By Ruchika Gupta
CBSE Class 10 English Drama THE DEAR DEPARTED
CBSE THE DEAR DEPARTED Class 10 English Drama Summary and detailed explanation of the play along with meanings of difficult words. Also, theSUMMARY is followed by a Explanation of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson.
About the author
Born at Ashton-upon-Mersey, England
William Stanley Houghton was a famous English dramatist. He was one of the best, of a group of realistic playwrights often called The Manchester School.In his every play he sought to present an idea.
He was a prominent member of a group of playwrights known as the Manchester School of Dramatics. He was influenced strongly by Ibsen. His plays are set locally in Northern England, but represent universal aspects of human nature. Houghton left his office job in 1912 to become a full-time dramatist and moved to London. Here he became part of the city's dramatic and literary culture. The following year he moved to Paris where he started to write a novel entitled “Life”.
His one of the famous book is Hindle Wakes, and other works done by him are ‘younger generation’ and many more.
Characters of the Play The Dear Departed
Sisters …………………………………………………… MRS. SLATER
Their Husbands ………………………………………..HENRY SLATER
A girl of ten, daughter of Amelia and Henry Slater…… VICTORIA SLATER
Grandfather of Victoria Slater…………………………… ABEL MERRYWEATHER
See Video for Explanation and Summary of the Lesson
About the Characters
Abel Merryweather is over seventy, he is bright and vigorous with a twinkle in his eye. He believes in eating, drinking and being merry he is frank and straightforward. He takes the wise decision of disowning his children and start making his life more comfortable by remarrying at the age of past seventy.
Amelia Slater She is the elder daughter of Mr. Abel Merryweather. She is a greedy, stingy and materialistic woman. Mrs. Slater can stoop down to any level to satisfy her greed. She is a dominating wife and a vulgar woman, prepared to do any amount of straight talking to get her own way.
Elizabeth Jordan She is the sister of Amelia Slater and the second daughter of Mr. Abel Merryweather. Like her sister, she too has no feelings for her father nor for her sister. She is stout, complacent, impassive and has an irritating air of being always right.
Henry Slater – Henry Slater is Amelia’s husband and is far more scrupulous than any other person in this play. He is more sensible than the other characters of the play.Hence, he gives the logical suggestions while talking about the obituary notice to be given in the paper. He is a henpecked husband.
Ben Jordan- Ben Jordan is the husband of Elizabeth and he is a jolly little man with a chirpy voice. Accustomed to be humorous but at present he is trying to adapt himself to the regrettable occasion.
Victoria Slater – A girl of ten, Victoria is an obedient child. Very fond of her grandfather and she has genuine feelings of love towards him. She is a precocious child. The presence of this young girl in the play comes as a whiff of cool breeze in the stuffiness generated by the adults’ scheming, quarrelling and scrupulosity.
Vigorous – strong
stoop – lower one’s moral standards so far as to do something wrong
vulgar – immoral
straight talking – be frank and blunt
stout – fat
complacent – very pleased and satisfied with their own achievements
impassive – not feeling or showing emotion
scrupulous – extremely honest
obituary – a notice of a death
hen-pecked husband – Dominated and ordered about by his wife
chirpy – cheerful
accustomed – usual
humorous – causing laughter
precocious child – having developed certain abilities or inclinations at an earlier age than is usual or expected.
Scrupulosity – guilt about moral or religious issues
The Dear Departed Summary
In the play The Dear Departed, Stanley Houghton satirises the degradation of moral values in the British middle class. In trying to grab the things belonging to their father, the children completely disregard modesty, decency and obligation towards their family.
In the beginning of the play,Mrs. Slater goes to offer something to her father Abel Merryweather and finds him quite cold, not responding at all. He is motionless. So, she declares that her father is no more. Accordingly, her sister and her husband, the Jordans are informed about the sudden demise of their father. Mrs. Slater and her husband are busy making arrangements for the mourning. They are expecting the Jordans to join them. They start using the various belongings of their father. Victoria, daughter of Mrs.Slater does not like all this but reluctantly she is helping her parents in these matters.
Victoria is asked to keep a watch on the main door to inform her mother about the arrival of the Jordans. Mrs. Slater is not willing to share her father’s belongings with Mrs. Jordan. When the articles are being shifted, the Jordans arrive. The family members start a detailed conversation on the deeds of their deceased father, planning the details of the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment. They start a discussion over the distribution of their father’s belongings among them.
Surprisingly, at this point of time, the play witnesses a turn of events. Victoria who has been sent to the grandfather’s room, returns very scared. She tells everyone that grandfather is alive. To everybody’s surprise, grandfather is seen coming downstairs. He is surprised to find the Jordans over there too. No one dares to tell him that he had been declared ‘dead’. While taking tea, the truth comes out and he gets to know how his daughters have been in a hurry to divide his possessions among them.
On knowing the harsh reality, the grandfather decides not to live with any of his daughters. He even expresses his final intention to change his will. He declares that he is going to give everything to Mrs. Shorrocks whom he will marry. He feels that by marrying Mrs. Shorrocks he will have someone to look after him whole-heartedly without considering him to be a burden.
The Dear Departed Explanation Video:
The Dear Departed Play Explanation
(The scene is the sitting room of a small house in a lower middle-class district of a provincial town. On the spectator’s left is the window, with the blinds down. A sofa is in front of it.
On his right is a fireplace with an armchair by it. In the middle of the wall facing the spectator is the door into the passage. To the left of the door was a cheap, shabby chest of drawers, to the right a sideboard. In the middle of the room is a table, with chairs round it. Ornaments and a cheap American clock are on the mantelpiece, in the hearth a kettle. By the sideboard a pair of gaudy new carpet slippers. The table is partly laid for tea, and the necessaries for the meal are on the sideboard, as also are copies of an evening paper and of TIT-BITS and PEARSON’S WEEKLY. Turning to the left through the door takes you to the front door; to the right, up-stairs. In the passage a hat stand is visible. When the curtain rises Mrs. Slater is seen laying the table. She is a vigorous, plump, red-faced, vulgar woman, prepared to do any amount of straight talking to get her own way. She is in black, but not in complete mourning. She listens for a moment and then goes to the window, opens it and calls into the street).
Provincial town – a town considered to be old fashioned, narrow – minded and boring.
Shabby – in poor condition through long use or lack of care.
Chest of drawers – a piece of furniture used for storage, consisting of an upright frame into which drawers are fitted.
Sideboard – a flat-topped piece of furniture with cupboards and drawers, used for storing crockery, glasses, and table linen
Mantlepiece – a structure of wood, marble, or stone above and around a fireplace
Hearth – the floor of a fireplace.
Gaudy – very bright and showy.
Carpet slippers – a soft slipper whose upper part is made of wool or thick cloth
TIT – BITS – A British weekly magazine founded by George Newnes in 1881, which was in mass circulation in England.
PEARSON’s WEEKLY – A British weekly magazine founded by Sir Cyril Pearson (1866-1921) in 1890.
Hat stand – a tall free-standing post fitted with large hooks for hanging hats on
Vigorous –strong, healthy, and full of energy
Vulgar – indecent
straight talking – frank
Mourning – the expression of sorrow for someone’s death.
On the stage, when the curtain rises, the following scene is displayed. It is the sitting room of a small house. The house is in an old – fashioned town of a district where the majority population belongs to the middle class. The writer wants to highlight certain qualities of the families belonging to the middle – class. They are old fashioned also. The children often ignore their aging parents and become greedy for their belongings.
The setting of the room has been described by the writer –
On the spectator’s left side is a window with the blinds (curtains) kept down. A sofa is placed in front of it. On the spectator’s right side is a fireplace with an armchair placed next to it. In the center of the wall facing the spectator, there is a door which leads into the passage. To the left side of the door, a worn-out chest of drawers is kept and to its right, a sideboard. A table with chairs around it is kept in the middle of the room. On the mantelpiece, ornaments and a cheap American clock is placed and in the hearth, a kettle. Next to the sideboard, a pair of carpet slippers is lying. The table is partly laid for tea and the things required are kept on the sideboard. There is a copy of the evening newspaper and two magazines titled ‘Tit-Bits’ and ‘Pearson’s Weekly’ on the sideboard.
If a person turns to the left, through the door, he reaches the front door of the house. If he turns right, he reaches the staircase which leads up to the first floor. A hat stand is placed in the passage.
Mrs. Slater is laying the table. She is a healthy, red – faced, indecent lady. She is straightforward and talks bluntly to get her own way. She is wearing a black dress as she is in sorrow, but she is not in a state of total mourning (as she is doing the household work). She pauses to listen the noises and then walks up to the window, opens it and calls out to someone in the street.
MRS. SLATER:(sharply) Victoria, Victoria! D’ye hear? Come in, will you?
(MRS. SLATER closes window and puts the blind straight and then returns to her work at the table. VICTORIA, a precocious girl often, dressed in colours, enters.)
precocious – a person whose mental attitude is developed beyond his/ her age
colours -wearing gay dress
Amelia Slater called out to her daughter Victoria. She asked if she could hear her and ordered her to come inside the house.
Then, she closed the window and set the blinds on it. She resumed her work of laying the table. Victoria was a mature and intelligent girl. She entered the house. She was wearing a colourful dress.
MRS. SLATER: I’m amazed at you, Victoria; I really am. How you can gallivanting about in the street with your grandfather lying dead and cold upstairs, I don’t know. Be off now, and change your dress before your Aunt Elizabeth and your Uncle Ben come. It would never do for them to find you in colours.
gallivanting – go about seeking pleasure
Amelia scolded Victoria and said that it was unbelievable how she could go out in the street having fun wearing a colourful dress when her grandfather’s dead body was lying in the house. (She should have been in grief and mourn the death of her grandfather). She ordered her to go and change into a mourning dress before her aunt Elizabeth and uncle Ben arrived.
