Wodehouse Quotations

A country-bred girl, Kay liked men to be strong and of the open air; and Sam, whatever his moral defects, was a fine physical specimen. He looked fit and hard and sinewy.

The kitten, having subjected Sam to a long and critical scrutiny, decided that he promised little entertainment to an active-minded cat and galloped off in pursuit of a leaf.

Dogs are creatures of swiftly changing moods. Only a few hours, before, Amy, in the grip of a dreadful depression caused by leaving the public-house where she had spent her girlhood - for, in case the fact is of interest to anyone. Hash had bought her for five shillings from the proprietor of the Blue Anchor at Tulse Hill - had been making the night hideous with her lamentations. Like Niobe, she had mourned and would not be comforted. But now, to judge from her manner and a certain jauntiness in her walk, she had completely resigned herself to the life of exile. She scratched the turf and sniffed the shrubs with the air of a lady of property taking a stroll round her estates. And when Hash, who did not easily forgive, flung an egg at her out of the kitchen window so that it burst before her on the gravel, she ate the remains light-heartedly, as one who feels that the day is beginning well.


Amy came to the foot of the tree and looked up, perplexed. She could make nothing of this. It is not given to dogs any more than to men to see themselves as others see them, and it never occurred to her for an instant that there was in her appearance anything that might be alarming to a high-strung young cat. But a dog cannot have a Bloodhound-Airedale father and a Great Dane-Labrador mother without acquiring a certain physique. The kitten, peering down through the branches, congratulated itself on a narrow escape from death and climbed higher. And at this point Kay came out into the garden.


Hash, hurrying out on observing Amy leap the fence, found himself a witness of what practically amounted to a feast of reason and a flow of soul. That is to say, Amy was lying restfully on her back with her legs in the air, and Kay was thumping her chest.


'I shouldn't,' said Hash heavily. 'Only go breaking your neck. What we ought to do 'ere is to stand under the tree and chirrup.'Sam frowned.'You appear to me. Hash,' he said with some severity, 'to think that your mission in life is to chirrup. If you devoted half the time to work that you do to practising your chirruping, Mon Repos would be a better and a sweeter place.'

'The lady said splendid!' yelled Hash, in a voice strengthened by long practice in announcing dinner in the midst of hurricanes. He turned to Kay with a mournful shake of the head, his bearing that of the man who has tried to put a brave face on the matter, but feels the uselessness of affecting further optimism. 'It's now that's the dangerous part, miss,' he said. "The coming down, what I mean. I don't say the climbing up of one of these 'ere ellums is safe - not what you would call safe; but it's when you're coming down that the nasty accidents occur.'


He spoke with something of the smug self-satisfaction of the prophet whose predicted disasters come off as per schedule. Half-way down the tree, Sam, like Mr Turner, had found proof of the treachery of ellums. He had rested his weight on a branch which looked solid, felt solid and should have been solid, and it had snapped under him. For one breathless moment he seemed to be about to shoot down like Lucifer, then he snatched another bough and checked his fall.


She removed the agitated kitten from Sam's coat and put it on the grass, where it immediately made another spirited attempt to climb the tree. Foiled in this, it raced for the coal cellar and disappeared from the social life of San Rafael until late in the afternoon.

His affection and respect for Mr Matthew Wrenn increased to an almost overwhelming degree. He went back to Mon Repos feeling that it was the presence in the world of men like Matthew Wrenn that gave the lie to pessimism concerning the future of the human race.


Her brief acquaintance with him had taught her that Sam was a man of what might be called direct methods, but she had never expected that he would be quite so direct as this.

----------------'- kiss me?' said Kay. 'Well, you did.''That,' said Sam with dignity, 'was different. That was - er -well, in short, different. The fact remains that you need somebody to look after you, to protect you.''And you chivalrously offer to do it? I call that awfully nice of you, but - well, don't you think it's rather absurd?''I see nothing absurd in it at all.''How many times have you seen me in your life?' 'Thousands!''What? Oh, I was forgetting the photograph. But do photographs really count?''Yes.'



The fact that Sam was acquainted with Pilbeam was just one of those little accidents which so often upset the brilliantly conceived plans of great generals, and it left His Lordship at something of a loss.

To an extent, this failure had complicated matters; and yet there was a bright side. To have walked in and collected the late Edward Finglass's legacy without let or hindrance would have been agreeable, but. on the other hand, it would have involved sharing with Soapy and his bride; and Chimp was by nature one of those men who, when there is money about, instinctively dislike seeing even a portion of it get away from them. It seemed to him that a man of his admitted ingenuity might very well evolve some scheme by which the Molloy family could be successfully excluded from all participation in the treasure.

