Wodehouse Quotations

In place of his former somewhat elephantine method of progression he adopted a species of shuffle which had excellent results, for it enabled him to brush twigs away instead of stepping flatfootedly on them. The new method was slow but it had no other disadvantages.

large man suspecting his presence and lying in wait for him with a revolver. This was not a comforting thought. Of course, if a man is going to fire a revolver at you it makes little difference whether he is a giant or a pygmy, but Mr Pickering was in no frame of mind for nice reasoning.

What would Chingachgook - assuming, for purposes of argument, that any sane godfather could really have given a helpless child a name like that - have done? He would, Mr Pickering considered, after giving the matter his earnest attention, have made a detour and outflanked the enemy. An excellent solution of the difficulty. Mr Pickcring turned to the left and began to advance circuitously, with the result that, before he knew what he was doing, he came out into a clearing and understood the meaning of the sudden silence which had perplexed him.

One reads of desperate experiences ageing people in a single night. His present predicament aged Mr Pickcring in a single minute. In the brief interval of time between the opening of the door and the moment when a voice outside began to speak he became a full thirty years older. His boyish ardour slipped from him, and he was once more the Dudley Pickering whom the world knew, the staid and respectable middle-aged man of affairs, who would have given a million dollars not to have got himself mixed up in this deplorable business.

'Don't keep saying it's all right'.

It was a cold expression, unfriendly, as if it was not so keen a pleasure to Claire to look at him as it should be for a girl to look at the man whom she is engaged to marry.

His voice trailed off as he found the lamp and lit it. Relief and disappointment were nicely blended in his next words: 'No, it's still there.'

Mr Pickcring found that they were all looking at him - Lady Wetherby with glittering eyes, Claire with cool scorn. Lord Wetherby with a horror which he seemed to have achieved with something of an effort.

Mr Pickering found that his accusers were ebbing away. Lady Wethcrby had gone. Claire had gone. Only Lord Wctherby remained, looking at him like a pained groom. He dashed from the place and followed his hostess, speaking incoherently of burglars, outhouses, and misunderstandings. He even mentioned Chingachgook. But Lady Wetherby would not listen. Nobody would listen.

Lord Wctherby was looking now like a groom whose favourite horse, has kicked him in the stomach.

The white heat of emotion had subsided to a gentle glow of contentment conducive to thought.

And, being one of those rare persons who can cease worrying instantly when they have convinced themselves that it is useless, he dismissed the entire problem from his mind and returned to the more congenial occupation of thinking of Elizabeth.

The effect that Claire had always had on him was to deepen the conviction, which never really left him, that he was a bit of an ass. Elizabeth, on the other hand. bucked him up and made him feel as if he really amounted to something.


While he was trying to make clear to himself just what it was about Claire's voice that he had not liked he was granted the opportunity of analysing by means of direct observation its failure to meet his vocal ideals, for at this moment it spoke behind him.


Bill had a sort of impression that there was some meaning behind this action; that, if he were less of a chump than Nature had made him, he would at this point receive some sort of a revelation. But, being as Nature had made him, he did not get it.

He was one of those men to whom a girl's left hand is simply a girl's left hand, irrespective of whether it wears rings on its third finger or not.

The look which Claire gave him in answer to this was meek and affectionate, but inwardly she was wishing that she could bang his head against the gate. His slowness was maddening.

'I mean, is it too late? I mean, can you really forgive me? Oh, Bill' - she stopped herself by the fraction of a second from adding 'you idiot'.

He was not himself. He found a difficulty in concentrating. With the result that, in answer to this appeal from a beautiful girl whom he had once imagined that he loved, all he could find to say was: 'How do you mean?'

Claire, never an adept at patience. Just succeeded in swallowing the remark that sprang into her mind. It was incredible to her that a man could exist who had so little intuition. She had not anticipated the necessity of being compelled to put the substance of her meaning in so many blunt words, but it seemed that only so could she make him understand.

Bill was puzzled. He was one of those simple men who take their fellows on trust, but who, if once that trust is shattered, can never recover it. Like most simple men, he was tenacious of ideas when he got them, and the belief that Claire was playing fast and loose was not lightly to be removed from his mind.

Too late she realized what she had said and the construction that an intelligent man would put on it. Then she reflected that Bill was not an intelligent man. She shot a swift glance at him. To all appearances he had suspected nothing.

He set his teeth. It was just as bad as he had thought it would be.

She fell back. For the first time the sense of defeat came to her. She had anticipated many things. She had looked for difficulties. But she had not expected this. A feeling of cold fury surged over her at the way fate had tricked her. She had gambled recklessly on her power of fascination, and she had lost.

A man's subconscious self is not the ideal companion. It lurks for the greater part of his life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges only to taunt and deride and increase the misery of a miserable hour. Mr Pickering's rare interviews with his subconscious self had happened until now almost entirely in the small hours of the night, when it had popped out to remind him, as he lay sleepless, that all flesh was grass and that he was not getting any younger. To-night, such had been the shock of the evening's events, it came to him at a time which was usually his happiest - the time that lay between dinner and bed.