VICTORIA: What are they coming for? They haven’t been here for ages.
Victoria asked that why her aunt and uncle were coming as they had not visited them for the past many years.
MRS. SLATER: They’re coming to talk over poor grandpa’s affairs. Your father sent them a telegram as soon as we found he was dead. (A noise is heard.) Good gracious, that’s never them.
Amelia said that they were visiting to discuss about Victoria’s grandfather’s matters like his property and possessions as he was dead. As soon as they discovered that he was dead, Amelia’s husband had sent them a telegram to inform about it. Just then they heard a noise. Amelia wondered and got nervous to think that probably her sister Elizabeth Jordan and her husband Ben Jordan had arrived.
(MRS. SLATER: hurries to nd opens it.) No, thank goodness! It’s only your father.
Amelia hurried to the door and opened it. She was relieved to find that it was her husband, Henry Slater.
(HENRY SLATER, a stooping, heavy man with a drooping moustache, enters. He is wearing a black tailcoat, grey trousers, a black tie and a bowler hat. He carriers a little paper parcel.)
tailcoat – a man’s black coat worn for formal daytime occasions and having a long rounded and split tail
Henry Slater was a heavy man, had a drooping moustache and was bent forward. He entered the house. He was wearing a black coloured formal coat called a ‘tailcoat’, grey coloured trousers, a black coloured tie and a hat with a particular shape called a ‘bowler hat’.
HENRY: Not come yet, eh?
Henry asked that Elizabeth and Ben had not arrived yet.
MRS. SLATER: You can see they haven’t, can’t you? Now, Victoria, be off upstairs and that quick. Put your white frock on with a black sash.
(VICTORIA goes out.)
Sash – a long piece of ribbon, silk, etc. worn around the waist like a belt or over one shoulder, as a symbol of rank
Amelia replied in a rude manner. She said that could he not see that they had not arrived yet. She ordered Victoria to go upstairs quickly and to change into her white coloured frock. She also asked her to wear her black coloured sash.
MRS. SLATER: (to HENRY): I’m not satisfied, but it’s the best we can do till our new
black’s ready, and Ben and Elizabeth will never have thought about mourning yet, so we’ll outshine them there-
till our new black’s ready- till a new dress of mourning is ready
Amelia said to Henry that she was not satisfied with their mourning dresses as they were not up to the mark. It was the best they could wear till their new mourning dresses were ready. She said that her sister Elizabeth and her husband Ben would not have planned their mourning dresses, so, with these new dresses, they would look better than them.
(HENRY sits in the armchair by the fire.)
Henry sat in the armchair near the fireplace.
Get your boots off, HENRY; Elizabeth’s that prying she notices the least speck of dirt.
Prying – excessively interested in a person’s private affairs
Amelia ordered Henry to remove his boots as he had come from outside and his shoes were dirty. She said that Elizabeth was too inquisitive and would spot even the smallest particle of dirt.
HENRY: I’m wondering if they’ll come at all. When you an Elizabeth quarreled she said she’d never set foot in your house again.
Henry wondered if Elizabeth and Ben would come or not. He was reminded of the time when Amelia and Elizabeth had a quarrel. At that time she had said that she would never come to her house again.
MRS. SLATER: She’ll come fast enough after her share of what grandfather’s left. You know how hard she can be when she likes. Where she gets it from I can’t tell.
Amelia said that she would come for her share in their father’s belongings that he had left after his death. She further added that at times Elizabeth could be tough to handle. She wondered that from whom she had inherited this trait.
(MRS.SLATER unwraps the parcel HENRY has brought. It contains an apple pie, which she puts on a dish on the table.)
Amelia unwrapped the parcel that Henry had brought. There was an apple pie in it. She placed it on a dish on the table.
HENRY: I suppose it’s in the family.
Henry said that the feature was not restricted to Elizabeth. It was present in all the members of her family – Amelia, Elizabeth and their father.
MRS. SLATER: What do you mean by that Henry Slater?
Amelia lost her temper and asked what he meant by that.
HENRY: I was referring to your father, not to you. Where are my slippers?
Henry corrected himself and said that he was referring to their father only. He asked for his slippers.
MRS. SLATER: In the kitchen; but you want a new pair, those old ones are nearly worn out.(Nearly breaking down)You don’t seem to realize what it’s costing me to bear up like I am doing. My heart’s fit to break when I see the little trifles that belonged to grandfather lying around, and think he’ll never use them again. (Briskly)
You don’t seem to realize what it’s costing me to bear up like I am doing – the other person cannot realize what the speaker is going through to put up with the given situation
Trifles –a thing of little value or importance
Amelia replied that they were lying in the kitchen. She further added that they were almost worn out and he had wanted to buy a new pair. She was going through a heartbreak when she saw trivial articles belonging to her father lying around the house which he would not be using in the future as he was dead.
Here! You’d better wear these slippers of grandfather’s now. It’s lucky he’d just got a new pair-
She walked over to Henry quickly and gave him her father’s slippers. She asked him to wear them and added that he was lucky as her father had recently purchased a new pair of slippers.
HENRY: They’ll be very small for me, my dear.
Henry said that Amelia’s father’s slippers would be too small for him.
MRS. SLATER: They’ll stretch, won’t they? I’m not going to have them wasted. (She has finished laying the table.)
Amelia said that he need not worry as they would stretch upon wearing and fit him eventually. She added that she could not let them go waste.
By then she had finished laying the table.
Henry, I’ve been thinking about that bureau of grandfather’s that’s in his bedroom. You know I always wanted to have it after he died.
Bureau – a writing desk with drawers
Amelia said to Henry that she had been thinking of the desk in her father’s room. She had liked it and always desired to have it after her father had died.
HENRY: You must arrange with Elizabeth when you’re dividing things up.
Henry suggested her to sort this out with her sister Elizabeth at the time when they would divide their father’s possessions among them.
MRS. SLATER: Elizabeth’s that sharp she’ll see I’m after it, and she’ll drive a hard bargain over it. Eh, what it is to have a low money grubbing spirit!
drive a hard bargain: to argue in an aggressive manner and force somebody to agree on the best possible arrangement.
low money grubbing spirit – an expression which means a dishonest tendency to be mean and greedy about money
Amelia said that Elizabeth was very sharp. When she would realize that she wanted something, she would argue over it. She commented that Elizabeth was dishonest and greedy for money.
HENRY: Perhaps she’s got her eye on the bureau as well.
Henry added that maybe she wanted to grab that desk also.
MRS. SLATER: She’s never been here since grandfather bought it. If it was only down here instead of in his room, she’d never guess it wasn’t our own.
Amelia said that Elizabeth had not visited the house after their father had purchased that desk and if only it was lying downstairs, she would not come to know that it belonged to him.
HENRY: (startled) Amelia! (He rises.)
Henry was shocked at this and said ‘Amelia!’ to make her realize that she was exceeding her limits. He stood up.
MRS. SLATER: Henry, why shouldn’t we bring that bureau down here now? We could do it before they come.
Amelia asked Henry that why should they not get the desk downstairs. She added that they could do that before the Jordans arrived.
HENRY (stupefied): I wouldn’t care to.
Henry was in a state of shock and said that he did not care to do something like that.
MRS. SLATER: Don’t look so daft. Why not?
Daft –silly, foolish
Amelia scolded Henry for being foolish. She asked him that why should they not get it downstairs.
HENRY: It doesn’t seem delicate, somehow.
Henry reasoned that the desk did not appear to be delicate. He wanted to say that he did not like it much.
MRS. SLATER: We could put that shabby old chest of drawers upstairs where the bureau is now. Elizabeth could have that and welcome. I’ve always wanted to get rid of it. (She points to the drawers.)
Shabby – in poor condition through long use or lack of care.
Amelia suggested that they could replace the desk with their worn-out chest of drawers. She was fine with giving it to Elizabeth as it was worn-out and she wanted to get rid of it.
HENRY: Suppose they come when we’re doing it.
Henry wondered what would happen if the Jordans arrived when they were shifting the furniture. It would create an awkward situation.
MRS. SLATER: I’ll fasten the front door. Get your coat off. Henry; we’ll change it.
(MRS. SLATER goes out to fasten the front door. HENRY takes his coat off.MRS. SLATER reappears.)
Amelia said that she would close the front door of the house. She orders Henry to remove his coat and hurry.
Amelia closed the front door and returned, Henry removed his coat in the meantime.
MRS. SLATER: I’ll run up and move the chairs out of the way.
Amelia said that she would run up the stairs and move the chairs out of the way. She would clear the way for Henry to move the furniture pieces.
(VICTORIA appears, dressed according to her mother’s instructions.)
Victoria had changed her dress according to her other’s instructions. She entered the room.
VICTORIA: Will you fasten my frock up the back, mother?
Victoria asked her mother to tie her frock at the back.
MRS.SLATER: I’m busy; get your father to do it.
(MRS. SLATER: hurries upstairs, and HENRY fastens the frock.)
Amelia replied that she was busy, and that Victoria should ask Henry to do it for her.
Amelia hurried up the stairs and Henry fastened Victoria’s frock.
VICTORIA: What have you got your coat off for, Father?
Victoria asked Henry that why had he removed his coat.
HENRY: Mother and me is going to bring grandfather’s bureau down here.
Henry replied that he and Amelia were bringing the bureau that belonged to Victoria’s grandfather down the stairs.
VICTORIA: (after a moment’s thought.): Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes?
Pinching – steal or take without permission.
Victoria thought and then asked that were they stealing the bureau without grandfather’s permission before her aunt Elizabeth arrived.