'If the Yard would gel rid of their antiquated system and give more scope to men of brains,' he said, not bitterly but with a touch of annoyance, 'they would not always have to be appealing to us to help them out.'

'Eh? Then what's this fellow done?' said Chimp, feeling at sea again.

'He can wash the dog,' said Sam, inspired. The question of the bathing of Amy was rapidly thrusting itself into the forefront of the domestic politics of Mon Repos.


Lord Tilbury sighed. He found this young man's eccentricities increasingly hard to bear. With that sad wistfulness which the Greeks called pathos and the Romans desiderium, he thought of the happy days, only a few weeks back, when he had been a peaceful, care-free man, ignorant of Sam's very existence. He had had his troubles then, no doubt; but how small and trivial they seemed now.

After all, he felt, it would be churlish of him, in the face of this almost supernatural slice of luck, to grumble at the one crumpled rose leaf.


Of course you can do it. You're behind the kitchen door, see? - and he comes in, see? - and you simly bust him one, see? A feller with one arm and no legs could do it. And say, if you want something to brace you up, think of all that money lying in the cistern, just waiting for us to come and dip for it!'


Of course, there were difficulties. It was all very well for Aunt Ysobel to recommend flirting with some other male member of your circle, but suppose your circle was so restricted that there was no available victim. From the standpoint of dashing male society. Burberry Road was at the moment passing through rather a lean time.


Tea did not thaw the guest. He ate a muffin, sampled the cake and drank deeply, but he still remained that strange, moody figure who rather reminded Claire of the old earl in "Hearts Aflame*. But then the old earl had had good reason for looking like a man who has drained the wine of life and is now unwillingly facing the lees, because he had driven his only daughter from his door, and, though mistaken in this view, supposed that she had died of consumption in Australia. (It was really another girl.) But why Hash should look like one who has drained the ^ four-ale of life and found a dead mouse at the bottom of the pewter, Claire did not know, and she quivered with a sense of iniury.

He spoke moodily, for he was feeling moody. There might be golden rewards at the end of this venture of his, but he perceived already that they would have to be earned.

It was growing dark now, but it was not too dark for Sam to see, if only sketchily, what was in progress in the garden of San Rafael. Shrouded though the whole scene was in an evening mist, he perceived a male figure. He also perceived the figure of Kay. The male figure appeared either to be giving Kay a lesson in jiu-jitsu or else embracing her against her will. From the sound of her voice, he put the latter construction on the affair, and it seemed to him that, in the inspired words of the typewriter, now was the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.

'I shall have a very poor opinion of the public spirit of the modem Englishman,' Sam assured her, 'if that loathsome leprous growth is permitted to infest London for long.'


'Not at all,' said Sam warmly. 'Far from it. I would call it evidence of the kind heart rather than the frivolous mind.'


Hash, full of the milk of human kindness, went out into the garden.


A considerable proportion of the pathos of life comes from the misunderstandings that arise between male and female through the inability of a man with an untrained voice to convey the emotions underlying his words.

:-) :-)

Amy was by nature a thoughtful dog. Most of her time, when she was not eating or sleeping, she spent in wandering about with wrinkled forehead, puzzling over the cosmos. But she could unbend. Like so many philosophers, she loved an occasional frolic, and this one appeared to be of exceptional promise.

Mr Braddock was in a mood of the serenest happiness. And if this seems strange, seeing that only recently he had had a proposal of marriage rejected, it should be explained that he had regretted that hasty proposal within two seconds of dropping the letter in the letter-box. And he had come to the conclusion that, much as he liked Kay, what had induced him to offer her his hand and heart had been the fact that he had had a good deal of champagne at dinner and that its after effects had consisted of a sort of wistful melancholy which had removed for that time his fundamental distaste for matrimony. He did not want matrimony; he wanted adventure. He had not yet entirely abandoned hope that some miracle might occur to remove Mrs Lippett from the scheme of things, and when that happened, he wished to be free.


'Something in that.' agreed Mr Braddock. 'Sound, very sound.'


The speaker was a gentleman in clerical dress who had appeared from nowhere and was standing at the constable's side. His voice caused Soapy a certain relief, for when, a moment before, a second dark figure had suddenly manifested itself on the top step, he had feared that the strain of the larger life was causing him to see double.

tt :-)

He caught the Rev. Aubrey's eye. He was looking as Sherlock Holmes might have looked had he discovered Doctor Watson stealing his watch.


Soapy said nothing. There is a time for words and a time for silence.


It was a nice problem, but all problems are capable of solution. Sam solved this one in a spasm of pure inspiration.


