Wodehouse Quotations

'Oh, Sir Knight, I pray you have a care.'

'I will,' said Agravaine. And he had seldom said anything more fervently. The future looked about as bad as it could be. Any hopes he may have entertained that this dragon might turn out to be comparatively small and inoffensive were dissipated. This was plainly no debilitated wreck of a dragon, its growth stunted by cxcessive-fire-breathing. A body as thick as ten stout trees! He would not even have the melancholy satisfaction of giving the creature indigestion. For all the impression he was likely to make on that vast interior, he might as well be a salted almond.

;-) ;-) Even Agravaine, who was in the mood to like the whole family, if possible, for Yvonne's sake, could not help feeling that appearances were against this particular exhibit. He might have a heart of gold beneath the outward aspect of a confidence-trick expert whose hobby was dog-stealing, but there was no doubt that his exterior did not inspire a genial glow of confidence.
;-) The man certainly had an evasive manner and a smile which would have justified any jury in returning a verdict without leaving the box. On the other hand, there was Yvonnc. His reason revolted against the idea of that sweet girl being a party to any such conspiracy.
gs It was a peaceful life, but tending towards monotony, and Agravaine was soon in the frame of mind which welcomes any break in the daily round.
gs 'You don't understand,' said Agravaine. 'I don't want to seem to be saying anything that might be interpreted as in the y least derogatory to your father in any way whatever, but with­out prejudice, surely he is just a plain, ordinary brigand? I mean it's only a question of a ransom ? And I don't in the least object - '


Agravainc nodded. He began to sec daylight.

'My sister Yseult was very beautiful. After the first day Sir Sagramore forgot all about the giant, and seemed to want to do nothing else except have Yseult show him how to play cat's cradle. They were married two months later, and my father sent my sister Elainc to Camelot to ask for a knight to protect us against a wild unicorn.'

'And who bit?' asked Agravainc, deeply interested.

;-) She drooped towards him, and he gathered her into his arms. For a novice, he did it uncommonly well.
ct 'What I meant was this. Love is a wizard greater than Merlin. He plays odd tricks with the eyesight.'
/The Goal-Keeper And The Plutocrat/


Clarence looked at her blankly.





Clarence drew a deep breath.

'Work? Well, of course, mind you, fellows do work,' he went on, thoughtfully. ' I was lunching with a man at the Bachelor's only yesterday who swore he knew a fellow who had met a man whose cousin worked. But I don't see what I could do, don't you know.'

His father raised himself on the sofa.

'Haven't I given you the education of an English gentleman?'

'That's the difficulty,' said Clarence.


tt Honestly, it is but a dog's life, that of the short-story writer. I particularly wished at this point to introduce a description of Mr Rackstraw's country house and estate, featuring the private football ground with its fringe of noble trees. It would have served a double purpose, not only charming the lover of nature, but acting as a fine stimulus to the youth of the country, show­ing them the sort of home they would be able to buy some day if they worked hard and saved their money. But no. You shall have three guesses as to what was the cry. You give it up ? It was Brevity - brevity! Let us on.
met 'Young man,' said Mr Rackstraw, not without a touch of admiration, 'I admire check. But there is a limit. That limit you have passed so far that you'd need to look for it with a telescope.'


'Then, by George, you're just the son-in-law I want. You shall marry Isabel; and I'll take you into partnership in my business this very day. I've been looking tor a good able-bodied bandit like you for years. You make Captain Kidd look like a preliminary three-round bout. My boy, we'll be the greatest combination, you and I, that the City has ever seen. Shake hands.'

For a moment Clarence hesitated. Then his better nature prevailed, and he spoke.

'Mr Rackstraw,' he said, 'I cannot deceive you.'

'That won't matter,' said the enthusiastic old man. 'I bet you'll be able to deceive everybody else. I sec it in your eye. My boy, we'll be the greatest - ''My name is not Jones.'

'Nor is mine. What does that matter?'


