A Conservation With a Reader Summary Notes
A Conservation With a Reader About the Author
Joseph Hilaire Pierre Ren Belloc (27th July 1870 -16th July 1953 France) was ah Anglo – French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early 20th century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man ofletters, soldier and political activist. His catholic faith had a strong impact on his works.
Belloc became a nationalized British subject in 1902, while retaining his French citizenship. The author of more than 150 books, he wrote on myriad subjects from warfare to poetry and many current topics of his day. He was closely associated with GK. Chesterton. Three of his best known non – fiction works are The servile states (1912), Europe and frith (1920) and The Jews (1922).
A Conservation With a Reader Summary
The essay ‘A conversation with a reader’ by Hilaire Belloc, was originally anthologized in ‘Short Talks with the Dead’ in 1928. The essay is about the authors’ personal experiences. In this essay he makes fun of himself for not being famous and also pokes fun at famous writers.
In the essay Hilaire Belloc writes about real life experience, when he had a conversation with a fellow – traveller when he was travelling from Birmingham to London on the Great Western Railway. The author saw that one of his fellow travellers was reading a book of essays written by himself. The author imagines that he has at last become famous.
He starts to admire the man because he was reading one of his books. While the author was singing his own imagined glory in his mind, the man who was reading the author’s book put it down with a sigh saying ‘silly staff that’.
The reader found the author’s book was silly. The author picks up a conversation with the reader by agreeing with him and asked him ho he came to read it. The reader tells the author that a manat a book stall recommended it to him and he thought that he had wasted a shilling in buying in book. The man did not even know who the author of the book was.
The reader than tells the author that he found reading while travelling was a ‘funny thin’, and he does it to pass the time. The reader complained bitterly that he couldn’t make himself ‘read that stuff’ – the author’s book. The author asks the man what the book was about, the reader replies that couldn’t understand what was written in the book. The reader tells the author that the printers were fools to have printed the book because it didn’t have a story and that he thinks that they might be newspaper articles.
The author was pained by the man’s words because he had indeed compiled newspaper articles in the book to make a living out of it-to earn money. The reader continued to say that he had never heard of the author before and he surely didn’t want to hear about him again.
The author then asked the reader who his favourite authors were and the man named many of them. The author tells us that he couldn’t mention the names of the author because he could be sued. The reader tells the author that he also read poetry and recited a poem ‘Has made us what we are”.
The reader found the poem to be ‘splendid stuff’. He again recited a poem by the same poet called ‘Sambo’s Prayer’ and wondered how the poet could write such brilliant poems. The reader confesses to the author that he wouldn’t be able to write such poems even if he were offered ‘a handful of gold sovereigns’. He felt that the poets were inspired to write such poetry.
Later when the train was about reach Oxford station the author offered to buy the book that the man had been reading (the one written by the author). The man reluctantly accepted the author’s offer. Later the author, Belloc, lazily goes through the book. After reading them again, the author felt that the reader was quite right. The author himselfthought he had had written miserable essays.
He felt disgusted. The author wished that he had never written the book. He found that he had written the essays with ‘affectation’ (designed to impress), false rhetoric and slipshod construction and was uninteresting. The author then miserably remembered that he had to compile another book of such essays. Yet the author consoles himself by thinking that life is a choice of two evils. It was better to write a bad book, than being.dishonoured for not paying bills he owed.
The author concludes the essay saying that he had never seen anyone anywhere reading any of his books since that day on the train. He declares that even if he sees anyone reading his books he will never again strike up a conversation with the reader again in his lifetime.
A Conservation With a Reader Glossary
- Publican: An innkeeper or bartender
- Demeanour: Outward behavior or bearing
- Great enchanted island: England
- Languid: Lacking in energy, slow moving
- Evangelist: Missionary
- Affectation: Pretense, Insincerity
- Libel: The publication of slander in print. Belloc is implying that he might be sued by any authors he cites as the favourites of the man in the carriage.
- “Little England”: The “Little Englander” label was applied to those English citizens who were opposed to the imperialism being practiced by their country overseas and wished for the limits of England to extend no farther than the limits of the British Isles.
- Has made us what were: If this is a real poem, I’ve been unable to find it. It has the kind of title that someone like Rudyard Kipling, Henry New bolt or John Masefield might have employed, but none of them appear to have written a poem under this name.
A Conservation With a Reader Questions and Answers
Short Answer Questions
The author’s fellow traveller appeared as either publican or the Hangman
Why did the narrator feel dizzy with happiness?
The narrator felt dizzy with happiness because he saw a man reading one of the books he had written.
What was the reader’s first remark on the book?
The reader’s first remark on the book was ‘Silly stuff that’.
Name the two poems the reader mentions and praises.
‘Has made us what we are’ and Sambo’s Prayer’.
Why did the man like the verses more than the book?
The reader felt the poems stirre his blood. He said that it was ‘Splendid stuff’ and ‘good ringing stuff’.
II. Answer the Following Questions in About a Page:
Write a note on the conversation between the narrator and the reader in the train?
In the essay Hilaire Belloc writes about real life experience, when he had a conversation with a fellow – traveller when he was travelling fixm Birmingham to London on the Great Western Railway. The author saw that one of his fellow travellers was reading a book of essays written by himself. The author imagines that he has at last become famous.