HENRY: (shocked) No, my child. Grandpa gave it to your mother before he died.
Henry was shocked on hearing this. He said that it was not so. On the contrary, her grandfather had given it to her mother before he died.
VICTORIA: This morning?
Victoria asked that had he given it to her that morning and Henry replied ‘yes’.
VICTORIA: Ah! He was drunk this morning.
Victoria said that he was drunk that morning and probably did not realize what he was doing.
HENRY: Hush; you mustn’t ever say he was drunk, now. (HENRY has fastened the frock, and MRS. SLATER appears carrying a handsome clock under her arm.)
Henry hushed her up and ordered her not to say this in future that her grandfather had been drunk that morning.
He had fastened Victoria’s frock when Amelia entered. She was carrying an attractive clock under her arm.
MRS. SLATER: I thought I’d fetch this down as well. (She puts it on the mantelpiece.) Our clock’s worth nothing and this always appealed to me.
Amelia said that she thought to get the clock as well. She placed it on the mantlepiece. She said that their clock was worthless and that she had always appreciated her father’s clock.
VICTORIA: That’s grandpa’s clock.
Victoria spoke up that it was her grandfather’s clock.
MRS. SLATER: Chut! Be quit! It’s ours now. Come Henry, lift your end. Victoria, don’t breathe a word to your aunt about the clock and the bureau. (They carry the chest of drawers through the doorway.)
Lift your end – here, to stand up
Not to breathe a word – to speak nothing
Amelia ordered her to shut her mouth. She said that it was theirs now. She ordered Henry to stand up. She ordered Victoria not to disclose the truth about the clock and the bureau to her aunt Elizabeth.
Amelia and Henry carry the chest of drawers through the doorway.
VICTORIA: (to herself) I thought we’d pinched them.
(After a short pause there is a sharp knock at the front door.)
Victoria said to herself that she thought that they had stolen the things.
After a while, there was a sharp knock at the front door of the house.
MRS. SLATER: (from upstairs) Victoria, if that’s your aunt and uncle you’re not to open the door.
(VICTORIA peeps through the window.)
Amelia called out to Victoria from upstairs and told her that if it were her aunt and uncle, then she was not supposed to open the door.
Victoria peeped through the door.
VICTORIA: Mother, It’s them.
Victoria replied to her that it was her aunt Elizabeth and uncle Ben at the door.
MRS. SLATER: You’re not to open the door till I come down. (Knocking repeated.)
Let them knock away. (There is a heavy bumping noise.)
Mind the wall. Henry. (HENRY and MRS. SLATER, very hot and flushed, stagger in with
a pretty old- fashioned bureau containing a locked desk. They put it where the chest of drawers was, and straighten the ornaments, etc. The knocking is repeated.)
stagger – walk or move unsteadily, as if about to fall.
Amelia reordered Victoria not to open the door till they came downstairs. The knock at the door was repeated. She said that they could return if the knock was not being answered. A heavy bumping sound was heard as they moved the bureau. Amelia asked Henry to be careful while moving the bureau and not to hit it in the wall. Henry and Amelia were worked up as they walked in unsteadily with the bureau which had a locked desk. They placed it where the chest of drawers had been kept and set the ornaments on it. The knock was again repeated at the door.
MRS. SLATER: That was a near thing. Open the door, Victoria. Now, Henry, get your coat on. (She helps him.)
That was a near thing – a situation in which you just managed to avoid danger.
Amelia said that they managed to avoid danger. She ordered Victoria to open the door and asked Henry to wear his coat. Amelia helped Henry.
HENRY: Did we knock much plaster off the wall?
Henry thought that maybe they hit the wall with the bureau and damaged it. The plaster of the wall could have been damaged.
MRS. SLATER: Never mind the plaster. Do I look all right? (Straightening her hair at the glass.) Just watch Elizabeth’s face when she sees we’re all in half-mourning. (Throwing him Tit-Bits.) Take this and sit down. Try and look as if we’d been waiting for them. (HENRY sits in thearmchair and MRS. SLATER left of table. They read ostentatiously. VICTORIA ushers in BEN and MRS. JORDAN.The latter is a stout, complacent woman with an impassive and anirritating air of being always right. She is wearing a complete and deadly outfit of new mourning crowned by a great black hat with plumes. BEN is also in complete new mourning, with black gloves and a band around his hat. He is rather a jolly little man, accustomed to be humorous, but at present trying to adapt himself to the regrettable occasion. He has a bright, chirpy little voice. BEN sail into the room and solemnly goes straight to MRS. SLATER and kisses her. The men shake hands. Not a word is spoken.MRS. SLATER furtively inspects the new mourning.)
Ostentatiously – showily
Furtively – secretively
Plumes – feathers
Amelia said that the damage done to the wall was not a matter of great concern rather she looked at herself in the mirror, straightened her hair and asked if she looked good. She said that Elizabeth would be shocked to see that they were in half mourning. She threw a copy of the magazine Tit-bits towards Henry. She asked him to sit on the armchair near the fireplace and read the magazine. They were pretending that they had been waiting for the Jordans. Amelia sat to the left of the table. They acted as if they were reading. Victoria led Elizabeth and Ben into the house. Elizabeth was a fat woman who had the notion that she was always correct. She was wearing an excellent dress of complete mourning, a great black coloured hat which was decorated with feathers. Ben was also in complete mourning. He was wearing a new dress, black coloured gloves and a band around his hat. He was short, had a jolly nature and created humour. As the situation at present was a sad one, he tried to adapt to it. He had a bright, chirpy voice. He went to Amelia, kissed her and shook hands with Henry. No one spoke a word. Amelia looked at their outfits secretively.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, Amelia, and he’s gone at last.
Elizabeth said to Amelia that finally their father was dead.
MRS. SLATER: Yes, he’s gone. He was seventy-two a fortnight last Sunday. (She sniffs back a tear. MRS. JORDAN sits on the left of the table. MRS.SLATER on the right. HENRY in the armchair. BEN on the sofa with VICTORIA near him)
Amelia said that ‘yes’ he was dead. She added that he was seventy-two years and fifteen days old last Sunday. She sniffed and held her tears. Elizabeth sat to the left of the table and Amelia sat to its right. Henry sat on the armchair. Ben sat on the sofa near Victoria.
BEN: (chirpily) Now, Amelia, you mustn’t give way. We’ve all got to die some time or other. It might have been worse.
Ben spoke in his chirpy voice. He asked Amelia not to cry. Everyone must die one day or the other. Their father died peacefully and so they should not cry for him. It was fine that he died rather it could have been a worse situation.
MRS. SLATER: I don’t see how.
Amelia was unable to figure out how that would be.
BEN: It might have been one of us.
Ben said that it was fine that he died rather than either of them dying instead.
HENRY: It’s taken you a long time to get here, Elizabeth.
Henry interrupted their talk and asked Elizabeth that they took a long time to reach.
MRS. JORDAN: Oh, I couldn’t do it. I really couldn’t do it.
Elizabeth replied that she could not do it.
MRS. SLATER: (suspiciously) Couldn’t do what?
Amelia was suspicious and asked her that what was it that she could not do.
MRS. JORDAN: I couldn’t start without getting the mourning. (Glancing at her sister)
Elizabeth looked at Amelia and replied that she could not leave without the mourning dress.
MRS. SLATER: We’ve ordered ours, you may be sure. (Acidly) I never could fancy buying ready-made things.
Amelia said that they had ordered their mourning dresses also. She added with bitterness that she could not imagine buying readymade dresses.
MRS. JORDAN: No? For myself it’s such a relief to get into the black. And now perhaps you’ll tell us all about it. What did the doctor say?
Elizabeth showed surprise and asked that did she not like readymade dresses. She was relieved to wear a black coloured dress. She asked Amelia how did their father die and what did the doctor say on examining the dead body.
MRS. SLATER: Oh, he’s not been near yet.
Amelia said that the doctor had not examined the dead body yet.
MRS. JORDAN: Not been near?
Elizabeth was shocked and repeated that the doctor had not been near.
BEN: (in the same breath) Didn’t you send for him at once?
Ben added that did they not call the doctor at once when they realized that their father had died.
MRS. SLATER: Of course I did. Do you take me for a fool? I sent Henry at once for Dr. Pringle but he was out.
Amelia said that obviously she did call. She was not a fool not to do that. She sent Henry to call Dr. Pringle but he was away.
BEN: You should have gone for another. Eh, Eliza?
Ben said that they could have called any other doctor. He called his wife Elizabeth to add something to it.
MRS. JORDAN: Oh, yes. It’s a fatal mistake.
Elizabeth blamed the Slaters for committing a serious mistake. Their apathy could be the reason for their father’s death.
MRS. SLATER: Pringle attended him when he was alive and Pringle shall attend him when he’s dead. That’s professional etiquette.
Amelia justified herself by saying that Dr. Pringle had attended to him when he was alive, and he shall attend to him even upon his death according to the rules of the medical profession.
BEN: Well, you know your own business best, but-
MRS. JORDAN: Yes-it’s a fatal mistake.
Ben replied that the Slaters were the best to judge their act but …. Elizabeth added but it was a deadly mistake on the part of the Slaters not to call a doctor.
(The Jordans had picked up a point to blame the Slaters for the death of their father).
MRS. SLATER: Don’t talk so silly, Elizabeth. What good could a doctor have done?
Amelia reprimanded Elizabeth for the silly talk. There was nothing that the doctor could do to revive their father.
MRS. JORDAN: Look at the many cases of persons being restored to life hours after they were thought to be ‘gone’.
Elizabeth said that there were many cases where the persons were brought back to life hours after they had been declared dead.
