World's Favorite Writing Tool Refuses to be Erased ………………………...35
Don't Call, Just Whistle ……………………………………………………………………………..37
Read the following sentences and decide whether you agree (A)
_____ 1. Boys do not cry.
_____ 2. Secular people have no values.
_____ 3. Black people are not as intelligent as white people.
_____ 4. Israelis are friendly to strangers.
_____ 5. Thin people are energetic.
_____ 6. Fat people are optimistic.
_____ 7. Rich people are happy.
_____ 8. Blonde women are stupid.
_____ 9. Moroccans are violent people.
_____ 10. Kids who wear glasses are smart.
_____ 11. Boys are better in science than girls.
_____ 12. Redheads are hot tempered.
_____ 13. Romanians are thieves.
_____ 14. Religious people do not serve in the army.
_____ 15. Men are stronger than women.
Edwin Arlington Robinson. 1869–
WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
Fill in one word in each space to complete the passage according to the poem.
Richard Cory is the (1) ____________ man in town. Yet, his wealth, instead of
(2) ____________ him happy, only makes him (3) ____________ by the townspeople and isolated from them. He is a success in their eyes but a (4) ____________ in his own. Despite his high (5) ____________ in the town, he (6) ____________ ____________.
The (7) ____________ for his suicide remains a (8) ____________. He is portrayed only from the outside, from the view of those who (9) ____________ him. Since the reason for his death can never be (10) ____________ , Richard Cory is one of Robinson's best-known but also most enigmatic characters. No (11) ____________ how many times they are (2) ____________, the final (13) ____________ of the poem "Richard Cory" never lose the (14) ____________ of his (15) ____________ end. Was it his conspicuous wealth, his (16) ____________ existence without family or (17) ____________, or perhaps some secret (18) ____________ he committed that led him to take his own life? We will never know; what we are left with is the (19) ____________ inside his soul, which only grows more (20) ____________ as one reflects on it.
We and They by Rudyard Kipling
FATHER, Mother, and Me
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And everyone else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But - would you believe it? - They look upon We
As only a sort of They !
We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!
We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They!
We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!
All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And everyone else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They !
The Last Spin
By Ed McBain / Evan Hunter
The boy sitting opposite him was his enemy.
The boy sitting opposite him was called Tigo, and he wore a green silk jacket with an orange stripe on each sleeve. The jacket told Danny that Tigo was his enemy. The jacket shrieked, "Enemy, enemy!"
"This is a good piece," Tigo said, indicating the gun on the table." This runs you close to forty-five bucks, you try to buy it in a store. That's a lot of money."
The gun on the table was a Smith & Wesson .38 Police Special.
It rested exactly in the center of the table. Alongside the gun were three .38 Special cartridges.
Danny looked at the gun disinterestedly. He was nervous and apprehensive, but he kept tight control of his face. He could not show Tigo what he was feeling. Tigo was the enemy, and so he presented a mask to the enemy, cocking one eyebrow and saying, "I seen pieces before. There's nothing special about this one." "Except what we got to do with it," Tigo said. Tigo was studying him with large brown eyes. The eyes were moist-looking. He was not a bad-looking kid, Tigo, with thick black hair and maybe nose that was too long, but his mouth and chin were good. You could usually tell a cat by his mouth and his chin. Tigo would not turkey out of this particular rumble. Of that, Danny was sure. "Why don't we start?" Danny asked. He wet his lips and looked across at Tigo.
"You understand," Tigo said, "I got no bad blood for you." "I understand."
"This is what the club said. This is how the club said we should settle it. Without a big street diddlebop, you dig? But I want you to know I don't know you from a hole in the wall-except you wear a blue and gold jacket."
"And you wear a green and orange one," Danny said," and that's enough for me."
"Sure, but what I was trying to say..."
"We going to sit and talk all night, or we going to get this thing rolling?" Danny asked.
"What I'm tryin to say," Tigo went on, "is that I just happened to be picked for this, you know? Like to settle this thing that's between the two clubs I mean, you got to admit your boys shouldn't have come in our territory last night."
"I got to admit nothing," Danny said flatly.
"Well, anyway, they shot at the candy store. That wasn't right. There's supposed to be a truce on."
"Okay, okay," Danny said.
"So like... like this is the way we agreed to settle it. I mean, one of us and... and one of you. Fair and square. Without any street boppin', and without any law trouble."
"Let's get on with it," Danny said.
"I'm trying to say, I never even seen you on the street before this. So this ain't nothin' personal with me. Whichever way it turns out, like..."
"I never seen you neither," Danny said.
Tigo stared at him for a long time. "That's cause you're new around here. Where you from originally?"
"My people come down from the Bronx."
"You got a big family?"
"A sister and two brothers, that's all."
"Yeah, I only got a sister." Tigo shrugged. "Well." He sighed. "So." He sighed again. "Let's make it, huh?"
"I'm waitin'," Danny said.
Tigo picked up the gun, and then he took one of the cartridges from the table top. He broke open the gun, slid the cartridge into the cylinder, and then snapped the gun shut and twirled the cylinder. "Round and round she goes," he said, "and where she stops, nobody knows. There's six chambers in the cylinder and only one cartridge. That makes the odds five-to-one that the cartridge'll be in firing position when the cylinder stops whirling. You dig?"
"I'll go first," Tigo said.
Danny looked at him suspiciously. "Why?"
"You want to go first?"
"I don't know."
"I'm giving you a break." Tigo grinned. "I may blow my head off first time out."
"Why you giving me a break?" Danny asked.
Tigo shrugged. "What the hell's the difference?" He gave the cylinder a fast twirl.
"The Russians invented this, huh?" Danny asked.
"I always said they was crazy bastards."
"Yeah, I always..." Tigo stopped talking. The cylinder was stopped now. He took a deep breath, put the barrel of the .38 to his temple, and then squeezed the trigger.
The firing pin clicked on an empty chamber.
"Well, that was easy, wasn't it?" he asked. He shoved the gun across the table. "Your turn, Danny."
