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Жувикина Н.Н., Новикова Е.Ю.

,
Феоктистова И.В.

ENGLISH STORIES

READ,
THINK,
TALK

Учебное пособие

St. Petersburg
2011

-1- Read. Think. Talk.


Жувикина Н.Н., Новикова Е.Ю., Феоктистова И.В.

ENGLISH STORIES
READ, THINK, TALK

Учебное пособие
St. Petersburg
2011

Пособие предназначено для развития навыков аналитического чтения


и представляет собой сборник произведений британских и американских
авторов XX в.
Материалы сборника соответствуют продвинутому уровню владения
языком. Каждое произведение сопровождается краткими сведениями об
авторе и комментариями, поясняющими реалии, аллюзии и употребление
трудных для понимания слов и выражений.
Послетекстовые задания содержат упражнения, направленные на развитие
навыков анализа и интерпретации художественных произведений.

978-5-905064-17-3

УДК 44 (англ.)
ББК 81.2 англ.
Ф. 13
Ж 83

978-5-905064-17-3 © ООО «Копи-Р Групп»

Read. Think. Talk. -2-


От составителей

Иностранный язык – это не только изучение грамматических правил


и пополнение словарного запаса. В произведениях известных писателей
находит отражение культура, духовные ценности и особенности
мировоззрения народа-носителя языка. Вы узнаете о жизни, традициях,
нравах народов говорящих на английском языке.
За последние годы в связи с возросшей потребностью изучения
иностранных языков помимо разных уровней учебно-методических
комплексов появилось огромное количество учебных пособий,
предназначенных для уроков по домашнему, аналитическому
чтению, для занятий по стилистическому анализу произведений и
т.д. К сожалению, не все из них снабжены заданиями, которые можно
выполнять со студентами для того, чтобы проанализировать прочитанное
художественное произведение.
Опыт показывает, что существует потребность в такого рода учебных
изданиях. Предлагаемое учебное пособие помимо классических
образцов современного английского рассказа включает в себя
огромное количество предтекстовых и послетекстовых заданий. В нем
представлены произведения выдающихся британских и американских
писателей из сборников Oxford Bookworms Collections издательствa,
Oxford University Press, 2003. Задания сборника значительно дополнены
и расширены, а также добавлены произведения других авторов, не
вошедших в этот сборник. Объем материала, включенного в учебное
пособие, позволяет учителю использовать его в течение целого года
обучения и рассчитан на студентов уровня Upper-Intermediate.
Цель пособия:
– развитие навыков изучающего чтения,
– умения анализировать прочитанное произведение,
– выделять основную идею и тему рассказа,
– формирование у студентов умения критически оценивать поведение
и поступки героев,
– ознакомление с особенностями национального характера и жизни
народа через литературу страны изучаемого языка,
– овладение новой лексикой.
Каждый рассказ предваряется краткой статьей, об основных фактах
биографии автора, его творчестве и вкладе в английскую литературу.

-3- Read. Think. Talk.


Предтекстовые задания создают предпосылки для более полного
и глубокого понимания прочитанного, а также способствуют
эмоционально-психологическому настрою на рассказ.
Послетекстовые задания позволяют определить тему рассказа,
выявить его основную идею, оценить глубину понимания прочитанного,
определить стилистические особенности рассказа, совершенствовать
лексические и грамматические навыки и речевые умения.

Read. Think. Talk. -4-


Next term, we'll mash you!

THE AUTHOR
Penelope Lively was born in Egypt in 1933 and spent her childhood
there. After World War II she settled in England, and studied history at St
Anne's College, Oxford. She began her career as a writer for children, and
many of her stories show a preoccupation with the effect of the past on the
present, often with a supernatural element. Her best-known children's book
is The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), which won the Carnegie Medal (a
prize for the best children's book of the year). In 1977 she began to write
novels and short stories for adults, and has won several literary prizes for
them. Titles include The Road to Lichfield, Judgement Day, According to
Mark, and Moon Tiger, which won the Booker Prize in 1987.

THE STORY
Which of us does not remember our schooldays? They might have been
the best or the worst days of our life, but in either case they had a great
influence on us, whether for good or ill. As Saki wrote in one of his short
stories, with his usual biting humour, 'You can't expect a boy to be vicious
till he's been to a good school.'
A new school is being selected for Charles Manders. It will be a board-
ing school for boys aged 8 to 13, and his parents have almost decided on
St Edward's Preparatory School. As they drive into the school on their in-
spection visit, the parents discuss the fees, admire the school grounds, and
hope they will be offered some refreshment. In the back of the car, young
Charles, in his shiny new clothes, sits silently, watching and listening...

NEXT TERM, WE’LL MASH You!


Inside the car it was quiet, the noise of the engine even and subdued,
the air just the right temperature, the windows tight-fitting. The boy sat
on the back seat, a box of chocolates, unopened, beside him, and a
comic, folded. The trim Sussex landscape flowed past the windows:
5 cows, white-fenced fields, highly-priced period houses. The sunlight
was glassy, remote as a coloured photograph. The backs of the two
heads in front of him swayed with the motion of the car.

-5- Read. Think. Talk.


His mother half-turned to speak to him. ‘Nearly there now, dar-
ling.’
10 The father glanced downwards at his wife’s wrist. ‘Are we all right
for time?’
‘Just right. Nearly twelve.’
‘I could do with a drink. Hope they lay something on.’
‘I’m sure they will. The Wilcoxes say they’re awfully nice people.
15 Not really the schoolmaster-type at all, Sally says.’ The man said,
‘He’s an Oxford chap.’
‘Is he? You didn’t say.’
‘Mmn.’
‘Of course, the fees are that much higher than the Seaford place.’
20 ‘Fifty quid or so. We’ll have to see.’
The car turned right, between white gates and high, dark, tight-
clipped hedges. The whisper of the road under the tyres changed to the
crunch of gravel. The child, staring sideways, read black lettering on a
white board: ‘St Edward’s Preparatory* School. Please Drive Slowly’.
25 He shifted on the seat, and the leather sucked at the bare skin under his
knees, stinging.
The mother said, ‘It’s a lovely place. Those must be the playing-
fields. Look, darling, there are some of the boys.’ She clicked open her
handbag, and the sun caught her mirror and flashed in the child’s eyes;
30 the comb went through her hair and he saw the grooves it left, neat as
distant ploughing.
‘Come on, then, Charles, out you get.’
The building was red brick, early nineteenth century, spreading out
long arms in which windows glittered blackly. Flowers, trapped in neat
35 beds, were alternate red and white. They went up the steps, the man,
the woman, and the child two paces behind.
The woman, the mother, smoothing down a skirt that would be
ridged from sitting, thought: I like the way they’ve got the maid all
done up properly. The little white apron and all that. She’s foreign, I
40 suppose. Au pair. Very nice. If he comes here there’ll be Speech Days
and that kind of thing. Sally Wilcox says it’s quite dressy – she got that
cream linen coat for coming down here. You can see why it costs a
bomb. Great big grounds and only an hour and a half from London.
They went into a room looking out onto a terrace. Beyond, dappled
45 lawns, gently shifting trees, black and white cows grazing behind iron
Read. Think. Talk. -6-
railings. Books, leather chairs, a table with magazines – Country Life,
The Field, The Economist. ‘Please, if you would wait here. The Head-
master won’t be long.’
Alone, they sat, inspected. ‘I like the atmosphere, don’t you, John?’
50 ‘Very pleasant, yes.’ Four hundred a term, near enough. You can
tell it’s a cut above the Seaford place, though, or the one at St Albans.
Bob Wilcox says quite a few City people’ send their boys here. One
or two of the merchant bankers, those kind of people. It’s the sort of
contact that would do no harm at all. You meet someone, get talking at
55 a cricket match or what have you ... Not at all a bad thing.
‘All right, Charles? You didn’t get sick in the car, did you?’
The child had black hair, slicked down smooth to his head. His
ears, too large, jutted out, transparent in the light from the window,
laced with tiny, delicate veins. His clothes had the shine and crease of
60 newness. He looked at the books, the dark brown pictures, his parents,
said nothing.
‘Come here, let me tidy your hair.’
The door opened. The child hesitated, stood up, sat, then rose again
with his father.
65 ‘Mr. and Mrs. Manders? How very nice to meet you – I’m Margaret
Spokes, and will you please forgive my husband who is tied up with
some wretch who broke the cricket pavilion window and will be just
a few more minutes. We try to be organised but a schoolmaster’s day
is always just that bit unpredictable. Do please sit down and what will
70 you have to revive you after that beastly drive? You live in Finchley’”
is that right?’
‘Hampstead*, really,said the mother.’Sherry would be lovely. ’She
worked over the headmaster’s wife from shoes to hairestyle, pricing
and assessing. Shoes old but expensive – Russel and Bromley*. Good
75 skirt. Blouse could be Marks and Sparks* – not sure. Real pearls. Su-
per Victorian ring. She’s not gone to any particular trouble – that’s just
what she’d wear anyway. You can be confident, with a voice like that,
of course. Sally Wilcox says she knows all sorts of people.
The heardmaster’s wife said, ’I don’t know how much you know
80 about us. Prospectuses don’t tell you a thing, do they? We’ll look round
everything in a minute, when you’ve a chat with my husband. I gather
you’re friends of Wilcoxes, by the way. I’m ofully fond of Simon –
he’s down for Winchester*, of course, but I expect you to know that.’
-7- Read. Think. Talk.
The mother smiled over her sherry. Oh, I know that all right. Sally
85 Wilcox doesn’t let you forget that.
‘And this is Charles? My dear, we’ve been forgetting all about
you!’
In a minute I’m going to borrow Charles and take him off to meet
some of the boys because after all you’re choosing a school for him,
90 aren’t you, and not for you, so he ought to know what he might be let-
ting himself in for and it shows we’ve got nothing to hide.’
The parents laughed. The father, sherry warming his guts, thought
that this was an amusing woman. Not attractive, of course, a bit home-
spun, but impressive all the same. Partly the voice, of course; it takes
95 a bloody expensive education to produce a voice like that. And other
things, of course. Background and all that stuff.
‘I think I can hear the thud of the Fourth Form coming in from
games, which means my husband is on the way, and then I shall leave
you with him while I take Charles off to the common-room.’
100 For a moment the three adults centered on the child, looking, judg-
ing. The mother said, ‘He looks so hideously pale, compared to those
boys we saw outside.’
‘My dear, that’s London, isn’t it? You just have to get them out, to get
some colour into them. Ah, here’s James. James – Mr. and Mrs. Manders.
105 You remember, Bob Wilcox was mentioning at Sports Day ...’
The headmaster reflected his wife’s style, like paired cards in Hap-
py Families*. His clothes were mature rather than old, his skin well-
scrubbed, his shoes clean, his geniality untainted by the least conde-
scension. He was genuinely sorry to have kept them waiting, but in
110 this business one lurches from one minor crisis to the next ... And this
is Charles? Hello, there, Charles. His large hand rested for a moment
on the child’s head, quite extinguishing the thin, dark hair. It was as
though he had but to clench his fingers to crush the skull. But he took
his hand away and moved the parents to the window, to observe the
115 mutilated cricket pavilion, with indulgent laughter.
And the child is borne away by the headmaster’s wife. She never
touches him or tells him to come, but simply bears him away like some
relentless tide, down corridors and through swinging glass doors, tow-
ing him like a frail craft, not bothering to look back to see if he is fol-
120 lowing, confident in the strength of magnetism, or obedience.
Read. Think. Talk. -8-
And delivers him to a room where boys are scattered among inky
tables and rungless chairs and sprawled on a mangy carpet. There is a
scampering, and a rising, and a silence falling, as she opens the door.
‘Now this is the Lower Third, Charles, who you’d be with if you
125 come to us in September. Boys, this is Charles Manders, and I want
you to tell him all about things and answer any questions he wants to
ask. You can believe about half of what they say, Charles, and they will
tell you the most fearful lies about the food, which is excellent.’
The boys laugh and groan; amiable, exaggerated groans. They must
130 like the headmaster’s wife: there is licensed repartee. They look at her
with bright eyes in open, eager faces. Someone leaps to hold the door
for her, and close it behind her. She is gone.
The child stands in the centre of the room, and it draws in around
him. The circle of children contracts, faces are only a yard or so from
135 him; strange faces, looking, assessing.
Asking questions. They help themselves to his name, his age, his
school. Over their heads he sees beyond the window an inaccessible
world of shivering trees and high racing clouds and his voice which
has floated like a feather in the dusty schoolroom air dies altogether
140 and he becomes mute, and he stands in the middle of them with shoul-
ders humped, staring down at feet: grubby plimsolls and kicked brown
sandals. There is a noise in his ears like rushing water, a torrential din
out of which voices boom, blotting each other out so that he cannot
always hear the words. Do you? they say, and Have you? and What’s
145 your? and the faces, if he looks up, swing into one another in kalei-
doscopic patterns and the floor under his feet is unsteady, lifting and
falling.
And out of the noises comes one voice that is complete, that he
can hear. ‘Next term, we’ll mash you,’ it says. ‘We always mash new
150 boys.’
And a bell goes, somewhere beyond doors and down corridors, and
suddenly the children are all gone, clattering away and leaving him
there with the heaving floor and the walls that shift and swing, and the
headmaster’s wife comes back and tows him away, and he is with his
155 parents again, and they are getting into the car, and the high hedges
skim past the car windows once more, in the other direction, and the
gravel under the tyres changes to black tarmac.
‘Well?’
-9- Read. Think. Talk.
‘I liked it, didn’t you?’ The mother adjusted the car around her,
160 closing windows, shrugging into her seat. ‘Very pleasant, really. Nice
chap.’
‘I liked him. Not quite so sure about her.’ ‘It’s pricey, of course.’
All the same .. .’
‘Money well spent, though. One way and another.’ ‘Shall we settle
165 it, then?’
‘I think so. I’ll drop him a line.’
The mother pitched her voice a notch higher to speak to the child in
the back of the car. ‘Would you like to go there, Charles? Like Simon
Wilcox. Did you see that lovely gym, and the swimming-pool? And
170 did the other boys tell you all about it?’
The child does not answer. He looks straight ahead of him, at the
road coiling beneath the bonnet of the car. His face is haggard with
anticipation.
NOTES
an Oxford chap
a chap (informal) educated at Oxford university
preparatory school
a private (fee-paying) school for children up to the age of 13
City people
people who work in the financial institutions of the City of London
Finchley, Hampstead
two adjacent districts in London; Hampstead is the more fashionable and ‘superior’
district, so would be the ‘better’ address
Russell and Bromley
the name of a British shop selling expensive, high quality shoes
Marks and Sparks
an informal name for Marks and Spencer, a famous British department store (but a
name with less snob value than Russell and Bromley)
down for Winchester
has his name down to go to Winchester School, a very old and famous public (fee-
paying) school in the south of England
Happy Families
a card game in which members of the same ‘family’ have to be paired, e.g. Mr. Bun
the Baker/Mrs. Bun the Baker’s wife

Read. Think. Talk. - 10 -


AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Agree or disagree with these statements:


1) Mr. Manders was worried because they were late.
2) Parents decided to choose this school because the prices were 50
pounds cheaper.
3) Many boys from the city studied in this school.
4) When the headmasters wife came Charles didn’t hesitate and stood
up to greet her.
5) The headmaster completely reflected his wife’s style.
6) Charles would have to join the school in January.
7) Charles could see disrespect towards the headmaster’s wife from
other children.
8) The boy came to Charles and told him that he’d mash him because
he didn’t like him.
9) Charles’s parents didn’t ask him whether he liked to go to a new
school or not.
2. Decide if it is true or false:
1. The way to school was like a black and white photograph.
2. Mother said it was a lovely place.
3. Parents found the atmosphere in the school very unpleasant.
4. The child was very talkative.
5. Margaret Spokes was very polite to the family.
6. The headmaster and his wife were very different.
7. Headmaster’s wife never told him to come.
8. Boys showed all their aggression and hatred to the headmaster’s wife
9. Charles liked the new school very much.
3. Answer the following questions:
1. While they are waiting for the headmaster and his wife to appear, what
are Mr. and Mrs. Manders thinking about? And at the end of the story do
they make their decision about the school before or after asking Charles if he
would like to go there? – a question that Charles doesn’t answer. What does
all this tell us about Charles’s parents and their relationship with their son?
- 11 - Read. Think. Talk.
2. What impression do we get of the headmaster and his wife? Did you
feel they were unpleasant people, likely to be unkind to the boys in their
charge? Or is their school probably quite a happy place? What clues are we
given in the story?
3. The story is told from the point of view of Charles’s parents. Charles
himself never speaks, and we are given only a few clues as to his state of
mind; yet we are painfully aware of it. How has the author achieved this?
Give examples.
4. Children can be very cruel, and bullying is often a problem in
schools.
If teachers know that their pupils ‘always mash new boys’, for example,
should they do something about it, or is it better to let the children sort out
this kind of thing for themselves? Why, or why not?

4. ARRANGE THE FOLLOWING INTO THE RIGHT ODER


a. The headmaster’s wife put a boy into a class. Then his new school-
mates asked him some questions about his name, school, age.
b. His parents decided it would be an excellent school for him, but the
boy told them nothing.
c. Then they told him that next term they would mash him. Because they
always mashed new boys.
d. They went into a room looking out onto a terrace. Beyond, dappled
lawns, gently shifting trees, black and white cows grazing behind iron rail-
ings. Books, leather chairs, a table with magazines
e. They saw Margaret Spokes, she was the headmaster’s wife.
f. She has told boy’s parents that she would take the boy to the class
where he would get acquainted with his probable schoolmates. But they
laughed.
g. The boy’s mother worked over the headmaster’s wife from shoes to
hairstyle, pricing and assessing. Shoes old but expensive – Russell and
Bromley. Good skirt. Blouse could be Marks and Sparks – not sure. Real
pearls. Super Victorian ring. She’s not gone to any particular trouble –
that’s just what she’d wear anyway.
h. The headmaster came back to the room. He reflected his wife’s style,
like paired cards in Happy Families. His clothes were mature rather than
old, his skin well-scrubbed, his shoes clean, his geniality untainted by the
least condescension.
i. The mother saw a lovely place. The building was red brick, early
nineteenth century, spreading out long arms in which windows glittered
blackly. Flowers, trapped in neat beds, were alternate red and white.
Read. Think. Talk. - 12 -
j. Inside the car it was quiet, the noise of the engine even and subdued,
the air just the right temperature the windows tight-fitting. The boy sat on
the back seat, a box of chocolates, unopened, beside him, and a comic,
folded. The trim Sussex landscape flowed past the windows: cows, white-
fenced fields, highly-priced period houses.

LANGUAGE FOCUS
1. Find these phrases and idiomatic expressions in the text, and re-
phrase them in your own words.
1. Hope they lay something on.
2. .. it’s quite dressy. .. it costs a bomb.
3. You can tell it’s a cut above the Seaford place ...
4. .. or what have you.
5. .. who is tied up with some wretch
6. .. she knows all sorts of people
7. ... what he might be letting himself in for Background and all that
stuff.
8. Next term, we’ll mash you.
9. It’s pricey.
10. I’ll drop him a line.

2. From the sentence “And the child is borne away by headmaster’s


wife” up to the final paragraph, the past tense narration used else-
where switches to a present tense narration. Why do you think the
author did this, and what effect does it have?
3. The story ends with the striking phrase, ‘haggard with anticipa-
tion’.
Is there anything unexpected about this phrase? What other words
could be used in place of ‘anticipation’? Do they have the same ef-
fect?
4.Guess what the words are

– e– – e – a – u – e D – – pl – d
L – – ds – – – e To – – e – – t – al
Sc – 1 – t – r H – – eou – – y
H––g–a–d

- 13 - Read. Think. Talk.


5. Find the Synonyms
1. Stinging a. Fancy
2. Groove b. Careworn
3. Dressy c. Mangle
4. Dappled d. Biting
5. Jutted out e. Protrude
6. Homespun f. Incise
7. Mutilate g. Strain
8. Frail h. Tweedy
9. Groan i. Mottle
10. Haggard j. Moan
11. Fee k. Gift
12. Vein l. Feeble

6. Match the word with its definition


a) Brit., informal one pound sterling;
1. Glance
b) oppressively constant, harsh or inflexible;
2. Photograph c) a picture made with a camera, in which an
3. Wrist image is focused on to film and then made
visible and permanent by chemical treatment;
4. Fee d) a long, narrow cut or depression in a hard mate-
rial;
5. Quid
e) throw in various random directions, separate and
6. Groove move off in different directions;
7. Graze f) take a brief or hurried look;
g) the joint connecting the hand with the forearm;
8. Scatter
h) (of rain) falling rapidly and heavily;
9. Relentless i) a payment made in exchange for advice or ser-
vices;
10. Torrential
j) eat grass in a field.
Read. Think. Talk. - 14 -
7. Put in the missing words:
1. The trim ... landscape flowed past the windows.
2. The little white ... and all that.
3. His ears, too large, ... out, ... in the light from the window, laced with
tiny, delicate... .
4. ... it takes a ... to produce a voice like that.
5. They look at her with ... eyes in open, ... faces.
6. There is a noise in his ears like ...water, a ... out of which voices boom,
... each other out so that he cannot always hear the words.

8. Put in necessary words and translate:


1. The sunlight was … , remote as a coloured photograph.
2. The … of the road under the tyres changed to the … of gravel.
3. The … went through her hair.
4. His clothes were … rather than old.
5. Over their heads he sees beyond the window an inaccessible world of …
trees and high … clouds.
6. There is a noise in his ears like … water.
7. ‘We always … new boys.’
8. His face is haggard with …

9. Fill in the gaps using the words from the text in the bold and
translate.
a. Sherry
b. Hampstead
c. Chap
d. Anticipation
e. to groan
f. relentless
g. to drop a line

1. He was a [ ……] criminal, in 1998 he even committed a murder.


2. Diana told me you are a good [........ ], bring this letter to Susan, please!
3. Her Uncle Silas was a very eccentric person – he had never washed him-
self and loved [........ ] too much.
4. The boys laugh and [........ ]; amiable, exaggerated laugh.

- 15 - Read. Think. Talk.


5. I haven’t seen Dick for ages! Let me [......... ] and ask to visit us!
6. [........] is not as bad as I supposed it to be! I even start love living there.
10. a)Match the words with their meanings.
b)Make up your own sentences using these words
1. Plough A) Resulting from the action of fast-flowing streams
2. Wretch B) Impossible or very difficult to reach
3. Amiable C) Friendly and sociable person
4. Torential D) Is a thing used in farming for initial cultivation of
soil inpreparation for sowing seed or planting.
5. Inaccessible E) Very miserable

ACTIVITIES
1. Imagine that poor Charles is a more assertive kind of a boy, and on the
way home in the car makes it clear how he feels about the new school.
Write the dialogue between him and his parents. Who do you think would
win the argument?
2. What do you think the other boys thought of Charles? Write a diary en-
try for one of the boys in the common-room, describing the entry of Mrs.
Stokes with Charles, and the interrogation that followed.

Comment

Which of the following phrases could be:


* the theme of the story:
1. “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself“ John Dew-
ey.
2. Sending your child to some famous public school is the money well
spent.
3. A child is like a frail craft, towing by relentless tide of adults’ authority.
4. To be the new pupil in the class is to be the lonely one in the crowd.
5. A school is a small model of society.
6. Family life and family conflicts.
7. Schoolmates’ attitude to newcomers.
8. Generation gap.
9. “Keeping the style”.
10. Misunderstanding and indifference.
Read. Think. Talk. - 16 -
* the message of the story
1. “You send your child to the schoolmaster, but these are the schoolboys
who educate him”. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
2. Every white has its black, and every sweet its sour.
3. If you really love your child – give him/her a chance to choose.
4. What delights parents can provoke utter despair in the child’s soul.
5. You can take your child to the best school but you can’t make him/her
enjoy being there.
6. Don’t make out of your child a compensation for your own losses.
7. You can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink.
8. Every person has his own life to live.
9. Every family is unhappy in its own way.

Stylistic devices

Match stylistic devices and sentences from the text:


1. I could do with a drink.
2. The Wilcoxes say they’re awfully nice people.
3. ... the sun caught her mirror and flashed in the child’s eyes...
4. .. .windows glittered blackly.
5. ‘Very pleasant, yes.’ Four hundred a term, near enough.
6. The woman, the mother, smoothing down a skirt that would be ridged
from sitting, thought: I like the way they’ve got the maid all done up
properly.
7. You can see why it costs a bomb.
8. Beyond, dappled lawns, gently shifting trees, black and white cows graz-
ing behind iron railings.
9. His clothes had the shine and crease of newness.
10. ...to revive you after that beastly drive?
11. Partly the voice, of course; it takes a bloody expensive education to
produce a voice like that.
12. Shoes old but expensive – Russel and Bromley.
13. She worked over the headmaster’s wife from shoes to hairstyle, pricing
and assessing.
14. The mother said, ‘He looks so hideously pale...
15. The headmaster reflected his wife’s style, like paired cards in “Happy
Families”.
- 17 - Read. Think. Talk.
16. He was genuinely sorry to have kept them waiting, but in this business
one lurches from one minor crisis to the next...
17. The boys laugh and groan; amiable, exaggerated groans.
18. They look at her with bright eyes in open, eager faces. Someone leaps
to hold the door for her, and close it behind her. She is gone.
19. ‘Next term, we’ll mash you,’ it says. ‘We always mash new boys.’
20. .... the walls that shift and swing...
21. They must like the headmaster’s wife: there is licensed repartee.
22. .... they will tell you the most fearful lies about the food, which is ex-
cellent.

Metonymy Oxymoron Represented speech Hyperbole Personification Epi-


thet Hyperbole Simile Irony Parallelism Ellipsis Metaphor

the garden party

the author
Maeve Binchy was born in 1940 in Dublin. After school and university
in Ireland she became a teacher and then a journalist. She has written plays
for television and the stage, and is the author of many bestsellers, both nov-
els and volumes of short stories. Among her novels are Light a Penny Can-
dle, Firefly Summer, The Copper Beech, The Glass Lake, and Tara Road.
Her novel Circle of friends was made into a film in 1995. Maeve Binchy’s
books are affectionate pictures of the lives of ordinary people, and her sto-
ries concentrate on birth, friendship, marriage, death, and the small details
of everyday life. She makes gentle fun of her characters, turning village
gossip into art, and conveys a strong sense of the confusion of life, full of
joys and sadnesses at the same time.

