NCERT Textbook - The Luncheon Class 11 Notes | EduRev

English Class 11

Class 11 : NCERT Textbook - The Luncheon Class 11 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


The Luncheon 99
The Luncheon
William Somerset Maugham
F F F F F Look for these expressions in the story and guess the meaning
from the context
devastating passion caviare
complacency vindictive
mortifying ingratiating
I caught sight of her at the play and, in answer to her
beckoning, I went over during the interval and sat down
beside her. It was long since I had last seen her and if
someone had not mentioned her name I hardly think I would
have recognised her. She addressed me brightly.
‘Well, it’s many years since we first met. How time
does fly! We’re none of us getting any younger. Do you
remember the first time I saw you? You asked me to
luncheon.’
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had
a tiny apartment in the Latin quarter overlooking a
cemetery and I was earning barely enough money to keep
the body and soul together. She had read a book of mine
and had written to me about it. I answered, thanking her,
and presently I received from her another letter saying
that she was passing through Paris and would like to have
a chat with me; but her time was limited and the only free
moment she had was on the following Thursday; she was
spending the morning at the Luxembourg and would I give
her a little luncheon at Foyot’s afterwards? Foyot’s is a
restaurant at which the French senators eat and it was so
far beyond my means that I had never even thought of
going there. But I was flattered and I was too young to have
8
2019-2020
Page 2


The Luncheon 99
The Luncheon
William Somerset Maugham
F F F F F Look for these expressions in the story and guess the meaning
from the context
devastating passion caviare
complacency vindictive
mortifying ingratiating
I caught sight of her at the play and, in answer to her
beckoning, I went over during the interval and sat down
beside her. It was long since I had last seen her and if
someone had not mentioned her name I hardly think I would
have recognised her. She addressed me brightly.
‘Well, it’s many years since we first met. How time
does fly! We’re none of us getting any younger. Do you
remember the first time I saw you? You asked me to
luncheon.’
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had
a tiny apartment in the Latin quarter overlooking a
cemetery and I was earning barely enough money to keep
the body and soul together. She had read a book of mine
and had written to me about it. I answered, thanking her,
and presently I received from her another letter saying
that she was passing through Paris and would like to have
a chat with me; but her time was limited and the only free
moment she had was on the following Thursday; she was
spending the morning at the Luxembourg and would I give
her a little luncheon at Foyot’s afterwards? Foyot’s is a
restaurant at which the French senators eat and it was so
far beyond my means that I had never even thought of
going there. But I was flattered and I was too young to have
8
2019-2020
100 Woven Words
learned to say no to a woman. Few men, I may add, learn
this until they are too old to make it of any consequence to
a woman what they say. I had eighty francs (gold francs) to
last me the rest of the month, and a modest luncheon
should not cost more than fifteen. If I cut out coffee for the
next two weeks I could manage well enough.
I answered that I would meet my friend—by
correspondence—at Foyot’s on Thursday at half-past twelve.
She was not so young as I expected and in appearance
imposing rather than attractive. She was, in fact, a woman
of forty (a charming age, but not one that excites a sudden
and devastating passion at first sight), and she gave me
the impression of having more teeth, white and large and
even, than were necessary for any practical purpose. She
was talkative but since she seemed inclined to talk about
me I was prepared to be an attentive listener.
I was startled when the bill of fare was brought for the
prices were a great deal higher than I had anticipated. But
she reassured me.
‘I never eat anything for luncheon.’ She said.
‘Oh, don’t say that!’ I answered generously.
‘I never eat more than one thing. I think people eat far
too much nowadays. A little fish, perhaps. I wonder if they
have any salmon.’
Well, it was early in the year for salmon and it was not
on the bill of fare, but I asked the waiter if there was any.
Yes, a beautiful salmon had just come in, it was the first
they had had. I ordered it for my guest. The waiter asked
her if she would have something while it was being cooked.
‘No,’ she answered, ‘I never eat more than one thing.
Unless you have a little caviare. I never mind caviare.’
