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 (146 votes)
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Hello Jorgelina,

I think the sentence has a quite simple structure but appears complex because it has a very long subject. We can replace the subject with a pronoun to show the sentence structure:

It had no explanation.

In your example, the subject is a long phrase, but otherwise it has the same structure:

The fact that it was Carter's house

The meaning of 'the fact that' is 'this piece of information'.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Emma Jones on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 12:11

Hi, what is the name of this short story? I would like to read the rest :)

Submitted by shawn peter ru… on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 09:05

hi, i can't understanding the concept of reading that related to character i have that problem in SAT too what can i do in that readings ?

Hi shawn peter rual mendes,

I'm not sure what you mean. I understand that you have some problems in reading, but could you be more specific in describing them? What do you mean by 'related to character'?



The LearnEnglish Team

i mean that there are different type of readings for example there is a reading that relates science or there is other reading that related to history or big events of past or a reading that related to characters(people talking with each other) this type of reading such this reading that you place it in this site and it is name A short story extract is related the Conversation of characters and i cant read and understand something about this reading and i need to percive them because there are (characters conversation readings) are in the SAT exam

Hello shawn peter,

I'm afraid we don't provide any materials that are designed to help prepare you for the SAT exam. I'd suggest you do an internet search for something like 'SAT exam preparation' -- I'm sure you can find lots of resources this way. 

I hope this helps you.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Hennadii on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 09:53

It's hard to be sure from this short fragment of a story. But I think he might. From the text above we've already known Mr.Carter is an infrequent guest at his farm. Probably he's rich and has a lot to in the town. But now he has some problems with his son. Maybe the little boy made something bad or stupid at school so his father is forced to make some important decision: where does his son have to grow? In the town with all its seductions or at the farm. Maybe his wife is dead because he seeks Sam's advice. So the little Carter grows without mother. Perhaps that's the reason for this behavior? Who knows? It's not an easy move for Mr.Carter. Of course, on the farm, his son will be isolated from bad associations but how can you control the boy in the countryside? In support of this idea, Sam thinks about horses. What if the boy, who doesn't know how to ride, will try to escape his farm-prison on the horse? Where will he ride? What if he will fall from the beast? Tough choice for Mr. Carter though.

Submitted by Benaz on Wed, 23/09/2020 - 21:17

Mr Carter has brought his son to the farm to get him away from trouble. He wants him a different environment away from the vices - a place where he can have a different experience.