Villa for Sale by Sacha Guitry

Drama — Villa for Sale by Sacha Guitry

Maid: Won’t Madame be sorry?
Juliette: Not at all. Mind you, if someone had bought it on the very day I placed it for sale, then I might have felt sorry
because I would have wondered if I hadn’t been a fool to sell at all. But the sign has been hanging on the gate for over a month now and I am beginning to be afraid that the day I bought it was when I was the real fool.
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Juliette, an elderly lady, is the owner of a villa which is not exactly like a spacious sprawling house the name suggests. She wants to sell it off, and, therefore, has put up a ‘For Sale’ board on the gate. However, there has hardly been any inquiry for the property. This has left Juliette a bit sad and anxious. The maid wants to comfort her employer by asking if the dearth of prospective buyers was causing some worry for her.
Juliette does not quite like the suggestion because it seems to kindle a degree of anxiety in her mind. She has some contradictory thoughts in her mind. She tells the maid that if a buyer would have come to buy the house the day after the notice was put, and closed the deal by paying the full cost, she could have surmised that the villa was under-sold. However, with no buyer coming forward in the last one month, Juliette was worried that the property was over-priced, and she had made an error of judgment by buying it in the first place.
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Maid.. All the same …… hung it yourself, Madame
Juliette … I know, you see. ……………… lady would call?
Explanation …. The maid, always eager to pamper her mistress’s ego, told Juliette that she had held back hanging the board till the night fell and it was all dark. This was enough to conclude that Juliette was in n tearing hurry to sell the villa. Juliette said she put it up in the night’s darkness as passers-by can’t read the board at night, and, thus, she could delay the sale for a day and prolong her stay a bit longer. Juliette thought buyers would throng her villa the next day vying to outbid each other in an effort to buy the prized property. To the land lady’s disappointment, none came although seven days went by. She felt awkward while looking at the solitary board that seemed to yearn for buyers’ eyes. To add to her misery, her neighbours appeared to look at her with quizzical eyes. That made her feel somewhat diminished before them.
Now, it is a month since the board was hung. Yet, not a single buyer has approached Juliette. Her mind is getting restless. Now, she wants the sale to go through, somehow. She is ready to lower the price, if that could lead to an early closure.
Apparently, Juliette had bought the property for fifty thousand francs some years back. Now, she wants just one hundred thousand francs. Quite a bargain Juliette feels. She reckons that she can get up to two hundred thousand francs for the villa. But, it is a vain hope. Juliette is now ready to scale down her expectations, to get rid of the uncertainty. In the last one week, some four buyers had come to inquire, but they appeared to be non-serious ones. It has heightened Juliette’s angst. Lost in these thoughts, she asks the maid about the time a buyer coming through an estate agency is going to call.
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Maid: Between four and five, Madame.

Juliette: Then we must wait for her.
Maid: It was a nice little place for you to spend the weekends, Madame.
Juliette: Yes . . . but times are hard and business is as bad as it can be.
Maid: In that case, Madame, is it a good time to sell?
Juliette: No, perhaps not. But still. . . there are moments in life when it’s the right time to buy, but it’s never the right time to sell. For fifteen years everybody has had money at the same time and nobody has wanted to sell.
Now nobody has any money and nobody wants to buy. But still.. even so … it would be funny if I couldn’t manage to sell a place here, a stone’s throw from Joinville, the French Hollywood, when all I’m asking is a paltry hundred thousand!
Explanation …. The caller will call between four and five, informs the maid. Juliette has no other way but to wait. The maid wants to keep her mistress amused. She says a word or two in praise of the villa. Juliette smiles wryly, and says she was going through hard times.
The maid persists in her attempt to please her employer. She asks if it was the opportune time to sell the villa. Juliette slips into a contemplative mood. She says the buyers are rare because business has nose-dived. Yet, she feels the property so close to Joinville, the Hollywood equivalent of Hollywood, is a posh one. So, she should get buyers. After all, she was asking for just one hundred thousand francs, not a very great amount.

Maid: That reminds me, there is a favour I want to ask you, Madame,

Juliette: Yes, what is it, my girl?

Maid: Will you be kind enough to let me off between nine and noon tomorrow morning?

Juliette: From nine till noon?

Maid: They have asked me to play in a film at the Joinville Studio.

Juliette: You are going to act for the cinema?

Maid: Yes, Madame.

Juliette: What kind of part are you going to play?

Maid: A maid, Madame. They prefer the real article. They say maids are born; maids not made maids. They are giving me a hundred francs a morning for doing it.

Juliette: One hundred francs!

Maid: Yes, Madame. And as you only pay me four hundred a month, I can’t very well refuse, can I, Madame?

Juliette: A hundred francs! It’s unbelievable!

Maid: Will you permit me, Madame, to tell you something I’ve suddenly thought of?

Juliette: What?

Maid: They want a cook in the film as well. They asked me if I
knew of anybody suitable. You said just now, Madame, that times were hard.
… Would you like me to get you the engagement?

Juliette: What?

Maid: Every little helps, Madame. Especially, Madame, as you have such a funny face.

Juliette: Thank you.

Maid (taking no notice). They might take you on for eight days, Madame. That would mean eight hundred francs. It’s really money for nothing. You would only have to peel potatoes one minute and make an omlette the next, quite easy. I could show you how to do it, Madame.

Juliette: But how kind of you. … Thank God I’m not quite so hard up as that yet!

Maid: Oh, Madame, I hope you are not angry with me?

Juliette: Not in the least.

Maid: You see, Madame, film acting is rather looked up to round here.
Everybody wants to do it. Yesterday the butcher didn’t open his shop, he was being shot all the morning. Today, nobody could find the four policemen, they were taking part in Monsieur Milton’s fight scene in his new film. Nobody thinks about anything else round here now. You see, they pay so well. The manager is offering a thousand francs for a real beggar who has had nothing to eat for two days. Some people have all the luck! Think it over, Madame.

