Thursday, March 10, 2005 | Fiction
Hamlet by P. G. Wodehouse
Hammy’s an old University chum of mine. I’ll never forget the time we pinched the vicar’s pet chimpanzee on boat race night. He’s a bit of a gloomy type, probably owing to his being a Danish chap. Jeeves once said something about the state of Denmark being like a year-old egg, or something like that—I’ll have to check with Jeeves to be sure.
The first thing I noticed about him was that he was dressed all in black. Well, I don’t need to tell you that seeing my old school friend looking like an out-of-shape 8-ball left me feeling a little nicked off the magnifying-glasses, if you know what I mean.
“What ho, Hammy, old Dane,” I said. “Now, what’s the deep hidden meaning of coming here dressed as a shoe-polished penguin?”
Hammy sighed. “Oh, Bertie, old bean, I don’t mind telling you, I’m in worse trouble than a cat at a tennis-racquet convention.”
“Down at the castle, you mean?”
“Where every prospect pleases and only man is vile. It’s that old gorgon of an uncle of mine. He’s knocked off my guv’nor, and he’s just got my mother to do the Hymen’s-knot routine. And what’s the topper, the ink in the super-squirt fountain pen, my pater’s come back as a ghost to shoot off his beak about revenge and honor and all that rot.”
“Hmm. Sounds like the stickiest of wickets, if you ask me.”
And I wasn’t exaggerating a bit. If ever a black-suited cove was suspended above the eternal tureen of soup, it was Mr. Hamlet “Hammy” Denmark, Esq. There was only one course to be followed.
“We must ask the advice of Jeeves,” I said. “His well trained noggin, nurtured as it is by a steady diet of fish, will come up with a solution to your problems in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, or three shakes of an armadillo’s.”
And, sure enough, even as I spoke these words, Jeeves had materialized at the door like Lyle Swoonworth in the Pellucid Pictures Super-Super-Film, Moonbeams and Magic. I put the problem before Jeeves, to which he responded with a raised eyebrow, indicative of concern.
“Jeeves,” I said, getting down to the nitty and the gritty, “can you formulate an appropriate solution to this difficulty?”
“I have, sir. It is a plan based on the psychology of the individual. The butler at the Danish Royal Castle has informed me that Mr. Claudius is a high-strung gentleman, prone to attacks of sudden remorse.”
“You mean he’s a loony?”
“That is a term that might be used, sir. If you and Mr. Hamlet were to pay a local Danish theatre troupe to perform a lively entertainment about fratricide, Mr. Claudius would be so panicked that he would get up and leave the room, demonstrating his guilt.”
“I say, Jeeves,” said Hammy worshipfully, “you really are the pterodactyl’s aftershave.”
“Not at all, sir. I endeavour to give satisfaction.”
Jaime J. Weinman has too much education and not enough food. His writing on pop-culture arcana has appeared in Salon and in his inevitable blog, Something Old, Nothing New. Agents scream and run when they see Jaime approaching them, but he knows it's just their way of showing they care. Jaime's writing process consists of closing his eyes, praying to Gaia, and letting the jokes flow through his fingers onto the keyboard. But the keyboard d isn't plugged in. Gaia screwed him over again.