A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream – Act 1 Scene 2

Summary.. A Mid Summer Night’s Dream Act 1 Scene 2

In the build-up to the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta, the air in Athens is festive. Citizens are agog in excitement, just the same way the lovers in the palace are. In another corner of Athens, away from Theseus’s palace, a few commoners have thought of a novel idea to contribute to the festivities by enacting a play befitting to the occasion. They have assembled at the house of Peter Quince to rehearse a play that would be staged as part of the grand celebrations.
Quince, a carpenter, has taken the initiative to make preparations for staging the play. He calls the folks to attention. The weaver Nick Bottom, a chatterbox by nature, interjects unnecessarily. He is a busybody and can’t restrain himself. He has an opinion and a suggestion to offer at every step.
Quince brief the armature actors about the play. The name of the play was to be: The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisb. The story is based on two lovers, who find their romance hindered by the animosity of their parents. The lovers manage to speak to each other at night through a hole in the wall.
In the play, a lion appears from nowhere and springs on Thisbe one night. Her attire gets shredded to pieces. But, she manages to flee. Pyramus discovers the tattered dress, and concludes that his beloved Thisbe has not survived the lion attack. Devastated and unable to bear the shock, he takes his own life. Later, Thisbe finds Pyramus’s blood-stained corpse, and decides to kill herself out of grief.
Quince starts to name the actors and their roles. their parts:
Bottom is to play Pyramus
Francis Flute, Thisbe
Robin Starveling, Thisbe’s mother
Tom Snout, Pyramus’s father
Quince himself, Thisbe’s father and
Snug, the Lion.
As Quince announces the roles the parts, Bottom starts his ill-conceived comments, claiming for himself the roles of Thisbe, and the Lion. He said he had a feminine voice that made him eminently suitable to be Thisbe. Quite laughably, he said roar like a lion and that qualifies him to play the Lion’s role. Quince pleads with him to forgo all these claims and settle for the role of Pyramus. ‘Quince was handsome, so he was cut out for being Pyramus,’ reasoned Quince.
Snug wondered if he had a voice as loud and coarse as that of a lion. He sulked to play the lion. Quince coaxed him to agree, as he didn’t have to utter a word because lion do not speak. Lions growl and roar, and do not speak. This assurance, however, had an unintended consequence. Those present there feared that a lion’s roar on stage could set off a panic among the elite ladies in the front rows. That would be disastrous as such ill-conceived plot could result in the stage artists being sent to the gallows as punishment. Fraying the nerves of the wealthy and the powerful was too risky, thought they.
Bottom has a solution for this. He says he could tone down his roar to make it sound like a melodious song. That would not frighten anyone. Quince persists with his suggestion that Baottom could only play Pyramus, not the Lion. The group of farmers end their consultation there agreeing to meet in the woods the following night. Rehearsal could start then.

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Princess September by Somerset Maugham.

Princess September

by W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham traveled widely in Southeast Asia and the Far East. Obviously, he was a keen observer of life, society, and culture of the people living in these lands. His mastely-written novels The Gentleman in the Parlor and On a Chinese Screen bear testimony to his keen personal involvement in the psyche and ethos of the people in whose midst he lived. This short absorbing story has the royalty of Siam (modern day Thailand) as the center stage. It is a story based on fantasy. This makes it so endearing for young minds.

 