He starts to admire the man because he was reading one ofhis books. While the author was singing his own imagined glory in his mind, the man who was reading the author’s book put it down with a sigh saying ‘silly staff that’. The reader found the author’s book was silly.
The author picks up a conversation with the reader by agreeing with him and asked him how he came to read it. The reader tells the author that a man at a book stall recommended it to him and he thought that he had wasted a shilling in buying in book. The man did not even know who the author of the book was.
The reader than tells the author that he is found reading while travelling was a ‘funny thing’, and he does it to pass the time. The reader complained bitterly that he couldn’t make himself ‘read that stuff’ – the author’s book.
The author asks the man what the book was about, the reader replies that couldn’t understand what was written in the book. The reader tells the author that the printers were fools to have printed the book because it didn’t have a story and that he thinks that they might be newspaper articles.
The author was pained by the man’s words because he had indeed compiled newspaper articles in the book to make a living out of it-To earn money.
The reader continued to say that he had never heard of the the author then asked the reader who his favourite authors were and the man named many of them. The author tells us that he couldn’t mention the names of the author because he could be sued. The reader tells the author that he also read poetry and recited a poem ‘Has made us what we are”. The reader found the poem to be ‘splendid stuff.
He again recited a poem by the same poet called ‘Sambo’s Prayer’ and wondered how the poet could write such brilliant poems. The reader confesses to the author that he wouldn’t be able to write such poems even if he were offered ‘a handful of gold sovereigns’. He felt that the poets were inspired to write such poetry.
Later when the train was about reach Oxford station the author offered to buy the book that the man had been reading (the one written by the author). The man reluctantly accepted the author’s offer.
Bring out the differences in the reader’s opinions on the narrator’s book and his favourite poems?
The reader fought has the authors book was a ‘silly stuff’. He didn’t know why he was reading it. He had picked up that book because the book seller had recommended it to him. The reader felt that he had wasted a shilling by buying the book. The reader also pronounced the author’s name wrongly. Even though he liked to read while he was travelling, the reader couldn’t compel himself to read the authors book.
He couldn’t comprehed what was written in the book. He thought that they had printed it out of their foolishness. The book had no stories. It had only newspaper articles. The man wondered why they published such books. He had never heard of the author’s name and didn’t want to hear of him again.
The reader liked to read verses. Among the authors he liked to read was a poet. The reader felt that the poet wrote splendid and ringkig poems. He remembered most of the poet’s poem and also recited two of them. He felt that the poet was a genius, to have written such poems. Even if the reader was enticed with a handful of gold sovereigns he wouldn’t be able to write such poems.
What were the author’s thoughts/reflections when he saw his book in the hands of the fellow traveller?
The author’s heart rose dizzily upon catching the title of a book he had written in a co – passengers hands. It was one of his books of essays the author imagined that he was becoming famous. He felt that the reader was a good specimen of the average public because he was reading one of his books.
The author thought he liked the man because he was reading his book. The imagined that hundreds people all over the great enchanted island (England) were also reading one or the other books written by the author.
The authro imagined he had become a favourite author of the people of England and they liked all the books he had written and were reading and re reading all the books written by him until the covers of the books were worn out and they again bought another copy of his books, he thought that their word – of – mouth was enough advertisement to sell his books.
The people who had read his books would recommed them to their friends and they again would recommed it to someone else. He imagined that his fortune had turned for the better ‘The world had changed its complexion and my sun has risen at last’ – he now was a famous author.
Why wasn’t the narrator satisfied with his own book?
The reader on the train had scorned at the author’s book. He thought that he had wasted a shilling in buying the book. So the authro offered to, buy the book from him. Though the reader said that the deal wasn’t fair he gave in at the end and gave it to the author. After the reader got down at Oxford the author lazily opened the pages ofthe book and his heart sank, he felt that the reader was right He read some of his own essays he had writtenin the book.
He thought that he hadn’t read such miserable essays since a long time. As he went through the essays, reading a sentence here and a phrase there he felt disgusted, he analysed that he had written the essays just to impress the readers (affectation). He had included ‘false rhetoric’ (persuation through insincere and meaningless language). The construction of the essays was ‘slipshod’ (loose): He felt that he had written those essays with utter lack of interest.
To stoke the fire that was burning he his heart, the authro miserably remembered that he had an assignment, to gather yet another sheaf of such chance article and put them again between covers, silmiar to the one he had in his hands then.
He had to do it even if it was a distasteful task, because he had no choice. Life is a choice of two evils. “A bad book to one’s name is less dishonouring than a default in payment”. The author felt that he had no choice but to write such bad broks to make a living out of it, and to pay his bills. Paying bills on time was more honourable than being infamous for writing bad books.
III. Answer the Following Questions in About two Pages:
“Humour is not merely laughing at ethers, but also laughing at oneself”. Explain with reference to the text.
“Humour is not to degrade the human being but to remin him that is already degraded”. If a man cannot laugh at himself than he is a cynic. Aman who is able to laugh at himself has a strong character. ‘A convesation with a reader’ shows that the writer Hilaire Belluc could laugh at himself. There is nothing wrong in poking fun at ourselves. It is not demeaning. It helps us to analyze ourselves or rather it shows that we are able to analyze ourselves. We will be able to overcome the weak points in our character and bulid a better one.
