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Lesson One Half a Day

Naguib Mahfous

1. I walked alongside my father, clutching his right hand. All my clothes were new: the black shoes, the green school uniform,

and the red cap. They did not make me happy, however, as this was the day I was to be thrown into school for the first time.

2. My mother stood at the window watching our progress, and I turned towards her from time to time, hoping she would help.

We walked along a street lined with gardens, and fields planted with crops: pears, and date palms.

3. "Why school ?" I asked my father. "What have I done ?"

4. "I'm not punishing you, " he said, laughing. "School's not a punishment. It's a place that makes useful men out of boys.

Don' t you want to be useful like your brothers?"

5. I was not convinced. I did not believe there was really any good to be had in tearing me away from my home and throwing

me into the huge, high-walled building.

6. When we arrived at the gate we could see the courtyard, vast and full of boys and girls. "Go in by yourself, " said my

father, "and join them. Put a smile on your face and be a good example to others. "

7. I hesitated and clung to his hand, but he gently pushed me from him. "Be a man, " he said. "Today you truly begin life.

You will find me waiting for you when it's time to leave. "

8. I took a few steps. Then the faces of the boys and girls came into view. I did not know a single one of them, and none of

them knew me. I felt I was a stranger who had lost his way. But then some boys began to glance at me in curiosity, and one of them came over and asked, "Who brought you?"

9. "My father, " I whispered.

10. "My father's dead, " he said simply.

11. I did not know what to say. The gate was now closed. Some of the children burst into tears. The bell rang. A lady came

along, followed by a group of men. The men began sorting us into ranks. We were formed into an intricate pattern in the great courtyard surrounded by high buildings; from each floor we were overlooked by a long balcony roofed in wood.

12. "This is your new home, "said the woman. "There are mothers and fathers here, too. Everything that is enjoyable and

beneficial is here. So dry your tears and face life joyfully. "

13. Well, it seemed that my misgivings had had no basis. From the first moments I made many friends and fell in love with

many girls. I had never imagined school would have this rich variety of experiences.

14. We played all sorts of games. In the music room we sang our first songs. We also had our first introduction to language.

We saw a globe of the Earth, which revolved and showed the various continents and countries. We started learning

numbers, and we were told the story of the Creator of the universe. We ate delicious food, took a little nap, and woke up to go on with friendship and love, playing and learning.

15. Our path, however, was not totally sweet and unclouded. We had to be observant and patient. It was not all a matter of

playing and fooling around. Rivalries could bring about pain and hatred or give rise to fighting. And while the lady would sometimes smile, she would often yell and scold. Even more frequently she would resort to physical punishment.

16. In addition, the time for changing one' s mind was over and gone and there was no question of ever returning to the

paradise of home. Nothing lay ahead of us but exertion, struggle, and perseverance. Those who were able took advantage of the opportunities for success and happiness that presented themselves.

17. The bell rang, announcing the passing of the day and the end of work. The children rushed toward the gate, which was

opened again. I said goodbye to friends and sweethearts and passed through the gate. I looked around but found no trace of my father, who had promised to be there. I stepped aside to wait. When I had waited for a long time in vain, I decided to return home on my own. I walked a few steps, then came to a startled halt. Good Lord! Where was the street lined with gardens? Where had it disappeared to? When did all these cars invade it? And when did all these people come to rest on its surface? How did these hills of rubbish find their way to cover its sides? And where were the fields that bordered it? High buildings had taken over, the street was full of children, and disturbing noises shook the air. Here and there stood conjurers showing off their tricks or making snakes appear from baskets. Then there was a band announcing the opening of a circus, with clowns and weight lifters walking in front.

18. Good God! I was in a daze. My head spun. I almost went crazy. How could all this have happened in half a day, between

early morning and sunset? I would find the answer at home with my father. But where was my home? I hurried towards the crossroads, because I remembered that I had to cross the street to reach our house, but the stream of cars would not let up.

Extremely irritated, I wondered when I would be able to cross.

