Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Reach For The Sun" from Edcon Publishing.

Solar energy can be gathered and stored with a flat-plate collector.

Have you ever spent a pleasant day in the sun and suffered that night with a painful sunburn? Have you used a magnifying glass to direct the sun's rays onto a piece of paper and watched the paper burst into flames? At such times, the sun's power is most evident. Even then we find it hard to realize that all the work of the world is made possible by the sun. People's energy comes from food, grown in the warmth of the sun. Meat and dairy products come from animals. The grasses and grains that fed them needed the sun to make them grow.

Over the years, people have used many forms of energy: wind, water, coal, oil, and natural gas. What is the source of these? The heat of the sun causes winds to blow and rain to fall. Coal, oil, and gas are really the remains of green plants. Long ago they were alive, making their own food from sunlight.

All energy comes first from the sun. Why, then, do we hear and read about the prospect of using solar energy to replace other fuels? The difference lies in the fact that other fuels store the sun's energy in changed forms. Solar energy refers only to use of the sun's direct rays. The earth's fuel supply is being used at an alarming rate. How many billion tons are left? No one knows exactly. Experts say oil will be gone in less than one hundred years. Coal is more plentiful, but burning it dirties the air, causing a danger to health. We need new, clean sources of energy.

Atomic energy plants now meet some of our needs. When atoms of hydrogen are split, huge amounts of energy are set free. But the process has some problems. Dangerous metals. must be used, and the waste products are harmful. Another way to free energy from hydrogen is to join the atoms. This process would be safer, but there are still some technical problems. Scientists are working on them. Meanwhile, 93 million miles away, billions of hydrogen atoms are joined every day in the biggest atomic plant of all: the sun.

Solar energy is not, as we might assume, a new idea. We can find examples of its use in the past. A story is told of a clever Greek scientist who, two thousand years ago, set up huge mirrors to reflect the sun's rays. In this way he set fire to the sails of an enemy fleet. A hundred years ago in South America, a solar plant was built in a place where little rain fell. The sun was put to work making water to drink. First, sea water was evaporated by the sun's heat. Then the vapor was collected and cooled. The water thus obtained was fresh and sweet. In France there is a giant solar furnace, described as a huge magnifying glass. For many years it has been melting metals for industry.

The first sun-heated home was displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. Called "The House of Tomorrow," it was so popular that other homes like it were built. For the last twenty years, solar batteries have been used in spacecraft. All equipment on the Telstar satellites runs on solar power.
Telstar Satellite
All the projects mentioned here have been successful. Yet they remain rare. The advantages of solar energy are evident. It is free and clean, and the supply will last for billions of years. Why hasn't greater use been made of this amazing energy source? For a long time, fuel costs were low. Solar power, on the other hand, was expensive. Sunlight is free, but the equipment needed to collect it is not. A solar heating system for a house built today may cost two to four times as much as one which burns fuel. For industry, the costs are even higher. Before the energy crisis, solar power didn't seem practical. Now rising fuel costs and shrinking supplies have sparked new interest. The prospect of increasing use of direct sunlight seems likely.

Solar energy is available right now in our own backyards. Small systems can take over part, if not all, of the job of heating water for home use. Larger ones can heat homes. As far north as Canada, a house has been heated through the winter by solar energy alone. A popular type of heating system is the flat-plate collector. Metal pipes are attached to flat metal sheets. One or more layers of glass are laid over the pipes. These plates are set on a roof or the ground at an angle to the sun. Water pumped through the pipes on sunny or partly cloudy days can be heated to high temperatures, and can then be used to heat the house. At night or when it rains, tanks can store the heated water for two days or more. Many solar houses have small fuel burning units to use during periods of rainy weather. Other methods of collecting and storing the sun's heat are being explored.Perhaps better ways can be found.

The world's population and its energy needs are growing. Will solar power be the answer, or one of the answers, for the future? Mass production of equipment would help cut costs. This will occur only if the demand is great enough. The states of Indiana and Arizona have lowered taxes on solar homes. Such laws encourage people to try solar heating and help them pay for it. We can assume that as solar power is used more, our methods of collecting and storing will improve. The sun will shine for billions of years, pouring free energy onto the earth. The challenge to us is to find the best ways to use it.