Read. Think. Talk. - 18 -


the story
If a marriage fails, it can seem like the end of the world. A wife deserted
for a younger woman, for example, can easily sink into depression and de-
spair. But life goes on, and people recover – a cliche, but true. And as the
Danish poet, Piet Hein, wrote: ‘Things that don’t actually kill you outright
make you stronger.’
Helen, betrayed, deserted, and utterly forlorn, stares miserably out of
the window of her new house at the garden next door. She sees no way
of rebuilding her life into anything meaningful, until she meets her new
neighbour, Mrs. Kennedy, who has her own tale to tell of a rather unusual
strategy for survival . . .

the garden party


Helen looked out the window at the garden next door. It was a
mass of colour, mainly from bushes and small trees. No troublesome
flowerbeds that would need endless weeding, nor were there paths that
would have to have their edges trimmed, or rockeries where one thing
5 might spill and crowd out another. Little brick paths wound through it
and there were paved areas with tubs of plants around the garden seats;
unlike her own garden which badly needed attention.
She had been told that her neighbour was a Mrs. Kennedy, who had
two placid cats and was known to be easy-going. Admittedly Helen
10 had been told this by the estate agent who would hardly have warned
her even if Mrs. Kennedy had been one of the Brides of Dracula*.
Helen had been there for three days and she had not yet seen Mrs.
Kennedy. The two big cats spent almost all day asleep on the sunny gar-
den seats. They looked so peaceful, Helen envied them. Dim creatures
15 purring and dozing in the sunshine; someone to feed them at the end
of every evening, birds to watch sleepily from a distance. How Helen
wished that she too could have a life like that instead of sleepless nights,
hours of anxiety, torrents of grief and regret. And now the whole night-
marish business of facing a new house, a new life, because Harry didn’t
20 love her any more, because he had found real love with this girl young
enough to be his daughter. The girl who was pregnant with his child.
And Harry was so pleased to be a father. For fourteen years of their
marriage he had told Helen that he wasn’t ready for parenthood yet
and that they were so complete in themselves they didn’t need anyone

- 19 - Read. Think. Talk.


25 else in their lives. Now, when she was thirty-six years old and he was
approaching his fortieth birthday, he decided he would like to be a fa-
ther. But he told her about the change of heart and direction only after
he said that he was leaving her, and the mother of his child would be
a nineteen-year-old.
30 Other people survived, but then other people could never have felt
so betrayed, so shocked and so aimless now in life.
Her sisters lived far away in other cities; they were not a family
given to writing or long telephone calls. And her friends? Helen knew
only too well how easy it was to alienate your friends by weeping all
35 night at their kitchen tables. Friends preferred to think you were cop-
ing, or trying to cope. Then they were supportive and practical and
around. Friends could disappear into the woodwork if you cried on
their shoulders as much as you wanted to.
So when Helen told people that she was going to move house, make
40 a fresh start, everyone seemed pleased. A place with a garden, ideal
they all said. Her sisters wrote and said she would find great consola-
tion in digging the earth and planting and seeing things grow. Helen
read their letters with mute rage.
She spent many hours of her first week in the new house staring
45 aimlessly from the window and wondering about the unfairness of life.
And then when she was least expecting it she saw Mrs. Kennedy; much
younger than she’d imagined – this woman barely looked ten years
older than herself. She wore a rainbow-coloured skirt and a white T-
shirt. She had a big black straw hat and smiled as she carried a tray of
50 tea things to one of the two wooden tables in her garden.
Helen watched as she saw her neighbour sit down and stretch and
close her eyes with pleasure in the afternoon sunshine. She was as
languid and relaxed as one of the big sleepy cats.
As she watched, Helen heard the gate creak and two girls came in.
55 One about sixteen, dark and attractive; one about six, a moppet with
blonde curls. They flung themselves at the woman on the wooden seat.
‘You were asleep, Debbie,’ the older girl cried. ‘We’ve finally
caught you. This is what you do all day!’
‘Poor Debbie, are you tired?’ The six-year-old had climbed on Mrs.
60 Kennedy’s lap and was hugging her.
Helen felt a wave of self-pity wash over her. She would never know
anything like this. How could life have been so unfair? She wondered for
Read. Think. Talk. - 20 -
a bit why they called the woman Debbie, but she could look and listen
no longer. She sat down by a box of untouched china. She didn’t know
65 where she would store it, who would eat from it. No marvellous children
would come and throw their arms around her calling her Helen.
The afternoon wore on. Helen unpacked one cup and one saucer
and one plate. She couldn’t live the rest of her life like this. But what
were the alternatives? Harry was gone; he was not coming back. She
70 wished she could get the woman next door out of her mind, but it was
like probing a sore tooth.
When she heard a car draw up outside and a younger woman ar-
rived to collect the girls, Helen was again at the window. The younger
woman seemed to have trouble dragging the children away; there were
75 still so many things to do. The teenager wanted to inspect the flower-
bed, which was her very own, and examine the lupins. The little girl
said she had to feed the cats. Then there was a final hug.
‘Give our love to Granny,’ said the teenager to Mrs. Kennedy.
‘Do you still have Granny, aren’t you wonderful, Debbie,’ said the
80 younger woman: the girls’ mother?
‘I love Granny coming, we’ll be making gingerbread and fudge to-
morrow if you want to drop in.’ Mrs. Kennedy smiled encouragingly.
Immediately the girls said they would come, and Helen saw from
her upstairs window a look of irritation cross the younger woman’s
85 face. She had to know who they were, these people who were acting
out a play in the garden next door. There was wine unopened in her
fridge. Helen wrapped it in tissue paper.
‘I’m your new neighbour, Mrs. Kennedy. I saw your friends or fam-
ily leave just now so I thought I would come in and introduce myself.
90 I’m Helen . . .’ she began, and then burst into tears.
She didn’t really remember the next bit, but she was sitting in the
garden on the wooden seat with a cushion at her back. Debbie Ken-
nedy had poured them two glasses of wine and produced some little
bits of cheese and celery. They sat like old friends in the evening sun.
95 And Debbie seemed to look into the distance at the sleeping cats as
Helen wept the story of Harry and his betrayal. ‘I can’t go on, it’s no
use pretending.’
‘I think you have to pretend one way or another, we all do. But the
question is which way you pretend.’ She was very matter of fact.
100 ‘How do you mean?’ Helen had stopped crying.
- 21 - Read. Think. Talk.
‘Well you could go one route and pretend nothing had changed and
that you still thought he was wonderful, remain part of his life and
take over the best bits . ..’ Debbie spoke calmly. ‘Or you could pretend
that he is no longer part of your life and that you have forgotten him,
105 and eventually, of course, you will. It will take time, but you will. It
just depends which you think would bring you more peace, but both of
them involve pretending.’
I’ll not forget him. I can’t write it off, start again.’ Helen felt the
prickling tickling in her nose, and hoped she wasn’t going to start cry-
110 ing again.
‘Well then, don’t forget him. Stick to him like a limpet, take over
his life. I did,’ Mrs. Kennedy said, pouring them another glass of wine
as she explained the story.
Her husband left her seven years ago for a woman who already
115 had a ten-year-old daughter. A ready-made family, he called it. He left
with a series of cliches: Debbie was a survivor, she had a good job, she
wouldn’t miss him, it would leave her time and space for the things she
really loved. But Debbie had really loved her husband. She had been
shattered as Helen was now. If grief could be measured, hers had been
120 just as great. But she had decided not to lose him.
She had not been hostile to the woman with the ready-made family.
She had been welcoming. She had offered to baby-sit for them. She
had won the mind and heart of the girl who was now her husband’s
stepdaughter, Tina. She had moved to live near them; she was a pres-
125 ence in their lives. Her ex-husband thought she was a woman in a mil-
lion. He sometimes came and talked with her in the garden. He lived
in a place where the garden didn’t flourish.
Debbie Kennedy had decided to make her successor’s weaknesses her
own strengths. Perhaps the new woman – she never spoke her name – was
130 a tigress in bed; perhaps she was an intellectual giant; perhaps she flat-
tered him more than Debbie had done. But Debbie still cooked better than
she did. Debbie picked up his children from school and entertained them
royally while the new woman was still at work. Debbie entertained her
husband’s mother regularly when the new woman had no time or inclina-
135 tion to do so. Debbie had arranged deviously that Tina should win two
pedigree kittens in a competition when she knew the new woman was
allergic to cats, and Debbie kept them, on loan, for Tina.
‘It sounds like hard work,’ Helen said, full of admiration.
Read. Think. Talk. - 22 -
‘It’s very hard work,’ Debbie agreed. ‘But then I was like you, I
140 didn’t think the day would come when I could ever live without him.’
‘And now you could?’
‘Oh yes, indeed I could. Now he actually bores me. Not totally but
slightly. He’s very predictable. You would know immediately how he
will respond. I never thought the day would come . . .’
145 ‘So, if you’re over him why don’t you bow out? Live your own
life?’ Helen wondered.
‘I can’t now. I have too many other people that I love and who love
me. I have his mother; she never liked me much during the marriage,
but I’m like some kind of angel compared to the new woman.’ ‘But
150 surely . . .’
‘No, I can’t abandon her, she never did anyone any harm. She didn’t
abandon me and divorce me, her son did. And I adore the girls. And
there are the cats. I only organised them out of spite, but I love them
now. I couldn’t move on somewhere and abandon them when they had
155 served their purpose.
‘And the garden: I realised that the secret was to have the minimum
to do, but to give the children a flowerbed each, and I work on those
secretly and feed whatever they plant, so they think it’s all their own
work. It’s a life, Helen, and I had no life the day he said he was leav-
160 ing.’ ‘But he’s not the centre of it?’
‘No, not now. He was when I needed it. Every single thing I did,
I did from some kind of vengeance, and it gave me a purpose to my
day.’
‘I don’t think I could do it. I mean it’s not as if there were a ready-
165 made family. There’s only a bump* and an awful nineteen-year-old,
and he doesn’t have a mother, and the cat thing wouldn’t work.’
‘It’s that or get out of his orbit completely. When do you go back to
work?’ ‘Next week.’
‘Right, if you like, I’ll ask the girls and Gran to help you unpack
170 tomorrow. It’s much better with a few people there. We’ll do a great
deal in an hour and a half . . .’ ‘But I can’t.’
‘Of course you can, and then, when you get back to work, have a
gardening party. Invite every one of your colleagues to lunch, say that
in return for two hours’ gardening they’ll have a great picnic.
175 Hire a huge trestle table for the day. I’ll tell you what to tell them
to plant and what to weed.’
- 23 - Read. Think. Talk.
‘But I haven’t decided which road to choose; whether to worm my
way back into Harry’s life or not.’
‘You’ll still need to unpack and to clear up that messy garden,’
180 Debbie said.
They wouldn’t talk about plans and strategies again. From now on
they would not need to refer to the desperation of the one and the de-
viousness of the other. As the curtains went up at the windows, and the
china was unpacked on to the shelves and into the cupboards, and the
185 garden took shape, their lives would go on. Helen would make friends
again. She would start with her colleagues in the bank who would
view her differently after they had seen her as the host of a marvellous
gardening party. Debbie’s surrogate family would never know she had
loved them initially as an act of revenge. It was good to have such
190 solidarity established on a summer evening.

notes
Brides of Dracula
a monster (Count Dracula was a vampire in Bram Stoker’s novel
Dracula; his brides were women he seduced and turned into vampires) ;
bump (informal) a reference to the new wife’s pregnancy (i.e. the ‘bump’ in her
body)

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

Answer the following questions:


1. Who do you think is the main heroine of the text? Explain why.
2. What do we know about the main heroines?
3. What is similar and what differentiates the two women described in
the text?
4. What made Helen ask an unknown woman for the advice?
5. What was the advice Mrs. Kennedy gave to Helen?
6. Why didn’t Mrs. Kennedy turn away from her husband’s family in
the end?
7. What course do you think Helen would take? Which one would be
the right?
Read. Think. Talk. - 24 -
8. Is the title of the text clear or obscure? Does the title convey the main
idea of the text?
9. What do you think the two cats symbolize in the text? Can you find
any other symbols?
10. Is there really any moral in the story?
2. Explain in English the meaning of the following expressions:
• dim creatures purring and dozing in the sunshine;
• mute rage;
• perhaps she was an intellectual giant;
• Helen wept the story of Harry;
• there’s only a bump and an awful nineteen-year-old;
• whether to worm my way back into Harry’s life or not.
3. Arrange in the right order:
1. She was a presence in their lives.
2. Helen had been told that her neighbour was a Mrs. Kennedy, who had
two placid cats were known to be easy-going.
3. As the curtains went up at the windows and china was unpacked on to
the shelves, and the garden took shape, their lives would go on.
4. Her sisters wrote and said she would find great consolation in digging
the earth.
5. And now the whole nightmarish business of facing a new house, a
new life, because Harry didn’t love her any more.
6. “I couldn’t move on somewhere and abandon them when they had
served their purpose.”
7. Helen watched as she saw her neighbour sit down and stretch and
close her eyes with pleasure.
8. Her husband left her seven years ago... A ready-made family, he
called it.
9. She wished she could get the woman next door out of her mind, but
it was like probing a sore tooth.
10. There was wine unopened in her fridge.
11. She heard the gate creak and two girls came in.
4. Say if these statements are true or false:
1. Mrs. Kennedy had two placid cats.
2. Mrs. Kennedy had two children.

- 25 - Read. Think. Talk.


3. Helen splited up wither boyfriend.
4. Mrs. Kennedy’s husband left her 8 years ago.
5. Helen bought apple pie to Mrs. Kennedy.
6. Mrs. Kennedy’s husband left her for a woman who had a six-year-old
daughter.
7. Mrs. Kennedy was Helen’s young neighbour.
8. Mrs. Kennedy revenged to her ex-husband.
9. Mrs. Kennedy has two plastic tables in the garden.
10. Helen was at odds with her new neighbour.
11. Harry left Helen for Mrs. Kennedy
12. Helen was 36 years old.
13. Helen lived in a city in a big flat.
14. Debbie was glad to see the young girls.
15. Helen’s neighbour was a handsome fellow.

DISCUSSION

1. Revenge is usually thought of as a negative, destructive force. ‘No re-


venge is more honourable than the one not taken,’ a Spanish proverb says.
Do you think Debbie’s revenge can be seen like that? List the positive and
negative features of all the things Debbie did, initially as acts of revenge.
2. Debbie was also deserted by her husband. What similarities were
there between her situation and Helen’s? Do you think Helen is likely to
attempt a similar revenge? Would that, in your opinion, be a good idea?
Why, or why not?
3. Describe the two routes that Debbie offers to Helen as ways forward
out of her present situation. What other courses of action might deserted
wives take? Do husbands deserted by their wives react in the same way?
Do you think people generally have the same attitude towards an unfaithful
wife as they do towards an unfaithful husband.
4. Describe the title. Say why it was so important for Helen to clear up
her garden and arrange a gardening party? What “that messy garden” can
be personification of?
5. Do you think Mrs. Kennedy’s strategy of revenge (rather unusual)
is an appropriate way for survival? Did she make the grade (добиться
своего)? Or doesn’t she just cling (цепляться) to the past, loosing the op-
portunity to go on and start new life?
Read. Think. Talk. - 26 -
6. Do you think Helen is likely to attempt a similar revenge? What
would be, in your opinion, the best way of behaving in that situation?

LANGUAGE FOCUS

1. Find these expressions in the story and explain what they mean:

Friends could disappear in the woodwork


it was like probing a sore tooth
I can’t write it off, start again
Stick to him like a limpet
she was a woman in a million
Perhaps the new woman [. . .] was a tigress in bed
perhaps she was an intellectual giant
if you’re over him why don’t you bow out?
It’s a life [. . .] and I had no life the day he said he was leaving
or get out of his orbit completely
whether to worm my way back into Harry’s life

2. Replace the words in italic by the synonyms:


1. Two placid cats were lying on the sofa.
2. Seeing her he felt uncontrolled torrents of tenderness and love.
3. He was alienated by others after shooting such a disgusting film.
4. We were lying under the Sun and after an hour we felt languid.
5. All the family had come to meet her after childbirth, everybody want-
ed to see her moppet.
6. Little boy accidentally shattered all the sand castles.
7. Teens are usually very hostile to newcomers.
8. Professor said that he had a client who had an inclination to suicide.
9. Mrs.Doorsey bowed out every contacts with her ex-husband.
10. After such a cruel joke which he had played on me I couldn’t stop
myself against the vengeance.

- 27 - Read. Think. Talk.


3. Match the words with their definitions:

a) someone who uses words in a


clever and funny way;
1. Parsimony (n) b) to search a place very thor-
oughly;
2. Howl (v) c) not being willing to give or
spend money;
3. Sniffle (n)
d) burned;
4. Pluck at (v) e) able to move quickly and eas-
ily;
5. Wit (n) f) doing something slowly be-
cause you find it difficult;
6. Adorn (v) g) to pull on smth;
h) to decorate;
7. Crave (v)
i) mainly literary to want some-
thing a lot, especially something
8. Falter (v)
that you know you may not be
able to have;
9. Laboriously (adj)
j) to stop doing something be-
10. Nimble (adj) cause you have lost your confi-
dence or determination;
11. Patent (adj) k) to want something very much
in a way that is very hard to con-
12. Ravages (n) trol;
1) breathing in noisily through
13. Singed (adj) your nose because you are (or
have been) crying;
14. Turn smth inside out (phr)
m) damage or destruction (usu-
ally caused by war, disease or
15. Yearn (v)
weather);
n) to cry very loudly;
o) extremely obvious.

Read. Think. Talk. - 28 -


4. Translate the following sentences into English using phrases
from the text:
1. Она пыталась посмотреть на него другими глазами, но не могла
найти ничего положительного.
2. Единственным шансом для него начать все сначала – было уехать
в другую страну.
3. Он говорил что-то о перемене в чувствах, о возможных
последствиях, но она его не слушала.
4. Когда Лиза оставалась одна, её часто накрывала волна жалости
к самой себе.
5. После того, как она увидела его пьяным, на ее лице надолго
застыло выражение раздражения.
6. Проще найти уже готовую семью, чем пытаться создать ее
самому.
7. Тина была уверена, что он преследует ее, потому что он не
выходил из ее поля зрения.
8. Это ужасно, когда человек пристает как банный лист и не
понимает этого.

5. Translate the following words into English:


Солидарность, месть, поток, утешение, безмятежный, дремать,
справиться, ребенок, ослабевший, отчуждать, мурлыкать, разбить
в дребезги, враждебный, льстить, испытывать покалывание,
безрассудство, склонность, прекращать, полоть, щекотать, эстакада,
присутствие, жестокая женщина.

6. Translate the sentences into English:


1. Она была жестокой женщиной и имела склонность безрассудно
мстить за любые поступки против неё.
2. Хелен хотела собрать своих друзей на вечеринку в саду, чтобы
всем вместе прополоть сад и посадить новые цветы, а затем устроить
пикник.
3. Малютка дремал безмятежно и, казалось, мурлыкал во сне.
4. Из чувства солидарности он часто льстил своему директору.
5. Молодые люди решили прекратить враждебные отношения ради
девушки и с трудом совладали с собой, когда встречались.

- 29 - Read. Think. Talk.


6. У Тины была склонность знакомиться с апатичными молодыми
людьми, а затем разбивать вдребезги любые контакты с ними.
7. Хорошо, когда есть друг, который поможет справиться с грустью,
не будет льстить, выслушает поток эмоций и утешит.
8. Каждый раз, в присутствии Ааорона, Дебби чувствовала странное
покалывание и щекотку.
9. Это был отчужденный, но очень мирный городок.

7. Translate from Russian into English:


1. Друзья стали бы меня избегать (предпочли бы удалиться).
2. Полуденное время казалось бесконечным.
3. вспоминать о нём только лучшее...
4. Я не могу вычеркнуть его из своей жизни и начать всё сначала.

8. Match the words with their synonyms:

1. Placid a. revenge
2. Torrent b. tendency
3. Alienate c. unity
4. Languid d. tranquil
5. Moppet e. stop
6. Shatter f. stream
7. Hostile g. listless
8. Inclination h. bellicose
9. Bow out i. estrange
10. Vengeance j. child
11. Solidarity k. demolish

Read. Think. Talk. - 30 -


ACTIVITIES

Retell the parts of the story using these words and phrases
A: two big cats, asleep on the sunny garden seats, peaceful, to envy,
someone to feed.
B: Mrs. Kennedy, two girls, to fling away, to feed the cats, a final hug,
a ready-made family.
C: a new neighbour, a bottle of wine, tears, a conversation between
Helen and Mrs. Kennedy, to do from some kind of vengeance (месть).

Comment
Which of the following phrases could be said to be:
* the theme of the story
1. Life goes on, and people recover. Revenge is a confession of pain.
2. To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
3. A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.
4. Divorce is not the end of life.
5. Revenge as invisible force.
6. Revenge as the way of a fresh start.
7. The things which don’t kill you, they make you stronger.
* the message of the story:
1. Things that don’t actually kill you make you stronger.
2. There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.
3. When people make you cry and you are afraid of the dark, don’t for-
get the light is always there.
4. There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the
comparison of one state to another, nothing more...
5. Don’t pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell
yourself that the mended whole is as good as new. What is broken is broken
– and it’s better to remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the
broken places as long as you lived.
6. There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we
are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails,
human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a
second better: we find comfort somewhere...
- 31 - Read. Think. Talk.
7. The best strategy for survival.
8. The best way to overcome the grief.
9. The problem of loneliness

Stylistic devices

1. Match stylistic devices and their examples:


1. Mute range
1. Rhetorical question 2. Perhaps the new woman – she never
spoke her name – was a tigress in a bed.
2. Epithet 3. She was languid and relaxed as one of
the big sleepy cats.
3. Repetition 4. –... other people could never have felt
so betrayed, so shocked and aimless now
4. Metonomy in life.
5. Helen knew only too well how easy it
5. Detachment
was to alienate your friends by weeping
all nights at their kitchen tables.
6. Graphon
6. And her friends?
7. Pan 7. – couldn’t move on somewhere and
abandon them when they had served their
8. Ellipsis purpose.
8. One about sixteen, dark and attrac-
9. Simile tive; one about six, a moppet with blonde
curls.

2. Translate the following idiomatic expressions into Russian:


• to make a fresh start;
• rainbow-coloured skirt;
• a look of irritation cross the younger woman’s face;
• stick to him like a limper;
• she was a woman in a million;
• she was a tigress in a bed;
• when they had served their purpose.

Read. Think. Talk. - 32 -


3. Define stylistic devices in the following sentences
(there are some extra terms):
1. if Mrs Kennedy had been one of the
Brides of Dracula
1. Oxymoron 2. Other people survived, but then oth-
2. Metaphor er people could never have felt so be-
3. Allusion trayed, so shocked and so aimless now
4. Polysyndeton in life.
5. Metonymy 3. hours of anxiety, torrents of grief and
regret...
6. Simile
4. She was as languid and relaxed as
7. Zeugma
one of the big sleepy cats.
8. Comparison
5. It was like probing a sore tooth ...
9. Personification
6. ... a look of irritation cross the young-
er woman’s face.

4. Match stylistic devices and sentences from the text:


1. Mute range
2. Perhaps the new woman – she never spoke
1. Rhetorical question her name – was a tigress in a bed.
2. Epithet 3. She was languid and relaxed as one of the
big sleepy cats.
3. Repetition
4. – ... other people could never have felt so
4. Metonomy betrayed, so shocked and aimless now in life.
5. Detachment 5. Helen knew only too well how easy it was
to alienate your friends by weeping all nights
6. Graphon at their kitchen tables.
7. Pun 6. And her friends?
7. – couldn’t move on somewhere and abandon
8. Ellipsis them when they had served their purpose.
9. Simile 8. One about sixteen, dark and attractive; one
about six, a moppet with blonde curls.

- 33 - Read. Think. Talk.


RICOCHET

THE AUTHOR
Angela Noel was born in 1931, and now lives in Lancashire, where
she runs a livery stables. Most of her writing consists of short stories for
women’s magazines in several countries, and she has also published four
romantic novels, all set in the English countryside. Her most recent title is
Remember Me. Her story Ricochet was first published in March 1980 in
London Mystery Selection. Although the story is set in Wales, the idea for
it was originally drawn from a newspaper report about a real-life incident
concerning two brothers in Spain, one of whom was accused of murdering
the other.

THE STORY
Possessiveness seems to be a fundamental characteristic of human be-
ings: the urge to possess things – and people. And if our possessions are
taken away from us, our feelings of resentment at life’s injustice can be
very strong indeed. It is said that there is a potential murderer in all of us,
that if the pressures are great enough, anybody can be driven to the ultimate
act of violence. It is not a comfortable thought.
In a beautiful Welsh valley Owen Parry has brooded on life’s injustice
for many years. His resentment is focused on his brother Huw. It is Huw
who is married to Rhiannon, Huw who lives in the comfortable farmhouse,
Huw who has caused the slaughter of all their sheep. Only Huw stands be-
tween Owen and happiness, the possession of all the things that are right-
fully his ...

