The Romance of a Busy Broker

busy brokerThis humorous but rather unlikely story by William Porter, better known by the O. Henry, takes place in a single morning in the office of a busy but forgetful New York stockbroker. It is a bad day on the , and half way through it we are left wondering whether the title of the story might be a clever play on words.

Pre-Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Pre-Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , and .

There is also a word that is in our Pre-Intermediate word list but has a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used. We are told that an endless stream of paper came out of the machine next to Maxwell’s desk. In this case the word means a steady, continuous flow.

Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1800 word list are: broker, , , jewelry, , , stock, and stockbroker.

There are three further words that are in our Intermediate word list but have a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used:

  • In the first paragraph, we are told that Maxwell comes to work late in company with his young secretary. Here the word means the state or condition of being with another person.
  • When the secretary tries to speak to Maxwell before starting work, he speaks to her sharply. To speak ly means to say something in an angry or unpleasant way.
  • The broker’s office was very busy during the morning, but grew quieter as the time for lunch drew near. To here means to move towards or away from someone or something.

General Comments on the Story

As indicated in the introduction, one must wonder whether O. Henry’s title to this story is a clever play on words. We are told that when Harvey Maxwell sat down at his desk it was as if he had changed from a man into a machine. From that moment until things got quieter at lunch time, he gives little thought to the woman that he married the previous evening.

One must assume that Maxwell and his secretary spent the night together as they both came into the office late and at the same time. In the story, Maxwell admits that he hasn’t had time to “make love to her” in the ordinary way. The only explanation I can think of for this comment is that he can remember the love-making (or waking up in bed together that morning), but can’t remember the part about getting married. It seems to me that the word “” in the title does not refer Maxwell’s relationship with Miss Leslie, but rather the excitement and adventure involved in his work, which seems to drive everything else out of his mind.


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pen name(n: pen-name pl pen-names) A name used by a writer instead of his or her real name. (นามปากกา)

stock market(n: stock market pl stock markets) A place where stocks and shares in companies are bought and sold. (ตลาดหุ้น) 8000
Here the words 'stock' and 'share' mean certificates that make the people who buy them part owners of a company and which can be bought, sold, or traded as an investment. (หุ้น) 2000

broker(n: broker pl brokers) A person who helps other people to buy and sell things (especially stocks and shares etc), or to reach agreements. An insurance broker; A stockbroker. 5000

cheek(n: cheek pl cheeks) One of the parts of the face below each eye and to the side of the nose and mouth. (แก้ม) 3000

customer(n: customer pl customers) 1. Someone who buys goods or services from a business. She is one of our best customers. (ลูกค้า) 2. Used jokingly for a person with a particular quality. He is a strange/tricky customer. (บุคคล) 2000

invest(v: invest, invests, invested, investing) To use money to buy shares, stocks, property, etc., in order to make more money. (ลงทุน)
(n: investment pl investments) 1. The act of investing. (การลงทุน) 2. A sum of money invested. (เงินลงทุน)
(n: investor pl investors) A person who invests. (นักลงทุน) 1000

jewelry(n: jewelry, noncount; British jewellery) Decorative objects (rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc.) that people wear on their body. (เครื่องเพชรพลอย)
(n: jeweler pl jewelers; British jeweller) A person that makes, repairs, or sells jewelry. (คนขายเพชรพลอย) 3000

perfume(n: perfume pl perfumes) 1. A sweet or pleasant smell. The perfume of roses. (กลิ่นหอม) 2. A liquid substance that you put on your body or clothes in small amounts in order to smell pleasant. She loves French perfume(s). (น้ำหอม) 4000

pile(n: pile pl piles) 1. A group of things that are put one on top of another. A pile of books. (กอง) 2. A very large amount of something. She had piles of work to do. He makes a pile of money. (จำนวนมาก)
(v: pile, piles, piled, piling) To make a pile of (something); to put (something) in a pile. (สุมไว้เป็นกอง) 2000

stock(n: stock pl stocks) 1. Certificates that make the people who buy them part owners of a company and which can be bought, sold, or traded as an investment. (หุ้น) 2. A store of goods in a shop, warehouse etc. Buy while stocks last! (คลังสินค้า) 2000

stockbroker(n: stockbroker pl stockbrokers) Someone whose job is to buy and sell stocks and shares for other people. (นายหน้าซื้อขายหุ้น) 9000
Here the words 'stock' and 'share' mean certificates that make the people who buy them part owners of a company and which can be bought, sold, or traded as an investment. (หุ้น) 2000

stream(n: stream pl streams) 1. A natural flow of water that is smaller than a river. A stream flows through the field. (ลำธาร) 2. A steady, continuous flow of people or things. A stream of air//traffic/visitors, etc. (กระแส) 3000

forehead(n: forehead pl foreheads) The part of the face above the eyes and below the hairline; also called the 'brow'. (หน้าผาก) 6000

instant(n: instant pl instants) A very short period of time; a moment. For an instant, I forgot where I was. (ชั่วระยะหนึ่ง)
(adj: instant; adv: instantly) Happening or done without delay; immediate. His latest play was an instant success. He went to bed and instantly fell asleep. (ทันที; โดยทันที) 3000

rush(v: rush rushes, rushed, rushing) To move or do something very quickly or in a way that shows you are in a hurry. (รีบเร่ง) 2000

scent(n: scent pl scents) 1. A pleasant smell that is produced by something. The flower has a wonderful scent. (กลิ่นหอม) 2. A smell that is left by an animal or person and that can be sensed and followed by some animals (such as dogs). The dogs followed the fox's scent. (ตามกลิ่น) 3. A liquid with a pleasant smell; perfume. (น้ำหอม) 6000

business(n: company pl companies) 1. A business organization. He runs his own trucking company. (บริษัท) 2. [noncount] The people you spend time with. You can tell a lot about people by the company they keep. (กลุ่มคน) 2. [noncount] The state or condition of being with another person. I enjoy her company. (ความเป็นเพื่อน) 1000

sharp(adj: sharp, sharper, sharpest) 1. Having a thin edge that is able to cut things or a fine point that is able to make a hole in things. (แหลมคม) 2. [of changes in direction] Sudden and quick. A sharp turn. (ทันทีทันใด) 3. [of speaking] In an angry or unpleasant way. A sharp voice. (รุนแรง) 4. [of a sound] Loud, short, and sudden. (เสียดแทง) 2000

drawhansom cab(v: draw, draws, drew, drawn, drawing) 1. To make (a picture, image, etc.) by making lines on a surface, especially with a pencil, crayon, etc. but not usually with paint. He drew a picture of a flower. (วาดภาพ) 2. To move (something) by pulling. The carriage was drawn by two horses. (ดึง) 3. To move towards or away from someone or something. Christmas is drawing closer. (ลากออกไป) 4. To choose (a thing) from a group without knowing which one you are choosing. We drew names from a hat to decide who would go on the trip. 1000

romance(n: romance pl romances) 1. The relationship, actions etc of people who are in love. (เรื่องรักใคร่) 2. A story about people in love. (การผจญภัย) 3. A feeling of excitement and adventure, especially connected to a particular place or activity. The romance of travel. (ความโลดโผน) 5000

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