Story .. The king of Siam had a fecund wife whom he adored greatly. She bore him a good number of children — nine daughters and four sons in all. The daughters were the first to be born. The king had quite an inventive mind in the matter of naming his offspring. The first two daughters were named ‘Night’ and ‘Day’ respectively.
Soon the queen gave birth to two more daughters. Giving a name to the third and fourth one put the king in a thoughtful mood, until he hit upon the idea of naming the four daughters by the names of the different seasons of the year. Accordingly, the first two daughters were renamed as Spring, and Autumn, and third and the fourth one got the name Winter and Summer respectively.
The queen became mother three times again, and three more daughters soon arrived one after another. The king had a task in hand: he had to name his children suitably so that their names were easy to remember and handle. So, he decided to name them according to the names of the different days of a week.
Again, the royal naming ceremony had to be held. All old names were abandoned, and the seven daughters were re- christened as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday etc.
The king’s respite from finding new names was brief, but. The queen gave birth to one more daughter – the eighth one. The new arrival set off another round of name-searching process. The king really had a methodical mind. He hit upon the idea of naming his eight daughters according to the names of the year. The queen watched the naming and re-naming of her nine daughters resignedly as she knew no one could change her husband’s mind.
Then arrived the ninth daughter. The king hit upon another idea. The daughters were named according to the names of the months in a year. The eldest got the name ‘January’, then ‘February’ and so on and so forth. The youngest, ninth in the row, got the name ‘September’.
That only leaves October, November and December, chuckled the queen. She had no idea as to what nomenclature the king would follow for the thirteenth child.
After September’s birth, the children to follow were all sons, who were named by alphabets.
The frequent change of names had caused some confusion too. The children didn’t like to be addressed by different names every other day. The eldest two had the highest number of name changes. They resented the practice. Their personalities were distorted. They felt bitter. The youngest child – September – grew up normally to become a sweet little girl of great charm and grace.
The king had another habit that was quite unusual. On his birthday, he gave away gifts to all those who came to felicitate him. Contrary to normal practice, he declined any offering from his subjects. Such generosity, however, led to a gradual depletion of the sovereign repository. The king gave away the precious gifts that the eminent citizens and the Mayors had given in earlier times. Time came when the royal treasury lay empty.
On one of his birthdays, not having anything to give, the king gave each of his nine daughters a nice green parrot kept inside a golden cage. The name of the daughter who possessed the bird was permanently written on the golden cages.
 The parrots were pretty, no doubt, but could utter only two sets of words – ‘God save the King’ and ‘Pretty Polly’.
One day September, the most vivacious of the nine princesses, suffered a heartbreak when she found her lovely parrot lying dead inside her cage. She sobbed inconsolably, as the Maids of Honour tried their best to pacify her. After so many futile efforts to calm the princess, they informed the Queen of the plight of September. The Queen, however, brushed aside the Princess’s show of grief as mere nonsense. She ordered the maids to lay her to sleep without supper.
The Maids of Honour lost no time to put September to sleep, and rushed to a party. Sleep eluded the grieving September as she continued to pine for the dead parrot. At this juncture, she found a small bird intruding to her chamber through the window. The princess was taken aback to see the visitor. She sat up on the bed with a sense of bewilderment and joy. To add to her merry, the little bird began to sing melodiously. The sweet voice of the little bird lifted the sad princess’s spirits. The bird sang in praise of the palace garden, the nearby lake and the goldfish in the waters. September nearly forgot all her woes, and was back to her normal jovial mood. She was so delighted that she forgot about the supper she had missed the earlier night.
The visitor and the host developed a rapport in no time. The little bird was lovingly accommodated in the princess’s chamber. It sang its beautiful hostess to sleep with her charming songs. When she got up the next morning, the tiny bird was still there at her bed side. This added to Princess September’s joy.

 

