Monday, February 27, 2012

Tackling multiple challenges at same time.

In the short-story “Strychnine in the soup” by P.G.Wodehouse, Cyril Mulliner is in love with a girl called Amelia and she loves him too. Unfortunately, her aunt-an explorer- disapproves of the match as she feels he is a weak and spineless pipsqueak. The groom she has in mind for her niece is Lester Mapledurham, a hunter. When Cyril musters up the courage to ask her for Amelia’s hand, the following conversation ensues.

“What, pray, would you do if faced by a charging rhinoceros, Mr Mulliner? enquired Lady Basset.

“I am not likely” said Cyril, “to move in the same social circles as charging rhinoceri.”

“Or take another simple case, such as happens every day. Suppose you are crossing a rude bridge over a stream in Equatorial Africa. You have been thinking of a hundred trifles and are in a reverie. From this you wake to discover that in the branches overhead a python is extending its fangs towards you. At the same time, you observe that at one end of the bridge is a crouching puma; at the other are two head-hunters- call them Pat and Mike- with poisoned blowpipes to their lips. Below, half hidden in the stream is an alligator. What would you do in such a case, Mr Mulliner?”

Cyril weighed the point.

“I should feel embarrassed,” he had to admit. “I shouldn’t know where to look”.

“Precisely. Such a situation would not, however, disturb Lester Mapledurham.”

“Lester Mapledurham!”

“The man who is to marry my daughter Amelia. He asked me for her hand shortly after dinner.”

Cyril reeled. The blow, falling so suddenly and unexpectedly, had made him feel boneless .And yet, he felt, he might have expected this. These explorers and big-game hunters stick together.

“In a situation as I have outlined, Lester Mapledurham would simply drop from the bridge, wait till the alligator made its rush, insert a stout stick between its jaws, and then hit it with a spear, being careful to avoid its lashing tail. He would then drift downstream and land at some safer spot. This is the type of man I wish for a son-in-law.”


Shruthi said...


“I am not likely” said Cyril, “to move in the same social circles as charging rhinoceri.”

This is the kind of statement that makes me think Wodehouse is a genius! :D

Shruthi said...

And of course I had to go read the story after this. Loved it! And I can totally identify with it!

Raj said...

Shruthi, I found it hilarious enough to take the trouble of typing out the passage! I try to spend at least 10 minutes a day with a PGW book.

Shruthi said...

I think that's very wise, and as necessary for health, as, say, a morning walk.