Danny reached for the gun. It was cold in the basement room, but he was sweating now. He pulled the gun toward him, then left it on the table while he dried his palms on his trousers. He picked up the gun then and stared at it.
"It's a nifty piece," Tigo said. "I like a good piece."
"Yeah, I do too," Danny said. "You can tell a good piece just by the way it feels in your hand."
"Lots of guys don't know about pieces," Danny said, shrugging. "I was thinking," Tigo, said, "when I get old enough, I'll join the Army, you know? I'd like to work around pieces."
"I thought of that, too. I'd join now only my old lady won't give me permission. She's got to sign if I join now."
"Yeah, they're all the same," Tigo said smiling. "Your old lady born here or the old country?"
"The old country," Danny said.
"Yeah, well you know they got these old-fashioned ideas."
"I better spin," Danny said.
"Yeah," Tigo agreed.
Danny slapped the cylinder with his left hand. The cylinder whirled, whirled, and then stopped. Slowly, Danny put the gun to his head. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn't dare. Tigo, the enemy, was watching him. He returned Tigo's stare, and then he squeezed the trigger.
His heart skipped a beat, and then over the roar of his blood he heard the empty click. Hastily, he put the gun down on the table.
"Makes you sweat, don't it?" Tigo said.
Danny nodded, saying nothing. He watched Tigo. Tigo was looking at the gun.
"Me now, huh?" Tigo said. He took a deep breath, then picked up the .38. He twirled the cylinder, waited for it to stop, and then put the gun to his head.
"Bang!" Tigo said, and then he squeezed the trigger. Again the firing pin clicked on an empty chamber. Tigo let out his breath and put the gun down.
"I thought I was dead that time," he said.
"I could hear the harps," Danny said.
"This is a good way to lose weight, you know that?" Tigo laughed nervously, and then his laugh became honest when he saw Danny was laughing with him. "Ain't it the truth?" You could lose ten pounds this way."
"My old lady's like a house," Danny said laughing. "She ought to try this kind of a diet." He laughed at his own humor, pleased when Tigo joined him.
"That's the trouble," Tigo said. "You see a nice deb in the street, you think it's crazy, you know? Then they get to be our people's age, and they turn to fat." He shook his head.
"You got a chick?" Danny asked.
"Yeah, I got one."
"What's her name?"
"Aw, you don't know her."
"Maybe I do," Danny said.
"Her name is Juana." Tigo watched him. "She's about five-two, got these brown eyes..."
"I think I know her," Danny said. He nodded. "Yeah, I think I know her."
"She's nice, ain't she?" Tigo asked. He leaned forward, as if Danny's answer was of great importance to him.
"Yeah she's nice," Danny said.
"Yeah. Hey maybe sometime we could..." Tigo cut himself short. He looked down at the gun, and his sudden enthusiasm seemed to ebb completely. "It's you turn," he said.
"Here goes nothing," Danny said. He twirled the cylinder, sucked in his breath, and then fired.
The emptily click was loud in the stillness of the room.
"Man!" Danny said.
"We're pretty lucky, you know?" Tigo said.
"We better lower the odds. The boys won't like it if we..." He stopped himself again, and then reached for one of the cartridges on the table. He broke open the gun again, slipped in the second cartridge into the cylinder. "Now we got two cartridges in here," he said. "Two cartridges, six chambers. That's four-to-two. Divide it, and you get two-to-two." He paused. "You game?"
"That's... that's what we're here for, ain't it?"
"Gone," Tigo said, nodding his head. "You got courage, Danny."
"You're the one needs the courage," Danny said gently. "It's your spin."
"Tigo lifted the gun. Idly, he began spinning the cylinder.
"You live on the next block, don't you?" Danny asked.
"Yeah." Tigo kept slapping the cylinder. It spun with a gently whirring sound.
"That's how come we never crossed paths, I guess. Also, I'm new on the scene."
"Yeah, well you know, you get hooked up with one club, that's the way it is."
"You like the guys on you club?" Danny asked, wondering why he was asking such a stupid question, listening to the whirring of the cylinder at the same time.
"They're okay." Tigo shrugged. "None of them really send me, but that's the club on my block, so what're you gonna do, huh?" His hand left the cylinder. It stopped spinning. He put the gun to his head.
"Wait!" Danny said.
Tigo looked puzzled. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to say... I mean..." Danny frowned. "I don't dig too many of the guys on my club, either."
Tigo nodded. For a moment, their eyes locked. Then Tigo shrugged, and fired.
The empty click filled the basement room.
"Phew," Tigo said.
"Man, you can say that again."
Tigo slid the gun across the table.
Danny hesitated an instant. He did not want to pick up the gun. He felt sure that this time the firing pin would strike the percussion cap of one of the cartridges. He was sure that this time he would shoot himself.
"Sometimes I think I'm turkey," he said to Tigo, surprised that his thoughts had found voice.
"I feel that way sometimes, too," Tigo said.
"I never told that to nobody," Danny said. "The guys on my club would laugh at me, I ever told them that."
"Some things you got to keep to yourself. There ain't nobody you can trust in this world."
"There should be somebody you can trust," Danny said. "Hell, you can't tell nothing to your people. They don't understand." Tigo laughed. "That's an old story. But that's the way things are. What're you gonna do?"
"Yeah. Still, sometimes I think I'm turkey."
"Sure, sure," Tigo said. "It ain't only that, though. Like sometimes... well, don't you wonder what you're doing stomping some guy in the street? Like ... you know what I mean? Like ... who's the guy to you? What you got to beat him up for? 'Cause he messed with somebody else's girl?" Tigo shook his head. "It gets complicated sometimes."
"Yeah, but ..." Danny frowned again. "You got to stick with the club. Don't you?"
"Sure, sure ... hell yes." Again, their eyes locked.
"Well, here goes." Danny said. He lifted the gun. "It's just ..." He shook his head, and then twirled the cylinder. The cylinder spun, and then stopped. He studied the gun, wondering if one of the cartridges would roar from the barrel when he squeezed the trigger.
Then he fired.
"I didn't think you was going through with it," Tigo said.