The Maids of Honour brought in breakfast for the sweet little bird, now the adorable companion of the princess. She made the bird eat rice from her palms and let it bathe in her saucer. She virtually fawned over the little bird pardoning her lack of table manners.
After finishing its breakfast, the little bird started afresh round of singing. Its sweet voice enthralled the Maids of Honour. Princess September was clearly elated and proud of the new possession.
She proceeded to present the singing bird to all her eight elder sisters. Sitting on her hostess’s finger, it went around the palace seeing all her eight sisters. The eldest, January, was visited first because of the precedence: then February, March till August. To the great astonishment of all, she sang a different song for each of the eight sisters. Her singing talent was unparalleled. Finally, the duo went to the King and Queen. The royal couple were really impressed.
In hindsight, the Queen claimed credit for sending her to bed without supper as the reprimand had brought such unexpected reward. The King joined in saying that the bird sang so much better than the parrots.
The Queen was tired of hearing the parrots sing ‘God Save the King’ with the same monotony as the other citizens did. The King, however, said the words did not tire him, as they conveyed a sense of enduring loyalty. But he frowned to hear Pretty Polly over and over again. The princesses, always adoring towards their parrots, protested saying the birds sang Pretty Polly in seven different languages. The King was not convinced.
Such disparaging remarks from their father left the daughters annoyed and parrots sad. Buffeted by frequent change of their names, the daughters had grown up as irritable and humourless morons. Quite contrary to the doom that had descended on the eight sisters, Princess September was cheerful and excited. With the little bird whirling round her, she gamboled all over the palace singing with great glee.
The eight sisters came to September and sat in a circle around her. Their mood was downcast. They told her that they had saved some money to buy her a new parrot to replace the dead one. September turned down the offer rather impolitely. She asserted that her new bird had a golden voice, and its company more than made up for the dead parrot.

 

The sisters took this as an affront. Possibly they had some sinister plans. All the sisters sniffed one by one (in order of age) to signal their disapproval of September’s love for the new singing bird. To tease her, the sisters said that the bird was not caged and had a free run of the palace. She could soon fly off leaving September high and dry.
They asked where the little bird was at that point of time. September replied that it had gone to its father-in-law’s house. The elder sisters were incredulous. They somehow wanted to drive a fear in September’s mind by making her believe that the bird could have fled away for good. Seeing September showing signs of worry, they advised her to encage the bird if and when he (the bird) returned. September thought otherwise. She loved to see the bird flying around inside the palace.
The eight sisters left with some disapproving gesture. September became worried too pondering the warning given by her sisters. To add to her worries, the bird didn’t return on time. Was he (the bird) trapped in snares or devoured by hawks? Or, did he forget her ? Had he gone over to another host deserting her for good? All these thoughts tormented her.
When she was immersed in these foreboding thoughts, she suddenly thought a ‘tweet-tweet’ sound. The sweet little bird had sneaked in quietly. September’s joy knew no bounds.
To the inquisitive princess the bird said how he had begged leave of his father-in-law’s party and rushed back to her. His concern for September was palpable in his face.
Ominous thoughts crossed September’s mind. What if the bird had stayed back, she pondered. She decided to pre-empt the bird’s abandoning her by putting her firmly inside the cage.
The encaged bird was as much surprised as he was shocked. He found it hard to accept his captivity. Sadly for him, his indiscretion in talking had brought about her incarceration at the hands of the princes he loved so much.
September took the excuse of the predator palace cats, and assured the bird that his safety was uppermost in her mind in encaging him.

 

The little bird was not reconciled to her loss of freedom. Naively, she blamed the palace cats. There was no way September could assuage the miffed bird. He begged to be freed in the morning.
He ate his supper, began to sing, but faltered in the middle. She stopped, retired to sleep. The princess went to sleep for the night. Early next morning, the bird called out loudly to the princess to wake up. He wanted to be out of the cage to savour the dew and the freshness of the morning air. But, September didn’t relent. She advised the bird to remain inside the cage. It was a beautifully crafted golden cage—a nice place to be in, the princess pleaded.
A lot of conversation followed between the two. The princess stood her ground, while the bird kept pleading for freedom relentlessly.
The bird was too dumbstruck to sing again. She remained silent as grief overtook her.
The princess finally ceded some ground. She took the little bird, still inside her cage, for a walk around the palace garden, always assuring him about her un-diminished love for him. But, the bird’s mood remained gloomy and pensive. It made the princess bewildered and sad too.
September turned to the other eight sisters for counsel. All of them advised her to be firm and not let the bird go out of the cage. They were quite terse in their warning.

