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The event I’m going to tell you about occurred in England shortly after World War II. A certain English lady intended to give a party. Her intention was to invite a number of friends for dinner and a game of bridge. It was easy enough to ask people to come, but far more difficult to provide a meal for them, for food rationing had not yet been abolished in Great Britain at that time. However, on the very morning of the party the problem was unexpectedly solved.

“There is a man, Ma’am, at the back door offering to sell mushrooms, ” the maid-servant announced.

The lady, accompanied by her little terrier, came down to the kitchen and found there a rather disreputable-looking stranger with a basket over his arm. The lady knew nothing about mushrooms and inquired of the man if they were not poisonous. The man reassured her and named such a moderate price for the whole lot that the lady readily paid the money at once, ordering her servant to empty the basket and return it to its owner. While the servant was emptying the basket she dropped a mushroom, and the fox-terrier immediately gobbled it.

“There, that dog knows what’s good, ” the stranger said. Pocketing the money, he laughed a malicious laugh and left the kitchen.

The guests duly arrived at the appointed hour and were served a dish of mushrooms, which they thought a treat. While the usual clattering of forks and knives was in progress, the hostess noticed that the servant’s eyes were red with recent weeping. Calling her aside, the lady asked her what was the cause of her untimely tears.

“Oh, Ma’am, I didn’t want to upset you… the little dog … the poor thing has died…, ” the girl uttered between sobs.

The terrible truth flashed through the lady’s brain. She saw her duty clearly and addressed her guests:

“Ladies and gentlemen, ” she said, “I’m sorry to say that, but the mushrooms I’ve offered you proved poisonous. We must act and act quickly, if we wish to save our lives.”

There was a general outburst of emotions. Some of the gentlemen swore, some of the ladies cried. But there was one among the company who was a man of infinite resource and sagacity. He suggested going to the nearest hospital to have the contents of their stomachs pumped out. All rushed for their dear lives. The staff of the hospital were surprised to have suddenly to do with a group of patients in evening dress. Naturally, no one thought of playing cards after this lamentable occurrence.

On arriving home the lady wanted to know where the terrier’s body was.

“Oh, ” said the servant, still sobbing, “the gardener has buried it, for it was so badly smashed; and we didn’t even have time enough to put down the number of the car that so cruelly ran over the poor little pet! ”


(The story may be suggested for reproduction writing)


George Mikes

1912 - 1987


By means of posters, advertisements, lectures and serious scientific books, people are taught how to avoid or cure flu, smallpox, a broken ankle and mumps; at the same time the major part of the world’s literature (which is not to be confused with world literature), almost all the films, magazine stories and radio plays persuade you in an indirect way to catch a much more dangerous disease than any illness, universally known under the name of love.

The main symptoms of the disease are those:

1) The germ – a charming young lady in some cases, not so charming and not so young in others – makes the silliest and most commonplace remarks and you consider her wittier than Oscar Wilde, deeper than Pascal and more original than Bernard Shaw.

2) She calls you Pootsie, Angelface and other stupid and humiliating names; you are enchanted and coo with delight.

3) She has no idea what is the difference between UNESCO and LCC[8] and you find this disarmingly innocent.

4) Whenever she flirts with others and is rude and cruel to you, you buy her a bunch of flowers and apologize to her. If she misbehaves seriously, you buy her jewelry.

The overwhelming majority of novels, short stories, films, etc. teach you that this dangerous mental and physical ailment is something glorious, desirable and romantic. Who are you to question the wisdom of this teaching? You are expected to take the lesson of these high authorities to heart and believe that the world is mostly inhabited by lovers who commit murders and murderers who fall in love.

