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Suggestions and Exercises

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King Solomon and the Hoopoes.

Like many a legend and fable, this story gives fanciful explanations of real facts. How does it explain (a) the bare neck of the vulture, (b) the hoopoe's living by the margins of rivers?

Before the days of aeroplanes, tales of wonder often dealt with strange means of flying from place to place. What is the means used in this story? Do you know any other story which describes the same means?

What has our story taught you about genii and the kind of things they could do?

What failing or weakness brought disaster on the hoopoes? Why did the fowler bait his trap with a piece of mirror? Was Issachar a fair dealer? Give a reason for your answer. Note: a shekel was a Hebrew coin of silver; a talent was an ancient coin of silver or gold, worth many shekels.

Show in two sentences that Solomon was (a) wise and far-seeing, (b) kind.

The blanks in the following sentences may be filled by words you have learned from the story: (1) John Balliol paid to Edward for the throne of Scotland. (2) The corporation sent a of their members to lay their case before the Home Secretary. (3) The slave was to the will of his master. (4) By hard work many poor boys have become men. (5) Only the more delicate parts of the animal serve for food; the rest is (6) The of the Non-conformists is a blot upon the reign of Charles the Second.

Here is King Solomon's appeal to the hoopoes, written in indirect speech. Compare this with the original, and then write in indirect speech the hoopoes' reply: The king cried out to the hoopoes, asking them to go and fly between him and the sun, that he might be protected from its rays by the shadow of their wings.

King Solomon desires to encamp by the bank of the Nile, but cannot because of the crocodiles. He appeals to the king of the fleas. Tell the story.

The Work of the Beaver.

Do beaver always build their dams in exactly the same way? Do they show any intelligence in this? Why was the water at point Z bound to be lower than in the lake? What kind of men make portages? Which is the stronger in proportion to size, a beaver or a man? How long, at least, do beaver live? By what age are they fully grown, and what are their dimensions then? What is a baby beaver called? Do beaver spoil much valuable timber? Are they a help or a hindrance to man? How are they killed? Does the author approve of killing them? Is he a true sportsman?

Do we usually talk about "feed" - using the word as a noun? Describe the way from your home to school, or church, and illustrate your account by a sketch like the one used by Grey Owl. Write a paragraph describing the beaver's home. Write an essay on: "Studying or Killing - Which?"

In the Desert of Wyoming.

Stevenson wrote this passage about the year 1891. What, then, was the date of the boy's letter? What dangers, at that time, faced the traveller in Western U.S.A., and what saves the modern traveller from running such risks? How did the early settlers travel?

Is the boy's letter grammatical? Is it properly spelled? Is it a bad letter? Does it convey clearly what its writer meant? If not, point out any expression the meaning of which is not clear, and improve it.

Point out all the little fellow's errors in grammar, and say why they are errors.

Was the boy (1) brave, (2) truthful, (3) sturdy, (4) idle, (5) thoughtful for others, (6) affectionate? Give a reason for each, Yes or No.

Write Mary a letter from Tom (supposing him not to have been killed after all) giving his version of the affair.


Is the spider an insect? How many eyes has it? How many walking-legs? Give another name for its feelers. What sort of workman uses a scaffolding? What does the spider do with its scaffolding when it has paid out its stickier thread? How is the spider informed when a fly strikes the web? What is the first thing it does then? Why? What part of its victim does the spider feed upon? Among certain spiders, what happens to the other parts? Where are (a) tarantulas, (b) Mygale spiders, found? How large are they, and what do they catch?

Describe from memory the method of spinning used by the spider.

Write a description of an ordinary house-fly.

Watch a spider for yourself, and then write an account of what you actually saw, and what you thought or learned from that.

The Invisible Man.

Why did the man want to become invisible? Why did the governor tell his people to pretend they did not see the man? Why did the man smoke the kalyan and blow out the candle? What made him suspect at last that he was not truly invisible? What is a dervish? What does "occult" mean? Give two phrases, both of which mean "witchcraft."

What are the roots of the following words? Find others from the same roots: invisible, insensible, intangible

Compose sentences showing the correct use of each of the following: dabbler, efficacy, associate, intruder, crestfallen, injunction. Show that the following words can each be used in more than one sense: possessed, certain, determined, insensible, credit, corporal.

By avoiding repetition, shorten the following sentences: No one looked at him; no one saluted him; no one showed any consciousness of his presence. Analyse both the sentence as given and your new version of it.

Write a composition entitled, "How my chum became invisible."

The End of the L.23.

During what war did the events described take place? What was the L.23? Of what race were the crew? What was their object? If they had succeeded what would have happened? Do you admire these men?

Who tells the story? Is he a highly educated man? Is the story told in good English or in slang? Would it have made the story more or less real if there had been no slang?

Which part of the story makes one feel sympathy for the teller and his friends? Why do we feel sorry for them? Does the teller make out that he felt very brave? Do you think he really was brave? Why?

Give good English equivalents for: "it was a rotten business"; "they had us taped"; "our old man"; "we were through with all the questions"; "that put the wind up the fishermen"; "a square meal"; "we let Jensen pitch the tale."

Describe briefly in your own words how the antiaircraft batteries learned (a) the height, and (b) the speed of the L.23. (You may use a sketch if you find it helpful.)

Write the story of either an air-raid over Germany or an escape from captivity.

A Roman Villa.

How does your own history-book describe Roman Britain - does it agree or disagree with the description here given? What is the Doomsday Book? Can we fully rely on it for a picture of Britain in a.d. 400? Trace in your atlas the roads and towns mentioned.

How was the mansion discovered? Which part of it was in the best state of preservation? How was it heated? How was it decorated? What is meant by saying that the estate was self-supporting? From the list of things discovered what can we make out concerning the former occupants? Why does it seem very strange that the descendants of their snails are said to be still living in the ruins?

