Study Material of The man who knew too much (Summary and Word Meanings)

Summary of the Chapter

Private Quelch was a serious looking, lanky, stooping and bespectacled man whom the writer met at the training centre. He was very fond of showing off his knowledge and was in the habit of sermonising. So he became an object of fun, sarcasm and was nicknamed ‘Professor’. During lessons of musketry, he would interrupt the Sergeant during the lecture and try to correct him. Private Quelch could answer a lot of questions and when others marvelled, his standard answer was, “It's all a matter of intelligent reading.”
In course of time, the writer and his teammates discovered more about Private Quelch. He was very competitive, wanted quick promotion and always tried to appear better than others. He read a lot, attacked his instructors with questions and on every occasion tried to belittle and overshadow others. Private Quelch’s behaviour was very condescending and he would try to appear exceptional before his seniors. Whether it was to identify an aircraft or handling of a rifle, he would tower over others and irritate them. He was unstoppable in his pretentious behaviour.
Corporal Turnbull, who was highly renowned for his toughness, was not a person to be taken lightly. When Quelch tried to correct the corporal, he got offended and asked Quelch to change places with him. Though Quelch delivered a brilliant lecture, it was for sure that he had stirred up trouble. Corporal Turnbull took his revenge by delegating Quelch for permanent cook house duties. But who could stop Quelch, his sermonising continued even within the four walls of the kitchen. However, the writer and his friends had a surge of immense relief that they were temporarily rid of a great nuisance like Private Quelch.

Terms and Meanings from the Chapter

• Private – Soldier without rank.
• Musketry - art of using the infantry soldier's handgun.
• N.W. Frontier ribbons - decorations showing service in the N.W. province in British India, today a part of modern Pakistan.
• Commission: become an army officer.
• Stripe – V-shaped band to indicate the rank of a soldier.
• Route Marches - training marches of battalions.
• Orderly Officer – Officer of the day.
• Condescending – to look down.
• Sprawling - lying with arms and legs outstretched.
• Trifled with - to play with or fool around with, talk or act frivolously with.
• Unabashed – unashamed.
• Cowed – subdued.

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