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

11. THE GOOD ANGEL (continued)

'Women, sir,' proceeded Keggs, 'young ladies--are peculiar. I have had, if I may say so, certain hopportunities of observing their ways. Miss Elsa reminds me in some respects of Lady Angelica Fendall, whom I had the honour of knowing when I was butler to her father, Lord Stockleigh. Her ladyship was hinclined to be romantic. She was fond of poetry, like Miss Elsa. She would sit by the hour, sir, listening to young Mr Knox reading Tennyson, which was no part of his duties, he being employed by his lordship to teach Lord Bertie Latin and Greek and what not. You may have noticed, sir, that young ladies is often took by Tennyson, hespecially in the summertime. Mr Barstowe was reading Tennyson to Miss Elsa in the 'all when I passed through just now. The Princess, if I am not mistaken.'

'I don't know what the thing was,' groaned Martin. 'She seemed to be enjoying it.'

'Lady Angelica was greatly addicted to The Princess. Young Mr Knox was reading portions of that poem to her when his lordship come upon them. Most rashly his lordship made a public hexpose and packed Mr Knox off next day. It was not my place to volunteer advice, but I could have told him what would happen. Two days later her ladyship slips away to London early in the morning, and they're married at a registry-office. That is why I say that you are going the wrong way to work with Miss Elsa, sir. With certain types of 'igh spirited young lady hopposition is useless. Now, when Mr Barstowe was reading to Miss Elsa on the occasion to which I 'ave alluded, you were sitting by, trying to engage her attention. It's not the way, sir. You should leave them alone together. Let her see so much of him, and nobody else but him, that she will grow tired of him. Fondness for poetry, sir, is very much like the whisky 'abit. You can't cure a man what has got that by hopposition. Now, if you will permit me to offer a word of advice, sir, I say, let Miss Elsa 'ave all the poetry she wants.'

Martin was conscious of one coherent feeling at the conclusion of this address, and that was one of amazed gratitude. A lesser man who had entered his room and begun to discuss his private affairs would have had reason to retire with some speed; but that Keggs should descend from his pedestal and interest himself in such lowly matters was a different thing altogether.

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