'Laddie,' said Ukridge, 'I need capital, old horse - need it sorely.'
He revolved his glistening silk hat, looked at it in a puzzled way, and
replaced it on his head. We had met by chance near the eastern end of
Piccadilly, and that breath-taking gorgeousness of his costume told me
that, since I had seen him last, there must have occurred between him and
his Aunt Julia one of those periodical reconciliations which were wont to
punctuate his hectic and disreputable career. For those who know Stanley
Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, that much-enduring man, are aware that he is the
nephew of Miss Julia Ukridge, the wealthy and popular novelist, and that
from time to time, when she can bring herself to forgive and let bygones be
bygones, he goes to dwell for a while in gilded servitude at her house in
'Yes, Corky, my boy, I want a bit of capital.'
'And want it quick. The truest saying in this world is that you can't
accumulate if you don't speculate. But how the deuce are you to start
speculating unless you accumulate a few quid to begin with?'
'Ah,' I said non-committally.
'Take my case,' proceeded Ukridge, running a large, beautifully gloved
finger round the inside of a spotless collar which appeared to fit a trifle
too snugly to the neck. 'I have an absolutely safe double for Kempton Park
on the fifteenth, and even a modest investment would bring me in several
hundred pounds. But bookies, blast them, require cash down in advance, so
where am I? Without capital, enterprise is strangled at birth.'
'Can't you get some from your aunt?'
'Not a cent. She is one of those women who simply do not disgorge. All her
surplus cash is devoted to adding to her collection of mouldy snuff-boxes.
When I look at those snuff-boxes and reflect that any single one of them,
judiciously put up the spout, would set my feet on the road to Fortune,
only my innate sense of honesty keeps me from pinching them.'
'You mean they're locked up?'
'It's hard, laddie. Very hard and bitter and ironical. She buys me suits.
She buys me hats. She buys me boots. She buys me spats. And, what is more,
insists on my wearing the damned things. With what result? Not only am I
infernally uncomfortable but my exterior creates a totally false impression
in the minds of any blokes I meet to whom I may happen to owe a bit of
money. When I go about looking as if I owned the Mint, it becomes difficult
to convince them that I am not in a position to pay them their beastly one
pound fourteen and eleven, or whatever it is. I tell you, laddie, the
strain has begun to weigh upon me to such an extent that the breaking-point
may arrive at any moment. Every day it is becoming more imperative that
I clear out and start life again upon my own. But this cannot be done
without cash. And that is why I look around me and say to myself: "How am I
to acquire a bit of capital?"'
I thought it best to observe at this point that my own circumstances were
extremely straitened. Ukridge received the information with a sad,
'I was not dreaming of biting your ear, old horse,' he said. 'What I
require is something far beyond your power to supply. Five pounds at least.
Or three, anyway. Of course, if, before we part, you think fit to hand over
a couple of bob or half-a-crown as a small temporary -'
He broke off with a start, and there came into his face the look of one who
has perceived snakes in his path. He gazed along the street; then, wheeling
round, hurried abruptly down Church Place.
'One of your creditors?' I asked.
'Girl with flags,' said Ukridge briefly. A peevish note crept into his
voice. 'This modern practice, laddie, of allowing females with trays of
flags and collecting-boxes to flood the Metropolis is developing into a
scourge. If it isn't Rose Day it's Daisy Day, and if it isn't Daisy Day
it's Pansy Day. And though now, thanks to a bit of quick thinking, we have
managed to escape without -'
At this moment a second flag-girl, emerging from Jermyn Street, held us up
with a brilliant smile, and we gave till it hurt - which, in Ukridge's
case, was almost immediately.
- Т. И. В.
- Н. М. Тагина
- Little Nell
- hi upsilon