1. The sun is an important source of ____________

a. power and energy.
b. meat and dairy products.
c. grasses and grains.
d. winds and rain.

2. The use of the sun's direct rays is referred to as ____________

a. atomic energy.
b. solar energy.
c. natural energy.
d. people's energy.

3. The need for new clean sources of energy ____________

a. is no longer important.
b. will greatly increase in the next fifty years.
c. is not given much thought at present.
d. will be studied by all nations.

4. The sun's rays are ____________

a. clean, expensive, and plentiful.
b. harmful, new, and fresh.
c. clean, cheap, and widely used.
d. free, clean, and plentiful.

5. The second solar energy project discussed in the story tells of ____________

a. reflecting the sun's rays to defeat an enemy.
b. melting metal with a giant solar furnace.
c. evaporating sea water.
d. using solar power on Telstar satellites.

Solar heating systems for homes would be of most interest to homeowners ____________

a. in warm climates.
b. in cold climates.
c. in rainy climates.
d. in hot climates.

7. The costs of solar heating systems for new homes would probably be of most interest to ____________

a. lawyers.
b. tax experts.
c. news reporters.
d. home builders.

8. We need to find better ways to ____________

a. collect and store the sun's heat.
b. help the world's population grow.
c. lower taxes on solar homes.
d. help people pay for heating their homes.

9. Another name for this story could be ____________

a. "The Dangerous Sun."
b. "The Earth's Fuel Supply."
c. "Atomic Energy."
d. "Solar Power."

10. This story is mainly about ____________

a. the growth of the energy crisis.
b. the growing population.
c. the challenge of finding ways to use solar power.
d. early projects using the sun's energy.

President Kennedy in 1962 applauds the first Telstar communication.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime Music. Early 1900s. From Voice of America.


I’m Steve Ember.


And I’m Barbara Klein with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today we tell about the life and work of one of America’s greatest music writers: Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime.



That song is called “Maple Leaf Rag.” Scott Joplin wrote it more than one hundred years ago. The song changed Joplin’s life. It was very popular. The composer earned a good living from the sales of the sheet music. He also became famous.

But, even today, much about Scott Joplin remains a mystery. There is conflicting information about the most basic facts, like when and where he was born. Official population documents suggest Scott Joplin was born in eighteen sixty-seven and eighteen sixty-eight. He was born in Texas, probably near the border with Arkansas. The Joplins moved to Texarkana, Texas sometime after eighteen seventy-five and Scott grew up there.



Scott was the second of seven children born to Giles and Florence Joplin. His father was a freed slave who worked on the railroad. His mother cleaned people’s homes.

The whole Joplin family was musical. Scott’s father played the violin. His mother played the banjo. And all the Joplins enjoyed singing together at home.

Scott learned to play several musical instruments. But Florence Joplin wanted her son to learn how to play the piano. When Scott was about seven years old he began taking piano lessons with a music teacher at his school. The Joplins were poor, so Scott’s mother paid for the weekly lessons with food. Florence Joplin also got permission for her son to use a piano in one of the houses she cleaned in Texarkana.

Florence and Giles Joplin separated before Scott became a teenager. Some experts think Scott blamed himself for the break-up. Many experts also think Scott Joplin’s opera “Treemonisha” included incidents of his life with his mother after Giles Joplin left. For example, the character “Treemonisha” receives music lessons paid for by her mother who cleans people’s houses. Listen to this aria from the opera. Carmen Balthrop is Treemonisha.



Scott Joplin’s early piano lessons did not include ragtime. That kind of music was played in dance and drinking places and was not considered acceptable. Scott first studied classical music with several teachers. They included a German immigrant named Julius Weiss who probably had the strongest influence on the boy.


Scott left Texas when he was a teenager. He worked as a piano player and gave lessons in the guitar and mandolin. In his twenties he settled in Sedalia, Missouri. He formed a group called the Texas Medley Quartet. The group sometimes traveled great distances to perform. Scott Joplin began his music-writing career in Sedalia. He attended college classes to learn to become a composer.

Joplin also got a permanent job in Sedalia playing the piano in a new nightclub. Sedalia’s most important citizens visited the Maple Leaf Club. The job permitted Joplin time to write and play his own work.

Something even more important happened to Joplin in Sedalia. He met John Stark, the owner of a local music store. In eighty ninety-nine, Stark published the song “Maple Leaf Rag.” It was not Joplin’s first published music. But it was the he was most proud of.

