Wodehouse Quotations

There was no doubt about it. A curious happiness pervaded his entire being. He felt young and active. Everything was emphatically for the best in this best of all possible worlds. The sun was shining. Even the sound of someone in the street below whistling one of his old compositions, of which he had heartily sickened twelve months before, was pleasant to his ears, and this in spite of the fact that the unseen whistler only touched the key in odd spots and had a poor memory for tunes. George sprang lightly out of bed, and turned on the cold tap in the bathroom. While he lathered his face for its morning shave he beamed at himself in the mirror. It had come at last. The Real Thing. George had never been in love before. Not really in love. True, from the age of fifteen, he had been in varying degrees of intensity attracted sentimentally by the opposite sex. Indeed, at that period of life of which Mr Booth Tarkington has written so searchingly - the age of seventeen - he had been in love with practically every female he met and with dozens whom he had only seen in the distance; but ripening years had mellowed his taste and robbed him of that fine ' romantic catholicity. During the last five years women had found him more or less cold.

To George, of late years, it had begun to seem that the salient feature of woman as a sex was her disposition to kick. For five years he had been wandering in a world of women, many of them beautiful, all of them superficially attractive, who had left no other impress on his memory except the vigour and frequency with which they had kicked. Some had kicked about their musical numbers, some about their love-scenes; some had grumbled about their exit lines, others about the lines of their second-act frocks. They had kicked in a myriad differing ways - wrath-fully, sweetly, noisily, softly, smilingly, tearfully, pathetically, ;and patronizingly; but they had all kicked...

Even in the midst of his optimism George could not deny that these facts might reasonably be considered in the nature of obstacles.

Percy had been shaken to the core of his being. Physically, he was still stiff and sore from the plank bed. Mentally, he was a volcano.

The man had said things about his liver, kindly be-warned-in-time-and-pull-up-before-it-is-too-late things, which would have seemed to Percy indecently frank if spoken by his medical adviser in the privacy of the sick chamber.

'Couldn't get a word out of him. Oysters garrulous and tombs chatty in comparison. Absolutely.

Bluff was what was needed. Wide-eyed, innocent wonder...

Caesar, stabbed by Brutus, could scarcely have experienced a greater shock.

Lady Caroline felt as a bishop might feel if he suddenly discovered that some favourite curate had gone over to the worship of Mumbo Jumbo.

He began to speak rapidly, as one conscious of the necessity of saying his say while the saying was good.

Lord Marshmoreton could not permit this to pass in silence. He was a fair-minded man.

'What ho, what ho, what ho!' said Reggie breezily. He always believed in starting a conversation well, and putting people at their ease. 'What ho! What ho!'

'Hullo, Percy, dear,' she said, meeting her brother's accusing eye with the perfect composure that comes only from a thoroughly guilty conscience.

Maud's gaze was the gaze of a young child who has never even attempted to put anything over in all its little life.

Lady Caroline was no sportsman. She put one of those direct questions, capable of being answered only by 'Yes' or

'No', which ought not to be allowed in controversy. They arc the verbal equivalent of shooting a sitting bird.

Reggie Byng slid softly from the room. He felt that he would be happier elsewhere. He had been an acutely embarrassed spectator of this distressing scene, and had been passing the time by shuffling his feet, playing with his coat buttons, and perspiring.

Until then, as I have indicated, he roamed in a golden mist of dreamy meditation among the soothing by-ways of the village of Belpher. But after lunch on the second day it came upon him that all this sort of thing was pleasant but not practical. Action was what was needed. Action.

Try and amuse yourself somehow. Ask yourself a riddle. Tell yourself a few anecdotes.

The man in corduroys seemed to have come to the conclusion that Billie was the only thing on earth that mattered. This revelation of a kindred spirit had captured him completely.

George moved away. The conversation was becoming too technical for him, and he had an idea that he would not be missed.

She had interested herself in him some two months back in much the same spirit as the prisoner in his dungeon cell tames and pets the conventional mouse.

To one who saw his deep blue eyes and their sweet, pensive expression as they searched the middle distance he seemed like a young angel. How was the watcher to know that the thought behind that far-off gaze was simply a speculation as to whether the bird on the cedar tree was or was not within range of his catapult ? Certainly Maud had no such suspicion. She worked hopefully day by day to rouse Albert to an appreciation of the nobler things of life.

Not but what it was tough going. Even she admitted that. Albert's soul did not soar readily. It refused to leap from the earth.