"I didn't neither."
"You got heart, Danny," Tigo said. He looked at the gun. He picked it up and broke it open.
"What you doing?" Danny asked.
"Another cartridge," Tigo said. "Six chambers, three cartridges. That makes it even money. You game?"
"You?" "The boys said... " Tigo stopped talking. "Yeah, I'm game," he added, his voice curiously low.
"It's your turn, you know."
"I know," Danny watched as Tigo picked up the gun.
"You ever been rowboating on the lake?"
Tigo looked across the table at Danny, his eyes wide. "Once," he said. "I went with Juana."
"Is it ... is it any kicks?"
"Yeah. Yeah, its grand kicks. You mean you never been?"
"No," Danny said.
"Hey, you got to tryin, man," Tigo said excitedly. "You'll like it. Hey, you try it."
"Yeah, I was thinking maybe this Sunday I'd ... " He did not complete the sentence.
"My spin," Tigo said wearily. He twirled the cylinder. "Here goes a good man," he said, and he put the revolver to his head and squeezed the trigger.
Danny smiled nervously. "No rest for the weary," he said. "But Jesus you've got the heart. I don't know if I can go through with it."
Sure, you can," Tigo assured him. "Listen, what's there to be afraid of?" He slid the gun across the table.
"We keep this up all night?" Danny asked.
"They said ... you know ... "
"Well, it ain't so bad. I mean, hell, we didn't have this operation, we wouldn'ta got a chance to talk, huh?" He grinned feebly.
"Yeah," Tigo said, his face splitting in a wide grin. "It ain't been so bad, huh?"
"No, it's been ... well, you know, these guys on the club, who can talk to them?"
He picked up the gun. "We could ..." Tigo started.
"We could say ... well ... like we kept shootin' an' nothing happened, so ..." Tigo shrugged. "What the hell! We can't do this all night, can we?"
"I don't know."
"Let's make this the last spin. Listen, they don't like it, they can take a flying leap, you know?"
"I don't think they'll like it. We're supposed to settle this for the clubs."
"Screw the clubs!" Tigo said. "Can't we pick our own ..." The word was hard coming. When it came, his eyes did not leave Danny's face. "... friends?"
"Sure we can," Danny said vehemently. "Sure we can! Why not?"
"The last spin," Tigo said. "Come on, the last spin."
"Gone," Danny said. "Hey you know, I'm glad they got this idea. You know that? I'm actually glad!" He twirled the cylinder. "Look, you want to go on the lake this Sunday? I mean with your girl and mine? We could get two boats. Or even one if you want." "Yeah, one boat," Tigo Said. "Hey, your girl'll like Juana, I mean it. She's a swell chick."
The cylinder stopped. Danny put the gun to his head quickly.
"Here's to Sunday," he said. He grinned at Tigo, and Tigo grinned back, and then Danny fired.
The explosion rocked the small basement room, ripping away half of Danny's head, shattering his face. A small cry escaped Tigo's throat, and a look of incredulous shock knifed his eyes. Then he put his head on the table and began weeping.
The Way up to Heaven
By Roald Dahl
ALL HER LIFE MRS FOSTER had had an almost pathological fear of missing a train, a plane, a boat, or even a theatre curtain. In other respects, she was not a particularly nervous woman, but the mere thought of being late on occasions like these would throw her into such a state of nerves that she would begin to twitch. It was nothing much just a tiny vellicating muscle in the corner of the left eye, like a secret wink but the annoying thing was that it refused to disappear until an hour or so after the train or plane or whatever it was had been safely caught.
It was really extraordinary how in certain people a simple apprehension about a thing like catching a train can grow into a serious obsession. At least half an hour before it was time to leave the house for the station, Mrs. Foster would step out of the elevator all ready to go, with hat and coat and gloves, and then, being quite unable to sit down, she would flutter and fidget about from room to room until her husband, who must have been well aware of her state, finally emerged from his privacy and suggested in a cool dry voice that perhaps they had better get going now, had they not?
Mr. Foster may possibly have had a right to be irritated by this foolishness of his wife's, but he could have had no excuse for increasing her misery by keeping her waiting unnecessarily. Mind you, it is by no means certain that this is what he did, yet whenever they were to go somewhere, his timing was so accurate just a minute or two late, you understand and his manner so bland that it was hard to believe he wasn't purposely inflicting a nasty private little torture of his own on the unhappy lady. And one thing he must have known that she would never dare to call out and tell him to hurry. He had disciplined her too well for that. He must also have known that if he was prepared to wait even beyond the last moment of safety, he could drive her nearly into hysterics. On one or two special occasions in the later years of their married life, it seemed almost as though he had wanted to miss the train simply in order to intensify the poor woman's suffering.
Assuming (though one cannot be sure) that the husband was guilty, what made his attitude doubly unreasonable was the fact that, with the exception of this one small irrepressible foible, Mrs. Foster was and always had been a good and loving wife. For over thirty years, she had served him loyally and well. There was no doubt about this. Even she, a very modest woman, was aware of it, and although she had for years refused to let herself believe that Mr. Foster would ever consciously torment her, there had been times recently when she had caught herself beginning to wonder.
Mr. Eugene Foster, who was nearly seventy years old lived with his wife in a large six storey house in New York City, on East Sixty second Street, and they had four servants. It was a gloomy place, and few people came to visit them. But on this particular morning in January, the house had come alive and there was a great deal of bustling about. One maid was distributing bundles of dust sheets to every room, while another was draping them over the furniture. The butler was bringing down suitcases and putting them in the hall. The cook kept popping up from the kitchen to have a word with the butler, and Mrs. Foster herself, in an old fashioned fur coat and with a black hat on the top of her head, was flying from room to room and pretending to supervise these operations. Actually, she was thinking of nothing at all except that she was going to miss her plane if her husband didn't come out of his study soon and get ready.
'What time is it, Walker?' she said to the butler as she passed him.
'It's ten minutes past nine, Madam.'
'And has the car come?'