RICOCHET
Owen had planned to wear gloves. He had an ancient pair in brown
leather, which he wore for Sunday chapel* in winter.
But his farmer’s hands were clumsy in them and this was delicate
work.
5 Owen Parry stopped and looked about him with a little rat-smile.
Why bother with gloves at all? This was his own cottage, wasn’t it?
The police would expect to find his fingerprints all over it. These were
his two wooden chairs, now standing back to back and apart by a care-
fully measured distance.
Read. Think. Talk. - 34 -
10 The shot gun was his, too. Of course it bore his fingerprints. Now
the gun lay across the backs of the two chairs, firmly held with rope
and wire. It pointed at his only door.
The gun was cocked. From the trigger, a string was looped to the
door handle. When that door was thrown back, the string would jerk
15 tight. And when did his brother Huw not throw doors wide?
For a moment Owen’s stomach welled in him but he held himself
taut. Switch on an inviting light, he told himself, and leave the cottage
by a window.
His brother would be here before evening chapel.
20 ‘To talk about re-stocking the farm,’ Owen had lied nervously while
persuading him to come.
‘Huh, re-stocking, is it?’ Huw had grunted. ‘Looking ahead, aren’t
we?’
Both their faces were still grey from the nightmare of foot-and-
25 mouth disease* that had devastated their farm. By compulsory order,
their whole flock had been slaughtered. Their dogs too had to go, their
beautiful faithful intelligent dogs. Even Beth, whom they all loved
best.
Owen sighed at the thought of Beth but her memory strengthened
30 his will. He had suffered enough. He set off for the village to create
his alibi.
Even now, surrounded by the tragedy of empty hills, he felt his pas-
sion surge for this place he’d always known, for the lovely sweep of
valley, for the curl of polished-steel river, for the farmhouse with its
35 close family of buildings.
Soon it would all be his and his alone. He would work and care
and live again. The hills would sing with the bleat of a healthy flock
and there would be dogs once more, streaming them down to the river
meadow.
40 Though there’d never be another bitch quite like Beth. Even to-
day, heading for the village, Owen imagined he still heard her barking,
barking up at the deserted sheepfold on the hill behind his cottage.
Some partnership it had been with his brother! It wasn’t enough
that Huw had married Rhiannon, the girl they both loved, the pretty,
45 sympathetic, pliable Rhiannon. Or that Huw and his wife took over
the good stone farmhouse, leaving Owen to move out to the musty
riverside cottage.
- 35 - Read. Think. Talk.
Worst of all, after the first year or two, Huw was not even making
Rhiannon happy and their marriage, unblessed by children, had begun
50 slowly to wither at the edges.
Huw was a blackhaired giant, bass-voiced, rock-strong. To him, be-
ing without child was traumatic, demeaning. He imagined the village
sniggered behind its net curtains. ‘There goes Huw Parry, owns half
the valley with his brother, married these five years and can’t get his
55 wife pregnant.’
And who in that lonely valley could the sad Rhiannon turn to but
her brother-in-law? Didn’t she know, as any woman knows, that he’d
always loved her?
‘Like the river you are, Owen Parry,’ she told him, ‘slow and
60 deep.’
As children, both boys had played and danced and kissed with her.
But they were children no longer. One day Owen took his sister-in-law
in his arms and the dream he had nurtured for all those silent years
woke to reality.
65 But the birth of Margo wrought a change in Huw that stunned both
Owen and Rhiannon. Overnight, it seemed, Huw stood tall again. He
sang at his work and displayed a tenderness the other two had not
known he possessed.
For the second time in his life, Owen had seen Rhiannon slipping
70 from him to cleave to Huw. The old fire smouldered anew, silent and
menacing inside him. One day it must blaze.
The slaughter of the flock it was that finally set the fire alight. None
of it need have happened, hadn’t Owen said so again and again? One
slobbering ewe they’d found, just one, and that they could easily have
75 disposed of in secret. Then with gallons of disinfectant they could have
tried, at least they could have tried, to protect the rest of the flock from
the scourge of foot-and-mouth.
But oh no! Huw, upright Godfearing chapel man that he was, Huw
must call the authorities. Younger and bigger, he’d tossed Owen aside
80 and marched for the telephone. The nightmare had been set in motion.
The inspectors came and passed the death sentence on sheep and dogs
alike.
‘I hope you’re satisfied, Huw Parry,’ said Owen that night and he
felt a lifetime’s resentment of his brother slip over the edge into some-
85 thing deeper and much harder to control.
Read. Think. Talk. - 36 -
Owen had made one last appeal to Rhiannon. Huw was outside,
staring morosely at the river. Margo they could hear in the yard, call-
ing tearfully for the vanished Beth.
‘Huw can’t bring himself to tell her about having to shoot Beth,’
90 Rhiannon said tenderly, watching her husband from her kitchen win-
dow. ‘I’ll never forget how he looked as he led Beth away and she
went, waving that plume tail of hers, obedient to the last. Beth was
always Margo’s favourite and it broke his heart to have to do it.’
Owen’s arm tightened across Rhiannon’s shoulders. ‘We can’t go
95 on like this, love,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to tell Huw the truth. Let him
find some other farm. We’ll re-stock as soon as they’ll let us and we’ll
set up house here like the family we really are.’
He glanced covetously at the firm dry walls, the roominess and so-
lidity of the place, so different from his miserable cottage.
100 But when his gaze returned to Rhiannon, her blank look killed his
hope.
‘Is it mad you are, Owen Parry?’ she said. ‘Would I tell my man to
go, after all he’s suffered, after all this destruction and grief? Would I
rob him of his land and his child -?’
105 ‘Whose child?’ said Owen.
Rhiannon paled. ‘God forgive me, he’s as good as a father to her.’
Owen spread his hands. ‘It’s childless you’d be to this day if you
hadn’t turned to me.’
She shook her head of long dark hair. ‘Oh I know you were good to
110 me when my marriage was going badly, Owen. I needed you then. But
Huw and me, we’re so much happier now. You must see that. He’s a
different man. He worships Margo – and I won’t let you take her from
him. I’ll deny every word you say and it’s me he’ll believe.’
Owen grasped her shoulders, thin under his demanding hands, and
115 shook her. Her dark hair flopped forward, then she threw up her head
and defied him.
He wanted to roar at her, ‘You have used me like a prize ram!’ But
he quelled the words. If once he turned Rhiannon against himself, his
life would be without meaning.
120 He’d walked away, sickened by the knowledge of what he must do.
That night Owen wept, alone in his musty cottage, and his deepest
distress was for Margo, his brown-eyed elf. No choir ever sang like
that child laughing ...
- 37 - Read. Think. Talk.
While Huw lived, Rhiannon would be his wife, Margo his daughter.
125 What choice had they left him? A man could only take or lose – so
much.
Owen brooded for a week, a scheme simmering in his mind. He
might have pulled the trigger himself – but he knew his courage would
fail him. Huw had only to look at him with those blazing black eyes of
130 his and Owen would feel his strength of purpose drain away into the
ground. And how to convince people it was an accident? No, Huw must
be the one to pull the trigger. And hadn’t the slaughter of an entire flock,
a lifetime’s work, been known to drive a man to suicide? Hadn’t Huw
been morose of late, since their loss? What better place to choose than
135 his brother’s home to spare his wife and child from finding his body?
Thus was born the idea of the trap.
Grudgingly, Huw had agreed to come down to Owen’s cottage this
Sunday afternoon to talk about the farm. Huw would fling open the door
and it would all be over. He wouldn’t even suffer or know a moment’s
140 suspicion. A small price to pay for another’s happiness, Owen thought.
Owen would walk back from the village after chapel, clutching his
watertight alibi. It would take only minutes to falsify the evidence, to
remove all signs of wire and string, and to place the gun in the dead
man’s hands. Then Owen would run in innocent horror to telephone
145 the police. The widow would weep in his arms.
Now Owen’s heart thundered in his breast as he left his cottage and
his gun, waiting, behind him.
The village lay freezing in the Sunday afternoon quiet. Though not,
apparently, too cold for Mrs. Price, Groceries, forever at her door.
150 ‘Terrible to be idle, isn’t it?’ she said, with relish.
Owen stopped. What better witness to his whereabouts this Sunday
afternoon, she with her mind like the hoard of a squirrel, packed tight
with seeds of suspicion and sweet nuts of scandal?
When at last Mrs. Price ran out of chatter, he called on Ma Hughes
155 and asked politely about her arthritis. Ma Hughes offered him tea.
Owen left Ma Hughes when he’d barely enough time to reach cha-
pel. He entered that hushed place, let the door fall to with a thud and
broke into a fit of coughing.
Afterwards, his irreverence apparently forgiven, they asked him
160 where Huw was. ‘Can’t remember when last Huw Parry missed cha-
pel,’ they all said.
Read. Think. Talk. - 38 -
Owen shook his head and murmured about depression. Despite the
cold, Owen was sweating as he left the lane and slowly crunched back
over the crystal grass to his cottage.
165 He reached his door, put out his hand ...
No, wait. The gun might still be cocked, if for any reason Huw had
failed to come down. Even in death, he didn’t trust his brother. He
peered nervously in through his lighted window.
Owen’s scream split the night.
170 He burst into the cottage, jaw slack, eyes protruding, hands drag-
ging at his hair. He gaped down at the two sprawled and bloody bodies
on his floor.
Margo and the sheepdog Beth.
He prodded the bitch with his shoe and it was rigid. He couldn’t
175 touch the child. His own daughter. He covered his face.
His mind was a vortex of horror and bewilderment. Then the truth
flashed against his closed lids.
Huw had cheated. He had never slaughtered the bitch as ordered.
He must have hidden her. Suddenly Owen recalled that ghostly bark-
180 ing from the sheepfold. Of course! Then today she must have escaped,
perhaps found and released by a delighted Margo, and they’d come
bounding down the hillside to tell her Uncle Owen the good news ...
It took only a few minutes to discard the wire and string, reload the
gun and blowout the side of his head.
185 The explosion awoke the sleeping child. Margo started up, crying,
as the noise renewed her terror. She looked only at Beth, who had not
moved. She remembered trying to keep up with Beth and how the
bitch bounded at the cottage door ahead of her, the unbearable noise
and how the bitch fell whimpering and twitching. She had flung herself
190 down, fondling Beth, trying to rouse her, getting covered in the ani-
mal’s blood. She must have cried herself to sleep on the floor.
Now she turned and fled screaming from the cottage. Halfway
home, stumbling through the moonlight, she cannoned into Huw. ‘Oh
Margo, my Margo, I’ve been searching for you this past two hours!’
195 Huw scooped up the child and carried her joyously home, thanking the
Lord for the safety of his beloved daughter.
He decided it was too late now to go and see Owen.

- 39 - Read. Think. Talk.


NOTES
chapel
a building used for Christian worship by members of one of the Nonconformist sects
of the Protestant religion (e.g. the Methodists, who are very strong in Wales)
foot-and-mouth disease
a very infectious disease that affects farm animals; in Britain (though not in other
countries) the disease is controlled by the obligatory slaughter of infected animals

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

Say if these statements are true or false:


1. Huw married Rhiannon about five years ago and they had two children.
2. Huw and his wife took over the riverside cottage while Owen lived
in a good stone farmhouse
3. Huw was a blond haired, small man.
4. Huw was not making Rhiannon happy but their marriage, unblessed
by children, was still anything they could dream of.
5. Rhiannon compared Owen with the slow deep river.
6. Rhiannon desided to kill Huw and get married with Owen.
7. Owen was sure that the mechanism would work because his brother
Huw always threw doors wide.
8. When Rhiannon gave birth to Margo Huw stood tall again. For the
second time in his life, Owen had seen Rhiannon slipping from him to
cleave to Huw it was the last drop that finally set the fire alight.
9. Owen wanted to pull the trigger himself – but he thought that it would
be less dangerous for him if he had an alibi.
10. When Owen returned he saw that instead of his brother there laid
dead Beth and Margo sat crying beside her.

DISCUSSION
1. Which do you think was more important for Owen, sole possession
and management of the farm, or living with Rhiannon and being able to
claim Margo as his own daughter?

Read. Think. Talk. - 40 -


2. Why do you think Rhiannon chose to marry Huw rather than Owen?
Describe both brothers from her point of view. What is your opinion of
her own character? Is she partly to blame for the tragedy? Why, or why not?
3. Do you think that tragedy would have been prevented if Rhiannon
and Margo had left Huw and moved in with Owen? What do you think
Huw would have done, that ‘upright Godfearing chapel man’?

LANGUAGE FOCUS
1. Find the images which are used in the story to describe people in
relation to these animals or natural features:
a rat, rock, a river, fire, a squirrel
What adjectives can you think of that would create the same effect as
these images? Can you think of other animals or natural features which are
often used to suggest human characteristics? For example, what do you asso-
ciate with these things: a storm, a deep pool, a snake, a horse, a lion, a cat?
2. These expressions use a word order that is often used by Welsh
people but not by people in other regions. Rephrase them in the usual
word order.
1. Like the river you are.
2. The slaughter of the flock it was that finally set the fire alight .
3. Is it mad you are?
4. It’s childless you’d be to this day if you hadn’t turned to me.
3. The story is written from Owen’s point of view and the author
often puts Owen’s thoughts in question-form, for example:
Why bother with gloves at all? This was his own cottage, wasn’t it?
This could be rewritten as:
He decided there was no need to bother with gloves because it was his
own cottage.
Find some other examples and rewrite them in the same way, as simple
description of Owen’s thoughts. Then compare the different versions. What
effect do the questions have? Do they contribute to the tension of the story,
or our understanding of Owen’s character?
4. Find equivalents in Russian:
• a little rat-smile;
• an inviting light;
• pliable Rhiannon;

- 41 - Read. Think. Talk.


• rock-strong;
• unblessed by children.
5. Make the words from the mixed letters:
1. ghersltau;
2. enceverreir;
3. gertsfinnirp;
4. nessderten;
5. ablilp;
6. tisarrith;
7. tionedsrutc.
6. Match the words with their definitions:
a) metal in the form of thin thread;
1) clumsy
b) to make the sound that sheep and goats make;
2) fingerprint c) to burn brightly and strongly;
3) wire d) a mark made by the pattern of lines on the tip of
a person's finger, often used by the police to identify
4) foot-and- criminals;
mouth disease e) a field covered in grass, used especially for hay;
5) compulsory f) unhappy, bad-tempered and not talking very much;
6) to bleat g) used in connection with sb who is still young and
does not have much experience;
7) meadow h) to move or lift sb/sth with a quick continuous
8) overnight movement;
i) moving or doing things in a very awkward way;
9) to blaze
j) 1) during or for the night; 2) suddenly or quickly;
10) tenderness k) that must be done because of a law or a rule;
11) morosely 1) a very infectious disease that affects farm animals;
in Britain (though not in other countries) the disease
12) scoop up is controlled by the obligatory slaughter of infected
animals.

ACTIVITIES
1. Write a report of the tragedy for the local newspaper, including inter-
views with Mrs. Price and Ma Hughes, who both guess (rightly or wrongly)
at reasons for Owen’s death.
Read. Think. Talk. - 42 -
2. Imagine that when Owen entered his cottage, he discovered that only
Beth, the dog, was dead, and not Margo as well. Write a new ending for
the story. How does Owen explain Beth’s death to Margo? Does he make
another attempt to murder Huw?
3. The title of the story, Ricochet, suggests the unexpected ending, or
the miscarriage of Owen’s plan; as Shakespeare put it, ‘purposes mistook
I Fallen on the inventors’ heads.’ Think of some other titles for the story,
perhaps associated with Owen’s emotions, or the animals in the story, or
the Welsh countryside.

Comment
Comment which of the following phrases could be the theme
and the message of the story:
1. God will propose you get a ring in the nose.
2. They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.
3. The thread breaks where it is weakest.
4. What you go for you find.
5. As you sow, so shall you reap.
6. The biter bit.

Stylistic devices:
1. Match stylistic devices and sentences from the text:
1. The inspectors passed the death sentence. It broke
a. Epithet his heart ... killed his hope. He quelled the words.
b. Irony Owen's heart thundered in his breast. Owen's scream
split the night. He burst into the cottage. The noise
c. Represented renewed her terror.
speech 2. Blank look. Demanding hands. Hushed place.
d. Oxymoron 3. Would I tell my man to go, after all he's suffered,
after all this destruction and grief? Would I rob him
e. Metaphor of his land and his chid? Whose child?
f. Simile 4. for Margo, his brown-eyed elf
g. Rhetorical 5. While Huw lived, Rhiannon would be his wife,
question Margo his daughter. What choice they left him? A
man could only take or lose so much?
h. Periphrasis 6. Innocent horror
7. She with her mind like the hoard of a squirrel

- 43 - Read. Think. Talk.


2. Find the following stylistic devices and define their
functions Metaphor, oxymoron, simile, personification,
epithet, flashback, repetition, represented speech, periphrasis,
metonymy, antithesis, inversion:
1. He sang at his work and displayed a tenderness.
2. The village sniggered behind its net curtains.
3. Owen looked around him with a rat-smile.
4. Despite the cold, Owen was sweating as he left the lane and slowly
crunched back over the crystal grass to his cottage.
5. And who in that lonely valley could the sad Rhiannon turn to but her
brother-in-law?
6. Owen would run in innocent horror to telephone the police.
7. Owen’s scream split the night.
8. “Like the river you are? Owen Parry”, she told him.
9. Owen’s stomach welled in him but he held himself taut.
10. Owen imagined he still heard her barking, barking up at the deserted
sheepfold on the hill behind his cottage.
11. As children, both boys had played and danced and kissed with her. But
they were children no longer. One day Owen took his sister-in-law in his arms
and the dream he had nurtured for all those silent years woke to reality.
12. Her memory strengthened his will.
13. The inspectors came and passed the death sentence on sheep and
dogs alike.
14. Margo started up, crying, as the noise renewed her terror.
15. Huw had married the girl, they both loved, the pretty, pliable Rhi-
annon.
3. Why does the author use these stylistic devices and what
they are?
1. For a moment Owen’s stomach welled in him but he held himself
taut.
2. Owen sighed at the thought of Beth but her memory strengthened his
will.
3. Even now, surrounded by the tragedy of empty hills, he felt his pas-
sion surge for this place he’d always known, for the lovely sweep of valley,
for the curl of polished-steel river, for the farmhouse with its close family
of buildings.

Read. Think. Talk. - 44 -


4. The hills would sing with the bleat of a healthy flock.
5. Huw was not even making Rhiannon happy and their marriage, un-
blessed by children, had begun slowly to wither at the edges.
6. He imagined the village sniggered behind its net curtains.
7. And who in that lonely valley could the sad Rhiannon turn to but her
brother-in-law? Didn’t she know, as any woman knows, that he’d always
loved her?
8. ‘Like the river you are, Owen Parry,’ she told him, ‘slow and deep.’
9. Owen had seen Rhiannon slipping from him to cleave to Huw.
10. Owen took his sister-in-law in his arms and the dream he had nur-
tured for all those silent years woke to reality.
11. The old fire smouldered anew, silent and menacing inside him. One
day it must blaze.
4. Now find all sentences with metaphors and paraphrase
them without stylistic devices. For example:
Owen had seen Rhiannon slipping from him to cleave to Huw. = Owen
had seen Rhiannon going away from him to his brother.

MABEL

THE AUTHOR
William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874. He originally qualified as
a doctor but soon became a full-time writer of plays, short stories, and nov-
els. In both world wars he served as a British Intelligence agent, and trav-
elled widely in the South Seas, south-east Asia, China, and Mexico. Many of
his experiences in these places were later incorporated into his stories. His
most famous novels are Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes
and Ale, and The Razor’s Edge. His short stories have been published in vari-
ous collections, and include some that have been considered among the best
in the language, such as ‘Rain’ and ‘The Alien Corn’. Many have been made
into films or plays for the theatre. Maugham died in 1965.

- 45 - Read. Think. Talk.


THE STORY
Shakespeare, like many other poets, wrote a great deal on the subject of
love. One of his most famous sonnets opens with these lines:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds ...
That might not always be true in practice, but it is certainly a fine and
noble sentiment.
In the days of the British Empire a young man called George paces the
quayside in Rangoon, Burma, nervously awaiting the arrival of his bride-
to-be from England. He and Mabel have been engaged for years, but at a
distance of six thousand miles, and George suddenly gets cold feet. Mabel,
however, is a remarkable woman, and more than equal to any impediments
she might encounter ...

MABEL
I was at Pagan, in Burma*, and from there I took the steamer to
Mandalay, but a couple of days before I got there, when the boat, tied
up for the night at a riverside village, I made up my mind to go ashore.
The skipper told me that there was a pleasant little club* in which I had
5 only to make myself at home; they were quite used to having strang-
ers drop off like that, from the steamer, and the secretary was a very
decent chap; I might even get a game of bridge. I had nothing in the
world to do, so I got into one of the bullockcarts that were waiting at
the landing-stage and was driven to the club. There was a man sitting
10 on the veranda and as I walked up he nodded to me and asked whether
I would have a whisky and soda or a gin and bitters. The possibility
that I would have nothing at all did not even occur to him. I chose the
longer drink and sat down. He was a tall, thin, bronzed man, with a big
moustache, and he wore khaki shorts and a khaki shirt. I never knew
15 his name, but when we had been chatting a little while another man
came in who told me he was the secretary, and he addressed my friend
as George.
‘Have you heard from your wife yet?’ he asked him. The other’s
eyes brightened.
20 ‘Yes, I had letters by this mail. She’s having no end of a time.’ ‘Did
she tell you not to fret?’

Read. Think. Talk. - 46 -


George gave a little chuckle, but was I mistaken in thinking that
there was in it the shadow of a sob?
‘In point of fact she did. But that’s easier said than done. Of course
25 I know she wants a holiday, and I’m glad she should have it, but it’s
devilish hard on a chap.’ He turned to me. ‘You see, this is the first
time I’ve ever been separated from my missus, and I’m like a lost dog
without her.’
‘How long have you been married?’ ‘Five minutes.’
30 The secretary of the club laughed.
‘Don’t be a fool, George. You’ve been married eight years.’ After
we had talked for a little, George, looking at his watch said he must go
and change his clothes for dinner and left us. The secretary watched
him disappear into the night with a smile of not unkindly irony.
35 ‘We all ask him as much as we can now that he’s alone,’ he told me.
‘He mopes so terribly since his wife went home.’
‘It must be very pleasant for her to know that her husband is as
devoted to her as all that.’
‘Mabel is a remarkable woman.’
40 He called the boy and ordered more drinks. In this hospitable place
they did not ask you if you would have anything; they took it for grant-
ed. Then he settled himself in his long chair and lit a cheroot. He told
me the story of George and Mabel.
They became engaged when he was home on leave, and when he
45 returned to Burma it was arranged that she should join him in six
months. But one difficulty cropped up after another; Mabel’s father
died, the war came, George was sent to a district unsuitable for a white
woman, so that in the end it was seven years before she was able to
start. He made all arrangements for the marriage, which was to take
50 place on the day of her arrival, and went down to Rangoon to meet her.
On the morning on which the ship was due he borrowed a motor-car
and drove along to the dock. He paced the quay.
Then, suddenly, without warning, his nerve failed him. He had not
seen Mabel for seven years. He had forgotten what she was like. She
55 was a total stranger. He felt a terrible sinking in the pit of his stom-
ach and his knees began to wobble. He couldn’t go through with it.
He must tell Mabel that he was very sorry, but he couldn’t, he re-
ally couldn’t marry her. But how could a man tell a girl a thing like
that when she had been engaged to him for seven years and had come
- 47 - Read. Think. Talk.
60 six thousand miles to marry him? He hadn’t the nerve for that either.
George was seized with the courage of despair. There was a boat at the
quay on the very point of starting for Singapore; he wrote a hurried
letter to Mabel, and without a stick of luggage, just in the clothes he
stood up in, leaped on board.
65 The letter Mabel received ran somewhat as follows:
Dearest Mabel,
I have been suddenly called away on business and do not know
when I shall be back. I think it would be much wiser if you returned to
England. My plans are very uncertain. Your loving George.
70 But when he arrived at Singapore he found a cable waiting for him.
QUITE UNDERSTAND. DON’T WORRY. LOVE. MABEL.
Terror made him quick-witted.
‘By Jove, I believe she’s following me,’ he said.
He telegraphed to the shipping-office at Rangoon and sure enough
75 her name was on the passenger list of the ship that was now on its way
to Singapore. There was not a moment to lose. He jumped on the train
to Bangkok. But he was uneasy; she would have no difficulty in find-
ing out that he had gone to Bangkok and it was just as simple for her
to take the train as it had been for him. Fortunately there was a French
80 tramp* sailing next day for Saigon”. He took it. At Saigon he would be
safe; it would never occur to her that he had gone there; and if it did,
surely by now she would have taken the hint. It is five days’ journey
from Bangkok to Saigon and the boat is dirty, cramped, and uncom-
fortable. He was glad to arrive and took a rickshaw to the hotel. He
85 signed his name in the visitors’ book and a telegram was immediately
handed to him. It contained but two words: Love. Mabel. They were
enough to make him break into a cold sweat.
‘When is the next boat for Hong-Kong?’ he asked. Now his flight
grew serious. He sailed to Hong-Kong, but dared not stay there; he
90 went to Manila; Manila was ominous; he went on to Shanghai.
Shanghai was nerve-racking; every time he went out of the hotel he
expected to run straight into Mabel’s arms; no, Shanghai would never
do. The only thing was to go to Yokohama. At the Grand Hotel at Yo-
kohama a cable awaited him:
95 SO SORRY TO HAVE MISSED YOU AT MANILA. LOVE.
MABEL.

Read. Think. Talk. - 48 -


He scanned the shipping intelligence* with a fevered brow. Where
was she now? He doubled back to Shanghai. This time he went straight
to the club and asked for a telegram. It was handed to him:
100 ARRIVING SHORTLY. LOVE. MABEL.
No, no, he was not so easy to catch as all that. He had already made his
plans. The Yangtse is a long river and the Yangtse was falling. He could
just about catch the last steamer that could get up to Chungking and then
no one could travel till the following spring except by junk. Such a journey
105 was out of the question for a woman alone. He went to Hankow and from
Hankow to Ichang, he changed boats here and from Ichang through the
rapids went to Chungking. But he was desperate now, he was not going to
take any risks: there was a place called Cheng-tu, the capital of Szechuan,
and it was four hundred miles away. It could only be reached by road, and
110 the road was infested with brigands. A man would be safe there.
George collected chair* -bearers and coolies* and set out. It was
with a sigh of relief that he saw at last the crenellated walls of the lone-
ly Chinese city. From those walls at sunset you could see the snowy
mountains of Tibet.
115 He could rest at last: Mabel would never find him there. The consul
happened to be a friend of his and he stayed with him. He enjoyed the
comfort of a luxurious house, he enjoyed his idleness after that strenu-
ous escape across Asia, and above all he enjoyed his divine security.
The weeks passed lazily one after the other.
120 One morning George and the consul were in the courtyard looking
at some curios that a Chinese had brought for their inspection when
there was a loud knocking at the great door of the Consulate. The door-
man flung it open. A chair borne by four coolies entered, advanced,
and was set down. Mabel stepped out. She was neat and cool and fresh.
125 There was nothing in her appearance to suggest that she had just come
in after a fortnight on the road. George was petrified. He was as pale as
death. She went up to him.
‘Hullo, George, I was so afraid I’d missed you again.’ ‘Hullo, Ma-
bel,’ he faltered.
130 He did not know what to say. He looked this way and that: she
stood between him and the doorway. She looked at him with a smile
in her blue eyes.
‘You haven’t altered at all,’ she said. ‘Men can go off so dreadfully
in seven years and I was afraid you’d got fat and bald. I’ve been so
- 49 - Read. Think. Talk.
135 nervous. It would have been terrible if after all these years I simply
hadn’t been able to bring myself to marry you after all.’
She turned to George’s host. ‘Are you the consul?’ she asked. ‘I
am.’
‘That’s all right. I’m ready to marry him as soon as I’ve had a
140 bath.’
And she did.

NOTES
Burma
the official name of Burma since 1989 is Myanmar
club
these were social clubs for the use of the British officers and administrators of the
Empire, not for the local people of the country
a French tramp
tramp steamers were small cargo vessels that sailed between local ports
Saigon
now known as Ho Chi Minh City
intelligence
(old-fashioned) information, news
chair
this would have been a kind of sedan chair, an enclosed chair for one person, car-
ried between horizontal poles by two or four porters
coolie
(old-fashioned) a word, now regarded as offensive, for an unskilled worker in Asian
countries

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Answer the following questions:


1.How did George and Mabel communicate when they were apart?
2. Why did George decide not to marry Mabel?
3. Why was George petrified when he saw Mabel?
4. What was unusual in Mabel? Did her actions impress you? Why?

Read. Think. Talk. - 50 -


5. What did Mabel want to do before the wedding?
6. Was Mabel’s father waiting for them both to return to England?
7. How many telegrams did Mabel send to George?
8. Who told the story of George and Mabel to the author?
9. How long were George and Mabel engaged?
10. Where was Mabel from?
11. Why did George decide to escape?
12. What did he write in his letter to Mabel?
13. What did Mabel say when she found George?
14. What were George and counsul doing when suddenly Mabel ap-
peared at the doorstep?
15. Was Mabel satisfied with George’s appearance?
16.Does George now regret about his marriage?
17.Was it quite comfortable and interesting for George to make such a
journey across Asia?
18. Was Mabel a remarkable woman? Why?
2. Say if these statements are true or false:
1. George went off dreadfully in seven years and got fat and bald.
2. Mabel was a remarkable woman.
3. The district where George was sent was quite suitable for a white
woman.
4. He had forgotten what she was like.
5. Terror made him absent-minded.
6. Mabel’s eyes were brown.
7. George and Mabel finally got married.

DISCUSSION
1. Did you find this story amusing? Do you think it is a kind of ‘happy-
everafter’ fairy tale, a piece of light-hearted fun, or are there also some
serious points being made about relationships? If so, what might they be?
2. Because of the way the story is told, we know at the beginning that
there is a happy ending, in that George and Mabel have been a devoted
married couple for eight years. Did knowing the ending spoil your enjoy-
ment of the story or not? Can you think of any reasons why the author
structured the story in this way?

- 51 - Read. Think. Talk.


