Usual disclaimer applies.
Notes: Won't make sense unless you've read Wodehouse Spoilers: For Nicodemus
Archive: ::blushes and looks flattered:: Just let me know that you are, okay?
Bertie Returns to Smallville
I was tooling along the road back through Kansas, another one of those oddly named American places, feeling all cheery-ho, or, as a pal of Jeeves once put it, "he on honeydew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise," though of course milk instead of gin and t. seems odd for Paradise, but perhaps Jeeves' pal was mistaken on that point. Jeeves did not share my jovial mood, however, since I was wearing a rather spiffing black leather jacket that seemed to declare to the world that Bertie Wooster is not a man to be trifled with. A man who knows his own mind with fashion, in fact. Jeeves was of the opposite opinion and the fact that he still hadn't succeeded in leaving my new blue jeans behind in any of the towns we'd visited put dampened Jeeves outlook on life, if you know what I mean. But as my new jacket declared to the w., Bertie Wooster is not to be swayed by an opinion that was probably shaped before Bertie put in a first appearance on this planet. When Aunt Dahlia says that I have the backbone of a banana, she doesn't know what she's talking about, though she is otherwise an egg of excellent caliber.
To get back to the narrative of the events, in summary, with Bertie, all was well, with Jeeves, all except Bertie's wardrobe was well.
"What ho, what ho, what ho?"
"Here's cheery old Smallville again. Remember that place with the Luthor chappie and those two girls, one soulful, the other one, v-, v-, what's the word, begins with a v, not vicious, not venial, not Victorian, vice-regal, is that what I'm thinking?"
"Right as always, Jeeves. And the rugby chappie who took a Charles Atlas class?"
"And here we are again. It's like a jolly old reunion."
Jeeves has never guided me wrongly, so when he identified the vehicle pulling out in front of us as a pick-up truck, I trusted his veracity. Another vehicle pulled into the road behind it, before us, if you can see the image clearly, Truck A in the lead, Vehicle B following that, Bertie and Jeeves behind Vehicle B. If you've ever seen Ronnie Fish's old pal Galahad Throop making his way to the bar, you'd be struck by the resemblance, if that's the word I'm looking for, to the driver of Vehicle B. Rushing, that's what I mean. But Truck A was going calmly admidst the hubbub, following the speed limit, and on the whole causing mental p. and anguish to the driver of Vehicle B.
Vehicle B tried to pull around, and was wobbling like my knees when Madeleine Glossop announced that she was engaged to me and intended to make me a more spiritual, purer, better human being. Alarmingly, that's it in a nutshell. It crashed off the road and driver of Vehicle A pulled round, as did we, and ran to the scene to render assistance.
The chappie from Vehicle A was getting driver B out of the way and down on the ground, sneezing a few times as he did so. Sad, if a farmer were allergic to the g. outdoors, I reflected while Jeeves announced that he is certified in first aid. While he practiced his bedside manner, chappie A introduced himself as Jonathan Kent. I introduced self as Bertie Wooster and Jeeves as Jeeves, giving him two introductions for one, unless you count the chappie from Vehicle B as an introduction too.
"I say, do you have a son who's about the size of two rugby players?" I remembered the chap's name and helpfully added, "Clark, that's it," in case his memory needed jogging.
"Yes, you know him?" He was looking at the leather jacket with an expression of wonder, which I smugly filed away for later reference with Jeeves.
"Met him with this other chappie, Lex Luthor, d'you know him too? Small-town America and all that?"
"I know Luthor." His face looked like he'd bitten into something extremely unpleasant. Sour, that's what I mean.
Ever tactful, pouring o. on troubled waters, I went on to say that his son is most extraordinarily strong. Praising the offshoots always satisfies parents, brings a smile to the dourest face, or so I've found. But not this chappie, who looked decidedly hostile, despite the genial grin on the Wooster visage.
"He's not seriously hurt, but I suggest that we take him to hospital," Jeeves announced. I looked dubiously at the two-seater and the Kent senior chappie said that he'd do it.
"Tinkerty-tonk," I said, hoping to re-establish friendly diplomatic relations, but Kent senior still looked not at all easy in the mind.
"I think he was jealous of my jacket," I informed Jeeves, who pretended not to hear the comment and instead looked at a strangeish plant on the ground.
"I do not recognize this form at all."
"I wouldn't let it bother you, Jeeves, old chap. A fellow can't know every plant in the ground, after all," I wisely advised him.
"I wonder what caused the sudden drop in geniality," I mused to Jeeves as we tooled onwards. If the luggage didn't include a banner labeled Excelsior, everything else to mark a daring progress was present. "It's as though I'd tread on his favorite prize pig instead of giving his son glowing reviews on the brawn front. But what I received was the cold treatment. The baleful eye. The suspicious gaze. Even the furrowed brow. He looked like an aunt whose plans have gone awry, is what I mean to say. I nearly said that I hadn't been anywhere near his jam cupboard. What do you think's the cause?"
