Wodehouse Quotations

Nothing could make him enjoy writing a cheque , for five hundred pounds, but there are times when a man has to set his teeth and face the facts of life.

Moments come in a woman's life, he knew, when her prime need is a complete absence of Ickenhams.

He was a broad-minded man. and it ' was his opinion that a girl who needs five hundred pounds to get herself up in business for herself is entitled to stretch a point or two and to forget, if only temporarily, the lessons which she learned at her mother's knee. Thinking these charitable thoughts and knowing the reception that awaited her at Blandings Castle, he was happy to have this opportunity of warning her against completing her journey there.

Stick to it like glue. He has far too much money, anyway, and it's very bad for him. Look on adhering to this five hundred as a kindly act in his best interests, designed to make him a better, deeper man. It may prove a turning point in his life. I would take five hundred pounds off Tilbury myself, if only I could think of a way of doing it.

His guardian angel, who could follow a piece of reasoning all right if you explained it carefully to him, apologized and said he hadn't thought of that. Forget the whole thing, the guardian angel said.

'I am always thinking about something, but I can switch it off in a second, just like that. What seems to be the trouble?'

Lord Ickenham was gratified as any man would have been. One always likes a word of praise from the fans.

When I start talking you must stop me, even if you haven't heard it before.

'Have you ever been engaged to two girls at the same time?'

'Not to my recollection. Nor, now I come to think of it, do I know of anyone who has, except of course King Solomon and the late Brigham Young.

'I don't get it. I am aware that you are betrothed to my little friend Myra Schoonmaker, but however often I tot up the score, that only makes one. You're sure ' you haven't slipped up somewhere in your figures?'

Seated on the stile, his deportment rather like that of a young Hindu fakir lying for the first time on the traditional bed of spikes, Archie Gilpin seemed still to find a difficulty in clothing his thoughts in words.

Oh. well. you know what happens when a girl starts letting a fellow have it. One word led to another, if you know what I mean, and it wasn't long before she was breaking the engagement and telling me she i didn't want to see or speak to me again in this world or the next. She didn't actually return the ring, because I hadn't given her one, but apart from that she made the thing seem pretty final.'

- 'I don't see what you're grinning about.'

-'Smiling gently would be a more exact description. I was thinking how absurdly simple these problems are, when you give your mind to them.

Archie nodded. He had never blinded himself to the fact that anyone trying to separate cash from the Duke of Dun-stable was in much the same position as a man endeavouring to take a bone from a short-tempered wolf-hound.

Silence fell. The light had faded from the evening sky. and simultaneously from Archie Gilpin's face. He sat staring bleakly into the middle distance as if the scenery hurt him in some tender spot.

Sometimes, when we hear a familiar voice, the heart leaps up like that of the poet Wordsworth when he beheld a rainbow in the sky. Lord Tilbury's was far from doing this.

This took some time for in addition to saying 'No' he had to tell the Duke what he thought of him, indicating one by one the various points on which his character diverged from that of the ideal man.

He had never suspected this, but it occurred to him now that when a woman keeps a photograph of a man with a head like a Spanish onion on her writing table, it means that her emotions are involved, in all probability deeply.

Reminded of this, he beamed, as far as it was within his ability to beam, and replied that it was most satisfactory and that he was very pleased about it.

There is no surer way of promoting human happiness than to relieve a mild man of the society of a sister who says. '0h, Clarence!' to him and sees life in the home generally as a sort of Uncle Tom's Cabin production, with herself playing Simon Legree and her brother in the supporting role of Uncle Tom.

She was in a highly nervous condition, and the last thing she desired was to be beamed at by a man whose very presence revolted her finer feelings.

In one of the cosy talks he had had with George Cyril Wellbeloved before Lord Emsworth had driven him with a flaming sword from his garden of Eden, the pigman had commented on the mysterious properties of a quart of the Ovens output, speaking with a good deal of bitterness of the time when that amount of it had caused him to reveal to Claude Murphy, the local constable, certain top secrets which later he would have given much to have kept to himself.

Give him a skipper and a little daughter whom he had taken to bear him company, thought Lord Ickenham. and he could have made straight for the reef of Norman's Woe, and no questions asked.'

He thanked Lord Ickenham for the suggestion and Lord Ickenham said he always made a point of doing his day's kind deed. His mother, he said, had been frightened by a Boy Scout.

'I expect to pass through this world but once. Jimmy. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do. let me do it now, as the fellow said.

He nestled into the vacated hammock, and was In the process of explaining to his guardian angel, who had once more become critical, that there is no harm in deviating from the truth a little, if it is done in a good cause, and that the interview which Mr Schoonmaker was about to have with the Duke of Dunstable. though possibly wounding to his feelings, would make him forget his headache, when he became aware of Archie Gilpin at his side.

'My dear Jimmy! It may be my imagination, but a certain half-veiled something in your manner seems to suggest that your conference with Dunstable was not an agreeable one. What happened? Did you broach the subject of the Venus Island Development Corporation?'

