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 (141 votes)

Submitted by thuy pham on Mon, 29/11/2021 - 05:55


In my opinion, Carter wants to his son have a holiday in the farm, because he want his son stay away from school where maybe his son makes a lot of trouble. Farm is a ideal place where is quite remote, uncrowded. Cater thinks his son can not be able make any trouble here.

Submitted by vishnu_saddikuti on Mon, 08/11/2021 - 03:48


In task2, question 6, I feel there's no clear cut answer for that. According to the passage, Mr Carter brought his son to the farm along with him as he had had some trouble in school. But this need not be the primary reason for Mr Carter to come to his house.

Hello vishnu_saddikuti,

This is certainly a question which requires some interpretation of the text as the answer is not spelled out explicitly. However, of the four options I think this is clearly the most likely choice. I think Carter's final comment ("Not much trouble out here for a young boy") is very telling as it informs us not only what the son's situation is but also how Carter sees the farm.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Allyana Woon on Tue, 26/10/2021 - 01:46


In my opinion, Mr Carter bring his son to the farm to let him know that life isn't easy when you grow up and can let his son have a tough experience at the farm.

Submitted by AHMED-star on Mon, 25/10/2021 - 08:35


in my opinion he brough his son to the farm to learn him life its difficult and you should work and struggle to could live.

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Sat, 23/10/2021 - 23:49


I think that Mr Carter has brought his son to the farm as he's had some trouble at school.

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Submitted by FrancktheDodger on Mon, 23/08/2021 - 19:46

Probably, Mr Carter has decided to get in touch with his son, in a neutral space for both. So, his family farm may be an ideal place to get know each other, not only as father-and-son relationship, but as human beings. Often, men believe that there is a special link that connects the male portion of a family and it is a natural, instinctive relationship that needs to be mend only among familiar individuals of the same sex. Fathers of some generations ago in facts believed that living adventures in a rustic, tough countryside, completely in contact with nature and her hard rules, was a key to conquest that male complicity, unfortunately faded away during the years. So, I figure that Mr Carter is a business man of that generation, who does not know what to do with a problematic teenager and hope to find out that feeling of trust they have lost long time before. In the farm, without any distraction and excuse, he hopes to reconquest his son, getting know each other better.

Submitted by Mikhail1988 on Sun, 07/03/2021 - 13:14

I think mr Carter wants to teach his son to love work. Thanks to my grandparents for that. I worked at the village during all my childhood. I didn't like it. But know it really helps me to achive my goals.