Stark offered to pay Joplin a percentage of each sale of “Maple Leaf Rag” sheet music. This was an extremely unusual business agreement for a white publisher and black composer at that time. Usually, white publishers paid only a small amount of money for full ownership of music written by African-Americans. The agreement was very good for both Scott Joplin and John Stark.



Ragtime music is dance music. It combines a solid, often lively, beat with a looser, complex melody. Most experts agree that the traditional music and dance of American slaves played a big part in the development of ragtime.

Here is a perfect example. Scott Joplin and John Stark published “A Breeze From Alabama” in nineteen-oh-two. It is music for a dance called the two-step.



John Stark decided that Scott Joplin was going to become too popular to stay in the small town of Sedalia. He decided to move his music business to the big city of Saint Louis, Missouri. Joplin moved to Saint Louis with a woman named Belle Hayden. Later they were married. But Joplin was not as successful in love as he was in music. He and Belle separated in nineteen-oh-two.

Two years later Joplin married again. But his wife, Freddie Alexander, died just three months later. The Scott Joplin Organization in Sedalia, Missouri says Joplin wrote this rag, “The Chrysanthemum,” for his second wife.


After his wife’s death, in nineteen-oh-five, Joplin wrote a concert waltz called “Bethena.” The piece has a sad sound to it, quite unlike Joplin’s earlier work. You might recognize it as the theme music for the Special English program Words and Their Stories.



Joplin lived in many places in the years that followed. He also worked on his opera, “Treemonisha.” He had hoped his longtime business partner John Stark would publish it, but he refused. Stark did not think a ragtime opera would sell.

After nineteen-oh-seven Joplin lived mostly in New York City. He and his new wife Lottie tried for many years to get “Treemonisha” produced. But its opening night did not come until more than fifty years after Joplin’s death.

By about nineteen fifteen, Scott Joplin began suffering badly from syphilis. The disease robbed him of his ability to play piano. It also destroyed his ability to write music. He died in New York City in nineteen-seventeen.

Scott Joplin left the world sixty musical works. These include many piano rags that are still played today.



This program was written and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Barbara Klein.


And I’m Steve Ember. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. We leave you now with one of Scott Joplin’s prettiest rags, “Heliotrope Bouquet.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Edgar Allen Poe" A Biography from Voice of America


Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.


And I'm Shirley Griffith. This year is the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of writer Edgar Allan Poe. The United States Postal Service is honoring him with a stamp. And several museums in cities where he lived are remembering him with plays, readings and other events. This week on our program we explore his life and the continuing influence of his work.



Edgar Allan Poe wrote stories and poems of mystery and terror, insanity and death. His life was short and seemingly unhappy.

He was born Edgar Poe on January nineteenth, eighteen hundred and nine in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents were actors. He was a baby when his father left the family. And he was two when his mother died. At that time they were in Richmond, Virginia.

Edgar went to live with the family of a wealthy Richmond businessman named John Allan. John Allan never officially adopted him as a son, but the boy became known as Edgar Allan Poe.

He attended schools in England and in Richmond. He also attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He was a good student. But he had a problem with alcohol. Even one drink seemed to change his personality and make him drunk. Also, he liked to play card games for money. Edgar was not a good player. He lost money that he did not have.

John Allan refused to pay Edgar's gambling losses. He also refused to continue paying for his education. So the young man went to Boston and began working as a writer and editor for monthly magazines.


Poe served in the Army for two years, before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point to become an officer. He was dismissed from the academy in eighteen thirty-one after six months. By then he had already published three books of poetry.

He began writing stories while living with his aunt in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. In October of eighteen thirty-three, he won a short story contest organized by a local newspaper. He received fifty dollars in prize money and got a job editing the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. He published many of his own stories.

In eighteen thirty-four, Poe married his cousin Virginia Clemm, the thirteen year old daughter of his father's sister. They moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in eighteen thirty-eight. There, Poe served as editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine and continued to write.

He published many of his most frightening stories during this time. These included "The Black Cat," "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Pit and the Pendulum."


Edgar Allan Poe did something unusual for writers of his time: he used a narrator in a story to describe what was happening. A good example is the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart."

