‘Ice and lemon in the gin and tonic, sir?’ asked Jeeves superfluously.
‘Oh, Jeeves ,’ I replied, ‘Rather! Is the pope a catholic?’
It must have been a figure of speech which had unaccountably passed him by. (I have always suspected Jeeves of being a left-footer in his spare time.)
‘I regret to say, Sir, that the post is presently occupied by a gentleman of Argentinian extraction about whom many have severe doubts.’
‘And what precisely are these doubts, Jeeves’ said I, reaching for an olive.
‘Doubts about his orthodoxy; doubts about his intentions; and doubts, frankly, about whether he is Pope at all.
‘Quite preposterous, Jeeves! Where do you get theses notions? These ‘doubts’ can’t amount to much. After all the Man is supposed to be infallible, isn’t he? All you have to do is to ask him, and you’re bound to get the right answer.’
‘If I may say so, Sir, you pinpoint the problem with your accustomed perspicacity. But the problem is one of rudimentary communication: the Argentinian gentlemen in question either issues forth gnomic utterances like the oracles of old, or says nothing at all.’
‘That’s a rum one, I’ll grant you,’ I had to concur. ‘So what of the poppycock about his not really being the Pope at all? Where does that come from?’
‘Apparently, Sir, it is rumoured that a cabal of cardinals, led by a Belgian called Danneels feloniously arranged the election after clandestine meetings in Sankt Gallen in Switzerland.’
‘I know where St Gallen is,’ I replied curtly. ’Were they skiing?’
’I think not, Sir. They would, I surmise, be too elderly for the pistes. They were plotting.’
‘Shame on them, wasting good snow like that! Foreigners! Anyway, I flatly refuse to believe in your Danneels chappie. He clearly doesn’t exist. There are only two famous Belgians, as everybody knows – Poirot and Tintin.
‘Indeed, Sir,’ agreed Jeeves, murmuring Cesar Franck under his breath.
‘What ho! So much for the G&T. What’s for luncheon?’
‘Macaroni again, I fear, Sir.’