Friday, April 11, 2008

P.G.Wodehouse – 3


From ‘A Gentleman of Leisure’

Jimmy regarded himself coolly, without moving from the chair in which he was seated. Spike, on the other hand, seemed embarrassed; he stood first on one leg and then on the other, as if he were testing the respective merits of each and would make a definite choice later on. (page 87-88)

Courage may be born of champagne, but rarely prudence. (page 159)

From ‘Ring for Jeeves’

The woman looked up, regarding him with large, dark, soulful eyes as if he had been something recently assembled from ectoplasm (page 1)

It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A.B.Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn’t (page 3-4)

Since interesting herself in psychical research, she had often wished to see a ghost, but one likes to pick one’s time and place for that sort of thing. One does not want specters muscling in when one is enjoying a refreshing gin and tonic (page 7)

A hollow groan escaped him, and he liked the sound of it and gave another. He was starting on a third, bringing it up from the soles of his feet, when a voice spoke at his side (page 40)

A woman needs a protector, and what better protector can she find than a man who thinks nothing of going into tall grass after a wounded lion? True, wounded lions do not enter largely into the ordinary married life, but it is nice for a wife to know that if one does happen to come along, she can leave it with every confidence to her husband to handle (page 54)

He had a voice that sounded as if he ate spinach with sand in it (page 57-58)

From ‘Much Obliged, Jeeves’

…..Is he a friend of yours?

‘I wouldn’t say exactly a friend. I came to know him slightly owing to being chased with him on to the roof of a sort of summerhouse by an angry swan. This drew us rather close together for the moment, but we never became really chummy’ (page 24)

My Aunt Agatha….is rather tall and thin and looks rather like a vulture in the Gobi desert, while Aunt Dahlia is short and solid, like the scrum half in the game of Rugby football……Aunt Agatha is cold and haughty, though presumably unbending a bit when conducting human sacrifices at the time of the full moon, as she is widely rumoured to do (page 51)

You look like the underside of a dead fish (page 124)

He left behind him a Bertram Wooster whom the dullest eye could have spotted as not being at the peak of his form. The prospect of being linked for life to a girl who would come down to breakfast and put her hands over my eyes and say ‘Guess who’ had given my morale a sickening wallop, reducing me to the level of one of those wee sleekit timorous cowering beasties Jeeves tells me the poet Burns used to write about (page 147)

‘Then I think I know the porringer to which you allude, sir,’ said Jeeves, his face lighting up as much as it ever lights up, he for reasons of his own preferring at all times to preserve the impassivity of a waxwork at Madame Tussaud’s. ‘It was featured in a Sotheby’s catalogue at which I happened to be glancing not long ago. Would it,’ he asked the ancestor (Aunt Dahlia), ‘be a silver-gilt porringer on a circular moulded foot, the lower part chased with acanthus foliage, with beaded scroll handles, the cover surmounted by a foliage on a rosette of swirling acanthus leaves, the stand of tazza form on circular detachable feet with acanthus border joined to a multifoil plate, the palin top with upcurved rim?’

He paused for a reply, but the ancestor did not speak immediately, her aspect that of one who has been run over by a municipal tram. (page 153)

I leaped like a rising trout, to the annoyance of Gus (the cat), who had gone to sleep on my solar plexus. Words failed me, but in due season I managed three.

‘Much obliged, Jeeves’

‘Not at all, sir.’ (page 192)

From ‘If I Were You’

“Don’t worry,” he said. “This was one of these special kisses…Lingering…”

“Ah?” said Lady Lydia, dreamily. “One of those?”

“Besides, I could tell from the look on Tony’s face.”


“Half rapturous and half apprehensive. Like you see on a feller’s face when he’s signing a long lease for premises that he knows he hasn’t inspected very carefully” (page 11)

Lady Lydia was still fluttering round the bride-to-be, as if hoping to raise the scene to a rather more emotional and enthusiastic level than it had touched at present (page 12)

From ‘Big Money’

Lord Biskerton had run into Berry Conway in Cornhill. It was three years since they had last met, and in his lordship’s manner, as he gazed across the table, there was something of the affectionate reproach a conscientious trainer of performing fleas might have shown towards one of his artists who had strayed from the fold (page 1)

He possessed twenty million dollars himself and loved every cent of them (page 13)

‘And about Lady Vera Mace?’

‘Do you know her?’

‘I met her once. She came down to the school one Saturday and stood us a feed. Coffee, doughnuts, raspberry vinegar, two kinds of jam, two kinds of cake, ice-cream, and sausages and mashed potatoes,’ said Berry, in whose memory the episode had never ceased to be green.

It was not so green as Mr.Frisby. His sensitive stomach had turned four powerful handsprings and come to rest, quivering. (page 23)

‘Tell me, how do the chances look of the relative landing this extraordinarily cushy job?’

