MysteryVisits.com: JEEVES sequence



Initial sequence from JEEVES AND THE NASTY BUSINESS, based on the famous stories of P.G. Wodehouse and written by John C. Sherwood. 1994. All performance rights reserved. For complete script, refer to preceding page.


ACT ONE
(BERTIE, in a checkered suit, sits Center.
NOTE: No properties are used. All objects are mimed throughout, except hats.)

BERTIE
(To audience.)
I shall always remember the morning He came. Jeeves, I mean.
(He stands and reels a bit. Holds his head.)
Oh! Hm! It so happened that the night before, the gadabout Bertram Wooster -- that is, myself -- had been present at a rather, ah, cheery little supper, and I was feeling pretty rocky.
(Walks unsteadily.)
On top of this, the old brain was trying to take in a book given me by Florence Craye. Huh! Florence! She and I had been at Easeby -- that's my uncle's place in Shropshire -- and two or three days before I left, Florence and I became engaged. Engaged! What a prospect! But there was nothing I could do. Out of my hands, you know.
(Takes invisible portrait from mantel and peruses it.)
Florence was frightfully keen on boosting me up a bit nearer her own plane of intellect. Now, this girl had a wonderful, ah, profile, and I certainly did love her, but she was steeped to the gills in serious purpose.
(Returns portrait to mantel.)
Consider: The book she'd lent me was called "Types of Ethical Theory." Not a title that would pass my pals' sprightly conversational test at the Drones Club, I tell you.
(Hangs onto the chair.)
My sudden engagement was inflamed further by the fact that I had to break off my visit to return to London. For I had discovered Meadowes, the valet I'd taken to Easeby, sneaking my silk socks -- a thing no bloke of spirit could stick at any price. I was compelled to hand the misguided blighter the mitten, and go to London to ask the registry office to dig up another specimen for my approval. They sent me -- Jeeves.
(Bell OFF. BERTIE holds his head and reels.)
Oh heavens! Meadowes, get that!
(Bell OFF. BERTIE reels.)
I say, Meadowes! Where -- ? Oh, confound it, I sacked the hooligan! I suppose I must do it myself! Damn the man!
(He goes to door. BELL rings again. He reels.)
Cease that Dante-esque cacophony, whoever you are!

(BERTIE goes through R door and is not visible.)

JEEVES
(Off.)
Mr. Bertram Wooster?

BERTIE Off, moaning.)
Ah, right-ho.

JEEVES
(Off.)
I have been sent by the agency, sir. I am given to understand that you require a valet.

BERTIE (Returning.)
At the moment, I'd prefer an undertaker. But that can wait. Stagger in.
(JEEVES, dressed in butler's garb, is removing a bowler hat as he enters smoothly, without sound. BERTIE observes this, closes door. To audience.)
The creature floated noiselessly through the doorway like a healing zephyr. That impressed me.
(BERTIE notices that JEEVES is staring at him.)
What is it?

JEEVES
Excuse me, sir.

(JEEVES smoothly exits C with bowler.)

BERTIE
The fellow was as silent and pastoral as a fawn ambling across a dewy field. Old Meadowes had had flat feet, and used to clump.

JEEVES
(Enters C, without bowler, holding unseen tray.)
If you would drink this, sir.
(BERTIE removes invisible tumbler, eyes it.)
It is a preparation of my own invention, sir. The Worcester Sauce gives it its colour. The raw egg makes it nutritious. The red pepper gives it its bite. Gentlemen have told me that it is highly invigorating after a -- um -- late evening.

BERTIE
Boggles me how you mixed this so quickly. But, this morning, I would clutch at anything that looks like a life-line.
(Drinks it down. It burns. BERTIE gasps.)
What is this? A bomb? You've thrust a torch down my throat!

JEEVES
A modicum of patience is craved, sir.

BERTIE
(Calms himself. BERTIE moves about, stretching himself, shaking his head, gazing through "window.")
Ah! Well! My, my! Suddenly, everything seems all right. Oh, yes! The sun is shining in. Birds are twittering in the tree-tops. Hope dawns!
(Faces JEEVES.)
You're engaged!

JEEVES
Thank you, sir. My name is Jeeves.

BERTIE
You can start in at once?

JEEVES
Immediately, sir.

BERTIE
Excellent! Because I'm due down at Easeby, in Shropshire, the day after tomorrow.

JEEVES
Very good, sir. I note on your mantelpiece a fine photograph of Lady Florence Craye, sir. It is two years since I saw her ladyship. I was at one time in Lord Worplesdon's employment. I tendered my resignation because I could not see eye to eye with his lordship in his desire to dine in dress trousers, a flannel shirt and a shooting coat.

BERTIE
Well, I know all about the fiery temper of Lord W. That's Florence's father, you know.

JEEVES
Ah -- yes, sir.

