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Bertie and the Traitorous Tomato

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I’m not sure if you’ve ever cooked breakfast, or any meal for that matter. Before entering into my current arrangement with Jeeves, I doubt I’d need more than one finger to count the amount of breakfasts I’d cooked in my whole bally life. But if you ever do find yourself making breakfast, or again any meal, the important thing you need to note is timing. Yes, indeed, this is something I learned from previous forays into the culinary arts. 

 

Take breakfast as an example, as on this occasion, with breakfast as the meal of choice, it being breakfast-time and all that. Well, in this instance of making your fast-breaking fare, having decided that you’d like to cook breakfast, you may find your toast browned to perfection and raring for a buttering, but the egg yolks are still runny in the frying pan. What to do now? You may ask yourself. Allow the toast to go cold and stale while the eggs finish? Or else continue browning the toast until it’s only constituent is charcoal while the eggs firm up? Both undeniably bally awful options, and in this case often the best course of action is to abandon the whole lot and pop out to a local greasy spoon instead. 

 

Well, I mean to say, I don’t know how Jeeves does it! Or Anatole, for that matter, the miracle-worker who serves masterpieces perfectly styled on a plate and ready to go up the dummy waiter when all have assembled for their repast. I daresay, at the best of times I find it trying just to be dressed in the appropriate attire for the sound of the dinner gong.

 

This morning, I was doing my best trying to channel that Anatolian spirit and manner while getting everything ready for my Jeeves. On a regular day, he’d greet me with a much-needed cup of tea and it was a rare occurrence that I wake before him. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to make his breakfast for him, so I’d extracted myself from his slumbering embrace and snuck out of the room into the kitchen, all without waking him. In another life, I daresay, I would’ve had an excellent career in espionage, or perhaps as a ninja. 

 

I was in the kitchen, and the eggs were bouncing happily about in a pot of boiling water on the hob. The toast was toasting away in the toaster and the bacon was sizzling like the dickens in a frying pan. The kettle, full of water of course, was coming to a boil on the hob as well, and there was a cheery flow of steam flying out of the nozzle-y bit. I had on an apron and the oven gloves were on standby, as were some dish towels and some various other protective gear. Self having learned a very important lesson last time about kitchen safety and the importance of burn prevention. 

 

I was humming a little song to myself in harmony with the various sounds from the appliances and whatsits, when I remembered that Jeeves likes some tomato with his morning feed. If I recall correctly, they have some vitamins in them that a human ought to get plenty of. Or was it minerals? They’re water-soluble thingummies whatever they are, and good for one’s constitution. Of course I wanted my Jeeves to be of prime health and vitality, so tomatoes my beloved was going to find on his breakfast tray. 

 

I grabbed myself a knife and began eyeing up the largest, reddest tomato I found in the pantry. The thing only needed to be cut in half, but I wanted equal halves, you know. This breakfast was for Jeeves, the paragon and god among men, so it needed to be perfect. I wanted it to be a breakfast fit for kings and demi-gods, or at least the very best breakfast this Wooster B could conjure up. Once I had squinted a sufficient time at the tomato and was happy with the proportions, I went in with the knife for a clean slice. 

 

A sharp pain cut through my finger, the same instant the knife cut through the tomato.

 

The thought occurred to me a second later, that the knife must have cut through more than just the blasted vegetable. Or was it a fruit? Blasted fruit or blasted vegetable, it didn’t quite matter right at the moment. The sight before me was a gruesome sight to behold. Fortunately for self, it was more gruesome than it was serious. It was difficult to discern what was essence of tomato and what was essence of Wooster, and while the edges of the room were blurring together my head decided now was a great time to start floating around near the ceiling. I also noticed my stomach and other vital internals were squirming about in a queasy, squeamish sort of way. 

 

The kettle took the opportunity to start whistling, and at the same time the toast popped out of the toaster, oil began spitting profusely out of the frying pan and the eggs engaged in a competition to see which egg could escape the confines of the pot of boiling water first. I was overwhelmed by the cacophony in the kitchen and the stinging from my finger was becoming altogether too urgent for my liking. In my woozy state I heard a small voice murmur in my ear something about placing one’s hands under flowing water. Was that for a burn or for a laceration?

 

It didn’t quite matter, and no other ideas were forthcoming so I quickly swung ‘round to the sink, switched on the cold tap, and placed both hands under the flow. Once again, another dizzying sight to behold was the combination of blood and tomato juice running down the drain. I tried to reassure myself that it was worse than it looked. We Woosters fought at Agincourt, you know, and my forefathers would have been ashamed of their progeny fainting at a bit of blood. I watched in quite a daze as the water eventually ran clear. I couldn’t be sure of the amount of time I stood there before I felt Jeeves’ presence as he materialised at the door. Most likely the kettle with its whistling call had summoned him from his slumber. 

 

“My dear, what’s happened?” Concern and the remnants of sleep were evident in his deep voice.

 

With an elegant sweeping motion, he moved the kettle off the boil and turned off the heat on all the rings of the hob before he floated over to me and pressed himself against my back, tugging on my pyjama sleeves to roll them up to the elbow.

