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Reading  Comprehension


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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
Cheng elbowed his way towards the first-class section and at last stood in the clear. A 'metallic' voice was broadcasting a newscast through highly amplified loudspeakers. Ordinarily Cheng would have spent a few minutes listening, but a quick glance down at his feet told him that he faced a minor crisis which could become very large and dangerous unless he did something about it.

His boots were caked with dried mud. Obviously they had become dirty when he had been making his way through the waterfront warehouse area to the heart of the city. Equally obvious was the need to clean them at once. The character he was assuming, the man in charge of all espionage activities was too high-ranking an official to appear publicly in dirty shoes.

Cheng headed for the first-class washroom, found it empty, and there removed the evidence from his boots. He was relieved to discover that there was no shortage of paper towels in the country and, still cautious, he moved towards a toilet, intending to flush the mud-smeared sheets down the drain. At that moment an infantry major stalked into the washroom. His uniform was plain and he wore no decorations on his tunic. His only insignia of rank appeared on his cap. But his arrogant expression indicated that he was a professional solder. He stood for a moment staring at Cheng, his eyes hard and suspicious.

There was only a split second in which to make a decision. Cheng still held the dirty sheets of paper toweling in his hand, and wanted to be rid of them. But he knew that if he carried out his original intention he would succeed only in calling more attention to himself. So he dropped the sheets into a wooden bin, bowed politely, and forced himself to stroll towards a basin to wash his hands. He deliberately refrained from looking up, and by the time he was clean again, the major had gone. Then, presentable at last, he entered the waiting room where he would speak to someone for the first time since he smuggled into the country.

The young woman behind the ticket counter had jet black hair, worn in a shoulder-length bob. Speaking a faultless Mandarin, Cheng requested in sleeping compartment on the late-night train to Beijing. The girl shuffled through his identity papers, then thrust them brusquely across the counter towards him. "Surely you should know, Comrade Huang," she said in a harsh tone, "that all first-class compartments must be reserved three months in advance. She continued, "I'm sure you'll claim it is on urgent business. If I were given one hundred yuan every time someone tells me he's transacting urgent business, I'd soon be wealthy."

Cheng had been instructed to offer private funds whenever necessary, but he wasn't certain that his teachers had known what they were talking about. The young woman behind the counter might be extremely insulted if he tried to bribe her. What was worse, she could cause trouble for him if she reported him, as it was against the law to give or take bribes.

He decided to probe the subject. "One hundred yuan doesn't buy much these days."

The girl's eyes became guarded. "It buys very little. I would need three hundred for the cheongsam I'd need for my holiday. A cheongsam of pure silk would cost even more. Four hundred and fifty yuan," the girl said.

Cheng took his wallet from his pocket and counted out four hundred and fifty yuan. He casually placed the money on the counter and left it a few inches from his hand.

The girl picked up a form and, copying data from Cheng's false identity card, began to write rapidly. She finished making out the form which she carefully punched and stamped. Scooping up the money with a discreetly practiced hand, she handed him his ticket. They exchanged bows and Cheng was careful not to smile. the slightest sign of condescension would make the young woman his enemy.


The sound of the news broadcast was described as 'metallic'. This means it sounded _________.

    (A) unpleasant
    (B) unnatural
    (C) jarring
    (D) loud
  2. Why didn't Cheng stop to listen as he usually did ?
    (A) He had something urgent to attend to.
    (B) He did not like the sound he heard.
    (C) He needed to use the toilet immediately.
    (D) He discovered something that might give him away.

He had clean his boots because he ______.

    (A) had an identity that won't have them
    (B) planned to speak to the girl
    (C) was traveling first-class
    (D) was embarrassed by them
  4. When the major came in, Cheng had to make the correct decision so that he ______.
    (A) wouldn't be accused of throwing waste paper
    (B) wouldn't be caught using that toilet
    (C) hadn't the filthy boots anymore
    (D) didn't arouse any suspicion
  5. From the passage, we know that Cheng is probably a ______.
    (A) high ranking official
    (B) professional soldier
    (C) smuggler
    (D) spy
  6. At first the girl ______.
    (A) didn't want to help Cheng
    (B) told Cheng to book his ticket
    (C) demanded one hundred yuan
    (D) said Cheng's business was urgent
  7. Why did the girl call Cheng 'Comrade Huang' ?
    (A) She didn't want others to know him.
    (B) Cheng was using false papers.
    (C) She made a mistake about it.
    (D) Wrong papers were given.
  8. Cheng was not sure if he should offer a bribe because ______.
    (A) his teachers had not taught him well
    (B) his teacher were not clear
    (C) it was troublesome business
    (D) he was not sure of the girl
  9. The girl discussed the cost of a cheongsam to ______.
    (A) show her excitement about her holidays
    (B) complain about the cost of things
    (C) hint how much Cheng should give
    (D) interest Cheng in cheongsams
  10 Cheng did not smile after collecting his ticket because he ______.
    (A) was unhappy about losing the money
    (B) did not like smiling at an enemy
    (C) wanted to show he was unfriendly
    (D) did not want to be misunderstood
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  Answers : 1B   2D   3A   4D   5D   6A   7B   8D   9C   10D

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