When the writer sees a man on the train with one of his books, he imagines that he had become famous and end up being a wealthy man. He strickes up a conversation with the reader and finds out that the man finds his book distasteful and silly, a loosely woven up book of newspaper articles that are meaningless and written by an author who he hasn’t even hear of.
When the reader tells the author that he had waste a shilling in buying the book, the author magnanimously offer to buy it from him. The author quotes “He rather hesitatingly accepted my offer; for he was an honestman, and he did not like the idea of any being a shilling out on such fearful rubbish’.
The author is generously making fun of himself by saying that one of his own books is ‘fearful rubbish’. As the reader was getting down at Oxford station the author offers to buy the ‘horrible rubbish’ book from the reader’.
The reason being that he has ‘nothing to read in between this and London, and I am tired of doing geometry in my head’ and ‘only reading passes the time’. It is quite difficult to imagine a writer, reading his own book to pass time on a train. But at the end of the train journey, the author could analyze his own short – comings.
Comment on the dramatic change in the author’s opinion about himself in the essay?
The author was able to realize that the man was quite right. He felt that his essays were miserable. They were just written to impress the readers. He wished that he had never written such a book. He had written those unintresting essays just to earn a living. His mind was not in it and he had written them without interest.
The author remembers that he had to write another one of such book that week. He was doing it for the money. Although he thought that it was a miserable book, he still had to write another one to make a living. It is better to have a bad book in one’s name than being shamed for not paying bills.
Bookshop Memories Language Activity
Develop the following hints into short stories and suggest suitable titles:
1. A fisherman catches a golden fish – brings to the king – the gatekeeper stops him – wants half the reward – the fisherman agrees – goes in – king happy – offers reward – the fisherman asks for fifty lashes on his back – the king surprised – thinks the fisherman is mad – after getting twenty – five lashes cries out, “stop! I have a partner” – the dishonesty of the gatekeeper comes to light – punished.
The Rightful Reward
One day a fisherman was catching fishes in the River Ganga. He had not caught any fish the previous day. He and his family had to stay hungry the previous night. So he had come to the river early and had cast his net the sun rose above his head yet he had no catch. He was getting worried that his family would have to stay hungry that day also.
Suddenly he felt the pull of the net. He eagerly pulled the net on to his boat and removed the fish from the net. He was astonished to see that it was a golden fish. There was no limit no limit to his happiness. But his happiness was short lived. A question arose in his mind, “who would buy a golden fish”! None the people in his village were rich enough to buy a golden fish. He stood on the banks of the Ganga thinking, suddenly he saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
He realised that the only person who could buy a golden fish was the king of Ujjain. He decided to go to the king’s palace and request the king to buy the Golden fish. It was getting dark. When he reached the palace. The guard at the gate stopped him and asked why he wanted to see the king. The poor fisherman naratted the whole story. The guard was a greedy man. He told the fisherman that he would let him to meet king if he promised to give him half the reward. What could the fisherman do?.
He agreed to part with half the reward. The king was delighted to see the golden fish. He asked the fisherman what reward he wanted in return for the gold fish. The fisherman told the king to give him fifty lashes on his back. The king was greatly surprised to hear the fisherman’s request. He though he was mad. But since the fisherman insisted, the king reluctantly agreed.
When the courtier was about to give the first lash, the fisherman shouted ‘stop, I have a partner’. The king asked the fisherman what it was all about. The fisherman told the king the whole truth. The king was angry. He ordered his men to arrest the guard and put him in jail. Later the gave a handsome reward to the fisherman and sent him home. The fisherman went back home happyily.
2. Boy sent to guard sheep – told to cry “Wolf’ if he sees a wolf near the flock – watches the sheep for several days – one day thinks of a mischief – shouts “Wolf!” as a joke – all the villagers hasten to his help – find no wolf – boy laughs at them – villagers angry – plays the same joke a few days later – villagers take no notice – but some come running – find nothing – beat the boy – at last a wolf really comes – boy shouts “Wolf! ” Wolf! ” twice – villagers take no notice – wolf kills the boy and several sheep.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, “Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!”
The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
“Don’t cry ‘wolf, shepherd boy,” said the villagers, “when there’s no wolf!” They went grumbling back down the hill.
Later, the boy sang out again, “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.
When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, “Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don’t cry wolf when there is no wolf!” But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.
Later, he saw a Real wo If prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, “Wolf! Wolf!” But the villagers thought he was frying to fool them again, and so they didn’t come.
At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn’t returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.
“There really was a wolfhere! The flock has scattered! I cried out, “Wolf!” Why didn’t you come?”
An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village. “We’ll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning,” he said, putting his arm around the youth, “Nobodybelieves a liar…even when he is telling the truth!”
3. A son is bom to a king – the mother dies in childbirth – a young mother with a baby is chosen as nurse – she nurses both babies together – enemies of the king plot to kill his son – they bribe the guards and get into the palace – the nurse comes to know just in time – quickly changes the children’s dresses – leaves her own child dressed as prince and hides the real prince – murderes enter and kill the child – prince is saved – king offers big reward – she refuses – kills herself – king very sad – builds a splendid tomb for the faithful nurse.