  'I am a preposterous excrescence on the social cosmos,' said Clarence, eyeing him doubtfully.
/In Alcala/
  Rutherford Maxwell was an Englishman, and the younger on of an Englishman; and his lot was the lot of the younger ions all the world over. He was by profession one of the numerous employees of the New Asiatic Bank, which has its branches all over the world. It is a sound, trustworthy institu­tion, and steady-going relatives would assure Rutherford that he was lucky to have got a berth in it. Rutherford did not agree with them. However sound and trustworthy, it was not exactly romantic. Nor did it err on the side of over-lavishncss to those who served it. Rutherford's salary was small. So were his pros­pects - if he remained in the bank. At a very early date he had registered a vow that he would not. And the road that led out of it for him was the uphill road of literature.
  Despite the heat, he was cheerful. Things were beginning to run his way a little now.
te! The intellectual pressure of the conversation was beginning to be a little too much for Rutherford. Combined with the heat of the night it made his head swim.


'Gee, George, who'd have thought it! Fancy you being one of the high-brows I You ought to hang out a sign. You look just ordinary.'

'Thanks !'

'I mean as far as the grey matter goes. I didn't mean you were a bad looker. You're not. You've got nice eyes, George.'


Cool! 'I'm sorry!' he said. 'Slowness is our national failing, you know.'
  'Gee! You're the human sleuth all right, all right I It's a 'home-run every time when you get your deductive theories unlimbered.'


'Who are these Willies ?' she said, picking up a group.

'That is the football team of my old school. The lout with the sheepish smirk, holding the ball, is myself as I was before the cares of the world soured me.'


  'I can help you some too, I guess. I used to know Winfield V Knight. I can put you wise on lots of things about him that'll help you work up Willic's character so's it'll fit him like a glove.'
/French Leave/
QQ " It won't," she said. " Television sales never go through. The hellhounds of the system are all ghouls and sadists. It gives them a kick to dangle bags of gold before the eyes of the widow and the orphan and then shout 'April fool!' and snatch them away again. These facts are well known to students of the industry."


" Henry!" Jo leaped up, setting eggs rolling dangerously in all directions. "Do you think this means something?"

"It looks like it. He surely hasn't driven eighty-five miles just to pass the time of day. Come, Watson, the hunt is up," said Terry, making for the door. "Let's go and see what it's all about."


;-) "Those bees attack everyone except Kate. She cows them with the strength of her personality."


"I should call four thousand dollars a very nice nest-egg."

"Nest-egg!" said Jo, wincing.

"Yes, don't use expressions like that," said Terry. "We're sensitive."

Henry apologized.

"What I meant was that, invested in Government bonds, it would bring in--" "-a mere pittance. And pittances arc no good to Jo and me. I don't know what Kate will do with her share of the loot, but we are going to put ours into something marvellous and exciting."

"Then it can't be safe."


met "Henry was terrific. He intimidated the sons of Belial. He twisted their arms and rubbed his knuckles in their hair. They were as corn before his sickle."
Cool! qq


"Do you mean," she gasped, "that you propose to squander this money?"

"As far as I am concerned, yes. Every cent of it. I want one lovely big splash which I'll remember all my life, and then I'll come back to the hens and bees. Jo's idea is a bit more elaborate. She's hoping to marry a millionaire."

"What!" "Lots of them in those parts."

"Do you mean that she is deliberately going to try to marry for money?"

"I wouldn't put it like that. She's just going where money is. It's perfectly logical, really. Nine times out of ten you marry in your own set. Go around with plumbers, and you'll end by marrying a plumber. Mix with millionaires, and you're quite likely to marry a millionaire. That seems to be the way she's worked it out. She's going to France to give the millionaires a chance at her, and I'm going with her to keep her company."


cs! The summons found Old Nick staring moodily at tin-document in question, to which he had long taken a vivid dislike.
;-) tc Thrusting it into his pocket, he went down the corridor with the air of a good man persecuted. He had a soul above these petty things.
;-) gs!


"You wished to see me?" he said. "I wished," replied M. dc La Hourmcrie acidly, for­getting all about the dossier Quibolle in the artistic thrill of finding the neat retort, " but I never hoped to. Your being here is such a phenomenon, such an anomaly. It is, I think, two weeks since you last visited the Ministry." Old Nick blessed his soul.

