Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse


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Page 2

"Yes, sir."

"But Mr. Fink-Nottle's not in London?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I'm blowed."

And I'll tell you why I was blowed. I found it scarcely possible to give
credence to his statement. This Fink-Nottle, you see, was one of those
freaks you come across from time to time during life's journey who can't
stand London. He lived year in and year out, covered with moss, in a
remote village down in Lincolnshire, never coming up even for the Eton
and Harrow match. And when I asked him once if he didn't find the time
hang a bit heavy on his hands, he said, no, because he had a pond in his
garden and studied the habits of newts.

I couldn't imagine what could have brought the chap up to the great city.
I would have been prepared to bet that as long as the supply of newts
didn't give out, nothing could have shifted him from that village of his.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir."

"You got the name correctly? Fink-Nottle?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, it's the most extraordinary thing. It must be five years since he
was in London. He makes no secret of the fact that the place gives him
the pip. Until now, he has always stayed glued to the country, completely
surrounded by newts."

"Sir?"

"Newts, Jeeves. Mr. Fink-Nottle has a strong newt complex. You must have
heard of newts. Those little sort of lizard things that charge about in
ponds."

"Oh, yes, sir. The aquatic members of the family Salamandridae which
constitute the genus Molge."

"That's right. Well, Gussie has always been a slave to them. He used to
keep them at school."

"I believe young gentlemen frequently do, sir."

"He kept them in his study in a kind of glass-tank arrangement, and
pretty niffy the whole thing was, I recall. I suppose one ought to have
been able to see what the end would be even then, but you know what boys
are. Careless, heedless, busy about our own affairs, we scarcely gave
this kink in Gussie's character a thought. We may have exchanged an
occasional remark about it taking all sorts to make a world, but nothing
more. You can guess the sequel. The trouble spread,"

"Indeed, sir?"

"Absolutely, Jeeves. The craving grew upon him. The newts got him.
Arrived at man's estate, he retired to the depths of the country and gave
his life up to these dumb chums. I suppose he used to tell himself that
he could take them or leave them alone, and then found--too late--that he
couldn't."

"It is often the way, sir."

"Too true, Jeeves. At any rate, for the last five years he has been
living at this place of his down in Lincolnshire, as confirmed a
species-shunning hermit as ever put fresh water in the tank every second
day and refused to see a soul. That's why I was so amazed when you told
me he had suddenly risen to the surface like this. I still can't believe
it. I am inclined to think that there must be some mistake, and that
this bird who has been calling here is some different variety of
Fink-Nottle. The chap I know wears horn-rimmed spectacles and has a face
like a fish. How does that check up with your data?"

"The gentleman who came to the flat wore horn-rimmed spectacles, sir."

"And looked like something on a slab?"

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 18th Aug 2019, 19:29