NCERT Solutions For Class 9 English Literature Reader – Best Seller

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ABOUT THE STORY

‘Best Seller’ underlines the idea that most of us say something and practise something else, knowingly or unknowingly. John A. Pescud, the protagonist, is a successful salesman. He chases a girl, meets her father and is able to marry her. She belongs to a very rich family of belted earls and lives in a huge, palatial building, where he himself belongs to an ordinary, middle-class family. When he meets the narrator, he has the temerity to criticise the authors of best sellers who unrealistically mix scenes and characters, showing people belonging to two diametrically opposed backgrounds in love and getting married. It shows that he is a hypocrite. Perhaps he is unware of it.

CHARACTERS

(i) John A. Pescud

John A. Pescud is a very successful salesman. His salary has been raised, and he has built a house in the East End. Though he denies that he has a romantic nature, he has followed a girl of his choice for hundred of miles. He adores the girl whom he has now married. He is a hypocrite. He criticises the authors of best sellers for being unrealistic in mixing scenes and characters from different backgrounds. But he himself marries a girl from aristocratic background while he himself is a middle-class person.

(ii) The narrator

The narrator is a friendly person. He is a keen observer of men and manners. He takes interest in the life of an acquaintance. He is amused at the odd views of John A. Pescud. He also makes certain comments on the life style of Pescud to show his hypocrisy. But he has nothing but good wishes for romancers like Pescud.

REFERENCE TO CONTEXT QUESTIONS (SOLVED)

Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow :

Question 1:
I learned back idly in chair no. 7, and looked with trepidest curiosity at the small, black, bald-spotted head just visible above the back of no. 9.
(a) Who is T here ? Where is he ?
(b) What kind of person do you think he is ?
(c) Give the meaning of the word “trepidest”.
Answer:
(a) T is here the narrator of the story. He is sitting in a chair-car in a train.
(b) He is a keen observer.
(c) ‘the highest degree of fear/worry’.

Question 2:
A tall old man, with a smooth face and white hair looking as proud as Julius Caesar was there to meet her. His clothes were frazzled but I didn’t notice that till later.
(a) Who was the tall old man whom Pescud saw ?
(b) Who is ‘her’ here ?
(c) Why did not the speaker notice that the old man’s clothes were ‘frazzled’. (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
(а) He was Colonel Allyn, the father of Jessie whom Pescud married.
(b) ‘Her’ is here Miss Allyn.
(c) He did not notice the old man’s clothes as he was busy watching his daughter.

Question 3:
We talked for two hours. I told him everything I knew; and then he began to ask questions and I told him the rest. All I asked of was to give me a chance.
(a) Who are ‘we’ ?
(b) What did the speaker tell him ?
(c) What kind of chance was he expecting ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
(a) ‘We’ are John A. Pescud and Colonel Allyn.
(b) The speaker told him all about himself.
(c) He was expecting the chance of marrying his daughter.

Question 4:
And then I told her why I had come, as respectful and earnest as I could.
(а) Who is the speaker ? Who is ‘her’ ?
(b) What did the speaker tell him ?
(c) Give the meaning of the word ‘earnest’.
Answer:
(a) The speaker is John A. Pescud. ‘Her’ is Miss Jessie, whom Pescud married later.
(b) The speaker told her that his purpose in coming there was to marry her.
(c) ‘serious’.

Question 5:
I must not talk to you’, she says, because we have not been introduced. It is not exactly proper. So I say good-bye, Mr.
(a) What was not proper ?
(b) Who is ‘Mr.’ ?
(c) What is the speaker trying to explain ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
(a) It was not proper for the girl to talk to a stranger.
(b) He is Mr. Pescud.
(c) She is trying to explain that she should not talk to a person whom she does not know yet.