 

“It’s nothing, just a nick. No need to worry, old thing.” I tried for a reassuring tone with my words, but my eyes remained focused on the water gurgling down the drain and I’m afraid my noggin was still getting well acquainted with the tops of the kitchen cupboards.

 

He gave my shoulders a palliative squeeze and pressed a kiss to my temple before I felt him move away. I heard him rooting around in a cupboard and then place something on the table before I felt the warmth of his body and he was back beside me once more.

 

“Come sit down, dearest, and let me take a look.” His voice was low and a bit husky from sleep and although there was a spot of worry in his tone it did wonders to soothe this Wooster’s soul. I found I was eased slightly out of my water-focused trance and I was able to move my gaze to look at his lovely face. I’m certain I’ve heard it described before as tunnel vision. I mean to say, while his face was in perfect clarity, the rest of the room was a whirling, swirling blur. I daresay he was a welcome sight even with the look of concern which coloured his map.

 

Jeeves switched off the tap, wrapped a towel around both of my hands and led me over to the kitchen table like I was one of those embalmed mummies that has recently been awoken from its sarcophagial coma. He sat me down on a chair and sat himself down facing me. While he patted my hands dry, I noticed he had a first aid kit laid out on the table. There was a number of little bottles of ointments and unguents, some bandages and other thingummies that were unidentifiable in my addled state. No doubt it had all the trimmings, I daresay. 

 

“Now, where are you hurt, love?” 

 

“Don’t you mean ‘Where are you hurtie, Bertie’?” 

 

I snorted at my little rhyme, but received a raised eyebrow in response. Not the time for jokes, I took it, so I obediently raised my hand to show him the finger I had cut. He reached out gentle fingers to better examine the wounded digit and when he laid eyes upon the injury he sucked air sharply through his teeth like a sympathetic snake. 

 

“It shan’t require stitches, although I’m sure it’s quite painful.” His voice was full of sympathy and served as a soothing balm. Not just for the Wooster soul, which of course it did, but I also felt like my finger didn’t hurt as much as it had before. The cut mustn’t have been so deep or serious as the kitchen wasn’t flooded with the red stuff, which it would have been by now if it was very deep and very serious. I hazarded a glance and I was right in my estimation; ‘twas but a scratch.

 

“As I said, nothing serious. And you’re forgetting, Reg, that we Woosters are made of sterner stuff.”

 

At my words, Jeeves gave me one of his fond looks and pressed a kiss to the back of my hand which was still cradled gently in both of his like a bird’s egg or some other fragile thing. He was evidently calmer now that he had ascertained that self was in no need of an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital, or the morgue. I quite enjoyed him doting over me, but I could do without inflicting injuries to my person to receive the treatment. 

 

“This will sting a bit.” 

 

I could hear the clear warning in his voice as he reached for a bottle of what I assumed was an anti-whatsit of some sort. He dampened some cotton wool with the stuff and began dabbing my finger with it. There was indeed an evident burning-tingling-stinging sensation in the digit. I couldn’t help making my own little hissing noise, and I felt my face pinching into a pained expression as I cringed. I saw the same expression on Jeeves’ face

 

“I’m sorry, love.” 

 

“No need. Stern stuff, remember?”

 

He gave the fin a little squeeze before he retracted to root around in the first aid kit for some bandages. My skin buzzed a bit where he had touched me, and this helped to distract from the leftover stinging. With precise and feather-light touches he wrapped up my injured finger like a Christmas present. 

 

“Was it with a knife that you inflicted this injury?”

 

“Precisely, Reg. It was that traitorous tomato!”

 

“And what was the reason for chopping tomatoes and such at this hour?” He gestured to the state of the kitchen with a sweep of his eyes, his hands being otherwise occupied with the bandaging wheeze. 

 

“I wanted to prepare your breakfast this morning, love.” I confessed, a tad bashfully, and I was aware of a fierce blush in my cheeks. 

 

“I’m not aware of an anniversary or…” His voice trailed off, and he finished taping up my hurt finger. 

 

“I don’t require a special occasion to do something nice for my beloved.” I quipped. Our eyes met and I saw a matching blush begin to glow on his cheeks.

 

Jeeves dropped his eyes and began examining his work instead, gently tilting my hand this way and that to get a good look. There was a small smile on his lips and he stroked the edges of the bandage where it met Wooster skin. As is custom whenever Jeeves touches me, my heart was thrumming rapidly against my ribs, and I felt my insides do a bit of a flip, but not in a squeamish way this time. He then bent down to give my bandaged digit a little kiss in the same way one would place a stamp on the envelope of a love letter. Now that the wound was covered up, and I’d received almost adequate doting upon, my head was firmly back in its place on my shoulders after my dizzy episode and the pain in my finger had subsided a great deal. 

 

“That feels a thousand times better, Reg, thank you.” I sighed.

 

“I endeavor to give satisfaction, my love.” He quirked another little smile at me.

 

He then stood up out of his seat, but hovered over me to kiss me soundly on the lips. We separated with a sweet smacking sound and he went to work on salvaging breakfast.