“I don’t like to think of ourselves as working against each other.”
“Why not?” [asked Joan.]
“Because I like you.”
“I like you, Mr. Marson; but we must not let sentiment interfere with business. You want Mr. Peters’ five thousand dollars. So do I.”
“I hate the thought of being the instrument to prevent you from getting the money.”
“You won’t be. I shall be the instrument to prevent you from getting it. I don’t like that thought, either; but one has got to face it.”
“It makes me feel mean.”
“That’s simply your old-fashioned masculine attitude toward the female, Mr. Marson. You look on woman as a weak creature, to be shielded and petted. We aren’t anything of the sort. We’re terrors! We’re as hard as nails. We’re awful creatures. You mustn’t let my sex interfere with your trying to get this reward. Think of me as though I were another man. We’re up against each other in a fair fight, and I don’t want any special privileges. If you don’t do your best from now onward I shall never forgive you. Do you understand?”
“I suppose so.”
“And we shall need to do our best. That little man with the glasses is on his guard. I was listening to you last night from behind the door. By the way, you shouldn’t have told me to run away and then have stayed yourself to be caught. That is an example of the sort of thing I mean. It was chivalry—not business.”
“I had a story ready to account for my being there. You had not.”
“And what a capital story it was! I shall borrow it for my own use. If I am caught I shall say I had to read Aline to sleep because she suffers from insomnia. And I shouldn’t wonder if she did—poor girl! She doesn’t get enough to eat. She is being starved—poor child! I heard one of the footmen say that she refused everything at dinner last night. And, though she vows it isn’t, my belief is that it’s all because she is afraid to make a stand against her old father. It’s a shame!”
“She is a weak creature, to be shielded and petted,” said Ashe solemnly.
P. G. Wodehouse, Something New ch. vi (1915).