Princess September, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 5 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

 

Princess September Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 5– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson


 

Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 5 – Princess September

By Somerset Maugham

 

lesson 5 princess september

 

Princess September- Introduction

 

The lesson “Princess September” by Somerset Maugham revolves around the youngest daughter of the King and Queen of Siam named ‘September’. It all begins when her parrot dies and a singing bird comes in its place. Her sisters then provoke her to lock the free bird in a cage if she did not want to lose him. Once she locked the bird in the cage,  he refused to eat or sing and instead, became miserable. Thus, the little Princess allowed the bird to be happy in its own way because she loved him so much. The bird, on the other hand,  loved the little Princess and kept on visiting her. 

 

Princess September- Summary

 

The King and the Queen of Siam had so many daughters that they decided to name their daughters January, February, March till they named their youngest daughter September. The King had a strange habit of giving away gifts on his birthday instead of receiving them. He thus gifted all of his daughters a green parrot in a golden cage. The Princesses gave the parrots an hour each day and taught them to say ‘God save the King’ and ‘Pretty Polly’ in no less than seven Oriental languages. 

Princess September’s parrot died one day and she got very upset. She kept on crying and nothing her Maid of Honours did comforted her. They consulted the Queen who advised them to put her to bed without any supper. The Maids of Honour did it and left her alone. The Princess did not stop crying and suddenly, she noticed a little bird sitting on her window. The bird sang so beautifully that she jumped up to sit in her bed. It even made her forget about the parrot and that she was hungry because she had missed her supper. The little bird asked the Princess to let him be her pet bird. Princess September got delighted and the bird sang her to sleep that night. Next day, when the Maids of Honour brought her breakfast, she fed the bird rice with her hands and bathed him in her saucer. She then decided to show the bird to her family. Thus, she went about the palace and the little bird sang a different song for everyone. The King and the Queen were delighted on seeing the melodious bird. The Queen felt it was right for her to send the Princess to sleep without supper. The King, on the other hand, felt happy on seeing the bird sing as he was tired of listening to the parrots say ‘Pretty Polly’ in seven different languages. It reminded him of his councillors who could also say the same thing in seven different ways without making sense in any one of them. This made the eight sisters unhappy.

The eight sisters put their heads together and went to see Princess September. They offered to buy her a parrot like theirs but September refused as she was happy with her little singing bird. The princesses then provoked Princess September to lock him in a cage when he returned as this way, she can be sure of his possession. This made September uneasy and upon hearing that the bird almost did not come back that night, she locked the bird telling him that her mother’s cats were prowling around that night. The bird agreed only if she let him out the next morning. The next morning, September refused to let him out as she was afraid, she’d lose him. The bird on the other hand, got upset and refused to eat or sing. The eight sisters felt that September had made a wise decision by listening to them and they asked her to stay firm. They told her that it was very ungrateful of the bird to not eat anything and understand her love. Princess September was not very sure about it but she decided to wait till the next day and see if he would get used to it. The next day, she received no reply from the bird. Upon seeing the bird lay on his side at the bottom of the cage frightened September who then instantly got him out of the cage. She started crying miserably and when a drop of her tears fell upon the bird, the bird opened his eyes. On seeing that he was no longer surrounded by bars, he told September that he can’t sing in a cage and if he won’t sing, he’d die. Princess September decided to let him free. The bird promised to come back. Her sisters mocked her for her decision but the bird did come back. She left her window open day and night for the bird to come in as he pleased. This helped her grow into an extremely beautiful woman. She got married to the King of Cambodia. Her sisters, on the other hand, never left the window open at night and thus, they grew up to be ugy and undesirable. They were given away (married) to the King’s councillors with some tea and a Siamese cat. 

 

Princess September- Lesson and Explanation

 

I

THE King and Queen of Siam had many daughters, and the Queen said that it confused her to have to remember so many names. One day the King decided to call them January, February, March (though of course in Siamese) till he came to the youngest whom he called September.