The narrator claims that he is not mad, yet reveals that he is a murderer. He has killed an old man for no apparent reason. He cuts up the body and hides the parts under the floorboards of the victim's house.

Police officers arrive after getting reports of noises from the house. The murderer shows them around the house and is proud of the way he has hidden all the evidence. But he begins to hear a sound. The others in the room cannot hear it.


Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound -- much a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath -- and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly -- more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men -- but the noise steadily increased. Oh God what could I do? I foamed -- I raved --I swore. But the noise continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder!


Edgar Allan Poe is also remembered for the kind of literature known as detective fiction. These are stories of an investigator who has to solve murders and other crimes.

In fact, Edgar Allan Poe is considered the father of the modern detective novel. His fictional detective C. August Dupin first appeared in his story "The Murders In the Rue Morgue" in eighteen forty-one. Dupin also appeared in two later stories, "The Mystery of Marie Roget" and "The Purloined Letter."

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, wrote about Poe's influence on other crime writers: "Each may find some little development of his own, but his main art must trace back to those admirable stories of Monsieur Dupin, so wonderful in their masterful force, their reticence, their quick dramatic point."


Jeff Jerome is the curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore. He says Poe's influence can also be seen in the work of H.G. Wells and Alfred Hitchcock, to name a few. Poe's influence extends to plays, movies, operas, music, cartoons, television, paintings -- just about every kind of art.

Poe's creation of the detective novel is recognized by the Mystery Writers of America. The writers group presents the yearly Edgar Awards to honor the best detective and suspense books, movies and TV shows.

An award also goes to an individual, organization or business for working to continue the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. The award is named for Poe's most famous work. This year, the Edgar Allan Poe Society and the Poe House in Baltimore will receive the Raven Award.


Edgar Allan Poe became famous after "The Raven" was published in eighteen forty-five. The poetry is rich in atmosphere. The rhythm suggests music.

The narrator of "The Raven" is a man whose love has died. He sits alone among his books late at night. He hears a noise at the window:


Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"
Merely this, and nothing more."


The man finds a large black bird and asks it questions. The raven answers with a single word: "Nevermore." At the end of the poem, the man has quite clearly gone mad from grief:


And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted -- nevermore!


The sadness and horror in Poe's writing might lead readers to suspect a disordered mind. Yet people who knew him reported him to be a nice man. Some even called him a real gentleman.

His wife died in eighteen forty-seven. Virginia Clemm Poe had suffered from tuberculosis for many years. At the same time, Poe's magazine failed, and so did his health. He died on October seventh, eighteen forty-nine, under mysterious conditions.

He was found in a tavern in Baltimore. He did not know where he was or how he got there. He was dressed in rags. He died four days later in a hospital. He was forty years old.


Over the years, historians and medical experts have tried to explain the cause of Poe's death. Some say he killed himself with drink. Others say he developed rabies from an animal bite. Many in Baltimore believe he was beaten by local criminal gangs.

Every year about two thousand people visit Edgar Allan Poe's grave at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore. And every year on January nineteenth -- Poe's birthday -- people watch for a man dressed in black to appear. His face is covered. He places a bottle of French cognac and three roses on the grave.

No one in Baltimore really wants to know the visitor's identity. They prefer that it remain a mystery, much like Edgar Allan Poe himself.


Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Steve Ember.


And I'm Shirley Griffith. Doug Johnson was our reader. To hear the short story "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, listen at this time Saturday for the program AMERICAN STORIES. And join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Short Story: 'The Purloined Letter' by Edgar Allan Poe. A mystery from Voice of America.

Vocabulary Note: "purloined" means "stolen"
Now the Special English program AMERICAN STORIES.


Our story today is called "The Purloined Letter." It was written by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is generally known for his horror stories. This is the third of three stories he wrote about Auguste Dupin and how he solves crimes. The story is about a stolen letter. It first appeared in eighteen forty-four in a yearly magazine. It was reprinted in many publications, newspapers and books. This is one of Poe's stories that influenced the development of the modern detective story. Here is Shep O'Neal with "The Purloined Letter."



One evening in Paris, during the autumn of eighteen forty-five, I went to visit a friend, Auguste Dupin. We were smoking our pipes and talking when the door of his apartment opened. Mister Germont, the head of the Paris police force, came into the room.

