Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and P.G. Wodehouse characters are the property of their original owners.
From beneath the untidy heap of bedcovers, a huddled form uttered a lengthy, pain-wracked moan. This sound of pure agony was soon followed by a trembling hand extended out from under the sheets, blindly held palm upwards. Immediately, a filled glass containing a murky substance was unerringly placed onto this hand, with both that part of the person and the tumbler being withdrawn back out of sight below the bedcloths. A few seconds later, a noisy slurping sound came from there, lasting for several moments.
At the end of this indecorous occasion, a much-steadier hand again protruded from the mound concealed by the blankets of an Englishman’s bed. This was accompanied by the wondering voice of someone who’d just a moment ago before his consumption of a desperately needed hangover cure thought it ever impossible to announce, “Good morning, Jeeves.”
The valet of valets, Jeeves the one and only, calmly accepted the now-empty glass from his employer’s hand. After placing this onto the nightstand, he went around the bedroom throwing back the window curtains and then opening these panels, too. With bright daylight now filling up the room, an imperturbable response was then uttered by this manservant, “Judging by the current meteorological conditions, it does indeed appear to be the start of a most agreeable day, if I may say so, sir.”
Hearing this, a young man in his late twenties warily poked his head out from one end of the bedcovers. Possessing severely tousled hair, Bertram Wooster, known to his friends at the Drones Club as ‘Bertie’, now had his amiably foolish face crack open in a prolonged yawn. Squirming around on the bed to stuff his pillows against the headboard as a brace, Bertie leaned back upon his recent construction, and he watched Jeeves placidly glide out of the bedroom. Blinking as he glanced out of the apartment windows at a pleasant London spring morning in the year 1931, Bertie was content to lie there while drawing in several deep breaths of fresh air. This action also brought to his twitching nose the enticing smell of a good, solid breakfast at hand.
Bertie’s mouth watered as he contemplated the prospect of devouring Jeeves’ latest culinary masterpiece fresh from the kitchen. The young gentleman sighed in pure happiness. Life was good, especially after surviving yet another Boat Race Night. If it wasn’t expected of him by his pals, this member of England’s idle rich would’ve rather spent last night with perhaps a snifter of brandy and an early bedtime, during the occasion when numerous graduates of Oxford and Cambridge celebrated throughout the city their famous rivalry over the rowing matches held annually between their universities.
As it was, Bertie still felt it necessary to join in the festivities with his fellow Drones, going from nightclub to nightclub with them, and having the best time he could manage--
For some strange reason, he was drawing a deuced blank over everything which might’ve happened to him last night. Oh, he remembered well enough being sent off by Jeeves early in the evening while attired in impeccable evening dress. However, there weren’t any memories at all after this, until he found himself lying in bed the next morning, thankfully sending down a parched throat his valet’s supreme pick-me-up. No, absolutely nothing
in between. It was bally odd, rather.
Thoughtfully rubbing at his chin stubble, Bertie glanced up when Jeeves materialized back into the bedroom, this time carrying a fully-loaded breakfast tray and the latest edition of today’s newspaper tucked under one arm. Several adroit moves later, Jeeves was busily laying out his master’s clothing for the day, while Bertie munched and sipped at the food and drink from the tray placed on the bed across his supine body. Ignoring the folded newspaper placed on the nightstand ready for his later perusal, the young man tentatively called out between mouthfuls, “I say, Jeeves, after I came home last night, did I by any chance mention to you about what happened to me earlier? I must admit, I can’t remember a single blasted thing.”
Not a muscle shifted in Jeeves’ composed features as he continued to twitch the trouser leg of today’s outfit into perfection, nor was there any change in the valet’s usual unruffled tone, even while replying, “As it happens, sir, you did. At great and enthusiastic length, even when I was bringing you inside and preparing you for bed.”
“Well, that’s all right, then,” Bertie brightly mumbled through his mouth stuffed full with toast and crisp bacon. Hastily swallowing this at seeing Jeeves’ disapproving glance, the aristocratic layabout then pointed out with great good cheer, “I mean, it’s not like last year, when you had to bail me out over my little bit of trouble with the ostrich, that bunch of circus tightrope walkers, and the Earl of Wraxley’s daughter Bootsie, who wanted to run off with them.”