Explanation … Sensing her mistress’s friendly mood, the maid asks for a few hours break the next morning. She says she has got a chance to do a small role as a maid in a film being shot in the nearby Joinville Studio. She got the offer as the film people needed a real maid, not a made-up one, to do the role. They had offered her a very handsome payment of one hundred francs for this fleeting appearance.
Juliette is both amused and surprised to hear this.
The maid has more surprises up her sleeve for her mistress. She says the film crew are looking for someone to do the role of a cook. She dares to suggest that her mistress could do the role admirably as she has a nicely sculpted face befitting for the role. The job involves peeling potatoes and making omelets. She tries to entice Juliette to accept the role saying the role would last for eight days, and works out to quite a tidy sum. As final push, the maid says that acting in films is considered glamorous in the town. People in the locality were more than eager to do roles in films. She narrated how the butcher kept his shop closed to do the small role he got in the film. Even four of the local policemen had taken a day off to do a fight scene in Monsieur Milton’s fight scene. The film crew were offering a thousand francs to enlist the services of a real-life beggar with a truly famished look. Reeling off information like this, she tried to bring the lady around to doing the cook role.

Juliette: Thanks, I will.

Maid: If you would go and see them with your hair slicked back the way you do when you are dressing,

Madame, I am sure they would engage you right away. Because really, Madame, you look too comical!

Juliette: Thank you! (The bell rings.) I am going upstairs for a moment. If that is the lady, tell her I will not be long. It won’t do to give her the impression that
I am waiting for her.
Maid: Very good, Madame.

(Exit JULIETTE, as she runs off to open the front door.) Oh, if I could become a Greta Garbo! Why can’t I? Oh! (Voices heard off, a second later, the MAID returns showing in GASTON and JEANNE.)

Maid: If you will be kind enough to sit down, I will tell Madame you are here.

Jeanne: Thank you.

(Exit MAID)

Gaston: And they call that a garden! Why, it’s a yard with a patch of grass in
the middle.

Jeanne: But the inside of the house seems very nice, Gaston.

Gaston: Twenty-five yards of Cretonne and a dash of paint… you can get that
Anywhere.

Jeanne: That’s not fair. Wait until you’ve seen the rest of it.

Gaston: Why should I? I don’t want to see the kitchen to know that the garden is a myth and that the salon is impossible.

Jeanne: What’s the matter with it?

Gaston: Matter? Why, you can’t even call it a salon.

Jeanne: Perhaps there is another.

Gaston: Never mind the other. I’m talking about this one.

Jeanne: We could do something very original with it.

Gaston: Yes, make it an annex to the garden.

Jeanne: No, but a kind of study.

Gaston: A study? Good Lord! You’re not thinking of going in for studying
are you?

Jeanne: Don’t be silly!

You know perfectly well what a modern study is

Explanation .. Juliette consents to her maid’s proposition. The maid still can’t stop coaxing her mistress to do the cook’s role. She said Julette’s hair-do is just right for the role. She says the film people would need little time to decide on her participation.

The bell rings disrupting the duo’s conversation.

Juliette feels the visitor is one of the buyers who was due to come around that time. In order not to give an impression that she is no great hurry to sell her villa, decides to retreat to the first floor, so that the buyer is made to wait for a while. She rushes off fast instructing her maid accordingly. The prospect of acting in a film lifts her mood. For a while, she fancies herself as another Greta Garbo – the celebrated actress of the silver screen.

Soon the maid opens the front door and ushers in the visitors. It is not the buyer who was scheduled to come. Instead, it is husband-wife team. Gaston and his wife Jeanne have come to see property.

The maid leaves after making the couple seated comfortably. The husband and wife are alone.

Gaston talks very disapprovingly about the villa. Particularly, he refers to the tiny patch of grass at the centre of a small vacant area which has been described as a garden by the seller.

Jeanne has a different view. She argues that the house’s interiors are quite upscale.

That triggers another spate of derisive comments from her husband Gaston. He says the property is just ordinary.

Jeanne is not silenced. She pleads with Gaston to hold back his comments till he sees the whole house.

Gaston seems to bristle with anger. He continues to pass caustic comments about the property. He says the salon is too ordinary to be called a salon.

Jeanne says they could modify it to their needs, later.

Gaston grumbles that it is fit to be broken down and its space can be merged with the garden.

Jeanne says it could be renovated to be a study.

Gaston chides his wife for making such a suggestion. An argument is soon to erupt.

Gaston: No, I don’t.
Jeanne: Well. .. er.. . it’s a place where . .. where one gathers . ..

Gaston: Where one gathers what?

Jeanne: Don’t be aggravating, please! If you don’t want the house, tell me so at once and we’ll say no more about it.

Gaston: I told you before we crossed the road that I didn’t want it. As soon as you see a sign ‘Villa for Sale’, you have to go inside and be shown over
it.

Jeanne: But we are buying a villa, aren’t we?

Gaston: We are not.

Jeanne: What do you mean: ‘We are not’?
Then we’re not looking for a villa?

Gaston: Certainly not. It’s just an idea you’ve had stuck in your head for the past month.

Jeanne: But we’ve talked about nothing else….

Gaston: You mean you’ve talked about nothing else. I’ve never talked about it.
You see, you’ve talked about it so much that you thought that we are talking. … You haven’t even noticed that I’ve never
joined in the conversation. If you say that you are looking for a villa, then that’s different!

Jeanne: Well… at any rate . . . whether I’m looking for it or we’re looking for it, the one thing that matters anyway is that I’m looking for it for
us!

Gaston: It’s not for us . . . it’s for your parents. You are simply trying to make me buy a villa so that you can put your father and your mother in it. You see, I know you. If you got what you want, do you realize what would happen? We would spend the month of August in the villa, but your parents would take possession of it every year from the beginning of April until the end of September. What’s more they would bring the whole tribe of your sister’s children with them. No! I am very fond of your family, but not quite so fond as
that.

Jeanne: Then why have you been looking over villas for the past week?

Gaston: I have not been looking over them, you have, and it bores me.

Jeanne: Well…

Gaston: Well what?

