Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy

'Jeeves,' I said, emerging from the old tub, 'rally round.'
'Yes, sir.'
I beamed on the man with no little geniality. I was putting in a week or two in Paris at the moment, and there's something about Paris that always makes me feel fairly full of espièglerie and joie de vivre.
'Lay out our gent's medium-smart raiment, suitable for Bohemian revels,' I said. 'I am lunching with an artist bloke on the other side of the river.'
'Very good, sir.'
'And if anybody calls for me, Jeeves say that I shall be back towards the quiet evenfall.'
'Yes, sir. Mr Biffen rang up on the telephone while you were in the bath.'
''Mr Biffen? Good heavens!'
Amazing how one's always running across fellows in foreign cities - coves, I mean, whom you haven't seen for ages and would have betted weren't anywhere in the neighborhood. Paris was the last place where I should have expected to find old Biffy popping up....
'Old Biffy in Paris? What's he doing here?'
'He did not confide in me, sir' said Jeeves - a trifle frostily, I thought. It sounded somehow as if he didn't like Biffy. And yet they had always been matey enough in the old days.
'Where's he staying?'
'At the Hotel Avenida, Rue du Colisée, sir. He informed me that he was about to take a walk and would call this afternoon.'
'Well, if he comes when I'm out, tell him to wait.... I must be popping.'
It was such a corking day and I had so much time in hand that near the Sorbonne I stopped my cab, deciding to walk the rest of the way. And I had hardly gone three steps and a half when there on the pavement before me stood old Biffy in person. If I had completed the last step I should have rammed him.
'Biffy!' I cried. 'Well, well,well!'
He peered at me in a blinking kind of way, rather like one of his Herefordshire cows prodded unexpectedly while lunching.
'Bertie!' he gurgled, in a devout sort of tone. 'Thank God!' He clutched my arm. 'Don't leave me, Bertie. I'm lost.'
'What do you mean, lost?'
'I came out for a walk and suddenly discovered after a mile or two that I didn't know where on earth I was. I've been wandering around in circles for hours.'
'Why didn't you ask the way?'
'I can't speak a word of French.'
'Well, why didn't you call a taxi?'
'I suddenly discovered I'd left all my money at my hotel.'
'You could have taken a cab and paid it when you got to the hotel.'
'Yes, but I suddenly discovered, dash it, that I'd forgotten it's name.'
And there in a nutshell you have Charles Edward Biffen. As vague and woollen-headed a blighter as ever bit a sandwich. Goodness knows - and my Aunt Agatha will bear me out in this - I'm no master-mind myself but compared with Biffy I'm one of the great thinkers of all time.
'I'd give a shilling,' said Biffy wistfully, 'to know the name of that hotel.'
'You can owe it to me. Hotel Avenida, Rue du Colisée.'
'Bertie! This is uncanny. How the deuce did you know?'
'That was the address you left with Jeeves this morning.'
'So it was. I had forgotten.'

-Carry On, Jeeves by P.G.Wodehouse-


Katya said...

Ah, yes. A singular tale of hilarity. Bertie, Biffen, Mabel, Sir Roderick Glossop and Green Swissles. Lots of quotables.

Natalie said...

Ah, lovely. Love P.G. Wodehouse.