'Yes, Madam it's waiting. I'm just going to put the luggage in now.' 'It takes an hour to get to Idlewild' she said. `My plane leaves at eleven. I have to be there half an hour beforehand for the formalities. I shall be late. I just know I'm going to be late.'
'I think you have plenty of time, Madam' the butler said kindly. 'I warned Mr. Foster that you must leave at nine fifteen. There's still another five minutes.'
'Yes, Walker, I know, I know. But get the luggage in quickly, will you please?'
She began walking up and down the hall, and whenever the butler came by, she asked him the time. This, she kept telling herself, was the one plane she must not miss. It had taken months to persuade her husband to allow her to go. If she missed it, he might easily decide that she should cancel the whole thing. And the trouble was that he insisted on coming to the airport to see her off.'
'Dear God' she said aloud, `I'm going to miss it. I know, I know, I know I'm going to miss it. 'The little muscle beside the left eye was twitching madly now. The eyes themselves were very close to tears.
'What time is it, Walker?'
'It's eighteen minutes past, Madam.'
'Now I really will miss it' she cried. `Oh, I wish he would come!'
This was an important journey for Mrs. Foster. She was going all alone to Paris to visit her daughter, her only child, who was married to a Frenchman. Mrs. Foster didn't care much for the Frenchman but she was fond of her daughter, and, more than that, she had developed a great yearning to set eyes on her three grandchildren. She knew them only from the many photographs that she had received and that she kept putting up all over the house. They were beautiful, these children. She doted on them, and each time a new picture arrived she would carry it away and sit with it for a long time, staring at it lovingly and searching the small faces for signs of that old satisfying blood likeness that meant so much. And now, lately, she had come more and more to feel that she did not really wish to live out her days in a place where she could not be near these children, and have them visit her, and take them for walks, and buy them presents, and watch them grow. She knew, of course, that it was wrong and in a way disloyal to have thoughts like these while her husband was still alive. She knew also that although he was no longer active in his many enterprises, he would never consent to leave New York and live in Paris. It was a miracle that he had ever agreed to let her fly over there alone for six weeks to visit them. But, oh, how she wished she could live there always, and be close to them! 'Walker, what time is it?'
'Twenty two minutes past, Madam.'
As he spoke, a door opened and Mr. Foster came into the hall. He stood for a moment, looking intently at his wife, and she looked back at him at this diminutive but still quite dapper old man with the huge bearded face that bore such an astonishing resemblance to those old photographs of Andrew Carnegie.
'Well,' he said, `I suppose perhaps we'd better get going fairly soon if you want to catch that plane.'
'Yes, dear yes! Everything's ready. The car's waiting.'
'That's good,' he said. With his head over to one side, he was watching her closely. He had a peculiar way of cocking the head and then moving it in a series of small, rapid jerks. Because of this and because he was clasping his hands up high in front of him, near the chest, he was somehow like a squirrel standing there a quick clever old squirrel from the Park.
'Here's Walker with your coat, dear. Put it on.'
'I'll be with you in a moment,' he said.
`I'm just going to wash my hands.'
She waited for him, and the tall butler stood beside her, holding the coat and the hat.
'Walker, will I miss it?'
'No, Madam,' the butler said. `I think you'll make it all right.'
Then Mr. Foster appeared again, and the butler helped him on with his coat. Mrs. Foster hurried outside and got into the hired Cadillac. Her husband came after her, but he walked down the steps of the house slowly, pausing halfway to observe the sky and to sniff the cold morning air.
'It looks a bit foggy,' he said as he sat down beside her in the car. `And it's always worse out there at the airport. I shouldn't be surprised if the flight's cancelled already.'
'Don't say that, dear please.'
They didn't speak again until the car had crossed over the river to Long Island.
'I arranged everything with the servants,' Mr. Foster said. 'They're all going off today. I gave them half pay for six weeks and told Walker I'd send him a telegram when we wanted them back.' 'Yes,' she said. `He told me.'
'I'll move into the club tonight. It'll be a nice change staying at the club.'
'Yes, dear. I'll write to you.'
'I'll call in at the house occasionally to see that everything's all right and to pick up the mail.'
'But don't you really think Walker should stay there all the time to look after things?' she asked meekly.
'Nonsense. It's quite unnecessary. And anyway, I'd have to pay him full wages.'
'Oh yes,' she said. `Of course.'
'What's more, you never know what people get up to when they're left alone in a house,' Mr. Foster announced, and with that he took out a cigar and, after snipping off the end with a silver cutter, lit it with a gold lighter.
She sat still in the car with her hands clasped together tight under the rug.
'Will you write to me?' she asked.
'I'll see,' he said. `But I doubt it. You know I don't hold with letter writing unless there's something specific to say.'
'Yes, dear, I know. So don't you bother.'
They drove on, along Queen's Boulevard, and as they approached the flat marshland on which Idlewild is built, the fog began to thicken and the car had to slow down.
'Oh dear!' cried Mrs. Foster. `I'm sure I'm going to miss it now! What time is it?'
'Stop fussing,' the old man said, `It doesn't matter anyway. It's bound to be cancelled now, They never fly in this sort of weather. I don't know why you bothered to come out'
She couldn't be sure, but it seemed to her that there was suddenly a new note in his voice, and she turned to look at him. It was difficult to observe any change in his expression under all that hair. The mouth was what counted. She wished as she had so often before, that she could see the mouth clearly. The eyes never showed anything except when he was in a rage.
'Of course,' he went on, ' if by any chance it does go, then I agree with you you'll be certain to miss it now. Why don't you resign yourself to that?'
She turned away and peered through the window at the fog. It seemed to be getting thicker as they went along, and now she could only just make out the edge of the road and the margin of grassland beyond it. She knew that her husband was still looking at her. She glanced at him again, and this time she noticed with a kind of horror that he was staring intently at the little place in the corner of her left eye where she could feel the muscle twitching.
'Won't you?' he said.
'Won't I what?'
'Be sure to miss it now if it goes. We can't drive fast in this muck.'