The least intelligible thing of all is the fact that love is constantly confused with marriage. Even if we accept the thesis that love is alright because it is a “natural thing” we should, I think, insist that it should be kept out of marriage. You are supposed to choose your future spouse when you are absolutely incapable of so doing. You have to choose her or him when you are in love, i.e. when you think silliness wisdom, affectation real charm, selfishness a good joke and a pretty face the most desirable of all human attributes. You would never send a deaf man to buy gramophone records, a blind man to buy you paintings and an illiterate man to choose your books; but you are expected to choose the person whom you are going to hear more than your favourite records, see oftener than any of your pictures and whose remarks will be more familiar to you than the pages of your most treasured book – in a state of deafness, blindness and illiteracy. You may be fortunate: there are a great number of good records, pictures and books around and even the deaf, blind and the illiterate may make a lucky shot. You may discover that there is nothing much in your choice, except that you bought a rousing march[9] instead of a pastorale, an impressive battle scene instead of a still life, and a copy of War and Peace instead of The Ideal Husband. Or else, in two years time, you may realize that silk stockings and the films she likes – or the game of billiards he is so terribly fond of – are not the only things that excite you and that to be called “Pootsie” over the age of thirty-five is slightly inappropriate. You may wish your wife knew that Vladivostok is not an illness of which Napoleon died after the siege of Sebastopol. But then it is too late.

I suggest:

1) Any propaganda inciting to love (in films, short stories, novels, paintings, etc.) should be made a criminal offence. The author of such a piece should be sent to a desert island with his beloved for five years.

2) Any person falling in love should be sent to quarantine in a similar way.

3) Love should be abolished altogether.



Comment on the author’s view of love and marriage.


Kate Chopin




Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with 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 hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence 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 to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing 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 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. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.

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 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, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension 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 and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.

Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will – as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.

When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free! ” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing 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 perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial.

She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of 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 her 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 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.

And yet she had loved him – sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse 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 for admission. “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 that life might be long.

She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richard stood waiting for them at the bottom.

Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his gripsack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richard’s quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

But Richard was too late.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease – of joy that kills.


Questions on comprehension:

1. The major divisions of the story are marked by movements from downstairs to upstairs to downstairs again. What is the difference between the kind of action that takes place in the two locations?

2. What important things do we learn about Mrs. Mallard from the very brief description of her face? How does this description help us understand what she has been and what she might be?

3. Why does Chopin contrast Mrs. Mallard’s profound grief with the details of the scene she sees through the bedroom window?

Questions for discussion:

1. What attitudes distinguish the points of view of Mrs. Mallard and those who are concerned with her welfare?

2. What do we discover about the connection between freedom and death during the “hour” of the story?


Prereading Tasks


1. You are going to read the text about two American presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Do you know when each of these men was President of the United States? Do you know what was happening in the country while they were in office? Do you know how each men died?

2. Look at the italicized words and explain their meaning. Read the text and find similarities in the destinies of Kennedy and Lincoln.


John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln lived in different times and had very different family and educational backgrounds. Kennedy lived in the 20th century; Lincoln lived in the 19th century. Kennedy was born in 1917, whereas Lincoln was born more than 100 years earlier, in 1809. As for their family backgrounds, Kennedy came from a rich family, but Lincoln’s family was not wealthy. Because Kennedy came from a wealthy family, he was able to attend expensive private schools. He graduated from Harvard University. Lincoln, on the other hand, had only one year of formal schooling. In spite of his lack of formal schooling, he became a well-known lawyer. He taught himself law by reading law books. Lincoln was, in other words, a self-educated man.

In spite of these differences in Kennedy and Lincoln’s backgrounds, some interesting similarities between the two men are evident. In fact, books have been written about the strange coincidences in the lives of these two men. For example, take their political careers. Lincoln began his political career as a U.S. Congressman. Similarly, Kennedy also began his political career as a Congressman. Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1847, and Kennedy was elected to the House in 1947. They went to Congress just 100 years apart. Another interesting coincidence is that each man was elected President of the United States in a year ending with the number 60. Lincoln was elected President in 1860, and Kennedy was elected in 1960; furthermore, both men were President during years of civil unrest in the country. Lincoln was President during the American Civil War. During Kennedy’s term of office civil unrest took the form of civil rigths demonstrations.

Another striking similarity between the two men was that, as you probably know, neither President lived to complete his term in office. Lincoln and Kennedy were both assassinated while in office. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, after only 1, 000 days in office. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 a few days after the end of the American Civil War. It is rather curious to note that both presidents were shot while they were sitting next to their wives.