“I believe it all worked out then for the best, sir,” austerely stated Jeeves, whose reply indicated he didn’t seem too anxious to further discuss this.
Finishing off the last of the kippers, Bertie shot an inquiring gaze over his teacup at Jeeves going back to work without another word. Dash it all, even if nothing too unusual appeared to have come to pass concerning himself last night, he didn’t care at all for being unable to remember anything. It was time to crack the whip and get Jeeves to confess all, or his name wasn’t Bertram Wilberforce Wooster!
“Jeeves!” This servant’s presumed master ordered in a stern voice which tried to be actually intimidating, but only succeeding in presenting itself as possessing more than a touch of wheedling. “Kindly stop fussing around with my bally suit and come out with it, what I’ve forgotten about last night!”
A rare flicker of resignation now passed over the mild-mannered valet’s countenance. Squaring his shoulders, Jeeves turned to regard his unshaven employer in the bed, who looked prepared to be genuinely stubborn about this. Perhaps it was for the best to reveal all, so once more unto the breach…
“If you truly insist, sir. I believe, from your rather…inebriated comments, that things went as usual for most of the night. This would include the point when you fell in with several members of the Drones rugby team, who’d somehow earlier acquired a policeman’s helmet.”
“Hang on a moment, Jeeves,” interrupted Bertie, pensively scratching his head, before perking up to happily continue, “I say, now that you mentioned it, it’s beginning to come back to me! I don’t quite recall how they came across this, but when we were together, Big Wally and Legs Hamilton and some other fine blokes, they planned to display the helmet on the head of one of those lion statues around Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.”
Presenting a faultless deadpan, Jeeves inquired, “The gentlemen you just mentioned, would they be the same persons who visited here several weeks ago? Those individuals best described as having the identical size, demeanor, and intelligence of a pair of steamrollers?”
As ever missing the very possibility of sarcasm, Bertie simply nodded in agreement, adding, “By Jove, that fits them both to a T! Go on, Jeeves. You’re doing your usual fine job of narration, so what happened next?”
Stifling a sigh with all the expertise gained from constant practice of being in Mr. Wooster’s scatterbrained company, Jeeves obediently resumed, “Arriving at your destination, you were at once granted the honor of holding the helmet while your companions prepared to lift you up to place it on the statue. However, from out of the night-time crowd observing this, a pair of complete strangers then accosted your group, claiming they required for their own purposes the policeman’s helmet. They immediately demanded this be handed over to them.”
“Good heavens!” After this sudden exclamation, Bertie’s mouth fell open. He gaped in absolute shock at Jeeves tranquilly meeting his master’s concerned stare. The younger man then blurted, “How could I have forgotten that? The chap who ordered us, he was the combination of a lion-tamer, the colonel of a battle-tested regiment, and the strictest but fair schoolmaster ever! I’d have given the helmet to him in a shot, except…”
There was a short pause after Bertie abruptly trailed off in his statement, with a very worried expression now creeping over his ordinarily affable face. Carefully watching his charge, Jeeves waited with utter patience, until it didn’t seem likely that Bertie would stop staring vacantly past the manservant.
Clearing his throat, Jeeves tried to verbally prod his employer into confirming what he’d drunkenly informed a very dubious listener last night, “I would venture to say, this didn’t go down well with your friends at the time?”
Still staring off into the distance, Bertie absently shook his head. “Too bloody right! Big Wally and Legs, they told the new bloke to shove off, and if he didn’t, they’d give him a good thumping. In fact, they were going to do it anyway, until-- Um. Ah.” Breaking off in his story, Bertie now squeezed shut his eyes, and he started to fretfully rub his forehead.
In a voice of growing panic, this Englishman now groaned, “What the devil did I drink last night? I mean, not even the bathtub gin I tried in the colonies a few years back gave me hallucinations like seeing a little slip of a girl grabbing two enormous blokes by their necks, which she had to reach up for! Then, she lifted them both off the ground at the same time without any effort at all, right before banging their heads together! She didn’t have any trouble dealing with the rest of the Drones, either!”
Now totally fascinated, Jeeves inquired, “And what did her companion do then, sir?”