Question 6:
“I think I understand you, John”, said I. “You want fiction writers he consistent with scenes and characters. “
(а) Who is ‘I’ here ?
(b) What does John Pescud dislike ?
(c) Give the meaning of‘consistent’.
Answer:
(a) ‘I’ is the narrator of the story.
(b) Pescud disliked writers mixing scenes and characters from different backgrounds.
(c) ‘not changing/in harmony’.

Question 7:
“Good luck to you, Trevelyan”, I said, “And may you get the petunias for your princess!”
(a) Why is Pescud called Trevelyan by the narrator here ?
(b) Who is the ‘princess’ ?
(c) Give the meaning of‘petunias’.
Answer:
(a) Pescud was called Trevelyan by the name of the hero of the novel ‘The Rose Lady and Trevelyan’ because he was just like the romantic Trevelyan.
(b) The ‘princess’ is Pescud’s wife whom he loves dearly.
(c) ‘White, pink, purple or red flowers of the plant called petunias’.

Question 8:
“Excuse me,”says I, ‘can you tell me where Mr Hinkle lives. She looks me as cool as if I was the man come to see about the weeding of the garden, but I thought I saw just a twinkle of fun in her eyes..
(a) Why did the speaker ask about ‘Mr Hinkle’ ?
(b) How did the girl look at him the way she does ?
(c) Give the meaning of the word ‘weeding’.
Answer:
(a) There was nobody called Mr Hinkle. The speaker invented him as an excuse to start conversation with the lady.
(b) The girl looked at him with pretended aloofness and disinterestedness.
(c) ‘taking out weeds (wild plants) from the ground.’

Question 9:
“I was on the south-hound, going to Cincinnati, about eighteen months ago, when I saw, across the aisle, the finest looking girl I’d ever laid eyes on.
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) Which mode of transport did he take while going to Cincinnati ?
(c) What do you mean by ‘aisle’ ?
Answer:
(a) The speaker is John Pescud.
(b) He took a train while going to Cincinnati.
(c) ‘a passage between rows of seats.’

Question 10:
Suddenly no. 9 hurled a book to the floor between his chair and the window, and looking, I saw that it was ‘The Rose Lady and Trevelyan’-one of the best novels of the present day.
(a) Who is 1′ in these lines ?
(b) Which book attracted his attention ?
(c) Give the meaning of the word ‘hurled’.
Answer:
(a ) T is the narrator of the story.
(b) The book which attracted his attention was a novel entitled ‘The Rose Lady and Trevelyan.’
(c) ‘thrown’.

Question 11:
By way of facts he told me that business had picked up since the party conventions and that he was going to get off at Coketown.
(a) Who is ‘he’ mentioned here ?
(b) Why did he want to get off at Coketown ?
(c) Give the meaning of‘to get off.
Answer:
(a) ‘He’ is John A. Pescud of Pittsburgh, the travelling salesman for a plate- glass company.
(b) He wished to buy petunias for his wife.
(c) ‘to board down’.

Question 12:
“Listen to this”, said he. “Trevelyan is sitting with the Princess Alwyna at the back end of the tulip-garden.
(a) Who are Trevelyan and Princess Alwyna referred to ?
(b) Who is ‘he’ in this extract ?
(c) What is‘tulip’?
Answer:
(a) They are the hero and the heroine of the best seller “The Rose Lady and Trevelyan”.
(b) ‘He’ is John A. Pescud, the travelling salesman for a plate-glass company.
(c) ‘a large brightly coloured spring flower’.

Question 13:
“Men are very clumsy,”said she. “I know you were on every train. I thought you were going to speak to me, and I’m glad you didn’t”.
(а) Who is she talking to and when ?
(b) How had John A. Pescud chased her ?
(c) Give the meaning of‘clumsy’. .
Answer:
(a) She is talking to John A. Pescud when the latter approaches her at her home.
(b) John A. Pescud had chased her, changing cars and taxis until he reached her home.
(c) ‘awkward’.