He didn't speak to her any more after that. The car crawled on and on. The driver had a yellow lamp directed on to the edge of the road, and this helped him to keep going. Other lights, some white and some yellow, kept coming out of the fog towards them and there was an especially bright one that followed close behind them all the time.
Suddenly, the driver stopped the car.
'There!' Mr. Foster cried. `We're stuck. I knew it.’
'No, sir,' the driver said, turning round. `We made it. This is the airport.'
Without a word, Mrs. Foster jumped out and hurried through the main entrance into the building. There was a mass of people inside, mostly disconsolate passengers standing around the ticket counters. She pushed her way through and spoke to the clerk.
'Yes,' he said. `Your flight is temporarily postponed. But please don't go away. We're expecting this weather to clear any moment.'
She went back to her husband who was still sitting in the car and told him the news. `But don't you wait dear,' she said. 'There's no sense in that.'
'I won't,' he answered. ` So long as the driver can get me back. Can you get me back, driver? '
'I think so,' the man said
'Is the luggage out?'
'Good bye, dear,' Mrs. Foster said, leaning into the car and giving her husband a small kiss on the coarse grey fur of his cheek.
'Good bye,' he answered. ` Have a good trip.'
The car drove off, and Mrs. Foster was left alone.
The rest of the day was a sort of nightmare for her. She sat for hour after hour on a bench, as close to the airline counter as possible, and every thirty minutes or so she would get up and ask the clerk if the situation had changed. She always received the same reply that she must continue to wait, because the fog might blow away at any moment. It wasn't until after six in the evening that the loudspeakers finally announced that the flight had been postponed until eleven o'clock the next morning.
Mrs. Foster didn't quite know what to do when she heard this news". She stayed sitting on her bench for at least another half hour, wondering, in a tired, hazy sort of way, where she might go to spend the night. She hated to leave the airport. She didn't wish to see her husband. She was terrified that in one way or another he would eventually manage to prevent her from getting to France. She would have liked to remain just where she was, sitting on the bench the whole night through. That would be the safest. But she was already exhausted, and it didn't take her long to realize that this was a ridiculous thing for an elderly lady to do. So in the end she went to a phone and called the house.
Her husband, who was on the point of leaving for the club, answered it himself. She told him the news, and asked whether the servants were still there.
'They've all gone,' he said
'In that case, dear, I'll just get myself a room somewhere for the night. And don't you bother yourself about it at all.'
'That would be foolish,' he said `You've got a large house here at your disposal. Use it.'
'But, dear, it's empty.'
'Then I'll stay with you myself.'
'There's no food in the house. There's nothing.'
'Then eat before you come in. Don't be so stupid woman. Everything you do, you seem to want to make a fuss about it.'
'Yes,' she said. `I'm sorry. I'll get myself a sandwich here, and then I'll come on in.'
Outside, the fog had cleared a little, but it was still a long, slow drive in the taxi, and she didn't arrive back at the house on Sixty second Street until fairly late.
Her husband emerged from his study when he heard her coming in. ` Well, ' he said standing by the study door, ` how was Paris?'
'We leave at eleven in the morning,' she answered `It's definite.'
'You mean if the fog clears.'
'It's clearing now. There's a wind coming up.'
'You look tired,' he said. `You must have had an anxious day. '
'It wasn't very comfortable. I think I'll go straight to bed'
'I've ordered a car for the morning,' he said. `Nine o'clock'
'Oh, thank you, dear. And I certainly hope you're not going to bother to come all the way out again to see me off.'
'No,' he said slowly. `I don't think I will. But there's no reason why you shouldn't drop me at the club on your way.'
She looked at him, and at that moment he seemed to be standing a long way off from her, beyond some borderline. He was suddenly so small and far away that she couldn't be sure what he was doing, or what he was thinking, or even what he was.
'The club is downtown,' she said. `It isn't on the way to the airport.'
'But you'll have plenty of time, my dear. Don't you want to drop me at the club?'
'Oh, yes of course.'
'That's good. Then I'll see you in the morning at nine.'
She went up to her bedroom on the second floor, and she was so exhausted from her day that she fell asleep soon after she lay down.
Next morning, Mrs. Foster was up early, and by eight thirty she was downstairs and ready to leave.
Shortly after nine, her husband appeared. ` Did you make any coffee?' he asked.
'No, dear. I thought you'd get a nice breakfast at the club. The car is here. It's been waiting. I'm all ready to go.'
They were standing in the hall they always seemed to be meeting in the hall nowadays she with her hat and coat and purse, he in a curiously cut Edwardian jacket with high lapels. 'Your luggage?'
'It's at the airport.'
'Ah yes,' he said. ` Of course. And if you're going to take me to the club first, I suppose we'd better get going fairly soon hadn't we?'
'Yes' she cried. `Oh, yes please!'
'I'm just going to get a few cigars. I'll be right with you. You get in the car.' '
She turned and went out to where the chauffeur was standing, and he opened the car door for her as she approached.
'What time is it?' she asked him.
'About nine fifteen. '
Mr. Foster came out five minutes later, and watching him as he walked slowly down the steps; she noticed that his legs were like goat's legs in those narrow stovepipe trousers that he wore. As on the day before, he paused half way down to sniff the air and to examine the sky. The weather was still not quite clear, but there was a wisp of sun coming through the mist.
'Perhaps you'll be lucky this time,' he said as he settled himself beside her in the car.
'Hurry, please,' she said to the chauffeur. `Don't bother about the rug. I'll arrange the rug. Please get going. I'm late.'
The man went back to his seat behind the wheel and started the engine.
'Just a moment !' Mr Foster said suddenly. `Hold it a moment, chauffeur, will you?'
'What is it, dear?' She saw him searching the pockets of his overcoat.
'I had a little present I wanted you to take to Ellen,' he said. 'Now, where on earth is it? I'm sure I had it in my hand as I came down.'
'I never saw you carrying anything. What sort of present? '
'A little box wrapped up in white paper. I forgot to give it to you yesterday. I don't want to forget it today.'
'A little box ! ' Mrs. Foster cried. ` I never saw any little box ! ' She began hunting frantically in the back of the car.