“Hah?” blankly responded Bertie, before blinking at where his expectant servant was regarding him. Frowning, the man lying in his bed tried to recollect the ensuing events. “Oh, him, he just stood next to me, took the helmet out of my hands, and told me that I’d be all right, as long as I kept my mouth shut and didn’t further annoy Violet-- Right, that’s
what her name was. Anyway, I bloody well did what I was told, even when she started pantsing the entire team down for the count. I think…”
Again starting to rub at his forehead, Bertie was evidently having no luck in further remembering, which was borne out by him confessing, “That’s as far as it goes, Jeeves. The only clear thing afterwards is me waking up here, with a terrible headache and a furry tongue.” Examining his valet, with this other man presently lost in thought over what he’d just learned, Bertie doubtfully asked, “Hullo, just how did I get back home, anyway?”
Jeeves bestowed his most matter-of-fact gaze upon the perplexed inhabitant of the bed while murmuring, “A somewhat aggravated taxicab driver brought you here, sir. This chauffer was remarkably insistent over being owed the fiver you promised him, so I paid him off, and escorted you to bed. During this, you rather graphically described the entire events of the night. I’m afraid I didn’t quite believe you, sir, but it now appears your story’s veracity is not open to dispute, however incredible it may seem.”
“Hmm,” skeptically grunted Bertie, who then stretched out on the bed. His glance fell upon the remainder of the breakfast left on the tray there. Picking up the last triangle of toast and a bread knife, Bertie started to apply some orange marmalade to this tidbit. He next commented in a more optimistic tone than previously, “Well, whether it was real or a mere figment of my imagination, it’s over and done with, right? I’ve at last come through a Boat Race Night without getting into the least bit of trouble!”
Taking a celebratory bite of his toast, Bertie happily masticated away, all without noticing the truly sorrowful look being given to him by Jeeves. In truth, Bertie wasn’t diverted from his meal until his valet walked over to the nightstand, took from there the late morning edition of the newspaper, opened this out to the proper page, and showed what was there to his employer. Who now became utterly frozen in mid-chew, staring with bulging eyes at the newspaper.
This was all due to a truly extraordinary photograph of a night-time scene in Trafalgar Square, as it was presented in the paper. In a masterpiece of composition, to the left of the picture, there was a pile of several very large and totally unconscious young men neatly stacked onto each other. More incredibly, all of those comatose males were missing their trousers.
In the center of the photograph, one of Landseer’s bronze lions seen face-on was sternly regarding the viewer.
Finally, on the right, three people were standing next to each other. Of this small group, the young, red-haired woman dressed in a smart, feminine outfit was mischievously smirking at the newspaper photographer taking their picture. The oldest of the trio, perhaps twice the age of the rest, was a resolute-looking man in a somber tweed suit, peering over his glasses glinting in the flash, and also wearing on his head a London bobby’s helmet rakishly tilted forward.
Taking his spot in the middle of their company, a definitely sloshed young man in rumpled evening dress, and with his arms thrown in a comradely fashion over the others’ shoulders, posed there in the photograph. Even with his mouth wide open in a drunken grin, Bertie Wooster was instantly identifiable to anyone who knew him.
The total silence in the bedroom was soon broken by Jeeves’ calm announcement while he smoothly removed the breakfast tray from the bed, “I’ve already booked two tickets for our train ferry to France, sir, and the hotel reservations in the most remote part of the Alps have been confirmed. If you would be so good as to make your ablutions as speedily as possible--”
“God bless you, Jeeves!” shouted Bertie over his shoulder, as he leapt out of bed in his pajamas and then sprinted for the bathroom, slamming the door shut after him.
There might have been the faintest of smiles on Jeeves’ face at this, but the valet nonetheless returned to his other duties while carrying the breakfast tray out of the bedroom and along the apartment corridor towards the kitchen. Just as the manservant was about to enter that other room, the hallway telephone began to stridently ring. Making a quick U-turn, Jeeves was about to pick up the telephone’s receiver, until Bertie stuck his head out past his bedroom entranceway, also attracted by that loud noise.
Past the toothpaste frothing at the corners of his mouth, Bertie frantically ordered, “Jeeves, don’t you dare answer it! From the sound alone, that’s got to be Aunt Agatha! Just get us packed, and with any luck, we’ll be well away before she gets here, breathing fire and otherwise perfectly imitating a furious dragon!”