Siam- now Thailand 

Siamese- old fashioned term for Thai (language)

The King and Queen of Siam had many daughters that the Queen found it difficult to remember all their names. So, to make it easier for her, the King began calling them January, February, March in this particular order till they named their youngest daughter September. These names were of course in Siamese.

the king and queen

The King of Siam had a peculiar habit. Instead of receiving gifts on his birthday he gave them. One year on his birthday, not having anything else handy, he gave each of his daughters a green parrot in a golden cage. The princesses were very proud of their parrots and they spent an hour every day in teaching them to talk. Presently all the parrots could say ‘God save the king’ and some of them could say ‘Pretty Polly’ in no less than seven Oriental languages.

Peculiar- different o what is normal or expected 

Handy- immediately available

Oriental- of the east (the Orient means the countries of the far East. its opposite is the Occident)

Pretty Polly-  This simply means ‘God save the king’ as said by the parrot. This was the tradition that to pray for the long life of a king

The King of Siam had a very strange habit. Each year, on his birthday, he would give away gifts instead of receiving them. On one such birthday of his, he did not have anything else readily available, so he gifted each of his daughters a green parrot in a golden cage. The princesses were very glad about each of their parrots and spent an hour every day making them learn how to talk. All of their parrots could say ‘God save the King’ and some of them could say ‘Pretty Polly’ in almost seven different Oriental languages.

 

But one day when Princess September went to say good morning to her parrot she found it lying dead at the bottom of its golden cage. She burst into a flood of tears, and nothing that her Maids of Honour could say comforted her. She cried so much that the Maids of Honour, not knowing what to do, told the Queen, and the Queen said it was stuff and nonsense and the child had better go to bed without any supper. The Maids of Honour wanted to go to a party, so they put Princess September to bed as quickly as they could and left her by herself. 

Maids of Honour- Women attending the Princess

Supper- an evening meal, typically a light or informal one

One fine day when Princess September went to see her parrot and wish him Good Morning, she discovered her parrot lying lifeless at the bottom of the cage. Upon seeing it, she began crying and nothing her Maids of Honour said eased her grief. She was crying so miserably that the Maids of Honour took the matter to the Queen. The Queen said it was ‘stuff and nonsense’ and her child simply needed to rest. So, she advised them to put her to bed without any supper. The Maids of Honour were supposed to go to a party, so they tucked Princess September in her bed as fast as possible and left her alone. 

 

And while she lay in her bed, crying still even though she felt rather hungry, she saw a little bird hop into her room. She wiped her tears and sat up. Then the little bird began to sing and he sang a beautiful song all about the lake in the King’s garden and the willow trees that looked at themselves in the still water and the goldfish that glided in and out of the branches that were reflected in it. When he had finished, the Princess was not crying any more and she quite forgot that she had had no supper. 

Hop- jump

Willow- a tree or shrub of temperate climates which typically has narrow leaves, bears catkins, and grows near water. 

Glided- move with a smooth, quiet continuous motion

The  Princess lay in her bed wide awake. She was crying even if she felt hungry. Suddenly, she saw a little bird jump into her room and she wiped away her tears to see him. She sat as the little bird sang a melodious song all about the lake in the King’s garden. The willow trees peeped at their reflection in the lake water while the goldfish moved smoothly in and out of the branches that were reflecting themselves in the water. As the bird stopped singing, the Princess was not weeping anymore. She forgot that she was hungry. 

“That was a very nice song,” she said.

The little bird gave her a bow. “Would you care to have me in place of your parrot?” said the little bird. “It’s true that I’m not so pretty to look at, but on the other hand I have a much better voice.” 

Princess September clapped her hands with delight and then the little bird hopped on to the end of her bed and sang her to sleep.

Princess September appreciated the song and told the bird that it was very nice. The bird bowed down and asked the Princess if she would like to have him in place of the parrot. He confessed that he knows he is not as pretty as the parrot but he can surely sing much more beautifully. Princess September got excited and she clapped her hands in delight. The little bird hopped on to one side of her bed and sang till she fell asleep.

When she awoke the next day the little bird was still there, and as she opened her eyes he said, “Good morning!” 

The Maids of Honour brought in her breakfast, and he ate rice out of her hand and he had his bath in her saucer. He began to sing again so beautifully that the Maids of Honour were quite surprised, for they had never heard anything like it, and Princess September was very proud and happy.

