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- 111 ( 2012 .)
/ / - 111 ( 2012 .)

The twelve-fifty train drew up with a grinding of brakes at the platform of Market Blandings, and Psmith, who had been whiling away the time of waiting by squandering money which he could ill afford on the slot-machine which supplied butterscotch, turned and submitted it to a grave scrutiny. Eve Halliday got out of a third-class compartment.

Welcome to our village, Miss Halliday, said Psmith, advancing.

Eve regarded him with frank astonishment.

What are you doing here? she asked.

Lord Emsworth was kind enough to suggest that, as we were such old friends, I should come down in the car and meet you.

Are we old friends?

Surely. Have you forgotten all those happy days in London?

There was only one.

True. But think how many meetings we crammed into it.

Are you staying at the castle?

Yes. And what is more, I am the life and soul of the party. Have you anything in the shape of luggage?

I nearly always take luggage when I am going to stay a month or so in the country. Its at the back somewhere.

I will look after it. You will find the car outside. If you care to go and sit in it, I will join you in a moment. And, lest the time hangs heavy on your hands, take this. Butter-scotch. Delicious, and, so I understand, wholesome. I bought it specially for you.

A few minutes later, having arranged for the trunk to be taken to the castle, Psmith emerged from the station and found Eve drinking in the beauties of the town of Market Blandings.

What a delightful old place, she said as they drove off. I almost wish I lived here.

During the brief period of my stay at the castle, said Psmith, the same thought has occurred to me. It is the sort of place where one feels that one could gladly settle down into a peaceful retirement and grow a honey-coloured beard. He looked at her with solemn admiration. Women are wonderful, he said.

And why, Mr Bones, are women wonderful? asked Eve.

I was thinking at the moment of your appearance. You have just stepped off the train after a four-hour journey, and you are as fresh and blooming as if I may coin a simile a rose. How do you do it? When I arrived I was deep in alluvial deposits, and have only just managed to scrape them off.

When did you arrive?

On the evening of the day on which I met you.

But its so extraordinary. That you should be here, I mean. I was wondering if I should ever see you again. Eve coloured a little, and went on rather hurriedly. I mean, it seems so strange that we should always be meeting like this.

Fate, probably, said Psmith. I hope it isnt going to spoil your visit?

Oh, no.

I could have done with a trifle more emphasis on the last word, said Psmith gently. Forgive me for criticising your methods of voice production, but surely you can see how much better it would have sounded spoken thus: Oh, no!

Eve laughed.

Very well, then, she said. Oh, no!

Much better, said Psmith. Much better.

He began to see that it was going to be difficult to introduce a eulogy of the Hon. Freddie Threepwood into this conversation.

Im very glad youre here, said Eve, resuming the talk after a slight pause. Because, as a matter of fact, Im feeling just the least bit nervous.

Nervous? Why?

This is my first visit to a place of this size. The car had turned in at the big stone gates, and they were bowling smoothly up the winding drive. Through an avenue of trees to the right the great bulk of the castle had just appeared, grey and imposing against the sky. The afternoon sun glittered on the lake beyond it. Is everything very stately?

Not at all. We are very homely folk, we of Blandings Castle. We go about, simple and unaffected, dropping gracious words all over the place. Lord Emsworth didnt overawe you, did he?

Oh, hes a dear. And, of course, I know Freddie quite well.

Psmith nodded. If she knew Freddie quite well, there was naturally no need to talk about him. He did not talk about him, therefore.

Copyright (gmk), © 1996-2019. 4 1996 .