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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.

Discussion

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Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

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.

I think Mr.Carter want to show to his son, school is easier than the real life and the give him a propose with real thing.

I think, Mr.Carter likes Sam. Although Sam is his workman, und he is the boss, but we can guess, that Mr.Carter has respect for Sam and admit his strength. He feels confusedly, uncertainly. Mr. Carter tries to bring his son here, from where there is no escape, for a punishment. But also for a challenge maybe.

I'll try. I think he brought his son with him as the son can watch what people without instruction do for living. A kind of lesson. For this reason I think that the ultimate intention of Mr. Carter was to involve his son in the construction of fences, as he can finally see the difference between a Job and do well in school.

In my opinion,Mr carter wanted his son to feel relax in a new place.Then,His son could forget his problem and get more time to think deeply himself about his problem.And he would negotiate his father with his future.I think his father's did something right.This is because he did not scold his son for the problem that happened to his son.He gave time to his son.

I think he just wants to gain more money. So he doesn't have enough time and he can't have a good relationship with his family especially his son. On the other hand, his son has some problems in his school because of his problems in his family. Mr. Carter wants to take advantage of the condition. Thus his son works for free and his son doesn't make any problem in the school. Mr. Carter just thinks about himself.

By the way, can I ask you the name and author of the book

Hello Rena,

The name of the short story is Over the Edge and the author's name is Nicola Prentis.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot.
Could you give me an advice which kind of books better to read to improve language?
Again Thank You so Much

Hello again Rena,

I always recommend reading novels and short stories to my students. It's useful to read articles and so on but non-fiction tends to be limited in the language it uses, while fiction contains a much broader range: description, action, dialogue, commentary etc.

 

It's important to find books which are not too easy and not too difficult, and which are more than anything else interesting to you. That's an individual matter, of course, but it can be useful to read books in English which you have already read in your own language. A book you are already familiar with will be easier to understand.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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