Wodehouse Quotations


That is Life. Just one long succession of misunderstandings and rash acts and what not. Absolutely!

These massive minds require their moments of relaxation.

A nice sense of duty would no doubt have taken him back to his post in order fully to earn the sovereign which had been paid to him for his services as temporary waiter; but the voice of Duty called to him in vain. If the British aristocracy desired refreshments let them get them for themselves - and like it! He was through.

But if George had for the time being done with the British aristocracy, the British aristocracy had not done with him.

The effort of having to be civil to all of these had told upon Percy. Like the heroine of his sister Maud's favourite poem he was 'aweary, aweary', and he wanted a drink.

Percy was in no condition to subject everyone he met to a minute , scrutiny.

Percy was rattled. The crisis found him in two minds.

'Induhitably, your lordship. The unprecedented scale of the entertainment necessitated the engagement of a certain number of supernumeraries,' replied Keggs with an easy fluency which Reggie Byng, now cooling his head on the lower terrace, would have bitterly envied.

'In a manner of speaking, your lordship, and for all practical purposes, yes.

'And then bury it in the woods,' added Albert, wincing as the consequences of his rash act swept through his small form like some nauseous tidal wave. He shut his eyes. It upset him to see Keggs shimmering like that. A shimmering butler is an awful sight.

Albert capitulated. ' 'Ere yer are!' a piece of paper changed hands. 'It's men like you wot lead to 'art the crime in the country !'

'You'd walk a mile in the snow, you would,' continued Albert pursuing his train of thought, to rob a starving beggar of a ha'penny.'

- It's a fair exchange, and no one the worse!'

- ' Fat lot of good that is!'

Defeat is the test of the great man.

He was feeling worse than ever now, and a glance into the mirror told him that he looked rather worse than he felt.

Percy felt for his complaisant friend something of the annoyance which a householder feels for the watch-dog whom he finds fraternizing with the burglar.

Percy had always stayed prudently in his rooms with tea and buttered toast, thereby avoiding who knows what colds and coughs. When he ran, he ran reluctantly and with a definite object in view, such as the catching of a train.

It cried for attention like a little child, and was rapidly insinuating itself into a position in the scheme of things where it threatened to become the centre of the world.

Rain, once fallen, is reluctant to leave the English ditch. It nestles inside it for weeks, forming a rich, oatmeal-like substance which has to be stirred to be believed. Percy stirred it. He churned it. He ploughed and sloshed through it. The mud stuck to him like a brother.

A well-aimed stone settled this little misunderstanding, and Percy proceeded on his Journey alone.

The eyes that had settled George's fate for all eternity flashed upon the curate, who blinked. He squared his shoulders and drew himself up. He was perfectly willing to die for her.

Neither was favourably impressed by the other. Percy thought he had seen nicer-looking curates, and the curate thought he had seen more prepossessing tramps.

The gift of seeing ourselves as others see us is, as the poet indicates, vouchsafed to few men. Lord Belpher, not being one of these fortunates, had not the slightest conception how intensely revolting his personal appearance was at that moment.

Do you never search your heart and shudder at the horrible degradation which you have brought on yourself by sheer weakness of will?

Fatigue, pain, and the annoyance of having to listen to this man's well-meant but ill-judged utterances had combined to induce in Percy a condition bordering on hysteria.

Strategy, rather than force, seemed to the curate to be indicated. He paused a while, as one who weighs pros and cons, then spoke briskly, with the air of the man who has decided to yield a point with a good grace.

Then he stumbled over a golf-club and fell against a wall. It was too dark to see anything, but his sense of touch told him all he needed to know. He had been added to the vicar's collection of odds and ends in the closet reserved for that purpose.

... the curate was saying in the adjoining room, not without a touch of complacent self-approval such as becomes the victor in a battle of wits.

His pause was more eloquent than his speech and nearly as eloquent as his eye.

Having been made once or twice before the confidant of the tempestuous romances of Billie's friends, which always seemed to go wrong somewhere in the middle and to die a natural death before arriving at any definite point, George was not particularly interested, except in so far as the letter afforded rather comforting evidence that he was not the only person in the world who was having trouble of the kind.

A purist might have said he spoke gruffly and without geniality. But that is the beauty of these old retainers. They make a point of deliberately trying to deceive strangers as to the goldenness of their hearts by adopting a forbidding manner. And 'Good morning!' Not 'Good morning, sir!' Sturdy independence, you observe, as befits a free man. George closed the door carefully. He glanced into the kitchen. Mrs Platt was not there. All was well.