19. I stood there a long time, until the young boy employed at the ironing shop on the corner came up to me.

20. He stretched out his arm and said, "Grandpa, let me take you across."
























Explain the following words and phrases in English

1.take sb. across


3.cling to

4. conjurer



7.daze 8.exertion 9.halt

10.intricate 11.irritated 12.misgiving

13.observant 14.overlook 15.perseverance

16.rank 17.revolve 18.scold

19.startled 20. in vain


1.take sb. to the other side


3. to hold closely; refuse to let go

4. a magician

5. to make sb. believe; to persuade

6. the desire to learn and know

7. a condition of being unable to think or feel clearly

8. effort 9. a stop or pause

10. very complicated 11. annoyed

12. feelings of doubt and fear 13. careful to observe (rules)

14. to see a place from a building or window

15. to keep trying to do sth. in spite of the difficulties 16. a line (of people)

17.to move or turn in a circle around a central point

18. to angrily criticize sb. , especially a child

19. surprised and often slightly frightened 20. without result

Lesson Two Going Home

Pete Hamill

1. They were going to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There were six of them, three boys and three girls, and they got on the bus at

34th Street, carrying sandwiches and wine in paper bags. They were dreaming of golden beaches and sea tides as the grey, cold spring of New York vanished behind them. Vingo was on the bus from the beginning.

2. As the bus passed through New Jersey, they began to notice that Vingo never moved. He sat in front of the young people,

his dusty face masking his age, dressed in a plain brown suit that did not fit him. His fingers were stained from cigarettes and he chewed the inside of his lip a lot. He sat in complete silence and seemed completely unaware of the existence of the others.

3. Deep into the night, the bus pulled into a Howard Johnson's restaurant and everybody got off the bus except Vingo. The

young people began to wonder about him, trying to imagine his life: perhaps he was a sea captain; maybe he had run away from his wife; he could be an old soldier going home. When they went back to the bus, one of the girls became so curious that she decided to engage him in a conversation. She sat down beside him and introduced herself.

4. "We're going to Florida," the girl said brightly. "You going that far?"

5. "I don't know," Vingo said.

6. "I've never been there," she said. " I hear it's beautiful."

7. "It is," he said quietly, as if remembering something he had tried to forget.

8. "You live there?"

9. "I was there in the Navy, at the base in Jacksonville".

10. "Want some wine?" she said. He smiled and took a swig from the bottle. He thanked her and retreated again into his silence.

After a while, she went back to the others as Vingo nodded in sleep.

11. In the morning they awoke outside another Howard Johnson's and this time Vingo went in. The girl insisted that he join

them. He seemed very shy and ordered black coffee and smoked nervously, as the young people chattered about sleeping on beaches. When they got back on the bus, the girl sat with Vingo again. After a while, slowly and painfully, he began to tell his story. He had been in jail in New York for the last four years, and now he was going home.

12. "Are you married?"

13. "I don' t know."

14. "You don't know?" she said.

15. "Well, when I was in jail I wrote to my wife. I said, 'Martha, I understand if you can't stay married to me.' I said I was

going to be away a long time, and that if she couldn't stand it, if the kids kept asking questions, if it hurt her too much, well, she could just forget me. Get a new guy—she's a wonderful woman, really something—and forget about me. I told her she didn't have to write to me or anything, and she didn't. Not for three-and-a-half years."

16. "And you're going home now, not knowing?"

17. "Yeah," he said shyly. "Well, last week, when I was sure the parole was coming through I wrote her again. I told her that if

she had a new guy, I understood. But, if she didn't, if she would take me back she should let me know. We used to live in Brunswick, and there' s a great oak tree just as you come into town. I told her if she would take me back, she should tie a yellow ribbon to the tree, and I would get off and come home. If she didn't want me, forget it, no ribbon and I'd understand and keep going on through."

18. "Wow," the girl said. "Wow."

19. She told the others, and soon all of them were caught up in the approach of Brunswick, looking at the pictures Vingo

showed them of his wife and three children. Now they were 20 miles from Brunswick, and the young people took the

window seats on the right side, waiting for the approach of the great oak tree. Vingo stopped looking, tightening his face into the ex-con's mask, as if fortifying himself against still another disappointment. Then it was 10 miles, and then five, and the bus became very quiet.

