Master Up

Бесплатный фрагмент - Master Up

Учебное пособие по английскому языку

Объем: 132 бумажных стр.

Формат: epub, fb2, pdfRead, mobi


№1. Read the text. Check the Vocabulary list while reading the text

«The Firm» by J.Grisham


Mitchell Y.McDeere, a Harvard alumnus and a lawyer by profession, is looking for a job. He already has had three job offers — one from Chicago and two from New York — from most prestigious firms in the country. That’s why he has small interest in the offer from a modest and not very well-known firm from Memphis. Nevertheless he decides to take the invitation for the job interview just out of curiosity

The senior partner studied the resume for the hundredth time and again found nothing he disliked about Mitchell Y. McDeere, at least not on paper. He had the brains, the ambition, the good looks. And he was hungry; with his background, he had to be. He was married, and that was mandatory. The firm had never hired an unmarried lawyer, and it frowned heavily on divorce, as well as womanizing and drinking. Drug testing was in the contract. He had a degree in accounting, and wanted to be a tax lawyer, which of course was a requirement with a tax firm. He looked good, on paper. He was their top choice. In fact, for this year there were no other prospects. The list was very short. It was McDeere or no one.

The managing partner, Royce McKnight, studied a dossier labelled «Mitchell Y. McDeere — Harvard.» An inch thick with small print and a few photographs, it had been prepared by some ex-CIA agents in a private intelligence outfit in Bethesda. They were clients of the firm and each year did the investigating for no fee. It was easy work, they said, checking out unsuspecting law students. They learned, for instance, that he preferred to leave the Northeast, that he was holding three job offers, two in New York and one in Chicago, and that the highest offer was $76,000 and the lowest was $68,000. He was in demand. He had been given the opportunity to cheat on a securities exam during his second year. He declined, and made the highest grade in the class. He drank an occasional beer, but drinking was expensive and he had no money. He owed close to $23,000 in student loans. He was hungry.

Royce McKnight flipped through the dossier and smiled. McDeere was their man. Lamar Quin checked his watch. He glanced at the two partners sitting at the small conference table near the windows.

Precisely at two-thirty someone knocked on the door. Lamar looked at the partners, who slid the resume and dossier into an open briefcase.

«Mitchell McDeere?» he asked with a huge smile and a hand thrust forward.

«Yes.» They shook hands violently.

«Nice to meet you, Mitchell. I’m Lamar Quin.»

«My pleasure. Please call me Mitch.»

He stepped inside, and quickly surveyed the spacious room.

«Sure, Mitch.» Lamar led him across the suite, where the partners introduced themselves. They were exceedingly warm and cordial. They offered him coffee, then water. They sat ar ound conference table and exchanged pleasantries. McDeere unbuttoned his coat and crossed his legs. He was now a seasoned veteran in the search of employment, and he knew they wanted him. He relaxed. With three job offers from three of the most prestigious firms in the country, he did not need this interview, this firm. He could afford to be a little overconfident now. He was there out of curiosity.

Oliver Lambert, the senior partner, leaned forward on his elbows and took control of the preliminary chitchat. At sixty-one, he was the grandfather of the firm. He was the counselor, the one the younger associates went to with their troubles. Mr. Lambert also handled the recruiting, and it was his mission to sign Mitchell Y. McDeere.

«Are you tired of interviewing?» asked Oliver Lambert.

«Not really. It’s part of it.» Yes, yes, they all agreed. Seemed like yesterday they were interviewing and submitting resumes and scared to death they wouldn’t find a job and three years of sweat and torture would be down the drain. They knew what he was going through, all right.

«May I ask a question?» Mitch asked.


«Why are we interviewing in this hotel room? The other firms interview on campus through the placement office.»

«Good question.» They all nodded and looked at each other and agreed it was a good question.

«Perhaps I can answer that, Mitch,» said Royce McKnight, the managing partner. «You must understand our firm. We are different, and we take pride in that. We have forty-one lawyers, so we are small compared with other firms. We don’t hire too many people; about one every other year. We offer the highest salary and fringes in the country, and I’m not exaggerating. So we are very selective. We selected you. The letter you received last month was sent after we screened over two thousand third-year law students at the best schools. Only one letter was sent. We don’t advertise openings and we don’t solicit applications. We keep a low profile, and we do things differently. That’s our explanation.»

«Fair enough. What kind of firm is it?»

«Tax. Some securities, real estate and banking, but eighty percent is tax work. That’s why we wanted to meet you, Mitch. You have an incredibly strong tax background»

«Why’d you go to Western Kentucky?» asked Oliver Lambert.

«Simple. They offered me a full scholarship to play football. Had it not been for that, college would’ve been impossible.»

«Tell us about your family.»

«Why is that important?»

«It’s very important to us, Mitch,» Royce McKnight said warmly. They all say that, thought McDeere.

«Okay, my father was killed in the coal mines when I was seven years old. My mother remarried and lives in Florida. I had two brothers. Rusty was killed in Vietnam. I have a brother named Ray McDeere.»

«Where is he?»

«I’m afraid that’s none of your business.»

«I’m sorry,» the managing partner said softly.

«Mitch, our firm is in Memphis,» Lamar said.

«Does that bother you?»

«Not at all. I’m not fond of cold weather.»

«Have you ever been to Memphis?»

«We’ll have you down soon. You’ll love it.»

Mitch smiled and nodded and played along. Were these guys serious? How could he consider such a small firm in such a small town when Wall Street was waiting?

«How are you ranked in your class?» Mr. Lambert asked.

«Top five.» That was enough of an answer for all of them.

«Why did you select Harvard?»

«Actually, Harvard selected me. I applied at several schools and was accepted everywhere. Harvard offered more financial assistance. I thought it was the best school. Still do.»

«You’ve done quite well here, Mitch,» Mr. Lambert said, admiring the resume. The dossier was in the briefcase, under the table.

«Thank you. I’ve worked hard.»

«You made extremely high grades in your tax and securities courses.»

«That’s where my interest lies.»

«We’ve reviewed your writing sample, and it’s quite impressive.»

«Thank you. I enjoy research.»

«Tell us about your wife,» Royce McKnight said. It was a standard, non sacred area explored by every firm.

«Her name is Abby. She has a degree in elementary education from Western Kentucky. We graduated one week and got married the next. For the past three years she’s taught at a private kindergarten near Boston College.»

«And is the marriage -»

«We’re very happy. We’ve known each other since high school.»

«Mitch, our firm frowns on drinking and chasing women. We put business ahead of everything. We work very hard. And we make plenty of money,» Oliver Lambert said

«I can live with all that.»

«We reserve the right to test any member of the firm for drug use.»

«I don’t use drugs.»

«Good. What’s your religious affiliation?»


«Good. You’ll find a wide variety in our firm. Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians. It’s really none of our business, but we like to know. We want stable families. Happy lawyers are productive lawyers. That’s why we ask these questions.» Mitch smiled and nodded. He’d heard this before. The three looked at each other, then at Mitch. This meant they had reached the point in the interview where the interviewee was supposed to ask one or two intelligent questions. Money, that was the big question, particularly how it compared to his other offers. If it isn’t enough, thought Mitch, then it was nice to meet you fellas. If the pay is attractive, then we can discuss families and marriages and football and churches.

But, he knew, like all the other firms they had to shadowbox around the issue until things got awkward and it was apparent they had discussed everything in the world but money. So, hit them with a soft question first.

«What type of work will I do initially?» They nodded and approved of the question. Lambert and McKnight looked at Lamar. This answer was his.

«We have something similar to a two-year apprenticeship, although we don’t call it that. We’ll send you all over the country to tax seminars. Your education is far from over. You’ll spend two weeks next winter in Washington at the American Tax Institute. As far as practicing law, it won’t be very exciting for the first two years. You’ll do a lot of research and generally boring stuff. But you’ll be paid handsomely.»

«How much?»

Lamar looked at Royce McKnight, who eyed Mitch and said, «We’ll discuss the compensation and other benefits when you come to Memphis.»

«I want a ballpark figure or I may not come to Memphis.»

He smiled, arrogant but cordial. He spoke like a man with three job offers. The partners smiled at each other, and Mr. Lambert spoke first.

«Okay. A base salary of eighty thousand the first year, plus bonuses. Eighty-five the second year, plus bonuses. A low-interest mortgage so you can buy a home. Two country club memberships. And a new BMW. You pick the color, of course.»

He tried to conceal a smile, but it was impossible. He chuckled.

«That’s incredible», he mumbled. Eighty thousand in Memphis equalled a hundred and twenty thousand in New York.

Mitch thought about this for a second and figured by the time he was thirty he could be well over a hundred thousand, maybe close to two hundred thousand. At the age of thirty! They watched him carefully and knew exactly what he was calculating.

«Tell me about your firm.»

«It’s an impressive firm, Mitch,» Oliver Lambert said, «and we’re very proud of it. We’re small and we take care of each other. We don’t have the cutthroat competition the big firms are famous for. We’re very careful whom we hire, and our goal is for each new associate to become a partner as soon as possible. Toward that end we invest an enormous amount of time and money in ourselves, especially our new people. It is a rare, extremely rare occasion when a lawyer leaves our firm. It is simply unheard of. We go the extra mile to keep careers on track. We want our people happy. We think it is the most profitable way to operate.» «I have another impressive statistic,» Mr. McKnight added. «Last year, for firms our size or larger, the average turnover rate among associates was twenty-eight percent. At Bendini, Lambert & Locke, it was zero. Year before, zero. It’s been a long time since a lawyer left our firm.» They watched him carefully to make sure all of this sank in. They explained as best they could, for now. Further explanation would come later.

№2. Answer the following questions about the text, use the words and expressions from the Vocabulary list.

1. Why did the senior partner of the law firm in Memphis consider Mitchell Y.McDeere to be their best prospect for the year?

2. Why did ex — CIA agents do investigating for the firm for no fee?

3. What did they find out about Mitch while investigating his background?

4. Why did Mitch think he could afford to be a little overconfident at the interview?

5. What did you learn from the text about Oliver Lambert’s position in the firm?

6. What did Oliver Lambert think all interviewees went through’ when being interviewed for a job?

7. How did Royce McKnight, the managing partner explain to Mitch the difference between their firm and other law firms?

8. What activities was the firm involved in?

9. What questions was Mitch asked at the interview?

10. What did Mitch tell his interviewers about his educational background (his family, his wife, his religious affiliation)?

11. What type of work was Mitch to do initially if he joined the firm?

12. What compensation and benefits was Mitch offered?

13. Why was Mitch impressed by the offer?

14. What kind of clients did the firm deal with?

15. What career prospects did the firm offer Mitch?

16. Why did the firm invest a lot of time and money in their new people?

17. What did Mr. Lambert tell Mitch about the history of their firm?

Questions for Discussion

18. Do you think Mitch will accept the offer? Why?

19. Considering Mitch’s behaviour during the interview, do you think he fancies such a job?

20. Could you trace how Mitch’s attitude and behaviour changed during the interview?

21. Would you take up such a job offer if you were Mitch? Why/ why not?

№3. Study the vocabulary list

frown — intrans. не одобрять, высказывать неодобрение

Eg. critics frown at the idea

womanize — волочиться за женщинами

womanizer — пренебр. бабник

degree — диплом (о высшем образовании), уровень владения специальностью

to hold a degree on — получить степень по какой-либо специальности

Eg. He’s got a degree on accounting and securities.

— степень, мера

to a (certain) degree — в некоторой степени, в какой-то мере

E.g. different in degree, but not in kind

choice — выбор

top choice — лучший выбор

to have big/little/low choice — иметь большой/небольшой выбор

to have no choice — не иметь выбора

outfit –зд. компания, организация, структура, подразделение

Eg. private intelligence outfit

— снаряжение, экипировка, оборудование

fee — гонорар, вознаграждение,

for no fee

tuition fee, admission fee

Eg.The fee is reasonable — плата приемлемая

offer — предложение, оферта

job offer — предложение работы

to hold a job offer — получить предложение работы

Eg. He turned down an offer to run the company.

demand — спрос,

to be in demand — пользоваться спросом

to be on demand — по требованию, по запросу

cheat — зд. cписывать, нарушать правила

Eg. He cheated on the exam and got D on it.

— обманывать, обводить вокруг пальца

Eg. They asked 300 bucks to repair my plasma TV, and I suspected they cheated on me.

preliminary — предварительный

associate — (младший) партнер

Eg. He started as an associate at a law firm.

pride — гордость

take pride in smth — гордиться чем-либо

Eg. He took pride in his service for the country.

exaggerate — преувеличивать

Eg. He tends to exaggerate when he talks about his accomplishments

selective — избирательный

Eg. This organization has a highly selective admission process

profile — личное дело, досье, сведения

to keep a low profile — не привлекать внимания

high profile — широко-известный,

advertise — давать объявление, помещать объявление

Eg. advertise for a secretary

occasion — 1. Случай, обстоятельство

Eg. On what occasion did they visit London?

— Событие (торжественное)

It was quite an occasion. — Это было большое событие.

opening — зд. dакансия

screen over — проводить тщательную проверку, отбирать

apply — подавать заявку

apply for a job — подавать заявление на работу.

sample — образец

to take a sample — взять образец

reserve — гл. сохранять

Eg. We reserve this book for you — мы придержим эту книгу для вас.

reserve — сущ. запас, резерв

stay/be on reserve — быть в запасе

shadowbox — темнить, скрывать факты

apparently — очевидно

apprenticeship — стажировка

mortgage — ипотека

low-interest mortgage — ипотека под низкий процент

to go an extra mile –зд. прилагать дополнительные усилия, не пожалеть времени сделать что-л.

turnover rate — текучесть кадров

cutthroat — жесткий, безжалостный

№4. Retell the text as if you were 1) Mitchell Y.McDeere 2) Royce McNight

№5. Find English equivalents in the text for the following sentences

— В контракте прописано прохождение теста на наркотики.

— Было легко, по его словам, проверять ничего не подозревающего студента юрфака.

— Их главный выбор пал на него.

— Ройс МакНайт просмотрел досье и улыбнулся.

— Он вошел и быстро оглядел просторную комнату.

— Они выказывали чрезмерную теплоту и сердечность.

— Он мог позволить себе быть самоуверенным.

— Кажется, еще вчера они ходили на собеседование и подавали резюме, до смерти боясь, что они не найдут работу и три года поты и пыток окажутся напрасными.

— Мы не берем на работу много людей — одного человека раз в два года.

— Письмо, которое вы получили в прошлом месяце, мы отправили после того, как тщательно проверили больше двух тысяч пятикурсников юридических факультетов лучших университетов.

— Мы не подаем объявления о вакансиях и мы не принимаем заявления со стороны.

— Если бы не это, я бы не смог учиться в университете.

— Митч улыбнулся, кивнул головой и продолжал им подыгрывать.

— Неужели он будет рассматривать маленькую фирму в маленьком городе, когда его ждет УоллСтрит?

— Это означало, что наступил тот момент, когда опрашиваемый задаст пару разумных вопросов.

— Мне нужно знать примерную сумму, а иначе я, возможно, не поеду в Мемфис.

— Он говорил как человек, которому предлагают работу три компании

— Он попытался скрыть улыбку, но то было невозможно.

— Они смотрели на него, точно зная, что в уме он все высчитывает.

— Для нас дело прежде всего.

— Это просто неслыханно!

— Они пристально смотрели на него, чтобы убедиться, что он воспринял все это.

№6. Fill in the gaps with prepositions from the list below. owe fees estate submit on in of with

1. Don’t think the manager will approve… your decision.

2. The firm frowns …divorce, drinking and drugs.

3. They deal only with rich clients who pay their healthy…

4. How much money do you… them?

5. Applicants usually… their resumes.

6. The firm is involved in different activities: tax, securities, real ...and banking.

7. How long have you been… the firm?

8. They take pride….paying top dollar to their employees.

№7. Give equivalents for the following words and phrases

To hold a degree — темнить — tuition fee — top choice — in demand — преувеличивать — selective — широко известный — текучесть кадров — to keep to a low profile — on occasion of one’s birthday — cheat on somebody — по требованию — снаряжение — frown on something

№8. Vocabulary Practice. Translate the following sentences into English in writing. Use the vocabulary list for the translation of the bold words and expressions

— Говорят, что ему две компании предложили работу. Он, должно быть, очень избирателен при выборе места работы.

— Неужели он уже стал партнером в этой фирме?

— Ему предложили высокий оклад, дополнительные льготы и премии. — Не удивительно. В университете он получил высшие оценки по всем предметам, имеет ученую степень по экономике. Специалисты с такой подготовкой и квалификацией очень востребованы.

— Вам придется заниматься научными исследованиями в области маркетинга. — Что ж, именно эта область меня интересует.

— Слышали, как директор говорил о предварительной договоренности с этой компанией.

— Как жаль, что он не одобряет решения провести более широкий анализ этого варианта.

— Он работает в этой фирме уже несколько лет и скоро станет партнером.

— Разве вы еще не выплатили ипотеку? — Нет, мы должны банку еще несколько тысяч рублей. — Должно быть, проценты по этой ипотеке очень большие? — Нет, это ипотека под низкий процент.

— Я не могу сказать, что это процветающая фирма. Она небольшая по сравнению с другими юридическими фирмами. Они почему-то стараются не привлекать к себе внимание.

— Дополнительная информация может быть предоставлена по требованию.

— Я не списывал на экзаменах, потому что боялся, что меня поймают.

— Предполагаемых кандидатов на эту должность обычно подвергают тщательной проверке.

— Один из наших сотрудников ушел на пенсию и у нас есть вакансия. Представьте ваше заявление, мы его рассмотрим

— Вряд ли вам удастся получить эту услугу бесплатно. Учтите, что гонорары таких юристов довольно высокие.

— Не будет преувеличением сказать, что именно на этот товар — самый высокий спрос.

— Вы увлекаетесь историей? — Да, в некоторой степени.

— Для этого похода нам необходимо закупить снаряжение.

— Вы наверняка слышали об этом громком деле. — Да, все газеты писали об этом.

— Мой дядя — подполковник в запасе.

— Я думаю, что вам, как человеку, у которого мало опыта стоит подать заявление на стажировку в этой организации. Возможно, позднее вас могут принять на полный рабочий день.

— Мне кажется, он темнит.

№9. Open the brackets using the necessary tense form of verb. Summarize author’s feelings on getting the job

It (to amaze) me, in retrospect, when I (to consider) how readily I (to be engage): no questions put, no reference asked for. Perhaps, I (to inspire) confidence. I never before (to attempt) to get a job. Getting a job (to be) something which my friends occasionally (to try) to do, and which always (to seem) to be a matter of slow and difficult negotiations or even intrigue. Indeed, it (to be) the spectacle of their ill success which, together with my own temperament, chiefly (to deter) me from any essays in this direction. It never (to occur) to me that it might be possible to get a job simply by going and asking for it, and in any normal state of mind I would never even have made the attempt. You (to point) out, and quite rightly that the job into which I (to step) so easily (to be) in a category not only unskilled but unpopular where a desperate shortage of candidates might well secure the immediate engagement of anyone other than a total paralytic; whereas what my friends perhaps (to find) is so difficult to become (to be) higher civil servants, columnists on the London dailies, officials or the British Council, fellows of colleges, or governors of the BBC. This (to be) true. I nevertheless (to feel) impressed, and not only by my having got the job, but also by the efficient way in which I (to turn) out to be able to perform it.

Discussion point: For what social groups do you think finding a job is most difficult? What do you think is important in job searching process?

№10. Use the articles where necessary

Each day of… year more than 4000 Americans reach …age of sixty-five. On that day they are not older, either physically or mentally, than they were …day before, and most of them still think of themselves as «middle-aged». But in… literature of sociologists they have moved abruptly into… new category — «…aged» or «…eldery». Henceforth they will be treated as «old» by both employers and governmental bureaucracies.

They can now be discharged without… hearing regardless of their health, vigor, intelligence, or alertness. It is not called «firing» — we prefer… euphemism «mandatory requirement» — but …result is… same: denial of… right to continue working at… job one knows best. And while earlier periods of unemployment were temporary, this one is permanent. …man or woman who reaches …age of sixty-five in good health suddenly realizes that he or she faces perhaps twenty years of unemployment — …period as long as infancy, childhood, and adolescence combined. However much he may enjoy… leisure and may have looked forward to vacations during his working years, he knows that this vacation is going to be much too long.

Discussion point: The Government of the RF has been developing the bill for later retirement in age. Think over social consequences that might be associated with it. Weighs pros and cons of it.

№11. Which of the following do you think is essential to mention in your CV?

— Website addresses of the companies you have worked for.

— Details of pre-university qualifications

— A photograph

— Date of Birth

— Mail address

— Telephone number and e-mail address

— Names of referees

— Internships/ work placements

— Computer programs and software used

— Charity work

— Interests

— Position of responsibility

— Title, e.g. Mr/Miss/Ms

№12. Applying for a job. Look at the job vacancies below. Which one would you choose and why? Write a cover a letter and CV. Vacancy 1. About the Company

At FRESH START in Education we specialize in the re-engagement of students who are out of education. This includes students who are at risk of exclusion or have already been permanently or temporarily excluded, schools refuses, young offenders, those with emotional or behavioral difficulties, serious health issues or those who are generally disengaged from education. We work with all ages from early years through to adult/

We provide bespoke, child-centered, high quality education programmes, which ensure that all the students that we work with have outstanding opportunities to re-integrate into regular or specialist education. We provide the encouragement and tools for students to develop and apply the knowledge, skills and understanding that will help them become successful at learning, confident as individuals and to live productive and responsible lives.

Fresh Start in Education are a nationally recognised alternative education provider specialising in delivering programmes specifically designed for students with Special Educational Needs and those disenfranchised from mainstream education. Our purpose is to inspire, equip and provide life changing opportunities for students who have no hope and who have not had a good start in life. Through positive re-engagement and facilitating diverse and complex learning needs Fresh Start in Education strives to make a difference in each young person’s life.

We are looking for qualified and skilled individuals, with relevantprofessional experience, toteach and mentor students who are disengaged from education and those with SEN and SEBD.

Your responsibilities will include:

— Producing lesson plans, risk assessments and reports for each education and engagement session.

— Delivering weekly 1:1 sessions — there will be between 2 to 5 sessions per week and each session can vary from 3 to 6 hours in length.

— Attending occasional training days and professional meetings upon request.

— Ensuring your own Continual Professional Development using the company’s resources and your own initiative.

You will need to be able to demonstrate:

— A commitment to working alongside students with SEN and SEBD

— A flexible and creative approach to teaching

— Emotional resilience

— Relevant teaching knowledge and skills

— Excellent communication and organisational skills

— A positive and caring attitude

Benefits include:

— Additional payment for session preparation and reporting, additional budgets for materials, resources and activities.

— Subsidised travel expenses.

— Opportunity for CPD training and development to enrich yourself and further your career in Special Education.

— To work with a nationally recognised organisation and body of Specialists who are likeminded professionals dedicated to provide an excellent and effective service.

If you are interested in this position and would like to work as an Education Specialist for Fresh Start in Education, please call the recruitment team on 0203 4096410or click «Apply’ now.

The safety of students and staff and their general well-being is our prime concern therefore everything we do has safeguarding at the core. We have robust safeguarding, lone working, supervision and observation policies which safeguards all students and staff. We monitor and we encourage all staff and students to inform us of anything that may give them any concern. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind on any grounds whatsoever, nor will we tolerate bullying or harassment of anyone by anyone. We also have an accessible Public Interest Disclosure (Whistle Blowing) Policy encouraging anyone involved with the organisation to escalate any problems outside the organisation if it cannot be resolved internally.

Remember that while writing a CV and/or covering you show your command of language skills and you also indicate how motivates you are for the job. Try to use good vocabulary when compiling your CV or covering letter. Words below can be helpful.

Prompts Verbs: Achieve, accomplish, advance to, activate, assist, complete, conduct, construct. contribute, control, coordinate, create, design, determine, develop, direct, establish, expand, explore, implement, improve, increase, initiate, introduce, invent, investigate, launch, maintain, manage, modernize, monitor, negotiate, obtain, organize, participate, perfect, perform, pioneer. plan, prepare, produce, promote, publish, recruit, reduce, reorganize, research, revise, set up, solve, stabilize, standardize, stimulate, strengthen, succeed in, supervise, survey, target, update, upgrade

Descriptive words: Active, adaptable, aggressive, ambitious, articulate, career-oriented, conscientious, cooperative, creative, decision maker, dynamic, easy-going, energetic, enterprising, enthusiastic, even-tempered, flexible, goal-oriented, go-getter, hard-worker, imaginative, innovative, intelligent, intuitive, leadership ability, loyal, modest, optimistic, pace-setter, people-oriented, perceptive, persevering, personable, problem-solver, punctual, reliable, resourceful, self-motivated, self-reliant, self-starter, sociable, tactful, trouble-shooter, versatile, well-groomed, well-organized

№13. Below is the beginning of the story by F.S.Fitzerald (first published in Saturday Evening Post (March 15th, 1924) «Gretchen’s Forty Winks»

Pre- reading questions:

— The story was written in the US in the times of roaring twenties. That were the years of the deepest Depression in the USA. At such economic downfall the situation at the job market is difficult. What do you think the ways to survive are?

— What do you think the story is going to be about?

— Look at the highlighted words. Consult the dictionary if necessary to check the meaning of them.

«Gretchen’s Forty Winks»

The sidewalks were scratched with brittle leaves, and the bad little boy next door froze his tongue to the iron mail-box. Snow before night, sure. Autumn was over. This, of course, raised the coal question and the Christmas question; but Roger Halsey, standing on his own front porch, assured the dead suburban sky that he hadn’t time for worrying about the weather. Then he let himself hurriedly into the house, and shut the subject out into the cold twilight.

The hall was dark, but from above he heard the voices of his wife and the nursemaid and the baby in one of their interminable conversations, which consisted chiefly of «Don’t!» and «Look out, Maxy!» and «Oh, there he goes!» punctuated by wild threats and vague bumpings and the recurrent sound of small, venturing feet.

Roger turned on the hall-light and walked into the living-room and turned on the red silk lamp. He put his bulging portfolio on the table, and sitting down rested his intense young face in his hand for a few minutes, shading his eyes carefully from the light. Then he lit a cigarette, squashed it out, and going to the foot of the stairs called for his wife.


«Hello, dear.» Her voice was full of laughter. «Come see baby.»

He swore softly.

«I can’t see baby now,» he said aloud. «How long ’fore you’ll be down?»

There was a mysterious pause, and then a succession of «Don’ts’ and «Look outs, Maxy’ evidently meant to avert some threatened catastrophe.

«How long ’fore you’ll be down?» repeated Roger, slightly irritated.

«Oh, I’ll be right down.»

«How soon?» he shouted.

He had trouble every day at this hour in adapting his voice from the urgent key of the city to the proper casualness for a model home. But tonight he was deliberately impatient. It almost disappointed him when Gretchen came running down the stairs, three at a time, crying «What is it?» in a rather surprised voice.

They kissed — lingered over it some moments. They had been married three years, and they were much more in love than that implies. It was seldom that they hated each other with that violent hate of which only young couples are capable, for Roger was still actively sensitive to her beauty.

«Come in here,» he said abruptly. «I want to talk to you.»

His wife, a bright-coloured, Titian-haired girl, vivid as a French rag doll, followed him into the living room.

«Listen, Gretchen’ — he sat down at the end of the sofa — ’beginning with tonight I’m going to — What’s the matter?»

«Nothing. I’m just looking for a cigarette. Go on.»

She tiptoed breathlessly back to the sofa and settled at the other end.

«Gretchen — ' Again he broke off. Her hand, palm upward, was extended towards him. «Well, what is it?» he asked wildly.



In his impatience it seemed incredible that she should ask for matches, but he fumbled automatically in his pocket.

«Thank you,» she whispered. «I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Go on.»

«Gretch — »

Scratch! The match flared. They exchanged a tense look.

Her fawn’s eyes apologized mutely this time, and he laughed. After all, she had done no more than light a cigarette; but when he was in this mood her slightest positive action irritated him beyond measure.

«When you’ve got time to listen,» he said crossly, ’you might be interested in discussing the poorhouse question with me.»

«What poorhouse?» Her eyes were wide, startled; she sat quiet as a mouse.

«That was just to get your attention. But, beginning tonight, I start on what’ll probably be the most important six weeks of my life — the six weeks that’ll decide whether we’re going on forever in this rotten little house in this rotten little suburban town.»

Boredom replaced alarm in Gretchen’s black eyes. She was a Southern girl, and any question that had to do with getting ahead in the world always tended to give her a headache.

«Six months ago I left the New York Lithographic Company,» announced Roger, ’and went in the advertising business for myself.»

«I know,» interrupted Gretchen resentfully; ’and now instead of getting six hundred a month sure, we’re living on a risky five hundred.»

«Gretchen,» said Roger sharply, ’if you’ll just believe in me as hard as you can for six weeks more we’ll be rich. I’ve got a chance now to get some of the biggest accounts in the country.» He hesitated. «And for these six weeks we won’t go out at all, and we won’t have anyone here. I’m going to bring home work every night, and we’ll pull down all the blinds and if anyone rings the doorbell we won’t answer.»

He smiled airily as if it were a new game they were going to play. Then, as Gretchen was silent, his smile faded, and he looked at her uncertainly.

«Well, what’s the matter?» she broke out finally. «Do you expect me to jump up and sing? You do enough work as it is. If you try to do any more you’ll end up with a nervous breakdown. I read about a — »

«Don’t worry about me,» he interrupted; «I’m all right. But you’re going to be bored to death sitting here every evening.»

«No, I won’t,» she said without conviction — ’except tonight.»

«What about tonight?»

«George Tompkins asked us to dinner.»

«Did you accept?»

«Of course I did,» she said impatiently. «Why not? You’re always talking about what a terrible neighbourhood this is, and I thought maybe you’d like to go to a nicer one for a change.»

«When I go to a nicer neighbourhood I want to go for good,» he said grimly.

«Well, can we go?»

«I suppose we’ll have to if you’ve accepted.»

Somewhat to his annoyance the conversation abruptly ended. Gretchen jumped up and kissed him sketchily and rushed into the kitchen to light the hot water for a bath. With a sigh he carefully deposited his portfolio behind the bookcase — it contained only sketches and layouts for display advertising, but it seemed to him the first thing a burglar would look for. Then he went abstractedly upstairs, dropping into the baby’s room for a casual moist kiss, and began dressing for dinner.

They had no automobile, so George Tompkins called for them at 6.30. Tompkins was a successful interior decorator, a broad, rosy man with a handsome moustache and a strong odour of jasmine. He and Roger had once roomed side by side in a boarding-house in New York, but they had met only intermittently in the past five years.

«We ought to see each other more,» he told Roger tonight. «You ought to go out more often, old boy. Cocktail?»

«No, thanks.»

«No? Well, your fair wife will — won’t you, Gretchen?»

«I love this house,» she exclaimed, taking the glass and looking admiringly at ship models. Colonial whisky bottles, and other fashionable débris of 1924.

«I like it,» said Tompkins with satisfaction. «I did it to please myself, and I succeeded.»

Roger stared moodily around the stiff, plain room, wondering if they could have blundered into the kitchen by mistake.

«You look like the devil, Roger,» said his host. «Have a cocktail and cheer up.»

«Have one,» urged Gretchen.

«What?» Roger turned around absently. «Oh, no, thanks. I’ve got to work after I get home.»

«Work!» Tompkins smiled. «Listen, Roger, you’ll kill yourself with work. Why don’t you bring a little balance into your life — work a little, then play a little?»

«That’s what I tell him,» said Gretchen.

«Do you know an average business man’s day?» demanded Tompkins as they went in to dinner. «Coffee in the morning, eight hours’ work interrupted by a bolted luncheon, and then home again with dyspepsia and a bad temper to give the wife a pleasant evening.»

Roger laughed shortly.

«You’ve been going to the movies too much,» he said dryly.

«What?» Tompkins looked at him with some irritation. «Movies? I’ve hardly ever been to the movies in my life. I think the movies are atrocious. My opinions on life are drawn from my own observations. I believe in a balanced life.»

«What’s that?» demanded Roger.

«Well’ — he hesitated — ’probably the best way to tell you would be to describe my own day. Would that seem horribly egotistic?»

«Oh, no!» Gretchen looked at him with interest. «I’d love to hear about it.»

«Well, in the morning I get up and go through a series of exercises. I’ve got one room fitted up as a little gymnasium, and I punch the bag and do shadow-boxing and weight-pulling for an hour. Then after a cold bath — There’s a thing now! Do you take a daily cold bath?»

«No,» admitted Roger, «I take a hot bath in the evening three or four times a week.»

A horrified silence fell. Tompkins and Gretchen exchanged a glance as if something obscene had been said.

«What’s the matter?» broke out Roger, glancing from one to the other in some irritation. «You know I don’t take a bath every day — I haven’t got the time.»

Tompkins gave a prolonged sigh.

«After my bath,» he continued, drawing a merciful veil of silence over the matter, «I have breakfast and drive to my office in New York, where I work until four. Then I lay off, and if it’s summer I hurry out here for nine holes of golf, or if it’s winter I play squash for an hour at my club. Then a good snappy game of bridge until dinner. Dinner is liable to have something to do with business, but in a pleasant way. Perhaps I’ve just finished a house for some customer, and he wants me to be on hand for his first party to see that the lighting is soft enough and all that sort of thing. Or maybe I sit down with a good book of poetry and spend the evening alone. At any rate, I do something every night to get me out of myself.»

«It must be wonderful,» said Gretchen enthusiastically. «I wish we lived like that.»

Tompkins bent forward earnestly over the table.

«You can,» he said impressively. «There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Look here, if Roger’ll play nine holes of golf every day it’ll do wonders for him. He won’t know himself. He’ll do his work better, never get that tired, nervous feeling — What’s the matter?»

He broke off. Roger had perceptibly yawned.

«Roger,» cried Gretchen sharply, ’there’s no need to be so rude. If you did what George said, you’d be a lot better off.» She turned indignantly to their host. «The latest is that he’s going to work at night for the next six weeks. He says he’s going to pull down the blinds and shut us up like hermits in a cave. He’s been doing it every Sunday for the last year; now he’s going to do it every night for six weeks.»

Tompkins shook his head sadly.

«At the end of six weeks,» he remarked, ’he’ll be starting for the sanatorium. Let me tell you, every private hospital in New York is full of cases like yours. You just strain the human nervous system a little too far, and bang! — you’ve broken something. And in order to save sixty hours you’re laid up sixty weeks for repairs.» He broke off, changed his tone, and turned to Gretchen with a smile. «Not to mention what happens to you. It seems to me it’s the wife rather than the husband who bears the brunt of these insane periods of overwork.»

«I don’t mind,» protested Gretchen loyally.

«Yes, she does,» said Roger grimly; ’she minds like the devil. She’s a shortsighted little egg, and she thinks it’s going to be forever until I get started and she can have some new clothes. But it can’t be helped. The saddest thing about women is that, after all, their best trick is to sit down and fold their hands.»

«Your ideas on women are about twenty years out of date,» said Tompkins pityingly. «Women won’t sit down and wait any more.»

«Then they’d better marry men of forty,» insisted Roger stubbornly. «If a girl marries a young man for love she ought to be willing to make any sacrifice within reason, so long as her husband keeps going ahead.»

«Let’s not talk about it,» said Gretchen impatiently. «Please, Roger, let’s have a good time just this once.»

When Tompkins dropped them in front of their house at eleven Roger and Gretchen stood for a moment on the sidewalk looking at the winter moon. There was a fine, damp, dusty snow in the air, and Roger drew a long breath of it and put his arm around Gretchen exultantly.

«I can make more money than he can,» he said tensely. «And I’ll be doing it in just forty days.»

«Forty days,» she sighed. «It seems such a long time — when everybody else is always having fun. If I could only sleep for forty days.»

«Why don’t you, honey? Just take forty winks, and when you wake up everything’ll be fine.»

She was silent for a moment.

«Roger,» she asked thoughtfully, ’do you think George meant what he said about taking me horseback riding on Sunday?»

Roger frowned.

«I don’t know. Probably not — I hope to Heaven he didn’t.» He hesitated. «As a matter of fact, he made me sort of sore tonight — all that junk about his cold bath.»

With their arms about each other, they started up the walk to the house.

«I’ll bet he doesn’t take a cold bath every morning,» continued Roger ruminatively; ’or three times a week, either.» He fumbled in his pocket for the key and inserted it in the lock with savage precision. Then he turned around defiantly. «I’ll bet he hasn’t had a bath for a month.»

Questions and tasks

— What season is it? In what mood Roger is coming back home after work?

— Who is home when Roger came back from work? Has anyone come down to meet him?

— What is Roger’s occupation? Is he well paid and/ or satisfied with his life?

— What iss the question Roger wants to discuss with his wife? How does he feel about the conversation? How has it started?

— How has Gretchen perceived the news her husband told her?

— What is Gretchen’s forty winks about?

— Why have they decided to go out nevertheless?

— Who is Tompkings? What does he do for a living?

— What advice does Tompkings give to Roger? What has prompted him to do so?

— Do you think Roger fancied the life and work Tompkings was leading?

— How has the evening ended?

— What opinion do you think Roger had about Tompkings?

— What kind of life do you think the young couple led?

— Whose attitude to work appeals to you more — Roger’s or Tompkings’?

— How do you think the story will end? Write your own continuation of the story.


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