“And now, with the world before me, whither should I bend my steps? I resolved to fly far from the scene of my misfortunes; but to me, hated and despised, every country must be equally horrible. At length the thought of you crossed my mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator; and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life? Among the lessons that Felix had bestowed upon Safie1, geography had not been omitted; I had learned from these the relative situations of the different countries of the earth. You had mentioned Geneva as the name of your native town, and towards this place I resolved to proceed.
“But how was I to direct myself? I knew that I must travel in a southwesterly direction to reach my destination, but the sun was my only guide. I did not know the names of the towns that I was to pass through, nor could I ask information from a single human being; but I did not despair. From you only could I hope for succour2, although towards you I felt no sentiment but that of hatred. Unfeeling, heartless creator! You had endowed me with perceptions and passions and then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and horror of mankind. But on you only had I any claim for pity and redress, and from you I determined to seek that justice which I vainly attempted to gain from any other being that wore the human form.
“It was late in autumn when I quitted the district where I had so long resided. I travelled only at night, fearful of encountering the visage of a human being. Nature decayed around me, and the sun became heatless; rain and snow poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface of the earth was hard and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter. Oh, earth! How often did I imprecate3 curses on the cause of my being! The mildness of my nature had fled, and all within me was turned to gall and bitterness. The nearer I approached to your habitation, the more deeply did I feel the spirit of revenge enkindled in my heart. Snow fell, and the waters were hardened, but I rested not."
Beginning of reading passage footnotes.
1 The monster had learned about the world by observing the education of his neighbor Safie.
2 Help, support, or relief
3 To utter (a curse) against something
End of reading passage.
Passage 2 – Questions 6-11
This passage is adapted from Katherine Mansfield, “The Singing Lesson.” Originally published in 1922.
Beginning of reading passage.
With despair—cold, sharp despair—buried deep in her heart like a wicked knife, Miss Meadows, in cap and gown and carrying a little baton, trod the cold corridors that led to the music hall. Girls of all ages, rosy from the air, and bubbling over with that gleeful excitement that comes from running to school on a fine autumn morning, hurried, skipped, fluttered by; from the hollow classrooms came a quick drumming of voices; a bell rang.
The Science Mistress stopped Miss Meadows.
“Good mor-ning,” she cried, in her sweet, affected drawl. “Isn't it cold? It might be win-ter.”
Miss Meadows stared in hatred at the Science Mistress. Everything about her was sweet, pale, like honey. You would not have been surprised to see a bee caught in the tangles of that yellow hair.
“It is rather sharp,” said Miss Meadows, grimly.
The other smiled her sugary smile.
“You look fro-zen,” said she. Her blue eyes opened wide; there came a mocking light in them. (Had she noticed anything?)
“Oh, not quite as bad as that,” said Miss Meadows, and she gave the Science Mistress, in exchange for her smile, a quick grimace and passed on.
Forms* Four, Five, and Six were assembled in the music hall. The noise was deafening. On the platform, by the piano, stood Mary Beazley who played accompaniments. When she saw Miss Meadows she gave a loud, warning “Sh-sh! girls!” and Miss Meadows, her hands thrust in her sleeves, the baton under her arm, strode down the centre aisle, mounted the steps, turned sharply, seized the brass music stand, planted it in front of her, and gave two sharp taps with her baton for silence.
“Silence, please! Immediately!” and, looking at nobody, her glance swept over that sea of coloured flannel blouses, with bobbing pink faces and hands, quivering butterfly hair-bows, and music-books outspread. She knew perfectly well what they were thinking. “Meadows is in a mood.” Well, let them think it! What could the thoughts of those creatures matter to someone who stood there pierced to the heart, to the heart, by such a letter—
. . . “I feel more and more strongly that our marriage would be a mistake. Not that I do not love you. I love you as much as it is possible for me to love any woman, but, truth to tell, I have come to the conclusion that I am not a marrying man, and the idea of settling down fills me with nothing but—” and the word “disgust” was scratched out lightly and “regret” written over the top.
Miss Meadows stalked over to the piano. And Mary Beazley, who was waiting for this moment, bent forward; her curls fell over her cheeks while she breathed, “Good morning, Miss Meadows,” and she handed to her mistress a beautiful yellow chrysanthemum. This little ritual of the flower had been gone through for ages and ages, quite a term and a half. It was as much part of the lesson as opening the piano. But this morning, instead of taking it up, instead of tucking it into her belt with a “Thank you, Mary. How very nice! Turn to page thirty-two,” Miss Meadows totally ignored the chrysanthemum, made no reply to her greeting, but said in a voice of ice, “Page fourteen, please, and mark the accents well.”
“Page fourteen. We will begin with page fourteen. 'A Lament.' Now, girls, you ought to know it by this time. We shall take it all together; not in parts, all together. And without expression. Sing it, though, quite simply, beating time with the left hand.”
She raised the baton; she tapped the music stand twice. Down came Mary on the opening chord; down came all those left hands, beating the air, and in chimed those young, mournful voices.
Beginning of reading passage footnotes.