This opens up a new line of thought

'Bevan,' replied George, rather relieved at being able to remember it in the midst of his mental turmoil.

George filled his own pipe. The thing was becoming a love-feast.

'I may be slow at grasping a thing, but I'm bound to say I can't see that.'

- 'You arc upsetting things terribly.'- 'Things are upsetting me terribly.' - 'You are causing a great deal of trouble and annoyance.' - 'So did Romeo.' - 'Eh?'- ' I said - So did Romeo.' '- 'I don't know anything about Romeo.'- 'As far as love is concerned, I begin where he left off.' - 'I wish I could persuade you to be sensible.' - 'That's just what I think I am.' - 'I wish I could get you to see my point of view.' - 'I do see your point of view. But dimly. You see, my own takes up such a lot of the foreground.'

There was a pause.

Billie Dore had made a decided impression upon Lord Marshmoreton. She belonged to a type which he had never before encountered, and it was one which he had found more than agreeable.

'I know what you'll be saying to yourself the moment my back is turned. You'll be calling me a stage heavy father and an old snob and a number of other things. Don't interrupt me, dammiti You will I tell youl And you'll be wrong. I don't think the Marshmoretons are fenced off from the rest of the world by some sort of divinity. My sister does. Percy does. But Percys an ass! If ever you find yourself thinking differently from my son Percy, on any subject, congratulate yourself. You'll be right.'

He little knew that, but for the conventions (which frown on the practice of murdering bishops), Percy would gladly have strangled him with his bare hands and jumped upon the remains.

- 'Fine day,' said George. - 'Extremely, sir, but for the rain' - 'Oh, is it raining?' - 'Sharp downpour, sir.'- 'Good for the crops,' said George. - ' So one would be disposed to imagine, sir.'

Silence fell again.

And at the touch the last small fragment of George's self-control fled from him. The world became vague and unreal. There remained of it but one solid fact - the fact that Maud was in his arms and that he was saying a number of things very rapidly in a voice that seemed to belong to somebody he had never met before.

By the exercise of supreme self-control George kept himself

from speaking until he could choose milder words than those ' that rushed to his lips.

Now that the first shock of the wretched episode was over, the calmer half of her mind was endeavouring to soothe the infuriated half by urging that George's behaviour had been but a momentary lapse, and that a man may lose his head for one wild instant, and yet remain fundamentally a gentleman and a friend.

'I'm glad you find my story entertaining,' he said dryly. He was convinced now that he loathed this girl, and that all he desired was to see her go out of his life for ever. 'Later, no doubt, the funny side of it will hit me. Just at present my sense of humour is rather dormant.'

George managed to laugh. It was a laugh that did not sound convincing even to himself, but it served.

'It was a wonderful thing to do,' said Maud, her admiration glowing for a man who could treat such a leap so lightly. She had always had a private theory that Lord Leonard, after performing the same feat, had bragged about it for the rest of his life.

George admired her. The little touch of formality which she had contrived to impart to the conversation struck just the right note, created Just the atmosphere which would enable them to part without weighing too heavily on the deeper aspect of that parting.

People were happy who had never been happy before. Mrs Platt, for instance. A grey, depressed woman of middle age, she had seemed hitherto to have few pleasures beyond breaking dishes and relating the symptoms of sick neighbours who were not expected to live through the week. She now sang. George could hear her as she prepared his breakfast in the kitchen. At first he had had a hope that she was moaning with pain; but this was dispelled when he had finished his toilet and proceeded downstairs.

The woman went out of her way to show him that for her, if not for less fortunate people. God this morning was in his heaven and all was right in the world.

' Hullo-uUo-ullo-ullo-ullo-ullo-ul-Lo! Topping morning, isn't it!' observed Reggie. 'The sunshine! The birds! The absolute what-do-you-call-it of everything and so forth, and all that sort of thing, if you know what I mean! I feel like a two-year-old!'

George, who felt older than this by some ninety-eight years, groaned in spirit. This was more than man was meant to bear.

George writhed. The knife twisted in the wound. Surely it was bad enough to sec a happy man eating bread and marmalade without having to listen to him talking about marriage.

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Quotes - By books

Index from book Wodehouse on Wodehouse. | Article "About Stories" | Dedications1 | Dedications 2 | Prefaces1 | Prefaces2 | Prefaces3 | Prefaces4 | "Facts from Usborn" (forewords from Vintage Wodehouse)