A Great Sacrifice
A son was born to king Vikramadity of Chitoor. He was named Uday Singh. Unfortunately, the queen died soon after giving birth to the Prince. Rani Kamavati, Vikramaditya’s mother entrusted her maidservant – Panna “dhai”(nanny) – for up bringing her grandson Uday Singh. Invited by nobles to be the guardian of Uday Singh, Banvir, exploited the situation to fulfill his own ambitions.
He felt that there were only two obstacles between him and the throne – Uday Singh. He secretly conspired to kill him. After he had assassinated Vikramaditya, Banvir was spotted by a maidservant and seeing his crimson sword, she promptly informed Panna of the cruel deed and said that Banvir was now coming for Uday Singh.
Panna’s mind began racing. She had to save the only living heir to the throne of Mewar. She concealed Uday Singh in the basket and covered him with fruits and the future Maharana of the Mewar was smuggled out of the reach of Banvir. Panna placed her own sleeping son Chandan, on the bed of Uday Singh. When Banvir came, he unknowingly slew Chandan, thinking that it was Uday Singh sleeping in his bed.
Soon Panna, who could not even mourn for her son, was hurrying away from Chittor with Uday Singh in search of help from other chieftains. The Shah of Kumbhalgarh was ready to give them shelter. Four year passed and Uday Singh was married to a Rajput princess. Panna then contacted the Rajput chieftains and revealed to them the story of Uday Singh’s escape.
The Rajput chieftain, on coming to know the truth, considered their duty to restore the throne to the rightful owner. They joined Uday Singh in the revolt against Banvir and in a battle fought near Maholi; Banvir’s entire army was routed. At last Uday Singh returned to Chittor and was later crowned as the Maharana of Mewar.
He was much indebted to Panna for her great sacrifice, yet Panna in the same Rajput tradition felt that it was her duty and all her sorrow was washed away on seeing Uday Singh on the throne. The king offers a big reward to her. She politely refuses his offer and kills herself in front of him The sad king builds a splendid memorial for his faithful nurse.
Exercise – 2
Construct stories using the hints:
1. Greatest achievement – how you worked – what obstacles bothered – final outcome.
Lately I have been thinking about what I have achieved in life. In about two years. I would earn a Bachelor’s degree and start trudging the streets looking for a job. What would I tell the interviewer, if he asked me about a great achievement in my life. So many thoughts turned towards my achievements. I think my greatest achievement was have passed my tenth standard exams with a distinction.
I was born in a poor family. Both my father and mother strived hard to put me through school. They sent me to a very good private school of great repute at the time. I was an average student. But I put a determined effort in studies and managed to get through all the exams. When I was promoted to Highschool, our school suddenly decided to switch over to CBSE syllabus. I was quite dumbfounded. CBSE textbooks were hard nuts to chew.
The principal advised my parents to put me in another school. But my parents were adamant. They put their foot down and insisted that I study in that school I reluctantly agreed. The first three months of high school was a struggle. My class – teacher Miss Sandra, knew that I was finding it difficult to keep up with my friends in studies.
She gave me a prep talk which lifted up my spirits. I determined to put more effort into studies. I used to stay awkae late at night and study. I practiced equations and theorems all night. I studied History, Geography and English until I was through with everything. I faced the exams with my highest confidence. I anxiously waited for the resalt.
I felt very ill on the result day. I gathered up my courage and went to school. I went slowly upto the notice board arid franctically searced for my name. I thought I would faint when I saw my number in Distinction list. After I came out of shock, I jumped about like a madman and ran home to inform my parents. This was my greatest achievement in life.
2. Exam – stress – late night studying – burglary – neighbour’s house – how you helped.
Those were the days when I was busy preparing for my tenth standard final exams. I had to study long after mid – night to cover all the portions. One night I felt stress out and sleepy. So to rub out my sleepiness and to have a breath of fresh air I went to the terrace of my house to relax. Though it was summer, the night was quite cool. Nothing stirred on the that summer night. It was pacing up and down the terrace to put blood circulation back on my numb feet.
Most of my neighbours had left their windows open as it was summer. I was wondering why people had left their windows open when it was so unsafe to do. Suddenly I heard a terrible scream. It came from a house of one of my neighbours three houses down the road. I quickly came downstaris and came out of my house and ran down the street to their house. The Chaos had already began. The dogs were barking to the skies.
I found their doors open and ran inside. I was dumbfounded when I saw the scence at their house. Everything in their house was in shambles. I saw Nirmala aunty lying unconscious near the bedroom door. I did not know what to do. But I ran to the kitchen, got some water and sprinkled it on her. She started to stir slowly and tried to sit. I helped her to the sofa. She suddenly started to cry. When I asked her what had happend, she gasped and in between sobs told me the what had happened.
Uncle Ramu had gone to their grandmother’s place. Nirmala aunty had slept early in the night. While she sleeping she heard some sound coming for the other bedroom. Although she was frightended she got up quickly and went to check. Three men were busy ransaking the Almirah in the bedroom When they saw her, one of the men hit her on the head and the had fallen unconsciuous. The she doesn’t know anything until I had woken her up.
I suddenly realized that she was bleeding on the back of her head. I gave her a wet towel to asked her to dab the oozing blood. I calmed her down and dashed to my house. I woke up parents and quickly narrated the whole story. My father called the police.