Question 14:
“So I told it to him. Laugh! I was wishing to myself that he was a customer. What a hill of glass I’d sell him!
(а) Who is ‘I’ and who is being talked to ?
(b) What does a ‘bill of glass’ stand for ?
(c) What assessment do you make of the speaker ?
Answer:
(a) ‘I’ is John A. Pescud talking to the Colonel, father of Jessie.
(b) It stands for his transaction in love; if successful, it could make him very rich.
(c) He is. very shrewd, persistent in his pursuits.

Question 15:
“You won’t sell much plate-glass here, John”, said I. “Why do you get off at this end-o’-the world ?”
(а) Why does the narrator point out that John won’t sell much plate-glass there ?
(b) Where was John getting off and why ?
(c) Explain ‘end-o’-the world’ ?
Answer:
(a) The narrator points this fact to John as the place where he was alighting was almost a deserted place.
(b) He was getting off at Cocktown to get some petunias for his wife.
(c) ‘a place beyond which there is nothing.’

Question 16:
Nothing spectacular, you know, but just the sort you want for keeps.
(a) Who does the speaker talk about ?
(b) What is his opinion about the person talked of?
(c) Give the meaning of‘spectacular’ ?
Answer:
(a) The speaker talks about the girl (now his wife) whom he chased for long.
(b) He has very nice opinion about the person he talks about.
(c) ‘impressive/extraordinary.’

Question 17:
“No, no,”said John, “No romance-nothing like that! But I’ll tell you about it.”
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) What does he deny ?
(c) Give the meaning of‘romance’.
Answer:
(a) John Pesud is the speaker.
(b) He denies having engaged in a romantic affair.
(c) ‘exciting love affair.’

Question 18:
“He’ll feed you to his fox-hounds”, says she, laughing.
(а) Who is he ? who is she ?
(b) Does she mean what she says ? Why does she say it ?
(c) What do you mean by ‘fox-hounds’ ?
Answer:
(a) He is Colonel Allyn and she is his daughter, Jessie.
(b) She does not mean what she says. She says it just to frighten him.
(c) ‘hunting dogs’.

Question 19:
At first, I thought he was going to throw me out of the window, but I kept on talking.
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) Who he was talking to, and about what ?
(c) Find the word in the line which means ‘fling’.
Answer:
(a) John Pescud is the speaker.
(b) He was talking to Colonel Allyn about the purpose of his visit.
(c) ‘throw’

Question 20:
“‘And you came mighty near missing the train at Powhatan Junction, too’, says she, with a laugh that sounded as good as a mileage-book to me.
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) What do you think of her ?
(c) What does ‘mighty’ mean here ?
Answer:
(a) Jessie, the girl whom John Pescud chased for long and then married, is the speaker here.
(b) She is a clever and intelligent girl with a sense of keen observation.
(c) ‘very’.

SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS (SOLVED)

Answer each of the following questions in 30-40 words.

Question 1:
Where was the narrator going ? What did he observe in his chair car ?
Answer:
The narrator was going to Pittsburgh by train. He observed that most of the passengers were ladies who refused to have the windows raised. Then there were men-passengers who looked totally carefree. The narrator also noticed a bald-spotted head in chair no.9.

Question 2:
How did the narrator meet John A. Pescud, his casual acquaintance ?
Answer:
The man sitting in chair no.9 in the train threw a best seller entitled ‘The Rose Lady and Trevelyan’ between his chair and the window. When he veered his chair toward the window, the narrator saw his face. He recognized him at once as John A. Pescud from Pittsburgh.

Question 3:
What is the usual sight in chair cars as described by O. Henry in the lesson ‘Best Seller’ ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
Most of the passengers in chair cars remain silent. They travel without bothering about fellow passengers. Some of them indulge themselves in reading books or magazines. No one tries to talk or socialize.

Question 4:
What was John A. Pesud’s first impression of Jessie in the lesson ‘Best Seller’ ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
John A. Pescud saw Jessie in a train compartment. He had never seen such a pretty girl before. He fell in love with her at first sight. He thought she was the perfect match for him. So he started following her until she reached her home-town.

