1. What did the author find in a junk shop?
Answer: The author found a roll-top desk made of oak wood in the junk shop. It was badly out of shape and needed lots of repair. But as a new one would have cost him a fortune he thought of buying it.
2. What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?
Answer: The author found a letter written by a person named Jim. It was Jim’s last letter to the recipient Mrs. Macpherson. So, there is every likelihood that Mrs. Macpherson had put it there.
3. Who had written the letter, to whom, and when?
Answer: Jim Macpherson had written the letter to his wife Mrs. Macpherson on during December 1914. It was written during the First World War.
4. Why was the letter written — what was the wonderful thing that had happened?
Answer: German and British army was fighting a battle. The soldiers were living in their trenches to fight enemy. For soldiers writing and receiving letter was the only way to be in touch with their family members. Nowadays telephone has taken over the role of letters. Think how painful and wonderful it would have been to wait for weeks for a letter to arrive. The wonderful thing was, in spite of enmity they celebrated Christmas together. This shows that festivals are above all personal enmity. In our country there is a saying that during Holi you should embrace your friends and foes alike.
5. What jobs did Hans Wolf and Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers?
Answer: Hans Wolf was a musician playing cello in an orchestra and Jim Macpherson was a school teacher. During early 20th century it was common for people to get enrolled into army during wars. Even today certain countries, like Israel, make it mandatory for all adults to serve in military for a certain period.
6. Had Hans Wolf ever been to Dorset? Why did he say he knew it?
Answer: Hans Wolf had never been to Dorset. He was fond of reading books and had good command over English language. He read so much about Dorset in books that he was familiar with Dorset. That is why he said that he knew Dorset.
7. Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from the war? How do you know this?
Answer: The written statement on the letter saying that that was the last letter from Jim and that should be buried with Mrs. Macpherson indicates that Jim didn’t return from war.
8. Why did the author go to Bridport?
Answer: The author wanted to ensure that the letter should reach the real owner and her last wish should be fulfilled. Even a criminal going to the guillotine is asked his last wishes and efforts are taken to fulfill those wishes. The address written on the envelope gave a hint to the author to try finding Mrs. Macpherson in Bridport.
9. How old was Mrs Macpherson now? Where was she?
Answer: Mrs. Macpherson was now over hundred years old. She was in a nursing home.
10. Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was?
Answer: Mrs. Macpherson thought the author to be Jim himself. Probably her old age, her poor health coupled with her sense of void after Jim’s death created such hallucination for her.
11. Which sentence in the text shows that the visitor did not try to hide his identity?
Answer: Author’s statement about how he found the desk and ultimately the letter shows that he did not try to hide his identity.
The Ant and the Cricket
A silly young cricket, accustomed to sing
Through the warm, sunny months of gay summer and spring,
Began to complain when he found that, at home,
His cupboard was empty, and winter was come.
Not a crumb to be found
On the snow-covered ground;
Not a flower could he see,
Not a leaf on a tree.
“Oh! what will become,” says the cricket, “of me?”
This is a poem about a silly young cricket. The cricket used to enjoy his good times during favourable season. But when the winter arrives the cricket cann’t find a morsel to eat. Most animals are known to store some extra food which will last them the bad weather. But the silly cockroach didn’t plan for the future.
At last by starvation and famine made bold,
All dripping with wet, and all trembling with cold,
Away he set off to a miserly ant,
To see if, to keep him alive, he would grant
Him shelter from rain,
And a mouthful of grain.
He wished only to borrow;
He’d repay it tomorrow;
If not, he must die of starvation and sorrow.
Now the silly cricket can foresee a bleak future ahead, so thinks of going to a miser ant to borrow food and to get shelter. It plans to repay during favourable weather.
Says the ant to the
cricket, “I’m your servant
But we ants never borrow;
we ants never lend.
But tell me, dear cricket,
did you lay nothing by
When the weather was
warm?” Quoth the cricket,
My heart was so light
That I sang day and night,
For all nature looked gay.”
“You sang, Sir, you say?
Go then,” says the ant, “and dance the winter away.”
Thus ending, he hastily lifted the wicket,
And out of the door turned the poor little cricket.
Folks call this a fable. I’ll warrant it true:
Some crickets have four legs, and some have two.
The ant gives a very important lesson of life during its conversation with the cricket. Ant says that ants neither borrow from somebody nor lend to somebody. Ants are hardworking creatures and save for the future. The ant asks the cricket what it was doing during happier times. On hearing the cricket indulged in dancing and singing and making merry, the ant asks the cricket to try dancing and singing once again during rough times.
This is a good lesson for human beings as well. It is good to enjoy happy moments but while doing so we should not ignore our future. Careful planning ensures a secure future for everyone.
-- adapted from Aesop’s Fables
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