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Although Bertha was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at nothing -- at nothing, simply.

What can you do if you are thirty and, turning the corner of your own street, you are overcome, suddenly by a feeling of absolute bliss, as though you had suddenly swallowed a bright piece of that late afternoon sun and it burned in you, sending out a little shower of sparks into every particle, into every finger and toe.

Oh, is there no way you can express it without being 'drunk and disorderly' ? How idiotic civilization is ! Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case like a rare, rare fiddle.

"No, that about the fiddle is not quite what I mean," she thought, running up the steps and feeling in her bag for the key. She had forgotten it as usual. She rattled the letter box. "Thank you, Mary," she said as she went into the hall. "Is the nurse back ?"

"Yes, Maam."

"And Sharon ?"

"She's fast asleep."

"And has the fruit come ?"

Yes, Maam. Everything has come."

"Bring the fruit up to the dining-room, will you ? I'll arrange it before I go upstairs."

It was dusky in the dining-room and quite chilly. But all the same Bertha threw off her coat; she could not bear the tight clasp of it another moment, and the cold air fell on her arms. But deep within her, there was still that bright glowing place, that shower of little sparks coming from it. It was almost unbearable. She hardly dared to breathe for fear of fanning it higher, and yet she breathed deeply.

Mary brought in the fruit on a tray and with a glass bowl, and a blue dish, very lovely, with a strange sheen on it as though it had been dipped in milk.

"Shall I turn on the light, Maam ?"

"No, thank you. I can see quite well."

There were tangerines and apples stained with strawberry pink. Some yellow pears, smooth as silk, some white grapes covered with a silver bloom and a big cluster of purple ones. The last she had bought to tone in with the new dining-room carpet. Yes, that did sound rather far-fetched and absurd, but it was really why she had bought them. She had thought at the shop: "I must have some purple ones to bring the carpet up to the table." And it seemed quite sensible at the time.

When she had finished with them and had made two pyramids of these bright round shapes, she stood away from the table to get the effect, and it really was most curious. For the dark table seemed to melt into the dusky light and the glass dish and the blue bowl to float in the air. This, of course, in her present mood, was so incredibly beautiful, she began to laugh.

"No, no. I'm getting hysterical." And she seized her bag and coat and ran upstairs to the nursery.

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. How would you describe Bertha's feeling that afternoon ?
  2. Why didn't Bertha do what she felt like doing ?
  3. Under what circumstances does Bertha think people can do what they really want to do ?
  4. "She had forgotten it as usual." What did she forget ?
  5. Who do you think Mary is ?
  6. Why did Bertha ask if the fruits had come ?
  7. Although the room was quite cold, Bertha took off her coat. Why did she do that ?
  8. What was Bertha's reason for buying the purple-colored grapes ?
  9. Bertha thought her fruit arrangement was incredibly beautiful. What helped her think so ?
  10. Why do you think Bertha was going to the nursery for ?
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Answers
 

1.

Bertha was full of happiness that afternoon.
 

2.

She thought it was not proper for someone her age to do something like that.
 

3.

She thought it would be all right if they were drunk.
 

4.

She forgot her door keys.
 

5.

I think Mary is the maid.
  6. She asked because she wanted to arrange the fruit.
  7. She did that because the clasp on her coat was too tight making it uncomfortable.
  8. She bought it to match the color of her carpet.
  9. The happy mood she was in helped her think the fruit arrangement was incredibly beautiful.
  10. I think she was going there to see Sharon.
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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