Question 5:
Even though Pescud fell in love with the girl at first sight, he narrates everything casually. Why did he behave like this ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
There is no doubt that Pescud fell in love with the girl at first sight. He followed her like a romantic lover in a best seller. But he did not want to project himself as a romantic person. So he narrated everything casually.

Question 6:
Where and how did John A. Pescud meet his ‘affinity’ for the first time ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
John A. Pescud met his ‘affinity’ in a train for the first time. The girl was travelling in the same train in which Pescud was travelling. She was so attractive that Pescud fell in love with her at first sight. He began to chase her.

Question 7:
The girl changed trains to reach her destination. Why did Pescud follow her ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
The girl changed trains to reach her destination. She had come to know that she was being chased. However, she failed to evade the man, who was John A. Pescud. Pescud continued to follow her to know where she lived.

Question 8:
Pescud used his salesmanship to befriend her father. Explain. (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
Pescud tried to befriend the father of the girl whom he had been following doggedly. He was at first confused. So he tried to sell him some plate-glass. When he got over his nervousness he told him everything. He did not even hide the fact that he wanted to marry his daughter.

Question 9:
How did Mr Pescud present himself in front of Colonel Allyn ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
Mr Pescud told Colonel Allyn he had come to marry his daughter. He presented himself as an honest, sincere and resolute person. He tried to satisfy all his queries. Lastly, he was able to impress him with his knack of listening to and narrating way-side stories.

Question 10:
Why was Pescud shocked when he saw the girl and the father going up the hill ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
Pescud saw the girl and the father going up the hill. On the hill he saw a palatial building with round white pillars. The yard was full of rose-bushes and lilacs. The house was so impressive that Pescud was shocked. He never dreamt that the girl would be belonging to an aristocratic family.

Question 11:
Describe the man who received the girl he was following ?
Answer:
The man who received the girl was her father, Colonel Allyn. He was a tall, old man. His clothes were worn out, but he looked as impressive as Julius Caesar. Pescud paid little attention to him as he was only watching the girl of his dreams.

Question 12:
How did Pescud learn about the girl and her family in Virginia ?
Answer:
Pescud found a fine hotel, Bay View House, to stay. He told the landlord that he had come there to take orders for plate-glass. Slowly, he involved him in gossips, and learnt that the man who lived in the big white house on the hill was Colonel Allyn, and the girl was his daughter.

Question 13:
What did Jessie tell Pescud about his father ?
Answer:
Jessie told Pescud that his father, Colonel Allyn, was an aristocrat and was very proud of his lineage. He was a very stern father and would never allow her to talk to a stranger.

Question 14:
Do you think Jessie was really proud of her family ? Give reasons.
Answer:
Jessie gave the impression as if she were very proud of her lineage, like her father. She told Pescud that she was a descendant of belted earls. She said they had been living in the mansion for hundred years. Actually, she was not arrogant at all. She only pretended to be so.

Question 15:
What, according to Colonel Allyn, was important for promoting family ties among the people ?
Answer:
According to Colonel Allyn, it was important to relate anecdotes and humorous incidents as it promoted family ties among the people. It was a strange way of promoting relations, but it was the Colonel’s opinion. Pescud did no contradict him.

Question 16:
“You don’t see or hear of any such capers in real life.”
Do you agree with John what he says ? Why/Why not ?
Answer:
John thinks that romances between ordinary businessmen and aristocratic ladies are unheard of in real life. He forgets that there are no barriers of class, status, age, etc. in romantic love. People in love behave strangely, as he has himself done.

Question 17:
Do you think John is satisfied with his life at present ? Substantiate your answer.
Answer:
John is doing very well professionally. He has married an aristocratic girl of his own choice. He has bought a huge, decent house. He seems to be loving his wife dearly. From his cheerful mood, it is clear that he is satisfied with his life.