Saucer- a shallow dish, typically having a circular indentation in the centre, on which a cup is placed

The bird was still there when she woke up the next day. He even wished her Good Morning when she opened her eyes. The Maids of Honour brought in her breakfast and Princess September fed the little bird rice with her hands. She even bathed him in her saucer. After this, he started singing again and his beautiful voice left the Maids of Honour were amazed because never in their lives had they heard such a melodious voice. This made Princess September very glad and she was proud of him.

“Now I want to show you to my eight sisters,” said the Princess. She stretched out the first finger of her right hand so that it served as a perch and the little bird flew down and sat on it. Then, followed by her Maids of Honour, she went through the palace and called on each of the Princesses. And for each of them the little bird sang a different song. But the parrots could only say ‘God save the king’ and ‘Pretty Polly’. At last she showed the little bird to the King and the Queen. They were surprised and delighted.

“I knew I was right to send you to bed without any supper,” said the Queen. 

“This bird sings much better than the parrots,” said the King. 

“I should have thought you got quite tired of hearing people say ‘God save the king’,” said the Queen. “I can’t think why those girls wanted to teach their parrots to say it too.” 

“The sentiment is admirable,” said the King, “and I never mind how often I hear it. But I do get tired of hearing those parrots say ‘Pretty Polly’.” 

“They say it in seven different languages,” said the Princesses. 

“I dare say they do,” said the King, “but it reminds me too much of my Councillors. They say the same thing in seven different ways and it never means anything in any way they say it.”

Perch-  place where a bird sits or rests

I dare say- I agree/ accept (that it is true)

The Princess expressed her desire to show the little bird to her eight other sisters. She extended the forefinger of her right hand to make a perch out of it and allowed the little bird to sit on it. She went everywhere in the palace to call out her sisters and the Maids of Honour followed her everywhere. The bird sang a different song for each one of them. The parrots, on the other hand, could only say ‘God save the King’ and ‘Pretty Polly’. 

When she showed the bird to the King and the Queen, it made them very happy. The Queen felt it was the right decision to send her to sleep without feeding her supper. The King was elated on seeing that the bird could sing way better than the parrots. The Queen expressed that she should have thought about how tired the King would have gotten upon hearing the same words ‘God Save the King’ by so many people. It was hard for her to understand why their daughters taught the parrots to say it too. The King, on the other hand, finds the emotion behind it appreciable. He doesn’t mind how often he hears it. However, he does mention that hearing ‘Pretty Polly’ often tires him. The Princesses instantly mentioned and said that their parrots can say it in seven different languages. 

The King did not have a single doubt upon the capability of the parrots to say it in seven different languages but it jogged his memory into thinking about his councillors who would say the same thing in seven different ways and it didn’t make sense in even one of the ways they said it.

The Princesses were vexed at this, and the parrots looked very glum indeed. But Princess September ran through all the rooms of the palace, singing like a lark, while the little bird flew round and round her singing like a nightingale. 

Vexed- annoyed, frustrated

Glum- looking or feeling dejected; gloomy

Lark- a small ground-dwelling songbird with elongated hind claws and a song that is delivered on the wing, typically crested and with brown streaky plumage

Nightingale- a small migratory thrush with drab brownish plumage, noted for its rich melodious song which can often be heard at night

Upon hearing this, the princesses got annoyed and the parrots got depressed. Princess September, on the other hand, roamed all around the palace, visiting all the rooms while she sang like a lark and the bird flew round and round her. The bird, on the other hand, sang like a nightingale.

Princess September and the bird

Things went on like this for several days and then the eight Princesses put their heads together. They went to September and sat down in a circle round her. “My poor September,” they said, “we are sorry for the death of your beautiful parrot. It must be dreadful for you not to have a pet bird as we have. So we have all put our pocket-money together and we are going to buy you a lovely green and yellow parrot.”

Put  their head together- discussed amongst themselves to take a decision 

Dreadful- terrible

For several days, the situation in the palace remained somewhat like this only. The other eight princesses thought about it and strategized. They went to see Princess September and sat around her in a circle. They expressed their grief over the death of the poor September’s parrot. They said that she must be feeling terrible for not having a pet bird like all her sisters. They told her that they have pooled their pocket money to be able to buy her a lovely green and yellow parrot.

