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


And so, monsieur, it goes on, day by day, in this hotel that is a Zoological Garden. And every day I 'ate the animals the more. But especially Alexander.

We artists, monsieur, we are martyrs to our nerves. It became insupportable, this thing. Each day it became more insupportable. At night I dream of all the animals, one by one--the giraffe, the two dromedaries, the young lion, the alligator, and Alexander. Especially Alexander. You have 'eard of men who cannot endure the society of a cat--how they cry out and jump in the air if a cat is among those present. Hein? Your Lord Roberts? Precisely, monsieur. I have read so much. Listen, then. I am become by degrees almost like 'im. I do not cry out and jump in the air when I see the cat Alexander, but I grind my teeth and I 'ate 'im.

Yes, I am the sleeping volcano, and one morning, monsieur, I have suffered the eruption. It is like this. I shall tell you.

Not only at that time am I the martyr to nerves, but also to toothache. That morning I 'ave 'ad the toothache very bad. I 'ave been in pain the most terrible. I groan as I add up the figures in my book.

As I groan I 'ear a voice.

'Say good morning to M. Priaulx, Alexander.' Conceive my emotions, monsieur, when this fat, beastly cat is placed before me upon my desk!

It put the cover upon it. No, that is not the phrase. The lid. It put the lid upon it. All my smothered 'atred of the animal burst forth. I could no longer conceal my 'atred.

I rose. I was terrible. I seized 'im by the tail. I flung him--I did not know where. I did not care. Not then. Afterwards, yes, but not then.

Your Longfellow has a poem. 'I shot an arrow into the air. It fell to earth, I know not where.' And then he has found it. The arrow in the 'eart of a friend. Am I right? Also was that the tragedy with me. I flung the cat Alexander. My uncle, on whom I am dependent, is passing at the moment. He has received the cat in the middle of his face.

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