Residents of Plumsville are aware of such couples as Piggy-Maudie and Joe-Julia. To lovebirds that are young at heart and have matured over time, lining of the stomach plays an important role. At times, the prospect of an alliance between their respective children reunites them.
In ‘Ring for Jeeves’, we get to meet Mrs. Spottsworth and Captain Biggar. They are also young at heart but not as advanced in age as to merit consideration either to bodily afflictions or to children’s marriage prospects.
The two get introduced to each other while on a hunting spree in Kenya. Much later, they run into each other in the coffee room of the Goose and Gherkin, one of the wayside inns in England. A day later, they happen to be staying together at Rowcester Abbey, a property Mrs. Spottsworth is considering buying.
Of chance meetings which are ‘meant’
Mrs. Spottsworth exudes an aura of wealth. She is as rich as she looks. At the mere mention of her name, the blood-sucking leeches of the Internal revenue Department ‘raise their filthy hats with a reverent intake of the breath.’
Her first husband, Cliffton Bessemer, died in a road mishap, leaving behind sackfuls of the green stuff, which got further supplemented when her second husband, A. B. Spottsworth, made the obituary column, when, while hunting in Kenya, ‘thought a lion to be dead, whereas the lion thought it wasn’t.’
Colonel Cuthbert Gervase Brabazon-Biggar had the privilege then of picking up the mortal remains of her second husband and of getting those shipped out to Nairobi.
She remains in touch with both her husbands through a Ouija board. Broadminded and considerate, they keep egging her on to marry yet again. They assert that a woman, irrespective of her bank balance, needs a mate by her side.
She is intensely interested in psychical research and looks forward to enthralling spiritual manifestations, that too with a dash of impatience. She does not believe in chance. She believes that even chance meetings are ‘meant’.
Of cavemen and clubs
Mrs. Spottsworth is a romantic at heart. When ‘a night complete with moonlight, singing nightingales, gentle breezes and the scent of stock and tobacco plant’ brings the two lovers together, she tries her best to kindle the passion which happens to be dormant in the bosom of Captain Biggar.
The latter even gets persuaded to put on a pendant around her shapely neck, driving knives into his trembling frame.
‘Do you remember the day we met in Kenya?’
‘Oh, rather,’ said Captain Biggar.
‘I had the strangest feeling, when I saw you that day, that we had met before in some previous existence.’
‘A bit unlikely, what?’
Mrs. Spottsworth closed her eyes.
‘I seemed to see us in some dim, prehistoric age. We were clad in skins. You hit me over the head with your club and dragged me by my hair to your cave.’
‘Oh, no, dash it, I wouldn’t do a thing like that.’
Mrs. Spottsworth opened her eyes, and enlarging them to their fullest extent allowed them to play on his like searchlights.
‘You did it because you loved me,’ she said in a low, vibrant whisper.
Kind words and melting looks
Despite being cold shouldered, her female instincts do not lead her astray. She knows that when a man chokes up and looks like an embarrassed beetroot every time he catches her eye, he is bound to be passionate about her. To bring that passion to a boil, few kind words and a melting look or two would be quite sufficient.
When an opportunity presents for her to dance the Chesterton with the ninth Earl of Rowcester and rousing the fiend that slept in Captain Biggar, she exploits it. The latter walks out in a dark mood, giving the frogs on the open lawns an impression that ‘it was raining number eleven boots.’
When her diamond pendant gets purloined, she merely expects justice, not vengeance. When Captain Biggar is held to be the prime suspect, she starts losing her faith in human nature.
‘When a woman loves a man with every fibre of a generous nature, it can never be pleasant for her to hear this man alluded to as a red-faced thug and as a scoundrel who can’t possibly get away but must inevitably ere long be caught and slapped into the jug.’
The Biggar Code
On his part, Captain Biggar has loved her from the very moment when she, a combination of Cleopetra and Helen of Troy, had briefly popped up in his life. But his code was rigid on such matters. A pauper like him could not go mixing with wealthy widows. Tubby Frobisher and the Subahdar in the old Anglo-Malay Club at Kuala Lampur would not approve.
The Biggar code not only forbids poor persons proposing to rich widows. It also encourages a white man to shield young and innocent women from the seamy side of life. When it comes to alerting poor Jill about her affianced, Bill, cooing to Mrs. Spottsworth like a turtle-dove, Captain loses no time. The code also enjoins one to be honest in one’s dealings – whether by way of chasing defaulting bookies or by returning stolen pendants. If one values money, it is only to ensure that one can feel in a position to express one’s love for a woman with a magnificent bank balance.
He has a penchant for expressing himself in Swahili as also in some languages of the East. When craving clarity of mind, he is wont to do yogic breathing exercises and practice ‘communion with the Jivatma or soul.’
Breaking the code jinx
The code jinx is broken by Mrs. Spottsworth by confirming to Captain Biggar that one of the code’s main proponents, Augustus Frobisher, has already gone ahead and married a woman who has much more money than herself.
Captain’s plans of wandering out into the sunset alone get scratched. Jeeves’ services get relied upon for announcing the banns in The Times, the Telegraph and Mail and Express.
Unlike the narratives which capture the characters of Piggy-Maudie and Joe-Julia, the main protagonists in this case do not get united owing to one of the juicy schemes of Jeeves.