Her husband continued searching through the pockets of his coat. Then he unbuttoned the coat and felt around in his jacket. 'Confound it,' he said, `I must've left it in my bedroom. I won't be a moment.'
'Oh, please' she cried. `We haven't got time! Please leave it! You can mail it. It's only one of those silly combs anyway. You're always giving her combs.'
'And what's wrong with combs, may I ask?' he said, furious that she should have forgotten herself for once.
'Nothing, dear, I'm sure. But . . . '
'Stay here ! ' he commanded. ` I'm going to get it.'
'Be quick, dear! Oh, please be quick'
She sat still, waiting and waiting.
'Chauffeur, what time is it?'
The man had a wristwatch, which he consulted. `I make it nearly nine thirty.'
'Can we get to the airport in an hour?'
At this point, Mrs. Foster suddenly spotted a comer of something white wedged down in the crack of the seat on the side where her husband had been sitting. She reached over and pulled out a small paper wrapped box, and at the same time she couldn't help noticing that it was wedged down firm and deep, as though with the help of a pushing hand.
'Here it is ! ' she cried. ` I've found it. Oh dear, and now he'll be up there forever searching for it ! Chauffeur, quickly run in and call him down, will you please ?' The chauffeur, a man with a small rebellious Irish mouth didn't care very much for any of this, but he climbed out of the car and went up the steps to the front door of the house. Then he turned and came back. ` Door's locked,' he announced. ` You got a key?'
'Yes wait a minute.' She began hunting madly in her purse. The little face was screwed up tight with anxiety, the lips pushed outward like a spout.
'Here it is ! No I'll go myself. It'll be quicker. I know where he'll be.'
She hurried out of the car and up the steps to the front door, holding the key in one hand. She slid the key into the keyhole and was about to turn it and then she stopped Her head came up, and she stood there absolutely motionless, her whole body arrested right in the middle of all this hurry to turn the key and get into the house, and she waited - five, six, seven, eight nine, ten seconds, she waited. The way she was standing there, with her head in the air and the body so tense, it seemed as though she were listening for the repetition of some sound that she had heard a moment before from a place far away inside the house.
'Yes quite obviously she was listening. Her whole attitude was a listening one. She appeared actually to be moving one of her ears closer and closer to the door. Now it was right up against the door, and for still another few seconds she remained in that position, head up, ear to door, hand on key, about to enter but not entering, trying instead, or so it seemed, to hear and to analyze these sounds that were coming faintly from this place deep within the house. '
Then, all at once, she sprang to life again. She withdrew the key from the door and came running back down the steps.
'It's too late!' she cried to the chauffeur. `I can't wait for him, I simply can't. I'll miss the plane. Hurry now, driver, hurry! To the airport!'
The chauffeur, had he been watching her closely, might have noticed that her face had turned absolutely white and that the whole expression had suddenly altered. There was no longer that rather soft and silly look. A peculiar hardness had settled itself upon the features. The little mouth, usually so flabby, was now tight and thin, the eyes were bright and the voice, when she spoke, carried a new note of authority.
'Hurry, driver, hurry!'
'Isn't your husband travelling with you?' the man asked astonished.
'Certainly not! I was only going to drop him at the club. It won't matter. He'll understand. He'll get a cab. Don't sit there talking, man. Get going! I've got a plane to catch for Paris!'
With Mrs. Foster urging him from the back seat, the man drove fast all the way, and she caught her plane with a few minutes to spare. Soon she was high up over the Atlantic, reclining comfortably in her airplane chair, listening to the hum of the motors, heading for Paris at last. The new mood was still with her. She felt remarkably strong and, in a queer sort of way, wonderful. She was a trifle breathless with it all, but this was more from pure astonishment at what she had done than anything else, and as the plane flew farther and farther away from New York and East Sixty second Street, a great sense of calmness began to settle upon her. By the time she reached Paris, she was just as strong and cool and calm as she could wish. She met her grandchildren, and they were even more beautiful in the flesh than in their photographs. They were like angels, she told herself, so beautiful they were. And every day she took them for walks, and fed them cakes, and bought them presents, and told them charming stories.
Once a week, on Tuesdays, she wrote a letter to her husband a nice, chatty letter full of news and gossip, which always ended with the words `Now be sure to take your meals regularly, dear, although this is something I'm afraid you may not be doing when I'm not with you.'
When the six weeks were up, everybody was sad that she had to return to America, to her husband. Everybody, that is, except her. Surprisingly, she didn't seem to mind as much as one might have expected, and when she kissed them all good bye, there was something in her manner and in the things she said that appeared to hint at the possibility of a return in the not too distant future.
However, like the faithful wife she was, she did not overstay her time. Exactly six weeks after she had arrived, she sent a cable to her husband and caught the plane back to New York.
Arriving at Idlewild, Mrs. Foster was interested to observe that there was no car to meet her. It is possible that she might even have been a little amused. But she was extremely calm and did not overtip the porter who helped her into a taxi with her baggage.
New York was colder than Paris, and there were lumps of dirty snow lying in the gutters of the streets. The taxi drew up before the house on Sixty second Street, and Mrs. Foster persuaded the driver to carry her two large cases to the top of the steps. Then she paid him off and rang the bell. She waited, but there was no answer. Just to make sure, she rang again and she could hear it tinkling shrilly far away in the pantry, at the back of the house. But still no one came.
So she took out her own key and opened the door herself.
The first thing she saw as she entered was a great pile of mail lying on the floor where it had fallen after being slipped through the letter box. The place was dark and cold. A dust sheet was still draped over the grandfather clock. In spite of the cold the atmosphere was peculiarly oppressive, and there was a faint and curious odor in the air that she had never smelled before. She walked quickly across the hall and disappeared for a moment around the corner to the left, at the back. There was something deliberate and purposeful about this action; she had the air of a woman who is off to investigate a rumor or to confirm a suspicion. And when she returned a few seconds later, there was a little glimmer of satisfaction on her face.
She paused in the centre of the hall, as though wondering what to do next. Then, suddenly, she turned and went across into her husband's study. On the desk she found his address book, and after hunting through it for a while she picked up the phone and dialed a number.