Jeanne: Then stop being bored and buy one. That will finish it. We won’t talk about it any more.

Gaston: Exactly!

Jeanne: As far as that goes, what of it?
Suppose I do want to buy a villa for papa and mamma? What of it?
Explanation ….. Gaston and Jeanne get into some arguments about the house. Gaston is averse to the idea where as his wife is quite open to the idea of buying the property. Gaston finds fault with everything about the house. On the contrary, Jeanne likes it.
Jeanne’s nerves are frayed as her husband tends to bury the idea. It seems clear that Jeanne saw the ‘Villa for Sale’, and walked in to see it. Her husband had opposed the idea from the very outset.
Gaston accuses Jeanne of being fickle in deciding to buy a property, when both had discussed the idea only perfunctorily. He shoots down the idea almost contemptuously.
Jeanne is hurt and resentful at her husband’s aloofness. She reminds him that the property would be acquired for their joint use, not her alone.
Gaston, seething in anger at his wife’s obstinacy, hits back with some comments that are bound to annoy Jeanne more. He says the villa would be occupied by her parents for most parts of the year – from April to September. The parents could even bring their grandchildren along! In contrast, the two would live there only in August.
Jeanne is sore and indignant at the way Gaston shrugs off the suggestion that the decision to buy a house was a joint decision, not a whim of hers.
Gaston: My darling. I quite admit that you want to buy a villa for your father and mother. But please admit on your side that I don’t want to pay for it.
Jeanne: There’s my dowry.

Gaston: Your dowry! My poor child, we have spent that long ago.

Jeanne: But since then you have made a fortune.

Gaston: Quite so. I have, but you haven’t. Anyway, there’s no use discussing it. I will not buy a villa and that ends it.

Jeanne: Then it wasn’t worth while coming in.

Gaston: That’s exactly what I told you at the door.

Jeanne: In that case, let’s go.

Gaston: By all means.

Jeanne: What on earth will the lady think of us.

Gaston: I have never cared much about anybody’s
opinion. Come along.(He takes his hat and goes towards the door.
At this moment JULIETTE enters.)

Juliette: Good afternoon, Madame… Monsieur….

Jeanne: How do you do, Madame?

Gaston: Good day.

Juliette: Won’t you sit down? (They all three sit.) Is your first impression a good one?

Jeanne: Excellent.

Juliette: I am not in the least surprised. It is a most delightful little place. Its appearance is modest, but it has a charm of its own. I can tell by just looking at you that it would suit you admirably, as you suit it, if you will permit me to say so. Coming from me, it may surprise you to hear that you already appear to be at home. The choice of a frame is not so easy when you have such a
delightful pastel to place in it. (She naturally indicates JEANNE who is flattered.) The house possesses a great many advantages. Electricity, gas, water, telephone, and drainage. The bathroom is beautifully fitted and the roof was entirely repaired last year.

Jeanne: Oh, that is very important, isn’t it, darling?

Gaston: For whom?

Juliette: The garden is not very large . . . it’s not long and it’s not wide, but…

Gaston: But my word, it is high.

Explanation .. The argument gets nastier and nastier. Jeanne brazenly asserts that she wants to buy a house for her parents. Gaston demands to know if she could pay for the house.
Jeanne reminds her husband that she had bought a good amount of dowry that can be utilized for the purpose.
Gaston pooh-poohs the idea saying that the money had been spent long ago.
Jeanne reminds her husband that he had made enough money utilizing the dowry she had bought. Gaston says that he had put in enough hard work to make the money. He proceeds to end the acrimony by unequivocally declaring that he was not going to buy the property under any circumstances.
With the bitter argument lingering in their minds, they prepare to leave.
Jeanne feels it would be bad manners to leave the place abruptly without informing the land lady.
But, Gaston is determined to leave.
Just then Juliette comes in.
She exchanges pleasantries with the visitors and makes them seated. Then she proceeds to sing the praise of her property. As a clever salesman, she tries to subtly flatter Jeanne by indicating that a beautiful woman deserves a beautiful home. It had its desired effect on Jeanne. Then, she proceeds to describe how comfortable her villa is with all the amenities gas, water, telephone etc. available.
Jeanne can not hold back her fascination.
Gaston prepares to dampen his wife’s enthusiasm.
Juliette modestly admits that the garden is rather small in size.
Gaston is sarcastic.

Juliette: That’s not exactly what I meant. Your husband is very witty, Madame. As I was saying, the garden is not very large, but you see, it is surrounded by other gardens. . . .

Gaston: On the principle of people who like children and haven’t any can always go and live near a school.

Jeanne: Please don’t joke,

Gaston. What this lady says is perfectly right. Will you tell me, Madame, what price you are asking for the villa?

Juliette: Well, you see, I must admit, quite frankly, that I don’t want to sell it any more.

Gaston : (rising) Then there’s nothing further to be said about it.

Juliette: Please, I…

Jeanne: Let Madame finish, darling.

Juliette: Thank you. I was going to say that for exceptional people like you, I don’t mind giving it up. One arranges a house in accordance with one’s own tastes – if you understand what I mean – to suit oneself, as it were – so one would not like to think that ordinary people had come to live in it. But to you, I
can see with perfect assurance, I agree. Yes, I will sell it to you.

Jeanne: It’s extremely kind of you.

Gaston: Extremely. Yes … but …er… what’s the price, Madame?

Juliette: You will never believe it…

Gaston: I believe in God and so you see …

Juliette: Entirely furnished with all the fixtures, just as it is, with the exception of that one little picture signed by Corot. I don’t know if you have ever heard of that painter, have you?

Gaston: No, never.

Juliette: Neither have I. But I like the colour and I want to keep it, if you don’t mind. For the villa itself, just as it stands, two hundred and fifty thousand francs. I repeat, that I would much rather dispose of it at less than its value to
people like yourselves, than to give it up, even for more money, to someone
whom I didn’t like. The price must seem…

Gaston: Decidedly excessive….

Juliette: Oh, no!