These are only a few examples of the uncanny-the unusual-similarities in the destines of these two Americans, men who had a tremendous impact on the social and political life of the United States and the imagination of the American people.


I. Translate the following facts into English.


а) Убийца Линкольнa (John Wilkes Booth) родился в 1839 году. Убийца Кеннеди (Lee Harvey Oswald) родился в 1939 году. Они родились с разницей в сто лет.

б) Убийцы обоих президентов сами тоже были убиты. Оба до суда и оба в пятницу.

в) Личного секретаря А.Линкольна звали Ф.Кеннеди, а личного секретаря Д.Кеннеди звали Э.Линкольн. Оба личных секретаря отговаривали президентов: первого от поездки в оперу, а второго от поездки в Даллас.

г) У президентов, которые пришли к власти после Линкольна и Кеннеди, была фамилия Джонсон. (Andrew Johnson 1865-1869 – 17th American President and Lyndon Baines Johnson 1963-1969 – 36th American President)

II. Translate the following text into English. Use the words and phrases given below.


a fugitive from justice; the President’s box; to enter noiselessly; to point a revolver at; to pull the trigger; to shoot smb. in the head; Ford’s Theatre, Washington; Abraham Lincoln; to identify the murderer (assassin); John Booth; secret service men; to catch up with smb.; Garret’s Farm; the State of Virginia; during an exchange of fire; to be convicted; complicity in the crime; to commit a crime; revenge for; negro emancipation; to appear; actually; to escape; to draw conclusions on the basis of materials; to open access to; to contradict the official statement; for unknown reasons; to cross out; reports; to close all the roads but one; Richmond; a coincidence; to be a cat’s paw; a well-planned conspiracy; the man behind the conspiracy; Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War



Полицейского, поставленного охранять вход в президентскую ложу, в коридоре не было. Человек бесшумно и незаметно вошел в ложу, направил дуло револьвера в затылок президенту и спустил курок. Так, 14 апреля 1865 года в вашингтонском театре Форда был убит Авраам Линкольн…

Личность убийцы была установлена сразу же – им оказался известный актер Джон Бут.

Согласно официальной версии, двенадцать дней спустя сотрудники секретной службы настигли Бута на ферме Гарретс в штате Вирджиния, и во время перестрелки Бут был убит. Суд над людьми, изобличенными в пособничестве убийце, доказал, что Джон Бут совершил преступление, чтобы отомстить президенту за освобождение негров.

В первые годы после смерти Линкольна официальная версия не встретила явного недоверия. Впрочем, уже тогда родилась легенда о том, что на самом деле убийце удалось спастись. Много лет спустя, когда были опубликованы некоторые книги, впервые обобщившие все сведения из официальных документов, доступ к которым долгое время был закрыт, оказалось, что многое из того, что происходило в Вашингтоне сразу же после убийства президента, никак не подходило под мерку официальной версии. Например, чем объяснить целый комплекс обстоятельств, облегчивших Буту бегство из столицы?

В течение первых пяти часов после убийства цензура по непонятным причинам вычеркивала из всех сообщений имя убийцы.

Сразу же после вести об убийстве солдаты перекрыли все возможные пути бегства Бута из столицы. И только одна дорога оставалась открытой – дорога на Ричмонд. Её перекрыли лишь через несколько часов, когда Бут давно уже проехал по ней.

Могло ли быть случайным подобное стечение обстоятельств? Создавалось впечатление, что Бут был орудием хорошо подготовленного заговора. Сейчас высказывается довольно вероятное предположение, что истинным главой заговора мог быть военный министр правительства Линкольна Эдвин Стантон.


* Listen to the lecture “John F. Kennedy: Promise and Tragedy”, from “Advanced Listening Comprehension” by Patricia Dunkel and Frank Pialorsi. Follow the activities recommended in the book.

Assignment for holidays : Choose a book for reading. Enjoy it. Prepare a book review and present it in class. Introduce some interesting statements and quotations you came across while reading the book. Express your agreement or disagreement on them, ask your group mates about their points of view.



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