Wodehouse Quotations


I do not, of course, advocate anything in the shape of unwomanly behaviour, of which I am sure, my dear young lady, you are incapable; but I think that you should certainly try to pique your fiance, to test him.


'Farewell, Evelina, fairest of your sex. We shall meet again; so keep a stout heart.'


She gave a little cry of dismay. Secretly she was beginning to be somewhat afraid of Mr Shutc. He was showing signs of being about to step out of the role she had assigned to him and attempt something on a larger scale. His manner had that extra touch of warmth which makes all the difference.


/By Advice of Councel/



'A few days later we caught him with the goods, talking in the road to a girl in a pink dress.

'I couldn't but admit that Jerry had picked one right from the top of the basket. This wasn't one of them languishing sort wot sits about in cosy corners and reads story-books, and don't care what's happening in the home so long as they find out what became of the hero in his duel with the Grand Duke. She was a brown, slim, wiry-looking little thing. Yo know. Held her chin up and looked you up and down with eyes the colour of Scotch whisky, as much as to say, "Well, what about it?" You could tell without looking at her, just by the feel of the atmosphere when she was near, that she had as much snap and go in her as Jerry Moore hadn't, which was a good bit. I knew, just as sure as I was standing there on one leg, that this was the sort of girl who would have me and Gentleman out of that house about three seconds after the clergyman had tied the knot.



'That night, after we had went to bed, I said to Gentleman, "Gentleman," I says, "what's going to be done about this? We've got about as much chance, if Jerry marries that girl," I says, "as a couple of helpless chocolate creams at a school-girls' picnic." "If," says Gentleman. "He ain't married her yet. That is a girl of character, Jack. Trust me. Didn't she strike you as a girl who would like a man with a bit of devil in him, a man with some go in him, a you-bc-darncd kind of man? Docs Jerry fill the bill? He's more like a doormat with 'Welcome written on it, than anything else."


'Next day Jerry Moore's looking as if he'd only sixpence in the world and had swallowed it.


/Rough-Hew Them How We Will/


'Next day Jerry Moore's looking as if he'd only sixpence in the world and had swallowed it.


There are few more withering remarks than 'You I' spoken in a certain way. Jcannc spoke it in just that way.


For the first time Paul was glad that his arm was no longer round her waist. To do justice to the great work he needed ' both hands for purposes of gesticulation.


Today, business having ' been uncommonly good, he felt pleased with the world.


Paul was conscious of a dull longing for sympathy, a monstrous sense of oppression. Everything was going wrong. Surely Jcannc must be touched by his heroism ? But no.


Then thoughts came to him with a rush, leaping and dancing in his mind like imps in Hades. He had a curious sense of detachment. He seemed to be watching himself from a great distance.


This was the end. The little imps danced and leaped; and then one separated itself from the crowd, to grow bigger than the rest, to pirouette more energetically. He rose. His mind was made up. He would kill himself.


'Let George do it,' said the voice, in a marked American accent. 'I never murder on a Friday; it's unlucky. If it's not a rude question, which asylum arc you from? Halloa!'


/The Man Who Disliked cats/


 I turned to thank my preserver, whose table adjoined mine. He was a Frenchman, a melancholy-looking man. He had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life's gas-pipe with a lighted candle; of one whom the clenched fist of Fate has smitten beneath the temperamental third waistcoat-button.


We artists, monsieur, we are martyrs to our nerves.


I rose. I was terrible. I seized 'im by the tail. I flung him - I did not know where. I did not care. Not then. Afterwards, yes, but not then.


We are twin souls. She has thanked me again. She has scolded the parrot. She has smiled upon me as she retires to her room. It is enough. Nothing is said, but I am a man of sensibility and discernment, and I understand that she will not be offended if I seek to renew our friendship on a more suitable occasion.


But he has said, as we part, if I fail, his 'ands shall be washed of me. He cannot now forget that I am his dear brother's child; but if I fail to accomplish the conquest of the divine Miss Marion, he thinks he will be able to.


I am uneasy - but only yet vaguely, you will understand. I have not the foreboding that he is about to speak my death- ' sentence.


He paused. I suppose my face must have lost some of its alleged sympathy as he set forth this fiendish plot. Even Percy " the bluebottle seemed shocked. He had settled on the sugar-bowl, but at these words he rose in a marked manner and left the table.


'It did, monsieur. But what would you? It is necessary to break eggs in order to make an omelette. All is fair, you say, in love and war, and this was both. Moreover, you must understand, I do not dictate his movements to the parrot. He is free agent. I do but open the cage-door. Should he 'op out and proceed to the floor where is the cat, that is his affair. I shall continue, yes?'

'By sheer force of character that excellent bird 'ad won the bloodless victory. I drink to 'im !'


/Ruth in Exile/


The peculiar quality of M. Gandinot's extraordinary countenance was that it induced mirth - not mocking laughter, but a kind of smiling happiness.


As Ruth was wearing her hat and making for the door, and as she always left at this hour, a purist might have considered the question superfluous; but M. Gandinot was a man who seized every opportunity of practising his English.


A day came when Mr Warden observed with pain that his relative responded less nimbly to the touch. -And a little while later the other delivered his ultimatum. Mr Warden was to leave England, and to stay away from England, to behave as if England no longer existed on the map, and a small but sufficient allowance would be made to him. If he declined to do this, not another penny of the speaker's money would he receive. He could choose.


There was a certain fitness in her working there. Business transactions with that useful institution had always been conducted by her, it being Mr Warden's theory that Woman can extract in these crises just that extra franc or two which is denied to the mere male.


Mr Warden appeared to be in high spirits. He hummed a tune and twirled his cane. He chirruped frequently to Bill, the companion of his walks abroad, a wiry fox-terrier of a demeanour, like his master's, both Jaunty and slightly disreputable. An air of gaiety pervaded his bearing.

