Wodehouse Quotations

It is not a question of asking ourselves "Is it right to take it off Ernsworth?" and "Are we ethically justified in skinning this good old man ?" but rather "Has he got it ?" And he has.


It had intensified in him the sensation, which he had been experiencing ever since his arrival, of being beset by perils and menaced by bad citizens. A cat in a strange alley, with an eye out for small boys with bricks, would have understood how he felt. And this nervous apprehension would alone have been enough to take his mind off his toilet.


He had pictured himself patting her little hand, as she thanked him brokenly for that astounding act of nobility. He had seen himself gazing down into her eyes with one of those whimsical, twisted, Ronald Colman smiles. He had even gone so far as to knock together a bit of dialogue for the scene - just in case - starting ''There, there, little girl, it was nothing. All I want is your happiness" and getting even more effective as it went on.


"The United States Mariners have failed us, my boy. The garrison has not been received, the water supply is giving out, and the savages are still howling on outskirts. In other words, Mustard has let us down."

'I should have thought you could have found some more adequate comment on a great human tragedy than a mere "Oh?"

'I'm sorry. I'm afraid we old fellows have a tendency to ramble on. I should have remembered that your interest in the fortunes of Ernsworth's pig is only tepid.'


'It was a magnificent exhibition. Persian Monarchs at its best. I never expect to witness a finer display of pure science than Mustard gave. He was playing for his daughter's happiness, and the thought seemed to inspire him. Generally, I believe, on these occasions, it is customary to allow the mug to win from time to time as a sort of gesture, but it was clear that Mustard felt that in a crisis like this old-world courtesy would be out of place. Ignoring the traditions, he won every coup, and when they had finished Ernsworth got up, thanked him for a pleasant game, said that it was fortunate that they had not been playing for money or he might have lost a considerable sum, and left the room.'


"It's no good saying "Ah!" my boy. I told you at the beginning that this story hadn't a happy ending."


Lord Ickenham paused. He seemed to be torn between the natural desire of a raconteur to make the most of his material and a humane urge to cut it short and put his nephew out of his suspense. The latter triumphed.

'Dashed bad form, of course, I know. But I shall look upon it as a loan, to be paid back at intervals - irregular intervals -each instalment accompanied by a posy of white violets.'


'I suppose my feelings towards her arc roughly those of Ernsworth towards his pig, and when I have the chance to ensure her happiness I am not going to allow any far-fetched scruples to stand in my way.'


'You don't get me mixed up in this sort of game,' said Pongo firmly. 'Dog Races, yes. Crashing the gate at castles, right. Burglary, no.'


Baxter regarded the offering suspiciously. His knowledge I of impostors told him that they seldom act from purely altru- I istic motives. Examine an impostor's act of kindness, and you I see something with a string attached to it.

'My dear fellow, something in your manner tells me you arc in pain.'


It began to be borne in upon Lord Ickenham that in planning to appeal to the Duke's better feelings he had omitted to take into his calculations the fact that he might not have any.


- "I had a few words with him before dinner, but I have not seen him since. He is probably amusing himself some-- where."

- "I'll amuse him, when I see him."


Of all the residents of Blandings Castle who had been doing a bit of intensive thinking during dinner - and there were several - Claude Pott was the one who had been thinking hardest.


Mr Pott smiled an ingratiating smile. It was only a sketchy one, for he had had to assemble it in a hurry, but such as it was he let the Duke have it.


And such was indeed the case. The interpretation which he had placed upon that sudden burst of melody was that it was Baxter who stood warbling without, and that this was his way of trying to attract his employer's attention. Why Baxter should sing outside his room, instead of walking straight in, was a problem which he found himself at the moment unable to solve.


'Hey!' he called, trying to combine the conflicting tasks of shouting and speaking in a cautious undertone

With a muffled oath, the Duke galloped in that direction like the man in the poem who followed the Gleam, and Mr Pott, always an excellent opportunist, slid in through the trench windows.

From behind the bathroom door, freezing him in his tracks, there came the sharp, piercing scream of a human being in distress.


Normally, Claude Pott was rather a reserved man. He lived in a world in which if you showed your feelings, you lost money. But there were some things which could break down his poise, and one of these was the discovery that he was closeted in a small bathroom with the largest pig he had ever encountered.

He was shaking in every limb. It is not easy for a man who weighs nearly two hundred pounds to quiver like an aspen, but he managed to do it.


If twenty pigs had bitten Claude Pott simultaneously in twenty different places, he could not have succumbed more completely.


It was with a sympathetic eye and a tut-tut-ing tongue that Lord Ickenham bent over the remains. There was nothing, he knew, to be done. Only Time, the great healer, could make Claude Pott once more the Claude Pott of happier days. He rose, wondering how best to dispose of the body, and as he did so a voice spoke behind him.


He paused, struggling with his feelings. It was plain that he could not trust himself to say what he really thought about it all.


