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Folktale TOPS OR BUTTS
Questions on comprehension and for discussion
WHAT MADE THE LITTLE DOG EXPIRE
George Mikes 1912 - 1987 BEWARE OF LOVE
Методичка Ермаковой И. В. к Keep Up. Учебное пособие по курсу Анализ текста для студентов специальности Переводчик в сфере профессиональной коммуникации
MURDER AT THE GRANGE
One bright summer afternoon just after Whitsun Sir Giles Fortescue was found murdered in his study at the Grange, Barnham. An Indian dagger removed from the wall had been plunged into his back as he sat writing at his desk. His old butler, who had served him faithfully for many years found him and estimates the time of his death at 15.45 hours as he had just heard the clock strike the quarter. The family doctor later confirmed the time at the autopsy.
Detective Inspector Sludge, after extensive interviews with all those known to be near the scene of the crime at the fatal time, finally eliminated all the household on the grounds of long and faithful service and lack of motive. He narrowed the field down to the three guests who had been staying with Sir Giles at the time.
All three guests knew that they were named as beneficiaries in the will in which Sir Giles had accounted for his very considerable estate since he had read the will to them the evening before.
All three suspects had gone out that afternoon. Accounts of their activities derived from Inspector Sludge’s notes are given below in alphabetical order.
Colonel Adams, a retired officer of the Indian army, was helped with his fishing tackle by the butler to the 14.57 bus travelling to Plumtree Halt. From this bus he claims he caught the train to Snitterton Bay for the day. There he fished for the entire day and saw no one. He retains half his return ticket as proof that he was on the train. No one at the station remembers him but it was very busy that day with day-trippers.
Miss Blake, a young lady of 22, left the house to go shopping in Barnham village at 15.15. She was given a lift to the bus stop outside the Grange gates by Mr Clarke. He saw her onto the 15.20 bus. A dress shop assistant remembers serving her at 15.30 and a post office assistant sold her some stamps at 16.05. She claims she was having tea in between these two visits but no one remembers her at the tea-shop as it was very crowded that day. She met no one other than Mr Clarke that afternoon before returning to the Grange.
Mr. Clarke, a young aspiring executive of 26, went out in his red sports car to see an antique dealer with whom he had an appointment for 16.00 at Mulchester, 15 miles away. The butler saw him drive away at 15.35. The antique dealer says he was on time for his appointment.
Extract from the Barnham District Bus and Train Timetable
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Plumtree Halt dep.
The Grange dep.
The Grange dep.
Plumtree Halt arr.
etc. every hour
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Plumtree Halt dep.
Snitterton Bay dep.
Snitterton Bay. arr.
etc. every hour
Plumtree Halt arr.
I. Solve the psychology quiz by answering the following questions.
Inspector Sludge: If he committed the murder? How would he have done it?
Police Constable: If he had done it, he ….
Inspector Sludge: How could he have got back to the Grange in time?
Police Constable: He…
Inspector Sludge: If he had done this? Would anyone else have seen him?
Police Constable: If he had done this? … seen him when … .
Therefore he … (could have / couldn’t have) done it.
Inspector Sludge: If she had committed the murder, how would she have done it?
Police Constable: If she had done it? She (have to) …
Inspector Sludge: At what time would she have done it?
Police Constable: She … between … and … .
Inspector Sludge: How would she have got back to the Grange?
Police Constable: She could …
Inspector Sludge: If she had done this, would she have had enough time?
Police Constable: It seems (likely/unlikely) that she … unless she (run) all the way.
Inspector Sludge: If she had committed the murder? How would he have done it?
Police Constable: If he had done it? He probably (leave) his car … and … .
Inspector Sludge: If he had done this, would he have still been in time for his appointment?
Police Constable: He… not … in time for his appointment unless he … 15 miles in less than 15 minutes.
Inspector Sludge: If he had done this, at about what time would he have crossed the bridge?
Police Constable: He (cross) the bridge at about …
II. Express your own opinion of the case.
TOPS OR BUTTS?
Here was once a farmer called Jack o’Kent who had a small piece of land near Kentchurch in Herefordshire; he grew enough to support himself and his family, though he did but poorly at the best of times.
One morning when he was ploughing his field he had just reached the end of the furrow and was turning the horse round when he looked up and saw a Boggard, standing with his arms folded and feet planted far apart and scowling down at him.
“This is my land,” he growled. “What are you doing on it?”
The farmer was secretly very frightened, but he answered quietly,
“You haven’t been here for so long, I was ploughing it up for you, ready for this year’s crops.”