My heart sank a little. I knew I could not afford caviare
but I could not very well tell her that. I told the waiter by
all means to bring caviare. For myself I chose the cheapest
dish on the menu and that was a mutton chop.
‘I think you are unwise to eat meat,’ she said. ‘I don’t
know how you can expect to work after eating heavy things
like chops. I don’t believe in overloading my stomach.’
Then came the question of drink.
‘I never drink anything for luncheon,’ she said.
2019-2020
Page 3


The Luncheon 99
The Luncheon
William Somerset Maugham
F F F F F Look for these expressions in the story and guess the meaning
from the context
devastating passion caviare
complacency vindictive
mortifying ingratiating
I caught sight of her at the play and, in answer to her
beckoning, I went over during the interval and sat down
beside her. It was long since I had last seen her and if
someone had not mentioned her name I hardly think I would
have recognised her. She addressed me brightly.
‘Well, it’s many years since we first met. How time
does fly! We’re none of us getting any younger. Do you
remember the first time I saw you? You asked me to
luncheon.’
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had
a tiny apartment in the Latin quarter overlooking a
cemetery and I was earning barely enough money to keep
the body and soul together. She had read a book of mine
and had written to me about it. I answered, thanking her,
and presently I received from her another letter saying
that she was passing through Paris and would like to have
a chat with me; but her time was limited and the only free
moment she had was on the following Thursday; she was
spending the morning at the Luxembourg and would I give
her a little luncheon at Foyot’s afterwards? Foyot’s is a
restaurant at which the French senators eat and it was so
far beyond my means that I had never even thought of
going there. But I was flattered and I was too young to have
8
2019-2020
100 Woven Words
learned to say no to a woman. Few men, I may add, learn
this until they are too old to make it of any consequence to
a woman what they say. I had eighty francs (gold francs) to
last me the rest of the month, and a modest luncheon
should not cost more than fifteen. If I cut out coffee for the
next two weeks I could manage well enough.
I answered that I would meet my friend—by
correspondence—at Foyot’s on Thursday at half-past twelve.
She was not so young as I expected and in appearance
imposing rather than attractive. She was, in fact, a woman
of forty (a charming age, but not one that excites a sudden
and devastating passion at first sight), and she gave me
the impression of having more teeth, white and large and
even, than were necessary for any practical purpose. She
was talkative but since she seemed inclined to talk about
me I was prepared to be an attentive listener.
I was startled when the bill of fare was brought for the
prices were a great deal higher than I had anticipated. But
she reassured me.
‘I never eat anything for luncheon.’ She said.
‘Oh, don’t say that!’ I answered generously.
‘I never eat more than one thing. I think people eat far
too much nowadays. A little fish, perhaps. I wonder if they
have any salmon.’
Well, it was early in the year for salmon and it was not
on the bill of fare, but I asked the waiter if there was any.
Yes, a beautiful salmon had just come in, it was the first
they had had. I ordered it for my guest. The waiter asked
her if she would have something while it was being cooked.
‘No,’ she answered, ‘I never eat more than one thing.
Unless you have a little caviare. I never mind caviare.’
My heart sank a little. I knew I could not afford caviare
but I could not very well tell her that. I told the waiter by
all means to bring caviare. For myself I chose the cheapest
dish on the menu and that was a mutton chop.
‘I think you are unwise to eat meat,’ she said. ‘I don’t
know how you can expect to work after eating heavy things
like chops. I don’t believe in overloading my stomach.’
Then came the question of drink.
‘I never drink anything for luncheon,’ she said.
2019-2020
The Luncheon 101
‘Neither do I,’ I answered promptly.
‘Except white wine,’ she proceeded as though I had not
spoken.
‘These French white wines are so light. They’re
wonderful for the digestion.’
‘What would you like?’ I asked, hospitable still, but not
exactly effusive.
She gave me a bright and amicable flash of her white
teeth.
‘My doctor won’t let me drink anything but Champagne.’
I fancy I turned a trifle pale. I ordered half a bottle. I
mentioned casually that my doctor had absolutely forbidden
me to drink Champagne.