'I wish you wouldn't say "Very good, m'lady". It's like -like -' She paused. She had been about to say that it was like a butler, but, she reflected regretfully, it was probably Albert's dearest ambition to be like a butler. 'It doesn't sound right. Just say "Yes".

This translation of a favourite romance into terms of the servants' hall chilled Maud like a cold shower. She recoiled from it.

It was discouraging. But Maud was a girl of pluck. You cannot leap into strange cabs in PiccadiUy unless you have pluck.

Albert took the book cautiously. He was getting a little fed up with all this sort of thing.

Maud had listened to this rendition of one of her most adored poems with much the same feeling which a composer with an over-sensitive ear would suffer on hearing his pet opus assassinated by a schoolgirl.

He was conscious of the need for a quiet cigarette. He was fond of Maud, but a man can't spend all his time with the women.

She did not consider George's feelings at all. He had offered to help her, and this was his job. The world is full of Georges whose task it is to hang about in the background and make themselves unobtrusively useful.

your true golfer is a man who, knowing that life is short and perfection hard to attain, neglects no opportunity of practising his chosen sport, allowing neither wind nor weather nor any external influence to keep him from it.

He had a dim recollection of having seen him before somewhere at some time or other, and Reggie had the pleasing disposition which caused him to rank anybody whom he had seen somewhere at some time or other as a bosom friend.

' A ripe scheme,' agreed Reggie.

George found himself unequal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation.

That he should love her after their one meeting was a different thing altogether. That was perfectly natural and in order. But that he should have had the incredible luck to win her affection. The thing struck him as grotesque and ridiculous.

'I say, you know,' he went on, feeling his way, ' you'll probably think it deuced rummy of me talking like this. Perfect stranger and what not. Don't even know each other's names.'

'Mine's Bevan, if that'll be any help.'

The whole world seemed different. Wings seemed to sprout from Reggie's shapely shoulders. The air was filled with soft music. Even the wallpaper seemed moderately attractive.

George, in his new-found happiness, found a pleasure in encouraging a less lucky mortal.

George gave himself up to glowing thoughts. For the first time in his life he seemed to be vividly aware of his own existence.

There was a tense silence. What Albert was thinking one cannot say. The thoughts of Youth are long, long thoughts. What George was thinking was that the late King Herod had been unjustly blamed for a policy which had been both statesmanlike and in the interests of the public. He was blaming mawkish sentimentality of the modern legal system which ranks the evisceration and secret burial of small boys as a crime.

Replacing the string, the knife, the wishbone, and the marbles, he ignited the match against the tightest part of his person and lit the cigarette.

Albert, who seemed on the evidence of a short but sufficient acquaintance, to be a lad who would not recognize the finer feelings if they were handed to him on a plate with watercress round them, promised to be invaluable. Something 'n his manner told George that the child was bursting with schemes for his benefit.

"Albert, you're one of the great thinkers of the age.

The floor was crowded with all that was best and noblest in the county; so that a half-brick, hurled at any given moment, must infallibly have spilt blue blood.

He did not want her to mistake the outpouring of a strong man's heart for the irresponsible ravings of a too hearty diner. It was one of Life's ironies. Here he was for the first time all keyed up to go right ahead, and he couldn't do it.

George, as I say, was deprived of speech. That any girl could possibly look so beautiful was enough to paralyse his faculties; but that this ethereal being straight from Fairyland could have stooped to love him - him - an earthy brute who wore sock-suspenders and drank coffee for breakfast . . . that was what robbed George of the power to articulate. He could do nothing but look at her.

George did not know who Mr Plummer was. He did not want to know. His only thought regarding Mr Plummer was a passionate realization of the superfluity of his existence. It is the presence on the globe of these Plummers that delays the coming of the Millennium.

So George meditated. First, he mused on Plummer. He thought some hard thoughts about Plummer. Then he brooded on the unkindness of a fortune which had granted him the opportunity of this meeting with Maud, only to snatch it away almost before it had begun. He wondered how long the late Lord Leonard had been permitted to talk on that occasion before he, too, had had to retire through these same windows. There was no doubt about one thing. Lovers who chose that room for their interviews seemed to have very little luck.

George was in hearty agreement with him, but he did not want to hear it. He wanted to get away. But how?

That Plummer was technically human - of all moments when a man may by all the laws of decency demand to be alone without an audience of his own sex, the chiefcst is the moment when he is asking a girl to marry him. George's was a sensitive nature, and he writhed at the thought of playing the eavesdropper at such a time.

From above came Albert's hoarse whisper. 'Look alive!'

This was precisely what George wanted to do for at least another fifty years or so.

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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)