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.
СWelcome to our village, Miss Halliday,Т said Psmith, advancing.
Eve regarded him with frank astonishment.
СWhat are you doing here?Т she asked.
СLord Emsworth was kind enough to suggest that, as we were such old friends, I should come down in the car and meet you.
СAre we old friends?Т
СSurely. Have you forgotten all those happy days in London?Т
СThere was only one.Т
СTrue. But think how many meetings we crammed into it.Т
СAre you staying at the castle?Т
СYes. And what is more, I am the life and soul of the party. Have you anything in the shape of luggage?Т
СI nearly always take luggage when I am going to stay a month or so in the country. ItТs at the back somewhere.Т
СI 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.Т
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.
СWhat a delightful old place,Т she said as they drove off. СI almost wish I lived here.Т
СDuring the brief period of my stay at the castle,Т said Psmith, Сthe 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.Т He looked at her with solemn admiration. СWomen are wonderful,Т he said.
СAnd why, Mr Bones, are women wonderful?Т asked Eve.
СI 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 Ч if I may coin a simile Ч 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.Т
СWhen did you arrive?Т
СOn the evening of the day on which I met you.
СBut itТs so extraordinary. That you should be here, I mean. I was wondering if I should ever see you again.Т Eve coloured a little, and went on rather hurriedly. СI mean, it seems so strange that we should always be meeting like this.Т
СFate, probably,Т said Psmith. СI hope it isnТt going to spoil your visit?Т
СI could have done with a trifle more emphasis on the last word,Т said Psmith gently. СForgive me for criticising your methods of voice production, but surely you can see how much better it would have sounded spoken thus: УOh, no! УС
СVery well, then,Т she said. СOh, no!Т
СMuch better,Т said Psmith. СMuch better.Т
He began to see that it was going to be difficult to introduce a eulogy of the Hon. Freddie Threepwood into this conversation.
СIТm very glad youТre here,Т said Eve, resuming the talk after a slight pause. СBecause, as a matter of fact, IТm feeling just the least bit nervous.Т
СThis is my first visit to a place of this size.Т 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. СIs everything very stately?Т
СNot 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 didnТt overawe you, did he?Т
СOh, heТs a dear. And, of course, I know Freddie quite well.Т
Psmith nodded. If she knew Freddie quite well, there was naturally no need to talk about him. He did not talk about him, therefore.