Wicked and Humorous Tales
Post on 22-Jul-2016
Embed Size (px)
R E A D IN G & T R A IN IN G
t M e r e u s
t a l e su M e r e u s
Text adaptation and activities by Kenneth Brodey
C e r ) T e r ) 1 " s
The Life of Saki
'T P i e O p e r ) \N(nOc>w
Part I A Nervous Man
Part II Mental Excitement
T f i e (f
'X e>\>& nA o r 1Part
A Great Discovery
Some Terrible Discoveries
A C T I V I T I E S 17, 25, 35, 42, 51, 58, 72, 82, 91, 102, 114, 122
INTERNET PROJECT 106
E X I T T E S T 125
.FO E First Certificate in English Examination-style exercises
T: g r a d e 7 Trinity-style exercises (Grade 7)
This story is recorded in full.
These symbols indicate the beginning and end of the extracts linked to the listening activities.
Hector Hugh Munro
The Life of Saki (18 70-1916)Saki is a very popular short-story writer. He wrote satirical stories about
aristocrats, strange adults, children, talking animals, wicked 1 jokes,
exploding eggs, and cruel destiny. And all these strange stories are told
with that particular dry English sense of humour. Most of Sakis stories
describe the customs and manners of the English upper classes during
the reign of Edward VII (1901-1910) with precision and irony. Saki also
wrote two novels on social manners which inspired later writers such as
1. wicked : very bad.
Evelyn Waugh, 1 the playwright Noel Coward 2 and, more recently,
Roald D ah l,3 who is most famous for his wickedly funny books for
children.But Saki himself? Saki was the pen-name of a shy man named Hector
Hugh Munro. Hector was born in Akyab, Burma (now known as
Myanmar) in 1870. His mother died soon after his birth. His father was
a senior official of the Burma police. When Hector was only two, he, his
sister Ethel and his brother Charlie were sent back to Devon in England
to live with their aunts. Hectors aunts were named Tom and Augusta
(you have read correctly - one of Hectors aunts was named Tom). They
hated each other very much and neither of them liked Hector. Hector
was an unhealthy child and he was educated at home, but he was able to
survive this horrible life with Tom and Augusta with the help of his
fantastic imagination. He often made up fables and short stories which
he illustrated himself. His sister tells of one particular illustration that
Hector made o f lions eating some m issionaries. These particular
missionaries looked suspiciously like his aunts.
After Hector finished his education his father got him a job with the
Colonial Burmese Military Police, but after less than a year he became
ill with malaria and had to return home to England. Back in England he
began to write political satires for the Westminster Gazette, which were
extremely popular. He also worked as a foreign correspondent for the
Morning Post in Russia, Poland and Paris. Then Hector returned to
London where he planned to live by writing books. The first book he
1. Evelyn Waugh : (1903-66) pen-name of Arthur St John, a British writer.
2. Noel Coward : (1899-1973) British writer of satirical plays.3. Roald Dahl : (1916-90) British writer. Famous works include Charlie and
the Chocolate Factory and The BFG.
wrote was a history of Russia from its origins to the 17th century, The
Rise o f the Russian Empire (1899). This was certainly a strange choice
for a first book. But Hector was a great admirer of Edward Gibbon
(1737-94), the author of Decline and Fall o f the Roman Empire.
This book was not a success, so Hector returned to writing political
satire for newspapers. He also began writing short stories and novels.
According to Hectors sister, he took his pen-name from a collection of
Persian poetry called The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, which was very
popular in England at the time. In this poem there is a servant named
A better and more entertaining theory was proposed by the English
writer Tom Sharpe. He says that Hector wanted to honour his hero
Edward Gibbon in an ironic way. A gibbon is also a kind of Asian
monkey, and a saki is a kind of South American monkey with a long
tail that is very delicate and normally silent, except when it is provoked.
Hector too was a delicate, introverted creature who rarely spoke except
When World War I began, Hector immediately joined the army as a
private. 1 He had been offered an officers commission, 2 but he refused.
He went to fight in France where he was killed.