Gaston: Oh, yes, Madame.

Juliette: Well, really, I must say I’m..

Explanation … Juliette tries to gloss over Gaston’s sarcasm about the small-sized garden in her villa. She tells Jeanne that her husband is quite witty. She adds that her tiny garden space is surrounded by larger gardens and that yields the visual delight to the inmates of her villa.

Gaston has more sarcasm ready to belittle Juliette’s villa. He says a childless couple can live beside a school and conveniently satisfy their need for children.

Jeanne obviously does not like her husband’s diatribe against the villa’s garden. She pulls up Gaston.

Gaston changes gear and asks Juliette about the price she expects for her villa.

Juliette starts her sales pitch a bit clumsily. She says she does not want to sale the house.

Without waiting for Juliette to complete her offer, Gaston assumes the sale is aborted.

Jeanne implores her husband to be patient.

Juliette begins to make her offer. She says she would sell her villa to people with fine tastes, and she finds Gaston and his wife to be the right choice as they appear to be suave and aristocratic.

Finally, Juliette comes up with her offer. She says the price is two hundred and fifty thousand francs. She will sell everything in the villa in ‘as-is-where-is’ condition except a painting by Corot that she would retain.

Gaston instantly says that the price is exorbitant.

Juliette sighs indignantly.

Gaston remains firm in his opinion.

Gaston: Quite so, life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

Juliette: You think it dear at two hundred and fifty thousand? Very well, I can’t be fairer than this: make me an offer.

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[Lines omitted]

……………………………………………………………

Jeanne: If you please, Madame.(Exit JULIETTE) Jeanne(to her husband): You’re not over-polite, are you?

Explanation …..Seeing Gaston’s staunch disapproval of the price, Juliette pleads with him to give his offer.

Gaston says his offer will be much less. Juliette pleads with him to make his offer anyway.
Jeanne, too, tells her husband to make an offer.
Gaston quotes sixty thousand francs.

Both Jeanne and Juliette sigh disappointedly at the low price quoted by Gaston.
Gaston stands his ground. He maintains that the villa does not command a higher price.

Juliette reiterates her stand, though a little diluted. She says she will never sell her villa for anything less than two hundred thousand francs – down from two hundred fifty thousand.

Gaston says, as the seller, she is within her rights to set her price.

Juliette makes a brazen sales pitch. She says, she could be generous enough to sell the villa to them (Gaston and Jeanne) for two hundred thousand francs.

Gaston withdraws from the deal gracefully and diplomatically.

Juliette prepares to bring down the curtain on the negotiation.

Gaston says ‘Good day’ before leaving.

On the spur of the moment, Jeanne intervenes and suggests to her husband to have a last look at the upper floor before bidding good bye.

Juliette seizes the opportunity with relish. She offers to take the couple to the upper floor.

Gaston again sulks, refusing to go upstairs. Juliette agrees to leave him behind and take Jeanne alone.
Juliette exits.

Jeanne pauses to chide her husband for being impolite.

Gaston: Oh, my darling! For Heaven’s sake, stop worrying me about this shanty. Go and examine the bathroom and come back quickly. (Exit JEANNE
following JULIETTE) Gaston (to himself): Two hundred thousand for a few yards of land . . . She must think I’m crazy. . . .(The door bell rings and, a
moment later, the MAID re-enters showing in Mrs. Al Smith)

Maid: If Madame would be kind enough to come in.

Mrs Al Smith: See here now, I tell you I’m in a hurry. How much do they want for this house?

Maid: I don’t know anything about it, Madame.

——————-Lines omitted——————————–

Gaston: I? … Oh, I’d love to!
Mrs Al Smith: Then what about it? I haven’t more than five minutes to spare.

Explanation … Gaston makes no attempt to hide his disgust about his wife’s persistence with the villa that he considers as appalling. He asks Jeanne to see the toilets to form her opinion.

Jeanne and Juliette both exit leaving Gaston alone. He reflects on the price of two hundred thousand francs mentioned by the landlady. He convinces himself that the price is too high to merit any consideration.

The door bell rings and the maid brings in one lady named Mrs. Al Smith. She appears to be a buyer who is in great haste. She asks the maid about the price. Naturally, the maid says she does not know.

Mrs. Al Smith is an American. She bears all the hallmarks of being so. She gruffly asks why the price has not been mentioned in the ‘Villa for Sale’ board. She appears to be in a tearing hurry to finalize the purchase as she had many other important jobs to do. Quite curtly she asks the maid to rush and ask the owner (Juliette) to come and talk to her.

Her eyes fall on Gaston whom she mistakes to be Juliette’s husband. Under the notion that he is the owner of the villa, she demands to know the price of the villa.

Not knowing how to respond, Gaston asks her to take her seat.
She says she wants to close the deal right away and does not have the time to sit and talk.

There is further confusion awaiting to come. When Mrs. Al Smith asks Gaston where his wife (wrongly thinking her to be the owner) was. Quite meekly, Gaston says she is upstairs.

Mrs. Al Smith, being in great haste, wants to conclude the deal with Gaston!

On being asked if Gaston would like to consult with his wife on this matter, he declines the suggestion.
Mrs. Al Smith is pleasantly (and so mistakenly) surprised to see Gaston, though French, taking decisions independently.

Mrs. Al Smith again stresses that she has just five minutes to close the deal.

Gaston: Sit down for three of them anyway. To begin with, this villa was built by my grandfather…

Mrs Al Smith: I don’t care a darn about your
grandfather!

Gaston: Neither do I. … But I must tell you that… er…

Mrs Al Smith: Listen, just tell me the price.

Gaston: Let me explain that…
———————————Lines omitted———————————-
Mrs Al Smith: What a pity you don’t try and copy us more.

Gaston: Copies are not always good. We could only imitate you and imitations are no better than parodies. We are so different. Think of it…. Europeans go to
America to earn money and Americans come to Europe to spend.

Explanation … Gaston requests Mrs. Al Smith to be seated for just three minutes. He says that the villa was built by his grandfather.