 

‘‘Thank you for nothing,” said September. “I have a pet bird which sings the most charming songs to me and I don’t know what on earth I should do with a green and yellow parrot.” 

“Well, my dear,” they said, “it’s absurd to talk of your bird when the little fellow flies in and out just as he likes.” They looked round the room and raised their eyebrows. “Do you mind our asking where your bird is now?” they said. 

“He has gone to pay a visit to his father-in-law,” said Princess September. 

“And what makes you think he’ll come back?” asked the Princesses. 

“He always does come back,” said September. 

“Well, my dear,” said the eight Princesses, “if you’ll take our advice you won’t run any risks like that. If he comes back, and mind you, if he does you’ll be lucky, pop him into the cage and keep him there. That’s the only way you can be sure of him.” 

“But I like to have him fly about the room,” said the young Princess September. 

“Safety first,” said her sisters ominously. They got up and walked out of the room, shaking their heads, and they left September very uneasy

Thank you for nothing- dismissive and contemptuous way of telling somebody that they were no help at all; it is as empty of gratitude as the speaker thinks the offer of help is of no use.

Absurd- inappropriate

Pop- put; push

Ominously- threateningly – suggesting that something bad was about to happen

Princess September found their offer of no use and thus she said, “Thank you for nothing”. She further added that she does have a pet bird who sings the most beautiful and melodious songs for her. In fact, she did not know what she would do with a green and yellow parrot. 

The other sisters suggested that it was absurd to talk about her little bird when he comes and goes as he likes. They looked around the room to find him and when they couldn’t, they asked September about his whereabouts. Princess September told them that he has gone to visit his father-in-law. The other eight tried to fill September’s mind with doubt and asked her what according to her will draw him back. Princess September was so sure that he would come back because he always does. 

They tried to advise her upon not taking any risks like that.  They told her to lock him and keep him in a cage if he ever comes back. They specifically mention that she’d be very lucky if he does. And the only way she can be sure of his possession is by putting him in a cage. Princess September expresses her concern and tells her sisters that she likes to have him fly around the room. TThey left the room as they shook their heads, leaving Princess September alone and feeling uneasy.

princess september and her little birdII

It seemed to Princess September that her little bird had been away a long time. Something might have happened to him. What with hawks and with snares you never knew what trouble he might get into. Besides, he might forget her, or he might take a fancy to somebody else. That would be dreadful. She wished he were safely back again. 

Hawks- a bird of prey with broad rounded wings and a long tail, typically taking prey by surprise with a short chase

Snares- traps for catching birds or animals

Fancy- feel a desire or liking for

Dreadful- causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious

After some time, Princess September noticed that it has been quite long since her little bird left.  She began worrying that something unfortunate must have happened to him with all the hawks and traps that are out there for the little birds. She even began thinking of the possibilities of him forgetting about September or that he might develop a liking for somebody else. How terrible it would be, she thought to herself. She only wished for him to come back to her safely.

 

Suddenly September heard a ‘tweet-tweet’ just behind her ear and she saw the little bird sitting on her shoulder. He had come in so quietly and alighted so softly that she had not heard him. 

“I wondered what on earth had become of you,” said the Princess. 

“I thought you’d wonder that,” said the little bird. “The fact is I very nearly didn’t come back tonight at all. My father-in-law was giving a party and they all wanted me to stay, but I thought you’d be anxious.” 

Alighted- came down

As Princess September was thinking about the bird, she suddenly heard a ‘tweet-tweet’ from behind her ear. She found the little bird sitting on her shoulder. He had come in so softly and without making a sound that she could not sense him sitting on her shoulder. The Princess told the bird that she was worried about him. The bird, on the other hand, expressed that he was aware that the Princess would be worried and that was the reason he came back. He told her that he almost didn’t come back that night because his father-in-law was hosting a party and no one wanted him to leave but he came back only because he knew September would be worried.

little bird in the cageUnder the circumstances this was a very unfortunate remark for the little bird to make. September felt her heart go thump against her chest, and she made up her mind to take no more risks. She put up her hand and took hold of the bird. The bird suspected nothing and he was so surprised when she carried him over to the cage, popped him in, and shut the door on him that for a moment he could think of nothing to say. But in a moment or two he hopped up to the ivory perch and said, “What is the joke?” ‘‘There’s no joke,” said September, “but some of mamma’s cats are prowling about tonight, and I think you’re much safer in there.” 

