Dear Mrs Abacha.
I received your email about twenty minutes before cocktail time, and my first thought was, well, what a bally load of trouble this poor things gone and got herself into!
Now, I'm not one to sit around when theres a damsel in distress about. No, the code of the Woosters is very clear on that point. There was a d in d in need of my immediate aid, and Bertram Wooster was not about to let her down!
Well, as you can imagine, the first thing I did was tootle off to the library to look up Nigeria in the big atlas, the one Aunt Dahlia gave me as a present when I was made captain of the cricket team. I brushed the dust off the covers and settled down in my favourite armchair for a good old browse.
I'd been browsing a while without much luck when in came Jeeves with my Manhattan. Well, good timing, thought I! He's just the chap to know where some foreign place is.
"I say, Jeeves," I piped up. "You know all that time I spent at school punting, cricketing and being an all-round good egg and a popular sort of chap?"
"I am aware of your many admirable academic achievements, sir," said Jeeves, placing my Manhattan on a little side table.
"Thank you, Jeeves," I said, not a little flattered that he had noticed the sharpness of the old Wooster mind. Well, as you might image, what with all the sporting and hobnobbing I found bally little time for geography.
An understandable oversight, sir.
Indeed, Jeeves. Most understandable. Its not easy being popular, you know. A lot more time consuming than most people realise.
I have no doubt of it, sir.
Jeeves looked at the atlas and raised an eyebrow in that all-knowing way of his.
"Might I venture I guess, sir, that there is some question of cartographic significance that you wish to ask me?"
"Carto what, Jeeves?"
He had me lost here, and I needed a good long sip of the old Manhattan to help me get my bearings again.
"Cartographic, sir," he explained. "It means of or relating to maps."
"Well, blow me down, Jeeves, if you haven't struck the nail right on the head. Yes, maps it is."
"And how may I assist you, sir?"
"Well, the thing is," I said, "I've been looking at this bally atlas for about twenty minutes now, and dash it all Jeeves, I can't seem to find Nigeria in it anywhere."
"Yes, Jeeves. Nigeria."
"I believe, sir," said Jeeves, "that you will find that Nigeria is located in the continent of Africa. Page thirty-eight if memory serves, between Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon."
Well, at that I flipped the pages as quickly as the old Wooster fingers could manage, and there it was! A big red funny-shaped country right in the middle of Africa, surrounded by the countries he mentioned as well as all manner of other places with odd foreign-sounding names.
Jeeves gave that little cough he's so fond of.
"Yes, Jeeves?" I said.
"Might I inquire, sir, he asked, as to the reason for your desire to locate the country of Nigeria?"
Well, I know you asked for confidentially, Mrs Abacha, but hang it all, Jeeves is a true friend as well being a fine manservant, and there's no man I trust more.
"The thing is Jeeves," I said, lowering the dulcet Wooster tones, 'I've had this email from the widow of some Nigerian big-wig. Seems she's got herself in a bally old spot of bother and needs a gentleman's help to get her out of it."
"A spot of bother, sir?"
"To put it mildly. She's got simply pots of cash, but she can't get it out of the country to spend it. Seems she's absolutely desperate to do a spot of shopping, but they don't have a decent harberdashers or dress-makers in Nigeria."
"I see, sir. And she needs your help to get the money out?"
"Indeed she does, Jeeves. And you know me, I can't refuse a damsel in distress. Code of the Woosters and all that."
At that, Jeeves gave me what I can only describe as a funny look. Now, I know a funny look when I see one. Bertram Wooster has been the receiving end of not a few funny looks in his time, and this was definitely one of them.
"May I ask a few questions, sir?" asked Jeeves placidly.
"You may," I confirmed.
"This correspondent of yours, is her spelling rather on the poor side?"
"You could say that. Why, I even spotted one or two mistakes myself."
"And does she employ the word modalities in her email?"
"Well, blow me down, Jeeves, so she does! Had me a little confused. Dashed if Ive ever seen the word before."
"Understandable, sir. It is not in common usage. And does she by any chance need your bank account details, sir?"
"She does indeed."
"And is her name Mrs Abacha?"
"Well, blow me, it is. How on earth do you know all this, Jeeves?
Jeeves raised an eyebrow coolly.
"Let us just say, sir, that I have seen emails like this before."
"Indeed I have, and I suspect, sir, that she is attempting to lead you down the garden path."
"Down the garden path, Jeeves?"
This was worrying. I was now a worried Bertram Wooster. It was lucky the Manhattan was there to reassure me.
"You mean it's not true that she's in trouble?" I asked.
"Or that she has all this money?"
"Doubtful, sir. Most doubtful."
"You don't think she's trying to con me, do you?"
"I am sorry to say that I do think just that, sir. And, if I might venture a comment, I believe you will find that she is not a she at all."
"Not a she? Well, knock me down with a feather. What sort of chap would pretend to be female? I mean, I know some of the chaps at the Drones Club like to horse around sometimes, but that really is going too far."
"Very observant of you, sir."
"So you mean far being a damsel in distress she's really a she's a"
And here words failed me.
Luckily Jeeves was there to fill in the gaps in the old Wooster dictionary.
"I believe the word you are looking for, sir is"
And that, as they say, was that.
Bertram Wilberforce Wooster Esq.