Mrs. Al Smith is rather boorish and impatient. She says she does not care for whoever built it. She has no patience to hear any blarney. She demands to know the price right away. She even refuses to see the villa. She says she wants to demolish it and build a new one. She just wants the price. She says she wants to be near Paramount, so it is the place, not the villa that interests her.

Mrs. Al Smith boastfully says that she is a big star.

Gaston is extraordinarily polite. He says that he will sell the villa, but would retain a painting that has been there since the time of his grandfather.

Mrs. Al Smith rubs the point that she is a rich forward-looking American, not tied to the past. There is some arrogance in her voice when she chides Gaston for not adopting American ways.

Gaston counters her politely saying Europeans can never be like Americans. He says Europeans go to America to make money where as Americans come to Europe to spend money.
Mrs Al Smith: Just the same, you ought to learn how to do business.

Gaston: We are learning now. We are practicing…

Mrs Al Smith: Well then, how much?

Gaston: The house! Let me see. … I should say three hundred thousand francs. . . . The same for everybody, you know. Even though you are an American, I wouldn’t dream of raising the price.
——————————————-Lines omitted————————–

Mrs. Al Smith: When are you leaving?

Gaston: Well…er … I don’t quite know . . . whenever you like.

Mrs. Al Smith: Make it tomorrow and my architect can come on Thursday.
Good-bye. I’m delighted.

Explanation ….Gaston says Europeans are gradually trying to adopt the American ways. That flatters Mrs. Smith’s ego, possibly.

Gaston quotes the price as three hundred thousand francs.

Mrs. Al Smith seems to agree to the price showing no intention to bargain.

Gaston is immensely satisfied with himself, and feels lucky. He feels grateful to the buyer.

Mrs. Al Smith proceeds to write the check.

Gaston pretends to be looking for the pen in the drawer (as if he owns and lives in the house).

Mrs. Al Smith jokingly suggests to Gaston to buy a pen with the money he is going to get.

She puts the date on the check – 24th – the same day.

She hands over the cheque to Gaston suggesting that he put the payee’s name himself.

She says that she lives in Ritz Hotel, Vendome. She says her lawyer is Mr. Who, Rue Cambon. He will be in touch with Gaston to complete the paper work. Her architect would come on Thursday to carry forward the process.

Gaston: Delighted to hear it, Madame. (She goes and he looks at the cheque.)
It’s a very good thing in business when everyone is delighted! (At that
moment, JEANNE and JULIETTE return)

Gaston: Well?

Jeanne: Well… of course …it’s very charming. …

Juliette: Of course, as I told you, it’s not a large place. I warned you. There are two large bedrooms and one small one.
————————————-Line omitted———————-

Jeanne: What on earth are you driving at?

Gaston: Just trying to please you, darling.

Juliette: Yes, two hundred thousand is my lowest. Cash, of course.

Explanation … With the three thousand francs cheque in hand, Gaston’s mood is buoyant. He sees of Mrs. Al Smith most courteously and chuckles that the deal, fortunately, has left both the buyer and seller happy.

Jean and Juliette reappear in the scene.

Gaston wants to know Jeanne’s opinion on the villa after her inspection.
Jeanne speaks eloquently about the house. It encourages Juliette to add her voice to the praise of her villa.

Unaware of what has transpired when they both were away, Jeanne sadly says it was time to go as her husband would never agree to the purchase.

Juliette formally readies herself to let Gaston and Jeanne go.
Just then, Gaston steps in. He evinces interest in the villa. As Juliette nonchalantly describes the rooms in her villa again, Gaston becomes incredibly receptive.

Gaston’s sudden change of heart takes both Jeanne and Juliette by surprise.

Now, Gaston talks as if he is a great admirer of the villa. He seems to forget all the deficiencies of the house. He looks at his wife and says her parents, in their dotage, deserve a good house to stay. Saying this, he looks at Juliette and asks her to confirm her price at two hundred thousand francs.

Gaston’s sudden burst of enthusiasm for the house confounds his wife.

Juliette loses no time to affirm that the price was indeed two hundred thousand francs.

Gaston: Well, that’s fixed. I won’t argue about it. (He takes out his cheque book.)

Juliette: But there are so many things to be discussed before…

Gaston: Not at all. Only one thing. As I am not arguing about the price, as I’m not bargaining with you . . . well, you must be nice to me, you must allow me to keep this little picture which has kept me company while you and my wife
went upstairs.

——————————–Lines omitted———————-

Juliette: Very well. I’ll show you the garden, on the way out.(Exit JULIETTE)

Jeanne: What on earth have you done?

Gaston: I? Made a hundred thousand francs and a Corot!

Jeanne: But how?

Gaston: I’ll tell you later.

CURTAIN

Example …. With unusual promptness, Gaston takes out his cheque book.

Juliette, surprised at Gaston’s readiness to close the deal and make the payment, mildly protests saying there are so many lose ends to be tied up.

Gaston makes his final plea. Reminding Juliette that he did not barghain at all on the price, he says he wants to retain the picture that he has begun to take so much fancy on.

Juliette agrees.

Deftly maintaining his composure to keep Juilette in the dark about the deal he has already cut with Mrs. Al Smith, Gaston magnanimously writes the cheque and hands it over to Juliette in exchange for her receipt.

Gaston hands over his card, and says his lawyer will contact Juliette to complete the formalities.

To Juliette, immensely relieved and happy at the close of the transaction, he makes the most crucial request in a very innocuous manner: she must vacate the villa the next morning. This baffles Juliette somewhat, but with the cheque in her hand, she could hardly complain.
Instead of the morning, they mutually agree for the evening for the formal handover of the property.

Juliette exits.

Jeanne is flummoxed at the fast pace of developments. She chides her husband for the indiscretion to close the deal at such break-neck haste.

Gaston has more surprise in store for her. He says he has become richer by one hundred thousand francs after the transaction.

A dazed Jeanne wants to know how.

Gaston promises to explain everything soon.

———————END———————–
Questions –answers to be posted soon.