BERTIE
Legged it to France when he'd had enough of the hen's eggs on the traditional breakfast menu. Never returned to the bosom of his family. Not that the old b. of the f. missed his wrath one whit.

JEEVES
I understand you, sir.

BERTIE
Lady Florence and I are engaged, Jeeves.

JEEVES
(Pause. Judgmentally and subtly amazed.)
Indeed, sir?

BERTIE
Um, yes.
(BELL off. JEEVES exits R. To audience.)
Jeeves took to the ways of the house like a sow to her supper. But there was a rummy Something about his manner. It gave me the impression that he wasn't keen on Florence. Florence was a dear girl, and -- seen sideways -- most awfully good-looking, but if she had a fault it was a tendency to be leathery with the domestic staff.
(JEEVES returns, holding invisible tray.)
What is it, Jeeves?

JEEVES
A telegram, sir.

BERTIE
Ah? I wasn't expecting any messages. Hmm. Well! I suppose you might as well read it aloud, Jeeves.

JEEVES
(Takes invisible paper from tray, opens, reads.)
"Return immediately. Extremely urgent. Catch first train. Florence."

BERTIE
Rum! One doesn't ignore missives of that sort from Florence. I suppose we shall be going down to Easeby this afternoon. Can you manage it?

JEEVES
Certainly, sir. Which suit will you wear for the journey?

BERTIE
Oh, this one.

JEEVES
(Disapprovingly.)
Very good, sir.

BERTIE
Don't you like this suit?

JEEVES
(He doesn't.)
Oh -- yes, sir.

BERTIE
Well, what don't you like about it?

JEEVES
It is a very nice suit, sir.

BERTIE
Well, what's wrong with it? Out with it!

JEEVES
If I might make the suggestion, sir, a simple brown or black, with a hint of some quiet twill --

BERTIE
What absolute rot!

JEEVES
Very good, sir.

BERTIE
Perfectly blithering, my good man!

JEEVES
As you say, sir.

BERTIE
(Pause. Takes a sudden turn and exits C.)
Oh, all right, then!

JEEVES
(A slight smile.)
Very good, sir! (JEEVES casts an inquisitive eye about the room. Not everything meets with his approval. He deigns to accept his new situation, then exits C. Beat. BERTIE enters C wearing a more appropriate jacket.)

BERTIE
Easeby was not one of those country houses you read about in society novels, where young girls are lured to play baccarat, then skinned to the bone of their jewelry, and so on. The house-party consisted entirely of law-abiding birds like myself, for my uncle liked a quiet life. He was just finishing a history of the family, which he'd been working on for a year.

FLORENCE
(Enters C, perturbed.)
Oh! There you are, Bertie!

BERTIE
(Tries to embrace her. She sidesteps.)
Florence, darling --

FLORENCE
Don't!

BERTIE
What's the matter?

FLORENCE
Everything! Bertie, do you remember asking me to make myself pleasant to your uncle?

BERTIE
Of course. I can't marry without his approval, you know. Did you fascinate the old boy?

FLORENCE
You said it would please him if I asked him to read me some of his history of the family.

BERTIE
You mean that he wasn't pleased?

FLORENCE
He was delighted! He finished writing the thing yesterday afternoon and read me nearly all of it last night. I have never had such a shock in my life! That book is an outrage! It is impossible. It is horrible!

BERTIE
Oh, now, dash it, my family weren't so bad as all that.

FLORENCE
Bertie, it's not a history of your family at all. Your uncle has written his -- his -- reminiscences! He calls them "Recollections of a Long Life"!

BERTIE
Ha! Well, I'd heard that Uncle Willoughby was somewhat on the tabasco side as a young man. I suppose any book with his recollections might be something pretty fruity.

FLORENCE
If half of what he has written is true, your uncle's youth must have been appalling. The moment he began to read, he plunged straight into a scandalous story of how he and my father were thrown out of a music-hall in 1887!

BERTIE
Oh? Why were they thrown out?

FLORENCE
(Pause.)
I decline to tell you.

BERTIE
Hm! It took a lot to make them chuck people out of music-halls in 1887.

FLORENCE
Your uncle states that my father had drunk a quart and a half of champagne before it happened. The book is full of such stories. There's a dreadful one about Lord Emsworth.

BERTIE
Lord Emsworth? The one we know? The one at Blandings?

FLORENCE
The same. The book is full of stories about the people one knows who are the essence of propriety today, but who -- when in London in the 'eighties -- seem to have behaved in a manner that would not have been tolerated in the forecastle of a whaler!

BERTIE
Well, I shouldn't worry. No publisher will print the book if it's as bad as all that.

FLORENCE
Your uncle said all negotiations are settled with Riggs and Ballinger, and he's sending off the manuscript tomorrow for immediate publication. They make a special thing of that sort of book. They published Lady Carnaby's "Memories of Eighty Interesting Years."