“Well, just for this once I don’t mind,” said the little bird, “so long as you let me out in the morning.” 

He ate a very good supper and then began to sing. But in the middle of his song he stopped. “I don’t know what is the matter with me,” he said, “but I don’t feel like singing tonight.” 

“Very well,” said September, “go to sleep instead.” 

So he put his head under his wing and in a minute was fast asleep. September went to sleep too.

Heart go thump- If your heart thumps, it beats more strongly and quickly than usual, because of exercise, fear, or excitement 

Prowling- (of a person or animal) move about restlessly and stealthily, especially in search of prey

At that moment, when Princess September’s mind was filled with doubt already, it was very unlucky on behalf of the bird to have made that statement. She felt her heart beat getting faster and she decided to not to be exposed to any type of risk. So, she got hold of the bird in her hand and took him towards the cage. At first, the bird did not suspect a thing but upon seeing the cage, he was shocked. September put him in the cage and locked him. At that time, the bird could not understand what was happening but in a moment or two, he got into his senses, jumped onto the ivory perch and asked September what was going on. He thought it was some joke she was playing with him. September told him that it was no joke and that she was worried about him as her mother’s cats were supposed to be roaming around that night in search of prey. The bird agreed to stay inside the cage for only this time with a condition that she would have to let him out the next morning.

The bird had a very fulfilling evening meal and began singing. He expressed that he did not feel like singing that night. September had no problem with that and rather, she advised him to go to sleep instead. Thus, he put his head under his wing and went to sleep in about a minute. September too, went to sleep. 

 

But when the dawn broke she was awakened by the little bird calling her at the top of his voice. 

“Wake up, wake up,” he said. “Open the door of this cage and let me out. I want to have a good fly while the dew is still on the ground.” 

“You are much better off where you are,” said September. 

“Let me out, let me out,” said the little bird. And he tried to slip through the bars of the cage, but of course couldn’t, and he beat against the door, but of course he couldn’t open it. Then the eight Princesses came in and looked at him. They told September she was very wise to take their advice. They said he would soon get used to the cage and in a few days would quite forget he had ever been free. 

Dawn- the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise

Dew- tiny drops of water that form on cool surfaces at night, when atmospheric vapour condenses

At sunup, she was forced to wake up by the voice of the bird who was calling her in his loudest voice. He was asking her to wake up and let him out of the cage so that he could have a good fly before the dew disappeared from the ground. But September told him that by staying in the cage, he was at an advantage. The little bird asked her to let him out. He even tried to slip out of the bars but failed. He even beat against the door, but the door didn’t open. Meanwhile, the eight princesses came in and as they looked at the bird inside the cage, they appreciated September for taking their advice. They even told her that it was only a matter of days till he got used to the cage and when he would, he would completely forget about his freedom.

 

The little bird said nothing at all while they were there, but as soon as they were gone he began to cry again: “Let me out, let me out.”

“Don’t be such an old silly,” said September. “I’ve put you in the cage because I’m so fond of you. I know what’s good for you much better than you do yourself. Sing me a little song and I’ll give you a piece of sugar.” 

But the little bird stood in the corner of his cage looking out at the blue sky, and never sang a note. “What’s the good of sulking?” said September. “Why don’t you sing and forget your troubles?” 

“How can I sing?” answered the bird. “I want to see the trees and the lake and the green rice growing in the fields.” 

“I’ll take you out every day,” she said. 

“It’s not the same thing,” said the little bird. “The rice-fields and the lake and the willow trees look quite different when you see them through the bars of a cage.” 

Suking- be silent, morose, and bad-tempered out of annoyance or disappointment

The tiny bird remained quiet in front of the eight sisters but when they went out, he began crying for his freedom. September asked him to stop being silly and understand that she was doing it because she liked him. She claimed to know it better than himself about what was actually good for him. She asked him to sing a song for which he would get a piece of sugar.   

