Right Ho, Jeeves

Right Ho, Jeeves is a book from the Jeeves and Wooster series by P. G. Wodehouse.


Returning from Cannes after several weeks with his Aunt Dahlia Travers, her daughter Angela, and Angela's friend Madeline Bassett, Bertie is informed that Gussie Fink-Nottle has been a frequent caller. And not for Bertie's company, it turns out -- rather, to consult with Jeeves in matters of the heart.

Gussie is in love with Madeline and has decamped from Hampshire to the metrop to court her. Jeeves advises him to accept her invitation to a fancy-dress ball, wearing a Mephistopholes costume. When Gussie muddles it by forgetting the address, his cabfare, and his latchkey, Bertie decides that Jeeves has lost his form, and takes on Gussie's case.

Meanwhile, the aged relative summons Bertie down to Brinkley Court to fill in for an ailing curate and distribute the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School. He demurs, and finding that Madeline will be one of a house party there, sends Gussie in his stead. But when Aunt Dahlia tells him that Angela has broken off her engagement to Bertie's old school friend Tuppy Glossop. His place is at her side, and he goes to Brinkley.

Jeeves has advised the young master that the way to reconcile the young couples is to ring the fire bell in the night, on the theory that the men will rush to rescue their beloveds, and tearful apologies will naturally follow. Bertie (and Dahlia too) take this as a further sign of Jeeves losing his grip. Instead, Bertie instructs Gussie to lay off the breakfast meats in order to convince Madeline that he pines for her. Seizing on this idea, he also instructs Tuppy to push away his plate untasted at dinner to similarly convince Angela, and as well Dahlia (to soften up Uncle Tom for a touch to make up what she lost on the roulette wheel at Cannes). Unfortunately, the stream of untouched plates returning to the kitchen sends Anatole into a rage, and he gives his notice.

Undaunted, Bertie attempts to address Gussie's inability to propose to Madeline, as well as his terror at the prospect of speaking a few short words at the prize-giving. He discovers that Gussie never takes anything stronger than orange juice, and devises a scheme to spike his beverage with something that will give him courage. Unfortunately, when the hour comes, Gussie has already inflicted the same cure on himself. Bertie's plenty, on top of a dose administered by Jeeves and the ill-advised cargo already sloshing around in that brilliantly lit man's interior, affects Gussie in a spectacular fashion. He proposes to Madeline, ticks off Tom Travers properly, and delivers the speech at the prize-giving to end all speeches at prize-givings, at the end of which he hints darkly of an illicit liaison between the headmaster and the mother of the winner of the Scripture Knowledge prize.

After his shameful performance, Madeline promptly returns Gussie to store, and he responds by immediately proposing to -- and being accepted by -- Angela. Tuppy, having been suspicious that another man had misappropriated Angela's affections, now has confirmation, and sets off to disembowel Gussie with his bare hands.

Meanwhile, Dahlia has finally managed to get Anatole to withdraw his notice. Her cheerful description of this event to Bertie is interrupted by Seppings, her butler, asking whether it is her wish that Mr Fink-Nottle should be making faces at Anatole through the skylight of his bedroom. Gussie had found that the only escape from Tuppy was via the roof, and, once up, was unable to descend, so he has attempted to communicate to Anatole his desire for him to open the skylight. Anatole is enraged and gives notice again; Gussie hides in his room; and Bertie again considers what scheme can get his loved ones out of the soup.

He finally relents to Jeeves' fire-bell scheme, and, at one in the morning, while all the staff is at a party at a distant house and the residents and guests of Brinkley are asleep, rings the bell for all it is worth. The house-party assembles on the lawn with some dismay. Bertie notices, first, that no rescuing seems to have taken place; and second, that the house seems to have been locked behind them, leaving all to spend a cold night until the staff returns.

At Jeeves' suggestion, Bertie is drafted to bicycle to the site of the party to retrieve the rear door key from Seppings, a perilous journey in the dark across nine miles of bad road. On arriving he is informed that Seppings had left the key in the possession of Jeeves. Returning to Brinkley, hot with the knowledge of Jeeves' treachery, Bertie finds a major beano in progress: Anatole has again withdrawn his notice, Tom has covered Dahlia's gambling losses, Tuppy and Angela are again engaged, and Madeline is begging Bertie to release her so she can marry Gussie.

Jeeves reveals that the fire bell was but the first part of the scheme, and that the operative part was to unite the differing parties in their common dislike of some other individual, in this case, Bertie. Once Bertie departed on his midnight sojurn, the conversation tended to focus on him, and became personal and derisive, which had had a bonding effect on the feuding parties. When they realized his journey was unnecessary, the anger melted to a kind of fond pity, and all was forgiven.

(In the end, as is usual, Jeeves also informs Bertie that while ironing his white mess jacket with the brass buttons, he inadvertently left the instrument on too long, damaging it beyond repair, for which he is very sorry. This seals a rift which had begun earlier when Bertie had returned from Cannes with the offending jacket and, despite Jeeves' disapproval, had insisted on keeping it.)


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