We quickly went back to Nirmala Aunty’s house my mother consoled her. My father called up Ramu uncle and told him to come back as soon as possible. The policeman came quickly and started their investigation. Later my mother tookNirmala Aunty to our house. My father stayed back at their house, until Ramu uncle came back in the morning.
All the excitment of the night had made me forget my studies. I could not sleep the whole night and got up late in the morning. I was late for school. When I came back from school, my mother told me that the burglars had made off with valuables worth two lakhs, from Nirmala aunty’s house. Now they are waiting with baited breathe to hear some good news from the police.
3. College at 10 a.m. – commuting – street fight – one boy severely injured – hospitalised – survives.
I clearly remember the day when I witnessed a terrible accident. I was studying in I year P.U.C. As usual I was riding my bike to college. It was already 10 O’ clock in the morning. I was busy negotiating the mad rush on the road during the peak hour of Monday morning traffice. I had lab classes that day and I was anxious to reach college early. As I was approaching the college, I saw to my horror a small boy, in school uniform suddenly rushing on to the road. He came under the wheels of a speeding bike.
I quickly stopped my bike and rushed to the accident spot. The boy was unconcious and I saw he was bleeding on his forehead. The bike rider was too dazed to react. One of the passers by helped me to lift the boy from the road.
We laid him an a bench on the footpath and called for an ambulance. I checked him and to my satisfaction he was breathing. I took out my hand kerchief and wrapped it around his forehead. I checked his school bag and found his address and his parents phone number from his school dairy. I called his father and asked him to come there.
His father arrived quickly. He looked as if he would faint. I consoled him. The ambulance arrived and I went with them to the hospital. After waiting anxiously for half an hour the doctor came out and told us that he had regained his conciousness and there was no need to worry and he would recover in a day. We thanked the doctor. The father looked relieved. I saw a tear in his eye. I patted him on his back and left the hospital, bidding him all the best.
4. Soldier comes home – is dead by report – wife opens door – reactions – actual report by himself.
Dead Indian Soldier ‘Returns’ Alive.
For seven years Dharamveer Singh’s family was told that the Indian Army soldier was dead. The Army which declared him dead three years after he went missing following an accident in 2009 was paying due compensations to his family for all these years. But for the family, somewhere deep within they believed Singh will come back one day. And it paid off.
On Monday his father, Retired Subedar Kailash Yadav heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, to his surprise, found Dharamveer standing in front of him. While the family was overjoyed, Dharamveer had an unbelievable-fairytale story about how he disappeared. Dharamveer and three of his colleagues from the 66 Armoured Regiment in Dehradun, went missing after the army vehicle driven by him met with an accident after hitting a divider.
Not a single body was recovered and other jawans reported back to their units later. Three years after the incident, the army declared him dead. While Singh is still unclear about exactly what happened to him, all he recalls is that he lost his memory due to the accident and begging on the streets of Dehradun, Roorkee and Haridwar. Then something miraculous happened.
Last week he was hit by a bike. While in hospital Singh regained his memory. “The biker who hit me gave me Rs 500. I took the money and bought a ticket for Delhi. After that I reached my village in Bhiteda, near Alwar. I am in shock. It felt so good to see all of them. I could hardly recognise my daughters. They have become so big,”Singh said.“His wife Manoj Devi who kept a fast for Singh’s safety all these years said she knew that her husband will come back. “Somewhere deep down in my heart, I knew I would see him again.”
Exercise – 3
Illustrate through short stories
1. Where there is a will there is a way
Long ago a large flock of sheep were grazing in a field. A wolf, which was very hungry was searching for a prey. When he saw the flock of sheep gracing peacefully in the field his mouth started watering. Without making much noise he approached them and pounced on a sheep. The lamb tried hard to escape from the wolf but could not. As the wolf was about to kill the lamb, it thought of a plan to trick the wolf and escape from him.
The lamb cried, “Oh wolf! I know that I am going to die now. Will you be kind enough to fulfil my last wish?”
The wolf asked, “What is your last wish?”
The lamb replied, “I am fond of listening to the flute. Before I die, I wish to hear you play the flute,” The wolf agreed and started to play the flute.
He pretended to be mesmerised by the music and said, “Oh! what beautiful music! Will you play it a bit louder, please? You play far better than my shepherd”.
The wolf was pleased by the flattery and started to play the flute loudly. The shepherd heard the music and wondered who was playing the flute and came there with his dogs. When the shepherd saw the wolf he let his dogs loose. They came running and attacked the Wolf and killed. The clever lamb happily ran back to his flock.
2. More haste less speed
Once upon a time, there was an energetic and happy hare and a sleepy tortoise. The happy hare was called Nandu and the sleepy tortoise was called Anju. Archibald the tortoise liked to sit and munch his dinner slowly, whilst Noel the hare would gobble up his dinner and run round and round Archibald until he was dizzy.
One day, they had an argument.
“I am the fastest animal in the whole wide world,” said Nandu.
“I’m fester than a cheeky cheetah, a kicking kangaroo and a racing rabbit,” he boasted.
“Oh do be quiet,” sighed Anju. “You are so fell of yourself! If you’re not careful you’ll dome to a sticky end.”