Wow! "This being so," said M. de La Hourmerie, resuming, "you will perhaps not consider me unduly impetuous when I request an explanation. The Civil Service of France has its traditions, and one of them is that the personnel shall per- form their duties with a certain languor. We expect it. In a way we like it. In a vulgar rushing age it lends, as it were, a touch of the picturesque, a suggestion of old-world dignity. But there arc limits. Two weeks, M. le Marquis! Two weeks during which you have not set foot in the Administration."
;-) Old Nick tut-tutted sympathetically. He could quite see how the other must find this sort of thing annoying. He leaned back in his chair, trying to think what animal it was that M. de La Hourmerie reminded him of. He decided that he looked like a pug dog.


"Hoy!" said the voice.

Terry was a sweet-naturcd girl, but even sweet-naturcd girls can be ruffled. The shock had made her bite her tongue, and she spoke with a good deal of asperity.

"Who's that? You scared me stiff," she said, though fearing that the rebuke would be wasted on what was pre­sumably an untutored Frenchman.

The voice uttered a whoop of joy.

"Gosh! For Pete's sake! Are you American?"

"I am."

"Thank God! I thought I should have to explain the situation in French, and I only know about two words of French."

"What situation would that be?"

"I'm in a spot. It's like this ..." A sudden alarm seized the voice. "Hoy!" it said. It seemed to be its favourite word. "You aren't coming any closer, are you?"

"Not if you don't want me to."

"You see, I haven't any pants on."

"Any what?"

"Pants. Trousers."

Terry was conscious of a quick thrill. She was a girl who liked things to be interesting, and she found this human drama into which she had stumbled fraught with interest.

"Why not?" she asked.

The question, reasonable though it was, seemed to touch an exposed nerve in the voice. It barked in an over­wrought manner.

"I'll tell you why not. Because a bunch of drunks tore them off me. I was strolling along, minding my own busi­ness and not interfering with anyone, and they ganged up on me."

Terry remembered.

"Good heavens. I've met them. The trousers, I mean. In the Public Amusement Gardens. A man was dashing around waving them like tlie banner with the strange device Excelsior."

" I'd give him Excelsior, if I could catch him. I've been lurking on these damned dunes for hours, waiting for someone to come along."

"And here I am. What can I do for you?"

The voice seemed to reflect.

"It's difficult. I want to get back to my yacht."

"Oh, you have a yacht?"

" Lying in the harbour, and there are twenty-seven pairs of trousers of mine aboard her," said the voice in a tone of wild regret. "My name's Carpenter."


jgs! qq? Old Nick was in a mood of quiet happiness. The lights, the music and the comfortable bulky feeling of the fifteen thousand francs in his hip pocket had combined to give him the illusion of being back in the days of his prosperity, when lights, music and money had played so large a part in hit-life. One thing only, he had just been thinking, was needed to complete his sense of bien-fire, and that was the company of a charming member of the opposite sex. now that essential ingredient had been added.


Jeff sighed.

"Nick, you've been drinking. Let me see you walk across the room in a straight line."


gs! ;-)

Old Nick was all courteous interest.

"Up to, my dear?"

"That was what I said."

"I'm afraid I don't understand, my dear."

"Let me enlighten you," said Mrs. Pegler in a metallic voice. " I should hate to think that you think I think--"

"Start again."





With regard to this commissaire there were two schools of opinion in Roville. One-of which he was the sole rep­resentative-thought him a good fellow, a bon enfant, and in his dealings with the general public courteous and obliging almost to a fault. The other-more numerous- credited him with the disposition of a snapping turtle and manners which would have been considered brusque by Simon Legree or Captain Bligh of the Bounty. After five minutes of his society the caller, who was a meek little individual of the name of Floche, had joined the second group. The Commissaire had just observed that he had no time to waste listening to him, M. Floche, and that if he M. Floche, would be good enough to turn his head, he would see the door behind him.

"But I desire a permit to carry a pistol. You can givtt it to me, can you not?"


"Why not?"

"Because I don't want to," said Pierre Alexandra Boissonade with the air of a man on a quiz programme who! has answered an easy one.


wow! ;-) Actually, for she was speaking the painstaking French which she had learned at her- finishing school, she said 'Tay sayvoo', which is not quite so abrupt as 'Shut up'. But it was abrupt enough to stir M. Boissonade to his depths. Removing his gaze from the general direction of Heaven, he fixed on Mrs. Pegler the same awful stare with which he had quelled M. Floche.


"There has been a quarrel? A misunderstanding?"