Use the following words correctly in sentences: impenetrable, luscious, picturesque, bountiful, toga, colonnade, transacted, mosaic, excavate, subsequently, guise, intact, sylvan.

Draw a sketch plan of the mansion, inserting details as nearly as possible in their proper positions.

Write a paragraph describing a woodland lane.

One hot summer day you fall asleep in a park near jour own home. You awake with a start to find that the centuries have rolled back, and that you are living in the fourth century. . . Continue and conclude the story as you please.

Thought for the Morrow.

Say in one sentence what lesson this passage teaches. What two examples are mentioned for our encouragement?

If it more important to live than to get food? If one's body more important than one's clothes? If so, why?

It is possible to make a statement - and a very emphatic statement - in the form of a question. Pick out any such statements from the passage.

Find the passage in your Bible. Who is the speaker? To whom is he speaking? Would they understand who Solomon was? Would they ever have seen lilies?

Commit the passage to memory.

Curling Weather.

What sort of weather is suitable for curling? Why? With what instruments is the game played? What sort of people play it? In what country is it very popular? In the village mentioned who was the only man who did not leave his work? Why?

Make a list of all the words that seem to belong specially to the game of curling. What do you think they mean? Make a list of all the Scots words. What do you think they mean?

Explain the meaning of these expressions: the weather-cocks were faithful to the North; work was only for women, and their husbands played as in the glorious ancient days of mastery; a tonic quality that made him feel omnipotent; ponderous on earth, on ice mercurial; he sent each stone upon its mission with a silent intercession.

Tell what happened to the dinner. What does this show about the curlers?

Can you send a telegram for sixpence? How many words are you allowed? Write a telegram to an English firm asking for immediate delivery of goods you ordered last week, and a reply saying that the warehouse is closed on account of the Test Match.

Write a composition entitled, "Bathing Weather," or "A Day on the Ice."

The Great Geysir.

Where is the great geysir? Name any other country where geysirs are found. Is a geysir always in eruption? What causes it to erupt? Why is its water hot? Try to make a sketch illustrating the way in which a geysir "works."

How high did the geysir throw its jet when the author saw it? What is the greatest height mentioned by any travellers? What is the greatest height actually measured?

"Icelandic" is the adjective from the noun "Iceland." Look at a map of the world, and try to form the adjectives from the names of other countries. Make a note of any that you do not know.

Use the following words correctly in sentences: latent, shrine, subterranean, vapour, stupendous, authenticated, orifice.

Divide the following words into stem and affixes, and make up other words having these elements: illimitable, confusion, superincumbent, intervening.

Write a paragraph describing what happens to make a kettle boil over.

Write a description of a volcano in eruption. Pretend you were an eye-witness, and use the first person.

A Dissertation upon Roast Pig.

Why are the "first seventy thousand ages" called "the Cooks' Holiday"?

Who discovered roast pig? How? Why did his father stop thrashing him? Why was Ho-ti's house constantly going on fire? Why was he arrested and tried? Why did the jury find him not guilty? Why did the Judge say nothing about this, clearly wrong, verdict? Why did his town house go on fire? Why did people build slighter and slighter? Why did pigs grow dear? Why did the insurance companies shut up shop?

Do you think this is a true story? Point out any touches that are laughably untrue.

Do you think the author liked roast pig? Give at least one reason for your answer.

Distinguish between "broiling" and "roasting." Give a modern word for "younker." Show that "mansion" and "tenement" now have special meanings.

Explain the meaning of the following words and illustrate their correct use: designate, antediluvian, litter, consternation, premonitory, sire, retributory, callous, ejaculation, enjoined, abominable, obnoxious, culprit, manifest, iniquity.

Punctuate: he thrust the lesser half by main force into the fists of ho ti still shouting out eat eat eat the burnt pig father only taste o lord with such like barbarous ejaculations cramming all the while as if he would choke.

Write a fanciful account of the invention of any common article, e.g., a chair, a barrow, a coat, a pair of tongs.

In Diving Kit.

What was being constructed? Where? Why were divers required? What sort of costume did they wear? Why did they wear so much woollen underclothing? About how deep did they go? How was air supplied to them? How were they enabled to sink?

Pierres perdues means sunken stones. Have you any idea of the weight of these? How was it that, while they were being swung into place, two men could handle them? Account for the writer's amazing jump. Do you know the record high jump on dry land?

The Eustachian tubes lead from the ears to the throat. What closes them? What action on the part of the diver eases the discomfort?

Learn the meaning of the following words as used in the passage, and use them in sentences: breakwater, travellers, air-mills, vizor, catalepsy, opaque, scissors, impotent, divagate, evolutions, neophyte, sanguine, incarnadined.

Stevenson leaves unfinished the story of the diver who was pinned down. Imagine you were that diver, and tell the whole story to your father.

The Break-up a Great Drought.

Which are the rain-bearing winds in our country? Are they common? Is serious drought common? Name any inhabited country which suffers frequently from drought. What instrument is most useful in forecasting the weather? What sort of weather do we look for when this instrument "falls"? Do you know how it works? What are some of the signs of drought? What are some signs of approaching rain? Why is the Atlantic called the source of all life? Why did the birds nearly starve? Why was there no hay? Was it a good season for fruit?

Use the following words correctly in sentences: myriads, elapse, declining, parched, aerial, deluded, famine.

Write a description of either a flood or a prolonged frost.

The Great Fire of London.

Give the date of the great fire. Is this passage taken from a diary? What do you call the writer of a diary? Who wrote this one? Was his home in London? From what point did he watch the fire? Why was this (a) a safe and (b) a good point of view.

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