20. Then suddenly all of the young people were up out of their seats, screaming and shouting and crying, doing small dances,

shaking clenched fists in triumph and exaltation. All except Vingo.

21. Vingo sat there stunned, looking at the oak tree through his misty eyes. The tree was covered with yellow ribbons, 30 of

them, 50 of them, maybe hundreds, a tree that stood like a banner of welcome, blowing and billowing in the wind. As the young people shouted, the old con slowly rose from his seat, holding himself tightly, and made his way to the front of the bus to go home.



1 他们准备去佛罗里达州的劳德岱尔堡。一行六人,三个男孩,三个女孩,拎着装满三明治和葡萄酒的纸带,在第34街上了公共汽车。他们正梦想着(佛罗里达)金色的海滩和海潮,纽约那灰暗寒冷的春天在他们身后消失得了无踪迹。温戈一开始就在车上。

2 当汽车穿过新泽西州时,他们开始注意到温戈从未挪过地方。他坐在这群年轻人的前面,身着不合体的浅棕色套装,满是灰尘的脸使人无法看出他的实际年龄。过多地吸烟使他的手指成了黄色,他不停地咬着下唇,安静地坐在那儿,好像完全没有意识到其他人的存在。

3 到了深夜,汽车开到一家霍德华·约翰逊连锁餐饮店前停了下来,所有的人都下了车,除了温戈。那群年轻人开始对他产生了好奇,试着猜想他的生活阅历:或许他是个船长,或许他是从他妻子身边逃出来的,或许他是个退役回家的老兵。当他们回到车上时,其中一个女孩忍不住内心的好奇,决定和他聊聊天。于是她坐到了他的身旁,做了一下自我介绍。

4 “我们要去佛罗里达,”那个女孩欢快地说,“你也要去那么远吗?”







5 到了早上,当他们醒来的时候,车停在了另一个霍德华·约翰逊连锁餐饮店前面,这一次温戈进去了。那个女孩坚持要求他加入他们年轻人。他看起来很腼腆,要了杯浓咖啡后就神情局促地抽起了烟,而年轻人们则喋喋不休地谈起了在海滩上睡大觉的事。当他们回到车上,那个女孩又同温戈坐到了一起。过了一会儿,他就开始讲起了他的故事,语速缓慢且神情痛苦。在过去的四年里他一直在纽约的监狱里服刑,现在他要回家了。

6 “你成家了吗?”



7 “是的。我在监狱时曾经给我的妻子写过信,我说:‘玛莎,如果你想和我离婚,我能理解。’我说我要离开很长一段时间,如果他无法忍受,如果孩子们不停地问这问那,如果这对她的伤害非常大的话,那么,她可以把我忘了。再找个男人——她是个非常不错的女人,真的不一般——然后把我忘了。我告诉她不必给我写信或以其他的方式与我联系,她也确实没再和我联系。就这样已经三年半了。”

8 “那么你现在要回家啰,而什么都还不知道?”

9 “是的,”他不好意思地说,“上个星期,当我确切地知道我很快就会被假释的时候,我又给她写了封信。我告诉她如果她另外有人了,我理解。但是,如果她没有,如果她愿意接受我回家,要告诉我。我们过去一直住在布朗兹威克,在进镇的地方有一颗大橡树,我告诉她如果她希望我回家,就在树上系一条黄色丝带,这样我就会下车回家。如果她不接受我,就忘记这一切,也不必再系黄丝带,我也就知道了,我就随着汽车一直坐下去。”


10 她把温戈的故事告诉了其他人,在区布朗兹威克的路上,他们看着温戈拿出的他妻子和三个孩子的照片,很快都被深深地触动了。现在他们里布朗兹威克还有20英里了。那群年轻人都坐到车上右侧靠窗的座位,期待着看到那棵大橡树。温戈将目光从车窗移开,脸绷得紧紧的,又恢复了之前那副假释犯的冷漠神情,好像在鼓足勇气去面对又一次的失望、打击。离布朗兹威克只有10英里了,只有5英里了,车内一片寂静。