‘What are you going to drink, then?’
‘Water.’ She ate the caviare and she ate the salmon.
She talked gaily of art and literature and music. But I
wondered what the bill would come to. When my mutton
chop arrived she took me quite seriously to task.
‘I see that you’re in the habit of eating a heavy luncheon.
I’m sure it’s a mistake. Why don’t you follow my example
and just eat one thing? I’m sure you’d feel ever so much
better for it.’
‘I am only going to eat one thing,’ I said, as the waiter
came again with the bill of fare.
She waved him aside with an airy gesture.
‘No, no, I never eat anything for luncheon. Just a bite,
I never want more than that, and I eat that more as an
excuse for conversation than anything else. I couldn’t
possibly eat anything more—unless they had some of those
giant asparagus. I should be sorry to leave Paris without
having some of them.’
My heart sank. I had seen them in the shops and I
knew that they were horribly expensive. My mouth had
often watered at the sight of them.
‘Madame wants to know if you have any of those giant
asparagus,’ I asked the waiter.
I tried with all my might to will him to say no. A happy
smile spread over his broad, priest-like face and he assured
me that they had some so large, so splendid, so tender,
that it was a marvel.
2019-2020
Page 4


The Luncheon 99
The Luncheon
William Somerset Maugham
F F F F F Look for these expressions in the story and guess the meaning
from the context
devastating passion caviare
complacency vindictive
mortifying ingratiating
I caught sight of her at the play and, in answer to her
beckoning, I went over during the interval and sat down
beside her. It was long since I had last seen her and if
someone had not mentioned her name I hardly think I would
have recognised her. She addressed me brightly.
‘Well, it’s many years since we first met. How time
does fly! We’re none of us getting any younger. Do you
remember the first time I saw you? You asked me to
luncheon.’
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had
a tiny apartment in the Latin quarter overlooking a
cemetery and I was earning barely enough money to keep
the body and soul together. She had read a book of mine
and had written to me about it. I answered, thanking her,
and presently I received from her another letter saying
that she was passing through Paris and would like to have
a chat with me; but her time was limited and the only free
moment she had was on the following Thursday; she was
spending the morning at the Luxembourg and would I give
her a little luncheon at Foyot’s afterwards? Foyot’s is a
restaurant at which the French senators eat and it was so
far beyond my means that I had never even thought of
going there. But I was flattered and I was too young to have
8
2019-2020
100 Woven Words
learned to say no to a woman. Few men, I may add, learn
this until they are too old to make it of any consequence to
a woman what they say. I had eighty francs (gold francs) to
last me the rest of the month, and a modest luncheon
should not cost more than fifteen. If I cut out coffee for the
next two weeks I could manage well enough.
I answered that I would meet my friend—by
correspondence—at Foyot’s on Thursday at half-past twelve.
She was not so young as I expected and in appearance
imposing rather than attractive. She was, in fact, a woman
of forty (a charming age, but not one that excites a sudden
and devastating passion at first sight), and she gave me
the impression of having more teeth, white and large and
even, than were necessary for any practical purpose. She
was talkative but since she seemed inclined to talk about
me I was prepared to be an attentive listener.
I was startled when the bill of fare was brought for the
prices were a great deal higher than I had anticipated. But
she reassured me.
‘I never eat anything for luncheon.’ She said.
‘Oh, don’t say that!’ I answered generously.
‘I never eat more than one thing. I think people eat far
too much nowadays. A little fish, perhaps. I wonder if they
have any salmon.’
Well, it was early in the year for salmon and it was not
on the bill of fare, but I asked the waiter if there was any.
Yes, a beautiful salmon had just come in, it was the first
they had had. I ordered it for my guest. The waiter asked
her if she would have something while it was being cooked.
‘No,’ she answered, ‘I never eat more than one thing.
Unless you have a little caviare. I never mind caviare.’
My heart sank a little. I knew I could not afford caviare
but I could not very well tell her that. I told the waiter by
all means to bring caviare. For myself I chose the cheapest
dish on the menu and that was a mutton chop.