 

September was in a quandary. Her eight elder sisters were arrayed against the tiny bird, but, for the hapless bird’s cry for freedom rang relentlessly in her ears. Finally, she vainly hoped that time would help the bird to get used to the cage. It was just wishful thinking.
The next morning was devastating for her. When she cried out ‘Good morning’ to greet the bird, a deafening silence met her. The precious little singing bird lay motionless and drained in the golden cage. When September coaxed him to cheer up and start singing, the bird replied that the confines of the cage had robbed him of all zeal to sing. Devoid of the freedom to fly unfettered, she could not sing, she maintained.
The bird’s lifeless voice moved the princess. She opened the cage door and brought the bird out to keep it on the window’s sill.
The bird reaffirmed her love for the princess promising to return to sing the most melodious songs for her. No matter how far he went, he would return to sing for the princess, swore the bird. Saying this, the bird vanished into the blue sky. The princess, beset with emotions, eyed her darling little bird till he went out of sight.
The parting was heart-rending for September, but she bore it with grace and fortitude. After all, her dear little one had got his deliverance from the cage where he was slowing rotting to death. In the bird’s happiness lay her happiness, she reasoned.
The sisters got to know of the bird’s departure. They came in force to taunt September.
The loyal bird, however, returned to prove the eight sisters wrong and redeem his loyalty to September. He lovingly sat on her shoulder, ate from her hand, and sang one of the most melodious songs. September’s heart overflew with love for the bird.
September kept her chamber’s window open to let the bird come and go unhindered, as it pleased.
With time, September grew up to be a paragon of beauty. Her youth was exuberant. At the right age, she was married to the King of Cambodia. On the contrary, the eight sisters became uglier and uglier with time. They had never slept with their windows open. They were given away to the councilors with a pound of tea and a Siamese cat. Their wicked minds drove them to such disgrace.

 

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Model questions and answers..
  1. Why the names of the king’s offspring were changed so often?

Ans .. The Queen gave birth to children with astounding periodicity. As a result, the number of royal offspring rose  quickly. Starting with ‘Night’ and ‘Day’, the names went to seasons to names of the week’s days to names of the months.

  1. What effect it had on the children?

Ans ..The children were puzzled, vexed, and quite unsettled at having to assume a different name every few months. They felt like losing their identity.

  1. What unusual practice the king followed on her birthday?

Ans .. On his birthdays, the king refused to accept any gift from those who came to felicitate him. Instead, he gave away gifts very generously to his loving subjects.

  1. What effect it had on his stock of royal possessions?

Ans .. Quite predictably, the royal treasury was depleted of resources, leading to a very embarrassing situation for the palace.

  1. What the daughters got as their birthday gifts?

The nine daughters could get nothing gorgeous as the treasury was empty. The king, however, gave each of them a nice parrot encaged in a golden cage.

  1. What effect the parrot’s death had on September?

Ans .. September’s parrot had endeared itself to her greatly. However, the parrot died leaving September devastated with grief. She wept inconsolably for hours and hours, unable to come to terms with the loss of her pet.

  1. What effect the singing bird had on September?

The singing bird arrived miraculously from nowhere. It befriended the princess in no time and entertained her with its golden voice. Its enchanting singing enthralled  everyone in the palace. September’s melancholy disappeared, and she became cheerful again.

8. What freedom the singing bird enjoyed initially?

Ans ..The singing bird had the whole palace to herself. She flew all over the inner chambers without let or hindrance.

9. How did the eight elder sisters feel about the singing bird?

 

Ans .. The eight sisters were not quite happy to see the adulation and affection the singing bird got from everyone including the king and the queen. The sisters were overtaken by jealousy.

10. What plan they hatched to punish the singing bird?

Ans .. The eight sisters wanted the end of the singing bird’s coveted status. They wanted the bird incarcerated in the cage, so that he (bird) couldn’t fly off. It was a wicked advice with ulterior motive. They hoped, the entrapment could break his (bird’s) spirit and rob him of her sweet voice. In due course, either it would die or driven out.
11. Why did the singing bird leave the palace temporarily?

