A Damsel in Distress, P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse

A Damsel in Distress

b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
Have you ever had a what-do-you-call it? What's the word I want? One of those things fellows get sometimes."
"Headaches?" hazarded George.
"No, no. Nothing like that. I don't mean anything you get—I mean something you get, if you know what I mean."
"Anonymous letter. That's what I was trying to say.
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
Absolutely not! That was the rummy part of it. He looked as like you as your twin brother."
"I haven't a twin brother."
"No, I know what you mean, but what I mean to say is he looked just like your twin brother would have looked if you had had a twin brother.
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
"If I might speak freely, sir . . .?" said Keggs.
"Sure. Shoot!"
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"I mean, yes. Go ahead!"
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
Exactly. When you visited the castle last Thursday, there was a young lady with you."
Not realizing that the subject had been changed, George was under the impression that the other had shifted his front and was about to attack him from another angle. He countered what seemed to him an insinuation stoutly.
"We merely happened to meet at the castle. She came there quite independently of me."
Lord Marshmoreton looked alarmed. "You didn't know her?" he said anxiously.
"Certainly I knew her. She is an old friend of mine. But if you are hinting . . ."
"Not at all," rejoined the earl, profoundly relieved. "Not at all. I ask merely because this young lady, with whom I had some conversation, was good enough to give me her name and address. She, too, happened to mistake me for a gardener."
"It's those corduroy trousers," murmured George in extenuation.
"I have unfortunately lost them."
"You can always get another pair."
"I say you can always get another pair of corduroy trousers."
"I have not lost my trousers. I have lost the young lady's name and address."
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
"You are causing a great deal of trouble and annoyance."
"So did Romeo."
"I said—So did Romeo."
"I don't know anything about Romeo."
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
"Albert, you're one of the great thinkers of the age. I could get into the castle as a waiter, and you could tell Lady Maud I was there, and we could arrange a meeting. Machiavelli couldn't have thought of anything smoother."
"Mac Who?"
"One of your ancestors. Great schemer in his day. But, one moment."
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
An orful row! Shoutin' and yellin' and cussin' all over the shop. About you and Lidy Maud."
"And you drank it in, eh?"
"I say, you listened?"
"Not 'arf I listened. Seeing I'd just drawn you in the sweepstike, of course, I listened—not 'arf!"
George did not follow him here.
"The sweepstike? What's a sweepstike?"
"Why, a thing you puts names in 'ats and draw 'em and the one that gets the winning name wins the money."
"Oh, you mean a sweepstake!"
"That's wot I said—a sweepstike."
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
"I can help yer. I know the ropes."
"And smoke them," said George, wincing.
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
gentle smile played over Maud's face.
"Love laughs at locksmiths," she murmured softly, and passed from the room.
"What did she say?" asked Lord Marshmoreton, interested. "Something about somebody laughing at a locksmith? I don't understand. Why should anyone laugh at locksmiths? Most respectable men. Had one up here only the day before yesterday, forcing open the drawer of my desk. Watched him do it. Most interesting. He smelt rather strongly of a damned bad brand of tobacco. Fellow must have a throat of leather to be able to smoke the stuff. But he didn't strike me as an object of derision. From first to last, I was never tempted to laugh once."
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
"Hullo, mater. Pretty fit and so forth? What did you want to see me about?"
"Well, Reggie, what is the news?"
"Eh? What? News? Didn't you get hold of a paper at breakfast? Nothing much in it. Tam Duggan beat Alec Fraser three up and two to play at Prestwick. I didn't notice anything else much. There's a new musical comedy at the Regal. Opened last night, and seems to be just like mother makes. The Morning Post gave it a topping notice. I must trickle up to town and see it some time this week."
Lady Caroline frowned. This slowness in the uptake, coming so soon after her brother's inattention, displeased her.
"No, no, no. I mean you and Maud have been talking to each other for quite a long time, and she seemed very interested in what you were saying. I hoped you might have some good news for me."
b6264815086has quoted6 months ago
But it's all over now, isn't it? I understood the dashed affair was all over."
"We hope so. But I should feel safer if Maud were engaged to
Reggie. I do think you might take the trouble to speak to Maud."
"Speak to her? I do speak to her." Lord Marshmoreton's brain moved slowly when he was pre-occupied with his roses. "We're on excellent terms."
Lady Caroline frowned impatiently. Hers was an alert, vigorous mind, bright and strong like a steel trap, and her brother's vagueness and growing habit of inattention irritated her.
"I mean to speak to her about becoming engaged to Reggie. You are her father. Surely you can at least try to persuade her."
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