As I hadn't the remotest which rooms were available and which weren't, getting Kipper dug in necessitated ringing for Pop Glossop. I pressed the button and he appeared, giving me, as he entered, the sort of conspiratorial glance the acting secretary of a secret society would have given a friend on the membership roll.
'Oh, Swordfish,' I said, having given him a conspiratorial glance in return, for one always likes to do the civil thing, 'this is Mr Herring, who has come to join our little group.'
He bowed from the waist, not that he had much waist.
'Good evening, sir.'
'He will be staying some time. Where do we park him?'
'The Red Room suggests itself, sir.'
'You get the Red Room, Kipper.'
'I had it last year. 'Tis not as deep as a well nor as wide as a church door, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve,' I said, recalling a gag of Jeeves's. 'Will you escort Mr Herring thither, Swordfish?'
'Very good, sir.'
'And when you have got him installed, perhaps I could have a word with you in your pantry,' I said, giving him a conspiratorial glance.
'Certainly, sir,' he responded, giving me a conspiratorial glance.
It was one of those big evenings for conspiratorial glances.
I hadn't been waiting in the pantry long when he navigated over the threshold, and my first act was to congratulate him on the excellence of his technique. I had been much impressed by all that 'Very good, sir,' 'Certainly, sir,' bowing-from-the-waist stuff. I said that Jeeves himself couldn't have read his lines better, and he simpered modestly and said that one picked up these little tricks of the trade from one's own butler.
'Oh, by the way,' I said, 'where did you get the Swordfish?'
He smiled indulgently.
'That was Miss Wickham's suggestion.'
'I thought as much.'
'She informed me that she had always dreamed of one day meeting a butler called Swordfish. A charming young lady. Full of fun.'
'It may be fun for her,' I said with one of my bitter laughs, 'but it isn't so diverting for the unfortunate toads beneath the harrow whom she plunges so ruthlessly in the soup. Let me tell you what occurred after I left you this afternoon.'
'Yes, I am all eagerness to hear.'
'Then pin your ears back and drink it in.'
If I do say so, I told my story well, omitting no detail however slight. It had him Bless-my-soul-ing throughout, and when I had finished he t'ck-t'ck-t'ck-ed and said it must have been most unpleasant for me, and I said that 'unpleasant' covered the facts like the skin on a sausage.
'But I think that in your place I should have thought of an explanation of your presence calculated to carry more immediate conviction than that you were searching for a mouse.'
'It is hard to say on the spur of the moment.'
'Well, it was on the spur of the m. that I had to say it,' I rejoined with some heat. 'You don't get time to polish your dialogue and iron out the bugs in the plot when a woman who looks like Sherlock Holmes catches you in her son's room with your rear elevation sticking out from under the dressing-table.'
'True. Quite true. But I wonder...'
'I do not wish to hurt your feelings.'
'Go ahead. My feelings have been hurt so much already that a little bit extra won't make any difference.'
- Илья Громов
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