Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday with Words: More from Wodehouse's Love Among the Chickens

Garnet entered the compartment, and stood at the door, looking out in order, after the friendly manner of the traveling Briton, to thwart an invasion of fellow-travelers.


 §


There are few things more restful than to watch some one else busy under a warm sun.


 §


It was only when I heard him call out to Hawk to be careful, when a movement on the part of that oarsman set the boat rocking, that I began to weave romances round him in which I myself figured.

But, once started, I progressed rapidly. I imagined a sudden upset. Professor struggling in water. Myself (heroically): “Courage! I’m coming!” A few rapid strokes. Saved! Sequel: A subdued professor, dripping salt water and tears of gratitude, urging me to become his son-in-law. That sort of thing happened in fiction. It was a shame that it should not happen in real life. In my hot youth I once had seven stories in seven weekly penny papers in the same month all dealing with a situation of the kind. Only the details differed. In “Not Really a Coward,” Vincent Devereux had rescued the earl’s daughter from a fire, whereas in “Hilda’s Hero” it was the peppery old father whom Tom Slingsby saved, singularly enough, from drowning. In other words, I, a very mediocre scribbler, had effected seven times in a single month what the powers of the universe could not manage once, even on the smallest scale.

I was a little annoyed with the powers of the universe.


§


The professor was in the best of tempers, and I worked strenuously to keep him so. My scheme had been so successful that its iniquity did not worry me. I have noticed that this is usually the case in matters of its kind. It is the bungled crime that brings remorse.


 §


I went into the garden. She was sitting under the cedar by the tennis lawn, reading. She looked up as I approached.

To walk any distance under observation is one of the most trying things I know. I advanced in bad order, hoping that my hands did not really look as big as they felt. The same remark applied to my feet. In emergencies of this kind a diffident man could very well dispense with extremities. I should have liked to be wheeled up in a bath chair.


 §


I felt, like the man in the fable, as if some one had played a mean trick on me, and substituted for my brain a side order of cauliflower.


 §


I often make Bob [the dog] the recipient of my confidences. He listens appreciatively and never interrupts. And he never has grievances of his own. If there is one person I dislike, it is the man who tries to air his grievances when I wish to air mine. 


§


But, I reflected, I ought not to be surprised. His whole career, as long as I had known him, had been dotted with little eccentricities of a type which an unfeeling world generally stigmatizes as shady. They were small things, it was true; but they ought to have warned me. We are most of us wise after the event. When the wind has blown we generally discover a multitude of straws which should have shown us which way it was blowing.


 §


“Now this,” I said to myself, “is rather interesting. Here in this one farm we have the only three known methods of dealing with duns. Beale is evidently an exponent of the violent method. Ukridge is an apostle of evasion. I shall try conciliation. I wonder which of us will be the most successful.”

Meanwhile, not to spoil Beale’s efforts by allowing him too little scope for experiment, I refrained from making my presence known, and continued to stand by the gate, an interested spectator.



4 comments :

  1. Sigh! That was a great book! Thanks for reminding me.

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  2. I have two books to finish this week and then I am going to read this!!

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  3. There's nobody like P.G. Wodehouse to make one smile! I think his strength is that even though he "sees through" humanity and exposes our weaknesses to ridicule, he still is tremendously fond of humanity and does it in a startlingly affectionate way.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I think you've put your finger on it -- he loves his characters. And he's not at all ironic, or cynical, is he?

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