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   Chapter 37 No.37

The Little Warrior By P. G. Wodehouse Characters: 5196

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


There was a pause. Jill was looking a little grave.

"Wally!"

"Yes?"

She turned her face away, for there was a gleam of mischief in her eyes which she did not wish him to observe.

"Derek was at the party!"

Wally had been about to butter a piece of toast. The butter, jerked from the knife by the convulsive start which he gave, popped up in a semi-circle and plumped onto the tablecloth. He recovered himself quickly.

"Sorry!" he said. "You mustn't mind that. They want me to be second-string for the 'Boosting the Butter' event at the next Olympic Games, and I'm practising all the time. … Underhill was there, eh?"

"Yes."

"You met him?"

"Yes."

Derek fiddled with his knife.

"Did he come over … I mean … had he come specially to see you?"

"Yes."

"I see."

There was another pause.

"He wants to marry you?"

"He said he wanted to marry me."

Wally got up and went to the window. Jill could smile safely now, and she did, but her voice was still grave.

"What ought I to do, Wally? I thought I would ask you, as you are such a friend."

Wally spoke without turning.

"You ought to marry him, of course."

"You think so?"

"You ought to marry him, of course," said Wally doggedly. "You love him, and the fact that he came all the way to America must mean that he still loves you. Marry him!"

"But …" Jill hesitated. "You see, there's a difficulty."

"What difficulty?"

"Well … it was something I said to him just before he went away. I said something that made it a little difficult."

Wally continued to inspect the roofs below.

"What did you say?"

"Well … it was something … something that I don't believe he liked … something that may interfere with his marrying me."

"What did you say?"

"I told him I was going to marry you!"

Wally spun round. At the same time he leaped in the air. The effect of the combination of movements was to cause him to stagger across the room and, after two or three impromptu dance steps which would have interested Mrs Peagrim, to clutch at the mantelpiece to save himself from falling. Jill watched him with quiet approval.

"Why, that's wonderful, Wally! Is that another of your morning exercises? If Freddie does go into vaudeville, you ought to get him to let you join the troupe."

Wally was blinking at her from the mantelpiece.

"Jill!"

"Yes?"

"What-what-what … !"

"Now, don't talk like Freddie, even if you are going into vaudeville with him."

"You said you were going to marry me?"

"I said I was going to marry you!"

"But-do you mean … ?"

The mischi

ef died out of Jill's eyes. She met his gaze frankly and seriously.

"The lumber's gone, Wally," she said. "But my heart isn't empty. It's quite, quite full, and it's going to be full for ever and ever and ever."

Wally left the mantelpiece, and came slowly towards her.

"Jill!" He choked. "Jill!"

Suddenly he pounced on her and swung her off her feet. She gave a little breathless cry.

"Wally! I thought you didn't approve of cavemen!"

"This," said Wally, "is just another new morning exercise I've thought of!"

Jill sat down, gasping.

"Are you going to do that often, Wally?"

"Every day for the rest of my life!"

"Goodness!"

"Oh, you'll get used to it. It'll grow on you."

"You don't think I am making a mistake marrying you?"

"No, no! I've given the matter a lot of thought, and … in fact, no, no!"

"No," said Jill thoughtfully. "I think you'll make a good husband. I mean, suppose we ever want the piano moved or something … Wally!" she broke off suddenly.

"You have our ear."

"Come out on the roof," said Jill. "I want to show you something funny."

Wally followed her out. They stood at the parapet together, looking down.

"There!" said Jill, pointing.

Wally looked puzzled.

"I see many things, but which is the funny one?"

"Why, all those people. Over there-and there-and there. Scuttering about and thinking they know everything there is to know, and not one of them has the least idea that I am the happiest girl on earth!"

"Or that I'm the happiest man! Their ignorance is-what is the word I want? Abysmal. They don't know what it's like to stand beside you and see that little dimple in your chin. … They don't know you've got a little dimple in your chin. … They don't know. … They don't know … Why, I don't suppose a single one of them even knows that I'm just going to kiss you!"

"Those girls in that window over there do," said Jill. "They are watching us like hawks."

"Let 'em!" said Wally briefly.

THE END

* * *

Transcriber's Note: While I left several variant spellings such as vodevil and bethrothed, I did correct the following:

Fixed: course/coarse in

Yet somehow this course, rough person in front of him never seemed to allow him a word

Fixed: awfuly/awfully in:

He's awfuly good to girls who've worked in shows for him before.

Fixed: Pullfan/Pullman

Those Pullfan porters on parade!"

Fixed: a large typo in the print edition, which originally read:

"Yes. I've got the most damned attack of indigestion." Derek should recline in the arm-chair which he had vacated; dinner!"

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