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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Adventures Of Sally - Chapter XII - SOME LETTERS FOR GINGER
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The Adventures Of Sally - Chapter XII - SOME LETTERS FOR GINGER Post by :dog8me Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :May 2011 Read :3544

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The Adventures Of Sally - Chapter XII - SOME LETTERS FOR GINGER

Laurette et Cie,

Regent Street,

London, W.,

England.

 

January 21st.

Dear Ginger,--I'm feeling better. As it's three months since I last
wrote to you, no doubt you will say to yourself that I would be a poor,
weak-minded creature if I wasn't. I suppose one ought to be able to get
over anything in three months. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I haven't
quite succeeded in doing that, but at least I have managed to get my
troubles stowed away in the cellar, and I'm not dragging them out and
looking at them all the time. That's something, isn't it?

I ought to give you all my impressions of London, I suppose; but I've
grown so used to the place that I don't think I have any now. I seem to
have been here years and years.

You will see by the address that Mr. Faucitt has not yet sold his
inheritance. He expects to do so very soon, he tells me--there is a
rich-looking man with whiskers and a keen eye whom he is always lunching
with, and I think big deals are in progress. Poor dear! he is crazy to
get away into the country and settle down and grow ducks and things.
London has disappointed him. It is not the place it used to be. Until
quite lately, when he grew resigned, he used to wander about in a
disconsolate sort of way, trying to locate the landmarks of his youth.
(He has not been in England for nearly thirty years!) The trouble is, it
seems, that about once in every thirty years a sort of craze for change
comes over London, and they paint a shop-front red instead of blue, and
that upsets the returned exile dreadfully. Mr. Faucitt feels like Rip
Van Winkle. His first shock was when he found that the Empire was a
theatre now instead of a music-hall. Then he was told that another
music-hall, the Tivoli, had been pulled down altogether. And when on top
of that he went to look at the baker's shop in Rupert Street, over which
he had lodgings in the eighties, and discovered that it had been turned
into a dressmaker's, he grew very melancholy, and only cheered up a
little when a lovely magenta fog came on and showed him that some things
were still going along as in the good old days.

I am kept quite busy at Laurette et Cie., thank goodness. (Not being a
French scholar like you--do you remember Jules?--I thought at first that
Cie was the name of the junior partner, and looked forward to meeting
him. "Miss Nicholas, shake hands with Mr. Cie, one of your greatest
admirers.") I hold down the female equivalent of your job at the
Fillmore Nicholas Theatrical Enterprises Ltd.--that is to say, I'm a
sort of right-hand woman. I hang around and sidle up to the customers
when they come in, and say, "Chawming weather, moddom!" (which is
usually a black lie) and pass them on to the staff, who do the actual
work. I shouldn't mind going on like this for the next few years, but
Mr. Faucitt is determined to sell. I don't know if you are like that,
but every other Englishman I've ever met seems to have an ambition to
own a house and lot in Loamshire or Hants or Salop or somewhere. Their
one object in life is to make some money and "buy back the old place"--
which was sold, of course, at the end of act one to pay the heir's
gambling debts.

Mr. Faucitt, when he was a small boy, used to live in a little village
in Gloucestershire, near a place called Cirencester--at least, it isn't:
it's called Cissister, which I bet you didn't know--and after forgetting
about it for fifty years, he has suddenly been bitten by the desire to
end his days there, surrounded by pigs and chickens. He took me down to
see the place the other day. Oh, Ginger, this English country! Why any
of you ever live in towns I can't think. Old, old grey stone houses with
yellow haystacks and lovely squelchy muddy lanes and great fat trees and
blue hills in the distance. The peace of it! If ever I sell my soul, I
shall insist on the devil giving me at least forty years in some English
country place in exchange.

Perhaps you will think from all this that I am too much occupied to
remember your existence. Just to show how interested I am in you, let me
tell you that, when I was reading the paper a week ago, I happened to
see the headline, "International Match." It didn't seem to mean anything
at first, and then I suddenly recollected. This was the thing you had
once been a snip for! So I went down to a place called Twickenham, where
this football game was to be, to see the sort of thing you used to do
before I took charge of you and made you a respectable right-hand man.
There was an enormous crowd there, and I was nearly squeezed to death,
but I bore it for your sake. I found out that the English team were the
ones wearing white shirts, and that the ones in red were the Welsh. I
said to the man next to me, after he had finished yelling himself black
in the face, "Could you kindly inform me which is the English
scrum-half?" And just at that moment the players came quite near where I
was, and about a dozen assassins in red hurled themselves violently on
top of a meek-looking little fellow who had just fallen on the ball.
Ginger, you are well out of it! That was the scrum-half, and I gathered
that that sort of thing was a mere commonplace in his existence.
Stopping a rush, it is called, and he is expected to do it all the time.
The idea of you ever going in for such brutal sports! You thank your
stars that you are safe on your little stool in Fillmore's outer office,
and that, if anybody jumps on top of you now, you can call a cop. Do you
mean to say you really used to do these daredevil feats? You must have
hidden depths in you which I have never suspected.