The little bird stood on the edge of his cage as he gazed at the blue sky. He did not sing a note. September explained to him that staying sad would do him no good. Rather, he should sing because it would make him forget about his problems. The bird expressed that it was nearly impossible for him to sing in a cage, when he actually wanted to watch the trees, the lake and the green rice that were growing in the fields. September offered to take him out everyday but the bird wasn’t convinced as it would not be the same for him. According to him, there was no pleasure in seeing the rice-fields, the lake and the willow trees through the bars of a cage.

 

The bird wouldn’t sing a song and he wouldn’t eat a thing. The Princess was a little anxious at this, and asked her sisters what they thought about it.

“You must be firm,” they said. 

“But if he won’t eat, he’ll die,” she answered. 

“That would be very ungrateful of him,” they said. “He must know that you’re only thinking of his own good. If he’s obstinate and dies it’ll serve him right and you’ll be well rid of him.” September didn’t see how that was going to do her very much good, but they were eight to one and all older than she, so she said nothing. “Perhaps he’ll have got used to his cage by tomorrow,” she said. 

Firm- unlikely to change

Obstinate- stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so

The bird refused to eat and he won’t even sing. This made September a bit concerned and she thought about taking advice from her sisters. Her sisters suggested that she should stay strong and unbothered. But September was worried that the little bird would die if he didn’t eat. Her sisters thought it would be very unthankful of him because he must realise that whatever Princess September was doing, was for his own good. If he still remained stubborn and died because of it, it would only do justice and the Princess would also get rid of someone who was unappreciative of her efforts. September, on the other hand, failed to see how their advice was of any good, but she gave them a benefit of the doubt as they were all older than her and more in number. She just hoped that the bird would get used to the cage by the following day. 

 

And next day when she awoke she cried out good morning in a cheerful voice. She got no answer. She jumped out of bed and ran to the cage. She gave a startled cry, for there the little bird lay, at the bottom, on his side, with his eyes closed, and he looked as if he were dead. She opened the door and putting her hand in lifted him out. She gave a sob of relief, for she felt that his little heart was beating still.

“Wake up, wake up, little bird,” she said. 

She began to cry and her tears fell on the little bird. He opened his eyes and saw that the bars of the cage were no longer around him. 

“I cannot sing unless I’m free, and if I cannot sing I die,” he said. 

The Princess gave a great sob. ‘‘Then take your freedom,” she said. “I shut you in a golden cage because I loved you and wanted to have you all to myself. But I never knew it would kill you. I love you enough to let you be happy in your own way.” She threw open the window and gently placed the little bird on the sill. He shook himself a little. 

“Come and go as you will, little bird,” she said. “I will never put you in a cage any more.”

Startled- feeling or showing sudden shock or alarm  

Sob- cry noisily, making loud, convulsive gasps

Sill- a shelf or slab of stone, wood, or metal at the foot of a window opening or doorway

The following day, Princess September woke up in a cheerful mood and wished good morning to the little bird in an exciting voice. When she received no answer, she instantly got out of her bed and rushed towards the cage. The Princess cried out of shock as she saw the little bird lying on one side at the bottom of the cage. His eyes were closed which made her think he was dead. The Princess opened the cage and lifted him out in her hand. She cried tears of relief when she felt his heartbeat. She gently asked him to wake up. And when he didn’t, she began weeping and when her tears fell upon him, he opened his eyes. When he saw that he was no longer caged by bars, he began speaking. He told the Princess that he can’t sing in a cage and if he won’t sing, he’d die. 

This made the Princess cry even louder. She offered him his freedom. She confessed that she locked him in a cage because she loved him and wanted to have him all by herself. She did not know that her actions could kill him. She further told him that now, she loved him enough to let him be happy in his own way. She opened the window and softly placed the bird on the foot of the window. The little bird slightly shook himself. The Princess told him that he was free to come and go as he pleased and that she would never lock him in a cage.

 

“I will come because I love you, little Princess,” said the bird. “And I will sing you the loveliest songs I know. I shall go far away, but I shall always come back and I shall never forget you.” He gave himself another shake. “Good gracious me, how stiff I am,” he exclaimed.