 

 

—————-To be continued———————-

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Mrs. Packletide –Question and answerts,

  • a. Why did Mrs. Packletide want to kill a tiger?
Loona Bimberton, was a lady of lower social stature, was the bête noire of Mrs. Packletide. Ms. Bimberrton had killed a tiger, and managed to get a lot of media attention by publishing her photos with the trophy. So impressed was an Algerian pilot with her feat that he flew her 11 kilometers in his aircraft. Such social adulation received by Ms. Bimberton filled the mind of Mrs. Packletide with jealousy and an intense desire to outdo her rival. Killing a tiger was the least she could do to demonstrate her superiority.
(b) What does it tell you about her?
Mrs. Packletide was a mean, vainglorious woman. She was intolerant of other women doing anything to steal the limelight from her. Jealousy ran in her blood.
(c) What is the tone of the story writer?
The writer is obviously a person of great wit and humour. Weaving the plot and the characters with subtle combination of imagination, and satire, he has made the story bristle with hilarious undertones.
(d) Do you think she was successful in her mission?
Yes, but only with providential intervention. Mrs. Packletide killed the tiger, had her photograph taken standing beside the dead tiger, and grabbed the publicity she so desperately craved for. But, in reality, she had missed her target. The tiger’s demise came not due to her bullet, but due to its weak heart worn out by dotage.
(e) What do you think the story is all about?
The story, though written for light amusing reading, has an underlying message. It highlights the corrosive influence of jealousy, and frivolous pursuit of social attention.
4. Answer the following questions in your own words:
(a) Why did Mrs. Packletide wish to kill a tiger?
For Mrs. Packletide, Bimberton’s rise to fame was unacceptable. This jarring jealousy pushed her to kill a tiger and deflect the social attention back to her.
(b) What made her decide to give a party in Loona Bimberton’s honour? What did she intend to give Loona on her birthday?
Mrs. Packletide was looking for an appropriate occasion to turn the table on her perceived rival, Mrs. Bimberton. After killing a tiger, her desire for belittling Bamberton in public knew no bounds. Inviting her to dinner and then unveiling her trophy before the guests with Mrs. Bamberton watching was a brilliant idea. That would be sweet revenge, Mrs. Packletide thought. So, she decided to host the dinner.
(c) How was the tiger shooting arranged? What kind of a tiger was chosen for the purpose?
Mrs. Packletide was no great hunter. To minimize the danger, she asked the villagers to look around for a not so ferocious tiger. Fortunately for her, a weak old tiger was spotted. It was unable to hunt in the wild, and used to stray in to the village and create nuisance by attacking the domestic animals. It was decided to make this animal the prey. A platform was erected for the hunting party to be seated. A goat was procured and tethered to the tree as bait.
—————————————————–END——————–
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NCERT Class IX –The Bishop’s candlestick

The Bishop’s Candlesticks

It would be incomplete to read this soul-stirring drama without learning about Victor Hugo who wrote Les Miserables. The novel, written in mid-nineteenth century, portrays the poverty, insensitivity, and the economic disparity of the then French society. The book brought to public eye the extremely oppressive prison conditions in France and the brutalization of the inmates in the hands of officials who manned both the judiciary and the jails. They displayed shocking arbitrariness and an odious arrogance in handing down stringent sentences to errant inmates. When the inmates were finally released from the jail, they were reduced to beasts after long years of crippling torture and isolation. Bereft of all human feelings, and ostracized by the society, they failed to integrate into mainstream society. Broken in mind and robbed of their soul, they wandered around to eke out a living, often plunging again to the crime world.
Victor Hugo, a thinker, writer, and dramatist lived in the era of Napoleon. Fearing capture, jail and even death, he left France to spend some years in Brussels and Germany. The torment of his heart resulting from his knowledge of the infamous prisons of Paris never let him live peacefully. With his heart burdened with anguish and resentment, Hugo, through Les Miserables, drew the attention of the thinking elite of Europe to the inhuman treatment of its citizens inside the walls of the jails. This book took him nearly seven years to complete, but it shook the European conscience to its very foundation. It shattered many and sobered many others who, using their official authority, turned on the defenseless prisoners with savage vengeance.
Since its publication, Les Miserables has been translated to many languages, read by countless readers and has reformed countless human beings to be compassionate, forgiving and sensitive to fellow humans. It has been made into films by many eminent producers. Whatever may be the difference in nuance, the kernel remains the same. Les Miserables, in any form — book or film, radiates goodness, and its aura of godliness is unmistakable. It races to touch the soul of the reader, and leaves an indelible mark in it.
The Bishop’s Candlesticks is a dramatization of a part of this seminal book Les miserables. Possibly, this part marks a turning point of the story. The eminent playwright Norman Mckinnell (1870-1932) has done a commendable job in giving shape to the characters. Although he has deviated from the original text somewhat, the undertone of compassion, forgiveness and sympathy has remained loud and clear.
Characters .. The Bishop, The Convict, Bishop’s sister Persome, the domestic help Marie and the Sergeant of Gendarmes.
Short description of the characters ….
The Bishop … He is an unusual man. He has a heart that overflows with compassion and humility. Sights of suffering of any human being drive him to extreme limits of generosity. He invites ridicule from his sister, he remains undeterred.
Persome .. She oversees the Bishop’s household. She is just like any other woman, loving, caring, but has the mundane pettiness we get to see in most human beings. She disapproves of her brother’s benevolence as unwarranted and eccentric.
Marie .. As the young domestic help, she is obedient and too mindful of her duties. Perhaps because of her impoverished childhood, her intelligence is somewhat blighted. It makes her appear stupid at times.
Sergeant of Gendrames … The dutiful police officer who hunts down shady characters on the road. He is very respectful of the Bishop. Continue reading
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NCERT English Literature – Julius Cesar — Explanation

Julius Caesar 

1a. Difference between ‘killing’, ‘murder’ and ‘assassination’.