Lord Ickenham's manner was that of a patient governess explaining a problem in elementary arithmetic to a child who through no fault of its own had been dropped on the head when a baby.

The Duke uttered a bitter curse on all nephews, and Lord Ickenham agreed that they could be trying, though his own nephew Pongo, he said, held the view that all the trouble in the world was caused by uncles.

- 'I can see only one ray of hope.'

- 'What's that?' asked the Duke, who was unable to detect even one. His prominent eyes gleamed a little. He was saying to himself that this feller Ickenham might be potty, but apparently he had lucid intervals.

- 'A wasting sickness struck the Brazil nuts, and he lost all his capital.'- 'Silly ass.'

- 'Your sympathy does you credit.'

It seemed to Lord Ickenham, drowsing in his hammock after the Duke's departure, that an angel voice was speaking nil name, and he speculated for a moment on the possibility of his having been snatched up to heaven in a fiery chariot without noticing it. Then reason told him that an angel, punctilious as all angels are. would scarcely on so brief an acquaintance be addressing him as Uncle Fred, and he sat up, brushing the mists of sleep from his eyes, to see Myra Schoonmaker standing beside him.

'Well, now you mention it.' he said, 'it is just possible that some careless word of mine may have given him that impression. Yes, now that I think back. I believe I did say something along those lines. It seemed to me to come under the head of spreading sweetness and light. I thought I would be making everybody happy, except perhaps the Duke.'

In supposing that. having given audience to the Duke, Mr Schoonmaker, Archie Gilpin and Myra, he would now be allowed that restful solitude which was so necessary to him when digesting the morning eggs and bacon. Lord Ickenham was in error. This time it was not an angel voice that interrupted his slumber, but more of a bleat, as if an elderly sheep in the vicinity had been endowed with speech. Only one man of his acquaintance bleated in just that manner, and he was not surprised, on assuming an upright pose, to find that it was Lord Emsworth who had been called to his attention. The ninth earl was drooping limply at his side, as if some unfriendly hand had removed his spinal column.

All you have to go on is Wellbeloved's word, and that would not carry much conviction. I like George Cyril Wellbeloved and always enjoy exchanging ideas with him, but I wouldn't believe his word if he brought it to me on a plate with watercress round it. On this occasion he probably deviateo from the policy of a lifetime and told the truth, but what of that? You know and I know that Dunstable is a man who sticks at nothing and would walk ten miles in the snow to chisel a starving orphan out of tuppence, but we are helpless without proof. If only he had written some sort of divisional orders, embodying his low schemes in a letter, it would be -

The cheeks glowed, and the eyes, formerly like oysters in the last stages of dissolution, were bright and sparkling. Exuberant was the word Beach would have applied to the financier, if he had happened to know it. He had once heard Lord Ickenham use the expression 'All spooked up with zip and vinegar', and it was thus that he was mentally labelling Mr Schoonmaker now. Unquestionably spooked up, was his verdict.

'Here,' said Mr Schoonmaker, and thrusting a piece of paper into the butler's hand he curvetted off like, thought Beach, an unusually extrovert lamb in springtime.

It all seemed very mysterious to Beach, though far from displeasing.

Mr Schoonmaker, meanwhile, touching the ground only at odd spots, had arrived at Lavender Briggs' office.

'And he was quite right. Here I am, precisely as predicted. Take a chair.'

Something of the bewilderment recently exhibited by Beach showed itself on Lord Ickenham's face. This was a totally unexpected development.

Yet now it was plain that something had occurred to change James Schoon-maker from the timorous rabbit he had been to a dasher with whom Don Juan would not have been ashamed to shake hands.

Mr Schoonmaker, who had been pacing the floor in the manner popularized by tigers at a zoo, suddenly halted in mid-stride, and the animation died out of his face as though turned off with a switch. He looked like a man suddenly reminded of something unpleasant, as indeed he had been.

'Who, me? ' said Lord Ickenham, amazed, not knowing that the copyright in those words was held by George Cyril Well-beloved.

You ought to be thanking me on bended knee, unless the passage of time has made you stiff in the joints. What's your objection to Bill Bailey?

'The very husband you should have wished her. The one thing a financier wants is a clergyman in the family. What happens next time the Senate Commission has you on the carpet and starts a probe? You say "As proof of my respectability, gentlemen, I may mention that my daughter is married to a curate. You don't find curates marrying into a man's family if there's anything fishy about him," and they look silly and apologize.

It is possible that Mr Schoonmaker would have had much to say in reply to this, for Lord Ickenham's reasoning, though shrewd, had not wholly convinced him that everything was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

'Jimmy was just going, weren't you. Jimmy? This is your busy day, isn't it? A thousand things to attend to. So what,' said Lord Ickenham, as the door closed, 'can I do for you. Dunstable?'

'Ah, well.' said Lord Ickenham tolerantly, 'we all have our faults. Even I have been criticized at times. But you were going to tell me what you wanted to see me about.'

'Easy come, easy go, he probably said to himself.'

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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)