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Stiff upper lip, Jeeves

July 28, 2009

In my darkest hour I had never anticipated anything as bad as this. You wouldn’t think it to look at him, because he’s small and shrimplike and never puts on weight, but Gussie loves food. Watching him tucking into his rations at the Drones, a tapeworm would raise its hat respectfully, knowing that it was in the presence of a master. Cut him off, therefore, from the roasts and boileds and particularly from cold steak and kidney pie, a dish of which he is inordinately fond, and you turned him into something fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils, as the fellow said — the sort of chap who would break an engagement as soon as look at you. At the moment of my entry I had been about to light a cigarette, and now the lighter fell from my nerveless hand.
‘She’s made him become a “vegeterian”?’
‘So Mr Fink-Nottle informed me, sir.”
‘No chops?’
‘No, sir.’
‘No steaks?’
‘No, sir.’
‘Just spinach and similar garbage?’
‘So I gather, sir.’
‘But why?’
‘I understand that Miss Bassett has recently been reading the life of the poet Shelley, sir, and has become converted to his view that the consumption of flesh foods is unspiritual. The poet Shelley held strong opinions on this subject.’
I picked up the lighter in a sort of trance. I was aware that Madeline B. was as potty as they come in the matter of stars and rabbits and what happened when fairies blew their wee noses, but I had never dreamed that her goofiness would carry her to such lengths as this. But as the picture rose before my eyes of Gussie at the dinner table picking with clouded brow at what had unquestionably looked like a spinach, I knew that this story must be true. No wonder Gussie in agony of spirit had said that Madeline made him sick. Just so might a python at a Zoo have spoken of its keeper, had the latter suddenly started feeding it cheese straws in lieu of the daily rabbit.
‘But this is frightful, Jeeves!’
‘Certainly somewhat disturbing, sir.’

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From → PG Wodehouse

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