Killing …It means an act of causing death, especially deliberately.

a. The killing of large number of cows became necessary after Mad Cow Disease spread in the area.

b. Killing of Maoists will not be very effective to curb their menace. Some innovative political approach would perhaps be more fruitful.

Murder .. It means the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.

a. The murder of the lonely couple caused heightened anxiety in the entire hill town.

b. Rigging an election is nothing but murder of democracy.

Assassination …It means the murder of an important person for political or religious reasons.

a. The assassination of President Kennedy had plunged the entire America in grief. b. The ring of armed guards could not prevent the assassination of the prime minister.

2. List of assassinated leaders. Rajiv Gandhi, Benajeer Bhuto, Benigno Aquino of Philippines

3. Why they were assassinated .. Rajiv Gandhi .. He was shot in point blank range by a LTTE supporter. It was an act of revenge by the Sri Lanka-based insurgency organization for India’s armed intervention against it. Benajeer Bhutto. .. She was assassinated by un-known groups. Taliban was suspected to be involved in the act because she had taken firm stand against it. Benigno Aquino …

——————————————.————————-

Introductory note… Julius Caesar (100BC – 44BC)

Continue reading

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NCERT English literature Class X — Ozymandias

Revised version ..

Ozymandias  

by Percy Bysshe Shelley..

Introduction …The celebrated English poet P. B. Shelley once met an intrepid traveler who had gone around ancient Egypt. The traveler recounted his seeing two extra-ordinarily large trunkless legs made of stone which were, obviously, the remnants of a huge statue. The statue had crumbled into pieces and lay desolately in the desert sand. The head of the statue, a uniquely made one, lay half-buried in sand in disgrace. The face had the hallmarks of hubris, contemptuous disregard, and authority imprinted on it through the sculptor’s deft chisels. Even in its miserable state, it looked so royal and commanding. The statue belonged to the legendary ruler, King Ozymandias. The traveler’s vivid impression of the statue of King Ozymandias had left a profound impact on Shelley’s mind.

 What the poem says ….In a contemplative mood, Shelley reflects upon the helpless state of the remnants of Ozymandias’s statue.  Shelley gives a philosophical interpretation of his thoughts.

Ozymandias was an emperor of extra-ordinary valor, fame and wealth. Through his extra-ordinary feats on and off the battlefield, he had risen to great heights, virtually towering over his contemporaries. He was so intoxicated by his success and stature that he felt it necessary to etch his name in the sands of time. To satisfy such maniac obsession with greatness, he authorized an able sculptor to sculpt a giant statue of his figure. The statue would stand defiantly for all times to come proclaiming his greatness.

The sculptor did a fine job. In the face of the statue, the marks of superiority and authority of Ozymandias came out so real and alive. The twisted leaps, the sneer, and the disdainful authority with which he treated other subordinate members of the royalty were reflected in the masterly-sculpted face. He had ordered the following line to be inscribed on the base of the statue –

 ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: look upon my works, ye mighty and despair.’

 In utter arrogance and vaingloriousness, Ozymandias had assumed that his gigantic statue would stand triumphantly in its place forever drawing curious visitors from far and wide. They would stand before the towering statue and recall his greatness with wide-eyed gaze. Seeing the boastful inscription in the pedestal of Ozymandias’s statue, they would feel belittled and small. A feeling of humiliation and despair would engulf their minds as they stand comparing their own accomplishments, stature and prowess with those of Ozymandias’s.

 Ozymandias had tried to defy time by having a grand super statue made. Little did he know that it would be ravaged in due course. His quest for immortality through a gigantic statue had been reduced to ruins.

 Time devours everything nibbling it relentlessly. Nothing can  escape unscathed after a journey through time. Time’s destructive potential treated Ozymandias’s statue with the same ruthlessness with which it treats everything else in this world. The statue crumbled and lay un-honoured and un-sung in the vast desert lamenting its sad fate.

The point Shelley wants to emphasize is that in this transitory world, attempting to immortalize a mortal through majestic statues and edifices is bound to fail. Nothing can escape the jaws of ‘time’. Everything that rises must fall, one day to mingle with dust.

—————————————————-END—————————————

 

 

 
 
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Sonnet 55 — Not marble, not the gilded monuments — Meaning

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 55 .. No Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments …

Poem ..
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
Meaning .. Shakespeare starts with a very assertive statement. He feels his Sonnet is immune to the destructive potential of time. With passage of time, almost everything human beings create get devoured by time. Whole cities have been wiped out due to the inescapable wear and tear inflicted by the elements. At times, they fall prey to military conquests and are raged to the ground. Kings, emperors, and the rich and the powerful build tombs, memorials, graves, and monuments to immortalize themselves on earth long after they are gone. These majestic structures built with the best and the sturdiest materials defy destruction for some time – a few centuries, at best – but succumb to the ravenous Nature, slowly losing their luster and glamour. Stone by stone, brick by brick, they fall apart till they vanish into oblivion. So destruction of every man-made monument is written in every stone they are built with.
Shakespeare declares that his sonnets, with no destructible element in them, are undying. This is because they reach out to the hearts and minds of people. The lyrical attraction, and the emotion they convey impart them the power to defy time.
——————–.-
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
Meaning
Now, it emerges that Shakespeare wrote these lines as a paean for someone (referred to as ‘you’) whom he loved very intensely. The bard feels that the glory and goodness of his beloved friend as narrated in his lines will set the heart of the readers aglow with pleasure, delight and admiration.
As per the Speaker, the vibrancy of his sonnet will be in sharp contrast with the mellowed, dist-laden, weathered, and eroded monuments that are slowly being robbed of their grandeur with the passage of time.
————————–.———- Continue reading

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S. T. Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834)
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge [Part 1 and 2]

PART I
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May’st hear the merry din.’

