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


It took some little time to convince Mr Flower that he really meant it, but, realizing at last the grim truth, he drew a long breath and spoke.

'Ho!' he said. 'Afraid you can't spare it, can't you? A gentleman comes and asks you with tack and civility for a temp'y loan of about 'arf nothing, and all you do is to curse and swear at him. Do you know what I call you--you and your thousand quid? A tuppenny millionaire, that's what I call you. Keep your blooming money. That's all I ask. Keep it. Much good you'll get out of it. I know your sort. You'll never have any pleasure of it. Not you. You're the careful sort. You'll put it into Consols, you will, and draw your three-ha'pence a year. Money wasn't meant for your kind. It don't mean nothing to you. You ain't got the go in you to appreciate it. A vegetable--that's all you are. A blanky little vegetable. A blanky little gor-blimey vegetable. I seen turnips with more spirit in 'em that what you've got. And Brussels sprouts. Yes, and parsnips.'

It is difficult to walk away with dignity when a man with a hoarse voice and a watery eye is comparing you to your disadvantage with a parsnip, and George did not come anywhere near achieving the feat. But he extricated himself somehow, and went home brooding.

Mr Flower's remarks rankled particularly because it so happened that Consols were the identical investment on which he had decided. His Uncle Robert, with whom he lived as a paying guest, had strongly advocated them. Also they had suggested themselves to him independently.

But Harold Flower's words gave him pause. They made him think. For two weeks and some days he thought, flushing uncomfortably whenever he met that watery but contemptuous eye. And then came the day of his annual vacation, and with it inspiration. He sought out the messenger, whom till now he had carefully avoided.

'Er--Flower,' he said.

'Me lord?'

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