HENRY: That’s when they’ve been drowned. Your father wasn’t drowned, Elizabeth.
Henry said that it was it happened so in those cases where the person had died due to drowning but this was not the case with their father.
BEN: (humorously) There wasn’t much fear of that. If there was one thing he couldn’t bear, it was water. (He laughs, but no else does.)
Ben joked that their father could never die due to drowning as the one thing that he feared was water. He burst into a laughter, but no one accompanied him.
MRS. JORDAN (pained): BEN!(BEN is crushed at once.)
Elizabeth was hurt by Ben’s joke and scolded him He stopped at once.
MRS. SLATER (piqued):I’m sure he washed regular enough.
piqued -experienced indignation
Amelia was unhappy at Ben’s comment and said that she was sure that he took a bath regularly which implied that he was not afraid of water.
MRS. JORDAN: If he did take a drop too much at times, we’ll not dwell on that, now.
Elizabeth said that even if he drank liquor in excess at times, they would not discuss that as now he was dead.(Discussing the negative traits of a dead person is disrespectful).
MRS. SLATER: Father had been ‘merry’ this morning. He went out soon after breakfast to pay his insurance.
Amelia said that their father had been joyous that morning. He had gone out after breakfast to pay his insurance premium.
BEN: My word, its a good thing he did.
Ben commented that it was good that he had paid the premium before his death.
MRS. JORDAN: He always was thoughtful in that way. He was too honourable to have ‘gone’ without paying his premium.
Elizabeth said that their father had been thoughtful in such things. He was an honourable man and he could not have died without paying the insurance premium.
MRS. SLATER: Well, he must have gone round to the ‘Ring-o’-Bells’ afterwards, for
he came in as merry as a sandboy. I says, ‘We’re only waiting for Henry to start dinner’. ‘Dinner’, he says ‘I don’t want no dinner. I’m going to bed!’
as merry as a sandboy – extremely happy and carefree
Amelia said that after that he must have gone to a place called ‘Ring–O-Bells’ for drinks as he was very happy and carefree when he returned home. She had said to her father that she was waiting for Henry to start dinner but he had refused it and went to sleep.
BEN: (shaking his head) Ah! Dear, dear.
Ben shook his head and said ‘Dear, dear’.
HENRY: And when I came in I found him undressed sure enough and snug in
bed. (He rises and stands on the hearthrug.)
Henry said that when he came home he found their father in his night dress fast asleep. He stood on the rag placed in front of the hearth.
MRS. JORDAN: (definitely) Yes, he’d had a ‘warning’. I’m sure of that. Did he know you?
Elizabeth asked Henry whether their father had responded when he had entered the room.
HENRY: Yes. He spoke to me.
Henry said ‘yes’, he had talked to him too.
MRS. JORDAN: Did he say he’d had a ‘warning’?
Elizabeth asked Henry that did their father mention getting any warning by God that he was about to die.
HENRY: No. He said, ‘Henry, would you mind taking my boots off? I forgot before I got into bed’.
Henry replied ‘No’. He said that their father had asked him to remove his boots as he had forgotten to remove them before going to bed.
MRS. JORDAN: He must have been wandering.
Elizabeth said that their father must have been roaming here and there.
HENRY: No, he’d got’ em on all right.
Henry replied that he seemed to be fine as he was wearing the shoes properly.
MRS. SLATER: And when we’d finished dinner I thought I’d take up a bit of something on a tray. He was lying there for all the world as if he was asleep, so I put the tray down on the bureau -(correcting herself)on the chest of drawers – and went to waken him. (A pause.) He was quite cold.
Amelia added that when they had finished eating dinner, she had thought of taking something for their father in a tray. Their father was lying as if he was asleep and, so she placed the tray on the bureau. She corrected herself and said ‘chest of drawers’ as later she had replaced the bureau with it. She said that she had gone to wake him up, she paused and then continued that his body was cold.
HENRY: Then I heard Amelia calling for me, and I ran upstairs.
Henry added that as he heard Amelia call out to him, he ran upstairs.
MRS. SLATER: Of course we could do nothing.
Amelia said that as he was dead, they could do nothing.
MRS. JORDAN: He was ‘gone’?
Elizabeth added that he was already gone.
HENRY: There wasn’t any doubt.
Henry said that there was no doubt about his being dead.
MRS. JORDAN: I always knew he’d go sudden in the end.
(A pause. They -wipe their eyes and sniff back tears.)
Elizabeth said that she had known that her father would die all of a sudden. She paused, wiped her tears and sniffed to hold them back.
MRS. SLATER: (rising briskly at length: in a business-like tone)Well, will you go up and look at him now, or shall we have tea?
Amelia stood up in a professional manner and asked that should they like to go upstairs to have a look at their father’s dead body or would they have tea.
MRS. JORDAN: What do you say, Ben?
Elizabeth asked Ben what he wanted to do.
BEN: I’m not particular.
Ben was open to both the options.
MRS. JORDAN: (surveying, the table) Well, then, if the kettle’s ready we may as well have tea first.(MRS. SLATER puts the kettle on the fire and gets tea ready.)
Elizabeth checked out the table and said that as the kettle of tea was ready, they might have tea first. Amelia placed the kettle on the fire to get it ready.
HENRY: One thing we may as well decide now; the announcement in the papers.
Henry suggested that they should decide upon the advertisements that they had to get printed in the newspaper regarding the death.
MRS. JORDAN: I was thinking of that. What would you put?
Elizabeth said that she had been thinking of that and asked him the details of what would be printed.
MRS. SLATER: At the residence of his daughter, 235 Upper Cornbank Street, etc.
Amelia interrupted and started that the newspaper could mention that the meeting would be held at her house and the address could follow.
HENRY: You wouldn’t care for a bit of poetry?
Henry suggested that they could add a few lines of poetry to it.
MRS. JORDAN: I like ‘Never Forgotten’. It’s refined.
Elizabeth suggested that she liked the poem ‘Never Forgotten’ as it was elegant.
HENRY: Yes, but it’s rather soon for that.
Henry said that it was good, but it would be too soon to say ‘never forgotten’ for a person who had died a day ago.
BEN: You couldn’t very well have forgot him the day after.
Ben added that they could not have forgotten him the day after his death. It was too early to forget him.
MRS. SLATER: I always fancy, ‘A loving husband, a kind father, and a faithful friend’.
Amelia suggested that she had liked the line which read, ‘A loving husband, a kind father, and a faithful friend’.
BEN: (doubtfully) Do you think that’s right?
Ben was doubtful and wondered if it would be appropriate.
HENRY: I don’t think it matters whether it’s right or not.
Henry said that it did not matter if it was right or not as no one interpreted things in detail.
MRS. JORDAN: No, it’s more for the look of the thing.
Elizabeth said that it was only to make the article appear nice. They did not have to mean what was written in it.
HENRY: I saw a verse in the Evening News yesterday. Proper poetry it was- it rhymed. (He gets the paper and reads.)‘Despised and forgotten by some you may be, But the spot that contains you is sacred to we.’
Henry suggested a verse that he had read in the previous day’s evening newspaper. It was poetry and there was rhyme too. He got the paper and read it. The lines were – ‘Despised and forgotten by some you may be, But the spot that contains you is sacred to we.’
MRS. JORDAN: That’ll never do. You don’t say ‘scared to we’.
Elizabeth said it would never be good to put that poem in the article as ‘scared to we’ was incorrect.
HENRY: It’s in the paper.
Henry claimed that it could not be wrong as it was printed in the newspaper.
MRS. SLATER: You wouldn’t say it if you were speaking properly, but it’s different in poetry.
Amelia said that it was incorrect if spoken otherwise but in poetry, things were different.
HENRY: Poetic license, you know.
Poetic license – freedom to change facts or normal rules of language
Henry added that poets had the freedom to change the rules of language in order to create rhyme and rhythm in their poems.
MRS. JORDAN: No, that’ll never do. We want a verse that says how much we loved him and refers to all his good qualities and says what a heavy loss we’ve had.
Elizabeth was not convinced. She wanted such a poem which said that they loved him, referred to his good qualities and mentioned that they had suffered a great loss due to his death.
MRS. SLATER: You want a whole poem. That’ll cost a good lot.
Amelia commented that Elizabeth wanted a complete poem which would cost them a lot.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, we’ll think about it after tea, and then we’ll look through his bits of things and make a list of them. There’s all the furniture in his room.
Elizabeth ended the topic and said that they would decide on it after they had tea. They would also check out their father’s possessions and draw a list of them. She said that he had a lot of furniture which was kept in his room.
HENRY: There’s no jewellery or valuables of that sort.
Henry said that their father did not have any jewellery or such valuables.
MRS. JORDAN: Except his gold watch. He promised that to our Jimmy.
Elizabeth added that he had a gold watch. He had promised her son Jimmy to have it after his death.
MRS. SLATER: Promised to your Jimmy! I never heard of that.
Amelia doubted her sister and said that she had never heard of any such thing.
MRS. JORDAN: Oh, but he did, Amelia, when he was living with us. He was very fond of Jimmy.
Elizabeth replied that he did say that when he had been living with them. He liked Jimmy a lot.
MRS. SLATER: Well. (Amazed.) I don’t know!
Amelia was amazed and said that she knew nothing about it.
BEN: Anyhow, there’s his insurance money. Have you got the receipt for the premium he paid this morning?
Ben added that there was the insurance policy also. He asked if the Slaters had the receipt of the premium which their father had paid that morning.
MRS. SLATER: I’ve not seen it.
(VICTORIA, jumps up from the sofa and comes behind the table.)
Amelia said that she had not seen it.
Victoria stood up from the sofa and walked up to the table where Amelia was seated.