“Where’s sticky end then,” asked Nandu. “Is it fer from here?”
Anju rolled his eyes and carried on munching on some tasty lettuce leaves.
“Oh you two do stop arguing,” said a blackbird as he flew past.
“No, this is serious,” said Nandu the hare. “I will prove to you all that I’m the fastest animal in the whole wide world”
“OK,” said Anju the tortoise. “I’ll race you then!”
Noel the hare laughed his head off
“Just you wait and see,” said Anju. “I’ll get Veeru the wise old owl to organise a race for us…”
Veeru the wise old owl arranged the race for the next day All the animals in the field put on their best clothes, groomed their fer, picked up a flag to wave and got ready to cheer the tortoise and the hare on.
“On your marks… Get set… Go!” Called Veeru… Andthe race was off!
Slowly, slowly Anju the tortoise set off and quickly, quickly Nandu the hare raced off and soonhe was out of sight. In fact he was so ferahead that, when he looked back, Anju the tortoise was nowhere to be seen.
“Gosh,” Nandu thought. “I’ve more or less won all ready! I think I’ll just have a little nap under this tree, it’s such a hot day”. Noel the hare was soon fast asleep.
Meanwhile, Anju the tortoise ambled along slowly enjoying the sun on his shell and taking the odd nibble of gras.s from time to time. On and on and on and on and on and on he plodded. He plodded past the oak tree, he plodded past the bridge, he plodded past the cowshed, he even plodded past Nandu the hare who was still snoring under the tree. He plodded on until he came to the in the field were gathered. All the animals clustered around Anju cheering and shouting.
“Well done! Well done! You’re the winner!”
All the noise woke Nandu the hare up with a start.
“Oh my! Oh my! What’s going on? What’s all that’noise? Never mind. I’d better finish the race then I can go and have my dinner,” he thought.
But when he got there, to his horror, he saw Anju the tortoise with a gold winner’s medal around his neck.
‘This can’t be right! He must have cheated,’ cried Nandu the hare. “Everyone knows I’m fester than him!”
“Anju the tortoise didn’t cheat,” said Veeru the wise old owl. “He has won fair and square. Slowly and surely, never giving up, Anju passed the finishing line first. Sorry Nandu old chap, but you’ve lost this race. Let that be a lesson to you – slow and steady wins the race!”
Noel the hare looked very unhappy and sulky. Anju the tortoise felt sorry for him and tried to cheer him up.
“Cheer up Nandu, it was only a race,” Anju said. “I’m sure you’ll win the next one. And I’d rather we were still friends than win every race under the sun.”
And from that day on they became the best of friends and Nandu the hare never boasted again.
Exercise – 4
Develop the following themes into stories
Damon and Pythias
A Story if Friendship
A young man whose name was Pythias had done something which the tyrant Dionysius did not like. For this offense he was dragged to prison, and a day was set when he should be put to death. His home was far away, and he wanted very much to see his father and mother and friends before he died.
“Only give me leave to go home and say good-by to those Whom! love,” he said, “and then I will come back and give up my life.”
The tyrant laughed at him
“How can I know that you will keep your promise?” he said.
“You only want to cheat me, and save your-Self. ”
Then a young man whose name was Damon spoke and said, “O king! put me in prison in place of my friend Pythias, and let him go to his own country to put his affairs in order, and to bid his friends fare-well. I know that he will come back as he promised, for heis a man who has never broken his word. But if he is not here on the day which you have set, then I will die in his stead.”
The tyrant was surprised that anybody should make such an offer He at last agreed to let Pythias go, and gave orders that the young man Da-mon should be shut up in prison.
Time passed, and by and by the day drew near which had b a set for Pythias to die; and he had not come back. The tyrant o! ed the jailer to keep close watch upon Damon, and not let bin scape. But Damon did not try to escape. He still had faith in the truth and honor of his friend. He said, ‘If Pythias does not come jack in time, it will not be his fault. It will be because he is hindered against his will.”
At last the day came, and then the very hoia. Damon was ready to die. His trust in his friend was as firm as ever; and he said that he did not grieve at having to suffer for one whom he loved so much.
Then the jailer came to lead him to his death; but at the same moment Pythias stood in the door. He had been delayed by storms and ship-wreck, and he had feared that he was too late. He greeted amon kindly, and bn gave himself into the hands of the jailer. He was happy because he waght that he had come in time, even though it was at the last moment.
The tyrant was not so bad but that he could see good in others. He felt that men who loved and trusted each other, as did Damorf and Pythias, ought not to suffer unjustly. And so he set themboth free. “I would give all my wealth to have one such friend,” he said.
2. Unlucky jewellery
Mathilde Loisel is “pretty and charming” but feels she has been bom into a family of unfavorable economic status. She was married off to a lowly clerk in the Ministry of Education, who can afford to provide her only with a modest though not uncomfortable lifestyle. Mathilde feels the burden of her poverty intensely. She regrets her lot in life and spends endless hours imagining a more extravagant existence.
While her husband expresses his pleasure at the small, modest supper she has prepared for him, she dreams of an elaborate feast served on fancy china and eaten in the company of wealthy friends. She possesses no fancy jewels or clothing, yet these are1 the only things she lives for. Without them, she feels she is not desirable. She has one wealthy friend, Madame Forestier, but refuses to visit her because ofthe heartbreak it brings her.