As I was taking a ride down Piccadilly the other day on top of a bus, I
saw somebody walking along who seemed familiar. It was Mr. Carmyle. So
he's back in England again. He didn't see me, thank goodness. I don't
want to meet anybody just at present who reminds me of New York.

Thanks for telling me all the news, but please don't do it again. It
makes me remember, and I don't want to. It's this way, Ginger. Let me
write to you, because it really does relieve me, but don't answer my
letters. Do you mind? I'm sure you'll understand.

So Fillmore and Gladys Winch are married! From what I have seen of her,
it's the best thing that has ever happened to Brother F. She is a
splendid girl. I must write to him...

 

Laurette et Cie..

London

 

March 12th.

Dear Ginger,--I saw in a Sunday paper last week that "The Primrose Way"
had been produced in New York, and was a great success. Well, I'm very
glad. But I don't think the papers ought to print things like that. It's
unsettling.

Next day, I did one of those funny things you do when you're feeling
blue and lonely and a long way away from everybody. I called at your
club and asked for you! Such a nice old man in uniform at the desk said
in a fatherly way that you hadn't been in lately, and he rather fancied
you were out of town, but would I take a seat while he inquired. He then
summoned a tiny boy, also in uniform, and the child skipped off
chanting, "Mister Kemp! Mister Kemp!" in a shrill treble. It gave me
such an odd feeling to hear your name echoing in the distance. I felt so
ashamed for giving them all that trouble; and when the boy came back I
slipped twopence into his palm, which I suppose was against all the
rules, though he seemed to like it.

Mr. Faucitt has sold the business and retired to the country, and I am
rather at a loose end...

 

Monk's Crofton,
(whatever that means)
Much Middleford,
Salop,
(slang for Shropshire)
England.

 

April 18th.

Dear Ginger,--What's the use? What is the use? I do all I can to get
right away from New York, and New York comes after me and tracks me down
in my hiding-place. A week or so ago, as I was walking down the Strand
in an aimless sort of way, out there came right on top of me--who do
you think? Fillmore, arm in arm with Mr. Carmyle! I couldn't dodge. In
the first place, Mr. Carmyle had seen me; in the second place, it is a
day's journey to dodge poor dear Fillmore now. I blushed for him.
Ginger! Right there in the Strand I blushed for him. In my worst dreams
I had never pictured him so enormous. Upon what meat doth this our
Fillmore feed that he is grown so great? Poor Gladys! When she looks at
him she must feel like a bigamist.

Apparently Fillmore is still full of big schemes, for he talked airily
about buying all sorts of English plays. He has come over, as I suppose
you know, to arrange about putting on "The Primrose Way" over here. He
is staying at the Savoy, and they took me off there to lunch, whooping
joyfully as over a strayed lamb. It was the worst thing that could
possibly have happened to me. Fillmore talked Broadway without a pause,
till by the time he had worked his way past the French pastry and was
lolling back, breathing a little stertorously, waiting for the coffee
and liqueurs, he had got me so homesick that, if it hadn't been that I
didn't want to make a public exhibition of myself, I should have broken
down and howled. It was crazy of me ever to go near the Savoy. Of
course, it's simply an annex to Broadway. There were Americans at every
table as far as the eye could reach. I might just as well have been at
the Astor.

Well, if Fate insists in bringing New York to England for my special
discomfiture, I suppose I have got to put up with it. I just let events
take their course, and I have been drifting ever since. Two days ago I
drifted here. Mr. Carmyle invited Fillmore--he seems to love
Fillmore--and me to Monk's Crofton, and I hadn't even the shadow of an
excuse for refusing. So I came, and I am now sitting writing to you in
an enormous bedroom with an open fire and armchairs and every other sort
of luxury. Fillmore is out golfing. He sails for New York on Saturday on
the Mauretania. I am horrified to hear from him that, in addition to all
his other big schemes, he is now promoting a fight for the light-weight
championship in Jersey City, and guaranteeing enormous sums to both
boxers. It's no good arguing with him. If you do, he simply quotes
figures to show the fortunes other people have made out of these things.
Besides, it's too late now, anyway. As far as I can make out, the fight
is going to take place in another week or two. All the same, it makes my
flesh creep.

Well, it's no use worrying, I suppose. Let's change the subject. Do
you know Monk's Crofton? Probably you don't, as I seem to remember
hearing something said about it being a recent purchase. Mr. Carmyle
bought it from some lord or other who had been losing money on the Stock
Exchange. I hope you haven't seen it, anyway, because I want to
describe it at great length. I want to pour out my soul about it.
Ginger, what has England ever done to deserve such paradises? I thought,
in my ignorance, that Mr. Faucitt's Cissister place was pretty good, but
it doesn't even begin. It can't compete. Of course, his is just an
ordinary country house, and this is a Seat. Monk's Crofton is the sort
of place they used to write about in the English novels. You know. "The
sunset was falling on the walls of G---- Castle, in B----shire, hard by
the picturesque village of H----, and not a stone's throw from the
hamlet of J----." I can imagine Tennyson's Maud living here. It is one
of the stately homes of England; how beautiful they stand, and I'm crazy
about it.