LANGUAGE FOCUS
1. Rephrase these colloquial expressions in your own words:
1. She’s having no end of a time.
2. . . . it’s devilish hard on a chap.
3. He couldn’t go through with it.
4. ... no, Shanghai would never do.
5. Men can go off so dreadfully in seven years ...
2. The expressions below convey some of the fear or panic that poor
George experiences in his headlong flight. Are there any which you
think are humorous in themselves, regardless of the context they are
used in? Are all of them only suitable for use in a light-hearted context,
or could some be used in a more serious situation? If so, which?
His nerve failed him.
He felt a terrible sinking in the pit of his stomach. His knees began to
wobble.
... he hadn’t the nerve for that either.
... he was uneasy.
... enough to make him break into a cold sweat. Shanghai was nerve-
racking.
... with a fevered brow.
George was petrified.
He was as pale as death.
3. Find synonyms to the words from the text:
Lad, bloke, boddy
Dock, mooring
Tremble, shiver
Bravery, fortitude
Vigorous, zealous
Skipper
Drop off
Crop up
Tie up
Bitters
Sob
Bullockcart

Read. Think. Talk. - 52 -


4. Complete the sentences:
1. Lovers were so happy that they…
2. Men can go off so dreadfully in 7 years and I was afraid you’d…
3. He was alone in the dark and gloomy street. It was enough to make
him…
4. They became engaged when he was …, and when he returned to
Burma she promised to join him soon.
5. John loved his wife so much that when they had divorced he …
Felt like a lost dog; home on leave; break into a cold sweat; get fat and
bald; had no end of time.
5. Match the words with their definitions:
a) to or onto land from the water or a ship;
1. Riverside b) a wooden structure where people or goods
leave a boat;
2. Ashore c) the land at the side of a river;
3. On board d) a hard surface next to a sea or a river where
4. Landing stage boats can stop;
e) on a ship or plane;
5. Quay f) to worry about something continuously;
6. Rapids g) to frighten someone so much that the person
cannot move or decide what to do;
7. Chuckle h) to rock slightly from side to side;
8. Fret i) a sigar that is flat at both ends;
9. Mope g) to feel bored or unhappy and to show no in-
terest in doing something;
10. Fevered k) a part of a river where the water moves ex-
11. Brigand tremely quickly over rocks and is usually dan-
gerous;
12. Junk
l) extremely excited or nervous;
13. Hint m) something that you say to show what you
14. Wobble are thinking or feeling without saying it di-
rectly;
15. Cheroot n) things that are of very low quality;
16. Petrified o) someone who steals things, especially from
travellers;
p) to laugh quietly, especially in a private or
secret way.
- 53 - Read. Think. Talk.
6. Make the words from the mixed letters:
1. pach
2. dirapes
3. labce
4. sinuomo
5. dangrib
6. susutoren
7. detiwt-cugik
8. detalelecr
9. taler

ACTIVITIES
1. The cable that George finds waiting for him at Singapore doesn’t
actually reply to what George wrote in his letter. It seems that Mabel read
between the lines and answered the letter that George didn’t write. Write
the letter that George might have written if he had been braver, and which
would match Mabel’s answer.
2. Imagine that Mabel has an anxious mother back in England, waiting
for news of her daughter’s marriage. Write a series of cheerful, reassuring
telegrams for Mabel to send from the various cities she visits in her pursuit
of George. The final one, from Cheng-tu, could be a little longer than the
others.
3. Before the secretary of the club begins the tale, we have the sentence
He told me the story of George and Mabel. So why is the story not called
George and Mabel? Why just Mabel? Invent some different titles for the
story, perhaps suggesting the humorous element, or the love aspect, or the
Far Eastern setting.
4. Match the George’s route on the map.
5. Match the right definition to each city:
Cheng-tu arrangements for the marriage
Hong-kong leaped on board with the courage of despair
Shanghai Mabel had no difficulty in finding out where he was going
Bangkok it took five days to get there; he could be safe there
Rangoon (Burma) he dared not to stay there
Yokohama was ominous
Manila was nerve-racking
Saigon stayed at the Grand Hotel
Read. Think. Talk. - 54 -
Singapore doubled back to that city
Shanghai the best way to reach Chungking
Hankow (Ichang) no one could touch there till spring
Changking could be reached by road, which was infested with
brigands
Comment
1. Comment which of the following phrases could be:
* the theme of the story:
1. Love is what happens to men and women who don’t know each other.
2. In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be said.
3. Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.
4. Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
5. Marriage is the only subject on which all women agree and all men
disagree.
* the message of the story:
1. Marriage is the lottery in which men stake their liberty and women
their happiness.
2. Men marry because they are tired, women because they are curious;
both are disappointed.
3. The male is a domestic animal, who, if treated firmly, can be trained
to do many things.
4. Marrying a man is like buying something you’ve been admiring for a
long time in a shop window.
5. A good marriage is at least 80% good luck in finding the right person
at the right time. The rest is trust.
6. The God helps a man, who won’t marry until he finds a perfect wom-
an, and the God helps him even more, if he finds her.
2. Just enjoy quotations about marriage and say which you like
most of all:
1. I’d marry again, if I found a man, who had 15 million dollars and
would sign over half of it before the marriage and guarantee he’d be dead
within a year.
2. I’ve been asked to say a couple of words about my husband. How
about “short” and “cheap”?
- 55 - Read. Think. Talk.
3. A man is incomplete until he is married. After that he is finished.
4. Marrying a man is like buying something you’ve been admiring for a
long time in a shop window. You may love it when you get it home, but it
doesn’t always go with everything in the house.
5. I don’t worry about terrorism. I was married for two years.
6. Marriage is a great institution, but who wants to live in an institu-
tion?
7. By all means marry. If you get a good wife you will become happy
and if you get a bad one you will become a philosopher.
8. I take my wife everywhere I go. She always finds her way back.

Stylistic devices

1. Match stylistic devices and sentences from the text:


1. Terror made him quick-witted.
2. George gave a little chuckle, but I was
A. Understatement mistaken in thinking that there was in it the
shadow of a sob?
3. I’m like a lost dog without her.
B. Litotes 4. The secretary watched him disappear into
the night with a smile of not unkindly irony.
C. State expression 5. In this hospitable place they did not ask
you if you would have anything; they took it
for granted.
D. Hyperbole 6. She is having no end of time.
7. They became engaged when he was home
E. Metaphor on leave, and when he returned to Burma it
was arranged that she should join him in six
months.
F. Simile 8. Then, suddenly, without warning, his nerve
failed him.
G. Epithet 9. “How long have you been married?” “Five
minutes.”
10. Of course I know she wants a holiday,
H. Rhetorical question. and I’m glad she should have it, but it’s dev-
ilish hard on a chap.
11. He felt a terrible sinking in the pit of his
stomach and his knees began to wooble.
12. He couldn’t go through with it.
Read. Think. Talk. - 56 -
2. Define stylistic devices in the following sentences:
1. There was a shadow of a sob in his chuckle.
2. She was a total stranger.
3.But how could a man tell a girl a thing like that when she had been en-
gaged to him for seven years and had come six thousand miles to marry him?
4. George was seized with the courage of despair.
5. QUITE UNDERSTAND. DON’T WORRY. LOVE. MABEL.
6. They were enough to make him break into a cold sweat.
7. His flight grew serious.
8. Shanghai was nerve-racking.
9. I was separated from my missus.
10. He could rest at last: Mabel would never find him there.
11. I simply bring myself to marry you.
12. She’s having no end of a time.
13. I’m like a lost dog without her.
14. How long have you been married?’ ‘Five minutes.’
15. A smile of not unkindly irony
16. His nerve failed him.
17. She was a total stranger.
18. He felt a terrible sinking in the pit of his stomach and his knees
began to wobble.
19. He couldn’t go through with it.
20. George was seized with the courage of despair.
21. Men can go off so dreadfully in seven years and I was afraid you’d
got fat and bald. 19.
22. I simply bring myself to marry you.

exaggeration, irony, graphical stylistic device, metaphor, elliptical


sentence, colloqual word, litoties, represented speech, simile, rhetorical
question, epithet
3. Translate the sentences:
1. Он чувствовал мучительную боль под ложечкой, и его колени
начали шататься.
2. Но как человек мог сказать вещь, подобно этой, когда она была
помолвлена с ним в течение 7 лет и приехала за 6 тыс. миль, чтобы
выйти за него замуж?

- 57 - Read. Think. Talk.


3. Джорджем завладели чувства мужества и отчаяния.
4. Вполне понятно. Не беспокойся. Люблю. Мейбл.
5. Шанхай был раздражающим.
6. Наконец он мог отдохнуть: Мейбл никогда не найдёт его здесь.
7. Мужчины могут страшно «испортиться» за 7 лет и я боялась, что
ты потолстел и полысел.
8. – Как долго ты был женат?
– Пять минут.
9. Это в первый раз когда я в разлуке с женой.
10. Я как «потерявшаяся собака» без неё.

THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

THE AUTHOR
Grahame Greene was born in 1904. He worked for various newspa-
pers, was an intelligence agent in the Second World War, and frequently
travelled in remote and dangerous places. He wrote novels, short stories,
plays, and travel books. Among his lighter novels, which Greene called
‘entertainments’, are Stamboul Train, A Gun for Sale, and The Third Man,
which was made into a famous film. Greene himself preferred his other
novels, which reflect his intense interest in religious and moral issues (he
was a Roman Catholic convert). These powerful and sombre novels in-
clude Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, A
Burnt-out Case, and The Human Factor. Greene died in 1991.

THE STORY
Some crime stories deal not with the murder itself, but with the trial
when the murderer is brought to justice – or not, as the case may be. It all
depends on the strength of the evidence and the reliability of the witnesses.
According to English law, people are innocent until they are proved guilty.
It is the defence lawyer’s job to challenge the evidence, to shake the wit-
nesses’ confidence, to persuade the jury that his client is not guilty ‘beyond
all reasonable doubt’.
Read. Think. Talk. - 58 -
The accused in this story will be sentenced to death by hanging if the
jury find him guilty. At the beginning it seems an open-and-shut case, ac-
cording to the journalist telling us the story. Surely no defence lawyer could
challenge this evidence, shake these witnesses’ certainty ...

THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE


It was the strangest murder trial I ever attended. They named it the
Peckham* murder in the headlines, though Northwood Street, where the
old woman was found battered to death, was not strictly speaking in
Peckham. This was not one of those cases of circumstantial evidence in
5 which you feel the jurymen’s* anxiety because mistakes have been made
– like domes of silence muting the court. No, this murderer was all but
found with the body: no one present when the Crown counsel* outlined
his case believed that the man in the dock stood any chance at all.
He was a heavy stout man with bulging bloodshot eyes. All his
10 muscles seemed to be in his thighs. Yes, an ugly customer, one you
wouldn’t forget in a hurry – and that was an important point because
the Crown proposed to call four witnesses who hadn’t forgotten him,
who had seen him hurrying away from the little red villa in Northwood
Street. The clock had just struck two in the morning.
15 Mrs. Salmon in 15 Northwood Street had been unable to sleep:
she heard a door click shut and thought it was her own gate. So she
went to the window and saw Adams (that was his name) on the steps
of Mrs. Parker’s house. He had just come out and he was wearing
gloves. He had a hammer in his hand and she saw him drop it into
20 the laurel bushes by the front gate. But before he moved away, he had
looked up – at her window. The fatal instinct that tells a man when he
is watched exposed him in the light of a street-lamp to her gaze – his
eyes suffused with horrifying and brutal fear, like an animal’s when
you raise a whip. I talked afterwards to Mrs. Salmon, who naturally
25 after the astonishing verdict went in fear herself. As I imagine did all
the witnesse – Henry MacDougall, who had been driving home from
Benfleet late and nearly ran Adams down at the corner of Northwood
Street. Adams was walking in the middle of the road looking dazed.
And old Mr. Wheeler, who lived next door to Mrs. Parker, at No. 12,
30 and was wakened by a noise – like a chair falling – through the thin-as-
paper villa wall, and got up and looked out of the window, just as Mrs.
Salmon had done, saw Adams’s back and, as he turned, those bulging
- 59 - Read. Think. Talk.
eyes. In Laurel Avenue he had been seen by yet another witness – his
luck was badly out; he might as well have committed the crime in
35 broad daylight.
‘I understand; counsel said, ‘that the defence proposes to plead mis-
taken identity. Adams’s wife will tell you that he was with her at two in
the morning on February 14, but after you have heard the witnesses for
the Crown and examined carefully the features of the prisoner, I do not
40 think you will be prepared to admit the possibility of a mistake.’
It was all over, you would have said, but the hanging.
After the formal evidence had been given by the policeman who
had found the body and the surgeon who examined it, Mrs. Salmon
was called. She was the ideal witness, with her slight Scotch accent
45 and her expression of honesty, care and kindness.
The counsel for the Crown brought the story gently out. She spoke
very firmly. There was no malice in her, and no sense of importance
at standing there in the Central Criminal Court with a judge in scarlet
hanging on her words and the reporters writing them down. Yes, she
50 said, and then she had gone downstairs and rung up the police station.
‘And do you see the man here in court?’
She looked straight at the big man in the dock, who stared hard
at her with his pekingese* eyes without emotion. ‘Yes; she said,
‘there he is.’
55 ‘You are quite certain?’
She said simply, ‘I couldn’t be mistaken, sir.’
It was all as easy as that. ‘Thank you, Mrs. Salmon.’
Counsel for the defence rose to cross-examine. If you had reported
as many murder trials as I have, you would have known beforehand
60 what line he would take. And I was right, up to a point.
‘Now, Mrs. Salmon, you must remember that a man’s life may depend
on your evidence.’ ‘I do remember it, sir.’ ‘Is your eyesight good?’
‘I have never had to wear spectacles, sir.’ ‘You are a woman of
fifty-five?’ ‘Fifty-six, sir.’
65 ‘And the man you saw was on the other side of the road?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘And it was two o’clock in the morning. You must have remarkable
eyes, Mrs. Salmon?’
‘No, sir. There was moonlight, and when the man looked up, he had
70 the lamplight on his face.’
Read. Think. Talk. - 60 -
‘And you have no doubt whatever that the man you saw is the pris-
oner?’
I couldn’t make out what he was at. He couldn’t have expected any
other answer than! the one he got.
75 ‘None whatever, sir. It isn’t a face one forgets.’
Counsel took a look round the court for a moment. Then he said,
‘Do you mind, Mrs. Salmon, examining again the people in court?’No,
not the prisoner. Stand up, please, Mr. Adams; and there at the back of
the court with thick stout body and muscular legs and a pair of bulging
80 eyes, was the exact image of the man in the dock. He was even dressed
the same – tight blue suit and striped tie.
‘Now think very carefully, Mrs. Salmon. Can you still swear that
the man you saw drop the hammer in Mrs. Parker’s garden was the
prisoner – and not this man, who is his twin brother?’
85 Of course she couldn’t. She looked from one to the other and didn’t
say a word.
There the big brute sat in the dock with his legs crossed, and there
he stood too at the back of the court and they both stared at Mrs. Salm-
on. She shook her head.
90 What we saw then was the end of the case. There wasn’t a witness
prepared to swear that it was the prisoner he’d seen. And the brother?
He had his alibi, too; he was with his wife.
And so the man was acquitted for lack of evidence. But whether – if
he did the murder and not his brother – he was punished or not, I don’t
95 know. That extraordinary day had an extraordinary end. I followed
Mrs. Salmon out of court and we got wedged in the crowd who were
waiting, of course, for the twins. The police tried to drive the crowd
away, but all they could do was keep the road-way clear for traffic. I
learned later that they tried to get the twins to leave by a back way, but
100 they wouldn’t. One of them – no one knew which – said, ‘I’ve been
acquitted, haven’t I?’ and they walked bang out of the front entrance.
Then it happened. I don’t know how, though I was only six feet away.
The crowd moved and somehow one of the twins got pushed on to the
road right in front of a bus.
105 He gave a squeal like a rabbit and that was all; he was dead, his skull
smashed just as Mrs. Parker’s had been. Divine vengeance? I wish I
knew. There was the other Adams getting on his feet from beside the
- 61 - Read. Think. Talk.
body and looking straight over at Mrs. Salmon. He was crying, but
whether he was the murderer or the innocent man nobody will ever be
110 able to tell. But if you were Mrs. Salmon, could you sleep at night?

NOTES
Peckham
a district in London
jurymen
a group of people (nowadays both men and women) in a court of justice, who must
listen to the evidence and decide if the accused is innocent or guilty
Crown counsel
a barrister (lawyer) appointed by the government to conduct the case for the pros-
ecution
pekingese
a type of small dog with large bulging eyes

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Put the sentences in the right order:


1. The Crown proposed to call 4 witnesses who had seen the murderer.
2. It was named the Peckham murder in the newspapers, the old woman
was found battared to death!
3. The suspected murderer was a big brute man with bloodshot eyes.
4. His eyes were full of horrifying and brutal fear.
5. He had just come out and he was wearing gloves.
6. Murderer’s luck was badly out.
7. Counsel for the defence began cross-examining.
8. Adams’ wife told he was with her at 2 in the morning.
9. Could Mrs. Salmon sleep at night peacefully?
10. She couldn’t find any difference between these two stout men.
11. He was dead, divine vengeance?
12. The trial was finished with verdict – Lack of Evidence.

Read. Think. Talk. - 62 -


2. Answer the following questions:
1. What trial was it that the author attended?
2. How was it named in the headlines?
3. Who was battared to death?
4. Where did the murder happen?
5. Why was it not of those cases in which you feel the jurymen’s anxi-
ety?
6. When did the murder happen?
7. How many witnesses did the Crown propose to call? Call them.
8. What did Mrs. Salmon hear?
9. Why did Mrs. Salmon see Adams’ face?
10. Why was Mrs. Salmon quite certain in Adams’ guiltyness?
11. Where did Henry MacDougal see Adams?
12. Why was old Mr. Wheeler wakened?
13. Why was Adams’ luck badly out?
14. Why does the author use the expression “he might as well have com-
mitted the crime in broad daylight”?
15. Why was Adams aquitted?
16. What happened in the end?
17. Was Adams a person who you would forget in a hurry?
18. What did Mrs. Salmon see, when she went to the window?
19. Why did Mrs. Salmon become unconscious in her own words?
20. What accident made this murder trial unfinished?
21. What do you think, who the narrator is?
22. Was the neighbour of Mrs. Salmon a journalist in London newspa-
per or magazine, or just a person who was fond of different strange murder
trials?
23. Why was that Peckham murder so strange?
24. By how many witness had the murderer Adams been seen? Name
them.
25. What kind of alibi did Mr. Adams have?
26. Who was Mrs. Salmon for the jurymen? In what manner did she
speak in the court?
27. Do you think, Mr. Adams has a good Counsel for the defence or not
and why?
28. What was the end of the case?
29. What was the exact verdict?

- 63 - Read. Think. Talk.


30. What was an extraordinary end of that day?
31. Who was killed in a strange accident after the trial?
32. Is there anything mysterious in his death?
33. If you were Mrs. Salmon, could you sleep at night?
3. Say if these statements are true or false:
1. It was the most typical murder trial I ever attend.
2. The clock had just struck six in the evening.
3. Mrs. Salmon was sleeping during all night.
4. Adams had a hammer in his hand.
5. The Counsel for the Crown brought the story gently out.
6. Both Counsels were speaking very impolite and were very rude to
Mrs. Salmon.
7. There were three brothers in the court.
8. Mrs. Salmon couldn’t say whom of the twins she had seen.
9. Both twins were set to prison.
10. Mrs. Salmon will not be able to sleep at night.
11. The accused was a small skinny man, one who you would forget in
a hurry.
12. Mrs. Salmon saw the murderer entering the house with a hammer
in his hand.
13. Mrs. Salmon never wore spectacles, though she was a woman of 55.
14. Mrs. Salmon noticed the murderer because when he looked up he
had a lamplight on his face.
15. The counsel brought to the court a man who looked absolutely the
same as the accused but was just dressed differently.
16. Mr. Adams was acquitted for the lack of evidence.
One of the twins was pushed to the road and hit by a car.
DISCUSSION
1. Do you think Adams’s acquittal was right, legally or morally?
2. What would you do if you were Mrs. Salmon, after the trial and the
death of one of the Adams’ brothers?
3. Do you think that the man who died was deliberately pushed in front
of the bus? And if so, who do you think pushed him? Was it a bystander, the
guilty brother, or the innocent brother? What might their motives be?

Read. Think. Talk. - 64 -


LANGUAGE FOCUS

1. Look through the story and find all the words associated with law-
courts and justice (e.g. trial, case, circumstantial evidence, court, dock,
witness, verdict, and so on). Can any of these words have other meanings,
or be used in contexts not associated with the law?
2. Find these expressions in the story and then rephrase them in your
own words:
an ugly customer
his luck was badly out
hanging on her words
I couldn’t make out what he was at
they walked hang out of the front entrance

3. Fill in the missing words in the sentences below. Choose from


the following:
Divine, batter, squeal, vengeance, wedge, beforehand, malice, acquit,
plead
1. She appeared on television to … with the kidnappers.
2. Five months ago he was … on a shoplifting charge.
3. Suddenly we heard a … of brakes and saw the car swerve to miss the
cyclist.
4. I was standing waiting for a bus, …between.
5. As he cradled his daughter’s lifeless body in his arms, he swore (to
take) … on her killers.
6. There certainly wasn’t any … in her comments.
7. I knew she was coming that afternoon because she had phoned … to
say so.
8. He was … to death with a rifle-butt.
9. England have fallen so far behind in the championship that their only
hope of victory is … intervention.

- 65 - Read. Think. Talk.


4. Match the words with their definitions:
a. a group of people who have been chosen
to listen to all the facts in a trial in a law
1. to plead court and to decide whether a person is
guilty or not guilty, or whether a claim has
been proved;
2. cross-examine b. the place in a criminal law court where the
accused person sits or stands during the trial
to plead;
3. Crown counsel c. to make a statement of what you believe to
be true, especially in support of something
or someone or in answer to an accusation in
4. the dock a law court;
d. to ask detailed questions of someone, es-
pecially a witness in a trial, in order to dis-
5. acquit cover if they have been telling the truth;
e. to decide officially in a court of law that
someone is not guilty of a particular crime;
6. to batter f. a barrister appointed by the government to
conduct the case for the prosecution;
g. to hit and behave violently towards a per-
7. Jurymen’s son, especially a woman or child, repeatedly
over a long period of time, or to hit some-
thing with force many times.

5. Translate from English into Russian:


A murder trial, an evidence, a juryman, a witness, a verdict, to commit
the crime, a counsel, to give a squeal like a rabbit, building bloodshot eyes,
divine vengeance.
6. Paraphrase the underlined parts of the sentences using the
words and word combinations which are given:
A witness, innocent, a murder trial, a heavy stout man, to commit the
crime.
1. He was a well-built man.
2. A counsel asked her questions because she was a woman, who saw
a murder.

Read. Think. Talk. - 66 -


3. Tom was in the prison for 10 years because he killed a man.
4. Dave didn’t commit the crime, so he was not guilty.
5. Jack commited the crime two days ago, so now he has a court exami-
nation.
7. Fill in the gaps:
1. They named it… murder in the headlines.
2. He was a heavy man with … eyes.
3. He had just come out wearing… .
4. … will tell you that he was with her at two in the morning.
5. He was even … the same – tight … suit and striped tie.
6. The … moved and somehow one of … got pushed on to the road right
in front of the bus.
7. ... but whether he was the … or the … man nobody will ever be able
to tell.
8. Match the words with their definitions:
a. a person learned in the law; he advance the in-
terests of those who retain lawyers to perform legal
services;
1. Trial b. someone who has firsthand knowledge about a
crime or dramatic event through their senses (e.g.
2. Judge seeing, hearing, smelling, touching), and can help
certify important considerations to the crime or
3. Witness event;
4. Murder c. exhibits (e.g., physical objects) or other docu-
mentary material which is admissible in a judicial
5. Jurymen or administrative proceeding (e.g., a court of law);
d. a sworn body of people convened to render an
6. Counsel for impartial verdict (a finding of fact on a question)
the defence officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a
penalty or judgment;
7. Evidence e. when parties to a dispute come together to pres-
ent information;
f. the unlawful killing of another human being;
g. is a lead official who presides over a court of law,
either alone or as part of a panel of judges.
- 67 - Read. Think. Talk.
9. Match words with their meanings:
a. the bones of the head;
b. fats or physical sighs that help to prove some-
1. trial thing;
c. the process of examining a case in a court of
2. murder
law and deciding whethersomeone is guilty or in-
3. jurymen nocent;
4. verdict d. a place where legal cases are decided;
e. the crime of killing someone deliberately;
5. acquit
f. to ask something in an urgent or emotion way.
6. skull g. a person, who judge a court case;
7. evidence h. sometimes eyes are red in the part where they
should be white;
8. court
i. an official judgment made in a court;
9. bIoodshot j. a long thin piece of leather with a handle on one
10. plead end used for making horse move faster offor hit-
ting someone;
11. whip
k. to state officially that someone is not guilty of
the crime.

ACTIVITIES
1. The case for the defence rests only on the fact that both brothers can’t
have committed the crime; it is not disputed that one of them did the mur-
der. Imagine that the accident with the bus did not happen and that the two
brothers walk away alive. The next day the police arrest both of them and
charge both with the murder.
Now write a new ending for the story. How do the police try to break
the brothers’ alibis, and get one to confess, or one to accuse the other? Do
they interrogate them separately, put them together in a prison cell and
eavesdrop on their conversations, look for fresh evidence? Do the police
win, or the Adams brothers?
2. This story was written while capital punishment (execution by the
state) was still law in Britain. Capital punishment for murder was abolished
in 1965, but the question is still discussed from time to time by Parliament.
It is a difficult question – difficult in every sense. For the moment, try to
forget your personal opinion, and write down three arguments for capital
punishment, and three arguments against.
Read. Think. Talk. - 68 -
Comment

Comment which of the following phrases could be the theme


of the story:
1. Better later than never.
2. Well knows the kitten whose meat it has eaten.
3. What will be will be.
4. No flying from fate.
5. There is a black sheep in every family.
6. A man can die but once.
7. There is no smoke without fire.

Think which of the phrases could be the message of the story.

Stylistic devices

1. Define stylistic devices in the following sentences, choose the


right variant:
1. She and the kids have filled his sister’s house and their welcome is
wearing thinner and thinner.
a. Metaphor b. Metonymy c. Oxymoron
2. They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable
to communicate.
a. Hyperbole b. Epithet c. Metaphor
3. You have nobody to blame but yourself. The saddest words of tongue
or pen.
a. Epithet b. Hyperbole c. Metonymy
4. “Some remarkable pictures in this room, gentlemen. A Holbein, two Van
Dycks and if I am not mistaken, a Velasquez. I am interested in pictures.”
a. Zeugma b. Irony c. Metonymy
5. After a while and a cake he crept nervously to the door of the parlour.
a. Epithet b. Irony c. Zeugma
6. Last time it was a nice, simple, European-style war.
a. Antonomasia b. Metonymy c. Irony

- 69 - Read. Think. Talk.