Question 18:
Where did John meet Jessie ? Why did he find it difficult to keep up ?
Answer:
John met the girl Jessie in a south-bound chair car going to Cincinnati. He was at once charmed by her looks. She changed cars at Cincinnati, and took a sleeper to Louisville. From there she proceeded through Shelbyville, Frankford and Lexington. She got off at a small village station in Virginia. Naturally, John found it difficult to keep up with her.

Question 19:
How do you know Jessie knew that she was being followed by John ?
Answer:
Jessie told John on their first meeting that John would not have kept up with her if he had not woken up when the train started in Shelbyville. Then she said that he was about to miss the train at Powhatan Junction, too. In fact, she knew he was chasing her on every train.

Question 20:
Is there anything ironic in John’s code of living – “to be always decent and right in you home town.”
Answer:
John’s code of living to be decent and right is admirable. One should be morally decent in behaviour with others. But it is ironic that John adds the words “in your home town.”Why only in one’s home town ? The irony lies in the use of these words. It means that one should be decent and righteous only in his home town, and not elsewhere.

VALUE-BASED LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS (SOLVED)

Answer the following questions in 80-100 words each.

Question 1:
A newspaper reporter hears of the marriage of Pescud and Jessie. He expresses a desire (liking their story) to write an article for all the people that your dedication and honesty can make impossible even possible. Never take things for granted but always give your best shot to be successful in life. (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
Who says that honesty and dedications are useless ? Many a times people have proved that if you are sincere, dedicated and honest, you can achieve anything in life. Even the impossible can be turned into possible. The only thing is that you should never take things for granted. You should be ready to give your best shot and you will be successful sooner or later in life.

The story of John Pescud and Jessie Allyn proves that anything can be achieved provided one is determined. John Pescud saw Jessie, fell in love with her and decided to marry her. He followed her for thousands of miles. He was shocked to know that Jessie belonged to an aristocratic family. He himself was an ordinary middle-class fellow. He approached Jessie and then her father. He did not lose heart. He was able to convey his sincerity of purpose. Jessie’s father agreed to let Jessie marry him. Thus, he turned the impossible into possible. All of us should learn something from this romantic story. It reveals how dreams sometimes become a reality.

Question 2:
Pescud describes Jessie as ‘Nothing spectacular, you know, but just the sort you want for keeps’. Why did Pescud want Jessie ‘for keeps’ in the lesson ‘Best Seller’ ? (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
There are certain things and persons you want to keep for ever. When Pescud met Jessie in a train, he was at once impressed by her beauty, simplicity and
elegance. He was so mesmerized that he began to follow her to know where she lived. He wanted to marry her, even though she was a complete stranger to him. He met her father and convinced him of his sincerity. He told the girl’s father that he followed her only because he wanted to marry her. His honesty and sincerity moved him and he allowed the marriage to take place. Thus, Pescud was able to keep the girl he desired for ever as his wife.

Question 3:
Girls know instinctively that someone has fallen for them. Do you think Jessie comes to know ? Give reasons. (CBSE)
Answer:
Girls are instinctively intelligent in matters of love. Jessie knew that someone was following her. At first she tried to evade him. When she realized that the man was determined, she began to like her. She thought he would talk to her. But when he did not, she liked him all the more. When Pescud met her and told her why he had followed her so far, she was amused. She told him :
‘Men are very clumsy… I know you were on every train. I thought
you were going to speak to me, and I’m glad you didn’t.’
The remark of Jessie clearly reveals that she knew all along that she was being chased by someone.

Question 5:
Discuss the irony in the title of the lesson, ‘Best Seller’. (CBSE 2014)
Answer:
The title of the story ‘Best Seller’ is ironical. The irony lies in John A. Pescud’s attitude towards best sellers and his own life story. He denounces all best sellers for being unrealistic. They mix scenes and characters from different backgrounds. Romantic heroes in best sellers defy logic. An ordinary American falling in love with a European princess and chasing her to her father’s kingdom-such is the staple story of a best seller.