11 突然所有的年轻人都从他们的座位上跳了起来,大声叫着、喊着、欢呼着,手舞足蹈,摇晃着紧握的拳头以示胜利和兴奋,除了温戈。

12 温戈坐在那儿,惊呆了,泪眼婆娑地望着那棵橡树。树上系满了黄丝带,有30条,有50条,也许有上百条,那棵树像一面欢迎的旗帜屹立在那儿随风飘扬。在年轻人欢呼时,那位老囚徒缓缓地从座位上站起来,用力地支撑着自己,走到了车的前部,踏上了回家的路。



Answer the following questions:

1. What do you think Vingo had done that got him in prison?

2. What kind of person do you think V ingo's wife was? Why didn’t she write Vingo?

3. Do you agree the yellow ribbon id a symbol? What does it symbolize? What did it mean to Vingo?

4. What lesson do you think the young people can learn from Vingo’s story?


1.We can assume that he had committed a minor crime, probably a fight.

2.She must have been a loving wife and mother. She didn’t answer Vingo’s second letter because she wanted t give her husband

a pleasant surprise, Also she probably wanted to think the matter over seriously. After all, it was a big decision to make even though she might not have thought of any other choice. Perhaps she had to talk with her children too to prepare them for meeting a father who had been away for so long.

3.Yes. It symbolizes “welcome home”.For Vingo it also meant forgiveness and a new start. It gave him something to live for after prison and strengthened his determination to turn over a new leaf.

4. Life is not always rosy. It is an opportunity if you are willing to try again.

Lesson Three Message of the Land

Pira Sudham

1. Yes, these are our rice fields. They belonged to my parents and forefathers. The land is more than three centuries old. I'm

the only daughter in our family and it was I who stayed with my parents till they died. My three brothers moved out to their

wives' houses when they got married. My husband moved into our house as is the way with us in Esarn. I was then eighteen and he was nineteen. He gave me six children. Two died in infancy from sickness. The rest, two boys and two girls, went away as soon as we could afford to buy jeans for them. Our oldest son got a job as a gardener in a rich man's home in Bangkok but later an employment agency sent him to a foreign land to work. My other son also went far away.

2. One of our daughters is working in a textile factory in Bangkok, and the other has a job in a store. They come home to see

us now and then, stay a few days, and then they are off again. Often they send some money to us and tell us that they are doing well. I know this is not always true. Sometimes, they get bullied and insulted, and it is like a knife piercing my heart.

It's easier for my husband. He has ears which don't hear, a mouth which doesn't speak, and eyes that don't see. He has always been patient and silent, minding his own life.

3. All of them remain my children in spite of their long absence. Maybe it's fate that sent them away from us. Our piece of

land is small, and it is no longer fertile, bleeding year after year and, like us, getting old and exhausted. Still my husband and I work on this land. The soil is not difficult to till when there is a lot of rain, but in a bad year, it's not only the ploughs that break but our hearts, too.

4. No, we two haven't changed much, but the village has. In what way? Only ten years ago, you could barter for things, but

now it's all cash. Years ago, you could ask your neighbors to help build your house, reap the rice or dig a well. Now they'll do it only if you have money to pay them. Plastic things replace village crafts. Men used to make things with fine bamboo pieces, but no longer. Plastic bags litter the village. Shops have sprung up, filled with colorful plastic things and goods we have no use for. The young go away to towns and cities leaving us old people to work on the land. They think differently, I know, saying that the old are old-fashioned. All my life, I have never had to go to a hairdresser, or to paint my lips or nails.

These rough fingers and toes are for working in the mud of our rice fields, not for looking pretty. Now young girls put on jeans, and look like boys and they think it is fashionable. Why, they are willing to sell their pig or water buffalo just to be able to buy a pair of jeans. In my day, if I were to put on a pair of trousers like they do now, lightning would strike me.

5. I know, times have changed, but certain things should not change. We should offer food to the monks every day, go to the

temple regularly. Young people tend to leave these things to old people now, and that's a shame.