VICTORIA: Mother, I don’t think Grandpa went to pay his insurance this morning.
Victoria said to Amelia that her grandfather had not paid the insurance that morning.
MRS. SLATER: He went out.
Amelia said that he went out of the house.
VICTORIA: Yes, but he didn’t go into the town. He met old Mr. Tattersall down the street, and they went off past St. Philip’s Church.
Victoria said yes but he did not go to the town. Instead, he met the old Mr. Tattersall down the lane and then they walked off past the church.
MRS. SLATER: To the ‘Ring-o’-Bells’, I’ll be bound.
‘Ring-o’-Bells’- the name of a restaurant
Amelia said that she was sure that he had gone to the Ring-O-Bells restaurant.
BEN: The -Ring-o’-Bells’?
Ben repeated the name of the restaurant as he did not know about it.
MRS. SLATER: That public-house that John Shorrock’s widow keeps. He is always hanging about there. Oh, if he hasn’t paid it –
public-house – a pub, a place that is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages
Amelia replied that it was a restaurant which served liquor also. It had been opened by the widow of John Shorrock. Their father spent a lot of time there. Then she got worried that what if he had not paid for the drinks he had taken there that morning.
BEN: Do you think he hasn’t paid it? Was it overdue?
Ben asked her that did she think he did not pay, was the bill due for payment and had not been cleared by their father.
MRS. SLATER: I should think it was overdue.
Amelia said that she thought it was due for payment.
MRS. JORDAN: Something tells me he’s not paid it. I’ve a ‘warning’, I know it; he’s not paid it.
Elizabeth supported Amelia on this and said that she had an intuition that their father had not paid the bill at the restaurant.
BEN: The drunken old beggar.
Ben was angry and commented that their father was a drunken old beggar.
MRS. JORDAN: He’s done it on purpose, Just to annoy us.
Elizabeth added that he had done so intentionally, to irritate them.
MRS. SLATER: After all I’ve done for him, having to put up with him in the house these three years. It’s nothing short of swindling.
Important Videos Links
Swindling – cheating
Amelia said that her father had cheated her in return for the hard work and dedication she had done in the last three years.
MRS. JORDAN: I had to put up with him for five years.
Elizabeth commented that she had to bear him in her house for five long years.
MRS. SLATER: And you were trying to turn him over to us all the time.
Amelia said that all that while, Elizabeth had tried to push him over to her house.
HENRY: But we don’t know for certain that he’s not paid the premium.
Henry interrupted them and said that they did not know if he had paid the insurance premium that morning or not.
MRS. JORDAN: I do. It’s come over me all at once that he hasn’t.
Elizabeth said that she had come to know everything at once as if she could decode the puzzle and make out the facts. She knew that he had not paid the insurance premium that morning.
MRS. SLATER: Victoria, run upstairs and fetch that bunch of keys that’s on your grandpa’s dressing table.
Amelia asked Victoria to run up the stairs and get the bunch of keys which were lying on her grandfather’s dressing table.
VICTORIA: (timidly) In Grandpa’s room?
Timidly – in a manner that shows a lack of courage or confidence
Victoria asked that she had to go to her grandfather’s room. She could not gather the courage to go there as she feared that his dead body was lying inside the room.
MRS. SLATER: Yes.
Amelia said ‘yes’.
VICTORIA: I-I don’t like to.
Victoria resisted and said that she did not like to go there.
MRS. SLATER: Don’t talk so silly. There’s no one can hurt you. (VICTORIA goes out reluctantly.) We’ll see if he’s locked the receipt up in the bureau,
Amelia scolded her for talking silly things. She said that there was no one there who could hurt her. Victoria went out of the room hesitantly. Amelia said that they could check if their father had kept the receipt in the locked drawer of the bureau.
BEN: In where? In this thing? (He rises and examines it.)
Ben asked in which drawer would have he locked it and then walked up to the bureau to examine it.
MRS. JORDAN: (also rising)Where did you pick that up, Amelia? It’s new since last I was here.(They examine it closely.)
Elizabeth also stood up and asked Amelia that where did she buy the bureau from as it was a new thing and was not there when she had last visited them. The Jordans inspect the bureau closely.
MRS. SLATER: Oh-Henry picked it up one day.
Amelia said that Henry had bought it one day.
MRS. JORDAN: I like it. It’s artistic. Did you buy it at an auction?
Elizabeth appreciated it and said that it was artistic. She asked whether they had bought it at an auction.
HENRY: Eh! Where did I buy it, Amelia?
Henry chose not to speak and asked Amelia that from where he had purchased it. (This shows that Henry was intelligent and as they were telling lies, he decided that only one person should speak so that they did not get mixed up).
MRS. SLATER: Yes, at an auction.
Amelia said that he had purchased it at an auction.
BEN: (disparagingly) Oh, second-hand.
Disparagingly – criticizing someone, in a way that shows you do not respect or value them
Ben showed the Slaters down and said that the bureau was second hand.
MRS. JORDAN: Don’t show your ignorance, Ben. All artistic things are secondhand.
Look at those old masters.
Elizabeth said that Ben was ignorant as all the artistic things were second hand and the creations of the great artists were second hand.
(VICTORIA returns, very scared. She closes the door after her.)
Victoria returned from her grandfather’s room. She was scared and shut the door behind her.
VICTORIA: Mother! Mother!
Victoria called out to her mother.
MRS. SLATER: What is it, child?
Amelia asked her what was it.
VICTORIA: Grandpa’s getting up.
Victoria said that her grandfather was getting up.
Ben was startled and asked what she was saying.
MRS. SLATER: What do you say?
Elizabeth also asked what Victoria was saying.
VICTORIA: Grandpa’s getting up.
Victoria repeated her statement that her grandfather was getting up.
MRS. JORDAN: The child’s crazy.
Elizabeth said that Victoria had gone crazy.
MRS. SLATER: Don’t talk so silly. Don’t you know your grandpa’s dead?
Amelia said to Victoria not to talk silly things. She asked her that did she not know that her grandfather was dead.
VICTORIA: No, no; he’s getting up. I saw him.(They are transfixed with amazement. BEN and MRS. JORDAN leftof table. VICTORIA clings to MRS. SLATER, right of table HENRY near fireplace.)
Victoria said that he was getting up. She saw him get up. All of them were shocked. Ben and Elizabeth were standing to the left of the table. Victoria held her mother tightly as they stood to the right of the table, Henry stood near the fireplace.
MRS. JORDAN: You’d better go up and see for yourself, Amelia.
Elizabeth suggested that Amelia should go upstairs and check herself.
MRS. SLATER: Here-come with me, Henry. (HENRY draws back terrified)
Amelia called Henry to accompany her. Henry withdrew himself as he was terror – stricken.
(They look at the door. A slight chuckling is heard outside. The door opens, revealing an old man clad in a faded but gay dressing-gown. He is in his stockinged feet. Although over seventy, he is vigorous and well coloured; his bright, malicious eyes twinkle under his heavy, reddish-grey eyebrows. He is obviously either Grandfather ABEL MERRYWEATHER or else his ghost.)
Ben spoke softly and signaled everyone to remain silent and listen.
Everyone looked towards the door. A slight sound of laughter was heard beyond the door, the door opened and an old man wearing a faded but colourful dressing-gown entered. He wore stockings in his feet. Despite being above seventy years of age, he was energetic and wore colourful clothes. His bright naughty eyes were shining under the thick, reddish – brown coloured eyebrows. He was either grandfather Abel Merryweather or his ghost.
ABEL: What’s the matter with little Vicky? (He sees BEN and MRS. JORDAN); Hello! What brings you here? How’s yourself, Ben?
(ABEL thrusts his hand at BEN, who skips back smartly and retreats to a safe distance below the sofa.)
Abel Merryweather said that something was wrong with Victoria as she had ran out of his room upon seeing him getting up from the bed. He saw the Jordans and wished them. He asked why they had come there. He asked Ben that how he was doing.
He extended his hand towards Ben to shake hands with him but as Ben thought him to be a ghost, he jumped back and hid under the sofa.
MRS. SLATER (a p p r o a c h i n g ABEL gingerly) Grandfather, is that you? (She pokes him with her hand to see if he is solid.)
Gingerly – in a careful or cautious manner
Amelia walked towards Abel Merryweather cautiously and asked if it was her father. She addressed him as ‘grandfather’ but actually he was her father. She pricked him with her finger to see if he was real or a ghost. (‘solid’ indicates that a living being is solid whereas a ghost is not so).
ABEL: (irritated by the whispering) Of course it’s me. Don’t do that, ‘Melia. What the devil do you mean by this tomfoolery?
tomfoolery – foolish behaviour
Abel was irritated and said that it was him indeed. He snapped at Amelia for pricking him and to stop behaving in such a foolish manner.
MRS. SLATER: (to the others) He’s not dead.
Amelia announced to all the other people present in the room that their father was not dead.
BEN: Doesn’t seem like it.
Ben added that it did not appear that he was dead.
ABEL: You’ve kept away long enough, Lizzie; and now you’ve come, you don’t seem over-pleased to see me.
Abel said to Elizabeth that she not visited them for a long period of time. Now that she had come, she did not seem happy to see him.
MRS. JORDAN: You took us by surprise, father. Are you keeping quite well?
Elizabeth said that their father gave them a surprise and so she was under a shock to see him. She asked if he was keeping good health.
ABEL: (trying to catch the words.) Eh? What?
Abel could not understand what she said and asked her to repeat.
MRS. JORDAN: Arc you quite well?
Elizabeth asked him if he was well.
ABEL: Aye, I’m right enough but for a bit of a headache. I wouldn’t mind betting that I’m not the first in this house to be carried to the cemetery. I always think Henry there looks none too healthy.
