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


She was disappointed. She had expected better results. Mr Shute had lowered with ease the record for gay badinage, hitherto held by the red-faced customer; yet to all appearances there had been no change in Arthur's manner. But perhaps he had scowled (or bitten his lip), and she had not noticed it. Apparently he had struck Mr Shute, an unbiased spectator, as gloomy. Perhaps at some moment when her eyes had been on her work--She hoped for the best.

Whatever his feelings may have been during the afternoon, Arthur was undeniably cheerful that evening. He was in excellent spirits. His light-hearted abandon on the Wiggle-Woggle had been noted and commented upon by several lookers-on. Confronted with the Hairy Ainus, he had touched a high level of facetiousness. And now, as he sat with her listening to the band, he was crooning joyously to himself in accompaniment to the music, without, it would appear, a care in the world.

Maud was hurt and anxious. In a mere acquaintance this blithe attitude would have been welcome. It would have helped her to enjoy her evening. But from Arthur at that particular moment she looked for something else. Why was he cheerful? Only a few hours ago she had been--yes, flirting with another man before his very eyes. What right had he to be cheerful? He ought to be heated, full of passionate demands for an explanation--a flushed, throaty thing to be coaxed back into a good temper and then forgiven--all this at great length--for having been in a bad one. Yes, she told herself, she had wanted certainty one way or the other, and here it was. Now she knew. He no longer cared for her.

She trembled.

'Cold?' said Arthur. 'Let's walk. Evenings beginning to draw in now. Lum-da-diddley-ah. That's what I call a good tune. Give me something lively and bright. Dumty-umpty-iddley-ah. Dum tum--'

'Funny thing--' said Maud, deliberately.

'What's a funny thing?'

'The gentleman in the brown suit whose hands I did this afternoon--'

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