A few moments passed, self inhaling fluff and the solid girl presumably scanning her paper for further facts about the leg-before-wicket rule, and then I heard her say 'Sit still', no doubt addressing the white, woolly dog, for shortly afterwards she said 'Oh, all right, blast you, buzz off if you want to', and there was a thud; not a dull, sickening thud, but the sort of thud a white, woolly dog makes when landing on a carpet from a sofa of medium height. And it was almost immediately after this that there came a sound of sniffing in my vicinity, and with a considerable lowering of the already low morale I realized that the animal must have picked up the characteristic Wooster smell and was now in the process of tracking it to its source.
And so it proved. Glancing round, I suddenly found its face about six inches from mine, its demeanour that of a dog that can hardly believe its eyes. Backing away with a startled 'Oops!' it retreated to the centre of the room and began barking.
'What's the matter, you silly ass?' said the solid girl, and then there was a silence. On her part, that is. The white, woolly dog continued to strain its vocal cords.
Madeline Bassett re-entered.
'Jane says -' she began, then broke off with a piercing scream. 'Hilda! Oh, Hilda, what are you doing with that pistol?'
The solid girl calmed her fears, though leaving mine in status quo.
'Don't get excited. I'm not going to shoot myself. Though it would be a pretty good idea, at that. There's a man behind the sofa.'
'I've been wondering for some time where that curious breathing sound was coming from. Percy spotted him. At-a-boy, Percy, nice work. Come on out of it, you.'
Rightly concluding that she meant me, I emerged, and Madeline uttered another of her piercing screams.
'A dressy criminal, though shopsoiled,' said the solid girl, scrutinizing me over the young cannon which she was levelling at my waistcoat. 'One of those Mayfair men you read about, I suppose. Hullo, I see he's got that photograph you were looking for. And probably half a dozen other things as well. I think the first move is to make him turn out his pockets.'
The thought that in one of those pockets lay Gussie's letter caused me to reel and utter a strangled cry, and the solid girl said if I was going to have a fit, that was all right with her, but she would be obliged if I would step through the window and have it outside.
It was at this point that Madeline Bassett most fortunately found speech. During the preceding exchanges, if you can call it exchanges when one person has taken the floor and is doing all the talking, she had been leaning against the wall with a hand to her heart, giving an impersonation, and not at all a bad one either, of a cat with a herring-bone in its throat. She now made her first contribution to the dialogue.
'Bertie!' she cried.
The solid girl seemed puzzled.
'This is Bertie Wooster.'
'The complete letter-writer? Well, what's he doing here? And why has he swiped your photograph?'
Madeline's voice sank to a tremulous whisper.
'I think I know.'
'Then you're smarter than I am. Goofy, the whole proceeding strikes me as.'
'Will you leave us, Hilda? I want to speak to Bertie... alone.'
'Right ho. I'll be shifting along to the dining-room. I don't suppose, feeling the way I do, there's a dog's chance of my being able to swallow a mouthful, but I can be counting the spoons.'
- Антон Моргунов
- Николай Каргопольцев