Aunt Agatha Takes The Count by P.G. Wodehouse, 1922
The magic trick:
Bertie’s use of slang
Yesterday, we broke down “Leave It To Jeeves,” a very early Jeeves story. It featured a Bertie and Jeeves not quite like the ones who would soon be established as literature’s favorite man-and-valet combination. Today’s story, “Aunt Agatha Takes The Count,” is slightly closer to their established selves, though still not quite there.
Bertie is still just a little bit too aware. Much of the comedy in the classic Jeeves stories derives from his utter cluelessness. Here, he is able at the end to be in a position of greater knowledge than his Aunt Agatha. That’s not really a good role for him.
What is markedly different (and better) than yesterday’s Jeeves story is the use of slang. Wodehouse is probably most famous for his language, and the Bertie narrative voice is among his greatest accomplishments. That voice and the slang is just about fully formed in this one. Which of course is incredibly funny. And that’s quite a trick on Wodehouse’s part.
“Jeeves,” I said, firmly, “my mind is made up. I’m in a foreign country; it’s a corking day; God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world, and this cummerbund seems to me to be called for.”
“Very good, sir,” said Jeeves, coldly.
Dashed upsetting, this sort of thing. If there’s one thing that gives me the pip, it’s unpleasantness in the home; and I could see that relations were going to be pretty fairly strained for a while.