Her departure - at, I should estimate, some sixty m.p.h. – left behind it the sort of quivering stillness you get during hurricane time in America, when the howling gale, having shaken you to the back teeth, passes on to tickle up residents in spots further west. Kind of a dazed feeling it gives you. I turned to Jeeves, and found him, of course, as serene and unmoved as an oyster on the half shell. He might have been watching yowling aunts shoot out of rooms like bullets from early boyhood.
'What was that she said, Jeeves?'
'Yoicks, sir, if I am not mistaken. It seemed to me that Madam also added Tally-ho, Gone away and Hark forrard.'
'I suppose members of the Quorn and the Pytchley are saying that sort of thing all the time.'
'So I understand, sir. It encourages the hounds to renewed efforts. It must, of course, be trying for the fox.'
'I'd hate to be a fox, wouldn't you, Jeeves?'
'Certainly I can imagine more agreeable existences, sir.'
'Not only being chivvied for miles across difficult country but having to listen to men in top hats uttering those uncouth cries.'
'Precisely, sir. A very wearing life.'
I produced my cambric handkerchief and gave the brow a mop. Recent events had caused me to perspire in the manner popularized by the fountains at Versailles.
'Warm work, Jeeves.'
'Opens the pores a bit.'
'How quiet everything seems now.'
'Yes, sir. Silence like a poultice comes to heal the blows of sound.'
'No, sir. The American author Oliver Wendell Holmes. His poem, "The Organ Grinders". An aunt of mine used to read it to me as a child.'
'I didn't know you had any aunts.'
'Are they as jumpy as the one who has just left us?'
'No, sir. Their outlook on life is uniformly placid.'
I had begun to feel a bit more placid myself. Calmer, if you know what I mean. And with the calm had come more charitable thoughts.
'Well, I don't blame the aged relative for being jumpy,' I said. 'She's all tied up with an enterprise of pith and something.'
'Of great pith and moment, sir?'
'Let us hope that its current will not turn awry and lose the name of action.'
'Yes, let's. Turn what?'
'Don't you mean agley?'
'Then it isn't the poet Burns?'
'No, sir. The words occur in Shakespeare's drama Hamlet.'
'Oh, I know Hamlet. Aunt Agatha once made me take her son Thos to it at the Old Vic. Not a bad show, I thought, though a bit highbrow. You're sure the poet Burns didn't write it?'
'Yes, sir. The fact, I understand, is well established.'
'Then that settles that. But we have wandered from the point, which is that Aunt Dahlia is up to her neck in this enterprise of great pith and moment. It's about Tuppy Glossop.'
'It ought to interest you, because I know you've always liked Tuppy.'
'A very pleasant young gentleman, sir.'
'When he isn't looping back the last ring over the Drones swimming-pool, yes. Well, it's too long a story to tell you at the moment, but the gist of it is this. L. P. Runkle, taking advantage of a legal quibble ... is it quibble?'
'Did down Tuppy's father over a business deal... no, not exactly a business deal, Tuppy's father was working for him, and he took advantage of the small print in their contract to rob him of the proceeds of something he had invented.'
'It is often the way, sir. The financier is apt to prosper at the expense of the inventor.'
'And Aunt Dahlia is hoping to get him to cough up a bit of cash and slip it to Tuppy.'
'Actuated by remorse, sir?'
'Not just by remorse. She's relying more on the fact that for quite a time he has been under the spell of Anatole's cooking, and she feels that this will have made him a softer and kindlier financier, readier to oblige and do the square thing. You look dubious, Jeeves. Don't you think it will work? She's sure it will.'
'I wish I could share Madam's confidence, but -'
'But, like me, you look on her chance of playing on L. P. Runkle as on a stringed instrument as ... what? A hundred to eight shot?'
'A somewhat longer price than that, sir. We have to take into consideration the fact that Mr Runkle is ...'
'Yes? You hesitate, Jeeves, Mr Runkle is what?'
'The expression I am trying to find eludes me, sir. It is one I have sometimes heard you use to indicate a deficiency of sweetness and light in some gentleman of your acquaintance. You have employed it of Mr Spode or, as I should say, Lord Sidcup and, in the days before your association with him took on its present cordiality, of Mr Glossop's uncle, Sir Roderick. It is on the tip of my tongue.'
No, he said, it wasn't a stinker.
'A tough baby?'
'A twenty-minute egg?'
'That was it, sir. Mr Runkle is a twenty-minute egg.'
- Шадурская Тамара