One may picture Subconscious Self as a withered, cynical, malicious person standing before Mr Pickering and regarding him with an evil smile.

Half an hour ago he had felt like Lucifer hurled from heaven. Now, though how that train of thought had started he could not have said, he was distinctly conscious of the silver lining. Subconscious Self began to drive the thing home.

You ought to make a sort of anniversary of it. You ought to endow a hospital or something out of pure gratitude. I don't know how long you're going to live - if you act like a grown-up man instead of a boy and keep out of woods and shrubberies at night you may live for ever - but you will never have a greater bit of luck than the one that happened to you to-night.

What a gelatine-backboncd thing is man, who prides himself on his clear reason and becomes as wet blotting-papcr at one glance from bright eyes! A moment before Mr Pickering had thought out the whole subject of woman and marriage in a few bold flashes of his capable brain, and thanked Providence that he was not as those men who take unto themselves wives to their undoing. Now in an instant he had lost that iron outlook. Reason was temporarily out of business. He was slipping.

Mr Pickering did not bolt. Claire came towards him, still smiling that pathetic smile. A thrill permeated Mr Pickering's entire one hundred and ninety-seven pounds, trickling down his spine like hot water and coming out at the soles of his feet. He had forgotten now that he had ever sneered at marriage. It seemed to him now that there was nothing in life to be compared with that beatific state, and that bachelors were mere wild asses of the desert.

'Bolt!' urged Subconscious Self. 'Fly! Go to Japan !'

Mr Pickcring did not go to Japan. He was staring worshippingly at Claire.


It is part of the general irony of things that in life's crises a man's good qualities are often the ones that help him least, if indeed they do not actually turn treacherously and fight against him. It was so with Bill.

Subconscious Self said nothing, being beyond speech.


He had a general feeling that he was not much of a chap and that when he died - which he trusted would be shortly - the world would be well rid of him. He felt humble and depressed and hopeless.


At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.

You sec, evidence is the only guide. You don't know that I am speaking the truth; you just feel it. You're trusting your heart and not your head. The head must win in the end. You might go on believing for a time, but sooner or later you would be bound to begin to doubt and worry and torment yourself. You couldn't fight against the evidence, when once your instinct - or whatever it is that tells you that I am speaking the truth - had begun to weaken. And it would weaken. Think what it would have to be fighting all the time. Think of the case your intelligence would be making out, day after day, till it crushed you. It's impossible that you could keep yourself from docketing the evidence and arranging it and absorbing it.


He had the feeling of having been hit by something. A man has not a woman's gift of being able to transfer his mind at will from sorrow to socks.

The quixotic thing is the first that it occurs to you to do, because you're like that, because you're the straightest, whitest man I've ever known or shall know.


Why had he listened to her? Why hadn't he taken her in his arms and told her not to be a little fool? Why did men ever listen to women?

Nutty looked at her face, and decided not to make it worse. But his anguish demanded some outlet. He found it in soliloquy.

'Nothing but ghastly bees and sweeping floors and fetching water till we die of old age!'

Elizabeth had been trying not to listen to him, but without success.


He was in the frame of mind which resents alleviation of its gloom. He would have preferred at that moment to be allowed to round off the picture of the future which he was constructing in his mind with a reel or two showing himself brooding in a cell. After all, what difference did it make to a man of spacious tastes whether he languished for the rest of his life in a jail or on a farm in the country? Jail, indeed, was almost preferable. You knew where you were when you were in prison.


Nutty had the sort of mind that moves in circles. After contemplating for a time the rottenness of the world, he came back to the point from which he had started.

It became evident to Elizabeth that, until some explanation of this point was offered to him, Nutty would drift about in her vicinity, moaning and shuffling his feet indefinitely.


He was beginning to perceive something of the intricate and unfathomable workings of the feminine mind. He had always looked on Elizabeth as an ordinary good fellow, a girl whose mind worked in a more or less understandable way. She was not one of those hysterical women you read about in * the works of the novelists; she was just a regular girl. And yet now, at the one moment of her life when everything depended on her acting sensibly, she had behaved in a way that made his head swim when he thought of it. What it amounted to was that you simply couldn't understand women.


he looked upon a eWorld which, his manner seemed to indicate, had been con-f structed according to his own specifications, ...

The indecency of anyone being cheerful at such time struck him forcibly.

'I'm glad of that,' he said. 'Funny if you hadn't been. You'd have wondered what on earth I was talking about.'

In spite of her identity, this was precisely what Elizabeth was doing.


He had joined the group at the gate, abandoning the pebble which he had been kicking in the background, and was now leaning on the top bar, a picture of silent perplexity.

Elizabeth tried to piece together what little she understood of his monologue.

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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)