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.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

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.

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 at least waking up in bed together that morning), but can’t remember the part about courting her and getting married. It seems to me that the word “romance” in the title does not refer to 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. 3000

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

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