"I came to ask your advice," Germont said to my friend Dupin. "I am trying to solve a very important case. It is also a very simple case, so I really need your help. But I thought you would like to hear about it, because it is so strange.

"My men and I have worked on this case for three months," Germont said. "It is a very simple case of robbery. But we still cannot solve it."

Dupin took the pipe out of his mouth. "Perhaps the mystery is too simple," he said.

Germont began to laugh. "Too simple?" he said. "Who ever heard of such a thing?"

I looked at Germont. "Why don't you tell us the problem?" I said.

Germont stopped laughing and sat down.

"All right," he said. "But you must never tell anyone I told you this."

"The wife of a very important person needs help. I cannot tell you her name, because her husband is a powerful man in the French government. Let us just call her Madame X. Three months ago, someone stole a letter from Madame X. She is offering a large amount of money to anyone who can return the letter to her.

"We know that her husband's political enemy, Mister D'Arcy, stole the letter. We also know it is somewhere in his apartment. D'Arcy plans to use the letter to embarrass Madame X's husband and destroy his political power.

"As you know, I have keys which can open any lock in Paris. For the last three months, my men and I have spent every evening looking for the letter in his apartment. But we cannot find it."

Dupin stopped smoking. "Tell me how you looked for it," he said. Germont moved forward in his chair.

"We took our time," he said. "First, we examined the furniture in every room. We opened all the drawers. We looked under the rugs. We searched behind all the paintings on the walls.

"We opened every book. We removed the boards of the floor. We even took the tops off the tables to see if he had hidden the letter in the table legs. But we cannot find it. What do you advise me to do?"

Dupin puffed on his pipe. "What does the letter look like?" he asked.

"It is in a white envelope with a red stamp," Germont said. "The address is written in large black letters."

Dupin puffed on his pipe again. "I advise you to go back and search the apartment again," he said.


About one month later, Germont came back to see us.

"I followed your advice," he said. "But I still have not found the letter."

Dupin smiled. "I knew you would not find it," he said. Germont became very red in the face. "Then why did you make me search the apartment again?" he shouted.

"My dear Germont," Dupin said. "Let me tell you a little story. Do you remember the famous doctor, Louis Abernathy?"

"No!" Germont shouted. "Get to the point, Dupin!"

"Of course! Of course," Dupin said. "Once, a rich old man met Abernathy at a party. The old man was not feeling very well. He decided he would get a medical opinion from the doctor without paying for it. So he described his problems to Abernathy. 'Now doctor,' the old man said, 'suppose you had a patient like that. What would you tell him to take?'"

"'Oh, that is quite simple,' said Abernathy. 'I would tell him to take my advice.'"

Germont looked embarrassed. "Look here, Dupin. I am perfectly willing to pay for advice."

Dupin smiled at Germont. "How much money did you say the reward was?" he asked. Germont sighed. "I do not want to tell you the exact amount. But I would give fifty thousand francs to the person who helps me find that letter."

"In that case," Dupin said, "take out your checkbook and write me a check for fifty thousand francs. When you have signed the check, I will give you the letter."

Germont looked at Dupin with his mouth open. His eyes seemed to jump out of his head. Then he took out his checkbook and pen, and wrote a check for fifty thousand francs. He gave it to Dupin.

My friend examined the check carefully and put it in his pocket. Then he unlocked a drawer of his desk, took out the letter, and gave it to Germont.

The policeman's hands shook as he opened the letter. He read it quickly. Then he put it in his pocket and ran out of the room without saying a word.

"Dupin!" I said, as I turned to my friend. "How did you solve the mystery?"

"It was simple, my friend," he said. "Germont and his policemen could not find the letter, because they did not try to understand the mind of the man who stole it. Instead, they looked for the letter where they would have hidden it.

"Mister D'Arcy is not a policeman. He is, however, very intelligent. He knew the police would search his apartment. He also knew how police think. So, he did not hide the letter where he knew they would look for it.

"Do you remember how Germont laughed when I said the mystery was difficult for him to solve because it was so simple?"

Dupin filled his pipe with tobacco and lit it. "Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the police could not find the letter because D'Arcy had not hidden it at all.

"So I went to visit D'Arcy in his apartment. I took a pair of dark green eyeglasses with me. I explained to him that I was having trouble with my eyes and needed to wear the dark glasses at all times. He believed me. The glasses permitted me to look around the apartment while I seemed only to be talking to him.