There is a strange and probably fictitious story about Hectors death
which seems like a story written by Hector himself. One night in the
trenches,3 Hector, who was now a sergeant, saw that one of his men was
smoking. It was very dangerous to smoke at night because the enemy
1. private : an ordinary soldier.2. officers com m ission : document signed by the king which gave someone
the position of officer (lieutenant, captain, colonel, etc.) in the army.3. trenches : deep passages cut into the ground as a protection for soldiers.
soldiers shot at the light of burning cigarettes. Hector turned to this
soldier and shouted, T u t that bloody 1 cigarette out! In that very
moment, an enemy soldier shot. But this enemy soldier had not directed
his rifle towards the light of the burning cigarette, but towards the sound
of Hectors voice giving the command. Hector was killed. A terrible
irony - an irony that Saki would have appreciated.
O Answer the following questions.
a. What kind of stories did he write?
b. What social group is described in Sakis stories?
c. What was Sakis real name?
d. Why was his childhood difficult?
e. How did he survive it?
f. What was Sakis job when he was a young man?
g. According to Sakis sister what was the origin of his pen-name?
h. What is an alternative theory to the origins of this strange pen-name?
i. How did Saki die?
I1. bloody [bUdi] (informal British English, not polite) : expression used to
show anger, annoyance.
a c t i v i t i e s
Before you read
0 Discuss the following questions with a partner.
1. Do you believe in ghosts?2. What do you think of people who say that they have seen ghosts?
a. They really have seen ghosts - ghosts exist.b. They are liars.c. People sometimes think they see ghosts because they are
ill, emotionally upset, tired or nervous.d. Other.
T: GRADE 7
0 Topic - Village and city lifeDiscuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of both village and city life. Use these questions to help you.
a. Do you live in a city, a town or a village?b. What are some of the characteristics of city and village life?
c. How are the personalities of people who live in the city different from those who live in villages?
d. If you had to move to either the city or the country, what one thing from your old lifestyle would you miss most? What one change would you like best?
Q Look at the picture on page 15.
a. Describe the people in the picture. What can you imagine about their personalities?
b. What do you think they are discussing?c. Do you think the people know each other well?
A C T I V I T I E S
f c e Q Listen to the beginning of Part One and choose the best answer A, B or C.
1 The doctor told Framton
A [ ] to leave the city.
B Q to relax.
C O to go and stay with his sister.
2 Framton Nuttel decided to go to the
A Q country.
B Q city.
C Q theatre.
3 Mrs Sappletons niece was called
A Q Sarah.
B Q Clara.
4 Mrs Sappletons tragedy happened exactly
A Q a week ago.
B Q three years ago.
C Q] four years ago.
5 Mrs Sappletons husband and brothers fell into
A a lake.B a trap.C a bog.
P a r t i
Take my advice, replied Framtons sister. It will be good for you.
So Fram ton went to the country with his s is te r s letters of
introduction. The first person he visited was Mrs Sappleton. He
knocked at the door of Mrs Sappleton s house and a young girl
about fifteen years old opened the door. It was Mrs Sappleton s niece. Her name was Vera.
My aunt will be down in a moment, Mr Nuttel, said the girl,
who looked very mature and intelligent. While you are waiting, I
will try to entertain you. I hope you dont m ind.
Oh, I will be happy to talk with you, replied Framton. He did
not want to offend the girl. But he wondered 1 if going to meet
new people was really good for his health. In fact, he felt quitebr : . '
nervous, and he hoped that Mrs Sappleton was nice.
Do you know m any of the people round h ere? asked Mrs
Sappleton s niece after a few minutes of silence.
N o, replied Framton, I dont know anybody around here. My
sister stayed here four years ago and she gave me some letters of
introduction to some of the people here.
Framton felt more and more nervous, and he was more and
more convinced that it was a bad idea. He needed rest, not new friends.
Then you know practically nothing about my aunt? continued the confident 2 young lady.
I know only her name and a d d re ss, adm itted Framton. He
was wondering whether Mrs Sapp leton s husband was alive or
1. wondered : asked himself.2. confident : sure of herself.
T K c O p e r ) \n( w c ) c)v\i
dead. Looking at the room, he thought that a man must live there.
My aunts great tragedy happened exactly three years ago ,
said the girl. That was after your sister was here.
Your aunts tragedy? asked Framton. He thought the country
was very peaceful. He could not imagine a tragedy there.
You probably wonder why we keep that window open on a
cool October evening, said Vera. In fact, behind Fram tons chair
there was a large French window 1 that opened on to a law n .2
It is very warm for this time of the year. said Framton. But is
that window connected with the tragedy?