BERTIE
Oh? I read that!

FLORENCE
(Disgusted.)
Bertie! Apparently, then, when I tell you that Lady Carnaby's "Memories" are not to be compared with your uncle's "Recollections," you will understand my state of mind. That manuscript must be destroyed before it reaches Riggs and Ballinger!

BERTIE
Well! Sounds rather sporting. How are you going to do it?

FLORENCE
I told you the parcel goes off tomorrow! I am going to the Murgatroyds' dance tonight -- and I shall not be back till Monday. You must do it. That is why I telegraphed to you, don't you see? (BERTIE stares at her, stunned.)
It's quite simple. And you do want to marry me -- don't you, Bertie? If those "Recollections" are published, I simply can't marry you! Imagine the talk! I won't stand for it!

BERTIE
(To audience.)
For a disturbing moment, she looked exactly like Lord Worplesdon, her father -- he of the fiery temper. (To FLORENCE.)
But, Florence, old thing!

FLORENCE
Look on it as a test, Bertie. If you have the resource and courage to carry this through, I will take it as evidence that you are not the vapid, shiftless nitwit most people think you to be. If you fail, I shall know that those people are right who call you a spineless invertebrate.

BERTIE
If Uncle Willoughby catches me, he'd cut me off without a bob.

FLORENCE
Do you care more for your uncle's money or for me?

BERTIE
Oh, dash it! You know I love you devotedly!

FLORENCE
The parcel containing the manuscript will be placed on the hall table tomorrow for your uncle's valet to take away with the letters. All you have to do is take it off and destroy it. Your uncle will think it was lost in the post.

BERTIE
Hasn't he a copy?

FLORENCE
It has not been typed. He is sending it just as he wrote it out.

BERTIE
He could write it over again.

FLORENCE
If you are going to do nothing but make absurd objections --

BERTIE
I was only pointing things out.

FLORENCE
Well, don't! Now, will you do me this simple act of kindness?

BERTIE
Oh, all right! All right!

FLORENCE
(Give him an air-kiss on the cheek, exits.)
Of course you will!

BERTIE
(Watching FLORENCE exit. To audience.)
How do these murderer fellows keep in shape while they contemplate their next effort? Here I was, with a much simpler job on hand, and the thought of it rattled me so much in the night watches that I was a perfect wreck next day.
(JEEVES enters C, carrying invisible tray.)
I had to call on Jeeves to rally round with one of those life-savers of his.
(Takes tumbler from tray, drinks, returns glass, has another internal blast. Grimly, JEEVES
exits C.)
Oh, my! It wasn't till nearly four in the afternoon that Uncle Willoughby toddled out of the library with the parcel under his arm, put it on the table and toddled off again.
(Fades back UL, away from far R door.)
I was hiding a bit to the south-east at the moment, behind a suit of armour. I bounded out and legged it for the table.
(Crosses DR and takes invisible parcel. Heads L.)
I nipped upstairs to hide the swag, and as I entered my room, I nearly stubbed my toe on Florence's little brother Edwin -- a ferret-faced kid whom I had disliked since birth.
(Reacts. Puts invisible parcel behind back.)
He was fourteen, had joined the Boy Scouts and took his responsibilities seriously. He always seemed in a fever to do his daily acts of kindness.
(To invisible Edwin.)
No, Edwin, you don't need to tidy up my room. No, dash it, that's very kind of you but it's quite tidy now. (To audience.)
I didn't want to murder the kid, you know.
(To Edwin.)
Ah -- ah -- There is something much kinder that you could do. You see that box of cigars? Take it down to the smoking-room and snip the ends for me. Off you go, laddie!
(Watches Edwin head to R door. Sighs and sits, holding invisible package in front of himself.)
Detectives will tell you that the most difficult thing in the world is to get rid of the body. These poor murderers are constantly dumping their corpses into ponds or burying them or whatnot, only to have them pop out at them again.
(Mimes following action with a lower drawer.)
I thought best to shove the parcel into a drawer for now, but what then? How the deuce could a chap destroy a great chunky mass of paper in somebody else's house in the middle of summer?
(Paces and thinks.)
I could ask to have a fire in my bedroom! No, no -- not with the thermometer in the eighties. But if I didn't burn the thing, how else could I get rid of it?
(Thinks. Sits C.)
Fellows on the battlefield eat dispatches to keep them from falling into enemy hands! No, no -- it would take me a year to eat Uncle's memories. The only thing seems to be to leave it in the drawer, hope for the best, and return to the society of Easeby. Thus a whole day passed, with my nerves growing on edge minute by minute.
(UNCLE enters UC.)
The next day, I was trying to soothe my nerves in the smoking-room when --

UNCLE
Bertie!

