Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
John Taplow, who is about sixteen years old and in the lower fifth form of an English public school, appears at the flat of Andrew Crocker-Harris for an end-of-term tutorial in the hope of being advanced to the upper fifth. Seeing a box of chocolates, he helps himself to two pieces, eats one, and then, either out of conscience or fear of being caught, replaces the other.
Shortly thereafter, Frank Hunter arrives, and in the course of the conversation between the two it becomes clear that Crocker-Harris is retiring because of ill health. Known for his strict discipline, students dub him the “Crock” and “Himmler of the lower fifth.” Hunter, on the other hand, enjoys easy rapport with students, as can be seen in Taplow’s readiness to share confidences with him. While they wait for the “Crock” to appear, Hunter instructs Taplow in a proper golf swing. Taplow admits that, although like most students he had his share of fun at Crocker-Harris’s expense, he does have sympathy for him.
Taplow is in the midst of mimicking the classics master when Millie Crocker-Harris enters and overhears the mimicry. She dispatches Taplow on an errand to the druggist for Crocker-Harris’s heart medicine so that she can be alone with Hunter, with whom she is having an affair.
Crocker-Harris appears, only to find that Taplow is not there. When Taplow returns, Millie leaves to prepare dinner, and Hunter leaves pupil and master to their work on...
(The entire section is 841 words.)
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The Browning Version opens in the sitting room of the home of Andrew and Millie Crocker-Harris. A young student, John Taplow, knocks at the front door, then lets himself inside. He steals a chocolate from an open box, then uses his walking stick to practice his golf swing.
Frank Hunter, a young schoolmaster, watches Taplow’s moves unseen. Finally, he interrupts and gives Taplow pointers on his swing. They converse for a few moments. Taplow has come for his tutoring session with Andrew, although it is the last day of school. The young man is worried, however, that Andrew will not give him his ‘‘remove.’’ He plans to study science, which is Hunter’s subject.
Taplow does a wicked impersonation of Andrew, which he almost immediately regrets. However, Frank asks him to do it again, then suggests that since Crocker-Harris is rather late, Taplow should go play golf. Taplow is appalled at the suggestion. Despite his problems with Andrew, Taplow does like him and fears him enough to stay. Taplow relates an incident and again mimics Andrew for Frank’s benefit. This time, Millie Crocker- Harris appears at the door, and she listens for a moment before coming inside.
Taplow is afraid that Millie has overheard his imitation. Millie informs Taplow that her husband will be tied up at the Bursar’s for a while and that he could go, but he decides to wait. Millie sends him on an errand.
Once Taplow is gone,...
(The entire section is 1201 words.)