'Hello,' she said. `Listen this is Nine East Sixty second Street. . . . Yes, that's right. Could you send someone round as soon as possible, do you think? Yes, it seems to be stuck between the second and third floors. At least, that's where the indicator's pointing. . . . Right away? Oh, that's very kind of you. You see, my legs aren't any too good for walking up a lot of stairs. Thank you so much. Good bye.'
She replaced the receiver and sat there at her husband's desk, patiently waiting for the man who would be coming soon to repair the lift.
5 Pt. YA - The Way Up to Heaven
A) Vocabulary Work
1. List 10 words from the story, which describe Mrs. Foster as being either nervous or afraid. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Find one word in the story, which means the same as:
a. unhappy, disappointed ____________
b. very tired ____________
c. find out about something ____________
d. an odd habit or tendency ____________
e. for a short time ____________
B) Answer briefly on your notebook.
1. What did Mrs. Foster hate most?
2. Why is she upset with her husband at the beginning of the story?
3. Where was Mrs. Foster going and why?
4. Where was Mr. Foster going to stay while his wife was away?
5. How did her husband make her anxious the following morning?
6. Why was the flight cancelled and postponed?
7. When Mrs. Foster found that her flight had been postponed, what did she do?
8. What crucial decision did she finally make?
9. How does Mrs. Foster change during the story; what are her feelings at the end? Is she a static or a dynamic character?
10. Is the ending to the story predictable or unpredictable? Give reasons.
5 Pt. YA - Literature Review - The Way Up to Heaven Fill in the missing words and you will have a summary of the story.
Mrs. Foster has a 1. ____________ fear of being late. Whenever she is in danger of missing a 2. ____________ or 3. ____________ or an engagement, a tiny muscle near her eye begins to 4. ____________. The worst part is that her husband, Mr. Eugene Foster, seems to 5. ____________ her by making sure that they always leave the house one or two minutes past the point of 6. ____________. On this particular 7. ____________ Mrs. Foster is leaving to visit her daughter and grandchildren in 8. ____________ for the first time ever, and she's frantic to think that she'll miss her 9. ____________ . By the time her husband finally joins her at the car, she's too far behind 10. ____________. Luckily, the flight is 11. ____________ till the next day, and Mr. Foster 12. ____________ her to come home for the night.
When she's ready to leave the next day, though, her husband 13. ____________ that they drop him by at his 14. ____________ on the way. Knowing this might make her 15. ____________, she protests in vain. Just before the car 16. ____________, he runs back in the house on the pretence of picking up a 17. ____________ he forgot for his daughter. While he's gone, Mrs. Foster discovers the gift box shoved down between the 18. ____________ cushions. She runs up to the house to tell him that she has the gift and suddenly she pauses. She 19. ____________ . She stays 20. ____________ for
10 seconds, straining to 21. ____________ something.
Then she turns and 22. ____________ to the car, telling the 23. ____________ that they're too late and her husband will have to find 24. ____________ ride.
She makes her flight and has a wonderful 25. ____________ with her grandchildren.
She writes her husband every 26. ____________ and sends him a 27. ____________ before she flies home six weeks later. He's not at the 28. ____________ to meet her though, and when she 29. ____________ the house (after taking a taxi home) she 30. ____________ a curious 31. ____________ in the air. 32. ____________, she enters her husband's 33. ____________ and calls the 34. ____________ repairman.
It had jammed and she had left him to 35. ____________ there!
"The Story of An Hour"
Kate Chopin (1894)
Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with (had) a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.
It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled (indirect) hints that revealed in half concealing (hiding). Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence (news) of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of "killed." He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened (hurried) to forestall (prevent) any less careful, less tender friend in bearing (passing on) the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted (came over) her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares (products). The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves (roof space/attic).
There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob (cry) came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.
She was young, with a fair, calm face. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection (thinking), but rather indicated (showed) a suspension (delay) of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle (faint) and elusive (indescribable) to name. But she felt it, creeping (sneaking) out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
Now her bosom (chest) rose and fell tumultuously (in a rush). She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving (tryinghard) to beat it back with her will--as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself (gave in), a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!" The vacant (empty) stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen (eager) and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing (flowing) blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted (superior) perception (understanding) enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial (unimportant). She knew that she would weep (cry) again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had always looked with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment the long years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.
There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose (force) a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination (clarity).
And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse (wish) of her being!
"Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.
Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring (begging) for admission (to come in). "Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door--you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door."
"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.
Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder (shiver) that life might be long.
She arose at length (after a long while) and opened the door to her sister. There was a feverish triumph (victory) in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly (without knowing) like a goddess of Victory. She clasped (held onto) her sister's waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly (calmly) carrying his case and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing (sharp) cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen (hide) him from the view of his wife.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of the joy that kills.
Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
Who are the four characters who appear in the story? Write a sentence about each one:
5. Find three descriptions of nature that appear in the story.
How are these descriptions important for understanding what Mrs. Mallard feels? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. “Free, free, free!”
What is significant about these lines? How are they a turning point in the story?
7. How does Mrs. Mallard remember her husband? How had he treated her in the
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8. What is Mrs. Mallard’s first name? Why do we learn it only at the end of the
It was still warm in the late-afternoon sun, and the city noises came muffled through the trees in the park. She put her book down on the bench, removed her sunglasses, and sighed contentedly. Morton was reading the Times Magazine section, one arm flung around her shoulder; their three-year-old son, Larry, was playing in the sandbox: a faint breeze fanned her hair softly against her cheek. It was five-thirty of a Sunday afternoon, and the small playground, tucked away in a corner of the park, was all but deserted. The swings and seesaws stood motionless and abandoned, the slides were empty, and only in the sandbox two little boys squatted diligently side by side. How good this is, she thought, and almost smiled at her sense of well-being. They must out in the sun more often; Morton was so city-pale, cooped up all week inside the gray factory-like university. She squeezed his arm affectionately and glanced at Larry, delighting in the pointed little face frowning in concentration over the tunnel he was digging. The other boy suddenly stood up and with a quick, deliberate swing of his chubby arm threw a spadeful of sand at Larry. It just missed his head. Larry continued digging; the boy remained standing, shovel raised, stolid and impassive.
