Sunshine was gilding the grounds of Brinkley Court and the ear detected a
marked twittering of birds in the ivy outside the window when I woke next
morning to a new day. But there was no corresponding sunshine in Bertram
Wooster's soul and no answering twitter in his heart as he sat up in bed,
sipping his cup of strengthening tea. It could not be denied that to
Bertram, reviewing the happenings of the previous night, the Tuppy-Angela
situation seemed more or less to have slipped a cog. With every desire to
look for the silver lining, I could not but feel that the rift between
these two haughty spirits had now reached such impressive proportions
that the task of bridging same would be beyond even my powers.
I am a shrewd observer, and there had been something in Tuppy's manner as
he booted that plate of ham sandwiches that seemed to tell me that he
would not lightly forgive.
In these circs., I deemed it best to shelve their problem for the nonce
and turn the mind to the matter of Gussie, which presented a brighter
With regard to Gussie, everything was in train. Jeeves's morbid scruples
about lacing the chap's orange juice had put me to a good deal of
trouble, but I had surmounted every obstacle in the old Wooster way. I
had secured an abundance of the necessary spirit, and it was now lying in
its flask in the drawer of the dressing-table. I had also ascertained
that the jug, duly filled, would be standing on a shelf in the butler's
pantry round about the hour of one. To remove it from that shelf, sneak
it up to my room, and return it, laced, in good time for the midday meal
would be a task calling, no doubt, for address, but in no sense an
It was with something of the emotions of one preparing a treat for a
deserving child that I finished my tea and rolled over for that extra
spot of sleep which just makes all the difference when there is man's
work to be done and the brain must be kept clear for it.
And when I came downstairs an hour or so later, I knew how right I had
been to formulate this scheme for Gussie's bucking up. I ran into him on
the lawn, and I could see at a glance that if ever there was a man who
needed a snappy stimulant, it was he. All nature, as I have indicated,
was smiling, but not Augustus Fink-Nottle. He was walking round in
circles, muttering something about not proposing to detain us long, but
on this auspicious occasion feeling compelled to say a few words.
"Ah, Gussie," I said, arresting him as he was about to start another lap.
"A lovely morning, is it not?"
Even if I had not been aware of it already, I could have divined from the
abruptness with which he damned the lovely morning that he was not in
merry mood. I addressed myself to the task of bringing the roses back to
"I've got good news for you, Gussie."
He looked at me with a sudden sharp interest.
"Has Market Snodsbury Grammar School burned down?"
"Not that I know of."
"Have mumps broken out? Is the place closed on account of measles?"
"Then what do you mean you've got good news?"
I endeavoured to soothe.
"You mustn't take it so hard, Gussie. Why worry about a laughably simple
job like distributing prizes at a school?"
"Laughably simple, eh? Do you realize I've been sweating for days and
haven't been able to think of a thing to say yet, except that I won't
detain them long. You bet I won't detain them long. I've been timing my
speech, and it lasts five seconds. What the devil am I to say, Bertie?
What do you say when you're distributing prizes?"
I considered. Once, at my private school, I had won a prize for Scripture
knowledge, so I suppose I ought to have been full of inside stuff. But
memory eluded me.
Then something emerged from the mists.
"You say the race is not always to the swift."
"Well, it's a good gag. It generally gets a hand."
"I mean, why isn't it? Why isn't the race to the swift?"
"Ah, there you have me. But the nibs say it isn't."
"But what does it mean?"
"I take it it's supposed to console the chaps who haven't won prizes."
"What's the good of that to me? I'm not worrying about them. It's the
ones that have won prizes that I'm worrying about, the little blighters
who will come up on the platform. Suppose they make faces at me."
"How do you know they won't? It's probably the first thing they'll think
of. And even if they don't--Bertie, shall I tell you something?"
"I've a good mind to take that tip of yours and have a drink."
I smiled. He little knew, about summed up what I was thinking.
"Oh, you'll be all right," I said.
He became fevered again.
"How do you know I'll be all right? I'm sure to blow up in my lines."
"Or drop a prize."
"Or something. I can feel it in my bones. As sure as I'm standing here,
something is going to happen this afternoon which will make everybody
laugh themselves sick at me. I can hear them now. Like hyenas....
"Do you remember that kids' school we went to before Eton?"
"Quite. It was there I won my Scripture prize."
"Never mind about your Scripture prize. I'm not talking about your
Scripture prize. Do you recollect the Bosher incident?"
I did, indeed. It was one of the high spots of my youth.
"Major-General Sir Wilfred Bosher came to distribute the prizes at that
school," proceeded Gussie in a dull, toneless voice. "He dropped a book.
He stooped to pick it up. And, as he stooped, his trousers split up the
"How we roared!"
Gussie's face twisted.
"We did, little swine that we were. Instead of remaining silent and
exhibiting a decent sympathy for a gallant officer at a peculiarly
embarrassing moment, we howled and yelled with mirth. I loudest of any.
That is what will happen to me this afternoon, Bertie. It will be a
judgment on me for laughing like that at Major-General Sir Wilfred
- Mr. Van Schonchoven
- Gnu Barankin