Ans .. The singing bird left the palace and went on a sojourn to his father-in-law’s house.

12. How did September feel when the bird did not return in time?

Ans .. Angst, apprehension and grief engulfed September’s mind when the bird delayed his return. She wondered how she could cope with her absence.

13. How did the sisters react on seeing the bird not returning to the palace as scheduled?

Ans .. Wicked pleasure made the eight sisters happy at the absence of the singing bird. Instead of feeling sympathy for their grieving and heart-broken sister, they rejoiced.

14. How did September feel to see the singing bird again?

September became ecstatic to see the singing bird back in the palace. Angst ceded place to relief in her mind.

15. Why was the singing bird put inside the cage?

 

Ans .. The eight sisters prodded September to encage the bird lest he fly away again. The naïve September could not see through their advice. She put the bird back in the cage.
16. How did the bird react on being put inside the cage?

 

Ans .. The bird was perplexed and dismayed at the unexpected show of cruelty by September. He resented his captivity. Crest-fallen and angry, he stopped singing.

17. How did September feel to encage the bird?

 

Ans .. Putting the singing bird in the cage was not a very pleasant job for September, but her extreme love for him and the sinister advice given by her sisters made her encage him. She was both sorry and distraught to see the unhappy bird pining for freedom.

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Keeping it from Harold by P.G. Woodhouse

Keeping it from Harold
by P.G. Woodhouse

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Full text explained in appropriate words ….

