As I made my way to the bookery, I found my thoughts turning once more, as you
may readily imagine, to this highly suggestive business of old Worplesdon. The
thing intrigued me. I found it difficult to envisage what possible sort of jam
a man like that could have got himself into.
When, about eighteen months before, news had reached me through well-informed
channels that my Aunt Agatha, for many years a widow, or derelict, as I
believe it is called, was about to take another pop at matrimony, my first
emotion, as was natural in the circumstances, had been a gentle pity for the
unfortunate goop slated to step up the aisle with her -she, as you are aware,
being my tough aunt, the one who eats broken bottles and conducts human
sacrifices by the light of the full moon.
But when the details began to come in, and I discovered that the bimbo who had
drawn the short straw was Lord Worplesdon, the shipping magnate, this tender
commiseration became sensibly diminished. The thing, I felt, would be no
walkover. Even it in the fullness of time she wore him down and at length
succeeded in making him jump through hoops, she would know she had been in a
For he was hot stuff, this Worplesdon. I had known him all my life. It was he
who at the age of fifteen -when I was fifteen, I mean, of course - found me
smoking one of his special cigars in the stable yard and chased me a mile
across difficult country with a hunting crop. And though with advancing years
our relations had naturally grown more formal, I had never been able to think
of him without getting goose pimples. Given the choice between him and a
hippogriff as a companion for a walking tour, I would have picked the
hippogriff every time.
It was not easy to see how such a man of blood and iron could have been
reduced to sending out SOS's for Jeeves, and I was reflecting on the
possibility of compromising letters in the possession of gold-digging blondes,
when I reached my destination and started to lodge my order.
'Good morning, good morning,' I said. 'I want a book.' Of course, I ought to
have known that it's silly to try to buy a book when you go to a book shop. It
merely startles and bewilders the inmates. The motheaten old bird who had
stepped forward to attend to me ran true to form.
'A book, sir?' he replied, with ill-concealed astonishment.
'Spinoza,' I replied, specifying.
This had him rocking back on his heels.
'Did you say Spinoza, sir?'
'Spinoza was what I said.'
He seemed to be feeling that if we talked this thing out long enough as man to
man, we might eventually hit upon a formula.
'You do not mean "The Spinning Wheel"?'
'It would not be "The Poisoned Pin"?'
'It would not.'
'Or "With Gun and Camera in Little Known Borneo"?' he queried, trying a long
'Spinoza,' I repeated firmly. That was my story, and I intended to stick to
He sighed a bit, like one who feels that the situation has got beyond him.
'I will go and see if we have it in stock, sir. But possibly this may be what
you are requiring. Said to be very clever.'
He pushed off, Spinoza-ing under his breath in a hopeless sort of way, leaving
me clutching a thing called 'Spindrift'.
It looked pretty foul. Its jacket showed a female with a green, oblong face
sniffing at a purple lily, and I was just about to fling it from me and start
a hunt for that 'Poisoned Pin' of which he had spoken, when I became aware of
someone Good-gracious-Bertie-ing and, turning, found that the animal cries
proceeded from a tall girl of commanding aspect who had oiled up behind me.
'Good gracious, Bertie! Is it really you?' I emitted a sharp gurgle, and shied
like a startled mustang. It was old Worplesdon's daughter, Florence Craye.
- Gnu Barankin
- Павел З
- Abbot of Aberbrothok
- Sergeant Detritus
- Сэр Робин