‘I think you are unwise to eat meat,’ she said. ‘I don’t
know how you can expect to work after eating heavy things
like chops. I don’t believe in overloading my stomach.’
Then came the question of drink.
‘I never drink anything for luncheon,’ she said.
2019-2020
The Luncheon 101
‘Neither do I,’ I answered promptly.
‘Except white wine,’ she proceeded as though I had not
spoken.
‘These French white wines are so light. They’re
wonderful for the digestion.’
‘What would you like?’ I asked, hospitable still, but not
exactly effusive.
She gave me a bright and amicable flash of her white
teeth.
‘My doctor won’t let me drink anything but Champagne.’
I fancy I turned a trifle pale. I ordered half a bottle. I
mentioned casually that my doctor had absolutely forbidden
me to drink Champagne.
‘What are you going to drink, then?’
‘Water.’ She ate the caviare and she ate the salmon.
She talked gaily of art and literature and music. But I
wondered what the bill would come to. When my mutton
chop arrived she took me quite seriously to task.
‘I see that you’re in the habit of eating a heavy luncheon.
I’m sure it’s a mistake. Why don’t you follow my example
and just eat one thing? I’m sure you’d feel ever so much
better for it.’
‘I am only going to eat one thing,’ I said, as the waiter
came again with the bill of fare.
She waved him aside with an airy gesture.
‘No, no, I never eat anything for luncheon. Just a bite,
I never want more than that, and I eat that more as an
excuse for conversation than anything else. I couldn’t
possibly eat anything more—unless they had some of those
giant asparagus. I should be sorry to leave Paris without
having some of them.’
My heart sank. I had seen them in the shops and I
knew that they were horribly expensive. My mouth had
often watered at the sight of them.
‘Madame wants to know if you have any of those giant
asparagus,’ I asked the waiter.
I tried with all my might to will him to say no. A happy
smile spread over his broad, priest-like face and he assured
me that they had some so large, so splendid, so tender,
that it was a marvel.
2019-2020
102 Woven Words
‘I’m not in the least hungry,’ my guest sighed, ‘but if
you insist I don’t mind having some asparagus.’
I ordered them.
‘Aren’t you going to have any?’
‘No, I never eat asparagus.’
‘I know there are people who don’t like them. The fact
is, you ruin your palate by all the meat you eat.’
We waited for the asparagus to be cooked. Panic seized
me: it was not a question now how much money I should
have left over for the rest of the month but whether I had
enough to pay the bill. It would be mortifying to find myself
ten francs short and be obliged to borrow from my guest. I
could not bring myself to do that. I knew exactly how much
I had and if the bill came to me I made up my mind that I
would put my hand in my pocket and with a dramatic cry
start up and say it had been picked. Of course, it would be
awkward if she had not money enough either to pay the
bill; then the only thing would be to leave my watch and
say I would come back and pay later.
The asparagus appeared. They were enormous,
succulent, and appetizing. The smell of the melted butter
tickled my nostrils as the nostrils of Johovah were tickled
by the burned offerings of the virtuous Semites. I watched
the abandoned woman thrust them down her throat in
large voluptuous mouthfuls, and, in my polite way, I
discoursed on the condition of the drama in the Balkans.
At last she finished.
‘Coffee,’ I said...
‘Yes, just an ice-cream and coffee,’ she answered.
I was past caring now, so I ordered coffee for myself
and ice-cream and coffee for her.
‘You know, there’s one thing I thoroughly believe in,’
she said, as she ate the ice-cream. ‘One should always get
up from a meal feeling one could eat a little more.’
‘Are you still hungry?’ I asked faintly.
‘Oh, no, I’m not hungry; you see, I don’t eat luncheon. I
have a cup of coffee in the morning and then dinner, but I
never eat more than one thing for luncheon. I was speaking
for you.’
‘Oh, I see!’