Para 1 … This is a scene in Bill Bramble’s house. The highly gifted son Harold sits at the table and addresses his mother Mrs. Bramble, “Ma!”. She is a nice little woman with a rather mediocre brain. She dotes on her academically brilliant son. For her, the world revolves around her husband, Mr. Bill Bramble and her son, Harold. Harold has a book kept open on the red table cloth of the table. He is somewhat lost in thought while reading the book.
Para 2 .. The mother lovingly answers, “Yes, dearie?’.
Para 3 … Harold asks, “Will you hear me?”
Para 4 … Mrs. Bramble took the book.
Para 5 .. She answers, “Yes, mother will hear you, precious.” Mrs. Bramble had developed the habit of answering her son in the third person, perhaps as a show of her excessive affection towards him.
Para 6. .. Harold is growing up. His mother’s mannerism makes him uncomfortable. He resents the way his mother addressed him in the third person, which implied that she still treated him as a toddler.
He frowns, being discomforted with her mother’s response.
Para 7 … Harold clears his throat and fixes his gaze on the cut-glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Para 8 … Harold recites the first line of the poem, “Be good, sweet maid.” It was devoid of emotion.
Para 9 … Mrs. Bramble is worried at the hard work put in by Harold for his studies. Sympathizing with her studious son, she advises him to go for a half an hour saunter down the river side to refresh himself.
Para 10 …. Harold thought over his mother’s suggestion and decided to abide by her advice. He quietly stepped out of the front door.
Para 11 … Harold was an extraordinarily talented child. He was impeccable in his manners too. Mrs. Bramble often wondered how she could have given birth to such an adorable child, when neither her husband nor she had even a fraction of Harold’s intellectual caliber. But her elation was also shrouded by sadness. Harold’s father was in a profession that was not befitting for a boy like Harold. This mismatch between Harold’s all-round goodness was somewhat disconcerting to the parents. Deep in their hearts, the Brambles felt the profession that bread and butter and butter was lowly. With a sense of inferioroty and indignation, they decided to keep this fact away from Harold. However, Mrs. Bramble felt mean and distressed at her attempt to keep her son in dark about his father’s profession.
Para 12 … When Harold was a baby, this fact never bothered the parents. But, he grew up to a fine, well-behaved boy. His blossoming talent became evident when he won two prizes at the Sunday school. When the Bramble’s were in the midst of this dilemma, the curate of the local parish came into suggest that the nature of Bramble’s job must be hidden from Harold.
Despite the huge popularity of boxing among the people, it was perceived to be rather a boorish sport, not meant for the gentry.
Para 13 … The situation headed for the worse when Major Percy Stokes, brother of Mrs. Bramble, dropped in for a cup of tea. He was a man who was given to speaking boastfully and indiscreetly. During the chat, he spoke in a rather demeaning tone about Bramble’s profession. Percy took this opportunity to remind his sister to ensure Harold never got to know of his father’s profession.
Para 14 .. Mr. Bramble, an embodiment of civility and politeness, readily succumbed to the persuasiveness of Major Stokes. Bramble had always been like this. When Harold was born, he did not insist on giving the baby the name chosen prior to the birth. Instead he gave the name Harold to the baby boy, because his wife wanted so.
Para 15 .. When it became certain that his wife was in the family way, he chose the names ‘John’ after Mr. John. S. Sullivan (If it was to be a son) and ‘Marie’ after Miss Marie Lloyd (if it was to be a daughter). Finally, it was his wife whose choice prevailed and the boy got the name ‘Harold’ instead of ‘John’. On this matter Mr. Bramble gracefully ceded ground to his loving wife.
Para 16 … Bramble endeared him to one and all by his cool temperament and cheerful exterior.
Para 17 .. One thing that caused him much disquiet was his profession — he was a professional boxer. Boxing needs more brawn than brain.
Para 18 .. Before the arrival of Harold, Bramble had been proud of his profession as a boxer. In his profession, he was as much feared as he was respected. His redoubtable boxing acumen had earned him name, fame and money. He looked back at his exploits with satisfaction.
For the millions of boxing lovers in London and beyond, he was a legend. He was as formidable inside the ring as he was adorable outside, among his fans.
His trademark ‘left hook’ was acclaimed by sports writers.
Para 19 … With the coming of Harold, his flamboyance began to wane. He began to avoid publicity and media attention.
Para 20 … As Harold grew up, his talent blossomed. It brought much joy to his parents. But, the boy’s extra-ordinary talent affected the Brambles in a rather unintended way. Before their prodigious Harold, they felt small, and un-fit for the task of parenting such a hugely gifted child. This was a very awkward situation for the father and mother to be in. They applauded and, at times, sulked at the accomplishments of their gifted son.
Para 21 … Harold excelled in academics, much the same way his father Bill excelled in the ring. Harold had singing talent too. He sang at the choir.
Para 22 … The young boy studied in the local private school. He wore the school’s academic cap and behaved dignifiedly. He was ten then. He won prizes in spelling and dictation. Harold had been told by his father that he worked as a commercial traveler. For a boy of such caliber and refined taste, to be told that his father was the boxer ‘Young Perky’ — the embodiment of brawn, rage and brute force idolized by boisterous crowds — was too unfair and uncharitable.
Para 23 … Harold blossomed in his school with his multi-faceted genius, quite oblivious of the real profession of his father. Bill had a square jaw and a slightly distorted nose. Their brick-red house stood apart from other houses. Harold was too focused in his studies to bother about his father’s real profession. He had no time for this. Days went by. Continue reading

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The Cop and the Anthem –Explanation

The Cop and the Anthem  by O. Henry – Explanation

Soapy lived the life of a tramp. He wandered around in the Madison Square in New York. He saw the birds flying south and people ambling in their warm clothes. These were the precursor of the approaching winter. Soapy pondered the looming harsh winter he would have to contend with. A dead leaf fell at his feet accentuated his fear. He knew the cold outdoor life was going to be unbearable as the winter tightened its grip over his city. It set his heart racing for ideas to weather the approaching cold. Continue reading

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BIRTH by A. J. Cronin — Explanation