Good gracious- Exclamation of surprise, dismay, or alarm

Stiff- hardened; non-flexible

The bird replied and told the Princess that he would definitely come back as he loved her too. He promised that he would sing the most amazing songs for her. He said that it was important for him to fly away, but he assured her that he would always come back and would never forget her. He shook himself again and exclaimed surprisingly about how stiff he had been lately. 

 

Then he opened his wings and flew right away into the blue. But the little Princess burst into tears, for it is very difficult to put the happiness of someone you love before your own, and with her little bird far out of sight she felt, all of a sudden, very lonely. When her sisters knew what had happened they mocked her and said that the little bird would never return. But he did, at last. And he sat on September’s shoulder and ate out of her hand and sang her the beautiful songs he had learned while he was flying up and down the fair places of the world. September kept her window open day and night so that the little bird might come into her room whenever he felt inclined, and this was very good for her; so she grew extremely beautiful.

Mocked- tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner

The bird spread open his wings and flew straight into the blue sky. The little Princess, on the other hand, began crying miserably as it is very difficult for one to put the happiness of someone you love before your own and with her little bird no longer in sight, she felt lonely. 

When her eight sisters got to know about it, they made fun of her and told her that he would never come back. But he did. He would sit on September’s shoulder and eat out of her hand. He sang the most loveliest songs for her that he had learned while he was flying above the fair places of the world. The little Princesses never closed the window of her room so as to allow the bird to come in as he desired. This also proved to be amazing for her and she grew up to be immensely pretty and graceful. 

 

And when she was old enough she married the King of Cambodia and was carried on a white elephant all the way to the city in which the King lived. But her sisters never slept with their

the little bird flew straight into the blue sky

windows open, so they grew extremely ugly as well as disagreeable, and when the time came to marry them off they were given away to the King’s Councillors with a pound of tea and a Siamese cat.

Disagreeable- unpleasant 

Pound- a unit of weight

When the little Princess grew old enough, she got married to the King of Cambodia and she rode a white elephant (very rare) to the city where the King lived. 

Her eight sisters, on the other hand, never kept their window open at night and so they grew up to be ugly and unpleasant. Upon reaching their age, they were “given away” or in other words, married to the King’s Councillors with some tea and a Siamese cat.

 

Princess September- Question and Answers

 

Comprehension Check

1. How many daughters did the royal couple have? 

A. The Royal couple had nine daughters.

 

2. Why were they named after the months of the year?

A. The Queen of Siam was worried that it would confuse her to have to remember so many names, so the king decided to  call their daughters January, February, March (in Siamese) till he came to the youngest whom he called September. 

 

3. The King had a peculiar habit. What was it? Why is it called peculiar? 

A. The King of Siam had a peculiar habit. Instead of receiving gifts on his birthday he gave ifts away. It has been called ‘peculiar’ because generally, on birthdays, one receives gifts but strangely, the King of Siam gave them away.

 

4. (i) What was Princess September’s reaction to the loss of her parrot? 

A. When Princess September got to know about the death of her parrot, she burst into a flood of tears, and nothing that her Maids of Honour could say comforted her. She cried so much that the Maids of Honour, not knowing what to do, told the Queen about it.

 

(ii) What was her mother’s reaction to it? 

A. Her mother, the Queen, was quite normal upon hearing it and she said it was only stuff and nonsense. She further suggested that the child better went to bed without any supper.

 

(iii) What do the reactions indicate about the nature and temperament of each?

A. Princess September’s reaction to the loss of her parrot tells us that she was young, sensitive and emotional. Her sudden outburst into tears revealed how much she loved  and cared about him. The Queen, on the other hand, was a little insensitive in handling her child’s suffering. She did not console her. Her behaviour indicates that she was least bothered with the loss of her daughter’s parrot. 

 

5. What pulled the Princess out of her gloom? 

A. Seeing a little bird hop onto her window and sing so beautifully, pulled the Princess out of her gloom.

 

6. How did the Maids of Honour come to know that the Princess and the bird had become intimate friends? 

A. When the Maids of Honour brought in the Princess’s breakfast, and the bird ate rice out of her hand and he had his bath in her saucer, the Maids of Honour came to know that the bird and the Princess had become intimate friends.