“No, no, little boy.” She shook her finger at him, her eyes searching for the child’s mother or nurse. “We mustn't throw sand. It may get in someone’s eyes and hurt. We must play nicely in the nice sandbox.” The boy looked at her in unblinking expectancy. He was about Larry’s age but perhaps ten pounds heavier, a husky little boy with none of Larry’s quickness and sensitivity in his face. Where was his mother? The only other people left in the playground were two women and a little girl on roller skates leaving now through the gate, and man on a bench a few feet away. He was a big man, and he seemed to be taking up the whole bench as he held the Sunday comics close to his face. She supposed he was the child’s father. He did not look up from his comics, but spat one deftly out of the corner of his mouth. She turned her eyes away.
At that moment, as swiftly as before, the fat little boy threw another spadeful of sand at Larry. This time some of it landed on his hair and forehead. Larry looked up at his mother, his mouth tentative; her expression would tell him whether to cry or not.
Her first instinct was to rush to her son, brush the sand out of his hair, and punish the other child, but she controlled it. She always said that she wanted Larry to learn to fight his own battles.
“Don’t do that, little boy,” she said sharply, leaning forward on the bench. “You mustn't throw sand!”
The man on the bench moved his mouth as if to spit again, but instead he spoke. He did not look at her, but at the boy only.
“You go right ahead, Joe,” he said loudly. “Throw all you want. This here is a public sandbox.”
She felt a sudden weakness in her knees as she glanced at Morton. He had become aware of what was happening. He put his Times down carefully on his lap and turned his fine, lean face toward the man, smiling the shy, apologetic smile he might have offered a student in pointing out an error in his thinking. When he spoke to the man, it was with his usual reasonableness.
“You’re quite right,” he said pleasantly, “but just because this is a public place….”
The man lowered his funnies and looked at Morton. He looked at him from head to foot, slowly and deliberately. “Yeah?” His insolent voice was edged with menace. “My kid’s got just as good right here as yours, and if he feels like throwing sand, he’ll throw it, and if you don’t like it, you can take your kid the hell out of here.”
The children were listening, their eyes and mouths wide open, their spades forgotten in small fists. She noticed the muscle in Morton’s jaw tighten. He was rarely angry; he seldom lost his temper. She was suffused with a tenderness for her husband and an impotent rage against the man for involving him in a situation so alien and so distasteful to him.
“Now, just a minute,” Morton said courteously, “you must realize….”
“Aw, shut up,” said the man.
Her heart began to pound. Morton half rose; the Times slid to the ground. Slowly the other man stood up. He took a couple of steps toward Morton, then stopped. He flexed his great arms, waiting. She pressed her trembling knees together. Would there be violence, fighting? How dreadful, how incredible….She must do something, stop them, call for help. She wanted to put her hand on her husband’s sleeve, to pull him down, but for some reason she didn’t.
Morton adjusted his glasses. He was very pale. “This is ridiculous,” he said unevenly. “I must ask you….”
“Oh, yeah?” said the man. He stood with his legs spread apart, rocking a little, looking at Morton with utter scorn. “You and who else?”
For a moment the two men looked at each other nakedly. Then Morton turned his back on the man and said quietly, “Come on, let’s get out of her.” He walked awkwardly, almost limping with self-consciousness, to the sandbox. He stooped and lifted Larry and his shovel out.
At one Larry came to life; his face lost its rapt expression and he began to kick and cry. “I don’t want to go home, I want to play better, I don’t want any supper, I don’t like supper….” It became a chat as they walked, pulling their child between them, his feet dragging on the ground. In order to get to the exit gate they had to pass the bench where the man sat sprawling again. She was careful not to look at him. With all the dignity she could summon, she pulled Larry’s sandy, perspiring little hand, while Morton pulled the other. Slowly and with head high she walked with her husband and child out of the playground.
Her first feeling was one of relief that a fight had been avoided, that no one was hurt. Yet beneath it there was a layer of something else, something heavy and inescapable. She sensed that it was more than just an unpleasant incident, more than defeat of reason by force. She felt dimly it had something to do with her and Morton, something acutely personal, familiar, and important.
Suddenly Morton spoke. “It wouldn’t have proved anything.”
“What?” she asked.
“A fight. It wouldn’t have proved anything beyond the fact that he’s bigger than I am.”
“Of course,” she said.
“The only possible outcome,” he continued reasonably, “would have been—what? My glasses broken, perhaps a tooth or two replaced, a couple of days’ work missed – and for what? For justice? For truth?”
“Of course,” she repeated. She quickened her step. She wanted only to get home and to busy herself with her familiar tasks; perhaps then the feeling, glued like heavy plaster on her heart, would be gone. Of all the stupid, despicable bullies, she thought, pulling harder on Larry’s hand. The child was still crying. Always before she had felt a tender pity for his defenseless little body, the frail arms, the narrow shoulders with sharp wing-like shoulder blades, the thin and unsure legs, but now her mouth tightened in resentment.
“Stop crying,” she said sharply. “I’m ashamed of you!” She felt as if all three of them were tracking mud along the street. The child cried louder.
If there had been an issue involved, she thought, if there had been something to fight for…. But what else could her possibly have done? Allow himself to be beaten? Attempt to educate the man? Call a policeman? “Officer, there’s a man in the park who won’t stop his child from throwing sand one mine….” The whole thing was as silly as that, and not worth thinking about.
“Can’t you keep him quiet, for Pete’s sake?” Morton asked irritably.
“What do you suppose I’ve been trying to do?” she said.
Larry pulled back, dragging his feet.
“If you can’t discipline this child, I will,” Morton snapped, making a move toward the boy.
But her voice stopped him. She was shocked to hear it, thin and cold and penetrating with contempt. “Indeed?” she heard herself say. “You and who else?”