"Of course not. Mavis hasn't brains enough to quarrd' with anybody. No, what has happened is that a girl has appeared on the scene and is doing her utmost to alienate Mr. Carpenter's affections."



"I'll give you five hundred dollars."

M. Boissonade gulped. His eyes rolled, and the ends of his moustache jerked. He was aware that he was being insulted, but his attitude toward insults was much the same as that of Pooh-Bah in The Mikado. He sat silent for a moment, working it out in francs.


M. Boissonade came out of his reverie. He had done his sum, and he liked the look of it.



"A rather extraordinary thing has happened. Your stepmother has invited you and me and Miss Trent and that cousin of hers to dine tonight at the Grenouilliere at Aumale. Amazing, is it not? I think she must have had some kind of a change of heart. Something has softened her."

"Heard an organ playing one of the songs she loved as a child, do you think?" "Very possibly."



"Work? Work? All this talk of work!" said Old Nid who looked on work as a form of nervousness. "It's ridiculous that you should be sitting in here scribbling on i lovely afternoon like this. You ought to be out in the sun shine with Miss Trent."


"Playing tennis with Miss Trent."


"Swimming with Miss Trent. Boating with Mifl Trent."


"Well, why aren't you?" said Old Nick, with the air of a counsel for the prosecution cornering a shifty witness.

Jeff sighed.



'It's no good talking, Nick. When it comes to marriage, I'm pure Potter. I'm not going to beg any girl to support me. I'm conscientious."

Old Nick winced. He knew, of course, that conscientious men existed, but it was not nice to have to hear aboi them.

"You have disappointed me, Jafe," he said, with dignity that became him well



"WHERE," inquired M. de La Hourmerie, for it was he, "is the dossier Quibolle? WHERE is the DOSSIER QUIBOLLE?"

It was at this moment that Kate came on to the terrace. The afternoon was warm, and she thought she would like a lemonade, or, as they called it in this deplorable country, a citronade. The first thing that met her eyes after she had taken a seat under one of the striped umbrellas was Old Nick, a few tables away, in an animated conversation with a small, stout man of pug-dog appearance whose head was swathed in bandages.


gs! Ever since her talk with Terry on the day when the Marquis de Maufringneuse and his son, the Comte d'Escrignon, had come into their lives, Kate had been a prey to uneasiness, apprehension and concern. An adept at reading between lines and smelling rats, she had found her suspicions awakened by Terry's change of mind in the "latter of shaking the sand of Roville off their shoes and going home. It was a change of mind that had given her firiously to think.
  The only trouble about inquiring into the financial status of adventurers is that it is so difficult to find a rehab] source of information. Ask the adventurers themsel how they are fixed for money, and they freeze you with, stare. Ask their friends, and the friends probably knc" nothing more than they have been told by the adventure' It was this problem, amounting to an impasse, that T harassing Kate as she sat sipping her citronade, and it as she wrestled with it, seeking for a solution, that observed Old Nick and the man with the bandaged head.
  She watched them with a growing feeling that he perhaps was the source of information of which she was sorely in need. It was plain to an observant eye that man with the bandages knew Old Nick well, but his whfl bearing and deportment made it clear that he did not lex on him as a friend. One had only to see the way he shook his fists and danced rudimentary dance steps to know that whoever at some future date he might nurse in his bosol it would not be the Marquis de Maufingneuse et Valerie-Moberanne.
ge Dorothy Dix or any good authority on etiquette would have told him, of course, that considering the names he had just been calling Old Nick, it was scarcely the done thing to help himself to the latter's wine, but M. de La Hourmerie was beyond the reach oi authorities on etiquette.
  The desire to confide overcame M. de La Hourmerie's cxaspcration. He had in no way modified his view that what Kate needed was to be skinned with a blunt knife,! and subsequently dipped in boiling oil, but it is an ex«l ccptionally determined man who, when his head is in a| cocoon of bandages, can resist the urge to blazon forth tol the world the events leading up to these bandages.


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Index from book Wodehouse on Wodehouse. | Article "About Stories" | Dedications1 | Dedications 2 | Prefaces1 | Prefaces2 | Prefaces3 | Prefaces4 | "Facts from Usborn" (forewords from Vintage Wodehouse)