Kay swung round on Mr Wrenn, her eyes gleaming with the light that shines only in the eyes of girls who are entitled to \ say 'I told you so!' to elderly relatives. Mr Wrenn avoided her gaze. Mr Cornelius plucked at his beard and registered astonishment.

:-) ;-)

'Anything wrong?'

'It depends on what you call wrong.'


'The bloke proceeded to de-bag old Tilbury. Then shoving on the trousers, he started to leg it. Old Tilbury at this juncture appears to have said "Hi! What about me?" or words to that effect; upon which the bloke replied, "Use your own judgement !" and passed into the night. When I came in, old Tilbury was in the drawing-room, wearing the evening paper as a sort of kilt and not looking too dashed pleased with things in general.'


'Insane?' said Sam. He was wounded to the quick by the injustice of these harsh words. From first to last, he could think of no action of his that had not been inspired and guided, throughout by the dictates of pure reason. 'Who, me?'


'You did what?' Sam's stupor of astonishment had passed away, whirled to the four winds on a tempestuous rush of homicidal fury. 'You mean to tell me that you had the - the nerve -the insolence -' He gulped. Being a young man usually quick to express his rare bursts of anger in terms of action, he looked longingly at Lord Tilbury, regretting that the latter's age and physique disqualified him as a candidate for assault and battery.


A moment before, he had been deploring the inadequacy of mere words. But these were not mere words. They were verbal dynamite.'You so-and-so!' said Sam. 'You such-and-such!'

Sailors are toughened by early training and long usage to i bear themselves phlegmatically beneath abuse. Lord Tilbury had had no such advantages. He sprang backward as if he had been scalded by a sudden jet of boiling water.

Sam remained silent; and Lord Tilbury, expanding and beginning to realize that there is nothing unpleasant about a battle of words provided that the battling is done in the right quarter, proceeded.


Every Achilles has his heel. Of all the possible threats that Sam could have used, this was probably the only one to which Lord Tilbury, in his dangerously elevated and hostile frame of mind, would have paid heed. For one moment he stood swelling like a toy balloon, then he slid out and the door banged behind him.

It seemed to Sam that in some strange way his powers of breathing had become temporarily suspended. A curious dry feeling had invaded his throat. He could hear his heart thumping.

(!!!) l

----------'Would you like to know something, Sam?''What?''Well, if you'll listen, I'll explain exactly how I feel. Have you ever had a very exciting book taken away from you just when you were in the middle of it?'


(!!!) l

'It suddenly flashed upon me that there was absolutely nothing worthwhile in life except to be with you and watch you and wonder what perfectly mad thing you would be up to next'.


So stirred was his soul, so churned up by a whirlwind of powerful emotions, that he could have stepped straight into any hospital as a fever patient and no questions asked.


When he reflected that he had actually stood chatting face to face with a member of the criminal classes, interrupting him in the very act of burgling a house, and on top of that had found Lord Tilbury, a man who was on the committee of his I club, violently transformed into a sans-culotte, it seemed to him that life in the true meaning of the word had at last begun.


But it was something that Kay had said that had set the seal on the thrills of this great day. Quite casually she had mentioned that Mrs Lippett proposed, as soon as her daughter Claire was married to Hash Todhunter, to go and live with the young couple. It was as if somebody, strolling with stout Cortez, had jerked his thumb at a sheet of water shining through . the trees and observed nonchalantly, 'By the way, there's the Pacific.' It was this, even more than the other events of the afternoon, that had induced in Mr Braddock the strange, yeasty feeling of unreality which was causing him now to stand gulping on the gravel. For years he had felt that only a miracle could rid him of Mrs Lippett's limpet-like devotion, and now that miracle had happened.

In his present uplifted frame of mind a figure required to possess only the minimum of furtiveness to excite Willoughby Braddock's suspicions, and this one was well up in what might be called the Class A of furtiveness. It wavered and it crept. It hesitated and it slunk. And as the rays from the street lamp shone momentarily upon its face, Mr Braddock perceived that it was a drawn and anxious face, the face of one who nerves himself to desperate deeds.

:-) ex

The doors of suburban villas are not constructed to stand rough treatment. If they fit within an inch or two and do not fall down when the cat rubs against them, the architect, builder and surveyor shake hands and congratulate themselves on a good bit of work.

Whereas poor old Soapy, who had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wished p, to eat, would go through life eking out a precarious existence, selling fictitious oil stock to members of the public who were one degree more cloth-headed than himself. There was a moral to be drawn from this, felt Chimp, but his time was too valuable to permit him to stand there drawing it. He gripped his chisel and got to work.

;-) gc

Mr Braddock, peering in at the door with the caution of a Red Indian stalking a relative by marriage with a tomahawk, saw that the intruder had lifted a board and was groping in the cavity.

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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)