Waiting for the Police Tasks: Pre-tasks: Find more information about J. Jefferson Farjeon. What is the setting of the story? Task cycle: How many parts can this text be divided into? What are the main ideas of each part? Try to understand some of the difficult sentences. Post-task: discussion 1. What is the moral of the story? 2. Make a comment on the language of the story 1. "l wonder where Mr. W8inwri9ht's gone?" said Mrs. Mayton. It is an appropriate and direct beginning. The question immediately arouses the attention of the boarders gathered in the drawing room. This first bit of conversation is actually the beginning of an idle conversation conducted by bored people to kill time. Nobody is really interested in where Mr. Wainwright has gone until Mr. Penbury comes in. But this part gives us a brief introduction of all the boarders and prepares us for an unexpected turn of events. 2. All that matters was that he paid three guineas a week regularly for board and lodging. Mrs. Mayton, the 1andlady of the boardinghouse, didn't have any real interest in where Mr.Wainwright had gone. What she cared about was the rent, the three guineas Mr. Wainwright paid to her regu1arly for his rented room and meals. Guinea:It was a gold coin formerly used in Britain worth 21 shillings (one pound and one shilling). The guinea disappeared in 18l3, long before the British currency went decimal in l97l. Today the basic monetary unit in Britain is the pound, which equals 100 new pence. 3. But life---and particularly evening life--was notoriously dull in her boardinghouse, and every now and again one tried to whip up a little interest. Life in the boardinghouse was terribly boring especially in the evening. To liven up the atmosphere, every now and then someone tried to stir up a little interest. But life and particularly evening life---: For the use of dashes, see Note 3. a boarding-house: a house whose owner provides people with meals and accommodation in return for payment on a weekly or monthly basis a boarding school: a school where some or all of the pupils live there, as opposed to a day school every now and again: every now and then, every so often, from time to time, once in a while, sometimes, occasionally to whip up a little interest: to stir up some interest, to try to arouse interest to whip sth/sb up: to make people become excited, enthusiastic, etc., e. g. They went a1l out but they didn't succeed in whipping up much support for their candidate. The terrorist attacks whipped up many peop1e into a frenzy of rage. 4. but he was as polite as he was pale and he always did his best to keep any ball rolling. as polite as he was pale: his politeness and paleness were of the same degree; he was pale and he was very polite, imp1ying, humorous1y, that he was polite because he was pale, e. g. He is as wise as he is old. She is as vain as she is beautiful. At that time we were as enthusiastic (foo1ish) as we were young. to keep any ball rolling: to keep any conversation (activity or event) going once it has been started Similar expressions: to set/start the ball rolling, e. g. She set the ball rolling at our last gathering by telling us about her trip to Australia last summer. It may not be very difficult to start a business but it is certainly difficult to keep the ball rolling. 5. She had knitted for seventy years, and looked good for another seventy. She had been knitting all her life for seventy years, which suggests that knitting was her hobby. And she looked well and fit as if she could knit for another seventy years. and looked good for another seventy years: This is an example of hyperbole to achieve humor to be/look --for: to be still in good condition to do sth; to be able to last, e. g. This car is good for many more miles. This house was bui1t in 1970. It looks good for another thirty years or so. There are quite a number of sentences in the story about knitting. Have the students point them out. "Perhaps he went out to post a letter," suggested Miss Wicks, without pausing in her knitting. The atmosphere seemed to tighten, but Miss Wicks went on knitting. Miss Wicks looked definitely interested, though she did not stop knitting. That meant nothing. She had promised to knit at her funeral. But he turned now to Miss Wicks, and the old lady inquired, while her need1es moved busily. For a few minutes, Miss Wicks knitted rapidly, the steel points of the needles making the only sound in the room. And I p1unged a steel knitting needle into his heart-- like this. 6. Bella was the boardinghouse lovely, but no one had taken advantage of the fact. Bella was young and pretty and was seen as the beauty of the boardinghouse, but no one had shown any particular interest in her. Note the humorous touch here. a lovely: a beautiful and attractive woman . to take advantage of : (1) to make use of sth in a good sense (2) to make use of sb/sth in an unfair or dishonest way to get what one wants Examples: It is mean of him to take advantage of a widow. You should be on your guard against those who have eyes on your money and will take advantage of your generosity. The school you are entering is a prestigious one. You should take advantage of the facilities there. The secretary said that her boss was continually finding fault with her. She is constantly complaining that the house is cold, the food is awful and the service is poor. Her uncle is always borrowing money from his friends. 