Apart from Ukridge, there are many characters who make me laugh hysterically throughout the novel.
The first character that emerges from my mind would be Dr. Derrick. This irascible professor is showing his emotion so conspicuously at all times, who reminds me of another character: Lord Worplesdon in Jeeves and Wooster. He appears driving his gears especially when seeing Ukridge and his fellow chap Garner. There is a scene which I think shows his annoyance and irritability towards these two scoundrels in its utmost effect, as he absolutely has no chance to be held at bay and let them explain and talk as long as they like in amusing disturbance:
“And so it came about that, having reached the Cob and spying in the distance the grey head of the professor bobbing about on the face of the waters, we dived in and swam rapidly towards him…
This he seemed to realise, for, as if to close the interview, he proceeded to make his way as quickly as he could to the shore. Unfortunately, his first dash brought him squarely up against Ukridge, who, not having expected the collision, clutched wildly at him and took him below the surface again. They came up a moment later on the worst terms.
“Are you trying to drown me, sir?” barked the professor.
“My dear old horse,” said Ukridge complainingly, “it’s Dr. Da little hard. You might look where you’re going.”
“You grappled with me!”
“You took me by surprise, laddie. Rid yourself of the impression that you’re playing water-polo.”
“You–you–you–” So far from cooling the professor, liberal doses of water seemed to make him more heated. “You impudent scoundrel!”
(Echoes of Lord Worplesdon’s “What…? What…? What…?”)
“Then may I consider,” I said, “that your objections are removed? I have your consent?”
He stamped angrily, and his bare foot came down on a small, sharp pebble. With a brief exclamation he seized his foot in one hand and hopped up the beach. While hopping, he delivered his ultimatum. Probably the only instance on record of a father adopting this attitude in dismissing a suitor.
“You may not!” he cried. “You may consider no such thing. My objections were never more absolute. You detain me in the water, sir, till I am blue, sir, blue with cold, in order to listen to the most preposterous and impudent nonsense I ever heard.”
Wodehouse in this novel really thought of a clever trick to to introduce Aunt Elizabeth, a lady who is exceptionally capable of character delineation. Although we couldn’t meet her in person, her appearance is substituted and reflected by a fowl , together with the end of her consenting the financially assistance to Mrs. Ukridge complete the look.
- “I had wandered into the paddock at the moment. I looked up. Coming towards me at her best pace was a small hen. I recognised her immediately. It was the disagreeable, sardonic-looking bird which Ukridge, on the strength of an alleged similarity of profile to his wife’s nearest relative, had christened Aunt Elizabeth. A Bolshevist hen, always at the bottom of any disturbance in the fowl-run, a bird which ate its head off daily at our expense and bit the hands which fed it by resolutely declining to lay a single egg.”
- “Rather! And I’ll tell you another thing, old horse. I scored heavily at the end of the visit. She’d got to the quoting-proverbs stage by that time. ‘Ah, my dear,’ she said to Millie. ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure.’ Millie stood up to her like a little brick. ‘I’m afraid that proverb doesn’t apply to me, Aunt Elizabeth,’ she said, ‘because I haven’t repented!’ What do you think of that, Laddie?”
- For the last week monotony had been the keynote of our commissariat. We had had cold chicken and eggs for breakfast, boiled chicken and eggs for lunch, and roast chicken and eggs for dinner. Meals became a nuisance, and Mrs. Beale complained bitterly that we did not give her a chance. She was a cook who would have graced an alderman’s house and served up noble dinners for gourmets, and here she was in this remote corner of the world ringing the changes on boiled chicken and roast chicken and boiled eggs and poached eggs.
- Phyllis would meet me in the village, on the Cob, on the links, and pass by as if I were the Invisible Man. And why? Because of the reptile, Hawk. The worm, Hawk. The dastard and varlet, Hawk.
A tall thin young man in a frock coat and silk hat from Whiteley’s
“Disgraceful, sir. Is it not disgraceful!” said a voice in my ear.
The young man from Whiteley’s stood beside me. He did not look happy. His forehead was damp. Somebody seemed to have stepped on his hat, and his coat was smeared with mould.