“It’s mine,” answered the Boggard, scratching his shaggy chest, “but you can work it for me.”
“That will suit me,” said the farmer, gaining confidence. “Suppose we share it. I do the work and you give me half the crop for my wages.”
The Boggard laid a dark, horny hand on the plough and said,
“How are you going to share the crop?”
Jack the farmer thought a moment.
“This year,” he replied, “you take everything above ground and I take the roots – you have the Tops and I the Butts.”
This seemed to satisfy the Boggard who agreed to come in the autumn to collect his share of the crop. The farmer watched him lumber away over the ploughed field, look for the stile which couldn’t find, and blunder through a gap in the hedge.
The crop that year was turnips. When the Boggard came to claim his half of the crop he got the leaves and the weeds while Jack the farmer carted off all the fine round roots and stored them in his barn.
The Boggard was angry and puzzled, but could not deny that the agreement had been kept. He rootled about among the heap of turnip leaves and cadlock hoping to find something of value, but in vain. At last he said,
“Next year we’ll have it the other way round. You’ll have Tops and I’ll keep Butts.”
The farmer readily agreed. This time he ploughed and harrowed the ground most carefully and sowed a fine crop of wheat.
The Boggard arrived just as the harvest wagon was taking the last golden load across the field. All the harvesters – men, women, boys and girls – were singing as the big shire mare lifted her fairy feet, solemnly and carefully dragging the precious sheaves towards the farmyard.
Only gradually did the Boggard realize he had been tricked. The stubble and the corn-roots were even less use than the turnip leaves. It was not worth his while to plough them on.
But everyone was very kind to him at the Harvest Home and he drank a great deal, scoffed some hot bag-puddings, and even tried to dance a sort of a jig, but fell down before he had reached the capers. Then he sat quietly in a corner watching the merry-makers until at last the party was over and all the harvesters had gone home.
“See here, Jack,” he said to the farmer, ‘I think you’ve got some pins about you, lad. Next time we’ll share the crop above ground.”
He laid his great paw on the farmer’s shoulder and looked down earnestly into his face.
“We’ll start reaping together and each shall have whatever he reaps.”
Jack o’Kent accepted this arrangement and the Boggard stumbled off.
The next year wheat was grown and a fine upstanding field it was, rippling like a golden sea in the breeze.
But the farmer had been to the blacksmith and got him to make some iron rods about three feet long and as thick as a clay pipe shank. These rods he stuck into the ground at irregular intervals in the Boggard’s half of the wheat field.
The time for the reaping match arrived. Each reaper sharpened his scythe well beforehand and when the church clock struck five they both began to reap. The farmer got on well; his scythe went swishing through the straw, and the corn fell down with a rustle at every stroke.
But the Boggard did not get on so fast. He had not reaped a dozen yards before the blade of his scythe was hacked in several places.
“Hey, I must stop and wiffle-waffle,” he cried, by which he meant he must whet his scythe with his hone.
The farmer laughed and went on reaping – he had already covered twice as much ground as his rival.
“This corn must be full of real tough burdocks with old stalks like sticks of iron,” complained the Boggard, looking ruefully at the jagged edge of his scythe.
The farmer was away down the field almost out of earshot by now. The sun was getting higher and the dew on the corn had dried. But the Boggard could make no progress at all, for his battered scythe would not reap even when he had a clear patch of corn. He flung it down on the stubble.
“You can take your mucky old land, and keep it!” he said in despair. “I won’t have any more to do with it. I’m as sick as a toad of it, and of you an’ all.”
And off he went and never came back and the farmer never saw him again. But he kept the Boggard’s jagged scythe and hung it in his barn.
And now his grandson shows it proudly to his friends to testify to the truth of the story, and he warns young fanners not to be frightened by bullies, for a wise man will get the better of them.
Questions on comprehension and for discussion:
What makes Jack o’Kent a typical folktale hero?
Do you recognize the plot of this tale? Are there any differences in comparison with the Russian folktale?
What kind of words and phrases are repeated through the tale? What is the artistic effect of these repetitions?
WHAT MADE THE LITTLE DOG EXPIRE
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)
1912 - 1987
BEWARE OF LOVE
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:
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.
She calls you Pootsie, Angelface and other stupid and humiliating names; you are enchanted and coo with delight.
She has no idea what is the difference between UNESCO and LCC1 and you find this disarmingly innocent.
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 march2 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.
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.
Any person falling in love should be sent to quarantine in a similar way.
Love should be abolished altogether.