10. Penbory always had a chilling effect. When Penbury arrived, the boarders stopped talking immediately. It seemed that his presence always cast a chill on the other boarders. chilling: causing a chill; making people frightened or nervous 11. He POsse.s6d a brain, and since no one understood it when he used it, it was resented. Mr. Penbury was intelligent, but no one in the boardinghouse liked him for that. He was too smart for them, and everybody felt annoyed. a brain/brains: intelligence, the ability to learn and understand things quickly, solve problems and make good decisions The young man is not very good at sports but he has an excellent brain. He has inherited his mother's brains and his father's good looks. 12. But Mrs. Mayton never allowed more than three minutes to 9o by without a word and so when the silence had reached its allotted span, she turned to Penbury and asked: But Mrs. Mayton would not tolerate any silence for more than three minutes. So when no one broke the silence (no one spoke) within three minutes (the allotted span) she lost her patience and, turning to Penbury, asked. to go by: to pass to allot: to give (time, money, duties etc. ) as a share of what is available the allotted span: the time given for a particular purpose She said she wou1d be content to live in any room a1lotted to her in this building. They managed to get the work done within the time they had been allotted. (within the allotted time. ) 13. The effect was instantaneous„.it opened Mr. CaIthrop, in a split second, lost all inclination to doze. Notice the dramatic effect on the boarders of Mr. Penbury's announcement.' instantaneous: happening or done immediately gave a tiny shriek gave a sudden shout in a weak and frightened voice Mrs. Mayton's eyes became two startled glass marbles: Mrs. Mayton became so shocked that her eyes opened wide and looked like two g1ass marbles. (Notice the use of simile here. ) Mr. Calthrop, in a split second, lost all inclination to doze: Mr. Calthrop, in an instant, became fully awake and had no intention of dozing off again. 14. Miss Wicks Iook6d definitely interested, thou9h she did not stop knitting. It is interesting to notice that unlike the others Miss Wicks did not look shocked although she showed a clear interest. She was not shocked for the simple reason that she did not believe it was true. She knew the game Mr. Penbury was p1aying and decided to play along with him. 15. She had promised to knit at her funeral. She had been knitting for seventy years and she had promised to go on knitting ti1l the end of her life. Note the touch of humor here. Another examp1e: He is never punctual. One of these days he is going to be late for his own funeral 16. "Dead?" gasped Mr. Calthrop. Monty leapt up, and then sat down again. "You don't mean," he gulped. "How long--that is--when do you expect... ?" stammered Monty. From this bit of conversation we see that they are still in deep shock. to gasp: to say sth while breathing hard to gulp: to make a swallowing motion (to prevent the expression of emotion by swallowing) to stammer: to speak with sudden pauses and a tendency to repeat the same sound or word rapidly, either because of having a speech problem or from fear, nervousness, etc "You don't mean,": “ You don't mean he is really dead." "How long--that is--when do you expect... ?": How long do you think we'll have to wait before the police come? When do you expect the police to arrive? 17. There had been countless silences in Mrs. Mayton's drawing-room but never a silence like this one. Here "silence" is used as a countab1e noun, meaning l' a moment, period or situation when nobody is speaking." e. g. At the beginning of the meeting, there was a one--minute si1ence in honor of those who died in the explosion. He was not quite used to the silences during the class discussions. 18. "Shouldn't the police be sent for?" she suggested. Unlike the other boarders who were still in shock, Miss Wicks was calm enough to remind them that the police should be sent for. The way she reacted to what was happening was quite different from the others. Read on and we will know why. (She knew Penbury was making it all up. ) 19. "I phoned the station just before coming into the room." Here "the station" refers to the office of the local police force--the police station. 