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    A young man finds it very difficult to say no to a woman as a result he gets into trouble. The restaurant to which he has agreed to take his luncheon date is far too expensive for his small pocketbook. How, then, will he be able to avoid the embarrassing situation?

THE LUNCHEON

 W.Somerset Maugham

    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 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 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 eight 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.
    "Neither do I," I answered promptly.
    "Except whiter 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 too will him to say no. A happy smile spread over his broad, pries-like face, and he assured me that they had some so large, so splendid, so tender, that it was a marvel.
    "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 taste 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 embarrassing 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 more 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, juicy, and appetising. I watched the wicked woman thrust them down her throat in large mouthfuls, and in my polite way I spoke about the condition of the drama in the Balkans. At last the 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 an 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!"
    Then a terrible thing happened. While we were waiting for the coffee the head waiter, 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 matter it is pardonable to observe the result with complacency. Today she weighs twenty-one stone.


New Words

    luncheon
n.& vi. (formal word for) lunch
  
    beckon
vt. signal to (sb.) by a motion of the hand or head 向……招手或点头示意

    apartment
n.  a single room; (AmE) flat or a set of rooms 房间;(美)一套公寓住房

    Latin
a.  拉丁的
n.  拉丁文

    quarter
n.  division of a town, esp. one of a special class of people (都市的)区,街

    overlook
vt. have a view of from above; fail to see or notice 俯视;忽略

    presently
ad. soon; (AmE) at the present time 不久;(美)目前

    chat
n., vi. (have) a friendly informal conversation 闲谈,聊天

    senator
n.  a member of a senate 参议员,上议员

    means
n.  money, income, or wealth, esp. large enough to afford all one needs 财富,资产

    franc
n.  the unit of money in France, Belgium. Switzerland, and some other countries 法郎

    modest
a.  not large in quantity, size, value, etc. 不太大的;适度的

    imposing
a.  impressive because of size, appearance, or dignity 仪表堂堂的;宏伟的

    attractive
a.  having the power to attract; pleasing 吸引人的;有魅力的

    charming
a.  very pleasing; fascinating 有魅力的

    devastating
a.  destructive; causing ruin; sweeping everything before it 毁灭性的;压倒一切的

    passion
n.  strong feeling or enthusiasm, esp. of love or anger 激情

    impression
n.  印象

    talkative
a.  having the habit of talking a great deal; fond of talking 好说话的;健谈的

    inclined
a.  likely; tending(to); encouraged 有……倾向的

    attentive
a.  listening carefully; doing acts to satisfy the needs of another 专注的;体贴的,殷勤的

    startle
vt. give a shock of surprise to; cause to move of jump 使吃惊,使惊跳

    fare
n.  food, esp. as provided at a meal 食物

    bill of fare
    a list of dishes; menu 菜单

    reassure
vt. set a person's mind at rest 使安心

    generously
ad. with readiness to give money, help, kindness, etc. 慷慨地,大方地

    generous a.

    nowadays
ad. at the present time, now

    salmon
n.  鲑鱼

    menu
n.  a list of courses at a meal or of dishes that can be served in a restaurant 菜单

    mutton
n.  meat from a fully grown sheep 羊肉

    chop
n.  a small piece of meat with bone in it (连骨的)块肉

    overload
vt. put too large a load on or in; overburden 使过载消化

    digestion
n.  消化

    hospitable
a.  generous in the treatment of a guest 好客的

    effusive
a.  (of feelings, signs of pleasure, gratitude, etc.) pouring out too freely; too demonstrative or emotional 热情洋溢的;感情(过多)流露的

    amicable
a.  friendly; peaceful

    flash
n.  a sudden, quick bright light; a sudden display  闪烁;闪现

    champagne
n.  香槟洒

    fancy
vt. suppose, imagine

    trifle
n.  a thing, event, etc. of little value or importance 琐事

    forbid (forbade or forbad, forbidden)
vt. command(sb.) not to do sth.; refuse to allow (sb.) to have, use, enter etc.禁止

    gaily
ad. in a happy and joyous manner

    literature
n.  文学(作品)

    airy
a.  light-hearted; affected 轻盈的;做作的

    bite
n.  piece cut off by biting

    asparagus
n.  (sing. or pl.) 芦笋

    water
vi. (of the eyes or mouth) fill with watery liquid, esp. tears or saliva

    Madame
n.  use as a title of respect for a woman (esp. a foreign married woman)夫人