One night, her husband returns home proudly bearing an, invitation to a formal party hosted by the Ministry of Education. He hopes that Mathilde will be thrilled with the chance to attend an evert of this sort, but sheis instantly angry and begins to cry. Through her tears, she tells him that she has nothing to wear and he ought to give the invitation to one of his friends whose wife can afford better clothing.
Her husband is upset by her reaction and asks how much a suitable dress would cost. She thinks about it carefully and tells him that 400 francs would be enough. Her husband quietly balks at the sum but agrees that she may have the money.
As the day of the party approaches, Mathilde starts to behave oddly. She confesses that the reason for her behavior is her lack of jewels. Monsieur Loisel suggests that she wear flowers, but she refuses. He implores her to visit Madame Forestier and borrow something from her. Madame Forestier agrees to lend Mathilde her jewels, and Mathilde selects a diamond necklace. She is overcome with gratitude at Madame Forestier’s generosity.
At the party, Mathilde is the most beautiful woman in attendance, and everyone notices her. She is intoxicated by the attention and has an overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction At 4 a.m, she finally looks for Monsieur Loisel, who has been dozing for hours in a deserted room He cloaks her bare shoulders in a wrap and cautions her to wait inside, away from die cold night air, while he fetches a cab. But she is ashamed at the shabbiness of her wrap and follows Monsieur Loisel outside. They walk for a while before hailing a cab.
When they finally return home, Mathilde is saddened that the night has ended! As she removes her wrap, she discovers that her necklace is no longer around her neck. In a panic, Monsieur Loisel goes outside and retraces their steps. Terrified, she sits and waits for him He returns home much later in an even greater panic he has not fouhd the necklace. He instructs her to write to Madame Forestier and say that she has broken the clasp of the necklace and is getting it mended.
They continue to look for the necklace. After a week, Monsieur Loisel says they have to see about replacing it. They visit many jewelers, searching for a similar necklace, and finally find one. It costs 40,000 francs, although the jeweler says he will give it to them for 36,000. The Loisels spend a week scraping up money from all kinds of sources, mortgaging the rest of their existence. After three days, Monsieur Loisel purchases the necklace.
When Mathilde returns the necklace, in its case, to Madame Forestier, Madame Forestier is annoyed at how long it has taken to get it back but does not open the case to inspect it. Mathilde is relieved their servant and move into an even smaller apartment. Monsieur Loisel works three jobs, and Mathilde spends all her time doing the heavy housework. This misery lasts ten years, but at the end they have repaid their financial debts. Mathilde’s extraordinary beauty is now gone: she looks just likes the other women of poor households. They are both tired and irrevocably damaged from these years of hardship.
One Sunday, while she is out for a walk, Mathilde spots Madame Forestier. Feeling emotional, she approaches her and offers greetings. Madame Forestier djbes not recognize her, and when Mathilde identifies herself Madame Forestier cannot help but exclaim that she looks different. Mathilde says that the change was on her account and explains to her the long saga of losing the necklace, replacing it, and working for ten years to repay the debts. At the end of her story, Madame Forestier clasps her hands and tells worth anything.
3. Broken mirror
The teaspoon clinked gently against the side of the cup. Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply as the sweet steam rose and brushed against her face. The toaster popped; reaching for the crispy slice of sourdough, she let her fingers pause on the rough, hot texture, waiting for her skin to start tingling; quickly dropping the toast onto a plate, she slowly dragged a knife across it, watching the thick, golden honey glisten in the morning sun.
Lifting the mug to her lips, her gaze fell uponffie shiny surface of the kettle. Momentarily, her own reflection looked back. Gasping in shock, she spun round, heart racing, coffee sloshing out of the mug.
She waited a few moments, breathing slowly, eyes closed. Reaching for some paper towel, she watched as it soaked up the spilt coffee – rough white morphed into damp, creamy brown. Carrying the coffee into the next room, she curled up at one end of the couch, resting the coffee on her lap, and picked up the small, blue folder.
Sighing, she began leafing through the newspaper clippings and doctor’s notes again. Each one was becoming more familiar now. She no longer felt dizzy, or nauseous, as she read fern. Pausing when she reached the section at the back with the photographs, she gently touched each one, letting her fingertips rest on the sharp colours, the jagged images.
Taking a sip, of coffee, her gaze fell upon the object leaning against the opposite wall. With a thin, pink bed sheet carefully draped across its smooth surface, it showed only a faint, ghostly reflection of the room. Quickly looking away, she continued to browse the medical reports.
Apparently this was part of the recovery process – accepting what had happened, according to the psychologist. But it just felt so surreal, so separate ffomher life. The photos showed a raw, un-human creature lying amongst a twisted mess of hospital tubes and bandages, unconscious. How, could she connect herself with that? The fire had started very suddenly, according to the police reports.
“The flames had instantly leapt onto her shirt. Her brother had managed to extinguish the flames within moments, but apparently the damage was done. She still didn’t know exactly how much damage was done, though – she hadn’t looked in a mirrot In the hospital, the nurses’ expressions told her nothing. The other patients looked away as she moved along corridors. Her own father’s eyes welled up with tears whenever they met her own. But it was the frightened looks from young children, Visiting sick grandmothers and grandfathers, that made her start to worry about what a mirror might reveal.
