This is an excerpt fromThe Browning Version*.
The scene is set
in a school. Frank is young and Crocker-Harris, middle-aged. Both
are masters. Taplow is a boy of sixteen who has come in to do
extra work for Crocker-Harris. But the latter has not yet arrived,
and Frank finds Taplow waiting.
FRANK: Do I know you?
TAPLOW: No, sir.
FRANK: Whatís your name?
FRANK: Taplow! No, I donít. Youíre not a scientist I gather?
TAPLOW: No, sir, Iím still in the lower fifth. I canít specialise
until next term ó thatís to say, if Iíve got my remove all right.
FRANK: Donít you know if youíve got your remove?
TAPLOW: No sir, Mr Crocker-Harris doesnít tell us the results
like the other masters
FRANK: Why not?
TAPLOW: Well, you know what heís like, sir.
FRANK: I believe there is a rule that form results should
only be announced by the headmaster on the last
day of term.
TAPLOW: Yes ó but who else pays attention to it ó except
FRANK: I donít, I admit ó but thatís no criterion. So youíve
got to wait until tomorrow to know your fate, have
TAPLOW: Yes, sir.
FRANK: Supposing the answer is favourable ó what then?
TAPLOW: Oh ó science, sir, of course.
FRANK:(sadly) Yes. We get all the slackers.
TAPLOW: (protestingly) Iím extremely interested in science, sir.
FRANK: Are you? Iím not. Not, at least, in the science I have to teach.
TAPLOW: Well, anyway, sir, itís a good deal more exciting
than this muck (indicating his book).
FRANK: What is this muck?
TAPLOW: Aeschylus, sir. The Agamemnon.
FRANK: And your considered view is that the Agamemnon is muck?
TAPLOW: Well, no, sir. I donít think the play is muck
exactly. I suppose, in a way, itís rather a good
plot, really, a wife murdering her husband and all
that. I only meant the way itís taught to us ó just
a lot of Greek words strung together and fifty lines
if you get them wrong.