A short story extract

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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.

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Discussion

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Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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Because the farm is a perfect place to learn life,

Submitted by Janiere on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 01:38

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I think Mr Carter has brought his son to the farm, because the boy may have done something wrong in the their city and his father took him out to protect him.

Submitted by wally on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 01:58

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"Sam's escape was his reality and he wasn't going back." In the above sentence, did it mean Sam escaped from his reality, or Sam escaped to his reality? And I hardly understood why Mr. Carter felt nervous while talking to Sam:^( Also, I thought Mr. Carter was rich and had tanned skin because the text mentioned June sun or indoor tan while it implied his wealth in some parts.

Hello wally,

It's not made explicit in the extract, but the implication is that Sam has escaped from something - possibly prison - and is now working on Mr. Carter's land. It could be something else, such as an escape from an unhappy life of some sort, but I think we are meant to understand that Sam has a dark past of some kind.

 

Mr. Carter is nervous, I think, because Sam is quite an imposing character. He is quiet and reclusive, and he does not try to be open or friendly. I think Mr. Carter is not sure how to speak to him, and is not comfortable with someone who does not participate in the conversation willingly.

 

'Indoor tan' is meant to be ironic. It means that Mr. Carter is pale because he spends his time inside while others work outdoors for him. His skin is described as ruddy, which means red, because he isn't used to being in the sun.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nour92 on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 15:43

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I think Mr.cater want to teach his son a lesson by making him work hard on the farm with sam

Submitted by Rachelle Underwood on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 19:13

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is there an actual title to this short story extract? or is it just called 'A short story Extract"

Hello Rachelle Underwood

I'm afraid I don't have that information. Sorry!

Best wishes

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ali Alsari on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 14:34

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Carter twisted his hat round and round, licking his lips and clearing his throat What this meaning

Hello Ali Alsari,

The sentence describes Carter's actions. He has the hat in his hands and is turning it around, perhaps because he is nervous. He licks his lips because they are dry - another sign of nervousness. Finally, he clears his throat as a way of getting attention before speaking.


Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jazmin marquez on Sat, 11/04/2020 - 14:35

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First, I thought that Mr. Carter had brought his son to the farm to teach him a lesson, because life in the country is very difficult and perhaps this would help the young man to be a better person. But, after thinking it over, I belive that Mr. Carter wants to hide and protect his son for something very bad he did.

Submitted by shahhoseini on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 16:59

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This reading text was very difficult for me. I have to make more effort!
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Sat, 07/03/2020 - 06:18

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Love this kind of writing with an appropriate length to run through. Hope to read further. ;) By the way, can anyone tell me the meaning of “like shapes in an atlas”?

Hello Smiley1,

Like shapes in an atlas tells us that the damp patches on the man's shirt reminded the speaker of the shapes of countries or continents on a map.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by alsayed on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 18:41

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The more he kept out of his boss's way, the longer he'd have a job. This style of word order ,what is called ?

Hello alsayed,

The structure has no name that I'm aware of. It's generally referred to as a 'the... the... structure', with an example to clarify.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I think it's a structure using The+ 2nd degree adjective Eg, in here,more and longer. I suppose you will get more clear if I come up with examples. The longer I stay in the sun, the darker my skin turns. The brighter the sun, the hotter the day. The more books I read, the broader knowledge I get. I am not good at writing or vocabulary or collocates, so sorry If I wrote things wrong.

Submitted by alsayed on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 18:31

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The reason behind Mr Carter has taken his son to his farm ,I think his son has made serious problem ..accordingly, his father wanted him to stay a while in the farm until every thing be ok . If we want to make a kind of psychological analysis relating to Carter's son .He may have mental desaise ,he is rebellious ,bored and he hates his father so much that Sam was afraid he wants to escape from his father .

Submitted by kawa on Sun, 16/02/2020 - 09:58

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it is a little bit hard to figure out the real purpose of Mr. Carter in bringing his son to the farm; however, one may only conjecture and say that the son seems to have no fruitful future at school, and thus Sam can teach him many things in the farm. Consequently, he will take responsibility for the farm one day.

Submitted by armando on Wed, 12/02/2020 - 07:28

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I think Mr Carter's takes his son to the Farm because Sam can make him works, this young boy can get disciplined with work, Sam is a tough person with strong character thats why Mr Carter have confidence on him.

Submitted by DOUDOU on Sun, 02/02/2020 - 21:15

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I think that mr Carter has brought his son to the farm because he thinks that Sam could help his child. Maybe Sam is a dropout and he can show the cons of not doing well at school to mr Carter's son and guide him to a better future .

Submitted by DOUDOU on Fri, 31/01/2020 - 15:21

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what does "he had the indoor tan of" means ? thank you for helping .

Hello DOUDOU,

The phrase 'indoor tan' is used ironically. It means Mr Carter does not work outdoors and so is pale. We can see this because the author tells us his skin quickly begins to burn (turning ruddy) in the June sun.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Oussema3ahmed on Fri, 24/01/2020 - 07:11

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Mr Carter's son had some problems in the school that's why he brings his son to the farmer .

