The Pupil Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Needing money, Pemberton agrees to become the resident tutor of the eleven-year-old Morgan Moreen, whose heart condition prevents him from attending school. Pemberton’s initial impression of Morgan is not favorable; though the child seems intelligent, he is not physically attractive and looks as if “he might be unpleasant.”

Soon, though, Morgan is the only member of the family whom Pemberton does like. He must threaten to leave before the Moreens pay him even a portion of the salary they owe him, and eventually he tutors for free simply because he has grown fond of his pupil. They become so close that Pemberton suggests that they “ought to go off and live somewhere together.”

Morgan is as eager as Pemberton to leave his family, whom both recognize as adventurers, gypsies who repeatedly move from city to city and hotel to hotel because they cannot or will not pay their bills. The family finances eventually become so desperate that, in Venice, Mrs. Moreen asks Pemberton to lend her sixty francs. Pemberton can only laugh. “Where in the world do you suppose I should get sixty francs?” he asks.

Immediately afterward, Pemberton is invited to return to England to tutor a rich but dull youth whose parents want to prepare him for Balliol College, Oxford. Pemberton accepts the appointment, at Morgan’s urging, because he hopes to earn enough money to allow him to support Morgan.

The new post does indeed pay well,...

(The entire section is 420 words.)