Can someone please tell me what the heck the following sentence means?

“Mrs. Cornett, who spent much time at her toilet table, and whose complexion was reputed to be of a nomadic though punctual disposition, looked as ill at ease as the Major.”

It’s from Saki (“Tobermory”). I understand every word, or so I should have said before they were strung together in this way. The kernel of my confusion lies in the phrase “nomadic though punctual disposition.”

For context, Mrs. Cornett is afraid of having her secrets revealed.

3 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago
    Best Answer

    "Toilet" used to have a different meaning, obviously, and today we would say "makeup table." "Nomadic" means "wandering" but evidently he's using it to mean "changeable." "Punctual" is odd, though. I'll guess it's supposed to mean her complexion, thanks to makeup, changed in a timely fashion according to the season. Saki's humour was sometimes a bit ponderous, but if that's the story I think it is, about the talking cat, perhaps she didn't want her grooming secrets revealed, even though others had rather more damaging secrets.

    • Janet S
      Lv 7
      4 weeks agoReport

      Postscript: yes, it’s the talking cat one.

  • 4 weeks ago

    The author Saki, as he often does, is being funny by using a cliche'd phrase in a situation where it doesn't really belong. If you said that a PERSON (rather than HER COMPLEXION) was of a "nomadic yet punctual disposition," it would mean something like "she is a free spirit, goes wherever she wants to, but when she's expected to show up somewhere, she can be relied on to do so." But here he's saying it's not the person herself who does that, but her complexion. That is, her complexion varies a lot, but if she wants her skin tone to look a certain particular way, she can use cosmetics and chemicals and whatnot do make that happen (to be metaphorically "punctual") for her guests or somebody she wants to impress.

    There's probably more in the context of this particular story that would make it even more clear. Anyway, hope this helps.

    UPDATE: After re-reading your question I see you mentioned some context. Perhaps her complexion is "punctual" in that it's "appropriate" to the situation -- and if she is scared that her secret is going to be revealed, her complexion will change -- will be "nomadic" -- in such a way as to indicate that she is scared.

  • Jay
    Lv 6
    4 weeks ago

    sounds like it was translated from some retarded shithole country language

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