Ironically, we come to know that Pescud who denounces best sellers is nothing but another romantic hero of a best seller. Himself a middle-class person, he chases Jessie, an aristocratic lady belonging to a royal family.

Question 6:
Suppose you are Colonel Allyn, Jessie’s father. You’ve met John A. Pescud. Write your feelings in a diary entry in 80-100 words.
Answer:
Monday, 14th March 10 pm Dear Diary
I am still puzzled about the young man I met today. What a romantic hero! He came chasing Jessie thousands of miles, and that too, without knowing anything about her and her family. This is called blind love. Should I agree , to their marriage ? Pescud – that is the name of the man – is just a salesman. But he is very honest and sincere. He genuinely loves my daughter. What I find him to my liking is that he is a patient listener. He is intelligent and witty. I hope Jessie also likes him. Why should then I oppose them ? I will ask Jessie what she thinks of Pescud. If she gives the nod, I am ready for their marriage.

Question 7:
“The Best Seller”reveals the hypocrisy of Pescud. Why do people say something and practise something else ? How can we avoid being hypocrites ?
Answer:
Pescud in “The Best Seller”asserts that he dislikes romances where people behave differently from what people do in real life. Towards the end we are amused to find that he himself does what is often done in the world of romances.

Most of the people, in fact, say something and practise something else. It is so because they fear to face reality. They fear that if they state clearly what they intend to do, they may be ridiculed or censored. Sometimes, hypocrisy is practised to win somebody else’s favour. At times it is practised in complete ignorance.

We can avoid being hypocrites by becoming alert in saying something publicly. We should say only that thing which we are sure of doing. We should get rid ourselves of all false fears and the question of false prestige. By becoming simple, truthful and clear-hearted we can avoid being hypocrites. Hypocrisy does not pay in the long run, while truthfulness always does.

Question 8:
” to be always decent and right in you home town”.
Describe the character sketch of John A. Pescud with reference to the extract given above.
Answer:
John A. Pescud is a successful salesman. He is employed in a plate-glass company. His salary has been raised and he is allowed a commission, with a promise of getting some shares of stock. He has built a house in the East End. He is doing well in life.

Though he denies his romantic temperament, he falls in love at first sight. He follows the girl of his choice for hundreds of miles. He succeeds in convincing her of his sincerity. .

He has double standards in life. He criticises the best sellers for being unrealistic and inconsistent as they mix scenes and characters belonging to different backgrounds. In real life, however, he acts like the hero of a romance. Though he is an American travelling salesman, he marries a girl belonging to a family of belted earls. So what he says is contrary to what he practises. His code of living – “to be always decent and right in your home town”– also shows his duplicity. Why should one be decent and right only in his home town, and not elsewhere ?
In short, he is a typical American businessman-rich, romantic and hypocrite.

Question 9:
Describe the journey of Pescud to Virginia in chase of Jessie.
Answer:
Pescud saw the girl (Jessie) in a train going to Cincinnati. He fell in love with her at once. He decided to follow her. He could not dare to talk to her, as she minded her business and paid no attention to him. She changed cars at Cincinnati and took another train to Louisville. There she bought another ticket. She continued her journey through Shelbyville, Frankford and Lexington.

It was becoming harder and harder for Pescud to keep pace with the girl. Had he not woken up when the train started in Shelbyville, he would have lost her. He was about to miss the train at Powhatan Junction, too. The last station the girl got off at was Virginia. She was received by an old man in worn-out clothes. Pescud continued his chase. The girl and the old man went in a gate on top of the hill. On the hill was situated a huge mansion. Later, he learnt that the girl was Jessie and the old man was her father, Colonel Allyn, who lived in the huge mansion. They belonged to a royal family of belted earls.

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