20. His voice suddenly became practical. "Shall we try and make use of these two or three minutes? "We shall all be questioned and perhaps we can clear up a little ground before they arrive." Mr. Penbury now became practical, and he began to tell everybody what they should do under the circumstances. He told them the police would arrive in two or three minutes and that they would all be questioned. As time was precious, he suggested that they make full use of the time to get the facts clear. to clear up a little ground: to get the facts clear to clear up sth: to solve or explain sth; to find an answer to sth 27. "Wait a moment I" ejaculated Bella'. "Now l then, don't take too long thinking of an answer !” glared Mr. CaIthrop„„ “Who's to prove you were out all that time?" This part of the conversation proved that Mr. Penbury was not very popular among the boarders. They didn't like him because he always tried to show how smart he was as he was doing now. Therefore they all began to challenge him. And to show their anger, the author uses verbs such as ejaculate, glare, challenge, demand and exclaim. "Don't take too long thinking of an answer" glared Mr. Calthrop: Mr. Calthrop was urging him to give an answer immediately so that he would not have the time to make up a story. a rotten alibi: a very bad or poor alibi 28. It found the spot all right. It (the weapon) went through his heart. all right: used to emphasize that one is sure of sth; there 1s no doubt that sth is true, e. g. Don't worry. You w1Il get the money back all right... That's the man l saw in the car all right. 29. "Perhaps. But I not only blew my nose, I powdered it." to blow one's nose: to c1ear mucus out of one's nose by breathing strongly out through it into a handkerchief to powder one's nose: (of a woman) to go to the toilet. It can be used as a euphemism. Here it really means "put face powder on her nose or face". 30. "Would You oblige next, Mr. Caithrop? We all know you walk in your sleep.,,, Would you please do me a favor and be the next to give your alibi, Mr. Ca1throp? We all know you are a sleep walker (somnambulist). (Mr. Penbury is suggesting that Mr Calthrop might have committed the murder in his sleep. )... Have you lost a handkerchief? (Mr. Penbury emphasized the word "you", implying that Mr. Calthrop might be the one who had lost the handkerchief. ) to oblige: (fml) to do sth for sb as a favor or a small service to walk in your sleep: to walk around while asleep Note the satirical tone of the sentence. What he suggests is that Mr. Calthrop might not be telling the truth. Otherwise he wou1dn't get so nervous and put so much emphasis on his statement. He advises Mi Calthrop not to do that when talking to the police if he does not want to arouse their suspicions about his story. 36. It had come off we of its hook.. come off: to fall from sth The other day he came off his horse and broke a bone in his arm. A button is coming off your coat. Shall I sew it on for you? 37. "Eh? Oh, of course." Jerked Monty. "The curtain put it out of my mind.” to jerk: to say sth suddenly to put sth out of one's mind/head: to make one forget sth You have to try to put your past suffering out of your mind and make a fresh start. He decided to put his work out of his mind and join us on our trip to Harbin. 38. If you’ll be so good" answered Penbury. "just as a matter of form” Will you be so kind as to give your alibi now since we've all had our turn? You know, it is something you have to do as a matter of form (or formality): sth which has to be done even though it has no practical importance or effect (even though we all trust you have nothing to do with the murder. ) Notice that Mr. Penbury was unusua1ly polite to Miss Wicks. He was even being apologetic here. 39. How it gets on one's nerves to get on one's nerves: to irritate or annoy sb, e. g. The loud music from the next door went on till one o'clock last night. It rea1ly got on my nerves. The continuous foggy weather is getting on our nerves! Our flight has been delayed for eight hours. 40. Morning, noon and night. morning, noon and night (adv. ): at al1 times of the day and night, every day and night, e. g. The work continues morning, noon and night. The baby is crying morning, noon and night. This woman is on the phone morning, noon and night. 41. Your door was open, Mr. Penbury, and l went to ask if we couldn't do some-thing about it. to ask if we couldn't do something about it: to ask whether we could somehow stop Wainwright's irritating cough. 42. She turned on him with sudden ferocity. to turn on sb: to become sudden1y hostile to sb The dog went mad and turned on its owner. Why did she turn on him like that? He must have said something to offend her. 43. “I've come to cure it." .. And I plunged a steel knitting-needle into his heart-like this " "I have come to put an end to your cough.” "And I stabbed Mr. Wainwright in the heart with a steel knitting-needle. "What do you think of her statement? 44.... they heard the front door open, they heard footsteps entering„ Whose footsteps were they? Is it a surprise ending for you? How did you expect the story to end? Do you think Miss Wicks has played an important role in whipping up interest?
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