A short story extract

A short story extract

Read a section from a short story to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.


Reading text

Sam squinted against the sun at the distant dust trail raked up by the car on its way up to the Big House. The horses kicked and flicked their tails at flies, not caring about their owner's first visit in ten months. Sam waited. Mr Carter didn't come out here unless he had to, which was just fine by Sam. The more he kept out of his boss's way, the longer he'd have a job.

Carter came by later while Sam was chopping wood. Carter lifted his hat as if he were waiting for an appointment with the town priest, and then removed it completely as if he were talking to his mother. He pulled out a pile of paper from his back pocket and held it out.

'Don't pick up your mail often, do you?'

Sam took it without a glance and dropped the envelopes onto the bench.

'Never,' he replied and waited for Carter to say why he was here. The fact it was Carter's house was no explanation and they both knew it. Carter twisted his hat round and round, licking his lips and clearing his throat.

'Nice work fixing those fences,' he said finally.

'I'll be back to the beginning soon,' Sam said. It wasn't a complaint. A fence that took a year to repair meant another year's work to the man who did it well.

'Don't you ever want to take a holiday?'

'And go where?' A holiday meant being back out in the real world, a place even people like Carter travelled to escape from. Sam's escape was his reality and he wasn't going back.

Mr Carter wiped the sweat from the back of his neck. The damp patches on his shirt drew together like shapes in an atlas. His skin was already turning ruddy in the June sun. Otherwise he had the indoor tan of a man that made money while other people did the work.

'I've brought my son with me on this trip. He's had some trouble at school.' Mr Carter's eyes flicked up, blinked rapidly and then shifted back to the hat occupying his hands. 'Not much trouble out here for a young boy.' He attempted a laugh but it came out like a dog's bark.

The two men looked towards the northern end of the property. It stretched as far as the eye could see. Even the fences were barely visible from where they stood. However bored and rebellious a teenage boy might get, it wasn't possible to escape on foot. Sam looked at the biggest of the horses, kicking at the ground with its heavy hooves. Could the boy ride? he wondered. There was a whole load of trouble a good rider could get into out here, miles away from anyone. But maybe there was even more trouble for someone who knew nothing about horses and wanted to get away from his father.

Task 1

Task 2


Worksheet84.91 KB

Language level

Average: 4 (148 votes)

Hello Min Htet Kaung Aung,

In this case, 'out here' means 'here on the ranch' or 'here in the country' or something like that. Sam is referring to the fact that Mr Carter's son will be in an environment that is very different from one that he is used to -- it doesn't specify where he normally lives, but I think it's safe to assume that it's a city rather than the country.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fernando Daniel on Mon, 22/06/2020 - 17:01

I think Mr. Carter has brought his son to the farm because the kid needs to be out of trouble for a while. Away from the place where he could generate them. That's why Mr. Carter says 'Not much trouble out here for a young boy'. It seems like the boy was a little restless...

Submitted by Marcos Alexand… on Thu, 18/06/2020 - 00:58

Good Lesson.

Submitted by Suprabha R on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 11:46

Its overall good, but little confusing but, can be done easily. to sum it all. the sam is worker in a farm who likes to hardwork , stays in farm without travelling the world. Carter is rich, owns a farm doesnt come often to the farm also he likes to travel to escape if required. Carter's son is big time trouble doesnt know how to ride the horse might mess everything at the end.

Submitted by Honey on Wed, 10/06/2020 - 20:14

Sam is a good farm worker, he had finished fixing those fences, something that the owner wasn't expecting. That day was a sunny day, when suddenly his boss cames with his son, because he's had some trouble at school, so Mr Carter has brought his son with he on that trip. The owner had a long time didn't go to the farm, ten months exactly Sam thought. I think that Sam is happy in that place, don't need any holiday, because he don´t know where to go, and what better place than the farm what makes he fell peace. Sam's so careless he didn't care about his mail. Sam's boss praised him because he finished a hard job that would take longer for someone else. Sam's could perceive that Mr Carter' son was bored in the farm and are a rebellious teenage boy. Then Mr Carter asked if his son could ride, but that was impossible because her son has no experience about horses. End of the story.

Submitted by Aakash Jain on Wed, 10/06/2020 - 03:40

I think that his son has done something really wrong in his school and as we know it usually happens that when you do something wrong (something big), your parents either try to protect you from it by helping you to escape or they want you to learn a lesson. Thus in this case, both possibilities are there. Either Mr. Carter is helping his son to escape or he wants his son to learn a lesson while being in the farm with Sam.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 18:30

I think Mr Carter had brought his son with him because he had some trouble in school and for his son to have a trouble-free experience or moment.

Submitted by Muhammad Bagir on Fri, 22/05/2020 - 04:20

i get a big zero on understanding this text
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 14:32

Because the farm is a perfect place to learn life,