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by W.S. Maugham

A prolific and popular writer in English, William Maugham is best known for his works ‘Of Human Bondage’, ‘The Razor’s Edge’, ‘The Moon and Sixpence’, ‘Cakes and Ale’, and ‘The Magician’.

However, ‘The Gentleman in the Parlour’ that accounts his journey through Burma, Siam, Vietnam, and Cambodia, is considered to be his best work. It was due to his interest in travel that he became one of the most prominent travel writers of the inter-war years.


I have always believed that if a woman made up her mind to marry a man nothing could save him. I have only once known a man who in such circumstances managed to save himself. His name was Roger Charing. He was no longer young when he fell in love with Ruth Barlow and he had had enough experience to make him careful; but Ruth Barlow had a gift that makes most men defenceless. This was the gif t of pathos. Mrs. Barlow was twice a widow'. She had splendid dark eyes and they were the most moving I ever saw. They seemed to be always on the point of filling with tears and you felt that her sufferings had been impossible to bear. If you were a strong fellow with plenty of money, like Roger Charing, you should say to yourself: I must stand between the troubles of life and this helpless little thing. Mrs. Barlow was one of those unfortunate persons with whom nothing goes right. If she married the husband beat her; if she employed a broker he cheated her; if she took a cook she drank.

When Roger told me that he was going to marry her, I wished him joy. As for me I thought she was stupid and as hard as nails.

Roger introduced her to his friends. He gave her lovely jewels. He took her everywhere. Their marriage was announced for the nearest future. Roger was very pleased with himself, he was committing a good action.

Then suddenly he fell out of love. I don't know why. Perhaps that pathetic look of hers ceased to touch his heart-strings. He realized that Ruth Barlow had made up her mind to marry him and he swore that nothing would make him marry her. Roger knew it wouldn't be easy. Roger didn't show that his feelings to Ruth Barlow had changed. He remained attentive to all her wishes, he took her to dine at restaurants, he sent her flowers, he was charming.

They were to get married as soon as they found a house that suited them; and they started looking for residences. The agents sent Roger orders to view' and he took Ruth to see some houses. It was very difficult to find anything satisfactory. They visited house after house. Sometimes they were too large and sometimes they were too small; sometimes they were too far from the centre and sometimes they were too close; sometimes they were too expensive and sometimes they wanted too many repairs; sometimes they were too stuffy and sometimes they were too airy. Roger always found a fault that made the house unsuitable. He couldn't let his dear Ruth to live in a bad house.

Ruth began to grow peevish. Roger asked her to have patience. They looked at hundreds of houses; they climbed thousands of stairs. Ruth was exhausted and often lost her temper. For two years they looked for houses. Ruth grew silent, her eyes no longer looked beautiful and pathetic. There are limits to human patience.

"Do you want to marry me or do you not?" she asked him one day.

"Of course I do. We'll be married the very moment we find a house."

"I don't feel well enough to look at any more houses."

Ruth Barlow took to her bed. Roger remained gallant as ever. Every day he wrote her and told her that he had heard of another house for them to look at, A week later he received the following letter:

'Roger – I do not think you really love me. I've found someone who really wants to take care of me and I am going to be married to him today.


He sent back his reply:

'Ruth – I'll never get over this blow. But your happiness must be my first concern. I send you seven addresses. I am sure you'll find among them a house that will exactly suit you. Roger.



widow –

as hard as nails –

orders to view –

Give Russian equivalents for the following words and expressions from the text and use them in the sentences of your own:

make up one's mind, fall in (out of) love with, have a gift, splendid eyes, be on the point of smth, bear sufferings, employ smb, introduce smb to smb, announce smth, swear, start doing smth, be far (close) from the centre, a stuffy (airy) house, find faults, have patience, lose one's temper, take care of smb, be one's first concern.



Questions on the text:

1) How old was Roger Charing when he fell in love?

2) What gift did Ruth Barlow possess?

3) Describe Ruth Barlow. Why does the author call her "an unfortunate person"?

4) How did Roger court Ruth Barlow?

5) Why was he pleased with himself?

6) Why did his f eelings suddenly change and what did he swear?

7) Why didn't Ruth feel that his attitude towards her had changed?

8) What was Roger's plan? In what way did he put it into life?

9) How many houses did they visit and what f aults did Roger find?

10) What had changed in Ruth's disposition by the time she began to doubt if Roger would marry her?

11) What was Ruth's letter about?

12) Prove that Roger was stuck to his plan to the end.


IV Discuss the following:

1) Was Roger really in love with Ruth Barlow or was he only committing a good action?

2) Comment on Roger Charing's plan. Do you find it interesting?

3) Was Roger a good phsycologist? Prove it by the facts from the story.

4) Follow through the text how the author shows his attitude to the main heroes.


V Retell the story on the part of 1) Roger, 2) Ruth, 3) one of Roger's close friends.

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