Auntics

Mary Wimbush 'Jeeves & Wooster' (1990) 1.3

We were coasting along nicely, I thought.

Jeeves had done a spiffing job getting Madeline safely back in the arms of Gussie Fink -Nottle; and I was once again a free man.

Thoughts turned, as they are wont to do, to the lovely and talented Gwladys Pendlbury and the epic portrait of Aunt Agatha.

‘What’s it like Jeeves?’ I said toying with a smoked salmon sandwich in anticipation of its arrival.

‘It is very big, Sir’, said Jeeves in a coldly non-committal manner.

‘Never mind about the size, Jeeves, what about the likeness?’

‘About that Sir, I could not possibly say. But Miss Pendelbury is of the opinion that it captures and portrays something of the ‘soul’ of Lady Worplesdon.’

‘Ah, what a sweet darling talented girl she is! To be able to portray the soul! And even more remarkable of her to discover that Aunt Agatha has one.’

‘Precisely so, Sir. Shall I bring in the soulful canvass? The porter carried it up only an hour age. ‘

As Jeeves tootled off to root out the relevant package, I have to admit that I allowed myself to bathe in a warm pool of self-admiration.

It was I, Bertram Wooster, who had devised the scheme of mollifying the belligerent Aunt with a flattering portrait by an up-and-coming artist. (One to whom Madeline Bassett could scarcely hold the proverbial candle in any respect.) It was Bertram who would come frequently to the elderly relative’s mind as she viewed said art-work, hoist above her drawing-room chimney piece.   And to Bertram would flow the financial benefits of that new-found tenderness and admiration

This passing moment of euphoria was only interrupted by Jeeves’s entrance bearing a scarcely identifiable portrait of a formidable female clad from head to toe in black bombazine. It had, so far as one could see, only one eye, which was compensated for by several hands.

‘Good heavens, Jeeves, you could have warned me that the delicious Gladwys was a pupil of that Picasso chappie. Aunt Agatha is nothing if not a devotee of Landseer. This will never do. ‘

‘In more ways than one, Sir,’ replied Jeeves with a wry smile.

‘Nothing, I swear,  Jeeves, could be worse than this modernist travesty. Why! It’s no more than a pot of paint thrown in Aunt Agatha’s face.’

‘I fear it can get infinitely worse, Sir. Word at the Junior Ganymede Club has it that Lady Worledsdon, following in the footsteps of her suffragette mother, has taken advantage of the proposals brought forward by our enterprising Equalities Secretary Ms Maria Miller, and had herself declared a MAN, under the name of Marmaduke Gregson. Mr Gregson, I surmise, will not want a daily reminder of his former status hanging in the parlour.’

‘Good God, Jeeves, this is a disaster : portrait useless, hopes of gain dashed and no Aunt Agatha to boot! What does old Worplesdon make of it all?’

‘He, Sir, has emigrated to Venezuela.’

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