something of that kind. I
felt that I was with her in this thing to the limit.
"I don't see why your uncle shouldn't be most awfully bucked" I said
to Corky. "He will think Miss Singer the ideal wife for you."
Corky declined to cheer up.
"You don't know him. Even if he did like Muriel he wouldn't admit it.
That's the sort of pig-headed guy he is. It would be a matter of
principle with him to kick. All he would consider would be that I had
gone and taken an important step without asking his advice and he
would raise Cain automatically. He's always done it."
I strained the old bean to meet this emergency.
"You want to work it so that he makes Miss Singer's acquaintance
without knowing that you know her. Then you come along----"
"But how can I work it that way?"
I saw his point. That was the catch.
"There's only one thing to do" I said.
"Leave it to Jeeves."
And I rang the bell.
"Sir?" said Jeeves kind of manifesting himself. One of the rummy
things about Jeeves is that unless you watch like a hawk you very
seldom see him come into a room. He's like one of those weird chappies
in India who dissolve themselves into thin air and nip through space in
a sort of disembodied way and assemble the parts again just where they
want them. I've got a cousin who's what they call a Theosophist and he
says he's often nearly worked the thing himself but couldn't quite
bring it off probably owing to having fed in his boyhood on the flesh
of animals slain in anger and pie.
The moment I saw the man standing there registering respectful
attention a weight seemed to roll off my mind. I felt like a lost
child who spots his father in the offing. There was something about him
that gave me confidence.
Jeeves is a tallish man with one of those dark shrewd faces. His eye
gleams with the light of pure intelligence.
"Jeeves we want your advice."
"Very good sir."
I boiled down Corky's painful case into a few well-chosen words.
"So you see what it amount to Jeeves. We want you to suggest some way
by which Mr. Worple can make Miss Singer's acquaintance without getting
on to the fact that Mr. Corcoran already knows her. Understand?"
"Well try to think of something."
"I have thought of something already sir."
"The scheme I would suggest cannot fail of success but it has what may
seem to you a drawback sir in that it requires a certain financial
"He means" I translated to Corky "that he has got a pippin of an
idea but it's going to cost a bit."
Naturally the poor chap's face dropped for this seemed to dish the
whole thing. But I was still under the influence of the girl's melting
gaze and I saw that this was where I started in as a knight-errant.
"You can count on me for all that sort of thing Corky" I said. "Only
too glad. Carry on Jeeves."
"I would suggest sir that Mr. Corcoran take advantage of Mr. Worple's
attachment to ornithology."
"How on earth did you know that he was fond of birds?"
"It is the way these New York apartments are constructed sir. Quite
unlike our London houses. The partitions between the rooms are of the
flimsiest nature. With no wish to overhear I have sometimes heard Mr.
Corcoran expressing himself with a generous strength on the subject I
"Why should not the young lady write a small volume to be entitled--let
us say--_The Children's Book of American Birds_ and dedicate it
to Mr. Worple! A limited edition could be published at your expense
sir and a great deal of the book would of course be given over to
eulogistic remarks concerning Mr. Worple's own larger treatise on the
same subject. I should recommend the dispatching of a presentation copy
to Mr. Worple immediately on publication accompanied by a letter in
which the young lady asks to be allowed to make the acquaintance of one
to whom she owes so much. This would I fancy produce the desired
result but as I say the expense involved would be considerable."
I felt like the proprietor of a performing dog on the vaudeville stage
when the tyke has just pulled off his trick without a hitch. I had
betted on Jeeves all along and I had known that he wouldn't let me
down. It beats me sometimes why a man with his genius is satisfied to
hang around pressing my clothes and whatnot. If I had half Jeeves's
brain I should have a stab at being Prime Minister or something.
"Jeeves" I said "that is absolutely ripping! One of your very best
"Thank you sir."
The girl made an objection.
"But I'm sure I couldn't write a book about anything. I can't even
write good letters."