2019-2020
Page 5


The Luncheon 99
The Luncheon
William Somerset Maugham
F F F F F Look for these expressions in the story and guess the meaning
from the context
devastating passion caviare
complacency vindictive
mortifying ingratiating
I caught sight of her at the play and, in answer to her
beckoning, I went over during the interval and sat down
beside her. It was long since I had last seen her and if
someone had not mentioned her name I hardly think I would
have recognised her. She addressed me brightly.
‘Well, it’s many years since we first met. How time
does fly! We’re none of us getting any younger. Do you
remember the first time I saw you? You asked me to
luncheon.’
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had
a tiny apartment in the Latin quarter overlooking a
cemetery and I was earning barely enough money to keep
the body and soul together. She had read a book of mine
and had written to me about it. I answered, thanking her,
and presently I received from her another letter saying
that she was passing through Paris and would like to have
a chat with me; but her time was limited and the only free
moment she had was on the following Thursday; she was
spending the morning at the Luxembourg and would I give
her a little luncheon at Foyot’s afterwards? Foyot’s is a
restaurant at which the French senators eat and it was so
far beyond my means that I had never even thought of
going there. But I was flattered and I was too young to have
8
2019-2020
100 Woven Words
learned to say no to a woman. Few men, I may add, learn
this until they are too old to make it of any consequence to
a woman what they say. I had eighty francs (gold francs) to
last me the rest of the month, and a modest luncheon
should not cost more than fifteen. If I cut out coffee for the
next two weeks I could manage well enough.
I answered that I would meet my friend—by
correspondence—at Foyot’s on Thursday at half-past twelve.
She was not so young as I expected and in appearance
imposing rather than attractive. She was, in fact, a woman
of forty (a charming age, but not one that excites a sudden
and devastating passion at first sight), and she gave me
the impression of having more teeth, white and large and
even, than were necessary for any practical purpose. She
was talkative but since she seemed inclined to talk about
me I was prepared to be an attentive listener.
I was startled when the bill of fare was brought for the
prices were a great deal higher than I had anticipated. But
she reassured me.
‘I never eat anything for luncheon.’ She said.
‘Oh, don’t say that!’ I answered generously.
‘I never eat more than one thing. I think people eat far
too much nowadays. A little fish, perhaps. I wonder if they
have any salmon.’
Well, it was early in the year for salmon and it was not
on the bill of fare, but I asked the waiter if there was any.
Yes, a beautiful salmon had just come in, it was the first
they had had. I ordered it for my guest. The waiter asked
her if she would have something while it was being cooked.
‘No,’ she answered, ‘I never eat more than one thing.
Unless you have a little caviare. I never mind caviare.’
My heart sank a little. I knew I could not afford caviare
but I could not very well tell her that. I told the waiter by
all means to bring caviare. For myself I chose the cheapest
dish on the menu and that was a mutton chop.
‘I think you are unwise to eat meat,’ she said. ‘I don’t
know how you can expect to work after eating heavy things
like chops. I don’t believe in overloading my stomach.’
Then came the question of drink.
‘I never drink anything for luncheon,’ she said.
2019-2020
The Luncheon 101
‘Neither do I,’ I answered promptly.
‘Except white wine,’ she proceeded as though I had not
spoken.
‘These French white wines are so light. They’re
wonderful for the digestion.’
‘What would you like?’ I asked, hospitable still, but not
exactly effusive.
She gave me a bright and amicable flash of her white
teeth.
‘My doctor won’t let me drink anything but Champagne.’
I fancy I turned a trifle pale. I ordered half a bottle. I
mentioned casually that my doctor had absolutely forbidden
me to drink Champagne.
‘What are you going to drink, then?’
‘Water.’ She ate the caviare and she ate the salmon.
She talked gaily of art and literature and music. But I
wondered what the bill would come to. When my mutton
chop arrived she took me quite seriously to task.
‘I see that you’re in the habit of eating a heavy luncheon.
I’m sure it’s a mistake. Why don’t you follow my example
and just eat one thing? I’m sure you’d feel ever so much
better for it.’
‘I am only going to eat one thing,’ I said, as the waiter
came again with the bill of fare.
She waved him aside with an airy gesture.