7. A stout middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was
sitting on the edge of a great table. I turned to him. “Don’t ask me,” said
Mr. Owl Eyes.
a. Metaphor b. Zeugma c. Antonomasia
8. He’s a proud, haughty, consequential, turned-nosed peacock.
a. Irony b. Epithet c. Metaphor
9. The car which picked me up on that particular guilty evening was a
Cadillac limousine about seventy-three blocks long.
a. Epithet b. Irony c. Hyperbole
10. A neon sign reads “Welcome to Reno – the biggest little town in the
world.”
a. Antonomasia b. Metonymy c. Oxymoron

2. Match stylistic devices and sentences from the text:


Examples from text Figure of speech
1. Murder trial a) understatement
2. Like domes of silence muting the court b) represented speech
3. Bulging bloodshot eyes c) detachment
4. All his muscles seemed to be in his thighs d) hetorical question
5. Saw Adams (that was his name) near the e) periphrasis
house f) professional termi-
6. Horrifying and brutal fear nology
7. Through the thin-as-paper villa wall g) metonymy
8. Fear like an animal’s when you raise a h) metaphor
whip i) metaphor
9. Yes, she said, and then she had gone down- j) simile
stairs... k) simile
10. There the big brute sat in the dock l) epithet
11. Broad daylight m) epithet
12. Pekingese eyes n) epithet
13. We got wedged in the crowd o) epithet
14. He gave a squeal like a rabbit. That was all,
he was dead
15. Divine vengeance?

Read. Think. Talk. - 70 -


THE OPEN WINDOW

The AutHor
Hector Hugh Munro, the British novelist and short-story writer known
as Saki, was born in Burma in 1870 and brought up in England. He trav-
elled widely and became a successfull journalist; for six years he acted as
a correspondent for the Morning Post in Poland, Russia, and Paris. He is
best known for his short stories, which are humorous, sometimes with a
touch of black humour, and full of biting wit and bizzare situations. Some
of his short-story collections are Reginald in Russia and Other Sketches,
The Chronicles of Clovis, and Beasts and Superbeasts. He also published
two novels, The Unbearable Bassington and When William Came. Saki
was killed in France during the first World War, in 1916.

The Story
Children often have vivid imaginations, and fewer inhibitions than
adults about giving the imagination full rein. Perhaps the division between
fiction and reality, truth and lies is a tiresome adult preoccupation, best
ignored by any young creative artist.
Framton Nuttel is a man with a nervous disposition. He has come to stay
in a quiet country village, to rest and relax and take care of his poor nerves.
His sister, briskly determined to ensure he has a social life, has given him
letters of introduction to various local people, whom she had met a few
years previously. Framton dutifully makes a formal visit to a Mrs. Sapple-
ton, and is greeted by her niece, a young lady of fifteen, who, while waiting
for her aunt to appear, kindly undertakes to explain to the visitor a little of
the family’s history...

THE OPEN WINDOW


‘My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel,’ said a very self-pos-
sessed young lady of fifteen; ‘in the meantime you must try and put
up with me.’
Framton Nuttel endeavoured to say the correct something which
5 should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting
the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether
these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do much to-
wards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.
- 71 - Read. Think. Talk.
‘I know how it will be,’ his sister had said when he was preparing
10 to migrate to this rural retreat; ‘you will bury yourself down there and
not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from
moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I
know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice.’
Framton wondered whether Mrs. Sappleton, the lady to whom he
15 was presenting one of the letters of introduction, came into the nice
division.
‘Do you know many of the people round here?’ asked the niece,
when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion. ‘Hard-
ly a soul,’ said Framton. ‘My sister was staying here, at the rectory,
20 you know, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduc-
tion to some of the people here.’
He made the last statement in a tone of distinct regret.
‘Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?’ pursued the
self-possessed young lady.
25 ‘Only her name and address,’ admitted the caller. He was wonder-
ing whether Mrs. Sappleton was in the married or widowed state. An
undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine
habitation.
‘Her great tragedy happened just three years ago,’ said the child;
30 ‘that would be since your sister’s time.’
‘Her tragedy?’ asked Framton; somehow in this restful country spot
tragedies seemed out of place.
‘You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an Octo-
ber afternoon,’ said the niece, indicating a large French window’* that
35 opened on to a lawn.
‘It is quite warm for the time of the year,’ said Framton ‘but has that
window got anything to do with the tragedy?’
‘Out through that window, three years ago to a day, her husband and
her two young brothers went off for their day’s shooting. They nev-
40 er came back. In crossing the moor to their favourite snipe-shooting
ground they were all three engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog. It
had been that dreadful wet summer, you know, and places that were
safe in other years gave way suddenly without warning. Their bodies
were never recovered. That was the dreadful parе of it.’ Here the child’s
45 voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human. ‘Poor
aunt always thinks that they will come back some day, they and the little
Read. Think. Talk. - 72 -
brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just
as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening
till it is quite dusk. Poor dear aunt, she has often told me how they went
50 out, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ron-
nie, her youngest brother, singing, “Bertie, why do you bound?” as he
always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves. Do you
know, sometimes on still, quiet evenings like this, I almost get a creepy
feeling that they will all walk in through that window-’
55 She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when
the aunt bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late
in making her appearance.
‘I hope Vera has been amusing you?’ she said. ‘She has been very
interesting,’ said Framton.
60 ‘I hope you don’t mind the open window,’ said Mrs. Sappleton
briskly; ‘my husband and brothers will be home directly from shoot-
ing, and they always come in this way. They’ve been out for snipe in
the marshes today, so they’ll make a fine mess over my poor carpets.
So like you men-folk, isn’t it?’
65 She rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of
birds, and the prospects for duck in the winter. To Framton it was all
purely horrible. He made a desperate but only partially successful ef-
fort to turn the talk on to a less ghastly topic; he was conscious that his
hostess was giving him only a fragment of her attention, and her eyes
70 were constantly straying past him to the open window and the lawn be-
yond. It was certainly an unfortunate coincidence that he should have
paid his visit on this tragic anniversary.
‘The doctors agree in ordering me complete rest, an absence of
mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent
75 physical exercise,’ announced Framton, who laboured under the tol-
erably wide-spread delusion that total strangers and chance acquain-
tances are hungry for the least detail of one’s ailments and infirmities,
their cause and cure. ‘On the matter of diet they are not so much in
agreement,’ he continued.
80 ‘No?’ said Mrs. Sappleton, in a voice which only replaced a yawn
at the last moment. Then she suddenly brightened into alert attention –
but not to what Framton was saying.
‘Here they are at last!’ she cried. ‘Just in time for tea, and don’t they
look as if they were muddy up to the eyes!’
- 73 - Read. Think. Talk.
85 Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look
intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring
out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill
shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in
the same direction.
90 In the deepening twilight three figures were walking across the
lawn towards the window; they all carried guns under their arms, and
one of them was additionally burdened with a white coat hung over his
shoulders. A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels. Noiselessly
they neared the house, and then a hoarse young voice chanted out of
95 the dusk: ‘I said, Bertie, why do you bound?’
Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall-door, the grav-
el-drive, and the front gate were dimly noted stages in his headlong
retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to
avoid imminent collision.
100 ‘Here we are, my dear,’ said the bearer of the white mackintosh,
coming in through the window; ‘fairly muddy, but most of it’s dry.
Who was that who bolted out as we came up?’
‘A most extraordinary man, a Mr. Nuttel,’ said Mrs. Sappleton; ‘could
only talk about his illnesses, and dashed off without a word of goodbye
105 or apology when you arrived. One would think he had seen a ghost.’
‘I expect it was the spaniel,’ said the niece calmly; ‘he told me he had
a horror of dogs. He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the
banks of the Ganges” by a pack of pariah* dogs, and had to spend the
night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and
110 foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve.’
Romance at short notice was her speciality.

NOTES
French window
a glass door that leads to a garden or balcony
snipe
a bird that lives on wet ground and that people hunt for sport or food
Ganges
a river in the north of India, sacred to Hindus
pariah dogs (also pye-dog, pie-dog)
homeless dogs of mixed breed, found especially in Asia

Read. Think. Talk. - 74 -


AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Answer the following questions:


1. What was the reason for Mr. Framton to spend some time in the
country?
2. Who advised him to stay at Mrs. Sappleton?
3. What was Mrs. Sappleton’s great tragedy?
4. Why did Mr. Framton speak with Mrs. Sapplaton only about health?
5. Why did Mr. Framton run away, when hunters came in?
6. What was Vera’s great speciality?
2. The story consists of 3 little stories, two of them are fabrications.
Put the sentences into 3 groups according to the content and after that
you’ll get 3 summaries. There is a hint:
2 stories are about Framton (real and made-up), the 3d – about
the mystery of the open window. Say which stories are fabrications.
1. Since that he had a horror of dogs.
2. She has often told how they went out, her husband with his white
waterproof coat over his arm and brother, singing.
3. So he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat.
4. His sister was staying at that district, at the rectory, four years ago and
gave him letters of introduction to some of the people there.
5. But he knew hardly a soul there.
6. They never came back.
7. Three years ago her husband and her two young brothers went off for
their day’s shooting.
8. The doctors agreed in ordering him complete rest, an absence of men-
tal excitement and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical
exercise.
9. She was worried that he could bury himself down there and not to
speak a living soul; his nerves might be worse than ever from moping.
10. She thought that they would come back some day and walk in at the
window as they used to do it.
11. They all were engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog.

- 75 - Read. Think. Talk.


12. He had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures
snarling and grinning and foaming just above him.
13. Their bodies were never recovered. That was the dreadful part of it.
14. He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the
Ganges by a pack of pariah dogs.
15. That’s why the window was kept open every evening till it was quite
dusk.
3. Match the word from column A with their synonyms from
column B. Translate them:
1. chatter 1. headlong
2. absorb 2. dazed
3. lack 3. shiver
4. swamp, bog 4. infirmity
5. hurry 5. ailment
6. try 6. delusion
7. rash 7. scarcity
8. disease 8. creepy
9. dusk 9. rattle
10. betrayal 10. bustle
11. surprised 11. tease
12. ghastly 12. treacherous
13. weakness 13. twilight
14. endeavor 14. tremble
15. engulf 15. guest
16. caller 16. illusion

4. Put the nouns into the gaps, explain in English the meaning
of the following expressions:

Nerves, soul, appearance, introduction.


1. You will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living … .
2. I’ll give you a letter of … to all people I know there.
3. That monotonous song gets on her … .
4. She bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late in
making her …
5. Make up your own sentences using as many new words and expres-
sions as you can.
Read. Think. Talk. - 76 -
6. Arrange in the right order:
1. Framton made a desperate but only partially successful effort to turn
the talk on to a less ghastly topic.
2. Framton wondered whether Mrs. Sappleton was in the married or
widowed state.
3. Framton came to Mrs. Sappleton’s house.
4. A hoarse young voice chanted out of the dusk: “I said Bertie, why do
you bound”.
5. A very self-possessed young lady of fifteen said to Mr. Nuttel that her
aunt will be down presently.
6. Niece told Framton the history of the open window.
7. Framton grabbled wildly at his stick and ran away.
8. Mrs. Sappleton bustled into the room with apologies.
7. Say if these statements are true or false:
1. The niece was a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen.
2. Framton’s sister was staying at the rectory and she told him about
people round here.
3. Mr. Nuttel knew everything about Bertie’s aunt.
4. Three years ago aunt’s husband and her two sons went off for their
day’s shooting.
5. Their bodies were never recovered.
6. Framton almost believed in the story of a young lady.
7. Mrs. Sappleton was waiting for her husband and friends.
8. Framton talked about his health.
9. Framton was happy to see hunters.
10. He dashed off when they arrived.
11. Framton had a horror of dogs.
12. The niece told them a story about Framton and a huge bear.
13. It was Mr. Framton’s daughter who gave him letters of introduction
to some people.
14. Liza was the name of a young lady of fifteen.
15. Mrs. Sappleton’s husband entered the house carrying his white wa-
terproof coat over his arm.
16. Mr. Framton was afraid of pariah dogs.
17. Mr. Framton wanted to cure from the physical desease.

- 77 - Read. Think. Talk.


DISCUSSION

1. Vera cunningly makes sure that Framton Nuttel will have no reason
to suspect her story is a fiction. What three pieces of necessary information
does she extract from Framton before she begins her dramatic tale?
2. Do you think that Vera told her story in a plausible way, or did you
suspect at some point that she was setting up an elaborate joke? If so, did
that lessen your enjoyment, or is an expected conclusion a satisfying way
to finish a story?
3. If Framton had stayed in the room when the three men returned, he
would soon have realized that the men were not ghosts, and that Vera had
been pulling his leg all along. What do you think he would have said or
done, and how would Vera have handled the situation? What would you do
or say if someone played a trick like that on you?

LANGUAGE FOCUS

1. When Vera says to Framton Nuttel that ‘in the meantime you
must try and put up with me’, Framton has to give a polite response.
Think of an appropriate way of replying that would ‘duly flatter the
niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to
come’.
2. For humorous effect, Saki often uses quite ornate language. Find
the following in the text and rephrase them in a simple, direct style ...
• ... when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat.
• ... when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.
• An indefinable something about the room seemed to suggest mascu-
line habitation.
• ... he was conscious that his hostess was giving him only a fragment
of her attention ..
• .... who laboured under the tolerably wide-spread delusion that total
strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of ones
ailments and infirmities ...
• ... the hall-door, the gravel-drive, and the front gate were dimly noted
stages in his headlong retreat.

Read. Think. Talk. - 78 -


3. Match the proverbs with their Russian equivalents:

1. Many words hurt more than a. Мил гость, что недолго


swords. гостит.
2. Once bitten, twice shy. b. В тихом омуте черти водятся.
3. Still waters run deep. c. Глазами плачет, а сердцем
4. The best fish smell when they смеется.
are three days old. d. Слово пуще стрелы разит.
5. To cry with one eye and laugh e. Пуганая ворона куста боится.
with the other.

4. Fill in the gaps:


1. “I know it will be” – his sister had said when he was preparing to …
to this rural retreat.
2. “Out though that window, three years ago to a day, her husband and
her two young brothers went off for their days shooting. They … … …”
3. “Poor aunt always thinks that they will … … some day, they and the
little brawn spaniel that was lost with them and walk in at that window just
as they used to do.
4. In the deeping twilight three figures … across the lawn towards the
window.
5. They all carried guns under their arms, and one of them was addition-
ally burdened with … … hung over his shoulders.

5. Put the words into appropriate order:


husband and two young brothers
three years ago to a day
self-possessed young lady of fifteen
treacherous piece of bog
romance is her speciality
to migrate to the rural retreat
to grab wildly at his stick and hat
to bustle into the room
letters of introduction
to know many of the people round here

- 79 - Read. Think. Talk.


a cemetery
great tragedy
window is wide open
6. Find in the text the following expressions:
молчаливое общение;
стрельба из укрытия;
ужасная тема;
нестись стрелой;
широко распространённое заблуждение;
дорожка, посыпанная гравием;
столкновение.

7. Match the word with its synonym:

1. shudder a. swirling
2. bog b. to adulate
3. to bustle c. to leap
4. whirl d. tremble
5. treacherous e. to hurry
6. to flatter f. marsh
7. to bound g. hypocritical

8. Find the equivalents from the text:


definite pity, quiver, a bit understanding, the identical course

9. Translate the sentences:


1. Когда он готовился к деревенскому уединению, его сестра дала
ему рекомендательные письма, потому что он не знал там ни души.
2. Случайные знакомые не жаждали знать подробности о его
болезнях и немощах, их причинах и лечении.
3. Ему пришлось провести ночь на кладбище в свежевырытой
могиле, так как он был окружён стаей бродячих собак.
Read. Think. Talk. - 80 -
ACTIVITIES

1. The story is told from Framton’s point of view, but what did Vera
think of him, and why did she play such a trick on him? Write a short entry
for her diary that day, describing Framton through her eyes and the success
of her trick. You could begin like this:
Such a BORING little man came to visit today. Luckily, my aunt was
upstairs when he arrived ...
2. Saki’s story was written in an era when everybody wrote letters.
Imagine that after Framton’s visit to Mrs. Sappleton the following short
letters were written. Use these notes, or your own ideas, and write all six
letters. Keep them very short and to the point.
• Mrs. Sappleton to Framton’s sister
your brother’s visit / extraordinary behaviour / though perhaps under-
standable / niece / Ganges / pariah dogs
• Framton’s sister to Framton
what on earth?/ Mrs. Sappleton’s niece / Ganges / pariah dogs / nerves
going to pieces / most embarrassing / come home at once
• Framton to his sister
what? / never been to India / ghastly experience / anniversary of tragedy
/ open window / three ghosts / with my own eyes
• Framton’s sister to Framton
what tragedy? / husband / brothers / alive and well / who told you? /
joke in dreadful taste
• Framton to Vera
tragedy / pariah dogs / wild inventions / why, why?
• Vera to Framton
so sorry / thinking of a different aunt / pariah dogs story in newspaper /
a Mr. F. Nuttel / not you?

- 81 - Read. Think. Talk.


3. Retell the story, using these words:
1. Acquaintance with FramtonNuttel
self-possessed young lady of fifteen
formal visits
the nerve cure
to migrate to the rural retreat
letters of introduction
Mrs. Sappleton
to know many of the people round here
masculine habitation

2. “Ghost” story
great tragedy
window is wide open
three years ago to a day
husband and two young brothers
shooting
treacherous piece of bog
they will come back some day
to bustle into the room
ghastly topic
wide-spread delusion

3. “Surprise”
here they are at last!
to stare out through the open window with dazed horror
to grab wildly at his stick and hat
a most extraordinary man
to have a horror of dogs
a cemetery
romance is her speciality.

Comment

Think about the theme and message of the story.

Read. Think. Talk. - 82 -


Stylistic devices
Match the names of stylistic devices with their description
and the examples.
a. Is used with the aim of A. So you like men-
1. Zeugma critical evaluation. folk, isn’t it?
b. Consists of the use of an
Б. Child’s voice lost its
epithet or attribute phrase in
2. Metaphor self-possessed note and
contradiction to the noun it
became falteringly hu-
defines.
man.
c. Consists in attributing
3. Oxymoron life and mind to inanimate B. dazed horror, name-
things. less fear
d. The transfer of the name Г. Sufficient silent
4. Synecdoche
of an object to another ob- communion.
ject on the basis of similar-
ity, likeness Д. To break off with a
5. Irony little shudder
e. Is an attribute character-
ization of a person, thing or E. His hostess was giv-
phenomenon. ing him only a frag-
6. Personification.
f. The use of some polyse- ment of her attention.
mantic word (or a pair of
homonims) in the same con- Ж. She bustled into the
7. Epithet.
text without the repetition of room with a whirl of
the word itself . apologies.
g. The use of the name of a
part to denote the whole.

A SHOCKING ACCIDENT

THE AUTHOR
Graham Greene was born in 1904. Educated at Oxford University, he
then worked for various newspapers, was an intelligence agent in the Sec-
ond World War, and frequently travelled in remote and dangerous places.
He wrote novels, short stories, plays, and travel books. Among his lighter
- 83 - Read. Think. Talk.
novels, which Greene called ‘entertainments’, are Stamboul Train, A Gun
for Sale, Our Man in Havana, and The Third Man, which was made into a
famous film. Greene himself preferred his other novels, which reflect his
intense interest in religious and moral issues (he was a Roman Catholic
convert). These powerful and sombre novels include Brighton Rock, The
Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair, The Heart of the Matter, A
Burnt-out Case, and The Human Factor. Greene died in 1991.

THE STORY
Humour is a two-edged sword. People who lack a sense of humour can
be dreary company, but a misplaced sense of humour – laughing at the
wrong thing, at the wrong time, in the wrong place – can cause havoc.
‘Nothing spoils a romance so much as a sense of humour in the woman,’
wrote Oscar Wilde.
Romance lies in the future for Jerome, who at the moment is only nine,
and still at school. He is sitting solemn and wide-eyed in front of his house-
master’s desk, about to be given news of his absent and adored father. It
is not good news and Mr. Wordsworth plays with the ruler on his desk, at
a loss for words. He also seems to be having a terrible struggle with the
muscles of his face...

A SHOCKING ACCIDENT
Jerome was called into his housemaster’s* room in the break between
the second and the third class on a Thursday morning. He had no fear
of trouble, for he was a warden – the name that the proprietor and head-
master of a rather expensive preparatory school* had chosen to give to
5 approved, reliable boys in the lower forms (from a warden one became
a guardian and finally before leaving, it was hoped for Marlborough or
Rugby*, a crusader). The housemaster, Mr. Wordsworth, sat behind his
desk with an appearance of perplexity and apprehension. Jerome had the
odd impression when he entered that he was a cause of fear.
10 ‘Sit down, Jerome,’ Mr. Wordsworth said. ‘All going well with the
trigonometry?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘I’ve had a telephone call, Jerome. From your aunt. I’m afraid I
have bad news for you.’ ‘Yes, sir?’
15 ‘Your father has had an accident.’ ‘Oh.’
Read. Think. Talk. - 84 -
Mr. Wordsworth looked at him with some surprise. ‘A serious ac-
cident.’
‘Yes, sir?’
Jerome worshipped his father: the verb is exact. As man re-creates
20 God, so Jerome re-created his father – from a restless widowed author
into a mysterious adventurer who travelled in far places Nice, Beirut,
Majorca, even the Canaries. The time had arrived about his eighth
birthday when Jerome believed that his father either ‘ran guns’ or was
a member of the British Secret Service. Now it occurred to him that his
25 father might have been wounded in ‘a hail of machine-gun bullets’.
Mr. Wordsworth played with the ruler on his desk. He seemed at a
loss how to continue. He said, ‘You know your father was in Naples?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Your aunt heard from the hospital today.’ ‘Oh.’
30 Mr. Wordsworth said with desperation, ‘It was a street accident.’
‘Yes, sir?’ It seemed quite likely to Jerome that they would call it a
street accident. The police of course had fired first; his father would
not take human life except as a last resort.
‘I’m afraid your father was very seriously hurt indeed.’ ‘Oh.’
35 ‘In fact, Jerome, he died yesterday. Quite, without pain.’ ‘Did they
shoot him through the heart?’
‘I beg your pardon. What did you say, Jerome?’ ‘Did they shoot him
through the heart?’
‘Nobody shot him, Jerome. A pig fell on him.’ An inexplicable con-
40 vulsion took place in the nerves of Mr. Wordsworth’s face; it really
looked for a moment as though he were going to laugh. He closed his
eyes, composed his features and said rapidly as though it were neces-
sary to expel the story as rapidly as possible, ‘Your father was walking
along a street in Naples when a pig fell on him. A shocking accident.
45 Apparently in the poorer quarters of Naples they keep pigs on their
balconies. This one was on the fifth floor. It had grown too fat. The
balcony broke. The pig fell on your father.’
Mr. Wordsworth left his desk rapidly and went to the window, turn-
ing his back on Jerome. He shook a little with emotion.
50 Jerome said, ‘What happened to the pig?’
This was not callousness on the part of Jerome, as it was interpret-
ed by Mr. Wordsworth to his colleagues (he even discussed with them
whether, perhaps, Jerome was yet fitted to be a warden). Jerome was
- 85 - Read. Think. Talk.
only attempting to visualize the strange scene to get the details right.
55 Nor was Jerome a boy who cried; he was a boy who brooded, and it
never occurred to him at his preparatory school that the circumstances of
his father’s death were comic – they were still part of the mystery of life.
It was later, in his first term at his public school, when he told the story to
his best friend, that he began to realize how it affected others. Naturally
60 after that disclosure he was known, rather unreasonably, as Pig.
Unfortunately his aunt had no sense of humour. There was an en-
larged snapshot of his father on the piano; a large sad man in an unsuit-
able dark suit posed in Capri with an umbrella (to guard him against
sunstroke), the Faraglione rocks forming the background. By the age of
65 sixteen Jerome was well aware that the portrait looked more like the au-
thor of Sunshine and Shade and Rambles in the Balearics than an agent
of the Secret Service. All the same he loved the memory of his father:
he still possessed an album fitted with picture-postcards (the stamps had
been soaked off long ago for his other collection), and it pained him when
70 his aunt embarked with strangers on the story of his father’s death.
‘A shocking accident,’ she would begin, and the stranger would
compose his or her features into the correct shape for interest and com-
miseration. Both reactions, of course, were false, but it was terrible
for Jerome to see how suddenly, midway in her rambling discourse,
75 the interest would become genuine. ‘I can’t think how such things can
be allowed in a civilized country,’ his aunt would say. ‘I suppose one
has to regard Italy as civilized. One is prepared for all kinds of things
abroad, of course, and my brother was a great traveller. He always car-
ried a water-filter with him. It was far less expensive, you know, than
80 buying all those bottles of mineral water. My brother always said that
his filter paid for his dinner wine. You can see from that what a careful
man he was, but who could possibly have expected when he was walk-
ing along the Via Dottore Manuele Panucci on his way to the Hydro-
graphic Museum that a pig would fall on him?’ That was the moment
85 when the interest became genuine.
Jerome’s father had not been a very distinguished writer, but the
time always seems to come, after an author’s death, when somebody
thinks it worth his while to write a letter to the Times Literary Supple-
ment announcing the preparation of a biography and asking to see any
90 letters or documents or receive any anecdotes from friends of the dead
man. Most of the biographies, of course, never appear – one wonders
Read. Think. Talk. - 86 -
whether the whole thing may not be an obscure form of blackmail
and whether many a potential writer of a biography or thesis finds the
means in this way to finish his education at Kansas or Nottingham.
95 Jerome, however, as a chartered accountant, lived far from the literary
world. He did not realize how small the menace really was, or that the
danger period for someone of his father’s obscurity had long passed.
Sometimes he rehearsed the method of recounting his father’s death so
as to reduce the comic element to its smallest dimensions – it would be
100 of no use to refuse information, for in that case the biographer would
undoubtedly visit his aunt, who was living to a great old age with no
sign of flagging.
It seemed to Jerome that there were two possible methods – the first
led gently up to the accident, so that by the time it was described the
105 listener was so well prepared that the death came really as an anti-cli-
max. The chief danger of laughter in such a story was always surprise.
When he rehearsed this method Jerome began boringly enough.
‘You know Naples and those high tenement buildings? Somebody
once told me that the Neapolitan always feels at home in New York just
110 as the man from Turin feels at home in London because the river runs
in much the same way in both cities. Where was I? Oh, yes. Naples, of
course. You’d be surprised in the poorer quarters what things they keep
on the balconies of those sky-scraping tenements – not washing, you
know, or bedding, but things like livestock, chickens or even pigs. Of
115 course the pigs get no exercise whatever and fatten all the quicker.’ He
could imagine how his hearer’s eyes would have glazed by this time.
‘I’ve no idea, have you, how heavy a pig can be, but these old build-
ings are all badly in need of repair. A balcony on the fifth floor gave
way under one of those pigs. It struck the third floor balcony on its way
120 down and sort of ricochetted into the street. My father was on the way
to the Hydrographic Museum when the pig hit him. Coming from that
height and that angle it broke his neck.’ This was really a masterly at-
tempt to make an intrinsically’ interesting subject boring.
The other method Jerome rehearsed had the virtue of brevity. ‘My
125 father was killed by a pig.’
‘Really? In India?’
‘No, in Italy.’
‘How interesting. I never realized there was pig-sticking in Italy.
Was your father keen on polo?’
- 87 - Read. Think. Talk.
130 In course of time, neither too early nor too late, rather as though, in
his capacity as a chartered accountant, Jerome had studied the statistics
and taken the average, he became engaged to be married: to a pleasant
fresh-faced girl of twenty-five whose father was a doctor in Pinner’. Her
name was Sally, her favourite author was still Hugh Walpole and she
135 had adored babies ever since she had been given a doll at the age of five
which moved its eyes and made water. Their relationship was contented
rather than exciting, as became the love-affair of a chartered accountant;
it would never have done if it had interfered with the figures.
One thought worried Jerome, however. Now that within a year he
140 might himself become a father, his love for the dead man increased;
he realized what affection had gone into the picture postcards. He felt
a longing to protect his memory, and uncertain whether this quiet love
of his would survive if Sally were so insensitive as to laugh when she
heard the story of his father’s death. Inevitably she would hear it when
145 Jerome brought her to dinner with his aunt. Several times he tried to
tell her himself, as she was naturally anxious to know all she could that
concerned him.
‘You were very small when your father died?’ ‘Just nine.’
‘Poor little boy,’ she said.
150 ‘I was at school. They broke the news to me.’ ‘Did you take it very
hard?’
‘I can’t remember.’
‘You never told me how it happened.’ ‘It was very sudden. A street
accident.’
155 ‘You’ll never drive fast, will you, Jemmy?’ (She had begun to call
him ‘Jemmy’.) It was too late then to try the second method – the one
he thought of as the pig-sticking one.
They were going to marry quietly in a registry-office and have their
honeymoon at Torquay. He avoided taking her to see his aunt until a
160 week before the wedding, but then the night came and he could not
have told himself whether his apprehension was more for his father’s
memory or the security of his own love.
The moment came all too soon. ‘Is that Jemmy’s father?’ Sally
asked, picking up the portrait of the man with the umbrella. ‘Yes, dear.
165 How did you guess?’
‘He has Jemmy’s eyes and brow, hasn’t he?’ ‘Has Jerome lent you
his books?’
Read. Think. Talk. - 88 -
‘No.’
‘I will give you a set for your wedding. He wrote so tenderly about
170 his travels. My own favourite is Nooks and Crannies. He would have
had a great future. It made that shocking accident all the worse.’
‘Yes?’
Jerome longed to leave the room and not see that loved face crinkle
with irresistible amusement.
175 ‘I had so many letters from his readers after the pig fell on him.’
She had never been so abrupt before.
And then the miracle happened. Sally did not laugh. Sally sat with
open eyes of horror while his aunt told her the story, and at the end,
‘How horrible,’ Sally said. ‘It makes you think, doesn’t it? Happening
180 like that. Out of a clear sky.’
Jerome’s heart sang with joy. It was as though she had appeased his
fear for ever. In the taxi going home he kissed her with more passion
than he had ever shown and she returned it. There were babies in her
pale blue pupils, babies that rolled their eyes and made water.
185 ‘A week today,’ Jerome said, and she squeezed his hand. ‘Penny for
your thoughts, my darling.’
‘I was wondering,’ Sally said, ‘what happened to the poor pig?’
‘They almost certainly had it for dinner,’ Jerome said happily and
kissed the dear child again.