Birth
by A.J. Cronin

Note to the reader … As you read the story, you might come across portions of sentences written in metaphoric way. These might pose problem in your understanding them. These portions have been underlined and are immediately followed by their meanings typed in red in small fonts.
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Introduction to story .. In this excerpt from The Citadel, Andrew Manson, newly out of medical school, has just begun his medical practice as an assistant to Dr Edward Page in the small Welsh mining town of Blaenelly. As he is returning from a disappointing evening with Christine, the girl he loves, he is met by Joe Morgan. Joe and his wife, who have been married nearly twenty years, are expecting their first child.
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The story …
THOUGH it was nearly midnight when Andrew reached Bryngower, he found Joe Morgan waiting for him, walking up and down with short steps between the closed surgery and the entrance to the house. At the sight of him the burly driller’s face expressed relief. [In other words, Joe’s face lit up.]
“Eh, Doctor, I’m glad to see you. I been back and forward here this last hour. The missus wants ye — before time, too.” Continue reading

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Best Seller by O. Henry — Explanation

Best Seller
By O.Henry

Para 1 .. One day last summer, I (the narrator) went to Pittsburgh on business.
Para 2 .. The chair-car I was traveling on was almost packed to its capacity with rather well-to-do passengers. The ladies inside the car wore brown-silk dresses with square yokes with lace insertions and dotted veils. They didn’t like the idea of the windows slid up as they wanted the full unrestricted view of the outside. The men were an assorted lot of varying professions, heading towards different destinations. I reclined on the chair no. 7 and nonchalantly looked over towards chair no. 9. I could see small, black and bald-spotted head.
Para 3 .. Suddenly I saw that the man who sat in chair no.9 flung a book towards the window. The book was the best-seller – The Rose Lady and the Trevelyan. When the man turned towards the window, I could get a better view of him. I realized I had run into an old acquaintance of mine – John A. Pescud of Pittsburgh. He worked as a traveling salesman for a plate-glass company there. I was seeing him after nearly two years.
Para 4 .. We soon sat face to face enjoying the encounter. What followed was a good chat over many things – rain, prosperity, health, residence and destination we both were heading to. Happily for me, our conversation did not drift towards politics.
Para 5 .. Pescud was a robust man, small in height, with a broad grin. While talking, he fixed his gaze right on the face of the man he was speaking with.
Para 6 .. Pescud worked for Cambria Steel Works. He was proud of it and its product – the plate-glasses. He was a local man, quite decent and law-abiding.
Para 7 .. I had never talked to Pescud earlier on such matters as romance, literature and ethics. Our interaction had remained centered around local topics.
Para 8 .. On this meeting aboard the train, I could get to talk to Pescud in more detail. He was upbeat about his business. He told me how the inflow of orders had improved after the party convention. Pescud was to get down at Coketown.
Para 9 .. Pescud was quite blunt when it came to his views on the book he was holding — The Rose Lady and the Trevelyan. Holding the book in his hand in a way that showed his disapproval of the book, he wondered if I had read any such book rated as bestsellers. He was alluding to the absurdity of the story that had an affluent well-dressed American who fell in love with a European princess traveling with an assumed name. Continue reading

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Spring Time by O. Henry — Explanation

Springtime by O. Henry …. Story  Explanation and Summary …

About the author .…. As a short story writer, O. Henry (1862-1910) towers over most other American writers. Some critics compare him with Guy de Maupassant of France. Both were highly prolific writers, immensely popular with their countless readers. Both of them wrote hundreds of very gripping stories with dramatic plots. Henry’s wit, characterization and plot twists were adored by his readers, but often derided by critics.
O. Henry’s stories generally have surprise endings catching the readers totally unawares. Compared to Guy de Maupassant, O. Henry’s stories are much more playful. Witty narration and abrupt turn of events are the hallmarks of his style.
Most of O. Henry’s stories are set in the early 20th century. Many are based on innocuous events in New York City and revolve around ordinary people — clerks, policemen, waitresses, etc.