"I paid special attention to a large desk where there were a lot of papers and books. However, I saw nothing suspicious there. After a few minutes, however, I noticed a small shelf over the fireplace. A few postcards and a letter were lying on the shelf. The letter looked very old and dirty.

"As soon as I saw this letter, I decided it must be the one I was looking for. It must be, even though it was completely different from the one Germont had described.

"This letter had a large green stamp on it. The address was written in small letters in blue ink. I memorized every detail of the letter while I talked to D'Arcy. Then when he was not looking, I dropped one of my gloves on the floor under my chair.

"The next morning, I stopped at his apartment to look for my glove. While we were talking, we heard people shouting in the street. D'Arcy went to the window and looked out. Quickly, I stepped to the shelf and put the letter in my pocket. Then I replaced it with a letter that looked exactly like it, which I had taken with me. I had made it the night before.

"The trouble in the street was caused by a man who had almost been run over by a horse and carriage. He was not hurt. And soon the crowd of people went away. When it was over, D'Arcy came away from the window. I said good-bye and left.

"The man who almost had an accident was one of my servants. I had paid him to create the incident."

Dupin stopped talking to light his pipe. I did not understand. "But, Dupin," I said, "why did you go to the trouble of replacing the letter? Why not just take it and leave?"

Dupin smiled. "D'Arcy is a dangerous man," he said. "And he has many loyal servants. If I had taken the letter, I might never have left his apartment alive."



"The Purloined Letter" was written by Edgar Allan Poe and adapted into Special English by Dona De Sanctis. The storyteller was Shep O'Neal. The producer was Lawan Davis.

You can read and listen to other AMERICAN STORIES at our Web site, I'm Barbara Klein.

1. ________________ stole the letter in order to embarrass Madame X's husband.
a. August Dupin
b. Officer Germont
c. Mister D'Arcy
d. Madame X

2. Germont tried and failed to find the letter because the letter _____________ .
a. was under the floor
b. was in a strange place
c. wasn't really hidden
d. wasn't in the apartment

3. At first, Dupin didn't help Germont because Dupin hadn't ____________ .
a. felt like it
b. liked the problem
c. had a clue
d. been paid

4. Dupin left his glove behind in D'Arcy's apartment ______________ .
a. carelessly
b. on his second visit
c. on his first visit
d. because he didn't like the glove

5. After taking it, Dupin replaced it with a duplicate because otherwise _____________ .
a. D'Arcy would have him killed
b. D'Arcy would be convicted
c. D'Arcy would be confused
d. D'Arcy would marry Madame X

6. The incident on the street which distracted D'Arcy was caused by _____________ .
a. a fire
b. an attack on a child
c. Dupin's servant
d. a political parade

7. This type of story had a big influence on the modern _______________ story.
a. horror
b. romantic
c. adventure
d. detective

8. Dupin wore dark glasses when he visited D'Arcy so that he could ______________ .
a. get away from strong light
b. hide his tearful eyes
c. look around the apartment
d. hide his identity

9. Another name for this story could be _________________ .
a. "Fooling the Paris Police"
b. "Finding a Stolen Letter"
c. "Germont's Frustrating Investigation"
d. "Dupin's Retirement Plans"

10. This story is mainly about ________________ .
a. Parisian politics
b. a narrow escape from death
c. solving a stolen letter mystery
d. dining in nice Parisian restaurants

Friday, January 15, 2010

"The Purloined Letter" - Comprehension Check

"The Mystery of a Summer Night" by Edvard Munch

1. Poe's story, The purloined letter, influenced the modern ________ .
a. romance story.
b. science fiction story.
c. mystery.
d. horror story.

2. The word "purloined" means _________ .
a. broiled.
b. stolen.
c. dressed up.
d. devoured.

3. It was obvious that __________ stole the letter.
a. Dupin.
b. Germont.
c. Poe.
d. D'Arcy.

4. The letter was stolen in order to ________ .
a. embarrass a political leader.
b. blackmail Madame X.
c. find out about a scandal.
d. cash the check that was inside of it.

5. The case was brought to the attention of the police by _____ .
a. a famous detective.
b. a politician's enemy.
c. the politician's wife who remains unnamed.
d. an ex convict.