You motor up from the station, and after you have gone about three
miles, you turn in at a big iron gate with stone posts on each side with
stone beasts on them. Close by the gate is the cutest little house with
an old man inside it who pops out and touches his hat. This is only the
lodge, really, but you think you have arrived; so you get all ready to
jump out, and then the car goes rolling on for another fifty miles or so
through beech woods full of rabbits and open meadows with deer in them.
Finally, just as you think you are going on for ever, you whizz round a
corner, and there's the house. You don't get a glimpse of it till then,
because the trees are too thick.

It's very large, and sort of low and square, with a kind of tower at one
side and the most fascinating upper porch sort of thing with
battlements. I suppose in the old days you used to stand on this and
drop molten lead on visitors' heads. Wonderful lawns all round, and
shrubberies and a lake that you can just see where the ground dips
beyond the fields. Of course it's too early yet for them to be out, but
to the left of the house there's a place where there will be about a
million roses when June comes round, and all along the side of the
rose-garden is a high wall of old red brick which shuts off the kitchen
garden. I went exploring there this morning. It's an enormous place,
with hot-houses and things, and there's the cunningest farm at one end
with a stable yard full of puppies that just tear the heart out of you,
they're so sweet. And a big, sleepy cat, which sits and blinks in the
sun and lets the puppies run all over her. And there's a lovely
stillness, and you can hear everything growing. And thrushes and
blackbirds... Oh, Ginger, it's heavenly!

But there's a catch. It's a case of "Where every prospect pleases and
only man is vile." At least, not exactly vile, I suppose, but terribly
stodgy. I can see now why you couldn't hit it off with the Family.
Because I've seen 'em all! They're here! Yes, Uncle Donald and all of
them. Is it a habit of your family to collect in gangs, or have I just
happened to stumble into an accidental Old Home Week? When I came down
to dinner the first evening, the drawing-room was full to bursting
point--not simply because Fillmore was there, but because there were
uncles and aunts all over the place. I felt like a small lion in a den
of Daniels. I know exactly now what you mean about the Family. They look
at you! Of course, it's all right for me, because I am snowy white clear
through, but I can just imagine what it must have been like for you with
your permanently guilty conscience. You must have had an awful time.

By the way, it's going to be a delicate business getting this letter
through to you--rather like carrying the despatches through the enemy's
lines in a Civil War play. You're supposed to leave letters on the table
in the hall, and someone collects them in the afternoon and takes them
down to the village on a bicycle. But, if I do that some aunt or uncle
is bound to see it, and I shall be an object of loathing, for it is no
light matter, my lad, to be caught having correspondence with a human
Jimpson weed like you. It would blast me socially. At least, so I gather
from the way they behaved when your name came up at dinner last night.
Somebody mentioned you, and the most awful roasting party broke loose.
Uncle Donald acting as cheer-leader. I said feebly that I had met you
and had found you part human, and there was an awful silence till they
all started at the same time to show me where I was wrong, and how
cruelly my girlish inexperience had deceived me. A young and innocent
half-portion like me, it appears, is absolutely incapable of suspecting
the true infamy of the dregs of society. You aren't fit to speak to the
likes of me, being at the kindest estimate little more than a blot on
the human race. I tell you this in case you may imagine you're popular
with the Family. You're not.

So I shall have to exercise a good deal of snaky craft in smuggling this
letter through. I'll take it down to the village myself if I can sneak
away. But it's going to be pretty difficult, because for some reason I
seem to be a centre of attraction. Except when I take refuge in my room,
hardly a moment passes without an aunt or an uncle popping out and
having a cosy talk with me. It sometimes seems as though they were
weighing me in the balance. Well, let 'em weigh!

Time to dress for dinner now. Good-bye.

Yours in the balance,

sally.

P.S.--You were perfectly right about your Uncle Donald's moustache, but
I don't agree with you that it is more his misfortune than his fault. I
think he does it on purpose.

 

(Just for the moment)
Monk's Crofton,
Much Middleford,
Salop,
England.

 

April 20th.

Dear Ginger,--Leaving here to-day. In disgrace. Hard, cold looks from
the family. Strained silences. Uncle Donald far from chummy. You can
guess what has happened. I might have seen it coming. I can see now that
it was in the air all along.

Fillmore knows nothing about it. He left just before it happened. I
shall see him very soon, for I have decided to come back and stop
running away from things any longer. It's cowardly to skulk about over
here. Besides, I'm feeling so much better that I believe I can face the
ghosts. Anyway, I'm going to try. See you almost as soon as you get
this.

I shall mail this in London, and I suppose it will come over by the same
boat as me. It's hardly worth writing, really, of course, but I have
sneaked up to my room to wait till the motor arrives to take me to the
station, and it's something to do. I can hear muffled voices. The
Family talking me over, probably. Saying they never really liked me all
along. Oh, well!

Yours moving in an orderly manner to the exit,

sally.

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