The Story … Continue reading

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How I Taught My Grandmother to Read – by Sudha Murty – Explanation

How I Taught My Grandmother to Read – Story by Sudha Murthy

Explanation

Para 1 … I was about twelve then. I lived with my grandparents in a North Karnataka village. Transport to this place was quite basic / rudimentary. Life seemed to move rather slowly. The morning paper came in the afternoon. The weekly magazine came a day late. We waited with baited breath for the bus that carried these and the day’s post.
Para 2 … Triveni, the story writer, was a household name during those days. Her stories revolved around common folks. In her typical lucid style, she deftly handled the intriguing problems by the many common characters portrayed in her writings. Sadly, this talented Kannada writer died very young. Nearly four decades after Triveni’s demise, the enduring attraction of her books continues to charm the hearts of countless readers.
Para 3 … Her novel Kashi Yatre serialized in the Kannada weekly Karmaveera, deals with the life of a old lady yearning to go to Kashi (Varanasi) to earn the much-cherished punya that accrues to the devotees of Lord Vishweshara. The novel describes the travails of the lady in undertaking the arduous journey to Kashi. The old lady happens to meet an orphan girl, deeply in love. But, the poor young girl can not afford the expenses of her marriage. The old lady is engulfed with sympathy for the young love-lorn girl, and decides to donate all her savings so that the marriage could go through. The old lady in the twilight of her life is swept by compassion.  She feels ensuring the happiness of a young orphan girl is more important than a darshan of the Lord Vishweshara. Continue reading

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A Shady Plot notes — NCERT English literature

NCERT English literature Class X..

A Shady Plot by Elsie Brown

Para 1, 2 &3 .. Jenkins, the publisher, implored me to write another ghost story, because these were the sort of stories that titillated his readers. Such contents boosted his circulation. He felt his readers just loved my ghost characters.
Para 4 .. I couldn’t disregard Jenkins’s words as his magazine was the only one to accept my writing.
Para 5 .. I had no inkling of a ghost story plot then, but I didn’t worry much as the ideas spring up unexpectedly inexplicably. It had happened like that in the past often. Somehow, the ghost stories find me; not the other way. My first fiction was a ghost story. The plot would elude me for months, but when I decide to give up, it comes rushing in.
Jenkins had sought a ghost story from me in the past, and I could produce one on demand. It is strange when I need money to pay off my grocer or the landlord, he begins to pester me for a story. Such ability to conjure up a plot in the spur of time had made me overconfident about my ability.
Para 6 .. I headed home. Sitting down at my desk, I began to nudge my mind to think of a plot, but it refused to activate. Soon, it wavered off to other mundane things. I began to think of my wife’s incorrigible love for shopping that strained my purse so much. I soon realized the problem was there to stay. Feeling powerless, I brought back my truant mind back to the task of thinking about ghosts and their ways. Continue reading

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Story – The Letter

NCERT English Literature Class X  – Paraphrasing of story 

The Letter by Dhumaketu

Para 1 .. The sky was clear and the stars alight. The night was receding yielding space to dawn. A man in the throes of death reminisces about his happy times to draw comfort. Like the way the fleeting radiance in the dying man’s face, the stars sparkled before becoming invisible in the approaching daylight.
It was a cold winter dawn, and the chilling winds blew harsh. Morning chores had already started in some houses. The sound of the grinding mills and women singing came rustling through the air. Spurred by these sounds, the old man sauntered along the lonely road, braving the biting cold. He wrapped his frayed clothes around his body to keep off the shivers. Occasional barks of a dog, women going to work, or squeals of birds disturbed in their nests punctuated the deafening silence that fell over the place.
The folks lay asleep still as the cold appeared to numb them to inactivity. The winter cold’s malignant spell was akin to a villain’s deceptive smile for its victim.
Unruffled by the cold and the desolate surroundings, the old man trudged on till he emerged out of the town-gate. The struggle was palpable as he dragged his feet. His walking stick was his sole companion.
Para 2 .. Rows of trees and public gardens lined the street on either side. The sky looked darker and the cold wind began to gnaw at his freckled skin. At the end of the garden stood a not-so-old building. Light tunneled through the small gaps in doors and windows.  Continue reading

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