NOTES
housemaster
a teacher in charge of a group of children (a ‘house’) in a school
preparatory school
a private (fee-paying) school for children up to the age of 13
Marlborough, Rugby
well-known public (fee-paying) schools for children aged 13 and above
Canaries
the Canary Islands, off the north-west coast of Africa
pig-sticking
the hunting of wild boar (pigs) with a spear on horseback
Pinner
a district on the outskirts of London
Hugh Walpole
a writer in the early 1900s, whose novels were very popular but not considered to
be of ‘literary’ status
- 89 - Read. Think. Talk.
DISCUSSION

1. There are two kinds of love in this story: the love of a boy for his
father, and the love between a young man and a young woman. Do you
think the author treats these relationships sympathetically despite the
comic element to the story, or do you find the humour callous, or trivial-
izing?
2. Jerome worships his father and creates an elaborate fantasy about
him.
Is this a normal thing to do in childhood? Why do children do it? In later
life, Jerome realizes that his father was not the exotic, glamorous figure of
boys’ adventure stories. Did that diminish his affection for his father? What
does that tell us about Jerome himself?
3. The idea of someone being killed by a falling pig seems rather sur-
real.
Did people find it funny because there is something intrinsically comic
about the pig itself? In what contexts do we use the expression, ‘And pigs
might fly’? Why pigs, and not donkeys, for example? Would it have been
equally comic if a large dog had fallen on Jerome’s father?

LANGUAGE Focus

1. Jerome had the odd impression when he entered that he was a


cause of fear.
In the light of what the housemaster has to say to him, how do you ac-
count for Jerome’s impression?
2. He shook a little with emotion.
What kind of emotion do you think Mr. Wordsworth was shaking
with?
3. ‘In fact, Jerome, he died yesterday. Quite without pain.’ ‘Did they
shoot him through the heart?’
Jerome’s reply seemed very appropriate to him, but very inappropriate
to Mr. Wordsworth. Why? What effect does this mis-match have?
4. There are two misunderstandings about the tale of Jerome’s fa-
ther’s death, which follow these two statements by Jerome:
‘My father was killed by a pig.’

Read. Think. Talk. - 90 -


‘It was very sudden. A street accident.’
Explain how the responses to these statements show what assumptions
the listeners were making. Do you think these were reasonable or likely as-
sumptions for the listeners to make? What would you have assumed?
5. Imagine that Jerome had told the story like this:
My father was killed in an accident in Naples. He was walking down a
street when a balcony broke off a building just above him.
What is the likely assumption that listeners would make here? Think of
some other ways of telling the story which, by omitting some details and
focussing on others, would avoid the comic element.

ACTIVITIES

1. Imagine that Jerome keeps a diary. Write his entries for these three
days:
• the day he learnt of his father’s death
• the day he told his best friend how his father died
• the day Sally learnt how his father died.

2. The story has quite a light-hearted ending. Instead of expectation the


miracle happened. Sally did not laugh. Try writing a new ending, begin-
ning with:
“And then it happened. Sally laughed.”
How will you continue? Will Jerome be sad but resigned, furious with
his aunt, deeply hurt? Will he explain his problem to Sally, say nothing,
break off his engagement? How much does your new ending change the
mood of the story? Is the humour still there, or has it changed into some-
thing else? Which ending do you prefer, and why?

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Ernest Hemingway

IN ANOTHER COUNTRY
(from Men without Women)

THE AUTHOR
Hemingway, Ernest (1899-1961), in full Ernest Miller Hemingway,
American novelist and short-story writer, awarded the Nobel Prize for Lit-
erature in 1954. He was noted both for the intense masculinity of his writ-
ing and for his adventurous and widely publicized life. His succinct and
lucid prose style exerted a powerful influence on American and British
fiction in the 20th century. His deceptively simple, intensely compressed
literary style has influenced countless writers around the world. He once
explained the style to an interviewer: “I always try to write on the principle
of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that
shows. Anything you know, you can eliminate and it only strengthens your
iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If a writer omits something because
he does not know it, then there is a hole in the story.”
Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, where he earned a reputation
as a high-school football player and boxer. During vacations, he hunted
with his father, a physician, in northern Michigan. After graduation from
high school, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Kansas City. Before the
United States entered World War I, he served in a French ambulance unit
and was seriously wounded. Later, he fought in the Italian infantry.
After the war, Hemingway went to Paris where he worked as correspon-
dent for American newspapers. Hemingway brought out a book of short sto-
ries, In Our Time, in 1924, and his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, in 1926.
This novel described Americans living abroad after the devastation of World
War I, leading restless lives in search for the meaning of life. For an epigraph
to his novel, Hemingway quoted something that the writer Gertrude Stein
once said to him: “You are all a lost generation.” The name came to charac-
terize the self-exiled artists and writers who were his contemporaries.
He solidified his reputation as a writer with A Farewell to Arms (1929),
a love story set in World War I. He also became a renowned war correspon-
dent. For Whom the Bell Tolls, considered by some to be his finest novel,
grew out of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

Read. Think. Talk. - 92 -


When America entered World War II, Hemingway spent two years on a
privately organized anti-submarine patrol in the Caribbean and then joined
the American forces in Europe as a reporter.
Afterwards Hemingway lived on his estate in Cuba until the Castro
revolution. In 1953 he published The Old Man and the Sea, which was
awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The following year he received the Nobel Prize
for literature. He died from a gunshot wound. It is generally believed that
he committed suicide, as his father had before him.

THE STORY
Because of his aversion to the cruelties of World War I, Hemingway
made a cult of the courage necessary to survive such an ordeal. But, in spite
of the significance of war to him, Hemingway never projected a mindless
combativeness. He knew the suffering that war could bring, a suffering
invariably compounded by the tragedy it inflicted on civilian life. Nowhere
does he show this better than in the story “In Another Country”.

***
In the fall the war1 was always there, but we did not go to it any
more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early.
Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets
looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the
5 shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind
blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small
birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold
fall and the wind came down from the mountains.
We were all at the hospital every afternoon, and there were differ-
10 ent ways of walking across the town through the dusk to the hospital.
Two of the ways were alongside canals, but they were long. Always,
though, you crossed a bridge across a canal to enter the hospital. There
was a choice of three bridges. On one of them a woman sold roasted
chestnuts. It was warm, standing in front of her charcoal fire, and the
15 chestnuts were warm afterward in your pocket. The hospital was very
old and very beautiful, and you entered through a gate and walked
across a courtyard and out a gate on the other side. There were usually
funerals starting from the courtyard. Beyond the old hospital were the
new brick pavilions, and there we met every afternoon and were all
20 very polite and interested in what was the matter, and sat in the ma-
chines that were to make so much difference.
- 93 - Read. Think. Talk.
The doctor came up to the machine where I was sitting and said: “What
did you like best to do before the war? Did you practice a sport?”
I said: “Yes, football.”
25 “Good,” he said. “You will be able to play football again better than
ever.”
My knee did not bend and the leg dropped straight from the knee
to the ankle without a calf, and the machine was to bend the knee and
make it move as in riding a tricycle. But it did not bend yet, and instead
30 the machine lurched when it came to the bending part. The doctor said:
“That will all pass. You are a fortunate young man. You will play foot-
ball again like a champion.”
In the next machine was a major who had a little hand like a baby’s.
He winked at me when the doctor examined his hand, which was be-
35 tween two leather straps that bounced up and down and flapped the
stiff fingers, and said: “And will I too play football, captain-doctor?”
He had been a very great fencer, and before the war the greatest fencer
in Italy.
The doctor went to his office in the back room and brought a photo-
40 graph which showed a hand that had been withered almost as small as
the major’s, before it had taken a machine course, and after was a little
larger. The major held the photograph with his good hand and looked
at it very carefully. “A wound?” he asked.
“An industrial accident,” the doctor said.
45 “Very interesting, very interesting,” the major said, and handed it
back to the doctor.
“You have confidence?”
“No,” said the major.
There were three boys who came each day who were about the
50 same age I was. They were all three from Milan, and one of them was
to be a lawyer, and one was to be a painter, and one had intended to
be a soldier, and after we were finished with the machines, sometimes
we walked back together to the Café Cova, which was next door to
the Scala.2 We walked the short way through the communist quarter
55 because we were four together. The people hated us because we were
officers, and from a wineshop someone called out, “A basso gli ufficia-
li!” 3 as we passed. Another boy, who walked with us sometimes and
made us five, wore a black silk handkerchief across his face because
he had no nose then and his face was to be rebuilt. He had gone out to
Read. Think. Talk. - 94 -
60 the front from the military academy and been wounded within an hour
after he had gone into the front line for the first time. They rebuilt his
face, but he came from a very old family and they could never get the
nose exactly right. He went to South America and worked in a bank.
But this was a long time ago, and then we did not any of us know how
65 it was going to be afterward. We only knew then that there was always
the war, but that we were not going to it anymore.
We all had the same medals, except the boy with the black silk
bandage across his face, and he had not been at the front long enough
to get any medals. The tall boy with a very pale face who was to be a
70 lawyer had been a lieutenant of Arditi 4 and had three medals of the
sort we each had only one of. He had lived a very long time with death
and was a little detached. We were all a little detached, and there was
nothing that held us together except that we met every afternoon at the
hospital. Although, as we walked to the Cova through the tough part
75 of town, walking in the dark, with light and singing coming out of the
wineshops, and sometimes having to walk into the street when the men
and women would crowd together on the sidewalk so that we would
have had to jostle them to get by, we felt held together by there being
something that had happened that they, the people who disliked us, did
80 not understand.
We ourselves all understood the Cova, where it was rich and warm
and not too brightly lighted, and noisy and smoky at certain hours, and
there were always girls at the tables and the illustrated papers on a rack
on the wall. The girls at the Cova were very patriotic, and I found that
85 the most patriotic people in Italy were café girls – and I believe they are
still patriotic.
The boys at first were very polite about my medals and asked me
what I had done to get them. I showed them the papers, which were
written in very beautiful language and full of fratellanza and abnegazi-
90 one, 5 but which really said, with the adjective removed, that I had been
given the medals because I was an American. After that their manner
changed a little toward me, although I was their friend against outsid-
ers. I was a friend, but I was never really one of them after they had
read the citations, because it had been different with them and they had
95 done very different things to get at heir medals. I had been wounded, it
was true; but we all knew that being wounded, after all, was really an
accident. I was never ashamed of the ribbons, though, and sometimes
- 95 - Read. Think. Talk.
after cocktail hour, I would imagine myself having done all the things
they had done to get their medals; but walking home at night through
100 the empty streets with the cold wind and all the shops closed, trying to
keep near the street lights, I knew that I would never have done such
things, and I was very much afraid to die, and often lay in bed at night
by myself, afraid to die and wondering how I would be when I went
back to the front again.
105 The three with the medals were like hunting hawks; and I was not
a hawk, although I might seem a hawk to those who had never hunted;
they, the three, knew better and so we drifted apart. But I stayed good
friends with the boy who had been wounded his first day at the front,
because he would never know now how he would have turned out; so
110 he could never be accepted either, and I liked him because I thought
perhaps he would not have turned out to be a hawk either.
The major, who had been the great fencer, did not believe in brav-
ery, and spent much time while we sat in the machines correcting my
grammar. He had complimented me on how I spoke Italian, and we
115 talked together very easily. One day I had said that Italian seemed such
an easy language to me that I could not take a great interest in it; every-
thing was so easy to say. “Ah, yes,” the major said. “Why, then, do you
not take up the use of grammar?” So we took up the use of grammar,
and soon Italian was such a difficult language that I was afraid to talk
120 to him until I had the grammar straight in my mind.
The major came very regularly to the hospital. I do not think he ever
missed a day, although I am sure he did not believe in the machines.
There was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one
day the major said it was all nonsense. The machines were new then
125 and it was we who were to prove them. It was an idiotic idea, he said,
“a theory, like another.” I had not learned my grammar, and he said I
was a stupid impossible disgrace, and he was a fool to have bothered
with me. He was a small man and he sat straight up in his chair with his
right hand thrust into the machine and looked straight ahead at the wall
130 while the straps thumped up and down with his fingers in them.
“What will you do when the war is over if it is over?” he asked me.
“Speak grammatically!”
“I will go to the States.”
“Are you married?”
135 “No, but I hope to be.”
Read. Think. Talk. - 96 -
“The more of a fool you are,” he said. He seemed very angry. “A
man must not marry.”
“Why, Signor Maggiore?”
“Don’t call me ‘Signor Maggiore.’”
140 “Why must not a man marry?”
“He cannot marry. He cannot marry,” he said angrily. “If he is to
lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that.
He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things
he cannot lose.”
145 He spoke very angrily and bitterly, and looked straight ahead while
he talked.
“But why should he necessarily lose it?”
“He’ll lose it,” the major said. He was looking at the wall. Then
he looked down at the machine and jerked his little hand out from be-
150 tween the straps and slapped it hard against his thigh. “He’ll lose it,”
he almost shouted. “Don’t argue with me!” Then he called to the atten-
dant who ran the machines. “Come and turn this damned thing off.”
He went back into the other room for the light treatment and the
massage. Then I heard him ask the doctor if he might use his telephone
155 and he shut the door. When he came back into the room, I was sitting in
another machine. He was wearing his cape and had his cap on, and he
came directly toward my machine and put his arm on my shoulder.
“I am so sorry,” he said, and patted me on the shoulder with his
good hand. “I would not be rude. My wife has just died. You must
160 forgive me.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling sick for him. “I am so sorry.”
He stood there biting his lower lip. “It is very difficult,” he said. “I
cannot resign myself.”
He looked straight past me and out through the window. Then
165 he began to cry. “I am utterly unable to resign myself,” he said, and
choked. And then crying, his head up looking at nothing, carrying him-
self straight and soldierly, with tears on both his cheeks and biting his
lips, he walked past the machines and out the door.
The doctor told me that the major’s wife, who was very young and
170 whom he had not married until he was definitely invalided out of the
war, had died of pneumonia. She had been sick only a few days. No one
expected her to die. The major did not come to the hospital for three
days. Then he came at the usual hour, wearing a black band on the sleeve
- 97 - Read. Think. Talk.
of his uniform. When he came back, there were large framed photo-
175 graphs around the wall, of all sorts of wounds before and after they had
been cured by the machines. In front of the machine the major used were
three photographs of hands like his that were completely restored. I do
not know where the doctor got them. I always understood we were the
first to use the machines. The photographs did not make much difference
180 to the major because he only looked out of the window.

NOTES
1. The war
World War I (1914-1919).
2. The Scala
La Scala, Milan’s world-famous opera house.
3. “A basso gli ufficlali!”
Down with the officers! [Italian]
4. Arditi
a picked group of volunteers which served as storm troops of the Italian infantry.
5. fratellanza and abnegazione
brotherhood and self-denial [Italian]
6. Signor Maggiore
Mr. Major, in Italy it is the sign of respect to prefix an officer’s rank with ‘Signor’

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Arrange the sentences from the text in the correct order:


1. He had been a very great fencer, and before the war the greatest
fencer in Italy.
2. The major did not come to the hospital for three days. Then he came
at the usual hour, wearing a black band on the sleeve of his uniform.
3. There was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one
day the major said it was all nonsense.
4. The doctor went to his office in the back room and brought a photo-
graph which showed a hand that had been withered almost as small as the
major’s, before it had taken a machine course, and after was a little larger.

Read. Think. Talk. - 98 -


5. In front of the machine the major used were three photographs of
hands like his that were completely restored.
6. In the next machine was a major who had a little hand like a baby’s.
7. The photographs did not make much difference to the major because
he only looked out of the window.
8. He had complimented me on how I spoke Italian, and we talked to-
gether very easily.
9. She had been sick only a few days. No one expected her to die. He
looked straight past me and out through the window. Then he began to cry.
10. One day I had said that Italian seemed such an easy language to me
that I could not take a great interest in it.
11. The doctor told me that the major’s wife, who was very young and
whom he had not married until he was definitely invalided out of the war,
had died of pneumonia.
12. He was a small man and he sat straight up in his chair with his right
hand thrust into the machine and looked straight ahead at the wall while the
straps thumped up and down with his fingers in them.
13. The major, who had been the great fencer, did not believe in bravery,
and spent much time while we sat in the machines correcting my grammar.
2. Answer the questions:
1. When and where is the action set?
2. What season is described?
3. Who were the narrator and his three companions?
4. What did they do every afternoon?
5. What were the machines supposed to do to them?
6. What was the matter with the narrator and with the major?
7. What photo did the doctor show to the major? Why?
8. What was the major’s occupation before the war?
9. What was the major’s attitude to the machines?
10. Where did the narrator and his companions usually go after the ex-
ercises?
11. Why did they stick together during their outings?
12. What made the fifth boy different from the rest of the company?
13. Why did the three boys change their attitude to the narrator?
14. On what ground did the major and the boy get together?
15. What advice did the major give to the narrator? Why?
16. What happened to major’s wife?
- 99 - Read. Think. Talk.
LANGUAGE FOCUS
1. As you read, (a) find the following words and phrases and explain
their meaning; (b) recall the context they are used in:
dusk; roasted chestnuts; charcoal fire; to lurch; to bounce; to flap; stiff
fingers; to wink (towards smb); a fencer; to be withered; a bandage; to be
detached; tough; to jostle; a hawk; to bother (with); a disgrace; straps; to
thrust; to jerk; a thump; to slap (against); to pat; to choke, a band.
2. Use the words and phrases from above in the following sentences:
1. Ваш спор похож на ссору голубей с ястребами: шансы слишком
не равны. 2. Её сердце глухо билось. 3. Садовник поплевал на руки и
решительно вонзил лопату в землю. 4. Мяч отскочил от штанги прямо
в руки вратарю. 5. После долгого сиденья за компьютером у меня
затекла шея. 6. Он подмигнул Марии с определенной долей (degree)
фамильярности. 7. Он почти такой же искусный фехтовальщик, как
и я. 8. От изнурительной работы её красота поблёкла раньше времени.
9. Ч елси похлопала по сиденью, приглашая меня сесть рядом.
10. Тётушка сказала, что он – позор для семьи. 11. Подождите, дайте
мне поправить повязку. 12. Занавески хлопали на ветру. 13. Скарлетт
приходилось работать в поле от рассвета до заката. 14. На перемене дети
высыпали во двор и стали толкать друг друга. 15. Вначале у нас с ним
было много хлопот. 16. Корабль внезапно накренился на одну сторону.
17. Новый ученик сидел в стороне от остальной детворы с отстранённым
видом. 18. Ремешки износились, и с любимыми сандалиями пришлось
расстаться. 19. Дорога была ухабистая, и машина двигалась рывками.
20. Волны ударялись о пристань тяжелыми шлепками. 21. Девушка
была в отчаянии; рыдания душили её. 22. Одна из прелестей пикника –
жареное мясо на углях. 23. Он принадлежал к тому типу клиентов,
которых обычно называют “трудными”.
3. Replace the italized parts of the sentences with words and phras-
es from the text:
1. It was cold in the autumn in Milan and it became dark very early.
2. There were many killed animals hanging outside the shops.
3. The snow thinly covered the fur of the foxes and their tails were
lightly stirred by the wind.
4. The deer hung rigid and heavy.
5. In the next machine was a major whose hand was withered.
6. He had been a very long time exposed to lethal danger and was a
little detached.
Read. Think. Talk. - 100 -
7. The men and women would crowd together on the sidewalk so that
we would have had to make our way through them by using our force to
get by…
8. The major, who had been the great fencer, did not believe in showing
off courage.
9. He had praised me on my good Italian and we talked together very
easily.
10. So we started to study the usage of grammar, and soon Italian was
such a difficult language that I was afraid to talk to him until I had com-
pletely understood how to use grammar.
11. I said, feeling very sorry for him…
12. “It is very difficult,” he said. “I cannot reconcile myself to my lot.”
13. … his head up looking at nothing, carrying himself straight and
manly …
14. He wasn’t interested in the photographs because he only looked out
of the window.

DISCUSSION
1. The wounded soldiers in the story are “in another country” in the
sense of being out of combat.
a. From what “other country”, besides the war, are they separated?
b. How is the exclusion of these soldiers from these “other coun-
tries” important to the theme of the story?
2. Not only are the soldiers shut off from the war, but they are also shut
off from other groups and, as individuals, are separated from one-another.
a. In what way is the isolation of each man shown?
b. Have their war experiences had anything to do with their loneli-
ness? Explain and cite examples from the story which illustrate this
alienation.
3. Do you think the dead animals hanging outside of the shops have any
symbolic meaning? Explain your answer.
4. Is it important to know the identity of the young American soldier
who is narrating the story? Why or Why not?
5. How does the major differ from the other wounded men?
6. Referring to one of the young men, Hemingway says: “He had lived
a very long time with death and was a little detached”. What does this sen-
tence mean to you?

- 101 - Read. Think. Talk.


7. Why do the people in the communist quarter of Milan dislike the four
young men?
8. How does the doctor try to maintain the young American’s morale?
9. Is it significant to know that the major had been Italy’s greatest fencer?
10. Why are the narrator and the young boy who had lost his nose con-
sidered outsiders by the others?
11. Do you think the narrator possesses the characteristics which Hem-
ingway admires in a man? Explain your reasons.
12. What impression have you formed of the young American?
13. The narrator states that the major did not believe in the machines. If
this is true, why do you think he kept returning to the hospital?
14. Do you agree that the principal drama of the story is found in what
is going on with the characters, especially the major?
15. What does the major mean when he says that a man must not marry
because “…he should not place himself in a position to lose… He should
find things he cannot lose…”?
16. How does the major’s announcement of the death of his wife con-
firm your opinion of the strength of his character?

COMMENT

1. Understanding the Author’s Style


Hemingway learned to write by becoming a journalist. As a cub reporter
on the Kansas City Star, he was given the famous style sheet that was
handed out to all new employees. Some of the rules listed on the sheet are
the following:
• Use short sentences and short first paragraphs.
• Use vigorous English.
• Be positive, not negative.
• Avoid the use of adjectives, especially extravagant ones such as splen-
did, gorgeous, grand, magnificent, etc.
Hemingway said that these were the best rules he ever learned for writ-
ing, adding: “No man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the
thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them.”
Hemingway’s style of writing is striking. His sentences are short, his
words simple, yet they are often filled with emotions.
Furthermore, a careful reading can show us that he is a master of the
pause. That is, if we look closely, we see how the action of his stories con-
Read. Think. Talk. - 102 -
tinues during the silences, during the times his characters say nothing. This
action is often full of meaning. There are times when the most powerful
effect comes from restraint.
Hemingway perfected the art of conveying emotion with few words.
a) Cite examples of Hemingway’s terse, understated style from this
story.
b) Explain how the style is suited to Hemingway’s theme of isola-
tion.
2. Understanding the mood and the tone of the story
The story is filled with emotional overtones. Its dominant feeling is one
of pity for misfortunes that can never be remedied. A hand crippled is, and
will always be, a hand crippled. A beloved wife lost through death is lost
indeed. Perhaps one should be resigned to such misfortunes, but the Ital-
ian major laments that he cannot be resigned. The tragedies of life cannot
really be remedied.
a) Show how the general mood of the story is preset in the first para-
graph.
b) Describe the tone of the major’s comments about the machines
and compare it with his tone in telling of his wife’s death.
c) Which hurts him more – her death or the crippling of his hand?
d) Relate his final situation to the theme of isolation in the story.
e) Formulate the theme of the story with your own words.