He holds him with his skinny hand,
‘There was a ship,’ quoth he.
‘Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years’ child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

Explanation …. A mariner, beaten down by a long harrowing sea voyage, stops a wedding guest at the door to unburden his pent-up feelings about the eventful journey. The guest, who is there as an invitee, has little patience to lend his ears to the old man. But the latter’s flowing white beard and piercing eyes makes the guest stop to hear the stranger out.
As the old man proceeds with his account of his journey, the wedding-guest’s mind is swamped by a mix of emotions. First he is bemused, then he shows impatience. But, soon he is gripped by fascination and fear as the old man’s account of his voyage unravels a series of intriguing events. Continue reading

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Mirror by Sylvia Plath —Explanation

Mirror

by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful ‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Explanation … Here the speaker is the mirror. Through its voice, the speaker chooses to express her inner feelings. The opening line, ‘I am silver and exact,’ makes it abundantly clear. The mirror describes itself as an un-biased observer. It absorbs whatever image is incident on it, and reflects it very truly with no distortion or manipulation. It has no particular fondness or rancor towards anyone or any object. That enables it to reflect the images so faithfully and so correctly.
The mirror affirms that it has no feeling of vengeance or bias against anyone. Its commitment is only for truthful reflection of all that it sees. Such unwavering resolve for neutrality in observation can only be expected from God, not from any human being. So the mirror with its four corners feels that it is the eye of a ‘little’ God.
The mirror is hung on a wall. It stares at the pink, speckled wall opposite to it endlessly. It has no respite from looking at the same dreary wall. So, it is condemned to ‘meditate’ on the wall with no leeway to look elsewhere for a change. The image of the opposite wall has got embedded in the mirror’s heart. However, at times, the opposite wall’s image vanishes giving place to faces who peer into it. Also, the night’s darkness interrupts the gazing at the opposite wall. Continue reading

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NCERT English literature Class X — Virtually True

NCERT English literature Class X ..

Virtually True by Paul Stewart

1. The newspaper headline screamed ‘Sebastian Shultz’. It was an unusual name to make the headline.
2. The person reading the newspaper was a woman whose face behind the paper. She was an elderly woman who apparently breathed with a little difficulty.
3. The newspaper story was about Shultz, the 14-year-old London school lad, who had come out of his coma the day before. His miraculous turn around had baffled the doctors, who had assumed the near-dead medical condition to drag on and on indefinitely.
4. I was curious because I had met a boy of this name before. I leaned forward to read the story in the newspaper in the woman’s hands.
5. A motor accident six weeks ago had nearly killed Shultz. From the accident site, he was carried to the General Hospital battling for his life. The doctors did their best to revive the boy, but he defied all their efforts. As he lay unconscious in the hospital bed, the doctors had no way but to inform Shultz’s parents that their boy had slipped to coma.
6. In the press conference, Mrs. Shultz, the mother profusely appreciated the untiring efforts of the doctors to resuscitate her son, but, at the same time, she admitted that his condition could only revive through a miracle.
7. It now appeared that the miracle had happened. …..
8. As the woman’s hand moved to clear the view, I could see from the photo that the boy was none other than Sebastian. I was soon lost in thought trying to figure out how such a tragedy had come to pass.
9. I pondered the travails of Sebastian Shultz in the hospital bed where he had remained immobile for days clinging to the last thread of life. His struggle made me anguished.
10. I stared out of the train window and began to imagine the sequence of events that had led to the tragedy.
11. A month ago, I had spent nearly the whole of a Saturday afternoon going round the Computer Fair.
12. My father is a computer enthusiast. He has a Pentium computer that can paint, play music, create displays, and even help me in my homework.
13. The most exciting features it has are the games – Tornado, Mebabash, Black Belt, Kyerene’s Kastle etc. When I played, it made me feel I was in the midst of the real action.
14. My father had a strong fascination towards the many new ideas, products and gadgets the fast-changing world of computers was churning out in quick succession. To have a first-hand feel of all these, we had been to the Computer Fair. We bought an array of gadgets with mind-boggling capabilities. Among them were the virtual reality visor, gloves, and some inter-active psycho-drive games. The visor and the glove offered very astonishing visual effect besides manipulating our mental faculties.
15. We later realized some of them were ‘used’ items.
16. But, that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. No sooner had we got home, than I began to explore my high-tech toys. The first game I played was named, ‘Wildwest’. Continue reading

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NCERT English Class X — Frog and the Nightingale notes

NCERT English literature Class X

The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth

Once upon a time a frog
Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn
He croaked awn and awn and awn

Other creatures loathed his voice,
But, alas, they had no choice,
And the crass cacophony
Blared out from the sumac tree
At whose foot the frog each night
Minstrelled on till morning night

Meaning … A sunmac tree stood inside the Bingle Bog. A bog is a wet soft muddy ground. Such place is the favored habitat for frogs. Comfortably seated at the feet of the tree, the frog sang away to its heart’s content from evening till morning. Its loud and relentless croaking was heard for quite a distance. The high decibel and hoarseness of the frog’s din caused considerable nuisances for other creatures living nearby.

Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks.
Insults or complaints or bricks
Stilled the frogs determination
To display his heart’s elation.
But one night a nightingale
In the moonlight cold and pale
Perched upon the sumac tree
Casting forth her melody
Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog
And the whole admiring bog
Stared towards the sumac, rapt,

And, when she had ended, clapped,
Ducks had swum and herons waded
To her as she serenaded

Meaning … The creatures beseeched the frog to stop its noise that they found too disagreeable to put up with. But, the vainglorious frog paid no heed to them, and continued with its night-long rendering. Finally, the irate creatures could stand the nuisance anymore and began to use sticks and stones to subdue the irrepressible singer. Neither the neighbors’ taunts, nor their physical threats could deter the frog’s dusk-to-dawn guttural outpourings.
One night, a nightingale flew in from somewhere and perched on the branch of the sunmac tree. It began to sing in its natural melodious voice in the cold lonely night. Its voice left the frog flummoxed. All other inhabitants in the marshy land around began to listen to the new singer’s voice with great pleasure. At the end of her singing, she got a standing ovation from the audience listening in to it. Ducks swam and herons waded through the mud and slush to be nearer to the nightingale. She sang her way into the hearts of all the creatures in the bog. Continue reading

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