P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories


He scratched the concrete thoughtfully with his stick.

'It's a hard life out there,' he said.

'But it is a life.'

He looked at the strollers on the promenade. They seemed very far away--in another world.

'Look here,' he said, hoarsely, and stopped. 'May I sit down?' he asked, abruptly. 'I've got something to say, and I can't say it when I'm looking at you.'

He sat down, and fastened his gaze on a yacht that swayed at anchor against the cloudless sky.

'Look here,' he said. 'Will you marry me?'

He heard her turn quickly, and felt her eyes upon him. He went on doggedly.

'I know,' he said, 'we only met yesterday. You probably think I'm mad.'

'I don't think you're mad,' she said, quietly. 'I only think you're too quixotic. You're sorry for me and you are letting a kind impulse carry you away, as you did last night at the casino. It's like you.'

For the first time he turned towards her.

'I don't know what you suppose I am,' he said, 'but I'll tell you. I'm a clerk in an insurance office. I get a hundred a year and ten days' holiday. Did you take me for a millionaire? If I am, I'm only a tuppenny one. Somebody left me a thousand pounds a few weeks ago. That's how I come to be here. Now you know all about me. I don't know anything about you except that I shall never love anybody else. Marry me, and we'll go to Canada together. You say I've helped you out of your groove. Well, I've only one chance of getting out of mine, and that's through you. If you won't help me, I don't care if I get out of it or not. Will you pull me out?'

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