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Marguerite Poland


Chapter 29:
Questions to challenge you!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 4 March 2014
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Walter takes leave of St Matthias. He journeys to King William's Town where he catches the train to Grahamstown to visit the Bishop en route to Port Elizabeth and his ship to England.

In the meantime, Victor sends a telegram to Frances requesting her to meet the train. She, believing she is to meet Victor, decides that it is time to end the charade and break off her engagement to him.


A local study-guide explains that Frances believed the telegram was from Walter.

It claims that Frances dressed in her mission clothes because she knew she would be meeting Walter and wanted to be ready to return with him to the mission.

The guide also claims that she refused Aunt Alice's offer of the trap because she knew that, once she was married to Walter, they wouldn't be able to afford such transport. She must therefore get used to walking.

What nonsense! Has the author of the guide even read Shades?

Here are some points which clearly contradict such a view:

  • As Frances heads off to the station, says Marguerite Poland, she did not think what she would say when she met VICTOR. (p. 441)
  • She could not tuck her hand within the crook of VICTOR's arm and walk along the platform and go home with him. (p. 441) Is it likely she'd say this if she expected to meet Walter?
  • She could not let VICTOR kiss her and surrender to the need to hold and touch and feel for, if she did, she would be a liar and a thief. (p. 441) Is it likely she'd think this of Walter?
  • Once at the station, she waits for the train. "What would she say when VICTOR stepped off the train and saw her there?" the author writes. (p. 442) Note, she does not speak of expecting Walter to step off the train.
  • Frances scans the faces of the soldiers alighting from the train. "No, he was not among them. They looked shabby and older and shorter and less valiant than VICTOR. Perhaps he had changed his mind and stayed at St Matthias." (p. 443)
  • The passengers disperse. "No -- no VICTOR." Marguerite Poland writes. "He must have missed the train."

Frances is clearly expecting to meet VICTOR and not Walter! Please do not be fooled by incorrect study-guides! And treat all study guides with suspicion, especially when they make stupid mistakes.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

"Oh, Victor knew why Walter had gone from Mbokothwe. Victor knew!"
  • Explain how Victor knew. (4)

[Need help?]

"The telegram to Frances arranging for her to meet Walter at the station was the first honourable thing Victor had ever done."
  • Comment. (5)

[Need help?]

Why does the telegram "belong in the musical-box"? (3)

[Need help?]

Frances, in dressing to go to the station, rejects all the fancy clothes which Aunt Alice has prepared. Instead she dons her old travelling dress.
  • Why does she do this? (5)

[Need help?]

Explain why Frances insists on going to the station alone? (4)

[Need help?]

Why does she reject the offer of the trap but chooses instead to walk to the station? (4)

[Need help?]

When does Frances realise that it is Walter and not Victor who is to meet her at the station? (3)

[Need help?]

Is the ending to the novel pure soap-opera -- sentimental and slushy? (30)

[Need help?]

Try another worksheet?

See also:
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