Mr. Pett, meanwhile, had been trailing in the rear with a hunted expression on his face. He wore the unmistakable look of a man about to be present at a row between women, and only a wet cat in a strange back-yard bears itself with less jauntiness than a man faced by such a prospect. A millionaire several times over, Mr. Pett would cheerfully have given much of his wealth to have been elsewhere at that moment. Such was the agitated state of his mind that, when a hand was laid lightly upon his arm as he was about to follow his wife into the room, he started so violently that his hat flew out of his hand. He turned to meet the eyes of the butler who had admitted him to the house, fixed on his in an appealing stare.
“Who’s leading in the pennant race?” said this strange butler in a feverish whisper.
It was a question, coming from such a source, which in another than Mr. Pett might well have provoked a blank stare of amazement. Such, however, is the almost superhuman intelligence and quickness of mind engendered by the study of America’s national game that he answered without the slightest hesitation.
“Wow!” said the butler.
No sense of anything strange or untoward about the situation came to mar the perfect joy of Mr. Pett, the overmastering joy of the baseball fan who in a strange land unexpectedly encounters a brother. He thrilled with a happiness which he had never hoped to feel that morning.
“No signs of them slumping?” enquired the butler.
“No. But you never can tell. It’s early yet. I’ve seen those boys lead the league till the end of August and then be nosed out.”
“True enough,” said the butler sadly.
“Matty’s in shape.”
“He is? The old souper working well?”
“Like a machine. He shut out the Cubs the day before I sailed!”
At this point an appreciation of the unusualness of the proceedings began to steal upon Mr. Pett. He gaped at this surprising servitor.
“How on earth do you know anything about baseball?” he demanded.
The other seemed to stiffen. A change came over his whole appearance. He had the air of an actor who has remembered his part.
“I beg your pardon, sir. I trust I have not taken a liberty. I was at one time in the employment of a gentleman in New York, and during my stay I became extremely interested in the national game. I picked up a few of the American idioms while in the country.” He smiled apologetically. “They sometimes slip out.”
“Let ’em slip!” said Mr. Pett with enthusiasm. “You’re the first thing that’s reminded me of home since I left. Say!”
“Got a good place here?”
“Er–oh, yes, sir.”
“Well, here’s my card. If you ever feel like making a change, there’s a job waiting for you at that address.”
P. G. Wodehouse, Piccadilly Jim ch. 3 (1917).