E xactly three years ago my a u n t s h u sb an d and her two
younger brothers went out through that window. They were going
hunting. They never came back. While they were going to their
favourite hunting spot, they fell into a bog. 3 That particu lar
summer it rained a lot. The bog was normally safe, but after the
rain it became very dangerous. Their bodies were never found.
That is the most horrible part of the story. e ^ Until this moment, the young girl had seemed very calm. Now
she seem ed a little frightened and her voice trem bled as she
continued the story.My poor aunt thinks that her dead husband and brothers will
return some day, together with the dog that went with them. She
thinks that they w ill walk into the house through that French
window as they alw ays did before they died. That is why that
window behind you is kept open until dark. My poor aunt! She
1. French window : two large windows that are also used as doors.
2. lawn : area of short grass around a house or in a garden.
3. bog : very wet and soft earth.
''Tfie Open \N(Tn3c)v>/
has often told me every detail of that terrible day! Her husband carried a white raincoat over his arm. Her youngest brother was
singing the song Bertie, why do you bound? 1 He sang this song
to make fun of her. Som etim es, Mr Nuttel, I have the strange
feeling that they will return, that they will walk in through that
window. Its horrible, really horrible!
She stopped telling him her sad story. Fram ton was happy
when the aunt came back into the room.
I h o pe my n iece is e n te r ta in in g you , Mr N u t te l , M rs
Sappleton said.She is very interesting, said Framton nervously.
1. bound : (here) run.
A C T I V I T I E S
Go back to the text
^ Are the following statements true (T) or false (F)? Correct the false ones.
T Fa. Framton Nuttel knows Mrs Sappleton very well.b. Framton Nuttel wants to meet new people.c. Framtons sister was in that part of the country
two years ago.d. Mrs Sappletons husband went hunting three years ago, Q
and he never came back home.e. Mrs Sappletons two elder brothers also disappeared
with Mr Sappleton.f. Vera sometimes has the feeling that they will come back. Q
iQfe Which of the following adjectives describe Framton, and which describe Vera? Support your choices with examples from the story.
timid mature insecure aggressive intelligent audacious nervous
What is the function of these elements in the story? Write details as in the examples.
a. the song Bertie why do was sung by Vera's uncle on the dayyou bound? he disappeared.
b. the open window ..................................................................
c. the white raincoat ..................................................................
d. the dog was with Vera's uncles on the daythey disappeared.
e. the bog ................................................................
f. hunting ................................................................
A C T I V I T I E S
You should meet some nice peopleWe can use should and ought to to give advice and to express our opinions about things. They are not as strong as must and have to. You ought to drive more slowly. = It would be a good idea if you drove
more slowly. They ought not to eat so much. = It would be a good idea if they did
not eat so much. You shouldn't talk about other people's problems. = It's a good idea
not to talk about other people's problems.
Notice that ought is followed by to while should isn t.The contracted form of the negative of should is shouldnt.The contracted form of the negative of ought, oughtnt, is possible but not very common.
Complete the sentences below using should or ought to. You must decide whether the sentences are negative or affirmative.
Example: Framton drinks three cups of coffee a day. He is nervous and can't sleep at night. I think that Framton shouldn't drink so much coffee, (should/drink).
a. Framton, you work six days a week, 10 hours a day.Youre exhausted. Y o u ....................................hard, (should/work)
b. You are a bit overweight, Charles.Y o u .................................. junk food, (should/eat)
c. He will do poorly in the exam because he doesnt study enough. H e .................................... (ought/study)
d. You always spend your time alone at home.Y o u ...................................... (ought/go out)
e. I think Phils girlfriend is a vegetarian. Maybe I ..................................and check. I dont want to prepare something that she cant eat. (ought/call)
f. My sister is terrible. Y o u ....................................never....................................her anything because she cant keep secrets.(should/tell)
A C T I V I T I E S
g. If you come to my house, call before. I ....................................therebut I may have to go out. (should/be)
h. Y o u ..................................horror films if they frighten you so much.(ought/watch)
i. W e .if we dont want to miss the train. Itleaves in ten minutes, (ought/hurry)
j. Charlotte and William are getting married next month. However,they are always fighting. In my opinion, th ey ....................................(ought/get married)
k. W e.a problem with this any more because wehave studied it well, (should/have)
Before you go on
F C E Read this extract from Part Two and think of a word which...