    might
n.  power, strength, force

    will
vt. influence or compel, by exercising the power of the mind 以意志力使

    assure
vt. tell firmly and with confidence esp. with the aim of removing doubt 保证;使确信

    tender
a.  delicate; not hard or difficult to bit through 柔弱的;柔嫩的

    marvel
n.  a wonderful thing. sth. causing great surprise

    sigh
vi. let out a deep breath slowly and with a sound (indicating sadness, tiredness, relief, etc.)叹气

    ruin
vt. destroy or spoil (completely) 毁灭
n.  a condition of destruction and decay

    panic
n.  sudden, uncontrollable terror or anxiety 恐慌

    oblige
vt. compel; require, bind (sb.) by a promise, oath, etc. 强迫,使不得不
    dramatic
a.  of drama; sudden or exciting, like an event in a stage play

    pick
vt. steal

    juicy
a.  having a lot of juice  多液汁的

    appetising
a.  arousing or exciting the desire for food 引起食欲的,美味可口的

    wicked
a.  very bad, evil 邪恶的

    thrust
vt. push suddenly or violently; make a forward stoke with a sword, knife, etc. 猛推;刺,戳

    throat
n.  咽喉

    mouthful
n.  as much (food or drink) as fills the mouth

    drama
n.  a play for the theatre, radio or TV; composition, presentation and performance of such plays 戏剧

    head waiter
n.  a man in charge of the waiters in a restaurant hotel, or dining car

    ingratiating
a.  making oneself very pleasant to sb. in order to gain favour 讨好的,奉承的

    peach
n.  桃子

    blush
n.  reddening of the face, from shame or confusion

    innocent
a.  (of people) simple, not able to recognize evil; not guilty 天真的;无罪的

    landscape
n.  a wide view of natural scenery; a picture of such a scene 风景;风景画

    Lord
n.  God 上帝,主

    snack
n.  a small, usu. hurriedly eaten meal 小吃

    instant
n.  a moment of time

    mean
a.  ungenerous; unkind 吝啬的;刻薄的

    retort
vt. make a quick, angry and often amusing answer 反驳

    humorist
n.  a person who makes jokes in speech or writing

    humor
n.  幽默

    cab
n.  a carriage for public hire; taxi

    revenge
n.  报仇,报复
vt. 替……报仇

    vindictive
a.  unforgiving; having or showing a desire for revenge

    immortal
a.  living for ever 不朽的

    pardonable
a.  that can be forgiven

    complacency
n.  self-satisfaction 自鸣得意

    stone
n.  the British unit of weight equal to 14 pounds (6.35 kilos)


Phrase & Expressions

  catch sight of
  see suddenly or unexpectedly

  in answer to
  in response to

  keep body and soul together
  remain alive, esp. by  earning enough money to feed oneself 勉强维持生活

  pass through
  go through; experience 穿过;经历

  be beyond one's means
  be more than one can afford 付不起

  cut out
  leave out 停止使用,戒除

  at first sight
  when seen for the first time 乍看之下;第一眼就

  be inclined to
  be likely to; tend to 易于……的;倾向于,想

  come in
  become seasonable or available 上市;有供应

  can/could not very well
  can/could not reasonably  不好

  by all means
  certainly; at all costs 一定;务必    

  a trifle
  somewhat, a little

  come to
  amount to 总计

  take(sb.) to task
  criticize (sb.)申斥(某)人

  be in the habit of
  have the habit of 习惯于

  (not) in the least
  leave as remainder (the best part having being consumed )留下,剩下

  bring oneself to
  make oneself (do); force oneself to 强迫自己

  make up one's mind
  choose what to do; decide 决定

  start up
  make a sudden movement due to surprise, alarm, pain, etc. 惊动,惊起
 
  speak for
  make a request for; speak on behalf of 要求得到;为……说话,为……辩护

  in season
  available, fresh for use as food 正在当令之时

  go on with
  continue doing

  take/have a hand in
  be partly responsible for; share (an activity) 参加,介入


Proper Names


  Paris
  巴黎(法国首都)
  the Luxemb(o)urg
  卢森堡宫(巴黎)

  Foyot
  福伊约(巴黎一餐馆)

  the Balkans
  巴尔干半岛各国;巴尔干山脉

  Lord
  God; Jesus Christ

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