Cemetery – a burial ground
Abel replied that he was fine just that he had a headache. He added that he was ready to bet that he would not be the first person in the house to die and be carried to the burial ground.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, I never!
(ABEL crosses to the armchair, HENRY gets out of his way to the front of the table.)
Elizabeth started that she never but her words were interrupted. She wanted to say that she did not mean that he was about to die. Abel crossed the armchair and Henry moved to the front of the table in order to give way.
ABEL: ‘Melia, what the dickens did I do with my new slippers?
dickens – informal way of saying that you are annoyed or surprised
Abel asked Amelia that he was surprised what had happened to his slippers as he could not find them.
MRS. SLATER: (confused) Aren’t they by the hearth, grandfather?
Amelia was confused and said that were they not kept near the hearth of the fireplace.
ABEL: I don’t see them. (Observing HENRY trying to remove the slippers.) Why, you’ve got ’em on. Henry.
Abe said that he could not see them. He spotted Henry removing them and asked why he was wearing them.
MRS. SLATER: (promptly) I told him to put them on to stretch them; they were that new and hard. Now, Henry.(MRS. SLATER snatches the slippers from HENRY and gives them ABEL, who puts them on and sits in armchair)
Amelia spoke up suddenly and said that she had asked him to wear them and stretch them as they were new and hard. She called out to Henry, took away the slippers from him and gave them to Abel.
Abel wore them and sat on the armchair.
MRS. JORDAN: (to BEN) Well, I don’t call that delicate, stepping into a dead man’s shoes in such haste. (HENRY goes up to the window and pulls up the blind. VICTORIA runs across to ABEL and sits on the floor at his feet.)
Elizabeth said to Ben that it was not in good taste to wear a dead person’s footwear in such a hurry. She was talking about Henry’s act of wearing their father’s slippers. Victoria ran up to Abel and sat on the floor near his feet.
VICTORIA: Oh, Grandpa, I’m so glad you’re not dead.
Victoria said that she was happy to see him alive.
MRS. SLATER: (in a vindictive whisper) Hold your tongue, Victoria.
Vindictive – ill-natured
Amelia tried to hush Victoria and spoke in an ill-mannered low voice.
ABEL: Eh? What’s that? Who’s gone dead?
Abel felt uneasy and asked what was going on and who had died.
MRS. SLATER: (Loudly) Victoria says she’s sorry about your head.
Amelia spoke loudly and said that Victoria felt bad that he was suffering from a headache.
ABEL: Ah, thank you, Vicky, but I’m feeling better.
Abel thanked Victoria for her concern and said that he was feeling better now.
MRS. SLATER (to MRS. JORDAN): He’s so fond of Victoria.
Amelia said to Elizabeth that their father liked Victoria.
MRS. JORDAN (to MRS. SLATER): Yes; he’s fond of our Jimmy, too.
Elizabeth replied that he liked her son Jimmy too.
MRS. SLATER: You’d better ask him if he promised your Jimmy his gold watch.
Amelia suggested that Elizabeth should confirm from him if he had promised Jimmy to take his gold watch after his death.
MRS. JORDAN: (disconcerted) I couldn’t just now. I don’t feel equal to it.
Disconcerted – disturbed
Elizabeth was disturbed at this suggestion and said that she did not feel like asking that right now.
ABEL: Why, Ben, you’re in mourning! And Lizzie too. And ‘Melia, and Henry and little Vicky! Who’s gone dead? It’s someone in the family. (He chuckles.)
Abel noticed that everyone was wearing a mourning dress. He asked who was dead and laughed as he asked if someone in the family had died.
MRS. SLATER: No one you know, father. A relation of Ben’s.
Amelia handled the question smartly and replied that Abel did not know the person who had died. He was Ben’s relative.
ABEL: And what relation of Ben’s?
Abel asked how the dead person was related to Ben.
MRS. SLATER: His brother.
Amelia replied that they were brothers.
BEN (to MRS. SLATER): Hang it, I never had one.
Ben asks Amelia to stop it as he never had a brother.
ABEL: Dear, dear.And what was his name, Ben?
Abel thought that Ben was in a shock due to his brother’s death and so, he spoke like that to Amelia. He asked what his brother’s name was.
BEN: (at a loss) Er – er. (He crosses to front of table.)
Ben was at a loss of words. He crossed and walked up to n the front of the table.
MRS. SLATER. (R of table, prompting): Frederick.
Amelia was standing to the right of the table. She suggested the name Frederick.
MRS. JORDAN (L of table, prompting).:Albert.
Elizabeth was standing to the left of the table. She suggested the name Albert.
Ben sid his brother’s name was FedAlb Issac. He joined the halves of both the names suggested by Amelia and Elizabeth in order to appear genuine.
ABEL: Issac? And where did your brother Isaac die?
Abel was surprised to hear the name ‘Issac’. He further asked that where did Issac die. He was asking so many questions because he doubted them.
BEN: In-er-in Australia.
Ben replied that his brother was in Australia.
ABEL: Dear, dear. He’d be older than you, eh?
Abel asked that was he elder to him.
BEN: Yes, five years.
Ben replied that he was elder to him by five years.
ABEL: Aye, aye. Are you going to the funeral?
Abel said ‘ok’. Then he asked if he was going for his funeral.
BEN: Oh, yes.
Ben replied that he was going.
MRS. SLATER and MRS. JORDAN: No, no.
Amelia and Elizabeth spoke together. They said that he was not going.
BEN: No, of course not. (He retires to L.)
Retires: here, to sit back to indicate that he was no longer a part of the conversation.
Ben also said that he was not going for the funeral.
ABEL: (rising) Well, I suppose you’ve only been waiting for me to begin tea. I’m feeling hungry.
Abel stood up and said that probably they had been waiting for him to start having tea. He said that he was feeling hungry.
MRS. SLATER: (taking up the kettle) I’ll make tea.
Amelia lifted the kettle and offered to make tea.
ABEL: Come along, now; sit you down and let’s be jolly.
(ABEL sits at the head of the table, facing spectators. BEN and MRS. JORDAN on the left. VICTORIA brings a chair and sits by ABEL. MRS. SLATER and HENRY sit on the right. Both the women are next to ABEL.)
Abel called everyone to sit at the table and be happy as they had tea.
MRS. SLATER: Henry, give grandpa some pie.
Amelia asked Henry to offer the apple pie to Abel.
ABEL: Thank you. I’ll make a start. (He helps himself to bread and butter.)
(HENRY serves the pie and MRS. SLATER pours out tea. Only ABEL eats with any heartiness.)
Abel thanked her and said that he would start eating. He took bread and butter to eat.
Henry served him the apple pie and Amelia served him tea. Abel ate the breakfast heartily. The others were uneasy as they had come to mourn Abel’s death and upon seeing him alive, were in a state of shock.
BEN: Glad to see you’ve got an appetite, Mr. Merry weather, although you’ve not been so well.
Appetite – hunger
Ben said that he was happy to see that Abel was hungry although he was not keeping good health.
ABEL: Nothing serious. I’ve been lying down for a bit.
Abel said that he did not have any serious health issue. He had been taking some rest.
MRS. SLATER: Been to sleep, grandfather?
Amelia asked him that had he been to sleep.
ABEL: No, I’ve not been to sleep.
Abel replied that he had not been to sleep.
MRS. SLATER and HENRY: Oh!
Amelia and Henry said ‘oh’. As they had replaced the bureau in Abel’s room with the chest of drawers and feared being caught.
ABEL: (eating and drinking) I can’t exactly call everything to mind, but I remember I was a bit dazed, like- I couldn’t move an inch, hand or foot.
Abel continued eating the breakfast and said that he was unable to recollect the happenings in his room. He remembered that he had been unconscious.He was unable to move even an inch of distance- either his arm or foot.
BEN: And could you see and hear, Mr. Merryweather?
Ben asked that was he able to see and hear.
ABEL: Yes, but I don’t remember seeing anything particular. Mustard, Ben.
(BEN passes the mustard.)
Abel replied that he was able to do that but he did not see or hear anything specific. He asked Ben to pass him the mustard sauce.
MRS. SLATER: Of course not, grandfather. It was all your fancy. You must have been asleep.
Fancy – imagination
Amelia said that it had been Abel’s imagination and that he had been asleep.
ABEL: (snappishly) I tell you I wasn’t asleep, ‘Melia. Damnit, I ought to know,
Abel scolded her and said that he knows that he was not asleep.
MRS. JORDAN: Didn’t you see Henry or Amelia come into the room?
Elizabeth asked Abel if he had seen Amelia or Henry come into his room.
ABEL: (scratching-his head) Now let me think-
Able scratched his head to recollect the happenings in his room.
Elizabeth and Ben doubt Amelia and Henry for stealing Abel’s possessions and so they ask Abel all these questions.
MRS. SLATER: I wouldn’t press him Elizabeth. Don’t press him.
press him – force or pressurize
Amelia acted as if she sympathized with her father and requested Elizabeth not to pressurize him to think upon as he was not well and it would stress his mind. Actually, she does not want Abel to recollect the happenings in his room as it could bring the truth to light.
HENRY: I wouldn’t worry him.
Henry supported her and said that he would also not worry him. As he had been a partner in crime with Amelia, he also did not want Abel to recollect the happenings.
ABEL: (suddenly recollecting) Ay, begad! ‘Melia and Henry, what the devil did you mean by shifting my bureau out of my bedroom? (HENRY and MRS. SLATER are speechless). D’ you hear me? Henry! ‘Melia!
what the devil did you mean – an expression used in questions to express anger or surprise.