EXTENSION

Themes for an essay:


1. The first Biblical commandment is “Thou shalt not kill”. Is there ever
any justification for ignoring this?
2. Human society is learning to use its resources in ‘wars’ against dis-
ease, poverty and natural disasters. Write about any such campaigns.
3. What writers in the Russian literature have treated the theme of war
and the isolation and loneliness it brings?
4. Write a short essay in which you illustrate the sense of isolation or
loneliness which life in modern urban society can bring.
5. Describe an occasion on which you felt excluded from general enjoy-
ment or experience. Try to analyse your feelings.
- 103 - Read. Think. Talk.
STYLISTIC DEVICES

Match the sentences with the stylistic devices and explain


their function in the story:
1. There was much game hanging outside the
a) Ellipsis shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the
foxes and the wind blew their tails.
2. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty,
b) Anticlimax and small birds blew in the wind and the wind
turned their feathers.
3. It was warm, standing in front of her charcoal
c) Irony fire, and the chestnuts were warm afterward in
your pocket.
4. – “Did you practice a sport?”
d) Repetition – I said: “Yes, football.”
– “Good,” he said.
5. In the next machine was a major who had a
e) Parallelism little hand like a baby’s.
6. They were all three from Milan, and one of
them was to be a lawyer, and one was to be a
f) Personification painter, and one had intended to be a soldier.
7. He had lived a very long time with death and
was a little detached.
g) Polysyndeton 8. The girls at the Cova were very patriotic, and
I found that the most patriotic people in Italy
were cafe girls – and I believe they are still pa-
h) Simile triotic.
9. I showed them the papers, which were writ-
ten in very beautiful language and full of fratel-
i) Barbarisms lanza and abnegazione, but which really said,
with the adjective removed, that I had been
given the medals because I was an American.
j) Metaphor 10. The three with the medals were like hunting
hawks; and I was not a hawk, although I might
seem a hawk to those who had never hunted;

Read. Think. Talk. - 104 -


John Cheever

I’M GOING TO ASIA

THE AUTHOR
Cheever, John (1912 - 1982), American short-story writer and novelist
whose work described, often through fantasy and ironic comedy, the life,
manners, and morals of middle-class, suburban America. Cheever has been
called “the Chekhov of the suburbs” for his ability to capture the drama
and sadness of the lives of his characters by revealing the undercurrents of
apparently insignificant events. Known as ‘amoralist’, he judged his char-
acters from the standpoint of traditional morality.
A master of the short story, Cheever worked from “the interrupted
event,” which he considered the prime source of short stories. He was fa-
mous for his clear and elegant prose and his careful fashioning of incidents
and anecdotes.
Cheever’s first collection of short stories, The Way Some People Live
(1943), was followed by many others, including The Enormous Radio and
Other Stories (1953) and The Brigadier and the Golf Widow (1964). The
Stories of John Cheever (1978) won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Cheev-
er’s first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle (1957), earned him the National
Book Award. Later novels included The Wapshot Scandal (1964), Falcon-
er (1977), and Oh What a Paradise It Seems (1982). The Letters of John
Cheever, edited by his son Benjamin Cheever, was published in 1988.

THE STORY
One of the central themes of John Cheever’s novels and short stories is
the loneliness and isolation of the individual, whose personal desires are
frequently at odds with the prevailing social order. See how this theme is
conveyed in the short story “I’m Going to Asia”.

***
It was a Sunday evening and the Towle family sat on the terrace,
admiring the familiar scenery. There were Mr. and Mrs. Towle, Mr.
Towle’s mother, Bill and Freddy, their two sons, and Carole, Bill’s
fiancée. Old Mrs. Towle sat a little apart from the group. Freddy was

- 105 - Read. Think. Talk.


5 sprawled on the floor, nursing a drink. Bill sat on the hammock, hold-
ing Carole’s hand. They were listening to a news broadcast from a
portable radio. The announcer was sobbing with emotion.
When the news broadcast ended and a band began to play dance music
Freddy turned off the radio. “You can all thank your lucky stars that you
10 haven’t any foreign investments,” old Mrs. Towle said. Then she leaned
forward in her chair and asked: “Isn’t that someone on our pier, don’t I
hear someone talking?” The sound she had heard was a boat’s wash break-
ing on the shore. When she realized this she laughed. “I haven’t been near
the water for such a long time that when I hear the waves breaking I think
15 it’s somebody talking or walking around on the pier,” she explained. “I got
up in the middle of the night because I thought I heard someone walking
around on the pier. It was just the water.”
“The news makes me sick,” Freddy said quietly.
He put a hand to his stomach.
20 “You know when I get old,” Carole said, “I’m going to overdress. I
think old age is such a good excuse for overdressing.”
“We’ll all spend the rest of our lives in uniform,” Freddy said.
“I wish Helen Hughes were here,” old Mrs. Towle said.
“Who, Mother?”
25 “Helen Hughes.”
“But she’s dead. She’s been dead for a long time.”
“Yes, I know, but I just wish she were here. She always enjoyed the
mountain scenery so much; she always thought the Adirondacks1 were
more beautiful than anything in Europe.”
30 “A damned sight safer than anything in Europe,” Freddy said. The
light was going off the water. The changes of light on the water and
on the mountains held their interest. They were people with the city
in their blood, and for them the country was like some reassuring and
ingenious imitation of the past.
35 “I’m going to Asia,” Carole broke in, “and I’m going to take a
bathtub.”2
“I’m going to Asia,” Bill said, “and I’m going to take an anes-
thetic.”
“Oh, is it my turn?” Mrs. Towle asked. She was knitting on a large
40 gray sock. “I never can understand this game. Let me see. Well, I guess
I’m going to Asia and I’m going to take an icebox.”
“You can’t go to Asia, Mother,” Carole said.
Read. Think. Talk. - 106 -
“There,” old Mrs. Towle said when the wash from another boat
broke among the stones. “It does sound like somebody talking, talking
45 or walking around, doesn’t it? If you’re not thinking about it, that is.”
“I’m going to Asia and I’m going to take a trunk,” Mr. Towle said.
“Antwerp, Liege, Amiens, Beauvais,” Freddy said, “I’ve been to all
of them. They’re all ruins now. When I took the bicycle trip I went to
all of those places.”
50 “Would you like to go to Asia?” Carole asked old Mrs. Towle.
“Oh yes,” she said, “I’d love to go to Asia. Let me see. I’m going to
Asia and I’m going to take a dress.”
“Sorry,” Carole said, “you can’t go to Asia. Freddy?”
“What have the others taken?”
55 “I’m taking a bathtub and Bill took an anesthetic and Mr. Towle
took a trunk.”
“I’m taking a horse,” Freddy said.
“You can go to Asia.”
“Oh, Charles, I forgot to tell you,” Mrs. Towle said to her husband,
60 “I sent that check you gave me for the bills to the English Speaking
Union to buy yarn for socks.”
“You shouldn’t have done that, Louise. I don’t mind giving a small
contribution but we can’t give away that kind of money now.” He
dropped his arms and said sadly: “I once paid five hundred dollars for
65 a bowl of beef stew. That was at the Waldorf3, for Near East Relief4.”
“Want to go for a dip?” Bill whispered to Carole. She agreed, and
they got up and walked down toward the boathouse.
They left the hammock swinging and the rusty chains gave off a
grating and regular noise.
70 Freddy said, “They don’t have butter. They don’t have whisky, they
don’t have homes. At one meal we eat more meat than anybody in Eu-
rope sees in six months.”
“I hope this sock isn’t going to be too big,” Mrs. Towle said, hold-
ing up the sock. “I always imagine soldiers as having big feet, although
75 I suppose some of them have small feet just like everybody else.” She
waited for the sound of Carole and Bill, closing the locker doors in
the boathouse, and then she continued in a low voice: “It makes me so
happy to see them together. They’re so happy. The only thing I want is
to see my sons happily married and to have a few grandchildren. If you
80 were only married, Freddy, I wouldn’t ask for anything more.”
- 107 - Read. Think. Talk.
Freddy laughed unpleasantly. “This is a fine time to get married.
This is a swell year to get married. Maybe I’ll have to go to war. I’ll be
in the first draft. Maybe I’ll be killed. This is a swell time to get mar-
ried. No, thank you.”
85 “You take it too hard, Freddy.”
“That’s what you think now.”
“Aunt Annie used to feel like that,” Mrs. Towle said quietly. “After
the World War when there was all that trouble in Armenia we had her for
Thanksgiving dinner and for a minute there I thought she was going to
90 throw the turkey at your father. ‘Turkey.’ she said, ‘turkey! You people are
eating turkey and the Armenians are starving.’ Why, she used to …”
“Well, she wasn’t so crazy,” Freddy cried suddenly and angrily. “She
wasn’t so dumb. She knew something was wrong. The thing that kills
me is the surprise you, people, have coming. You just sit around here
95 as if nothing had happened. Well, something has happened. Our world
has ended. It’s the end of our world. In every way. It’s all over.”
“Don’t talk to your mother like that, Freddy,” Mr. Towle said.
“I’m not telling her anything that will hurt her. I’m telling her some-
thing she ought to know. It isn’t going to be like this anymore. We’re
100 nice people and there isn’t going to be room for nice people anymore.
It’s ended, it’s all over, it’s dead.
She ought to know it. She ought to realize it.” He turned his back
on them and took his head in his hands.
From below they heard the sound of running footsteps on the pier.
105 “Is it freezing?” they heard Carole shout. There was no reply and she
called out the question again.
“No, not very,” Bill shouted. The embrace of cold water forced his
voice.
“Well, here goes,” they heard Carole shout, and then there was a
110 splash.
“It’s not bad, is it?” Bill shouted.
“No, it’s not bad but it’s not exactly like a bathtub.”
“Sissy.”
“Sissy yourself.”
115 “Come over here.”
“No, let go of me, let go of me, Bill!”
They could still hear their voices when Carole and Bill left the wa-
ter for the boathouse. “When we get married,” Bill said, “I’ll build you
Read. Think. Talk. - 108 -
a swimming pool with hot water. I’ll build you a big glassed-in swim-
120 ming pool in our house in Westchester, our big house in Westchester.”
“I want to live on Long Island,” Carole said.
“Oh, so you want to live on Long Island*. And I suppose when we
have a son you’ll want to name him Michael.”
“Sure, that’s a nice name.”
125 “And you’ll want to name our daughter Eulalie.”
“Sure.” There was the sound of a struggle and then Carole giggled.
“Stop it, Bill. Stop it. Ouch! Stop it.”
Mr. Towle slapped at a mosquito on his ankle.
“I don’t see why if I took a dress I couldn’t go to Asia,” old Mrs.
130 Towle said crossly. “I don’t like that game. I don’t understand it.”
“Next year I’d like to remodel the barn,” Mrs. Towle said, “so that
when Carole and Bill come up here after they’re married they can be
near us and still have a house of their own. The Taylors remodeled
their barn and when they were through with it, it was much nicer than
135 the house. We could make a fireplace out of the old stonewall and
knock some dormers into the roof. After we’ve gone Freddy and his
wife can have the house and Carole and Bill can have the barn.” She
dropped her knitting tiredly. “I’d like to go to Asia,” she said. “There
isn’t any war in Asia, is there? Or is there?”

NOTES
The Adirondacks
mountain range in New England
I’m going to Asia, and I’m going to take a bathtub
variant of the game “Traveller’s Alphabet”. Each of the participants, while repeating
the phrase “I’m going to Asia and I’m going to take ...” must finish it with he word
which begins with a certain letter. In this case, the initial letters have been deter-
mined by the word chosen by the first participant: b-a-t-h-t-u-b.
The Waldorf
fashionable London hotel
Near East Relief
charitable fund-raising campaign organised to help to the poor, needy, or distressed
people in the Near East region
Long Island – an island in SE New York State usually associated with its affluent
residents

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AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Answer the following questions:


1. What is the setting of the story?
2. Who were the people and what was their kinship?
3. What was each of them doing on the terrace?
4. What made old Mrs. Towle say that there was somebody else on the
pier?
5. What news made Freddy so much disturbed?
6. Who was Helen Hughes and why did old Mrs. Towle wish she were
with them?
7. Why did Freddy laugh unpleasantly at his mother’s wish he were
married?
8. In what context was Aunt Annie mentioned?
9. What were Bill and Carole making plans about? Were they being
serious?
10. What hopes was Mrs. Towle cherishing when she said that she’d
like to remodel the barn?
11. Why did she keep repeating that she’d like to go to Asia?
LANGUAGE FOCUS
1. Paraphrase the italized parts of the sentences using the words
and expressions from the text:
1. Freddy was lying on the floor, stretching his body out wide, holding
lovingly a drink.
2. The announcer was weeping out loud because emotions overwhelmed
him.
3. The sound she had heard was a boat’s wash slapping against the
shore.
4. The embrace of cold water made him shout.
5. Want to go for a swim?
2. Find in the text the equivalents to the following phrases and make
up your own sentences with them:
1. сидеть в сторонке от...
2. возблагодарить судьбу

Read. Think. Talk. - 110 -


3. наклониться вперёд
4. приковывать внимание
5. прервать (разговор) / вмешаться (в разговор)
6. издавать (какой-то) звук
7. отвернуться от кого-то
3. Collocations
a. Match the adjectives to the nouns:
Portable, stationary noise
Foreign, long-term imitation
Mountain, stage investments
Ingenious, blind radio
Rusty, flexible scenery
Grating, deafening chains

b. Use both words from each set to make up sentences of


your own.

DISCUSSION

1. Answer the following questions:


1. How rich are the Towles? Justify your answer.
2. Though the war is taking place on the other side of the world and the
family isn’t involved yet, they feel uneasy. Why?
3. Why did the author place Mr. Towle’s mother as sitting apart from the
rest of the family?
4. Show that Mr. Towle also partly belongs to the past. Is the past safe
for him? Is he certain about the future?
5. Mr. Towle touches upon the problem of money which is something of
supreme importance for him. Show how money becomes the way of intro-
ducing the topic of war and prove that Mr. Towle is deeply involved in it.
6. Bill and his fiancée, Carole, seem to be the happiest couple. We can’t
see them; we can only hear their voices from the pier. Can their words
“When we get married…, When we have a son…” be trusted?

- 111 - Read. Think. Talk.


7. Hearing everybody talking about the past, the money, or the happy
future makes Freddy think that they don’t understand the main thing – what
thing?
8. Who of the family express their own attitude to the war implicitly,
and who explicitly?
9. Is the war abstract to Mrs. Towle? Does she care about the soldiers?
10. Do the characters’ viewpoints differ from yours? In what way?

COMMENT

Understanding the author’s message


The message of the story is expressed implicitly and is brought home to
the reader gradually by means of developing the characters’ emotions.
The following quotation could well be used as the message to John
Cheever’s story:
“No man is an island, entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main…
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for
thee.”
John Donne (1571-1631) Devotion

Group Discussion:
• Paraphrase the quotation.
• Do you agree that this quotation reflects the ideas conveyed by John
Cheever?
• Discuss it in the group. Suggest your own themes that would corre-
spond to the message.

Understanding the title


The title of the story is polisemantic. Explore its nature and complex
meaning; suggest your own title.

Read. Think. Talk. - 112 -


STYLISTIC DEVICES
1. (a) Match SD and sentences from the text. Please note that
to one sentence there may be more than one SD, and one SD
can match several sentences.
1) Freddy was sprawled on the floor, nursing a
drink.
2) They were people with the city in their blood.
3) For them the country was like some reassuring a) Parallelisms
and ingenious imitation of the past.
4) At one meal we eat more meat than anybody b) Metonymy
in Europe sees in six months.”
c) Hyperbole
5) It’s ended, it’s all over, it’s dead.
6) The thing that kills me is the surprise you, d) Metaphor
people, have coming. You just sit around here
as if nothing had happened. Well, something has e) Simile
happened. f) Asyndeton
7) This is a fine time to get married. This is a
swell year to get married. g) Gradation
8) She ought to know it. She ought to realize it. h) Anticlimax
9) Our world has ended. It’s the end of our world.
In every way. It’s all over.” i) Allegory
10) It makes me so happy to see them together. j) Personification
They’re so happy. The only thing I want is to
see my sons happily married and to have a few k) Exaggeration
grandchildren.”
l) Hyperbole
11) They don’t have butter. They don’t have
whisky, they don’t have homes. m) Irony
12) It does sound like somebody talking, talking
or walking around, doesn’t it?” n) Repetition
13) A damned sight safer than anything in Eu- o) Anadiplosis
rope.
14) “Want to go for a dip?” p) Framing
15) This is a swell year to get married. Maybe I’ll q) Swear words
have to go to war. I’ll be in the first draft. Maybe
I’ll be killed. This is a swell time to get married. r) Detachment
16) We’re nice people and there isn’t going to be
room for nice people anymore.
17) The embrace of cold water forced his voice.
18) We’ll all spend the rest of our lives in uni-
form.
- 113 - Read. Think. Talk.
(b) Explore the functions of the SD in the story and evaluate
their effectivness in conveying the author’s message

2. Understanding the author’s style


1. Freddy appears in the story in a very calm atmosphere which helps the
reader realize that he is a quiet person. How is the atmosphere conveyed?
2. Despite his young age, Freddy turns out to be a sensitive man. What
does the author make him say and at the beginning of the story, so that
some deep feelings inside him are going up and soon be verbalized?
3. He tries to involve the family into the discussion of the horrors of the
war. Show how, starting with the short sentences, his speech then becomes
longer, with a more persuasive tone. What stylistic devices are employed
by the author to show Freddy’s growing exasperation?
4. Freddy uses the allegory to simplify the idea of war taking place some-
where in the world. Define the allegory and evaluate its effectiveness.
5. Show how the gradation reveals the emotional side of Freddy’s
speech.
6. John Cheever uses dialogue as the dominant prose system in this
story. The members of the family answer each other’s questions automati-
cally, being preoccupied with their own thoughts.
a. Show how the process of self-realization is revealed through the
dialogue.
b. Study how the author builds up the dialogue to show that Freddy
is involved and the family isn’t; how Freddy proves his ideas, but
they neglect him.
7. Define how Freddy’s frustration is shown by means of repetition and
irony.
8. The author used exaggeration in showing how Freddy tries to make
the family realize the danger, in which sentences?
9. The first climax of the story is connected with Freddy’s words. Can
you identify it?
10. How does the author emphasize the idea of these people having no
future?
11. The personality of Mrs. Towle is given in opposition to Freddy’s
character.
a. Explain how the author introduces her.
b. Is her speech emotionally positive, negative, or neutral?

Read. Think. Talk. - 114 -


12. Does the repetition of the word ‘happy’ shows that she believes her-
self in the happy future of her family?
13. Do you agree that the second climax of the text is in Mrs. Towle’s
final rhetoric question? State your point of view.
14. The sounds are meaningful for the creation of the atmosphere. How
effectively do the onomatopoeic “hammock swinging” and “the rusty
chains” create the atmosphere? What kind of atmosphere?
15. Find the adverbs employed by the author:
a. to introduce the character’s manner of speech;
b. to convey their emotions.

EXTENSION

1. Speak on the way war influences:


• citizens’ life (ordinary and military people);
• industries and agriculture;
• environment, etc.
2. Be ready to give examples from history and the present-
day life on what you say.
3. Are there any “roads” to peace out of war? What
“roads” can you name? Are there any international peace
organizations? Are they helpful in any way?
4. Is war taking place anywhere in the world? Where? What
were the reasons to start it? What “roads” to peace can you
suggest?

5. Comment on the following sayings of famous people:


• The moment you have protected an individual you have protected so-
ciety. (Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Zambian leader)
• Rights are something other people grant after you’ve fought tooth and
nail for them. (Brendan Francis, American writer)
• Piece hath her victories no less renowned than war. (John Milton,
English poet)

- 115 - Read. Think. Talk.


Mark Twain

THE GREAT FRENCH DUEL

THE AUTHOR
Mark Twain (1835-1910), pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clem-
ens, American humorist, writer, and lecturer who won a worldwide audi-
ence for his stories of youthful adventures, especially The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (1884). The list of his other best-known novels includes
The Prince and the Pauper (1881), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s
Court (1889) and such tales and sketches as The Celebrated Jumping Frog
of Calaveras County (1867); The Stolen White Elephant and Other Sto-
ries (1882); The £1,000,000 Bank-Note and Other New Stories (1893); The
Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900).

ABOUT THE STORY


Satire is defined as irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or ex-
pose folly, vice, or stupidity. Twain spends most of his satirical energy at-
tacking the French culture.
He starts with the French Duel. When the word “duel” comes to the mind
of an American, we think of bloodshed and the definite casualty of at least
one person. Twain tells us that the only danger in fighting a French duel is
in the fact that they are held in the open air and “the combatants are nearly
sure to catch cold.” He goes on to talk about how M. Paul de Cassagnac, the
most famous of French duelists, had been told by his physician that “if he
goes on dueling for fifteen or twenty years more – unless he forms the habit
of fighting in a comfortable room where the damps and drafts cannot intrude
– he will eventually endanger his life.” The idea that someone could duel for
twenty years and never be threatened by anything else but a cold is absurd to
us, but Twain uses this idea to poke fun at the French.
Next Twain speaks of the idea of a “French calm.” In the story, a French
calm is described to be very different from an English calm. We think of
calm as being very relaxed and tranquil. Twain describes Gambetta quite
the contrary when he says, “He was moving swiftly back and forth among
the debris of his furniture, now and then staving chance fragments of it

Read. Think. Talk. - 116 -


across the room with his foot, grinding a constant grist of curses through
his set teeth, and halting every little while to deposit another handful of his
hair on the pile which he had been building of it on the table.”
Later in the story, Twain is trying to negotiate the weapons and distance
between combatants that will be involved in the duel. He makes the sarcas-
tic suggestion or using brickbats at three quarters of a mile. Not only did
the Frenchman take his joke seriously, he came back to him and said that
“his principle was charmed with the idea of brickbats at three quarters of
a mile, but must decline on account of the danger to disinterested parties
passing between.”
In reading this story, I kept getting the mental image of a childish Twain
jumping up and down yelling, “Sissy, sissy, sissy!”
Satire was a very common happening in this story and Twain uses it
flawlessly.