"Muriel's talents" said Corky with a little cough "lie more in the
direction of the drama Bertie. I didn't mention it before but one of
our reasons for being a trifle nervous as to how Uncle Alexander will
receive the news is that Muriel is in the chorus of that show _Choose
your Exit_ at the Manhattan. It's absurdly unreasonable but we both
feel that that fact might increase Uncle Alexander's natural tendency
to kick like a steer."
I saw what he meant. Goodness knows there was fuss enough in our family
when I tried to marry into musical comedy a few years ago. And the
recollection of my Aunt Agatha's attitude in the matter of Gussie and
the vaudeville girl was still fresh in my mind. I don't know why it
is--one of these psychology sharps could explain it I suppose--but
uncles and aunts as a class are always dead against the drama
legitimate or otherwise. They don't seem able to stick it at any price.
But Jeeves had a solution of course.
"I fancy it would be a simple matter sir to find some impecunious
author who would be glad to do the actual composition of the volume for
a small fee. It is only necessary that the young lady's name should
appear on the title page."
"That's true" said Corky. "Sam Patterson would do it for a hundred
dollars. He writes a novelette three short stories and ten thousand
words of a serial for one of the all-fiction magazines under different
names every month. A little thing like this would be nothing to him.
I'll get after him right away."
"Will that be all sir?" said Jeeves. "Very good sir. Thank you sir."
I always used to think that publishers had to be devilish intelligent
fellows loaded down with the grey matter; but I've got their number
now. All a publisher has to do is to write cheques at intervals while
a lot of deserving and industrious chappies rally round and do the real
work. I know because I've been one myself. I simply sat tight in the
old apartment with a fountain-pen and in due season a topping shiny
book came along.
I happened to be down at Corky's place when the first copies of _The
Children's Book of American Birds_ bobbed up. Muriel Singer was
there and we were talking of things in general when there was a bang
at the door and the parcel was delivered.
It was certainly some book. It had a red cover with a fowl of some
species on it and underneath the girl's name in gold letters. I opened
a copy at random.
"Often of a spring morning" it said at the top of page twenty-one "as
you wander through the fields you will hear the sweet-toned
carelessly flowing warble of the purple finch linnet. When you are
older you must read all about him in Mr. Alexander Worple's wonderful
You see. A boost for the uncle right away. And only a few pages later
there he was in the limelight again in connection with the yellow-billed
cuckoo. It was great stuff. The more I read the more I admired the chap
who had written it and Jeeves's genius in putting us on to the wheeze.
I didn't see how the uncle could fail to drop. You can't call a chap the
world's greatest authority on the yellow-billed cuckoo without rousing a
certain disposition towards chumminess in him.
"It's a cert!" I said.
"An absolute cinch!" said Corky.
And a day or two later he meandered up the Avenue to my apartment to
tell me that all was well. The uncle had written Muriel a letter so
dripping with the milk of human kindness that if he hadn't known Mr.
Worple's handwriting Corky would have refused to believe him the author
of it. Any time it suited Miss Singer to call said the uncle he would
be delighted to make her acquaintance.
Shortly after this I had to go out of town. Divers sound sportsmen had
invited me to pay visits to their country places and it wasn't for
several months that I settled down in the city again. I had been
wondering a lot of course about Corky whether it all turned out
right and so forth and my first evening in New York happening to pop
into a quiet sort of little restaurant which I go to when I don't feel
inclined for the bright lights I found Muriel Singer there sitting by
herself at a table near the door. Corky I took it was out
telephoning. I went up and passed the time of day.
"Well well well what?" I said.
"Why Mr. Wooster! How do you do?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"You're waiting for Corky aren't you?"
"Oh I didn't understand. No I'm not waiting for him."
It seemed to roe that there was a sort of something in her voice a
kind of thingummy you know.
"I say you haven't had a row with Corky have you?"
"A spat don't you know--little misunderstanding--faults on both
sides--er--and all that sort of thing."
"Why whatever makes you think that?"
"Oh well as it were what? What I mean is--I thought you usually
dined with him before you went to the theatre."
"I've left the stage now."