Suddenly, Abel recollected the happenings in his room. He was angry and asked Amelia and Henry that why had they shifted the bureau out of his bedroom. Henry and Amelia were unable to speak. Abel asked them again that were they able to hear him.
MRS. JORDAN: What bureau was that Father?
Elizabeth asked Abel that what kind of bureau was there in his room.
ABEL: Why, my bureau the one I bought-
Abel replied that it was his bureau which he had bought.
MRS. JORDAN: (pointing to the bureau) Was it that one. Father?
Elizabeth pointed towards the bureau kept in the room and asked if that was his bureau.
ABEL: Ah, that’s it. What’s it doing here? Eh? (A pause. The clock on the mantelpiece strikes six. Everyone looks at it.)Drat me if that isn’t my clock too. What the devil’s been going on in this house? (A slight pause.)
Drat – a fairly mild expression of anger or annoyance
Abel recognized it as his. He asked why was it lying there. He paused as the clock on the mantelpiece struck and showed the time as six o’clock. Everyone looked at the clock and Abel said with anger that it was his clock. He was angry and asked what had been going on in the house as all his belongings had been shifted out of his room.
BEN: Well, I’ll be hanged.
Hanged – being suspended by a rope around the neck until dead
Ben refrained from speaking as he feared that Abel would be so annoyed upon hearing the truth that he could kill him too.
MRS. JORDAN: I’ll tell you what’s been going on in this house. Father. Nothing short of robbery.
Elizabeth offered to explain and said that she would tell him what had been going on in the house. She said to her father that it was not less than a robbery.
MRS. SLATER: Be quiet, Elizabeth.
Amelia ordered Elizabeth to keep quiet.
MRS. JORDAN: (rising) I’ll not be quiet. Oh, I call it double-faced.
Double-faced – tending to say one thing and do another; deceitful
Elizabeth stood up and said that she would not remain quiet. She blamed Amelia for being double – faced. She said something but meant or did the opposite of it.
HENRY: Now now, Elizabeth.
Henry also told Elizabeth to mind her tongue.
MRS. JORDAN: And you, too. Are you such a poor creature that you must do every dirty thing she tells you?
Elizabeth cracked up on Henry too. She said that he was a hen-pecked husband who was dominated by his wife and did whatever she told him to do.
MRS. SLATER: (rising) Remember where you are, Elizabeth.
Amelia stood up and reminded Elizabeth that she was standing in Amelia’s house. She could not accuse her in her own house.
HENRY: (rising) Come, come. No quarrelling.
Henry tried to intervene and stop the quarrel between the sisters.
BEN: (rising) My wife’s every right to speak her own mind.
Ben also stood up and supported his wife Elizabeth. He said that she had the right to express her feelings.
MRS. SLATER: Then she can speak it outside, not here.
Amelia said that Elizabeth should go out of the house and then speak against her.
ABEL: (rising: thumping the table) Damn it all, will someone tell me what’s been going on?
Abel stood up and hit the table with a thump. He was angry and asked if anyone could tell him what had been going on in the house.
MRS. JORDAN: Yes, I will. I’ll not see you robbed.
Elizabeth said that she would tell him the truth as she could not see someone robbing her father.
ABEL: Who’s been robbing me?
Abel asked who had been robbing him.
MRS. JORDAN: Amelia and Henry. They’ve stolen your clock and bureau. (Working herself up.) They sneaked into your room like a thief in the night and stole them after you were dead.
Working herself up – to get upset or angry about something
Sneaked – to enter quietly to avoid getting noticed
Elizabeth told him that Amelia and Henry had robbed him. They had stolen his clock and bureau. She became upset and said that they tiptoed into his room like a thief does at night and stole his belongings after they thought that he was dead.
HENRY and MRS. SLATER: Hush! Quiet, Elizabeth!
Amelia and Henry asked Elizabeth to keep quiet.
MRS. JORDAN: I’ll not be stopped. After you were dead, I say.
Elizabeth said that they could not stop her. She repeated to her father that they stole his belongings after they thought that he was ‘dead’.
ABEL: After who was dead?
Abel was shocked and asked that after who was dead.
MRS. JORDAN: You.
Elizabeth repeated that the Slaters had considered him dead.
ABEL: But I’m not dead.
Abel said that he was not dead.
MRS. JORDAN: No, but they thought you were. (A pause. ABEL gazes round atthem.)
Elizabeth said that he was alive, but they had thought that he was dead. There was a pause and then Abel stared at Amelia and Henry.
ABEL: Oho! So that’s why you’re all in black today. You thought I was dead.(He chuckles.) That was a big mistake. (He sits and resumes histea.)
Abel said that that was the reason for them to wear black dresses as they were mourning his death. They had thought that he was dead. He laughed and said that they had made a big mistake. He sat and started drinking tea again.
MRS. SLATER: (sobbing) Grandfather.
Amelia started crying to show that she was sorry for her mistake. She called to her father.
ABEL: It didn’t take you long to start dividing my things between you.
Abel said that his children had been in a hurry to divide his belongings among them.
MRS. JORDAN: No, father; you mustn’t think that. Amelia was simply getting hold of them on her own account.
Elizabeth tried to clarify her intentions and said that it was not like that. She said that it was Amelia who had been trying to grab his belongings.
ABEL: You always were a keen one, Amelia. I suppose you thought the will wasn’t fair.
Will – a legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with one’s money and property after one’s death.
Abel said to Amelia that she was in a hurry to grab his belongings as she felt that he had not given her a fair share in his belongings through the will that he had made.
HENRY: Did you make a will?
Henry asked Abel that had he made a will.
ABEL: Yes, it was locked up in the bureau.
Abel said that he had made a will which was locked in the bureau.
MRS. JORDAN: And what was in it, father?
Elizabeth asked him the details of the will.
ABEL: That doesn’t matter now. I’m thinking of destroying it and making another.
Abel said that it was irrelevant as now he would destroy it and make another will.
MRS. SLATER: (sobbing) Grandfather, you’ll not be hard on me.
Amelia started crying and requested her father not to be harsh with her. She feared that due to her acts, he might not give her anything.
ABEL: I’ll trouble you for another cup of tea, ‘Melia; two lumps and plenty of milk.
Lump – piece
Abel said that at present he had a trouble for her which was that he wanted a cup of tea. He asked her to add two lumps of sugar and a lot of milk in it.
MRS. SLATER: With pleasure. Grandfather. (She pours out the tea.)
Amelia was pleased to serve him tea.
ABEL: I don’t want to be hard on anyone. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.Since your mother died, I’ve lived part of the time with you, ‘Melia,and part with you, Lizzie. Well, I shall make a new will, leaving all my bits of things to whomever I’m living with when I die. How does that strike you?
Abel said that he did not want to be harsh with anyone. Since his wife had died, he had lived with both his daughters in phases. He said that he would make a will in which his belongings would go to the person with whom he would be living at the time of his death. He asked their comments on his idea.
HENRY: It’s a bit of a lottery-like.
Henry said that the idea was like a lottery as no one knew who would win.
MRS. JORDAN: And who do you intend to live with from now?
Elizabeth asked that from that time onwards, whom would he live with.
ABEL: (drinking his tea) I’m just coming to that.
Abel had a sip of the tea and said that he was arriving at that point.
MRS. JORDAN: You know, father, it’s quite time you came to live with us again. We’d Make you very comfortable.
Elizabeth said that it had been a long time since he had lived with them. She assured him that they would make him feel comfortable.
MRS. SLATER: No, he’s not been with us as long as he was with you.
Amelia said that Abel had not lived with them as long as he had lived with Elizabeth. So, his stay with the Slaters was not due to end.
MRS. JORDAN: I may be wrong, but I don’t think father will fancy living on with you after what’s happened today.
Elizabeth said that she could be wrong, but their father would not like to live with the Slaters anymore after what they had done that day.
ABEL: So you’d like to have me again, Lizzie?
Abel asked Elizabeth that did she want him to live with her again.
MRS. JORDAN: You know we’re ready for you to make your home with us for as long you please.
Elizabeth said that they were ready to have him live with them for as long as he wanted to.
ABEL: What do you say to that, ‘Melia?
Abel asked Amelia’s opinion.
MRS. SLATER: All I can say is that Elizabeth’s changed her mind in the last two years. (Rising). Grandfather, do you know what the quarrel between us was about?
Amelia said that in the last two years Elizabeth had changed her mind. She stood up and asked Abel if he knew the reason for the quarrel that they had two years ago.
MRS. JORDAN: Amelia, don’t be a fool; sit down.
Elizabeth tried to stop Amelia and asked her not to be foolish by speaking about it.
MRS. SLATER: No, if I’m not to have him, you shan’t either. We quarrelled because Elizabeth said she wouldn’t take you off our hands at any price. She said she’d enough of you to last a lifetime, and we’d got to keep you.
Amelia said that if their father would not live with her then he shall not live with Elizabeth either. She said that they had a quarrel because Elizabeth would not take their father to live with her at any cost. She had enough of him to last for a lifetime and she would never keep him with her. Elizabeth had said that Amelia would have to keep their father with her.
ABEL: It seems to me that neither of you has any cause to feel proud about the way you’ve treated me.
Abel said that none of his daughters had treated him well.
MRS. SLATER: If I’ve done anything wrong. I’m sure I’m sorry for it.
Amelia regretted and felt sorry for any mistake done by her.
MRS. JORDAN: And I can’t say more than that, too.
Elizabeth said that even she felt the same way.
ABEL: It’s a bit late to say it, now. You neither of you cared to put up with me.
Abel said that they were late to say sorry. Neither of them cared for him.
MRS. SLATER and MRS. JORDAN: No, no grandfather.
Both the sisters said that it was not so.
ABEL: Aye, you both say that because of what I’ve told you about leaving my money. Well, since you don’t want me I’ll go to someone that does.