‘Great, if she can apply early and get in ahead of the field.’

‘I’ll have her panting on the mat in half an hour.’ (page 24)

Mrs Wisdom was plump and comfortable. She gazed at Berry with stolid affection, like a cow inspecting a turnip. To her, he was still the infant he had been when they had first met. Her manner towards him was always that of wise Age assisting helpless Youth through a perplexing world. She omitted no word or act that might smooth the path for him and shield him against life’s myriad dangers (page 38-39)

‘Major Flood-Smith,’ said the Old Retainer, alluding to the retired warrior resident at Castlewood, next door but one, ‘was doing Swedish exercises in his garden early this morning.’


‘And the cat at Peacehaven had a sort of fit.’

Berry speculated absently on the mysteries of cause and effect. (page 39)

Like an enthusiastic but ill-advised sportsman in the jungles of India who has caught a tiger by the tail, he was feeling that he was alright so far, but that his next move would require a certain amount of careful thought. (page 69-70)

‘Peacehaven,’ said Mr.Cornelius, ‘has park-like grounds extending to upwards of an eighth of an acre.’

‘What happens if you get lost?’ asked the Biscuit, interested. ‘I suppose they send St Bernard dogs in after you.’ (page 83)

Nothing marred the quiet peace of Mulberry Grove. No policeman ever came near it. Tradesman’s boys, when they entered it on tricycles, hushed their whistling. And even stray dogs, looking in with the idea of having a bark at the swans, checked themselves with an apologetic cough on seeing where they were and backed out respectfully (page 84)

‘I say,’ he said, directing his companion’s attention to these phenomena, ‘there’s an extraordinarily ugly little devil in an eyeglass next door, glaring and waving his hands at one of the windows.’

‘That’s my uncle.’

‘Oh? I’m sorry.’

‘It isn’t your fault,’ said the girl kindly.

The Biscuit surveyed the human semaphore with interest (page 90)

In their nursery days he would have found vent for his emotion by hitting his sister on the side of the head or pulling her pigtail. Deprived of this means of solace by the spirit of noblesse oblige and the fact that the well-coiffured woman does not wear a pigtail, he kicked a chair. The leg came off, and he felt better. (page 94)

Mr.Robbins took up his top-hat, brushed it, eyed it expectantly for a moment, as if weighing the chances of a rabbit coming out of it, and then putting it back on the desk again – reverently…. (page 145)

J.B.Hoke cut off a generous piece of steak, dipped it in salt, smeared it with mustard, bathed it in Worcester Sauce, placed a portion of potato on it, added cabbage and horse-radish, and raised the complete edifice to his mouth. Only when it was safely inside did he reply, and then only briefly.

‘Yeah?’ he said. (page 200)

Mr.Robbins had two manners – both melancholy but each quite distinct. (page 232)

‘Do you want to see me about something?’ he asked.

‘Got gat,’ said Mr Hoke pleasantly.

‘Cat?’ said Berry

‘Gat,’ said Mr Hoke.

‘What cat?’ asked Berry, still unequal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation.

‘Gat,’ said Mr Hoke with an air of finality.

Berry tentatively approached the subject from another angle

‘Hat?’ he said

‘Gat,’ said Mr Hoke.

He frowned slightly, and his smile lost something of its effervescent bonhomie. This juggling with words was giving him a slight, but distinct headache. (page 240)

It is not easy for a girl who has broken her engagement with a man and who has called at his house to suggest that, her outlook on things having altered, that engagement shall be resumed, to know exactly how to start (page 245)

‘Godfrey,’ said Ann, ‘you got a letter from me, didnt you?’

‘Breaking the engagement? Rather.’

‘I came here,’ said Ann, ‘to tell you I was sorry I wrote it.’

The Biscuit was insufferably hearty.

‘Not at all. A very well-expressed letter. Thought so at the time and think so still. Full of good stuff.’ (page 248)

From ‘A Pelican At Blandings’

Lady Constance started irritably, like the Statue of Liberty stung by a mosquito which had wandered over from the Jersey marshes. (page 47)

Lacking her gentle supervision, he had lost all restraint springing from blonde to blonde with an assiduity which seemed to suggest that he intended to go on marrying them till the supply gave out. (page 53)

Wilbur attracted the attention of a waiter and ordered two more gin and tonics. Even if his heart is broken, the prudent man does not neglect the practical side of life. (page 58)

‘I shall go to him and say “Trout, you have three seconds to produce that reclining nude,” and if he raises the slightest objection, I shall twist his head off at the roots and make him swallow it,’ he said, and Gally agreed that nothing could be fairer than that. Trout, he said, could scarcely fail to applaud such a reasonable attitude. (page 90)

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