The Empress of Blandings was a pig who took things as they came. Her motto, like Horace's, was nil admirari.


In the confined space the report sounded like the explosion of an arsenal, and it convinced the Empress, if she had needed to be convinced, that this was no place for a pig of settled habits.

The firing of guns in bedrooms is always a thing that tends to excite the interest of the owner of a country house, and it was in a spirit of lively curiosity that Lord Ernsworth had arrived upon the scene. An 'Eh, what?' was trembling on his lips as he entered.

- 'I thought the Duke had been murdered.'

- 'No such luck.'

- 'But why did he tell you to go into the cupboard?'

- 'Ah, there you take me into deep waters. He gave me no opportunity of enquiring.'

Lady Constance was looking cold and stern. Valerie Twistleton colder and sterner. Lord Bosham looked merely bewildered. He resembled his father and his brother Freddie in not being very strong in the head, and the tale to which he had been listening in the drawing-room had been of a nature not at all suited to the consumption of the weak-minded.


He was anxious for further light on a puzzling situation.

------------------'This is Miss Twisticton, Alaric.''0f course she's Miss Twistleton. I know that.' 'Ahl' said Lord Bosham. 'She is Miss Twistleton, is she? You identify her ?''0f course I identify her.''My mistake,' said Lord Bosham. I thought she might be Impostor D.''George, you're an idiot I' 'Right ho. Aunt Connie.' 'Bosham, you're a damned fool!''Right ho, Duke.' 'Chump!''Right ho. Miss Twistleton. It was just that it occurred to me as a passing thought that Miss Twistleton, though she said she was Miss Twistleton, might not be Miss Twistleton but simply pretending to be Miss Twistleton in order to extricate Impostor A from a nasty spot. But, of course, if you're all solid on the fact of Miss Twistleton really being Miss Twistleton, my theory falls to the ground. Sorry, Miss Twistleton.' 'George, will you please stop drivelling.'


Now that the point of Miss Twistleton's identity - the fact that she was a genuine Miss Twistleton and not a pseudo Miss Twistleton - had been settled, the Duke returned to the grievance which he had started to ventilate a few moments earlier.

Lord Bosham appeared wounded. He was not an abnormally sensitive young man, but this consensus of hostile feeling seemed to hurt him.

/Sam the Sudden/

'When you are at leisure, Samuel,' observed a voice behind him, 'I should be glad of a word with you in my office.'


Sam spoke apologetically, but he would have liked to point out that the blame for all these embarrassing occurrences was really Mr Pynsent's. If a man creates the impression that he is going to Philadelphia and then does not go, he has only himself to thank for any complications that may ensue. However, this was a technicality with which he did not bother his uncle.

'I have seen no evidence of it.'

'He has offered to employ you in his business.''But I don't know anything about newspaper work.'

'You don't know anything about anything,'


Lord Tilbury might be a bore, but there was no getting away from the fact that he had that gift without j which no one can amass a large fortune - that strange, almost uncanny gift for spotting the good man when he saw him.


Irritated messmates who had played poker with him had sometimes compared this eye to that of a perishing fish; but to the critic whose judgement was not biased and inflamed by recent pecuniary losses it would have been more suggestive of a parrot which has looked on life and found it full of disillusionment.

It piqued Sam a little that this untutored man should so readily have divined the facts.


Sam regarded his friend with a glance of concentrated loathing which would have embarrassed a more sensitive man.

There were times when, like Mr Braddock, she found the Lippett protectiveness a little cloying. She was a high-spirited girl and wanted to face the world with a defiant 'Who cares?'

'That is why, Mr President and gentlemen, though I am glad, delighted, pleased, happy and - er - overjoyed to see so many of you responding to the annual call of our dear old school, I am not surprised.'

From the days when their ancestresses had helped the menfolk of the tribe to make marauding Danes wish that they had stayed in Denmark, the female members of Claire Lippett's family had always been women of action. Having said 'Hi!' twice, their twentieth-century descendant seemed to consider that she had done all that could reasonably be expected of her in the way of words. With a graceful swing of her right arm, she sent the onion shooting upward. And such was the never-failing efficiency of this masterly girl that it whizzed in through the open window, from which, after a brief interval, there appeared, leaning out, the dress-shirted and white-tied upper portion of Mr Willoughby Braddock. He was rubbing his ear.


Mr Braddock gazed austerely into the depths. Except that the positions of the characters were inverted and the tone of the dialogue somewhat different, it might have been the big scene out of Romeo and Juliet.

'No, really?' he said; and felt, as he had so often felt before, that Kay was a girl in a million, and that if only the very idea of matrimony did not scare a fellow so confoundedly, a fellow might very well take a chance and see what would happen if he asked her to marry him.

When Kay reached the kitchen she found that her faithful follower had stepped out of the pages of Romeo and Juliet into those of Macbeth. She was bending over a cauldron, dropping things into it. The kitten, now comparatively dry and decustarded, eyed her with bright interest from a shelf on the dresser.

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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)