‘No, no, I never eat anything for luncheon. Just a bite,
I never want more than that, and I eat that more as an
excuse for conversation than anything else. I couldn’t
possibly eat anything more—unless they had some of those
giant asparagus. I should be sorry to leave Paris without
having some of them.’
My heart sank. I had seen them in the shops and I
knew that they were horribly expensive. My mouth had
often watered at the sight of them.
‘Madame wants to know if you have any of those giant
asparagus,’ I asked the waiter.
I tried with all my might to will him to say no. A happy
smile spread over his broad, priest-like face and he assured
me that they had some so large, so splendid, so tender,
that it was a marvel.
2019-2020
102 Woven Words
‘I’m not in the least hungry,’ my guest sighed, ‘but if
you insist I don’t mind having some asparagus.’
I ordered them.
‘Aren’t you going to have any?’
‘No, I never eat asparagus.’
‘I know there are people who don’t like them. The fact
is, you ruin your palate by all the meat you eat.’
We waited for the asparagus to be cooked. Panic seized
me: it was not a question now how much money I should
have left over for the rest of the month but whether I had
enough to pay the bill. It would be mortifying to find myself
ten francs short and be obliged to borrow from my guest. I
could not bring myself to do that. I knew exactly how much
I had and if the bill came to me I made up my mind that I
would put my hand in my pocket and with a dramatic cry
start up and say it had been picked. Of course, it would be
awkward if she had not money enough either to pay the
bill; then the only thing would be to leave my watch and
say I would come back and pay later.
The asparagus appeared. They were enormous,
succulent, and appetizing. The smell of the melted butter
tickled my nostrils as the nostrils of Johovah were tickled
by the burned offerings of the virtuous Semites. I watched
the abandoned woman thrust them down her throat in
large voluptuous mouthfuls, and, in my polite way, I
discoursed on the condition of the drama in the Balkans.
At last she finished.
‘Coffee,’ I said...
‘Yes, just an ice-cream and coffee,’ she answered.
I was past caring now, so I ordered coffee for myself
and ice-cream and coffee for her.
‘You know, there’s one thing I thoroughly believe in,’
she said, as she ate the ice-cream. ‘One should always get
up from a meal feeling one could eat a little more.’
‘Are you still hungry?’ I asked faintly.
‘Oh, no, I’m not hungry; you see, I don’t eat luncheon. I
have a cup of coffee in the morning and then dinner, but I
never eat more than one thing for luncheon. I was speaking
for you.’
‘Oh, I see!’
2019-2020
The Luncheon 103
Then a terrible thing happened. While we were waiting
for the coffee, the headwaiter, with an ingratiating smile
on his false face, came up to us bearing a large basket full
of huge peaches. They had the blush of an innocent girl;
they had the rich tone of an Italian landscape. But surely
peaches were not in season then? Lord knew what they
cost. I knew too—a little later, for my guest, going on with
her conversation, absentmindedly took one.
‘You see, you’ve filled your stomach with a lot of meat’
—my one miserable little chop— ‘and you can’t eat any
more. But I’ve just had a snack and I shall enjoy a peach.’
The bill came and when I paid it I found that I had only
enough for a quite inadequate tip. Her eyes rested for an
instant on the three francs I left for the waiter and I knew
that she thought me mean. But when I walked out of the
restaurant I had the whole month before me and not a
penny in my pocket.
‘Follow my example,’ she said as we shook hands, ‘and
never eat more than one thing for luncheon.’
‘I’ll do better than that,’ I retorted. ‘I’ll eat nothing for
dinner tonight.’
‘Humorist’, she cried gaily, jumping into a cab. ‘You’re
quite a humorist!’
But I have had my revenge at last. I do not believe that
I am a vindictive man, but when the immortal gods take a
hand in the matter it is pardonable to observe the result
with complacency. Today she weighs twenty-one stone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) is a
distinguished British author. He was born in
Paris and his childhood was spent in a French-
speaking society. After the death of his father,
he returned to England at the age of 10. He
studied at Heidelberg and at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London,
and qualified as a doctor. But he preferred writing to
practising medicine.
2019-2020
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