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It seemed probable that the engagement would last till the combatants had consumed each other, after the fashion of the Kilkenny cats, when there suddenly appeared from nowhere a young man in grey.

The world is divided into those who can stop dog-fights and those who cannot. The young man in grey belonged to the former class.



Ruth inclined her head, and was conscious of a pair of very penetrating brown eyes looking eagerly into hers in a manner which she thoroughly resented. She was not used to the other sex meeting her gaze and holding it as if confident of a friendly welcome. She made up her mind in that instant that this was a young man who required suppression.


She flushed. She was accustomed to being looked at admiringly, but about this particular look there was a subtle quality that distinguished it from the ordinary - something proprietorial.


Ruth did not reply. It was useless to bandy words with one who gave such clear evidence of being something out of the common run of word-bandicrs. No verbal attack could crush this extraordinary young man. She walked on, all silence and stony profile, uncomfortably conscious that her companion was in no way abashed by the former and was regarding the latter with that frank admiration which had made itself so obnoxious to her before, until they reached their destination. Mr Vincc, meanwhile, chatted cheerfully, and pointed out objects of interest by the wayside.


He was sorry not to have won, but his mind was too full of rosy dreams to permit of remorse.


He was rich. That was proved by the very handsome way in which he had behaved in the matter of a small loan when, looking in at the casino after parting from Ruth, he had found Mr Warden in sore straits for want of a little capital to back a brand-new system which he had conceived through closely observing the run of the play. He was also obviously attracted by Ruth. And, as he was remarkably presentable - indeed, quite an unusually good-looking young man - there seemed no reason why Ruth should not be equally attracted by him. The world looked good to Mr Warden as he fell asleep that night.

Ruth did not fall asleep so easily. The episode had disturbed her. A new clement had entered her life, and one that gave promise of producing strange by-products.

When, on the following evening, Ruth returned from the stroll on the Promenade which she always took after leaving the mont-de-piette with a feeling of irritation towards things in general, this feeling was not diminished by the sight of Mr Vincc, very much at his case, standing against the mantelpiece of the tiny parlour.


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He regarded her fondly.

'For a shy man, conscious that the girl he loves is inspecting^ him closely and making up her mind about him,' he proceeded, 'these unexpected meetings arc very trying ordeals. You must not form your judgement of me too hastily. You see me now, nervous, embarrassed, tongue-tied. But I am not always like this. Beneath this crust of diffidence there is sterling stuff, Miss Warden. People who know me have spoken of me as a little ray of sun - '


Ruth's ideas on the subject of Mr Vince as the days went by were chaotic. Though she told herself that she thoroughly objected to him, he had nevertheless begun to have an undeniable attraction for her. In what this attraction consisted she could not say. When she tried to analyse it, she came to the conclusion that it was due to the fact that he was the only element in her life that made for excitement. Since his advent the days had certainly passed more swiftly for her. The dcad - level of monotony had been broken. There was a certain fascination in exerting herself to suppress him, which increased daily as each attempt failed.

Mr Vince put this feeling into words for her. He had a maddening habit of discussing the progress of his courtship in the manner of an impartial lecturer.



'A little more,' said Mr Vince, 'and I shall begin to think you don't like it. Are you fond of chocolates?'


She went off to her work at the mont-de-piette with a glow of satisfaction which comes to those who exhibit an iron will in trying circumstances.

And at the mont-de-pUli there occurred a surprising incident.

Surprising incidents, as Mr Vincc would have said, arc the zero on the roulette-board of life. They pop up disturbingly when least expected, confusing the mind and altering preconceived opinions. And this was a very surprising incident indeed.


Poverty is an acid which reacts differently on differing natures. It had reduced Mr Eugene Warden's self-respect to a minimum. Ruth's it had reared up to an abnormal growth. Her pride had become a weed that ran riot in her soul, darkening it and choking finer emotions.



It had long been Mr Warden's opinion that, if his daughter had a fault, it was a tendency towards a quite unnecessary and highly inconvenient frankness. She had not that tact which he would have liked a daughter of his to possess. She would not evade, ignore, agree not to sec. She was at rimes painfully blunt. This happened now.

He was warming to his subject when she interrupted him with a question.


;-) gt!

Mr Warden was embarrassed. The subject of Mr Vince's opulence had not entered into his discourse. He had carefully avoided it. The fact that he was thinking of it and that Ruth knew that he was thinking of it, and that he knew that Ruth knew, had nothing to do with the case. The question was not in order, and it embarrassed him.


Mr Warden stood motionless. Many emotions raced through his mind, but chief among them the thought that this revelation had come at a very fortunate time. An exceedingly lucky . escape, he felt. He was aware, also, of a certain measure of indignation against this deceitful young man who had fraudulently imitated a gold-mine with what might have been disastrous results.


Bill, the fox-terrier, over whom Mr Vincc had happened to stumble, was the first to speak. Almost simultaneously Mr Warden joined in, and there was a striking similarity between the two voices, for Mr Warden, searching for words, emitted as a preliminary to them a sort of passionate yelp.


/Archibald's Benefit/


Archibald Mealing was oncof those golfers in whom desire outruns performance.


Whether it was that Archibald pressed too much or pressed too little, whether it was that his club deviated from the dotted line which joined the two points A and B in the illustrated plate of the man making the brassy shot in the Hints on Golf book, or whether it was that he was pursued by some malignant fate, I do not know. Archibald rather favoured the last theory.


It so happened that both had dined excellently, and were looking on the world with a sort of cosy benevolence. They were in the mood when men pat small boys on the head and ask them if they mean to be President when they grow up.


McCay was in no mood to subscribe to this stony-hearted view.


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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)