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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Adventures Of Sally - Chapter XV - UNCLE DONALD SPEAKS HIS MIND
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The Adventures Of Sally - Chapter XV - UNCLE DONALD SPEAKS HIS MIND Post by :xlordt Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :May 2011 Read :1017

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The Adventures Of Sally - Chapter XV - UNCLE DONALD SPEAKS HIS MIND

There is in certain men--and Bruce Carmyle was one of them--a quality of
resilience, a sturdy refusal to acknowledge defeat, which aids them as
effectively in affairs of the heart as in encounters of a sterner and
more practical kind. As a wooer, Bruce Carmyle resembled that durable
type of pugilist who can only give of his best after he has received at
least one substantial wallop on some tender spot. Although Sally had
refused his offer of marriage quite definitely at Monk's Crofton, it
had never occurred to him to consider the episode closed. All his life
he had been accustomed to getting what he wanted, and he meant to get
it now.

He was quite sure that he wanted Sally. There had been moments when he
had been conscious of certain doubts, but in the smart of temporary
defeat these had vanished. That streak of Bohemianism in her which from
time to time since their first meeting had jarred upon his orderly mind
was forgotten; and all that Mr. Carmyle could remember was the
brightness of her eyes, the jaunty lift of her chin, and the gallant
trimness of her. Her gay prettiness seemed to flick at him like a whip
in the darkness of wakeful nights, lashing him to pursuit. And quietly
and methodically, like a respectable wolf settling on the trail of a
Red Riding Hood, he prepared to pursue. Delicacy and imagination might
have kept him back, but in these qualities he had never been strong. One
cannot have everything.

His preparations for departure, though he did his best to make them
swiftly and secretly, did not escape the notice of the Family. In many
English families there seems to exist a system of inter-communication
and news-distribution like that of those savage tribes in Africa who
pass the latest item of news and interest from point to point over miles
of intervening jungle by some telepathic method never properly
explained. On his last night in London, there entered to Bruce Carmyle
at his apartment in South Audley Street, the Family's chosen
representative, the man to whom the Family pointed with pride--Uncle
Donald, in the flesh.

There were two hundred and forty pounds of the flesh Uncle Donald was
in, and the chair in which he deposited it creaked beneath its burden.
Once, at Monk's Crofton, Sally had spoiled a whole morning for her
brother Fillmore, by indicating Uncle Donald as the exact image of what
he would be when he grew up. A superstition, cherished from early
schooldays, that he had a weak heart had caused the Family's managing
director to abstain from every form of exercise for nearly fifty years;
and, as he combined with a distaste for exercise one of the three
heartiest appetites in the south-western postal division of London,
Uncle Donald, at sixty-two, was not a man one would willingly have
lounging in one's armchairs. Bruce Carmyle's customary respectfulness
was tinged with something approaching dislike as he looked at him.

Uncle Donald's walrus moustache heaved gently upon his laboured breath,
like seaweed on a ground-swell. There had been stairs to climb.

"What's this? What's this?" he contrived to ejaculate at last. "You
packing?"

"Yes," said Mr. Carmyle, shortly. For the first time in his life he was
conscious of that sensation of furtive guilt which was habitual with his
cousin Ginger when in the presence of this large, mackerel-eyed man.

"You going away?"

"Yes."

"Where you going?"

"America."

"When you going?"

"To-morrow morning."

"Why you going?"

This dialogue has been set down as though it had been as brisk and
snappy as any cross-talk between vaudeville comedians, but in reality
Uncle Donald's peculiar methods of conversation had stretched it over a
period of nearly three minutes: for after each reply and before each
question he had puffed and sighed and inhaled his moustache with such
painful deliberation that his companion's nerves were finding it
difficult to bear up under the strain.

"You're going after that girl," said Uncle Donald, accusingly.

Bruce Carmyle flushed darkly. And it is interesting to record that at
this moment there flitted through his mind the thought that Ginger's
behaviour at Bleke's Coffee House, on a certain notable occasion, had
not been so utterly inexcusable as he had supposed. There was no doubt
that the Family's Chosen One could be trying.

"Will you have a whisky and soda, Uncle Donald?" he said, by way of
changing the conversation.

"Yes," said his relative, in pursuance of a vow he had made in the early
eighties never to refuse an offer of this kind. "Gimme!"

You would have thought that that would have put matters on a pleasanter
footing. But no. Having lapped up the restorative, Uncle Donald returned
to the attack quite un-softened.

"Never thought you were a fool before," he said severely.

Bruce Carmyle's proud spirit chafed. This sort of interview, which had
become a commonplace with his cousin Ginger, was new to him. Hitherto,
his actions had received neither criticism nor been subjected to it.

"I'm not a fool."