BERTIE
(Jumps up nervously.)
Uncle Willoughby! How are you!

UNCLE
Bertie, an exceedingly disturbing thing has happened.

BERTIE
Oh?

UNCLE
Unsettling. As you know, I have dispatched the manuscript of my book to Riggs and Ballinger, the publishers. That was yesterday afternoon. It should have reached them by the first post this morning. My mind has not been at rest respecting the parcel's safety. I therefore telephoned the publishers just now to make inquiries. To my consternation, they informed me that they were not yet in receipt of my manuscript.

BERTIE
Oh? Very rum, that!

UNCLE
I recollect placing it myself on the hall table in good time to be taken to the village. But here is a sinister thing. I have spoken to my valet, who took the letters to the post office, and he cannot recall seeing it there. He is, indeed, unswerving in his assertions that when he went to the hall to collect the letters, there was no parcel among them.

BERTIE
Very odd!

UNCLE
Bertie -- shall I tell you what I suspect?

BERTIE
What do you suspect, Uncle?

UNCLE
(Does Uncle have Bertie in mind?)
It seems incredible to me to think -- but the suspicion alone seems to fit the facts as we know them. I incline to the belief that the parcel -- has been stolen!

BERTIE
Oh, I say! Surely not!

UNCLE
Though I have said nothing to you before, or to anyone else concerning the matter, the fact remains that, during the past few weeks a number of objects -- some valuable, some mere trinkets -- have disappeared in this house. The conclusion to which one is irresistibly impelled is that we have a kleptomaniac in our midst.

BERTIE
But, Uncle! I -- I know all about it! You see -- it was my man Meadowes who must have pinched them. I caught him snaffling my silk socks. Right in the act, by Jove! I gave him the sack posthaste.

UNCLE
Why, Bertie! I'm tremendously impressed. You amaze me! Send for the man at once and question him!

BERTIE
But he isn't here. I gave him the boot, you see. That's why I went to London -- to get my new man, Jeeves.

UNCLE
Oh? Well, if Meadowes is no longer in the house, it could not be he who purloined my manuscript.
(Profoundly.)
The whole thing is inexplicable.

BERTIE
Hmm! It certainly seems so.

UNCLE
Eh? What?

BERTIE
It's inexplicable! The whole thing.

UNCLE
Why, yes! Yes, it is. But I'm very impressed with your theories, Bertie. Very impressed! Come to me when you've reasoned it out further.

(UNCLE exits C.)


BERTIE
Oh, right-ho!
(Sighs. To audience.)
I felt rather like the chappie in that book, who murdered another blighter and hid the body under the dining-room table, and then had to be the life and soul of a dinner party, with -- it -- there all the time. My secret oppressed me to such an extent that, after a while, I couldn't stick it any longer. So I went for a stroll on the grounds to cool off.
(Circles around stage to far L as UNCLE and AGATHA -- FLORENCE in new costume, wig and glasses -- enter C and head far R, as if talking to someone short.)
Who should I come across but Uncle Willoughby, my Aunt Agatha and the loathsome child Edwin having a private chat among themselves. I could just make out what was said.

AGATHA
(To invisible Edwin.)
Edwin! What you say is incredible.

UNCLE
Why, Agatha, this is astonishing. Bertie was just telling me a short time ago that he was as perplexed about this mystery as myself.

AGATHA
So, Edwin, you were in his room when Bertie entered with a parcel, which he kept behind him. Then he told you to go away to snip cigars. Hmm. Did you see him come out of his room?
(Listens.)
Ah! Did he have the parcel then? No? Then it would still be in his room.

UNCLE
What could be Bertie's motive for perpetrating this extraordinary theft? No -- I can't believe it! Eh? What's that? Mr. Berkeley? Why, yes, Mr. Berkeley did have Bertie's room before he came. What?

AGATHA
Oh, I see. A ruse! Very interesting. Yes, we could say Mr. Berkeley called to say he left something in the room, and we needed to look for it. Thank you, Edwin. Run along.

UNCLE
I simply cannot believe that Bertie --

AGATHA
(As UNCLE, AGATHA and invisible Edwin exit C.)
Well, I can. Allow me to handle this, Willoughby.

BERTIE
(Frantic. Dashing across stage.)
Things had gotten, as they say, red-hot. I raced for the front door, sprinted up to my room and made for the drawer where I had hidden the parcel. And then --
(Pulls drawer. It won't open. Searches pockets.)
I found that I hadn't the key. Heavens! Then I recollected that I'd shifted it to my evening trousers the night before and must have forgotten to take it out. But I couldn't find my evening things. Then I remembered that I'd left them out, and that Jeeves must have taken them away to be pressed. I had just rung for Jeeves --
(Rings bell cord.) When my life was transformed into an utter nightmare!

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