Wodehouse Quotations

The Duke gaped. The shock had been severe. If a meteorite had entered through the open window and struck him behind one of his rather prominent ears, he might have been more taken aback, but not very much so. When he was able to speak, which was not immediately, he said:...

Well, I don't know what view you take of the situation, but it seems to me that you and Emsworth are like two cowboys in the Malemute Saloon who have got the drop on each other simultaneously.

The Duke's moustache had become violently agitated. He was not normally quick-witted, but he had begun to suspect that fishy things had been going on. If this Ickenham had not been deliberately misleading him, he was very much mistaken.

There was a silence, as far as silence was possible in a small room where the Duke was puffing at his moustache.

'You shall have it tomorrow night after the cheque has gone through. It's not that I don't trust you, Dunstable, it's simply that I don't trust you.'

The Duke breathed stertorously. He did not like many people, but he searched his mind in vain for somebody he disliked as much as he was disliking his present companion.

There was a smile on his handsome face, the smile it always wore when he had given service.

/Uneasy Money/

He was frowning slightly. One would have said that here was a man with a secret sorrow.

His was a simple mind, able to amuse itself with simple things.

The other obliged with his remark for the third time, with increased pathos, for constant repetition was making him almost believe it himself.

There was a pause. The situation had the appearance of being at a deadlock.

... and several admirers of feminine beauty who happened to be using the same route had almost dislocated their necks looking after her.

He cast a furtive glance behind him in the hope that the disseminator of expiring roosters had vanished, but the man was still at his elbow. Worse, he faced them, and in a hoarse but carrying voice he was instructing Heaven to bless his benefactor.

whose finances were so irregular that he could not be said to possess an income at all

It was in the days of the Regency that the Dawlish coffers first began to show signs of cracking under the strain, in the era of the then celebrated Beau Dawlish. Nor were his successors backward in the spending art. A breezy disregard for the preservation of the pence was a family trait.

With that wealth, added to free lodging at one of the best clubs in London, perfect health, a steadily-diminishing golf handicap, and a host of friends in every walk of life, Bill had felt that it would be absurd not to be happy and contented.

But Claire had made a difference. There was no question of that. In the first place, she resolutely declined to marry him on four hundred pounds a year. She scoffed at four hundred pounds a year. To hear her talk, you would have supposed that she had been brought up from the cradle to look on four hundred pounds a year as small change to be disposed of in tips and cab fares.

... and Claire saw to it that these doubts sprouted, by confining her conversation on the occasions of their meeting almost entirely to the great theme of money, with its minor sub-divisions of How to get it, Why don't you get it? and I'm sick and tired of not having it.

Lord Dawlish was feeling a little sorry for himself.

It was not, perhaps, a very exhilarating life, but, except to the eyes of love, there was nothing tragic about it. It was the cumulative effect of having a mother in reduced circumstances and grumbling about it, of being compelled to work and grumbling about that, and of achieving in her work only a semi-success and grumbling about that also, that - backed by her looks - enabled Claire to give quite a number of people, and Bill Dawlish in particular, the impression that she was a modern martyr, only sustained by her indomitable courage.

So Bill, being requested in a peevish voice to explain what he meant by saying, 'Oh, I don't know,' condoned the peevishness. He then bent his mind to the task of trying to ascertain what he had meant.

A man with a title has no right not to have money. It makes the whole thing farcical.

It was not Lord Dawlish's lucky afternoon. All through lunch he had been saying the wrong thing, and now he put the coping-stone on his misdeeds. Of all the ways in which he could have answered Claire's question he chose the worst.

He scanned Shaftesbury Avenue with a jaundiced eye, and thought that he had never seen a beastlier thoroughfare. Piccadilly, however, into which he shortly dragged himself, was even worse. It was full of men and women and other depressing things.

He pitied himself profoundly. It was a rotten world to live in, this, where a fellow couldn't say noblesse oblige without Upsetting the universe. Why shouldn't a fellow say noblesse oblige? Why -? At this juncture Lord Dawlish walked into a lamp-post.

Naturally a refined and sensitive young girl objected to having things like noblesse oblige said to her. Where was the sense in saying noblesse oblige? Such a confoundedly silly thing to say. Only a perfect ass would spend his time rushing about the place saying noblesse oblige to people.

The decision at which Bill had arrived with such dramatic suddenness in the middle of Piccadilly was the same at which some centuries earlier Columbus had arrived in the privacy of his home.

'Hang it!' said Bill to himself in the cab, 'I'll go to America!' The exact words probably which Columbus had used, talking the thing over with his wife.