"You are a fool. A damn fool," continued Uncle Donald, specifying more
exactly. "Don't like the girl. Never did. Not a nice girl. Didn't like
her. Right from the first."

"Need we discuss this?" said Bruce Carmyle, dropping, as he was apt to
do, into the grand manner.

The Head of the Family drank in a layer of moustache and blew it out
again.

"Need we discuss it?" he said with asperity. "We're going to discuss
it! Whatch think I climbed all these blasted stairs for with my weak
heart? Gimme another!"

Mr. Carmyle gave him another.

"'S a bad business," moaned Uncle Donald, having gone through the
movements once more. "Shocking bad business. If your poor father were
alive, whatch think he'd say to your tearing across the world after this
girl? I'll tell you what he'd say. He'd say... What kind of whisky's
this?"

"O'Rafferty Special."

"New to me. Not bad. Quite good. Sound. Mellow. Wherej get it?"

"Bilby's in Oxford Street."

"Must order some. Mellow. He'd say... well, God knows what he'd say.
Whatch doing it for? Whatch doing it for? That's what I can't see. None
of us can see. Puzzles your uncle George. Baffles your aunt Geraldine.
Nobody can understand it. Girl's simply after your money. Anyone can see
that."

"Pardon me, Uncle Donald," said Mr. Carmyle, stiffly, "but that is
surely rather absurd. If that were the case, why should she have refused
me at Monk's Crofton?"

"Drawing you on," said Uncle Donald, promptly. "Luring you on.
Well-known trick. Girl in 1881, when I was at Oxford, tried to lure me
on. If I hadn't had some sense and a weak heart... Whatch know of this
girl? Whatch know of her? That's the point. Who is she? Wherej meet
her?"

"I met her at Roville, in France."

"Travelling with her family?"

"Travelling alone," said Bruce Carmyle, reluctantly.

"Not even with that brother of hers? Bad!" said Uncle Donald. "Bad,
bad!"

"American girls are accustomed to more independence than English girls."

"That young man," said Uncle Donald, pursuing a train of thought, "is
going to be fat one of these days, if he doesn't look out. Travelling
alone, was she? What did you do? Catch her eye on the pier?"

"Really, Uncle Donald!"

"Well, must have got to know her somehow."

"I was introduced to her by Lancelot. She was a friend of his."

"Lancelot!" exploded Uncle Donald, quivering all over like a smitten
jelly at the loathed name. "Well, that shows you what sort of a girl she
is. Any girl that would be a friend of... Unpack!"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Unpack! Mustn't go on with this foolery. Out of the question. Find
some girl make you a good wife. Your aunt Mary's been meeting some
people name of Bassington-Bassington, related Kent
Bassington-Bassingtons... eldest daughter charming girl, just do for
you."

Outside the pages of the more old-fashioned type of fiction nobody ever
really ground his teeth, but Bruce Carmyle came nearer to it at that
moment than anyone had ever come before. He scowled blackly, and the
last trace of suavity left him.

"I shall do nothing of the kind," he said briefly. "I sail to-morrow."

Uncle Donald had had a previous experience of being defied by a nephew,
but it had not accustomed him to the sensation. He was aware of an
unpleasant feeling of impotence. Nothing is harder than to know what to
do next when defied.

"Eh?" he said.

Mr. Carmyle having started to defy, evidently decided to make a good job
of it.

"I am over twenty-one," said he. "I am financially independent. I
shall do as I please."

"But, consider!" pleaded Uncle Donald, painfully conscious of the
weakness of his words. "Reflect!"

"I have reflected."

"Your position in the county..."

"I've thought of that."

"You could marry anyone you pleased."

"I'm going to."

"You are determined to go running off to God-knows-where after this Miss
I-can't-even-remember-her-dam-name?"

"Yes."

"Have you considered," said Uncle Donald, portentously, "that you owe a
duty to the Family."

Bruce Carmyle's patience snapped and he sank like a stone to absolutely
Gingerian depths of plain-spokenness.

"Oh, damn the Family!" he cried.

There was a painful silence, broken only by the relieved sigh of the
armchair as Uncle Donald heaved himself out of it.

"After that," said Uncle Donald, "I have nothing more to say."

"Good!" said Mr. Carmyle rudely, lost to all shame.

"'Cept this. If you come back married to that girl, I'll cut you in
Piccadilly. By George, I will!"

He moved to the door. Bruce Carmyle looked down his nose without
speaking. A tense moment.

"What," asked Uncle Donald, his fingers on the handle, "did you say it
was called?"

"What was what called?"

"That whisky."

"O'Rafferty Special."

"And wherj get it?"

"Bilby's, in Oxford Street."

"I'll make a note of it," said Uncle Donald.

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