Submitted by Sanja on Thu, 23/01/2020 - 08:12

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Mr. Carter's son has had some problems at school. Maybe he thought that taking boy from his enviroment and company, and leaving him to live on a farm for a while, could be a good way to change his behaviour. Probably he thought that his son would become less rebellious.
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 13:50

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Because he’s had some troubles at school.

Submitted by Crystal-20 on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 02:01

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What does the writer mean by telling “ A fence that took a year to repair meant another year's work to the man who did it well. ” Thanks

Hello Crystal-20,

Sam has spent a year repairing the fences and soon he will be back at the beginning. Once he reaches there, he'll begin to repair them again (as a year will have passed and they'll be in need of more repairs). If it was a smaller fence then he would finish in a short time and then have to do something else or have no work; as this fence takes so long by the time he reaches the end he can start again.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 05:38

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The fact that Mr. Carter owns such wealth implies that his son may have been adopting a glib lifestyle mindset, getting to a point where where has a shallow perspective with regard life, (no wonder he has problems at school) hence, with this he aims to make a shift in his vision by getting him away from the simplicity that a life full of luxuries has plunged him into

Submitted by eriksound on Sat, 30/11/2019 - 08:02

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I think Mr. Carter has brought his son to the farm because his had some trouble at school. He thought that there won't be any trouble if his son stay in he farm.

Submitted by Edna Alejandra on Fri, 29/11/2019 - 21:41

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I think Mr. Carter brought his son to the farm as a way to change the environment. Perhaps farm activities would make Mr. Carter's son feel better. Away from the problems.

Submitted by Anaihram on Fri, 20/09/2019 - 23:52

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I think that Mr. Carter’s son is a boy that has a lot of money, but he lacks from warmth. He needs that his father takes care about his feelings and wishes in life. Maybe the change of environment could help, but the most important thing is the good relationship the kid would have with his father and adult people. Sam thinks the boy could be a problem, and he didn’t think in which way he could help to his employer.

Submitted by andre.geebelen on Wed, 04/09/2019 - 10:17

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I think Mr Carter brought his son to the farm to rebuild a new future. Perhaps a gap year out of the noisy and crowded town. Hard working at the farm and learn to ride on a wild horse could reshape to an excellent person. Rebuilding selfconfidence and taking self-control to take leadership later on in life.

Submitted by om mariam on Sat, 17/08/2019 - 23:52

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I think Mr. Carter failed to deal with his son and instead of solving the problem he try to put the burden on sam’s shoulders.
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Submitted by Cheick Sadibou on Tue, 09/07/2019 - 02:19

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He'd like to punish his son for not working well at school.

Submitted by mehdi_84 on Sat, 06/07/2019 - 03:24

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why is "were" used in seventh sentence? becouse of the "if"?

Hello mehdi_84

Yes, it's because of 'as if'. We use 'as if' (or 'as though') to describe a situation by comparing it to a different situation. Since our comparison talks about something imaginary and not real -- for example, here, Carter is not waiting to speak to a priest or to his mother -- we use a past tense form to show this.

This is explained on our Past tense page and also this one -- where it talks about hypotheses, that's another way of talking about something imaginary. As it explains there in more detail, we use a past simple form to speak of a present or future imaginary event and the past perfect to speak of a past imaginary event. Conditional structures (with 'if') also use these tenses in the same way.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Sai Leng Wan on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 10:13

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These paragraphs are very difficult for me. How can I understand them. Do anyone have suggestions?
Hello Sai Leng Wan We're happy to help you understand specific phrases or sentences if you want to ask about them, but please of course first consult a dictionary to see if that will help, for example the Cambridge Dictionary (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/). Another option would be to choose readings at a different level, for example B1 (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/reading/intermediate-b1-reading). You could also do our level test (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/content) and then search for pages at your level. Please let us know if there's anything else we can do to help you. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sarah-njzh on Sun, 19/05/2019 - 03:27

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maybe Mr Carter want his son to experience something in the farm and realize the real world

Submitted by Escobar on Mon, 13/05/2019 - 23:19

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in order to punish his son

Submitted by Peya on Wed, 10/04/2019 - 20:58

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I think that he brought his son to the farm, so that Sam could help him deal with him, because it seems like he don't really know how to handle him. I think that's why he was a little bit uncomfortable with Sam when he was talking about his son. It's seems like he's rich, so he may be kinda busy and don't really have time to either come to the farm or spend time with his son, and so he don't really know him and don't know how to handle the situation. Therefore, he might have thought that a new environment, far from the trouble of big cities and Sam could help his son

Submitted by beatrizGY on Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:22

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To take him away from his school for a time because he is having problems there.

Submitted by natylesca on Wed, 03/04/2019 - 23:14

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In my opinion, because the son of Mr Carter need to see the real work in the farm and understand the sacrifice of the workers for stop to be lazy in the school.
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Submitted by AL-Mustafa on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 13:54

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As he is not good at school , Mr Carter bring him to the farm so he can try something different and may success on it .

Submitted by dana0109 on Sat, 09/03/2019 - 11:10

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Mr carter wanted his son to be away from his trouble back home. He also thought if he took him to the farm which doesn't have that much around it, the boy maybe wouldnt get into anymore mischeif.