'You have a prosperous look. It's a funny thing about England. I've known you four months, and I know men who know you; but I've never heard a word about your finances. In New York we all wear labels, stating our incomes and prospects in clear lettering. Well, if it's like that it's different, of course. There certainly is more money to be made in America than here. I don't quite see what you think you're going to do when you get there, but that's up to you.'

'Lords are popular socially in America, but arc not used to any great extent in the office ... We may look on Smith as a necessity.'

He was only ten, and small for his age, yet he appeared to have the power of being in two rooms at the same time while making a nerve-racking noise in another.

I don't mind his painting. It gives him something to do and keeps him out of mischief.

Everything would be fine if he didn't think it necessary to tack on the artistic temperament to his painting. He's developed the idea that he has nerves and everything upsets them.

She looked at her watch. It was six o'clock. Back in West Kensington a rich smell of dinner would be floating through the flat; the cook, watching the boiling cabbage, would be singing A Few More Years Shall Roll; her mother would be sighing; and her little brother Percy would be employed upon some juvenile deviltry, the exact nature of which it was not possible to conjecture, though one could be certain that it would be something involving a deafening noise. Claire smiled a happy smile.

Bill walked up the stairs and was shown into the room where Jerry, when his fathers eye was upon him, gave his daily imitation of a young man labouring with diligence and enthusiasm at the law.

Bill's face expressed no emotion whatsoever. Outwardly he appeared unmoved. Inwardly he was a riot of bewilderment, incapable of speech. He stared at Jerry dumbly.

'What it says, when you've peeled off a few of the long words which they put in to make it more interesting, is that old Nutcombc leaves you the money because you are the only man who ever did him a disinterested kindness - and what I want to get out of you is, what was the disinterested kindness? Because I'm going straight out to do it to every elderly, rich' looking man I can find till I pick a winner.'

'You aren't pulling my leg?'

'Pulling your leg? Of course I'm not pulling your leg. What do you take me for? I'm a dry, hard-headed lawyer. The firm of Nichols, Nichols, Nichols, and Nichols doesn't go about pulling people's legs!'

But a man can be pretty far gone, you know, without being legally insane, and old Nutcombe - well, suppose we call him whimsical. He seems to have zigzagged between the normal and the eccentric.

'I don't see why you should worry, Bill. How, by any stretch of the imagination, can you make out that you are to blame for this Boyd girl's misfortune?

- 'I don't blame myself. It isn't exactly that. But - but, well, what would you feel like in my place?'

- 'A two-year-old.'

- 'Bill, are you really going to make a fool of yourself?'

- 'Not a bit of it, old chap.

He was guarded in his letter. He mentioned no definite figures. He wrote that Ira Nutcombc of whom they had spoken so often had most surprisingly left him in his will a large sum of money, and cased his conscience by telling himself that half of a million pounds undeniably was a large sum of money.

the village of Brookport, Long Island, is a summer place. It lives, like the mosquitoes that infest it, entirely on its summer visitors.

It had been the poor lad's mistaken view that he could drink up all the alcoholic liquor in America.

Elizabeth Boyd was twenty-one, but standing there with her hair tumbling about her shoulders she might have been taken by a not-too-close observer for a child. It was only when you ' saw her eyes and the resolute tilt of the chin that you realized that she was a young woman very well able to take care of herself in a difficult world.

'I expect that was because you slunk in all doubled up, and he got suspicious. You should hold your head up and throw your chest out and stride up as if you were a military friend of the family.'

Self-pity lent Nutty eloquence.

Elizabeth returned to her room to dress. She was conscious of a feeling that nothing was quite perfect in this world.

As Elizabeth watched, he dropped the pail and lashed the air violently for a while. From her knowledge of bees ('It is needful to remember that bees resent outside interference and will resolutely defend themselves,' Encyc. Brit,, Vol. xn, aus to Bis) Elizabeth deduced that one of her little pets was annoying him.

The mere fact that her brother, whose usual mode of progression was a languid saunter, should be actually running, was enough to tell Elizabeth that the letter which Nutty had read was from the London lawyers.

Nutty fetched the water. Life is like that. There is nothing clean-cut about it, no sense of form. Instead of being permitted to concentrate his attention on his tragedy Nutty had to trudge three-quarters of a mile, conciliate a bull-terrier, and trudge back again carrying a heavy pail. It was as if one of the heroes of Greek drama, in the middle of his big scene, had been asked to run round the corner to a provision store.


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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)