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


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Language level

Average: 4 (148 votes)

Submitted by betelf on Tue, 24/10/2023 - 11:24


I think Mr. Carter brought his son to the farm to allow him to settle down in a natural environment with animals. This way, he can reflect on and potentially address any behavioral issues.

Submitted by esranabawy97 on Fri, 15/09/2023 - 20:47


I think, to keep him away from the trouble that his son made .

Submitted by Alena1408 on Thu, 17/08/2023 - 16:16


Maybe he thought, that living at the farm would help his son to improve, realise his mistakes. But I don`t really think it would help

Submitted by Kat.kk on Wed, 16/08/2023 - 23:08


Mr Carter brought his son to the farm because he was worried and tried to figure out how to help him. In my opinion, Mr Carter thought that spending time with his son and change of the environment could be beneficial for the boy.

Submitted by mvccortez on Tue, 01/08/2023 - 12:24


I'm not sure if the text could give the correct answer to this question. I believe Mr. Carter would like to teach something to your son because he’d have trouble in school, or it might be that Mr. Carter built his life working hard and his son doesn’t care about his father's life.

Submitted by melissamel on Thu, 29/06/2023 - 15:52


Probably because his son was acting bad but I think that Mr Carter is kinda of a bad father too, leaving his son there for a random man to take care of is not a good decision. Poor Sam too, it´s not his responsability.

Submitted by SRKSNO01H46A390I on Tue, 27/06/2023 - 22:48


I think Mr. Carter has brought his son to the farm because he is rebellious, so he wants his son to be more responsible and make him understand that life is not easy and equal for everyone

Submitted by Nikita2002 on Tue, 16/05/2023 - 13:52


It says Mr Carter was nervous. I can see some evidence of him being nervous. Dry mouth, licking his lips, clearing his throat. It could be something to do with Mr Carter picking up Sam's mail as he didn't look at him upon receiving the letters. What was in the letters? Did Mr Carter get nervous about something that was in Sam's mail? Was it his attempt at laughing that came out like a bark? Whatever the reason.... we inferred the bark was anger and not nervousness as Mr Carter had more to be angry about as he didn't want to be on the farm and was probably angry with his son, so had to come to the farm to punish him. Could you tell us why Mr Carter was so nervous of Sam, please?

Hi Nikita2002,

I don't think the story gives a clear answer to that. It could well be for one of the reasons that you suggested!

As this is a short story, perhaps the writer wants to make us (the readers) imagine possible and interesting answers to questions like these.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by jmajo on Fri, 14/04/2023 - 14:40


I think that the work and the way of life in a farm it’s not for everyone, altought it might be good for a problematic teenage or for a teenage who has some behavioural problems at school, taking him to a farm and leaving him there for a while it won’t be the best solution, maybe if the father spend time with him in the farm and teaches him how to behave and do some fisical work with him it could be good.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!