 

7. The new bird was full of new songs but the old parrots always repeated themselves. What did they say? 

A. The new bird was full of new songs but the old parrots always repeated themselves by saying ‘God save the King’ and ‘Pretty Polly’.

 

8. What is the King’s opinion about his Councillors? Why did he form that opinion? 

A. The King said that the way his daughter’s parrots could say ‘Pretty Polly’ in seven different languages, reminded him of his Councillors who would say the same thing in seven different ways and it didn’t make sense in even one of the ways they said it. He thought his Councillors were just like parrots who kept on repeating the same thing in different ways without knowing what it actually meant

 

9. (i) The eight Princesses made an offer to Princess September. What was it? 

A. After Princess September lost her parrot,  the eight Princesses made an offer to her. They told her that they have put their pocket money together to be able to buy a lovely green and yellow parrot for her.

 

(ii) Why, in your view, did they do it? 

A. The eight Princesses were quite vexed at the way everyone liked September’s little singing bird while their parrots could only repeat a few words that they taught them. The eight Princesses put their heads together. So, in order to take Princess September’s attention away from the singing bird, they decided to offer her a new parrot. This way, everyone would have had the same pet bird.

 

10. What did the sisters advise the Princess to do about her bird?

A. The eight Princesses advised their sister, Princess September to put her little bird in a cage and lock it as soon as he came back. The sisters told her that she would be lucky enough if the bird finds her way back.

 

11. In the following sentence elaborate the parts given in bold. Under the circumstances it was a very unfortunate remark for the bird to make. 

A. Princess September grew anxious when the little bird was away for a long time. Moreover, her eight sisters had added to her uneasiness by filling her mind with doubt. They told her to lock him in a cage upon his return, and that she would be very lucky if he did. Thus, the words “Under the circumstances”, refer to the tense situation the little Princess was in as she thought about the possible mishaps that could happen with the bird that she was so fond of. 

Upon returning, the little bird told September that he very nearly did not come back that night. Thus, it has been referred to as “a very unfortunate remark” as  it made the Princess more anxious. She did not want to take a risk with it, and thus, she ended up locking him in a cage. 

 

12. (i) What did Princess September do to ensure the safety of her pet? 

A. To ensure the safety of her pet and to eliminate the risk of losing him, Princess September locked the bird in a golden cage.

 

(ii) How did the bird react to it?

A. At first, the bird suspected nothing and he was so surprised when she carried him over to the cage, popped him in, and shut the door on him that for a moment he could think of nothing to say. But in a moment or two he hopped up to the ivory perch and asked the Princess about her joke. The little Princess told him that this was no joke and that she wanted him to be safe because her mother’s cats were out prowling that night. 

 

13. Why did the bird refuse to be taken out in her cage?

A. When Princess September offered the bird to take her out in a cage almost everyday, the bird refused. According to him, it was not at all the same because the rice-fields, the lake and the willow trees looked quite different when one saw them through the bars of a cage.

 

14. (i) What persuaded Princess September to give the bird his freedom again? 

A. Princess September was already worried about the little bird because he had stopped singing and eating. The next day, when Princess September wished him Good Morning and he did not reply, seeing him lay down lifelessly made Princess September think that she’d almost lost him. Thus, upon realising that the bird won’t be able to sing in a cage and if he didn’t sing, he would die. Therefore, the Princess decided to give the bird his freedom again.

 

(ii) How did the bird react to it?

A. The bird was so happy upon realising that he was a free bird again. He was excited about seeing the lake, the willow trees and the green rice-field. He even promised September that he would come back and sing the loveliest songs for her.  

 

15. Princess September kept her window open day and night. 

(i) How did it help the bird? 

A. It helped the bird come in and out as he pleased.

 

(ii) How did it help the Princess herself? 

A. Keeping the window open day and night helped Princess September to grow up into an extremely beautiful woman.

 

16. The eight sisters kept their windows shut. How did it affect them?

A. The eight sisters kept their windows shut. Thus, they grew up to be  extremely ugly and undesirable.