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


George was concerned.

'I'm afraid your mother is offended, Lady Julia.'

There was a puzzled look in her grey eyes as they met his. Then they lit up. She leaned back in the seat and began to laugh, softly at first, and then with a note that jarred on George. Whatever the humour of the situation--and he had not detected it at present--this mirth, he felt, was unnatural and excessive.

She checked herself at length, and a flush crept over her face.

'I don't know why I did that,' she said, abruptly. 'I'm sorry. There was nothing funny in what you said. But I'm not Lady Julia, and I have no mother. That was Lady Julia who has just gone, and I am nothing more important than her companion.'

'Her companion!'

'I had better say her late companion. It will soon be that. I had strict orders, you see, not to go near the casino without her--and I went.'

'Then--then I've lost you your job--I mean, your position! If it hadn't been for me she wouldn't have known. I--'

'You have done me a great service,' she said. 'You have cut the painter for me when I have been trying for months to muster up the courage to cut it for myself. I don't suppose you know what it is to get into a groove and long to get out of it and not have the pluck. My brother has been writing to me for a long time to join him in Canada. And I hadn't the courage, or the energy, or whatever it is that takes people out of grooves. I knew I was wasting my life, but I was fairly happy--at least, not unhappy; so--well, there it was. I suppose women are like that.'

'And now--?'

'And now you have jerked me out of the groove. I shall go out to Bob by the first boat.'

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