6. Why, only the other day I heard a boy shout and scream at his mother. If that kind of thing had happened when I was

young, the whole village would have condemned such an ungrateful son, and his father would surely have given him a good beating.

7. As for me, I wouldn't change, couldn't change even if I wanted to. Am I happy or unhappy? This question has never

occurred to me. Life simply goes on. Yes, this bag of bones dressed in rags can still plant and reap rice from morning till dusk. Disease, wounds, hardship and scarcity have always been part of my life. I don't complain.

8. The farmer: My wife is wrong. My eyes do see—they see more than they should. My ears do hear—they hear more than is

good for me. I don't talk about what I know because I know too much. I know for example, greed, anger, and lust are the root of all evils.

9. I am at peace with the land and the conditions of my life. But I feel a great pity for my wife. I have been forcing silence

upon her all these years, yet she has not once complained of anything.

10. I wanted to have a lot of children and grandchildren around me but now cities and foreign lands have attracted my children

away and it seems that none of them will ever come back to live here again. To whom shall I give these rice fields when I die? For hundreds of years this strip of land has belonged to our family. I know every inch of it. My children grew up on it, catching frogs and mud crabs and gathering flowers. Still the land could not tie them down or call them back. When each of them has a pair of jeans, they are off like birds on the wing.

11. Fortunately, my wife is still with me, and both of us are still strong. Wounds heal over time. Sickness comes and goes, and

we get back on our feet again. I never want to leave this land. It's nice to feel the wet earth as my fingers dig into the soil, planting rice, to hear my wife sighing, "Old man, if I die first, I shall become a cloud to protect you from the sun." It's good to smell the scent of ripening rice in November. The soft cool breeze moves the sheaves, which ripple and shimmer like waves of gold. Yes, I love this land and I hope one of my children comes back one day to live, and gives me grandchildren so that I can pass on the land's secret messages to them.














Lesson Four The Boy and the Bank Officer

Philip Ross

1. I have a friend who hates banks with a special passion. "A bank is just a store like a candy store or a grocery store", he

says . "The only difference is that a bank's goods happen to be money, which is yours in the first place. If banks were

required to sell wallets and money belts, they might act less like churches."

2. I began thinking about my friend the other day as I walked into a small, over lighted branch office on the West Side. I had

come to open a checking account.

3. It was lunchtime and the only officer on duty was a fortyish black man with short, pressed hair, a pencil mustache, and a

neatly pressed brown suit. Everything about him suggested a carefully dressed authority.

4. This officer was standing across a small counter from a young white boy who was wearing a V-necked sweater, khakis,

and loafers. He had sandy hair, and I think I was especially aware of him because he looked more like a kid from a prep school than a customer in a West Side bank.

5. The boy continued to hold my attention because of what happened next.

6. He was holding an open savings-account book and wearing an expression of open dismay. "But I don't understand," he was

saying to the officer. "I opened the account myself, so why can't I withdraw any money?"

7. "I've already explained to you," the officer told him, "that a fourteen-year-old is not allowed to withdraw money without a

letter from his parents."

8. "But that doesn't seem fair," the boy said, his voice breaking. "It's my money, I put it in. It's my account."

9. "I know it is," the officer said, "but those are the rules. Now if you'll excuse me."

10. He turned to me with a smile. "May I help you, sir?"

11. I didn't think twice. "I was going to open a new account," I said, "but after seeing what's going on here, I think I've changed

my mind."

12. "Excuse me?" he said.

13. "Look," I said. "If I understand what's going on here correctly, what you're saying is that this boy is old enough to deposit

his money in your bank but he's not old enough to withdraw it. And since there doesn't seem to be any question as to

whether it's his money or his account, the bank's so-called policy is clearly ridiculous."

14. "It may seem ridiculous to you," he replied in a voice rising slightly in irritation, "but that is the bank's policy and I have no

other choice but to follow the rules".

15. The boy had stood hopefully next to me during this exchange, but now I was just as helpless. Suddenly I noticed that the

open savings book he continued to grasp showed a balance of about $100. It also showed that there had been a series of small deposits and withdrawals.

16. I had my opening.

17. "Have you withdrawn money before by yourself?" I asked the boy.