In the early days, the psychologist had told her she wasn’t ready to see her own reflection. OIK day, she waited Until her mother had left the room to visit the hospital cafeteria before rummaging through her handbag. Finding a small eye-shadow kit with a tiny, cracked mirror, her breath caught in her throat as she began to slowly lift it, watching as the reflection moved up her white hospital gown, reaching the rounded top.
Slowly, it began to reveal some puckered, raw skin at the base of her neck. Gasping in surprise, she had thrown the make-up as hard as she could, sending it clattering against the opposite wall. A small puff of pink powder burst from the broken pieces, creating an eerie, shimmering glow that slowly settled on the floor. Her body shook with dry, wracking sobs as an agonising sadness began to, pour from her heart.
Closing the folder, she took several deep breaths, waiting for her heartbeat to slow. Standing, she Carried the empty Coffee mug back into the kitchen, aware ofher ghostlike reflection moving within the veiled mirror on the opposite side of the room. Refilling the kettle, she carefully looked away from its shiny surface. Gently placing the coffee mug back on the bench, she turned away from the kettle and retraced her steps back into the living room.
She slowly moved towards her veiled reflection, gazing at the ghostly outline staring out from behind the pink sheet. Taking a deep, steadying breath, she moved forwards. It was time. Her father arrived home latefrom work. All the fights in the house were on, illuminating the deafening silence. On the kitchen table was a neatly folded bed sheet – the one that had been draped across the mirror since the accident. Peering into the living room, he noticed the mirror was gone. He turned and began to move quickly down the hallway, With a sickening fear creeping up his throat, he pushed the bathroom door open, and sank to his knees.
Her body was floating in the bath; the water was a bright, glistening shade of red. Her face, gently framed by the water, stared blankly at the ceiling, impossibly white against the blood-red backdrop; her wrists floated near the surface, revealing smooth, deep stripes of open skin. Floating brightly next to her were large broken shards of mirror, reflecting the light from above.
4. Favourite son
There was once an aged couple who longed very much for a child. As they were firm believers in the power of the Cross, it was to God that they prayed for solace in their old age. They wanted a child, if only one child, and they promised to cherish it with all their hearts.
Their prayers were answered and the old woman bore a son. Despite the couple’s poverty, the boy was sent to school and given fine presents for every special day of the year. The couple loved the boy so much that they enjoyed little without him. They would not eat dinner before the boy arrived from school But one night, the boy did not come home from schoolon time, and the couple became so hungry that they decided not to wait for the boy any longer. They ate with relish, unknowing that they were finishing even the boy’s share of the meal. They only realized how hungry they were when there was nothing left on every plate on the small dining table.
“We’ll pretend that I haven’t cooked dinner yet,” the old woman told her husband. “Go upstairs and lie down on the bed. ”As the old man did as he was bidden, the boy came into the house.
The old woman faced the boy and said to him “Son, I’m afraid your father was sick today. I wasn’t able to cook dinner. But lam, going to make you a fine meal right now.”
The boy was angry at this. He did not know how to sacrifice. He was so angry that he took up a bolo from the kitchen and went upstairs, and stabbed the pillow his father was supposed to be lying on. As it was dark, the boy did not see that his father was not lying on the pillow he had tom, but God made the pillow leak blood into his hands anyway, and in fear and remorse the boy ran away from the house, never to return.
The aged couple loved .the boy very much. Even after he left, they prayed fervently for the boy to be forgiven his anger, and for the boy to have a good life nevertheless. As they prayed, through; the years, the boy learned much of the ways of the world, as he made his way through it alone. He became wise, respected, and; rich. He came to own a large orchard that was the envy of the land.
The favorite son lived in a great estate overseeing his orchard. Once, he saw a very old beggar outside his gates and took pity on him. He brought the beggar home, and as he was talking to him it he had left some time ago! But he did nothing to confirm his suspicions yet. He asked the old man to stay a while.
The old man said “Sir, I’ve come to your lands because a famine and I’d heard that a kind gentleman who owns a large orchard somewhere far away gives food freely to those in need. I had thought I would only benefit from your kindness only once. But you ask me to stay and be blessed with more than I liad prayed for, and I must do something for you in return. Give me a task that needs a man’s hands. I maybe old, but I can still work.”
So the young man told the beggar to work in a part of his orchard. He asked the beggar to cut down all the crooked trees. And, when the old man had done that, he asked the old man to straighten the crooked logs by placing them on top of a fire. But the old man could not do this. After a while of laboring he came back to the boy, and said ‘I’m so ashamed of myself I could not straighten even a single log. I think, sir, that when a man wants wood to become straight, he must tend to it and discipline it while it still has roots, and is young.”
It was then that the young man knew that he was, in feet, talking to his old father. With tears in his eyes he embraced the old man, and confessed that he had been spoiled and ruthless, that he wished the old man had taught him to respect and revere his parents so that no tragedy could have befallen them. The old man and the boy prayed together for the boy’s sins to be forgiven. Afterward, the boy cared for the old man, who came to five in the estate with his favorite son, and made his last days on earth happy.