P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories

11. THE GOOD ANGEL (continued)

So engrossed was he with his thoughts that the first intimation he had that he was not alone in the room was a genteel cough. Behind him, holding a small can, was Keggs.

'Your 'ot water, sir,' said the butler, austerely but not unkindly.

Keggs was a man--one must use that word, though it seems grossly inadequate--of medium height, pigeon-toed at the base, bulgy half-way up, and bald at the apex. His manner was restrained and dignified, his voice soft and grave.

But it was his eye that quelled Martin. That cold, blue, dukes-have-treated-me-as-an-elder-brother eye.

He fixed it upon him now, as he added, placing the can on the floor. 'It is Frederick's duty, but tonight I hundertook it.'

Martin had no answer. He was dazed. Keggs had spoken with the proud humility of an emperor compelled by misfortune to shine shoes.

'Might I have a word with you, sir?'

'Ye-e-ss, yes,' stammered Martin. 'Won't you take a--I mean, yes, certainly.'

'It is perhaps a liberty,' began Keggs. He paused, and raked Martin with the eye that had rested on dining dukes.

'Not at all,' said Martin, hurriedly.

'I should like,' went on Keggs, bowing, 'to speak to you on a somewhat intimate subject--Miss Elsa.'

Martin's eyes and mouth opened slowly.

'You are going the wrong way to work, if you will allow me to say so, sir.'

Martin's jaw dropped another inch.


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