Abel said that they were saying that because of the change in the will that he had suggested. He added that as they did not want him, he would go to someone who wanted to live with him.
BEN: Come Mr. Merryweather, you’ve got to live with one of your daughters.
Ben advised Abel that he should live with either of his daughters.
ABEL: I’ll tell you what I’ve got to do. On Monday next I’ve got to do three things. I’ve got to go to the lawyer’s and alter my will; and I’ve got to go to the insurance office and pay my premium; and I’ve got to go toSt. Philip’s Church and get married.
Abel told him that he knew what he had to do. He had to do three things – firstly, go to a lawyer and change his will, secondly, go to the insurance office and pay the premium and thirdly, go to St. Philip’s church and get married.
BEN and HENRY: What!
Ben and Henry said ‘what’ as they were shocked.
MRS. JORDAN: Get married!
Elizabeth expressed shock that her father would get married.
MRS. SLATER: He’s out of his senses. (General consternation.)
Consternation – shock
Amelia said that their father had gone mad.
ABEL: I say I’m going to get married.
Abel repeated his words that he was going to get married.
MRS. SLATER: Who to?
Amelia asked that whom was he getting married to.
ABEL: To Mrs. John Shorrocks who keeps the ‘Ring-o’ -Bells. We’ve had it fixed up a good while now, but I was keeping it for a pleasant surprise. (He rises.)I felt I was a bit of a burden to you, so I found someone who’d think it a pleasure to look after me. We shall be very glad to see you at the ceremony. (He gets to the door.) Till Monday, then. Twelve o’ clock at St. Philip’s Church. (Opening the door.) It’s a good thing you brought that bureau downstairs, ‘Melia. It’ll be handier to carry across to the ‘Ring-o’ -Bells on Monday. (He goes out.)
Abel replied that he was getting married to Mrs. John Shorrocks who owned and managed Ring – O- Bells. They had fixed the marriage long ago,but he had not disclosed it to the family in order to give them a surprise. He stood up and said that he felt being a burden to his daughters and, so he should live with someone who was happy to look after him. He invited them to his wedding ceremony. He walked up to the door and said that now he would meet them on Monday at the church at twelve o’clock and wished them goodbye till then. He opened the door and said to Amelia that it was good that she had brought the bureau downstairs as it would be easier for him to transport it to the Ring-O-Bells on Monday. Abel went out of the house.
THE CURTAIN FALLS
The play ends
The Dear Departed Summary Question and answers
Q. Given below are the main incidents in the play. They are in a jumbled order.
Arrange them in the sequence in which they occur in the play.
1. Victoria is asked to fetch the bunch of keys to the bureau to look for the insurance receipt.
2. Mrs. Slater instructs Victoria to put her white frock on with a black sash.
3. Mrs Slater discovers that grandfather is ‘dead’.
4. The Slaters fetch the bureau and the clock from upstairs.
5. The family sits down to have tea.
6. Henry wears the new slippers of grandfather’s
7. Grandfather comes to know how his daughters were in a hurry to divide his things between them.
8. Grandfather announces his intention to change his will and to marry Mrs. Shorrocks.
9. Grandfather comes down and is surprised to find the Jordans.
10. They discuss the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment.
11. The Jordans arrive and learn the details of grandfather’s ‘demise’ from the Slaters.
A. The correct sequence is as follows –
1. 3. Mrs Slater discovers that grandfather is ‘dead’.
2. 2. Mrs. Slater instructs Victoria to put her white frock on with a black sash.
3. 6. Henry wears the new slippers of grandfather’s
4. 4. The Slaters fetch the bureau and the clock from upstairs.
5. 11. The Jordans arrive and learn the details of grandfather’s ‘demise’ from the Slaters.
6. 10. They discuss the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment.
7. 1. Victoria is asked to fetch the bunch of keys to the bureau to look for the insurance receipt.
8. 9. Grandfather comes down and is surprised to find the Jordans.
9. 5. The family sits down to have tea.
10. 7. Grandfather comes to know how his daughters were in a hurry to divide his things between them.
11. 8. Grandfather announces his intention to change his will and to marry Mrs. Shorrocks.
Answer the following questions briefly.
Q1. How does Mrs. Slater plan to outshine the Jordans? What does it reveal about her character?
A. Mrs. Slater plans to get new mourning dresses for herself and the family. She plans that as the Jordans would not be dressed in new mourning dresses, this way she will outshine them. This shows that she is jealous and competitive.
Q2. Why does Mrs. Slater decide to shift the bureau from grandfather’s room before the arrival of the Jordans? How does Henry react to the suggestion?
A. Mrs. Slater wants to shift the bureau before the arrival of the Jordans as she wants to keep it with her. She does not want to tell her sister that the bureau belonged to their father because she fears that her sister will fight for it. Henry is shocked initially but as he is dominated by his wife, he helps her in shifting the bureau.
Q3. What is the reason for the Jordans taking a long time to get to the house of the Slaters? What does it show about the two sisters’ attitude towards each other?
A. The Jordans took a long time to reach as they were waiting for their new mourning dresses to get ready. This shows that both the sisters were desperate to outshine each other.
Q4. What does Mrs. Jordan describe as ‘a fatal mistake’? What is the irony in the comment she makes on Mrs. Slater’s defense?
A. Mrs. Jordan says that the Slaters did not call a doctor to check upon their father. This was a fatal mistake that they had committed. The irony in her comment is that she was not actually concerned about her father and wished that he was dead. She was imitating to be concerned about him.
Q5. Ben appreciates grandfather saying ‘its’ a good thing he did’. Later he calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’. Why does he change his opinion about grandfather?
A. Ben changes his opinion when he feels that he did not pay the insurance premium. He is also greedy and so, in his disappointment calls him ‘drunken old beggar’.
Q6. What change does grandfather make in his new will? What effect does it have on his daughters?
A. Grandfather amends his will that his belongings will pass on to the person with whom he will have been living at the time of his death. His daughters start requesting him to live with them as they want his belongings.
Q7. What are the three things that grandfather plans to do on Monday next?
A. On Monday, the three things that grandfather planned to do were –
1. He would go to a lawyer and change his will.
2. He would go to the insurance office and pay the insurance premium.
3. He would go to St. Philip’s church and get married.
Answer the following in detail:
Q1. Bring out the irony in the title of the play.
A. Ans. The title of the play ‘Dear Departed’ is ironical. In the beginning of the play, we come to know that grandfather Mr. Abel has departed from this world. He is not dear to his own daughters. They are eager to divide his belongings between them. Even Mrs. Slater with whom he has been living fetches his clock and bureau from his room where he is lying ‘dead’.They cannot wait for the last rites. Even their husbands Ben and Henry do not love him. So, no one is grieved at his departure. In this way, we can say that the title of this play ‘Dear Departed’ is an ironical statement of dying love and absence of filial obligations.
Q2. How does the spat between his daughters lead to grandfather discovering the truth?
A. Abel Merryweather discovers the truth that his daughters and their families have gathered to mourn his death. This secret is uncovered when Elizabeth starts accusing Amelia for stealing their father’s bureau and clock. She is disturbed as her sister tries to grab their father’s belongings. She does not want to forego her share and so, gets furious. In an outburst, she discloses the truth to Abel that the Slaters had called them over to mourn his death.
Q3. Compare and contrast Henry’s character with that of his wife. Support your answer with evidence from they play.
Ans. The dominating character of the mean, selfish and calculating Mrs. Slater stands in complete contrast to her husband’s submissiveness. Despite being a man of principles, he plays a second fiddle to her. Amelia’s greed and meanness are two traits that make the two of them strikingly different from each other.
Besides, unlike Amelia, he is not quarrelsome. Hence, when the two sisters’ heated argument is about to take an ugly turn, he tries to pacify them. Unfortunately, his goodness remains passive as he has to obey his wife’s command.
Answer the following with reference to the context.
Q1. “Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes?”
a) What does ‘it’ refer to here?
A. ‘It’ refers to the bureau.
b) How does Vicky conclude that her parents are ‘pinching it’?
A. As Victoria sees that her parents are shifting the bureau and replacing it with the chest of drawers, she concludes that they are pinching it.
c) Mention the two reasons that Mrs. Slater gives for her action.
A. Mrs. Slater justifies her action by saying that
1. She had always liked the bureau and wanted to have it.
2. Her sister would fight over it if she came to know that Mrs. Slater wanted it.
d) What does it reveal about the difference between the attitude of the elders and that of Vicky?
A. It shows that the child, Victoria is truthful and innocent while the elders, her parents are greedy and dishonest.
Q2. “I don’t call that delicate, stepping into a dead man’s shoes in such haste.”
a)Who makes this comment?
A. The comment is made by Elizabeth.
b) What prompts the speaker to say this?
A. When grandfather sees Henry wearing the slippers, Mrs. Slater returns them to him. This makes her make the comment.
c) Bring out the significance of this statement.
A. The statement means to take the position of a dead person. Elizabeth meant that Henry was in a hurry to take their father’s place, but he should have waited for his funeral.
Q3. “Now, Amelia, you mustn’t give way. We’ve all got to die some time or other. It might have been worse.”
a) Who is the speaker of these lines?
A. Ben Jordan speaks this line.
b) What prompts the speaker to say these words?
A. When Mrs. Slater started weeping at her father’s demise, Ben said these words.
c) What does he mean when he says ‘It might have been worse’?
A. He means to say that someone had to die and if it would have been someone other than their father, they could have gone through more sufferings as they were young and had to look after their children.
d) What does it reveal about the speaker’s character?
A. Ben is tactful and has a positive attitude. He knows how to present himself in such situations.
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