"I really could not say, sir."
It beats me sometimes how Jeeves can compress the thoughts that I take more than a few sentences to say into a package of less than eight words. You'd think a chappie who reads so much would use more words, since he's always brushing up against them, but it's far the opposite. Strange, that.
Things looked familiar as we made our way back into the bustling h. of Smallville, and since the parched fibres were calling for tea, we stopped at the genial Talon for a spot, and possibly to engulf some buns or whatever the American equivalent of buns might be. When in Rome, as Jeeves said once, brightly adding that the idea applied to places other than Rome when I enquired as to why he was talking about Rome when we were in fact, at that point in time, in Cannes. Which we weren't then, that is, we weren't in Cannes when we were in Smallville. It follows, naturally, but at times my narrative has been accused of a certain lack of coherence by the stiffer and more compressed-lipped type of reader. When authors refer to Gentle Readers, they're as fatheaded as Gussie Fink-Nottle on the subject of newts. [Editor's note: A view not shared by the editor.]
The rugby chappie, Clark Kent, was at a table, looking somewhere between wet and drenched, and with a certain sheepish expression that I've sometimes felt on the Wooster phys. the morning after a night spent with convivial friends at the Drones. I felt a certain sympathy, having been drenched in full evening kit that night that Bingo Little treacherously persuaded self to dross the rings over the pool, but having looped the last one back so Bertie had no choice but to drop in the drink in, as I said, full evening kit. I went over to say hello and express sympathies while Jeeves, being a man of action, went about ordering tea and any other refreshment that might suggest itself.
"Hullo ullo ullo. Clark Kent, isn't it? Bertie Wooster," I reminded him, though several members of my acquaintance have said that once met, the Wooster is never forgotten, though the tone of voice suggests that forgetting is the choice of nine out of ten acquaintance-makers with said Wooster. "Bad weather, or is it good for the crops?"
"No, I actually fell in the pool."
"Oh, tough luck. D'you know, the same thing happened to me?" As I started to tell the story, thinking it would cheer a fellow sufferer, the resemblance to a jolly old reunion strengthened as the Luthor chappie walked in, with that air of his of being ready to buy the world but not being sure it's in good enough condition, an air I'd previously thought restricted to some of the toughest eggs ever to set foot in Blandings Castle, like Julia Fish. The rubgy chappie tried ineffectually, if that's the word I want, to look a bit smaller, since when you're twice as wide and about three times as tall as the average opera soprano, that's a tricky proposition. Looking smaller, that is, though I'd wager that a soprano has a hard time of it, too, judging by the sounds some of them make.
Anyway, the Luthor bean didn't notice the Clark chappie or your author, being absorbed in some papers that looked so dry they probably had words like "whereas" in them. He looked like the brainy type, though, who thrived on them, and commits calculus and such things in his head. But Bertie is never the type to judge, live and let live, says Bertie. The phrase isn't original, another Jeeves creation, in case anyone was wondering.
All eyes gaped wide as the spiritual looking girl came in, looking about as spiritual as Theda Bara intent on capturing some young chappie in her seductive and sinister coils. The Clark chappie blushed and Bertie was fairly close to the same condition, after looking at her skirt, of which there wasn't much to speak of, and at her legs, of which there was much to speak of, most of it good, I'd hasten to say, but still, a bit like thinking you're drinking the morning c. and finding instead that it's pure martini. Nice, but a surprise, don't you know?
She announced that things were closing and offered free coffees, and the Luthor chappie went to remonstrate, if you know what that word means. Clark and I and Jeeves, too, who had come over with tea to join us by that time, all tried to look like we weren't listening, though the Clark chappie blushed again when there were strange sounds.
Anyway, the girl who didn't look at all spiritual, came storming back, looking like a thundercloud that knew it was going to drench the S. school picnic, and with one deft move that not even Jeeves could block, snatched the car keys from where I'd put them down.
"She's not herself," the Clark chappie muttered and tore out after her. Jeeves, being the quick thinking all-around genius that he is, saw that the Luthor bean had left his car keys equally vulnerable, and he grabbed self by the arm and the keys with his hand, and headed out, while I shouted, "Terribly sorry, got to rescue the car from the ravening maiden," over my shoulder at the Luthor chappie, who was blinking a bit.
The rubgy chappie was nowhere to be seen but we could hear the sound of the car and a trail of dust. "Rather like one of those jolly old Westerns, isn't it, Jeeves?" I shouted merrily as we drove off in the Luthor conveyance.