18. "Yes," he said.

19. I moved in for the kill.

20. "How do you explain that?" I zeroed in on the officer. "Why did you let him withdraw money before, but not now?"

21. He looked annoyed. "Because the tellers were not aware of his age before and now they are. It's really very simple".

22. I turned to the boy with a shrug. "You're really getting cheated," I said. "You ought to get your parents to come in here and


23. The boy looked destroyed. Silently, he put his savings book in a rear-pocket and walked out of the bank.

24. The officer turned to me. "You know," he said, "you really shouldn't have interfered."

25. "Shouldn't have interfered?" I shouted. "Well, it damn well seemed to me that he needed someone to represent his


26. "Someone was representing his interests," he said softly.

27. "And who might that be?"

28. "The bank."

29. I couldn't believe what this idiot was saying. "Look," I concluded, "we're just wasting each other's time. But maybe you'd

like to explain exactly how the bank was representing that boy's interests?"

30. "Certainly," he said. "We were informed this morning that some neighborhood bully has been shaking this boy down for

more than a month. The other guy was forcing him to take money out every week and hand it over. The poor kid was apparently too scared to tell anyone. That's the real reason he was so upset. He was afraid of what the other guy would do to him. Anyway, the police are on the case and they'll probably make an arrest today."

31. "You mean there is no rule about being too young to withdraw money from a savings account?"

32. "Not that I ever heard of. Now, sir, what can we do for you?"


































Lesson Five Angels on a Pin

Alexander Calandra

1. Some time ago, I received a call from Jim, a colleague of mine, who teaches physics. He asked me if I would do him a

favor and be the referee on the grading of an examination question. I said sure, but I did not quite understand why he should need my help. He told me that he was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, but the student protested that it wasn't fair. He insisted that he deserved a perfect score if the system were not set up against the student.

Finally, they agreed to take the matter to an impartial instructor. And I was selected.

2. I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question. It said: "Show how it is possible to determine the height

of a tall building with the aid of a barometer." The student had answered: "Take the barometer to the top of the building, tie

a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street, and then bring it up and measure the length of the rope. The length of the

rope will be the height of the building."

3. I laughed and pointed out to my colleague that we must admit the student really had a pretty strong case for full credit

since he had indeed answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, I could also see the dilemma

because if full credit were given to him it could mean a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to prove competence in the course, but the answer he gave did not show his knowledge on the subject. "So, what would you do if you were me?" Jim asked. I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question. I was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did, too.

4. I told the student that I would give him six minutes to answer the question. But I warned him that this time his answer

should show some knowledge of physics. He sat down and picked up his pen. He appeared to be thinking hard. At the end of five minutes, however, I noticed that he had not put down a single word. I asked him if he wished to give up, but he said no. He had not written anything down because he had too many possible answers to this problem. He was just trying to decide which would be the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to go on. In the next minute, he dashed off his answer, which read: "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer and time its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula S = 1 /2 at2, calculate the height of the building."

5. At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He nodded yes, and I gave the student almost full credit.

6. When I left my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem. I was

curious, so I asked him what they were. "Oh, yes," said the student. "There are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out in a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of a simple

proportion, determine the height of the building. The beauty of this method is that you don't have to drop the barometer and break it."

7. "Fine," I said. "Any more?"

8. "Yes," said the student. "There is a very basic measurement method that people will like, because it is so simple and direct.

In this method, you take the barometer and walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the

barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in

barometer units. The only trouble with this method is that it doesn't require much knowledge of physics."

9. "Of course, if you prefer a more sophisticated method, a method that will really show some knowledge of physics, you can

tie the barometer to the end of a rope, swing it as a pendulum and determine the value of'g' at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of'g' the height of the building can, in principle, be worked out."

10. Finally, he concluded that while there are many ways of solving the problem, "Probably the best and the most practical in a

real-life situation is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: Mr. Superintendent, I have here a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of this building, I will gladly give you this barometer!"

