In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

The Bronze Ring (5): The First Test


How important is it to be kind to the people we meet every day? Do you take time to help people when you are trying to finish an important job?

A king wants his daughter to marry the son of his prime minister. The princess wants to marry the gardener's son. The two men are in a race to see who can go to a distant country and back first. The one who wins gets the princess. The minister's son has a better horse and a lot of money; the gardener's son has a very old horse, but the princess has given him a purse filled with jewels.


[23] The two suitors left the town together, but the minister's son went off at a gallop on his good horse, and very soon was lost to sight behind the most distant hills. He traveled on for some days, and presently reached a fountain beside which an old woman all in rags sat upon a stone.
[24] "Good-day to you, young traveler," said she.
[25] But the minister's son made no reply.
[26] "Have pity upon me, traveler," she said again. "I am dying of hunger, as you see, and three days have I been here and no one has given me anything."
[27] "Let me alone, old witch," cried the young man; "I can do nothing for you," and so saying he went on his way.


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. a gallop: the highest speed a horse can run; also a verb, "to gallop"
b. to be lost to sight: to be unable to be seen
c. some days: Sometimes this means "an unknown number of days"; other times it could mean "many days." See how it's used in this sentence: "Where have you been? I've been waiting for some time now." It's not clear which of these is meant here.
d. presently: Here, it means "after a short time." "Wait a little longer; I'll be there presently." Other times, it means "right now": "He's here presently."
e. a fountain: a place in a garden or public place where water is caused to fly into the air. Here it might simply mean "a place with water."
f. rags: old, torn, dirty clothes
g. to make no reply: to not answer
h. to have pity on someone: to feel sorry for someone, and to do something to help them
i. to be dying of hunger: to be dying because one has no food
j. "three days have I been here": another place where "fancy" language changes the order of words; usually "I have been here three days."
k. witch: usually, an old woman with magical powers; sometimes just an unattractive old woman
l. "cried the young man": usually "the young man cried." "Cried" here means "shouted loudly."
m. "so saying": "saying this," another example of "fancy" reversed language


Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. Excuse me, is there a drinking __________ near here?
2. As a senior executive, I've been in this business for __________ years.
3. "I love you!" he __________ as the ship sailed away.
4. It must be a great feeling to __________ across an open field on a horse.
5. I asked a man for directions, but he __________, so I went on, still not sure of the way.
6. Please wait a moment; Mr. Smith will speak to you __________.
7. In 2007, the United Nations reported that 18,000 children die of __________ every day.
8. The string broke on my kite, and it was __________.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why do you think the minister's son was impolite to the old woman? Would you behave differently? Why do you think so?
2. What do you think might happen if someone is kind to the old woman?
3. Are there beggars in your city? What is done for them by the government, or by the people who see them?


1 e fountain; 2 c some; 3 l cried; 4 a gallop; 5 g made no reply; 6 d presently; 7 i hunger; 8 b lost to sight

This lesson is ©2011 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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