Yes, it is not too much to say that I reeled. This extraordinary statement had taken me amidships without any preparation, and it staggered me. That Jeeves had been aware all along that this old crumb would be the occupant of the bed which I was proposing to prod with darning-needles and had let me rush upon my doom without a word of warning was almost beyond belief. You might say I was aghast. Yes, practically aghast.
‘You told Jeeves that you were going to sleep in this room?’ I gasped.
‘I did. I was aware that you and my nephew were on terms of intimacy, and I wished to spare myself the possibility of a visit from you. I confess that it never occurred to me that such a visit was to be anticipated at three o’clock in the morning. What the devil do you mean,’ he barked, suddenly hotting up, ‘by prowling about the house at this hour? And what is that thing in your hand?’
I looked down, and found that I was still grasping the stick. I give you my honest word that, what with the maelstrom of emotions into which his revelation about Jeeves had cast me, the discovery came as an absolute surprise.
‘This?’ I said. ‘Oh, yes.’
‘What do you mean, “Oh, yes”? What is it?’
‘Well, it’s a long story—’
‘We have the night before us.’
‘It’s this way. I will ask you to picture me some weeks ago, perfectly peaceful and inoffensive, after dinner at the Drones, smoking a thoughtful cigarette and—’
I broke off. The man wasn’t listening. He was goggling in a rapt sort of way at the end of the bed, from which there had now begun to drip on to the carpet a series of drops.
‘—thoughtful cigarette and chatting pleasantly of this and that—’
I broke off again. He had lifted the sheets and was gazing at the corpse of the hot-water bottle.
‘Did you do this?’ he said in a low, strangled sort of voice.
‘Er – yes. As a matter of fact, yes. I was just going to tell you—’
‘And your aunt tried to persuade me that you were not insane!’