We were following the trail out to a field, which more or less helped along the Western atmosphere, if you know what I mean. The girl approximately stopped the car and jumped out, then ran towards a windmill. The Kent chappie appeared out of nowhere, just like the sheriff in a Western, and tried to reason with her, apparently.
The Wooster has no head for heights and so when he saw the girl climbing up the windmill like an acrobatic star, he spent more time watching the Kent chappie, while Jeeves kept observation on the girl, judging by his craned neck.
The girl started to fall and Jeeves and I exchanged a worried glance, but the rugby chappie had it all in hand. I suppose that after being machine gunned and getting up as though he'd been in nothing nastier than a pillow fight in an infirmary ward, girls dropping from the sky is downright tedious, don't you know, ho hum and tepid tra la la and all that.
Given again that the Wooster vehicle is a tiny two-seater and that the Luthor chappie might well be wondering if the harsh word "thief" applied to self and Jeeves and pondering the advisability of calling the gendarmes, I drove the Luthor car back to the Talon to restore it to its loving home and relations and Jeeves offered to drive the rugby chappie and apparently swooned girl to a doctor. We agreed to meet again at the Talon--Jeeves and I that is, not the girl and Clark and I--to finish tea and then head out of town again.
Just as the ways parted temporarily, I asked, "Do people really come to rustic America for the peace and quiet?"
"I suppose everyone has their own definitions, sir."
The Luthor chappie was standing in the doorway of the Talon with the kind of expression my Aunt Dahlia wore when she found Bertie creeping up a drainpipe, the kind of expression that says, "There will be consequences, with much weeping and g. of teeth." I don't know how it is that some can fix with an accusing stare while others, such as Bertie, end up apologizing themselves, when they should be delivering the stares with cold hauteur. Per the usual in such circs, Jeeves reappered and stepped forward while I was still gathering my thoughts.
"You see, the young lady absconded with Mr. Wooster's car, followed by the young gentleman on foot. In order to prevent any harm from coming to either of them, we followed. The young gentleman and lady are at the hospital now. I left them in the emergency room."
"That's it in a jolly old nutshell," I confirmed.
"The emergency room?" The Luthor chappie perhaps wasn't as swift on the uptake as I'd gathered.
"But Clark's all right?"
"Certainly, sir. My phrasing was misleading. The young lady fell and Mr. Kent escorted her to the hospital."
I restored the keys as the Luthor chappie held out his hand, and he got into the car and drove off.
"I say, Jeeves, I've never known you to commit misleading phrasing before," I commented. "The explanation was just what the situation called for, but it's hardly like you to get rattled."
"That was part of the psychology of the situation, sir. Mr. Luthor and Mr. Kent are on quite good terms. By permitting him to think that his friend was injured, and then immediately dispelling that fear, he saw the entire situation in a new context, one in which your borrowing his car was inconsequential."
"I say, Jeeves. Quite the rescue mission. I'd have hated ending up explaining matters. For some reason, when I explain things, they often get worse, and that Luthor chappie didn't cast a friendly eye on purloining his car."
"I judged it advisable, sir."
I struggled in the depths of my soul. "Jeeves?"
"About the leather jacket." I paused and felt like who-was-it getting ready to sacrifice thing-um-jig, you know the story I'm talking about, the one where the chappie tried to get better weather for a trip. "You're quite sure it doesn't suit the Wooster wardrobe?"
I heaved a sigh from the depths of my heart. "The jeans, too?"
"Absolutely not suitable."
"All right. Give them to the deserving."
Jeeves reached into a pocket and handed me two zippers and some snap thingies. "On the way back from the hospital, I detoured and fed them to a goat that approached the fence. Outside the Kent Farm."
Editor's note: Through a remarkable chain of circumstances involving Anatole, the French chef, a missing necklace, angry swans, far too many cats in a London flat, and the large pig known as The Empress of Blandings, this narrative came into my possession. Oddly enough, the generally accepted history of Superman's youth (aka canon) makes no mention of Bertie Wooster's visits to Smallville or of his encountering any of the individuals mentioned. In fact, some of the incidents as described here change the order of events in canon as well as their locations and even the nature of events. This leaves the possibilities of a) a hoax b) a cover-up or c) Mr. Wooster's imagination expressing itself in a highly unusual way. None of these explanations completely satisfies, so the editor merely presents these documents as she found them. (With the trifling exception of correcting some of the more phonetic spellings or eccentric instances of punctuation, some of which verge on the brink of comma abuse, a liberty that Mr. Wooster's main chronicler, P.G. Wodehouse, allowed himself.)
Anybody who can shed light upon these events is heartily encouraged to correspond with the editor, either care of Blandings Castle (where she regularly visits the Empress) or via email at email@example.com.
Also, why not join Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?