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


Maud hardly knew whether she was glad or sorry to see him. It did not seem to matter much now either way. Nothing seemed to matter much, in fact. Arthur's cheery acceptance of the news that she received invitations from others had been like a blow, leaving her numb and listless.

She made the introductions. The two men eyed each other.

'Pleased to meet you,' said Mr Shute.

'Weather keeps up,' said Arthur.

And from that point onward Mr Shute took command.

It is to be assumed that this was not the first time that Mr Shute had made one of a trio in these circumstances, for the swift dexterity with which he lost Arthur was certainly not that of a novice. So smoothly was it done that it was not until she emerged from the Witching Waves, guided by the pugilist's slim but formidable right arm, that Maud realized that Arthur had gone.

She gave a little cry of dismay. Secretly she was beginning to be somewhat afraid of Mr Shute. He was showing signs of being about to step out of the role she had assigned to him and attempt something on a larger scale. His manner had that extra touch of warmth which makes all the difference.

'Oh! He's gone!' she cried.

'Sure,' said Mr Shute. 'He's got a hurry-call from the Uji Village. The chief's cousin wants a hair-cut.'

'We must find him. We must.'

'Surest thing you know,' said Mr Shute. 'Plenty of time.'

'We must find him.'

Mr Shute regarded her with some displeasure.

'Seems to be ace-high with you, that dub,' he said.

'I don't understand you.'

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