11. At this point, I asked the student if he really didn't know the expected answer to this question. He smiled and admitted that

he did, but said he was fed up with standard answers to standard questions. He couldn't understand why there should be so much emphasis on fixed rules rather than creative thinking. So he could not resist the temptation to play a little joke with the educational system, which had been thrown into such a panic by the successful launching of the Russian Sputnik.

12. At that moment I suddenly remembered the question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? We teachers are

always blaming the students for giving wrong answers. Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we are always asking the right questions.















Lesson Six The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (Act I)

Rod Serling


Les Goodman Sally

Mrs. Goodman Man

Don Martin Second Man

Steve Brand Woman

Mrs. Brand Five Different


Pete Van Horn First Figure

Charlie Second Figure


1.It is Maple Street, a quiet, tree-lined, residential street in a typical American town. The houses have front porches where

people sit and talk to each other across their lawns. STEVE BRAND polishes his car parked in front of his house. His neighbor, DON MARTIN, leans against the fender, watching him. A Good Humor man rides a bicycle and is just stopping to sell some ice cream to a couple of kids. Two women gossip on the front lawn. Another man waters his lawn.

2.At this moment one of the boys, TOMMY, looks up and listens to the sound of a tremendous roar from overhead. A flash of

light plays on his face, then moves down the street past lawns and porches and rooftops, and then disappears. STEVE BRAND, the man who has been polishing his car, stands there speechless, staring upwards. He looks at DON MARTIN, his neighbor from across the street.

3. Steve: What was that? A meteor?

4. Don: That's what it looked like. I didn't hear any crash, though, did you?

5. Steve: Nope, I didn't hear anything except a roar.

6. Mrs. Brand (from her porch): Steve? What was that?

7. Steve: Guess it was a meteor, honey. Came awful close, didn't it?

8. Mrs. Brand: Much too close!

(People stand on their porches, watching and talking in low tones. We see a MAN screwing in a light bulb on a front porch, then getting down off the stool to turn on the switch and finding that nothing happens. A MAN working on an electric power mower plugs in the plug. He turns on the switch, on and off, but nothing happens. Through the window of a front porch a WOMAN is seen dialing her phone.)

9. Woman: Operator, operator, something's wrong with the phone, operator!

(MRS. BRAND comes out on the porch.)

10. Mrs. Brand (calling): Steve, the power's off. I had the soup on the stove, and the stove just stopped working.

11. Woman: Same thing over here. I can't get anybody on the phone, either. The phone seems to be dead.

12. First Voice: Electricity's off.

13. Second Voice: Phone won't work.

14. Third Voice: Can't get a thing on the radio.

15. Fourth Voice: My power mower won't move, won't work at all.

(PETE VAN HORN, a tall, thin man, is seen standing in front of his house.)

16. Van Horn: I'11 cut through the back yard . . . see if the power' s still on on Cherry Street. I'll be right back!

17. Steve: Doesn't make sense. Why should the power and the phone line go off all of a sudden?

18. Don: Maybe it's an electrical storm or something.

19. Charlie: That doesn't seem likely. Sky's just as blue as anything. Not a cloud. No lightning. No thunder. No nothing. How

could it be a storm?

20. Woman: I can't get a thing on the radio. Not even the portable.

21. Charlie: Well, why don't you go downtown and check with the police, though they'll probably think we're crazy or

something. A little power failure and right away we get all excited.

22. Steve: It isn't just the power failure, Charlie. If it was, we'd still be able to get a broadcast on the portable.

(There's a murmur of reaction to this. STEVE walks over to his car.)

23. Steve: I'll run downtown. We'll get this all straightened out. (STEVE gets into his car, turns the key. The engine is dead. He

then gets out of the car.)

24. Steve: I don't understand it. It was working fine before—

25. Don: Out of gas?

26. Steve (shakes his head): I just had it filled up.

27. Woman: What does it mean?

28. Charlie: It's just as if. . . as if everything had stopped. (Then he turns toward STEVE.) We'd better walk downtown.

29. Steve: OK, Charlie. (He turns to look back at the car.) It couldn't be the meteor. A meteor couldn't do this.

(He and CHARLIE exchange a look. Then they start to walk away from the group. TOMMY, a serious-faced young boy tries to stop them.)