6. Germont and his fellow officers searched for the letter _________ .
a. in Germont's bedroom.
b. in D'Arcy's apartment.
c. in a government office.
d. in Dupin's drawer.

7. One place that the policemen did not look for the letter was _______ .
a. under the rugs.
b. in the garden.
c. behind the paintings.
d. around the furniture.

8. Dupin didn't give Gorment the letter until _______ .
a. Gorment admitted he was a failure.
b. Madame X promised to marry him.
c. Gorment paid him for his work.
d. the politician gave him a job.

9.Another name for this story could be ___________ .
a. "The Simple Solution"
b. "The life of Gorment"
c. "How to Purloin a Postcard"
d. "French Crime"

10. This story is mainly about
a. August Dupin's life in Paris.
b. D'Arcy's affair with Madame X.
c. The location of a stolen letter.
d. Efficient French Policemen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"The Law is For Everybody" from Edcon Publishing.

Today, we are reading the story from the Edcon Reading Comprehension Workbook, "The Law is For Everybody". It is a story about a freed slave, living in New York, whose son is stolen and sold into slavery in the South. It is the story of Sojourner Truth.

Bell needs a friendly, sympathetic lawyer.

Slavery was not confined to the southern United States; many slaves lived without freedom in the North as well. Among them was a woman named Isabelle, born into slavery in New York around 1795. Isabelle stood six feet tall, and she declared that she "could work as much as a man, and eat as much as a man, when I could get it."

On July 4, 1827, Isabelle was sweeping the kitchen of her latest and most kindly owners, the Van Wageners, when Mrs. Van Wagener appeared at the door.

"Isn't it a beautiful day, Belle!" she exclaimed.

"Going to be terribly hot," Belle answered.

"Belle, don't you realize today is Freedom Day?" questioned Mrs. Van Wagener. "By New York state law, you're officially a free woman!"

Gedney Farm
It was indeed a great day for Belle, but it was far from perfect. To celebrate her freedom, she decided to visit her six-year-old son Peter who belonged to a man named Solomon Gedney. Belle had not seen Peter in two years. She ran nearly all the way to Gedney's farm, where she met an elderly black woman.

"Mr. Gedney sold Peter to Mr. Fowler," the woman informed Belle, "and Mr. Fowler took him to Alabama months ago."

"They couldn't sell Peter out of the state!" exclaimed Belle. "The law would forbid it. Down South, he'll stay a slave forever!"

"Why chatter about the law?" wondered the old woman. "The law is for white folks. Don't you know that?"

"The law is for everybody," insisted Belle, and out of her grief for her son grew her determination to prove it. "I will have my child again!" she cried, and then began to pray:

"Lord, You know I don't ask You for much. But this time, I've got to ask You for everything. I have no money, no power; I have only You. You just have to be my helper, my ally. Please show them that You are my helper."

Belle then visited a family that had often been kind to her. They urged her to notify a lawyer, named Mr. Chip, about Peter's sale.

"Well, what do you want?" asked Lawyer Chip when Belle arrived in his office.

"I want my son," Belle explained, pouring out the story of Peter's sale to Mr. Fowler.

"Are you saying your boy has been sold out of this state?" questioned the lawyer. Angrily, he gathered together some official documents. "I'll notify Gedney that Peter must be brought back," he told Belle.

But travel between New York and Alabama took months in those days, and Mr. Gedney was furious about making the trip. Belle's anxiety grew with each passing day as she waited nearly a year for Gedney and Peter to return - and then Gedney refused to let her see her son!

She hurried back to Lawyer Chip, but he was not sympathetic about her anxiety and grief. "Court is closed until next season," he said. "You will have to wait several months."

"But Mr. Gedney is madder than a hornet," cried Belle, "and he'll take it out on my boy."

"There is nothing I can do," Lawyer Chip insisted. "Now be off, woman, because I have more important concerns."

Belle left Lawyer Chip's office and turned again to her one sure ally, God.

"Couldn't You help me just a little bit more?" she pleaded.

As if in answer to Belle's prayers, a sympathetic stranger approached her and suggested she visit yet another lawyer, Mr. Romeyne. "I think he will help you," the stranger said.

Belle thanked him tearfully and sped to Mr. Romeyne's house. Sure enough, he was also sympathetic to her cause and arranged a special meeting of the court. Mr. Gedney was ordered to bring Peter to that meeting.

The morning of the special meeting, Belle rushed joyfully into the courtroom, feeling, she said later, "as ifthe power of a nation was within me." The moment she saw Peter she cried out his name and started toward him. But he fell to the floor, clutching Mr. Gedney's leg and screaming, "That's not my mother! My mother doesn't look like that!"

Belle turned to Lawyer Romeyne in confusion. Then all eyes were on the judge as he spoke to the trembling child.

"What are those scars on your forehead and cheek, Peter?" the judge asked.

"That's where Master Fowler's horses kicked me, sir," the boy sobbed.

The judge looked long at hard at Peter. Finally, he announced, "I order that the boy be delivered into the hands of the mother."

Peter screamed in terror. Gedney left the courtroom in rage, and Belle slowly approached her son.

"When will I be taken South again?" the frightened boy questioned anxiously.

"Master Gedney warned me to remain with him, or Master Fowler would make me return to Alabama. Master Fowler mistreated me all the time; 11 horses never kicked me Look!" and Peter lifted his shirt to show other markings from other whippings.

Michelle Obama and Sojourner statue
Belle gathered her son into her arms and held him tightly.

"Nobody is going to take you away ever again," she comforted him. "The law forbid it. It's the law that returned you to me and the law will continue to protect you. It's more powerful than Mr. Gedney and Mr. Fowler - and the law is for everybody."

Years later, Belle became traveling preacher. She gained fame as she spoke out against slavery, for God, and for women's rights. She replaced her slave name with one that represented her new career and her great faith in God. The name she chose is respected and honored to this day: Sojourner Truth.

This story is an article from a series of Reading Comprehension Workbooks by Edcon Publishing Group. It is under Copyright, and included here with permission from the company. Edcon has all the rights to the audio files of their articles and stories. Edcon Publishing has a very large selection of different types of readings and other materials for learning. I highly recommend this company. - The Teacher

Here is a biography of Sojourner Truth:

Sojourner Truth's Biography

Read Sojourner's famous speech, "Ain"t I a Woman?"

Here is a video from You Tube of actress Kerry Washington reading Sojourner Truth's speech, "Ain't I a Woman?"

1. On July 4, 1827, Isabelle ___________ .
a. saw her son.
b. became a free woman.
c. prayed for her freedom.
d. spoke out against slavery.

2. Next, Belle decided to _____________ .
a. pray for help.
b. go to Alabama.
c. visit her son.
d. eat as much as a man.

3. Belle learned that Peter _________ .
a. had been sold out of the state.
b. had become a lawyer.
c. had changed his name to Chip.
d. stood six feet tall.

4. The old woman at the Gedney farm thought that _______ .
a. the law would help Belle.
b. Belle was white.
c. the law was for white people only.
d. the law was the same for all people.

5. Belle knew _____ .
a. something about Alabama's laws.
b. something about New York's laws.
c. New York's laws did not work in Alabama.
d. Alabama's laws were fair.

6. Mr. Chip notified Mr. Gedney that ___________ .
a. Peter had been mistreated.
b. he could not return to Alabama again.
c. Belle was madder than a hornet.
d. Peter must be brought back.

7. Belle was afraid that Peter would _______ .
a. be treated unkindly.
b. be killed.
c. be sent to prison.
d. not know her.

8. Belle chose the name_______ .
a. Gedney Fowler.
b. Isabelle.
c. Sojourner Truth.
d. Black Angel.

9. Another name for this story could be ___________ .
a. "The Life of Sojourner Truth."
b. "Sojourner Truth Uses the Law."
c. "Slavery in the North."
d. "Day of Freedom."

10. This story is mainly about __________ .
a. the gaining of freedom for Sojourner Truth.
b. the changing. of a slave woman's name.
c. Sojourner Truth's belief in laws that would forbid slavery.
d. Sojourner Truth's belief that the law protects everyone.

I would love to read any comments you have about this or any of the stories or articles found on this blog. Don't worry about your English spelling or grammar. Leave your email and I will be happy to help you with your mistakes. Remember, mistakes aren't bad. In fact, they are the best way to learn. If you like commenting, I can also publish your thoughts in
the New Mission Journal, a magazine devoted to English learners' writings.

Feel Free! ... John Robinson, The Teacher