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

The Bronze Ring (13): The Rival Undone


Is it OK to lie to protect yourself? How far can you go before you must tell the truth?

A gardener's son has become rich, and has been invited to give away the king's daughter to a minister's son--even though he hopes to marry her himself.


[72] Soon after came the Princess and her betrothed.
[73] "Why, how is this?" cried the young captain. "Would you marry this charming princess to such a man as that?"
[74] "But he is my prime minister's son!"
[75] "What does that matter? I cannot give your daughter away. The man she is betrothed to is one of my servants."
[76] "Your servant?"
[77] "Without doubt. I met him in a distant town reduced to carrying away dust and rubbish from the houses. I had pity on him and engaged him as one of my servants."
[78] "It is impossible!" cried the King.
[79] "Do you wish me to prove what I say? This young man returned in a vessel which I fitted out for him, an unseaworthy ship with a black battered hull, and the sailors were infirm and crippled."
[80] "It is quite true," said the King.
[81] "It is false," cried the minister's son. "I do not know this man!"
[82] "Sire," said the young captain, "order your daughter's betrothed to be stripped, and see if the mark of my ring is not branded upon his back."
[83] The King was about to give this order, when the minister's son, to save himself from such an indignity, admitted that the story was true.


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. betrothed: engaged (promised to be married). It's used two ways in this story. First, it refers to the person who is engaged (the minister's son is the princess's "betrothed." Second, it is the act of being engaged: "The man she is betrothed to…"
b. to matter: to be important, to make a difference
c. to engage: here, it does not mean "to betroth," but rather "to hire."
d. unseaworthy: "seaworthy" means able to sail safely; "unseaworthy" is the opposite.
e. battered: beaten up, abused, in bad condition
f. crippled: handicapped, disabled; nowadays considered to be an impolite thing to say
g. to strip: to take the clothes off of
h. to brand: to mark with a hot piece of metal, as cowboys do to cows
i. an indignity: an embarrassment; something that causes one to lose one's pride
j. to admit: to confess, to say that one has done something wrong


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

1. It takes a big person to __________ when he's wrong.
2. I don't think it __________ how old a person is.
3. Sometimes the feeling of __________ can be worse than physical pain.
4. In extreme cases, officers may __________ a person crossing the border.
5. My boss recently __________ a new secretary.
6. In some culture, children are __________ to each other at a young age.


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

1. Why can't a princess marry a "servant"?
2. What do you think of the gardener's son? He agreed to give the princess away, but probably knew that he wouldn't do it. Was that honest? Was it OK? Would you have done what he did?
3. Why do you think the minister's son lied? Why do you think he finally told the truth? What would you have done in his situation?


1 j admit; 2 b matters; 3 i indignity; 4 g strip; 5 c engaged; 6 a betrothed

This lesson is ©2012 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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