30. Tommy: Mr. Brand...you'd better not!

31. Steve: Why not?

32. Tommy: They don't want you to.

(STEVE and CHARLIE exchange a grin. STEVE looks back toward the boy.)

33. Steve: Who doesn't want us to?

34. Tommy (jerks his head in the general direction of the distant horizon): Them!

35. Steve: Them?

36. Charlie: Who are them?

37. Tommy (very intentl y): Whoever was in that thing that came by overhead. I don't think they want us to leave here.

(STEVE walks over to the boy. He kneels down in front of him. He forces his voice to remain gentle. He reaches out and holds the boy.)

38. Steve: What do you mean? What are you talking about?

39. Tommy: They don't want us to leave. That's why they shut everything off.

40. Steve: What makes you say that? Whatever gave you that idea?

41. Woman (from the crowd): Now isn't that the craziest thing you ever heard?

42. Tommy (persistently): It's always that way, in every story I ever read about a ship landing from outer space.

43. Woman (to the boy's mother, SALLY,): From outer space yet! Sally, you'd better get that boy of yours up to bed. He's been

reading too many comic books or seeing too many movies or something!

44. Sally: Tommy, come over here and stop that kind of talk.

45. Steve: Go ahead, Tommy. We 'll be right back. And you 'll see. That wasn't any ship or anything like it. That was just a... a

meteor or something. (He turns to the group, now trying to sound optimistic although he obviously doesn't feel that way himself.) Meteors can do some crazy things. Like sun spots.

46. Don: Sure. They raise Cain with radio reception all over the world. And this thing, being so close-why, there's no telling the

sort of stuff it can do. (He wets his lips, smiles nervously.) Go ahead, Charlie. You and Steve go into town and see if that isn't what's causing it all.

(STEVE and CHARLIE again continue to walk away down the sidewalk. The people watch silently. TOMMY stares at them, biting his lips and finally calling out again.)

47. Tommy: Mr. Brand!

(The two men stop again.)

48. Tommy: Mr. Brand. . .please don't leave here.

(STEVE and CHARLIE stop once again and turn toward the boy. There's a murmur in the crowd, a murmur of irritation and concern.)

49. Tommy: You might not even be able to get to town. It was that way in the story. Nobody could leave, except—

50. Steve: Except who?

51. Tommy: Except the people they'd sent down ahead of them. They looked just like humans. And it wasn't until the ship

landed that—(The boy suddenly stops again, conscious of his parents staring at him and of the sudden quietness of the crowd.)

52. Sally: Tommy, please, son, don't talk that way—

53. Man: The kid shouldn't talk that way... and we shouldn't stand here listening to him. Why, this is the craziest thing I ever

heard of.

(STEVE walks toward the boy.)

54. Steve: Go ahead, Tommy. What about the people that they sent out ahead?

55. Tommy: That was the way they prepared things for the landing. They sent people who looked just like humans... but they


(There's laughter at this, but it's a laughter that comes from a desperate attempt to lighten the atmosphere.)

56. Charlie (rubs his jaw nervously): I wonder if Cherry Street's got the same deal we got. (He looks past the houses.) Where is

Pete Van Horn, anyway? Didn't he get back yet?

(Suddenly there's the sound of a car's engine starting to turn over. LES GOODMAN is at the wheel of his car.)

57. Sally: Can you get it started, Les?

(GOODMAN gets out of the car, shaking his head.)

58. Goodman: No.

(As he walks toward the group, he stops suddenly. Behind him, the car engine starts up all by itself. GOODMAN whirls around and stares at it. His eyes go wide, and he runs over to his car. The people stare toward the car.)

59. Man: He got the car started somehow. He got his car started!

60. Woman: How come his car just started like that?

61. Sally: All by itself. He wasn't anywhere near it. It started all by itself.

(DON approaches the group: He stops a few feet away to look toward GOODMAN's car and then back toward the group.)

62. Don: And he never did come out to look at that thing that flew overhead. He wasn't even interested. (He turns to the faces

in the group.) Why? Why didn't he come out with the rest of us to look?

63. