IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY – Without reaching for the dictionary !


A story written deliberately using uncommon words which are explained in the course of the story – so no running around for the dictionary.

Method: The words in italics indicate the meaning of the word in bold print just preceding. The first pair has been highlighted for understanding.

An occasional word is not explained – a ploy to make you reach for the dictionary occasionally.

Prof Kohler: (Busy at his writing desk. His nephew Rudolf walks in)

Rudolf: Hi uncle! Busy writing as usual! (Looks at the manuscript) What have we here?

Prof Kohler: It’s a dialectic. You won’t get it.

Rudolf: What’s a dialectic?

Prof Kohler: (Sighs) It’s investigation of truth by logical and systematic reasoning.

Rudolf: Oh! I love investigating truth. I’d love helping you arrive at some great truth.

Prof Kohler: (Laughs sarcastically) And then we could write a paean!

Rudolf: Ah! A song of triumph! I’d quite fancy that!

Prof Kohler: It requires diligent work, my friend. One needs to work sincerely with care and effort.

Rudolf: Oh do give me a chance. I am rather fond of such things.

Prof Kohler: It’s not for a dilettante like you. Dabbling in a subject for pleasure. One needs to think… explain…

Rudolf: You sure need to do a lot of explaining!

Prof Kohler: It’s not easy separating the wheat from the chaff. Picking out gems from all the detritus, all the debris surrounding them. Get me that pen from the mantelpiece, will you?

Rudolf: (Looking around) The pen…

Prof Kohler: Shelf above the fireplace, man. One would have thought you knew that, at least.

Rudolf: (Getting the pen) As a matter of fact I was writing something I thought I’d show you?

Prof Kohler: (Raises an eyebrow) Writing a dialectic?!

Rudolf: I’ll sure be dead if I don’t write it before the first semester. It’s about the movement of particles.

Prof Kohler: (Picks up the paper and reads) The movement of – eh? – discreet particles? How can a particle be discreet?

Rudolf: Why not?

Prof Kohler: How can a particle be prudent – not giving away secrets?

Rudolf: I mean particles that are separate…

Prof Kohler: That’s discrete. Not joined, separate.

Rudolf: (Making light of it) Well then let’s say discrete particles are discreet!

Prof Kohler: (Grunts)

Rudolf: Come uncle you don’t have to be so pedantic. Strict observance of rules and details and all that.

Prof Kohler: (Getting irritated) Well, come to the point. What do you want?

Rudolf: Ah! There was quite a pageant I saw on the way here. Quite a procession – fancy dress and all.

Prof Kohler: Why didn’t you join in?

Rudolf: But there were some fancy cars too! I was thinking – my old man…

Mrs Kohler: (Entering the room) Hi Rudolf! Nice to see you so early! That was a nice pageant…

Rudolf: And some mighty fine cars. And my old man won’t shell out even a thousand for a second hand car.

Mrs Kohler: He is rather parsimonious. Remarkably stingy and positively mean for a man of his means.

Prof Kohler: And he lives in a warren!

Mrs Kohler: Oh, he doesn’t stay in a rabbit burrow!

Prof Kohler: Well those narrow interconnecting paths and buildings! Makes me giddy walking around those parts.

Rudolf: But you don’t have to go there, uncle! And I stay there! So how about a thousand quid to be returned next month?

Prof Kohler: Why would anyone give even one pound to a profligate wasteful person like you?

Mrs Kohler: That’s not a nice word Kohler! (Thinks) Perhaps you could call him prodigal!

Prof Kohler: Means the same thing!

Mrs Kohler: But sounds a lot kinder! (Turns to Rudolf) That Ford dealer won’t give you on instalments?

Rudolf: Oh, he is hopeless! Doesn’t know what he talks. Thinks I should get myself a tumbril. What’s a tumbril, aunt?

Mrs Kohler: A sort of open cart, I think.

Prof Kohler: The sort they used to carry condemned people to the guillotine.

Rudolf: (Laughs) The French wouldn’t like a touch of German blood to soil their guillotine, would they now?

Prof Kohler: The French Royalty had enough German blood singing through their veins! Any more and they would be

Mrs Kohler: Chimeras! Can’t imagine Napoleon with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and a tail of the serpent!

Rudolf: (Perplexed) What are you talking about? We started with a thousand pounds…

Prof Kohler: You are rather pertinacious! Persistent and determined to get your hands on my money. But it’s no use. (Waves him away) Go now! My secretary isn’t coming and I have to do the typing myself. She is a little indisposed.

Rudolf: You mean she is sick?

Prof Kohler: To put it grossly, yes.

Mrs Kohler: Well, there’s nothing unrefined about the word ‘sick’, after all…

Rudolf: It is – when the person is not sick – or should we say not ‘indisposed’? (Laughs)

Prof Kohler: None of your insinuations!

Rudolf: Well, if you’d rather not know it’s all right with me. Bye!

Prof Kohler: Damn your impertinence!

Mrs Kohler: Oh, he’s showing no lack of respect. That’s how he is made.

Mr Kohler: Then whoever made him has done a very poor job!

Rudolf: Now who’s being impudent?

Mrs Kohler: Enough Rudolf. Now come, tell us, what’s this about Miss Brenner?

Rudolf: Well she ain’t sick. She’s with Professor Karl!

Prof Kohler: Damnation! What’s she…(Changing his tone) But why should I believe you?

Rudolf: Because I have indubitable proof! Impossible to doubt.

Prof Kohler: (Getting worked up) Out with it man! What??

Rudolf: I saw her go in with my own eyes!

Mrs Kohler: (Exclaims) Why that perfidious little thing! So deceitful and disloyal! Who could have imagined…

Prof Kohler: I don’t believe it! Why should I believe it?

Rudolf: Don’t then. Bye!

Prof Kohler: Wait! Damn your insolence but now is not the time to be bothered with rudeness of the…well…what could she want with him?

Rudolf: Well…she’s not in love with him!

Mrs Kohler: Don’t be frivolous, Rudolf.

Rudolf: But why do think I’m not serious? No she’s not in love with him but she loves his money.

Prof Kohler: And why would a man like Professor Karl want to give her money?

Rudolf: Because a perfidious secretary like Miss Brenner can give him…some nice things that she possesses…

Prof Kohler: Get out! You insinuating son of Satan!

Rudolf: (Beginning to leave the room) …like your research papers!

Prof Kohler: Stop! (Rudolf keeps walking away) Halt! I command you!

Rudolf: (Turns and salutes him) Yes, mein Fuhrer?

Prof Kohler: What research papers? How do you know?

Rudolf: “The Unconscious aspect of Consciousness”!

Prof Kohler: (Excited) “The Conscious aspect of Unconsciousness”!

Rudolf: The same thing…

Prof Kohler: Not the same a bit, you dolt! Stupid that you are! But tell me –

Mrs Kohler: I remember he had plagiarized it!

Prof Kohler: Copied it! Almost to the word and pretended it was his original paper!

Rudolf: Exactly! And where do you think he got it from…?

Prof Kohler: (Shocked) You mean my secretary…

Rudolf: Who else? I had almost caught her in the act!

Prof Kohler: (Dejected) Oh, what is the world coming to! She of all people! How could she do something so heinous?

Mrs Kohler: Utterly wicked, I say!

Rudolf: Most unsavory behavior! Rather unpleasant!

Mrs Kohler: And she didn’t do it gratis, I’m sure!

Rudolf: She wouldn’t move her little finger for free!

Prof Kohler: But she has always been so upright…who would have thought…quite an enigma!

Mrs Kohler: Nothing mysterious or puzzling really! Selling her soul for a few dollars more!

Rudolf: And uncle you grudge me a few measly pounds! Really small sum which can save you all the embarrassment!

Prof Rudolf: What are you suggesting?

Rudolf: Forget Miss Brenner! I’ll do your typing and it will be as safe as a…sparrow.

Mrs Kohler: Don’t make up silly similes Rudolf! Safe as…safe as…what is it Kohler?

Prof Kohler: (Mutters) That perfidious double-crosser! (Aloud, throwing the manuscript at Rudolf) Well, get down to it!

Rudolf retires with the manuscript to a corner. Makes two copies and surreptitiously, secretly, slips one copy into his pocket on his way out and goes straight to Professor Karl’s house.

Rudolf: Good afternoon, Professor! See what I have here!

Prof Karl: (Inspecting the typescript) A dialectic! Fine! (Business-like tone) Now none of your dilatory, delaying tactics. Come straight to the point. How much?

Rudolf: Come, Professor! How about a cup of tea, before we begin? How do you know I’m doing it just for money?

Prof Karl: I cannot envisage, imagine you doing anything for anything else. (Let’s out a mirthless laugh) I know the unconscious workings of your conscious mind. How much?

Rudolf: Two thousand!

Prof Karl: Your guts are laudable, truly deserving praise. But I’m afraid, you miscalculate!

Rudolf: With a paper like this you could be his nemesis! Bring about Professor Kohler’s well-deserved downfall!

Prof Karl: Much to your chagrin, much to your disappointment and annoyance I must clarify that I’m not that naïve! Lacking experience and judgment to be taken in by a scallywag, mischievous person like you.

Rudolf: You make me giddy with your words! Oh well, I’m not infallible, incapable of making mistakes! Perhaps I miscalculated! Perhaps I meant a thousand pounds!

Prof Karl: I think you meant five hundred.

Rudolf: You really can read my unconscious mind! I think you are right!

Prof Karl: That’s more like it! (Hands Rudolf the money and takes the typescript)

Rudolf: Professor, who does the typing for you? No secretary! What a pity! (Picks up the manuscript from Karl’s table) ‘An
Analysis of Despair and Dejection’. No reason to be, sir! I could do this for you in ten minutes!

Prof Karl: (With a deprecating laugh, expressing disapproval) No, thank you. I couldn’t afford it!

Rudolf: Absolutely free!

Prof Karl: Ha!

Rudolf: Gratis!

Prof Karl: Ha!

Rudolf: No strings attached!

Prof Karl: Ha!

Rudolf: (Thinking quickly) Just for a cup of tea!

Prof Karl: (Dubiously, doubtfully) I can’t believe my ears!

Rudolf: (Dramatically) Cross my heart and hope to die!

Professor Karl gives Rudolf the manuscript and goes in to make tea. Rudolf types furiously, making two copies and slips one into his pocket. He rushes through the tea and makes straight for Professor Kohler.

Rudolf: (Waving the typescript in front of the Professor’s nose) See what I got!

Prof Kohler: (Straining to see) What?

Rudolf: Revenge! Sweet revenge!

Mrs Kohler: What are you talking?

Rudolf: He is finished, annihilated! Destroyed completely!

Prof Kohler: Who?

Rudolf: Professor Karl!

Prof Kohler: (Taking the typescript and reading) Oh! Ah! Really!

Rudolf: Get it in the journal pronto, at once!

Mrs Kohler: It will no doubt vex him greatly.

Rudolf: Annoy and worry him no end!

Prof Kohler: (Mischievous glint in his eyes) Hmm…

Rudolf: You can eat your cake and have it too…for just…a thousand pounds!

Prof Kohler: (Stunned) A thousand…

Rudolf: Money is ephemeral! Momentary! Fame is eternal. Reputations are…

Prof Kohler: (looking doubtfully at the papers) Yes…but…one thousand…

Rudolf: Or five hundred over a glass of sherry!

Prof Kohler: (Putting the papers in his drawer) That’s more like it! (Hands him the money)

Rudolf: (Slipping the money into his waistcoat) Well uncle…as I always say – All’s well that ends well!