THE STORY
Much as the modern French duel is ridiculed by certain smart peo-
ple, it is in reality one of the most dangerous institutions of our day.
Since it is always fought in the open air, the combatants are nearly sure
to catch cold. M. Paul de Cassagnac1, the most inveterate of the French
5 duelists, has suffered so often in this way that he is at last a confirmed
invalid; and the best physician in Paris has expressed the opinion that
if he goes on dueling for fifteen or twenty years more – unless he forms
the habit of fighting in a comfortable room where damps and drafts
cannot intrude – he will eventually endanger his life. This ought to
10 moderate the talk of those people who are so stubborn in maintaining
that the French duel is the most health-giving of recreations because
of the open-air exercise it affords. And it ought also to moderate that
foolish talk about French duelists being the only people who are im-
mortal.
15 But it is time to get at my subject. As soon as I heard of the late
fiery outbreak between M. Gambetta and M. Fourtou1 in the French
Assembly2, I knew that trouble must follow. I knew it because a long
personal friendship with M. Gambetta had revealed to me the desper-
ate and implacable nature of the man. Vast as are his physical propor-
20 tions, I knew that the thirst for revenge would penetrate to the remotest
frontiers of his person.
- 117 - Read. Think. Talk.
I did not wait for him to call on me, but went at once to him. As I
had expected, I found the brave fellow steeped in a profound French
calm. I say French calm, because French calmness and English calmness
25 have points of difference. He was moving swiftly back and forth among
the debris of his furniture, now and then staving chance fragments of it
across the room with his foot, grinding constant grist of curses through
his set teeth, and halting every little while to deposit another handful of
his hair on the pile which he had been building of it on the table.
30 He threw his arms around my neck, bent me over his stomach to his
breast, kissed me on both cheeks and hugged me four or five times. As
soon as I had got well again, we began business at once.
I said I supposed he would wish me to act as his second, and he
said, “Of course.” I said I must be allowed to act under a French name,
35 so that I might be shielded from obloquy3 in my country, in case of
fatal results. He winced here, probably at the suggestion that dueling
was not regarded with respect in America. However, he agreed to my
requirements. This accounts for the fact that in all the newspaper re-
ports M. Gambetta’s second was apparently a Frenchman.
40 First, we drew up my principal’s4 will. I insisted upon this, and
stuck to my point. I said I had never heard of a man in his right mind
going out to fight a duel without first making his will. He said he had
never heard of a man in his right mind doing anything of the kind.
When he had finished the will, he wished to proceed to a choice of his
45 “last words”. He wanted to know how the following words, as a dying
exclamation, struck me.
“I die for my God, for my country, for freedom of speech, for prog-
ress, and the universal brotherhood of man!”
I objected that this would require too lingering a death, it was a
50 good speech for a consumptive5, but not suited to the exigencies of the
field of honor. We wrangled over a good many antemortem6 outbursts,
but I finally got him to cut his obituary7 down to this, which he copied
into his memorandum book, purposing to learn it by heart:
“I DIE THAT FRANCE MAY LIVE!” –
55 I said that this remark seemed to lack relevancy, but he said rele-
vancy was a matter of no consequence in last words – what you wanted
was thrill.
The next thing in order was the choice of weapons. My principal
said he was not feeling well, and would leave that and the other details
Read. Think. Talk. - 118 -
60 of the proposed meeting to me. Therefore I wrote the following note
and carried it to M. Fourtou’s friend:
“Sir!
M. Gambetta accepts M. Fourtou’s challenge, and authorizes me
to propose Plessis-Piquet as the place of meeting, tomorrow morning
65 at daybreak as the time; and axes as the weapons. I am, sir, with great
respect.
M. TWAIN.”
M. Fourtou’s friend read this note, and shuddered. Then he turned
to me, and said, with a suggestion of severity in his tone:
70 “Have you considered, sir, what would be the inevitable result of
such a meeting as this?”
“Well, for instance, what would it be?
“Bloodshed!”
“That’s about the size of it,” I said. “Now if it is a fair question,
75 what was your side proposing to shed?”
I had him there. He saw he had made a blunder, so he hastened to
explain it away. He said he had spoken jestingly. Then he added that
he and his principal would enjoy axes, and indeed prefer them, but
such weapons were barred by the French code, and so I must change
80 my proposal.
I walked the floor, turning the thing over in my mind, and finally
it occurred to me that Gatling guns8 at fifteen paces would be a likely
way to get a verdict on the field of honor. So I framed this idea into a
proposition.
85 But it was not accepted. The code was in the way again. I pro-
posed rifles, then double-barreled shotguns, then, Colt’s navy revolv-
ers. These being all rejected, I reflected awhile, and sarcastically sug-
gested brickbats at three quarters of a mile. I always hate to fool away
a humorous thing on a person who has no perception of humor; and it
90 filled me with bitterness when this man went soberly away to submit
the last proposition to his principal.
He came back presently and said his principal was charmed with the
idea of brickbats at three quarters of a mile, but must decline on account
of the danger to disinterested parties passing between. Then I said:
95 “Well, I am at the end of my string, now. Perhaps you would be
good enough to suggest a weapon? Perhaps you have even had one in
your mind all the time?”
- 119 - Read. Think. Talk.
His countenance brightened and he said with alacrity:
“Oh, without doubt, monsieur!” So he fell to hunting in his pockets –
100 pocket after pocket, and he had plenty of them – muttering all the
while, “Now, what could I have done with them?”
At last he was successful. He fished out of his vest pocket a couple
of little things which I carried to the light and ascertained to be pistols.
They were single-barreled and silver-mounted, and very dainty and
105 pretty. I was not able to speak for emotion. I silently hung one of them
on my watch chain, and returned the other. My companion in crime
now unrolled a postage stamp containing several cartridges, and gave
me one of them. I asked if he meant to signify by this that our men
were to be allowed but one shot apiece. He replied that the French
110 code permitted no more. I then begged him to go on and suggest a dis-
tance, for my mind was growing weak and confused under the strain
which had been put upon it. He named sixty-five yards. I nearly lost
my patience. I said:
“Sixty-five yards, with these instruments? Squirt guns9 would be
115 deadlier at fifty. Consider, my friend, you and I are banded together to
destroy life, not make it eternal.”
But with all my persuasions, all my arguments, I was only able to
get him to reduce the distance to thirty-five yards; and even this con-
cession he made with reluctance, and said with a sigh:
120 “I wash my hands of this slaughter; on your head be it.”
There was nothing for me but to go home to my old Lionheart and
tell my humiliating story. When I entered, M. Gambetta sprang toward
me, exclaiming:
“You have made the fatal arrangements – I see it in your eye!”
125 “I have.”
His face paled a trifle, and he leaned upon the table for support. He
breathed thick and heavily for a moment or two, so tumultuous were
his feelings; then he hoarsely whispered:
“The weapon, the weapon! Quick! What is the weapon?”
130 “This!” and I displayed that silver-mounted thing. He cast but one
glance at it, then swooned ponderously to the floor. When he came to,
he said mournfully:
“The unnatural calm to which I have subjected myself has told
upon my nerves. But away with weakness! I will confront my fate like
135 a man and a Frenchman.”
Read. Think. Talk. - 120 -
Then he said, in his deep bass tones:
“Behold, I am calm, I am ready; reveal to me the distance.”
“Thirty-five yards…”
I could not lift him up, but I rolled him over and poured water down
140 his back. He presently came to. He now sank into a sort of stupor of re-
flection, which lasted some minutes; after which he broke silence with:
“The hour – what is the hour fixed for the collision?”
“Dawn, tomorrow.”
He seemed greatly surprised, and immediately said:
145 “Insanity! I never heard of such a thing. Nobody is abroad at such
an hour.”
“That is the reason I named it. Do you mean to say you want an
audience?”
“It is no time to bandy words. I am astonished that M. Fourtou
150 should ever have agreed to so strange an innovation. Go at once and
require a later hour.”
I ran downstairs, threw open the front door, and almost plunged
into the arms of M. Fourtou’s second. He said:
“I have the honor to say that my principal strenuously objects to
155 the hour chosen, and begs you will consent to change it to half past
nine.”
“Any courtesy, sir, which it is in our power to extend, is at the ser-
vice of your excellent principal. We agree to the proposed change of
time.”
160 My accomplice continued:
“If agreeable to you, your chief surgeons and ours shall proceed to
the field in the same carriage, as is customary.”
“It is entirely agreeable to me, and I am obliged to you for mention-
ing the surgeons, for I am afraid I should not have thought of them.
165 How many shall I want? I suppose two or three will be enough?”
“Two is the customary number for each party. I refer to ‘chief sur-
geons; but considering the exalted positions occupied by our clients,
it will be well and decorous that each of us appoint several consulting
surgeons, from among the highest in the profession. These will come
170 in their own private carriages. Have you engaged a hearse?”
“Bless my stupidity, I never thought of it! I will attend to it right
away. I must seem very ignorant to you; but you must try to overlook
that, because I have never had any experience of such a swell duel
- 121 - Read. Think. Talk.
as this before. I have had a good deal to do with duels on the Pacific
175 coast, but I see now that they were crude affairs. Have you anything
further to suggest?”
“Nothing, except that the head undertakers shall ride together, as is
usual. The subordinates and ‘ mutes10 will go on foot, as is also usual.
I will see you at eight o’clock in the morning, and we will then arrange
180 the order of the procession. I have the honor to bid you a good day.”
I returned to my client, who said, “Very well; at what hour is the
engagement to begin?”
“Half past nine.”
“Very good indeed. Have you sent the fact to the newspapers?”
185 “Sir! If after our long and intimate friendship you can for a moment
deem me capable of so base a treachery … “
“Tut, tut! What words are these, my dear friend? Have I wounded
you? Ah, forgive me; I am overloading you with labor. Therefore go
on with the other details, and drop this one from your list. I myself –
190 yes, to make certain, I will drop a note to my journalistic friend, M.
Noir.”
“Oh, come to think of it, you may save yourself the trouble; that
other second has informed M. Noir.”
“H’m! I might have known it. It is just like that Fourtou, who al-
195 ways wants to make a display.”
At half past nine in the morning the procession approached the field
of Plessis-Piquet in the following order: first came our carriage – no-
body in it but M. Gambetta and myself; then a carriage containing M.
Fourtou and his second; then a carriage containing two poet-orators,
200 and these had MS11 funeral orations projecting from their breast pock-
ets; then a carriage containing the head surgeons and their cases of in-
struments; then eight private carriages containing consulting surgeons;
then a hack containing a coroner; then the two hearses; then a carriage
containing the head undertakers; then a train of assistants and mutes
205 on foot; and after these came plodding through the fog a long proces-
sion of camp followers, police, and citizens generally. It was a noble
turnout, and would have made a fine display if we had had thinner
weather.
There was no conversation. I spoke several times to my principal,
210 but I judge he was not aware of it, for he always referred to his note-
book and muttered absently, “I die that France may live.”
Read. Think. Talk. - 122 -
Arrived on the field, my fellow second and I paced off the thirty-
five yards, and then drew lots for choice of position. This latter was
but an ornamental ceremony, for all the choices were alike in such
215 weather. These preliminaries being ended, I went to my principal and
asked him if he was ready. He spread himself out to his full width, and
said in a stern voice, “Ready! Let the batteries be charged.”
The loading was done in the presence of duly constituted witnesses.
We considered it best to perform this delicate service with the assis-
220 tance of a lantern, on account of the state of the weather. We now
placed our men.
The weather growing still more opaque, it was agreed between my-
self and the other second that before giving the fatal signal we should
each deliver a loud whoop to enable the combatants to ascertain each
225 other’s whereabouts.
I now returned to my principal, and was distressed to observe that
he had lost a good deal of his spirit. I tried my best to hearten him. I
said, “Indeed, sir, things are not as bad as they seem. Considering the
character of the weapons, the limited number of shots allowed, the
230 generous distance, the impenetrable solidity of the fog, and the added
fact that one of the combatants is one-eyed and the other cross-eyed
and nearsighted, it seems to me that this conflict need not necessarily
be fatal. There are chances that both of you may survive. Therefore,
cheer up; do not be downhearted.”
235 This speech had so good an effect that my principal immediately
stretched forth his hand and said, “I am myself again; give me the
weapon.”
I laid it, all lonely and forlorn, in the center of the vast solitude of
his palm. He gazed at it and shuddered. And still mournfully contem-
240 plating it, he murmured, in a broken voice:
“Alas, it is not death I dread, but mutilation.”
I heartened him once more, and with such success that he presently
said, “Let the tragedy begin. Stand at my back; do not desert me in this
solemn hour, my friend.”
245 I gave him my promise. I now assisted him to point his pistol toward
the spot where I judged his adversary to be standing, and cautioned
him to listen well and further guide himself by my fellow second’s
whoop. Then I propped myself against M. Gambetta’s back, and raised

- 123 - Read. Think. Talk.


a rousing “Whoop-ee!” This was answered from out the far distances
250 of the fog, and I immediately shouted: “One - two - three - fire!”
Two little sounds like spit! spit! broke upon my ear, and in the same
instant I was crashed to the earth under a mountain of flesh. Bruised as
I was, I was still able to catch a faint accent from above:
“I die . . . for . . . perdition take it12, what is it I die for? ... Oh, yes –
255 FRANCE! I die that France may live!”
The surgeons swarmed around with their probes in their hands, and
applied their microscopes to the whole area of M. Gambetta’s person,
with the happy result of finding nothing in the nature of a wound.
The two gladiators fell upon each other’s necks, with floods of
260 proud and happy tears; that other second they embraced me; the sur-
geons, the orators, the undertakers, the police, everybody embraced,
everybody congratulated, everybody cried, and the whole atmosphere
was filled with praise and with joy unspeakable.
It seemed to me then that I would rather be a hero of a French duel
265 than a crowned and sceptered monarch.
When the commotion had somewhat subsided, the body of sur-
geons held a consultation, and after a good deal of debate decided that
with proper care and nursing there was reason to believe that I would
survive my injuries. My internal hurts were deemed the most serious,
270 since it was apparent that a broken rib had penetrated my left lung,
and that many of my organs had been pressed out so far to one side or
the other of where they belonged, that it was doubtful if they would
ever learn to perform their functions in such remote and unaccustomed
localities. They then set my left arm in two places, pulled my right hip
275 into its socket again, and re-elevated my nose. I was an object of great
interest, and even admiration; and many sincere and warm-hearted
persons had themselves introduced to me, and said they were proud to
know the only man who had been hurt in a French duel in forty years.
I was placed in an ambulance at the very head of the procession;
280 and thus with gratifying eclat13 I was marched into Paris, the most con-
spicuous figure in that great spectacle, and deposited at the hospital.
The cross of the Legion of Honor14 has been conferred upon me.
Such is the true version of the most memorable private conflict of
the age.
Read. Think. Talk. - 124 -
285 I have no complaints to make against anyone. I acted for myself,
and I can stand the consequences. Without boasting, I think I may say I
am not afraid to stand before a modern French duelist, but as long as I
keep in my right mind I will never consent to stand behind one again.

NOTES
M. Paul de Cassagnac, M. Gambetta and M. Fourtou1 – French public figures
and politicians of the time (‘M.’ before the names here is an abbreviation of the for-
mal prefix ‘Monsieur’, pronounced [mə ‘sjə:], the same as ‘Mr.’ in Britain and US)
The French Assembly – the chamber in the French Parliament, similar to the Brit-
ish House of Commons
obloquy – disgrace, shame
principal – here, the combatant in a duel. The principal’s aid or assistant is known
as his second
consumptive – a person who suffers from consumption, i.e. tuberculosis of the
lungs
antemortem (or ante mortem) (Lat.) – made before death
obituary – a published announcement of death, often accompanied by a short
biography of the deceased
Gatling gun – an early kind of machine gun
squirt gun – water pistol
mutes – mourners hired by the undertaker
MS – manuscript
Perdition take it! = To hell with it!
eclat (Fr.) – show, brilliance
The cross if the Legion of Honour – an order for civil or military merit instituted
by Napoleon I France in 1802

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Answer the questions:


1. What reasons does Mark Twain give when stating that duel is very
dangerous for health?
2. According to the author, what do all the inveterate duelists usually
suffer from?
3. In what capacity did M. Gambetta want Mark Twain to act at the
duel?

- 125 - Read. Think. Talk.


4. What were Mark Twain’s requirements when he accepted M. Gam-
betta’s request?
5. What duties did the second usually carry out before the duel?
6. Why did Mark Twain object to the first draft of M. Gambetta’s “last
words”?
7. What weapon did M. Twain propose and on what account was it re-
jected?
8. What other weapons were successively proposed by Mark Twain?
What is serious in proposing his last weapon?
9. What reasons were given by the opposite side against the last weapon
proposed by Mark Twain?
10. Whose proposal did they finally agree to, and what was Mark Twain’s
reaction when he saw the weapon?
11. Did they find the compromise with each other over the distance and
the hour of the duel?
12. What was the order according to which the people participated in
the procession?
13. Why did so many spectators gather around the duel?
14. What were the seconds’ actions during the duel?
15. How did the duel end for the combatants?
16. What were the consequences of the duel for Mark Twain?
17. Why did Mark Twain become an object of great interest and admira-
tion?
2. Say whether these statements are true or false:
1. As soon as Mark Twain heard of the fiery outbreak between M. Gam-
betta and M. Fourtou, he went at once to M. Gambetta in an attempt to
reconcile them.
2. M. Gambetta’s proportions were slight and he was not vengeful by
nature.
3. M. Gambetta took the choice of weapon into his hands.
4. Mark Twain hated to play jokes on those who had no perception of
humour.
5. The idea of using brickbats as a weapon was rejected on account of
the danger to possible passers-by.
6. Mark Twain became speechless when he saw the pistols.
7. M. Gambetta accepted the agreed weapon with calmness and courage.
8. The combatants had a long argument over the hour of the duel.
Read. Think. Talk. - 126 -
9. Mark Twain had had a lot of experience with duels before.
10. The combatants were allowed two shots each.
11. The weather was fine when the procession headed for the place of
the duel, and as the day wore on, it was getting better and better.
12. Both combatants were in perfect physical form and faced the duel
with readiness.
13. One of the combatants was seriously wounded.

DISCUSSION
1. Mark Twain wrote the story in the form of informal essay. The first
sentence of the essay leads the reader to think that Mark Twain will treat
the subject of dueling in a serious way. How does the author comically
deflate this idea in the rest of the first paragraph?
2. What does Mark Twain show about the motives for dueling through
the behavior of M. Gambetta? What does Twain find comical in M. Gam-
betta’s discussion of his “obituary,” “I die that France may live”?
3. What elements of exaggeration and ridicule does Mark Twain intro-
duce in the discussion of weapons?
4. Mark Twain says: “I always hate to fool away a humorous thing on a
person who has no sense of humor.” What does this statement reveal about
Twain’s attitude toward dueling?
5. What does Mark Twain find comical about the procession to the duel,
as well as the duel itself? Events are ironic when their outcome is different
from what is expected. What is ironic about the way the duel ends?
6. Satire seeks to correct or change a way of acting or thinking through
exaggeration and ridicule. Bui it is not only dueling that Mark Twain is
satirizing. In what way are his other targets aimed at general human at-
titudes or traits, even professions?
7. An informal essay often reveals aspects of the author’s personality.
What personal qualities does Mark Twain reveal in this essay? What would
you say is his feeling about pompous behavior and pretentiousness?

LANGUAGE FOCUS

1. Find in the text and translate the sentences with the


following phrases and word combinations:
1. to moderate the talk
2. to halt every little while
- 127 - Read. Think. Talk.
3. to throw one’s arms around smb’s neck
4. to shield smb from obloquy
5. to account for the fact that
6. on account of
7. to stick to one’s point
8. to make a blunder
9. to wrangle over smth
10. to be in the way
11. to say (speak, talk) with alacrity
12. to tell upon (one’s nerves)
13. to bandy words
14. the choices were alike
15. to ascertain whereabouts
16. to be downhearted
17. to hearten smb
18. to swarm around
19. to find nothing in the nature of
20. to stand the consequences
2. Translate the following sentences into English using the
phrases and word combinations from above:
1. Он решил уехать на время, чтобы защитить их отношения от
злословья и умерить толки. 2. Собака время от времени останавливалась
и поджидала хозяина. 3. Её бледность объяснялась тем, что она не спала
всю ночь. 4. Джун была упряма и всегда настаивала на своём. 5. Давай
не будем пререкаться о том, кому мыть посуду. 6. Мы не нашли ничего
похожего на уютный маленький коттедж, о котором мечтали. 7. Сын
выглядел подавленным, и, чтобы подбодрить его, отец взял его с собой
в поездку. 8. Дети столпились вокруг Деда Мороза, ожидая подарков.
9. Увидев мужа, она хотела броситься ему на шею, но застеснялась
стоявших на перроне людей. 10. По причине ненастья поездку решили
отложить. 11. Он сделал большую ошибку, когда громко сказал, что
вечеринка не удалась. 12. Казалось, всё шло хорошо, но помешала его
вечная забывчивость. 13. Она с готовностью сказала, что принимает его
предложение. 14. Переутомление на работе сказалось на её здоровье.
15. Наши шансы получить вакансию были равны. 16. Командир
приказал подтвердить наше местонахождение радиограммой. 17. В
Британии, если премьер-министр принимает непопулярные меры, то
весь кабинет должен отвечать за последствия.
Read. Think. Talk. - 128 -
3. a) Match the adjectives in A with the nouns in B to form
collocations and translate them:
1. Health-giving a) localities
2. Fiery b) treachery
3. Implacable c) solidity
4. The remotest d) turnout
5. Profound e) recreation
6. Lingering f) nature
7. Inevitable g) calm
8. Single-barrelled h) result
9. Humiliating i) death
10. Tumultuous j) frontiers
11. Fatal k) outbreak
12. Crude l) figure
13. Noble m) pistol
14. Ornamental n) feelings
15. Impenetrable o) friendship
16. Internal p) arrangements
17. Unaccustomed q) affairs
18. Conspicuous r) ceremony
19. Intimate s) hurts
20. Base t) story

b) Choose 5 collocations and make up your own sentences


with them.

ACTIVITIES

1. Explain the following:


• I’ve spoke jestingly;
• His countenance brightened;
- 129 - Read. Think. Talk.
• He presently came to;
• Nobody is abroad at such an hour;
• A man in his right mind;
• Exigencies of the field of honour;
• Antemortem outbursts;
• To get a verdict on the field of honour;
• My companion in crime;
• I will confront my fate;
• He always wants to make a display.
2. Conversational English:

a) Study the following phrases:


• That’s about the size of it – так я примерно и думал
• I had him here – я его подловил
• I am at the end of my string! – Моё терпение на пределе!
• Bless my stupidity! – Какой же я глупец!
• I never thought of this! – Никогда бы не подумал!
• Come to think of it… – если на то пошло...
• I’m myself again – я снова в форме
• What a base treachery! – Какое низкое коварство!
b) Make up dialogues using as many phrases as you can.

V. STYLISTIC ANALYSIS

1. Name SD contained in these sentences. Please note that


one sentence may contain more than one SD:
1. Vast as are his physical proportions…
2. I knew that the thirst for revenge would penetrate to the remotest
frontiers of his person.
3. I said I had never heard of a man in his right mind going out to fight
a duel without first making his will. He said he had never heard of a man in
his right mind doing anything of the kind.
4. “I die for my God, for my country, for freedom of speech, for prog-
ress, and the universal brotherhood of man!”
5. “I DIE THAT FRANCE MAY LIVE!”

Read. Think. Talk. - 130 -


6. – “Well, for instance, what would it be?
– “Bloodshed!”
7. So he fell to hunting in his pockets - pocket after pocket, and he had
plenty of them – muttering all the while, “Now, what could I have done
with them?” At last he was successful.
8. Squirt guns9 would be deadlier at fifty.
9. Consider, my friend, you and I are banded together to destroy life,
not make it eternal.
10. “I wash my hands of this slaughter; on your head be it.”
11. There was nothing for me but to go home to my old Lionheart.
12. But away with weakness!
13. “Behold, I am calm, I am ready; reveal to me the distance.”
14. The head undertakers shall ride together, as is usual. The subordi-
nates and ‘ mutes10 will go on foot, as is also usual.
15. “Tut, tut! What words are these, my dear friend?
16. I laid it, all lonely and forlorn, in the center of the vast solitude of
his palm.
17. “Alas, it is not death I dread, but mutilation.”
18. Two little sounds like spit! spit! broke upon my ear.
19. I was crashed to the earth under a mountain of flesh.
20. Bruised as I was, I was still able to catch a faint accent from
above…
21. The surgeons, the orators, the undertakers, the police, everybody
embraced, everybody congratulated, everybody cried.
22. And the whole atmosphere was filled with praise and with joy un-
speakable.
23. It seemed to me then that I would rather be a hero of a French duel
than a crowned and sceptered monarch.
24. My organs had been pressed out so far to one side or the other of
where they belonged, that it was doubtful if they would ever learn to per-
form their functions in such remote and unaccustomed localities.
25. I am not afraid to stand before a modern French duelist, but as long
as I keep in my right mind I will never consent to stand behind one again.
2. Understanding the author’s language and style,
recognizing satirical language:
Successful writing depends on the choice of the right words, strategi-
cally placed in the sentence and paragraph. Twain, for example, saves the
- 131 - Read. Think. Talk.
clinching comic phrase for the end of the sentence: “Since it is always
fought in the open air, the combatants are nearly sure to catch cold.”
• Compare Twain’s sentence with this revision of it: the combatants are
nearly sure to catch cold since it is always fought in the open air. The hu-
mor has been deflated: the “punch” of the original sentence is gone.
• Find other examples in the essay of this strategic use of the end of the
sentence.
• What makes the language of M. Gambetta pompous? What would be
equivalent words and expressions of people entering a fight today?
• Mark Twain says that he had “never had any experience of such a
swell duel as this before.” Use your dictionary to determine the meaning of
swell. What strikes you as unusual in this word combination?
• Given the dictionary meaning of gladiators, what is comical about
Twain’s use of this word to describe the duelists?

FURTHER ACTIVITIES

Writing a Humorous Sketch


Write a humorous sketch of an event, imitating a serious account of
it, and deflating the people involved in the event through satirizing their
language.

Robert Frost

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

THE AUTHOR
Frost, Robert Lee (1874-19630) American poet who was much ad-
mired for his depictions of the rural life of New England, his command
of American colloquial speech, and his realistic verse portraying ordinary
people in everyday situations.
He came of a New England family, was brought up on a farm and liked
farming.
Read. Think. Talk. - 132 -
Frost’s verses became part of a great tradition, shaped by the Roman
poet Vergil, of what is called bucolic poetry - poetry about farming. How-
ever, though he used farm situation in much of his poetry, he gave them a
wide application. He might write about stepping on a rake and describe the
feeling when it hit him, but he used the incident to show how life gives us
bruises.
Because Frost wrote so well for so long, it is hard to select poems to
reprint. Here, however, is his favourite among readers, “The Road Not
Taken”.

BEFORE YOU READ

Choices and Decisions


• What kind of choices do you have to make? Write down four choices
that you have made in the last week (e.g.: to go to class or stay at home).
• Now put the four choices in order from most important to least impor-
tant. Compare with a partner. Do you have the same choices?
• Which of the choices was the most difficult to make? Which was the
easiest?
Prediction
• You are going to read a famous American poem about a choice that
somebody had to make. Here are some words from the poem:

WOOD UNDERGROWTH GRASSY TRODDEN WORN DIVERGE


• What do you think the poem will be about?

THE POEM

The Road not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

- 133 - Read. Think. Talk.


Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay


In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

AFTER READING TASKS:

COMPREHENSION CHECK

Answer the questions:


1. What is the setting of the poem?
2. What are the differences between the two roads?
3. Which road did the poet choose eventually?
4. Do you think it was a difficult decision?
5. What kind of doubt did he have?
6. Is the poet happy with his choice?

LANGUAGE FOCUS
1. What words does the author use to avoid repeating “the road”
(e.g. “it”?)
2. The author has made several sentences much shorter and has also
changed the word order in some cases. Can you rewrite the following
in Standard English?
Read. Think. Talk. - 134 -
• The Road not Taken;
• And sorry I could not take both;
• And be one traveller, long I stood;
• Then took the other, as just as fair and having perhaps the better
claim;
• Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted If I should ever come
back.
3. Look at this line from the poem: “Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I – I took the one less travelled by…” Why does the author repeat
the word “I” twice? What effect does it have on the poem?
4. Paraphrase the poem.

DISCUSSION

Discuss these questions with partners or in small groups:


A
1. The poem is set in some woods, but is it any specific place where the
action occurs, or is it, so to speak, the land of “Might Have Been”? Explain
your choice.
2. What human traits are suggested by the first stanza of the poem?
3. What is the theme of the poem?
4. A moral is something you can learn from a story, a poem or an experi-
ence. Does this poem have a moral?
5. What line in the poem suggests that Frost was a non-conformist*?
6. Do you think the line, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way” is
fatalistic in tone? Explain your answer.
Non-conformist* – a person who does not do or believe or act in confor-
mity with generally accepted beliefs and practices
B
1. Do you like the poem? Tell about your personal reaction.
2. Many people in America consider this their favourite poem. Why do
you think so?
3. Think of some major decisions a person makes in his life. Make a list
with a partner.
4. Have you had to make any major decisions? Did you take the road
less travelled by?
5. What choices in your own life have made a difference in the course
it has taken?
- 135 - Read. Think. Talk.
C
1. Do you think that the choices we make in life ultimately turn out to
be the right ones? Explain your reasons in a short speech of one to two
minutes in length.

COMMENT
Poetry is a powerful way of expressing feelings and ideas. Poets use
a variety of devices to convey these feelings and ideas. Poetic devices,
including symbols, prosody and stylistic expressive means are tricks poets
use to make a poem more powerful, and, ultimately, to make it a poem.
Without these devices, poetry is prose. The point of identifying poetic
devices is to determine how they add to the meaning of the poem.
Symbols
“Symbols” and “symbolism” can be interpreted as “hidden meanings”.
In a compressed and sustained way, the poet deliberately uses symbols to
associate things with qualities or ideas that stand for. In other words, he
uses sets of key words that are symbols to build up multiple controlling
ideas and tones in a poem.
1. Read the poem again, noting the key words in the poem, the words
that continuously express and develop the controlling idea of two roads
and the poet’s feeling about them. They include the following:
• two roads
• one bent in the undergrowth
• the other was grassy and wanted wear (i.e. was not very well worn)
• both of them were worn about the same
• both lay in leaves no step had trodden black
• the first (the one that bent) I kept for another day
• way leads on to way
• the one less travelled by I took
• that (i.e. taking the less travelled road) has made all the difference
2. Considering, one at a time, each of these groups of words, ask your-
self what they might stand for.
(E.g., two roads might stand for two choices and be the symbols of
choosing between two ways of life, between two goals. What might under-
growth stand for? Something hard to get through? Etc.)

Read. Think. Talk. - 136 -


Prosody
The art of versification (i.e. composing verse), including the study of
metrical structure, stanza forms, etc. is called “prosody”.
Traditional poems are usually rhymed and rhyming; but they can be writ-
ten also in what is termed as blank verse, when the lines do not rhyme.
The form of Frost’s poem is one of stanzas, each regular in its arrange-
ment of rhythm and rhyme.

Analyse the rhythmical and rhyming arrangements of the


poem:
1. How many lines are there in one stanza?
2. How many syllables are there in each line?
3. What is the rhythmical arrangement of the poem? (I.e. how many
beats are there to a line and what is their sequence? E.g., “The beat comes
on every first / second syllable”.)
4. What is the rhyming arrangement? (Indicate each pair of rhyming
lines with one of the letters, beginning from “A”.)

STYLISTIC ANALYSIS

1. Comment on the contextual meaning of the metaphors “roads” and


“traveller” in the poem and their stylistic function.
2. Speak on the epithets and metaphors used to describe the wood and
the roads.
3. Speak on the SDs employed to characterise the state of the mind of
the poet.
4. Summing up the analysis, say how effectively Frost conveys his un-
derstanding of the dilemma and his message to the people.

- 137 - Read. Think. Talk.


contents

Next Term, We’ll Mash You!


Penelope Lively.............................................................................. 5
The Garden Party
Maeve Binchy ................................................................................ 18
Ricochet
Angela Noel ................................................................................... 34
Mabel
Somerset Maugham........................................................................ 45
The Case for the Defence
Graham Greene.............................................................................. 58
The Open Window
Saki . .............................................................................................. 71
A Shocking Accident
Graham Green . ............................................................................. 83
In Another Country
Ernest Hemingway.......................................................................... 92
I’m Going to Asia
John Cheever . ............................................................................... 105
The Great French Duel
Mark Twain ................................................................................... 116
The Roads not Taken
Robert Frost .................................................................................. 132

Read. Think. Talk. - 138 -


NOTES

- 139 - Read. Think. Talk.


Жувикина Н.Н., Новикова Е.Ю., Феоктистова И.В.

ENGLISH STORIES
READ, THINK, TALK

Учебное пособие
St. Petersburg
2011

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Read. Think. Talk. - 140 -