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Sunday, October 3, 2010

P.G. Wodehouse: Ring for Jeeves - "...rhinoceri are equipped with license numbers"

In chapter 8, conversation among Captain Biggar, Bill and Jeeves, while Captain Biggar is trying to find out the racecourse bookie who ran away with his prize amount:

‘Obviously what happened was that friend Biggar got the wrong number.’ Said Bill.

‘Yes, m’lord.’ Agreed Jeeves.

The red of Captain Biggar’s face deepened to purple. His proud spirit was wounded.

‘are you telling me I don’t know the number of a car that I followed all the way from Epsom Downs to Southmothtonshire? That car was used today by this Honest Patch Perkins and his clerk, and I’m asking you if you lent it to him.’

‘My dear good bird, would I lend my car to a chap in a check suit and a crimson tie, not mention a clack patch and ginger moustache? The thing’s not… what, Jeeves?’

‘Feasible, m’lord.’ Jeeves coughed. ‘Possibly the gentleman’s eyesight needs medical attention.’

Captain Biggar swelled portentously.

‘My eyesight? My eyesight? Do you know who you’re talking to? I am Bwana Biggar.’

‘I regret that the name is strange to me, sir. But I still maintain that you have made the pardonable mistake of failing to read the license number correctly.’

Before speaking again, Captain Biggar was obliged to swallow once or twice, to restore his composure. He also took another nut.

‘Look,’ he said, almost mildly. ‘perhaps you’re not up on these things. You haven’t been told who’s who and what’s what. I am Biggar the White Hunter, the most famous White Hunter in all Africa and Indonesia. I can stand without a tremor in the path of an onrushing rhino… and why? Because my eyesight is so superb that I know …I know I can get him in that one vulnerable sport before he has come within sixty paces. That’s the sort of eyesight mine is.’

Jeeves maintained his iron front.

‘I fear I cannot recede from my position, sir. I grant that you may have trained your vision for such a contingency as you have described, but, poorly informed as I am on the subject of larger fauna of the East, I do not believe that rhinoceri are equipped with license numbers.’