Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit
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"Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse. It was first published in the December 1927 edition of Strand Magazine and in the 24 December 1927 edition of Liberty, and saw its first book publication in Very Good, Jeeves in 1930.
On 16 December, Bertie Wooster receives an invitation to spend Christmas at Skeldings Hall, home of Bobbie Wickham and Lady Wickham. He informs his valet Jeeves of these plans, which are different from Bertie's original plans to go to Monte Carlo. Jeeves conceals his disappointment at the change in plans. Aunt Agatha telephones Bertie to inform him that Sir Roderick Glossop will also be at Skeldings, and she wishes Bertie to make a good impression on Sir Roderick. (Bertie had previously been engaged to Sir Roderick's daughter Honoria Glossop.)
On 23 December, Bertie and Jeeves drive to Skeldings Hall, where he is greeted cordially by Bobbie Wickham, Lady Wickham, and Sir Roderick Glossop.
On the morning of 24 December, Bertie reveals to Jeeves the three reasons that induced him to come to Skeldings. First, Bertie notes that there is not much yule-tide spirit in Monte Carlo, to which Jeeves replies "Does one desire the yule-tide spirit?" Second, Bertie is intent on getting revenge on Tuppy Glossop, who is also visiting Skeldings, for tricking Bertie into falling into the swimming-bath at the Drones Club, an incident that is mentioned in several other Jeeves stories. Finally, Bertie reveals that he is in love with Bobbie Wickham. Jeeves gives his opinion that Bobbie is frivolous and lacking in seriousness, and has a vivid shade of red hair, which he considers dangerous.
That evening, Bertie tells Jeeves that Bobbie Wickham has suggested an excellent way to revenge himself on Tuppy by sneaking into Tuppy's bedroom at night and puncturing Tuppy's hot-water bottle with a darning needle attached to a stick. Jeeves advises against this plan, but Bertie insists on Jeeves acquiring a stick with a darning needle attached. Jeeves informs Bertie that Tuppy is staying in the Moat Room.
At 2:30 in the morning, Bertie goes to the Moat Room with the stick and needle. In the darkened room, he successfully punctures the hot-water bottle. But, when the door slams and wakes the person sleeping there, Bertie realises that it is Sir Roderick Glossop, not Tuppy Glossop. Bertie tries to escape from the room, but his dressing gown catches on the door, and Sir Roderick catches him. Bertie explains that he was looking for Tuppy, and Sir Roderick tells Bertie that he had told Jeeves that he had switched rooms with Tuppy. Bertie is outraged that Jeeves knew that Sir Roderick was in the Moat Room and let Bertie go there anyway. Sir Roderick discovers the punctured hot-water bottle and is furious with Bertie. He goes to Bertie's room to spend the rest of the night, leaving his room to Bertie. Bertie spends the night in an armchair.
On Christmas morning, Bertie is awakened by Jeeves. "Merry Christmas, sir," says Jeeves. Bertie is angry with Jeeves for not letting Bertie know that Tuppy and Sir Roderick changed rooms. Jeeves replies that he was trying to help Bertie. Aunt Agatha had been scheming to get Sir Roderick to think more favourably of Bertie, so that Sir Roderick would allow Bertie to marry Honoria. Bertie is aghast at the possibility, and thanks Jeeves for his help.
Then Bertie wonders if Sir Roderick might simply forgive him, since it is Christmas. Jeeves replies that it is unlikely, because while Sir Roderick was spending the night in Bertie's room, someone came in and punctured his hot-water bottle. Bertie is mystified about who could have done this, but Jeeves reports that Tuppy did it. Bertie is astonished that Tuppy had the same idea that Bobbie Wickham had. However, Jeeves explains that Bobbie Wickham suggested the same thing to Tuppy as she did to Bertie. Bertie shudders to think that he might have been in love with Bobbie. "Love is dead," he tells Jeeves.
To avoid unpleasantness, Jeeves advises Bertie to leave the house and travel to Monte Carlo. Bertie points out that Jeeves cancelled the reservations to Monte Carlo. Jeeves confesses that he never did cancel the reservations after all. The story ends with them planning to go to Monte Carlo as they originally intended.
Literary and Biblical Allusions
Wodehouse invariably has Bertie Wooster using – or misusing – many literary and Biblical allusions. In this short story, Bertie makes these references:
- ‘‘“As Shakespeare says, if you’re going to do a thing you might just as well pop right at it and get it over”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly”’’ in Macbeth, Act I, scene vii, by William Shakespeare.
- ‘‘“Makes him realise that life is stern and life is earnest”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“Life is real! Life is earnest!”’’ in A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
- ‘‘“Honoria … had a laugh like waves breaking on a stern and rock-bound coast”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“The breaking waves dashed high on a stern and rock-bound coast”’’ in The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
- ‘‘“It seemed to me that even at Christmas-time, with all the peace on earth and goodwill towards men that there is knocking about at that season, a reunion with this bloke was likely to be tough going”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”’’ in Luke 2:14.
- ‘‘“my view was that it practically amounted to the lion lying down with the lamb”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them”’’ in Isaiah 11:6.
- ‘‘“And now that there has been a change of programme the iron has entered into your soul”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“The iron entered into his soul”’’ in Psalms 105:18 in the Psalter.
- ‘‘“a fellow with light hair and a Cheshire-cat grin”‘‘: refers to the fictional cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
- ‘‘“I have it in for that man of wrath”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“A man of wrath stirs up strife, and a man given to anger causes much transgression”’’ in Proverbs 29:22.
- ‘‘“And then I found that this fiend in human shape had looped it back against the rail”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“Oh! that fiend in human shape, next to her, knew human—female—nature well”’’ in The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.
- ‘‘“bringing myself out wreathed in blushes”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“Dimly gleaming Dian's horn Sinketh westward faintly fair, Soon will haste the opal morn Wreathed in blushes debonair”’’ in Serenades by Samuel Minturn Peck.
- ‘‘“she was suggesting the ripest, fruitiest, brainiest scheme for bringing young Tuppy's grey hairs in sorrow to the grave”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“then shall ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave”’’ in Genesis 42:38.
- ‘‘“one would occasionally heave a jug of water over another bloke during the night-watches”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches”’’ in Psalms 63:6.
- ‘‘“I shook off the mists of sleep”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“A glorious voice sounds through the night, And chides the darkness into light: The mists of sleep are driv'n afar, And Christ shines forth the Morning Star”’’ in the traditional hymn A Glorious Voice Sounds Through The Night.
- ‘‘“It was only by summoning up all the old bull-dog courage of the Woosters”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“Now, England, now thy bull-dog courage show”’’ in The Battle of Fontenoy: a historical poem, by W. J. Corbet
- ‘‘“the last Trump”‘‘: refers to ‘‘“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump”’’ in First Corinthians 15:52.
- ‘‘“had let me rush upon my doom”‘‘: perhaps refers to ‘‘“O then like those, who clench their nerves to rush Upon their dissolution”’’ in Love And Duty by Alfred Lord Tennyson.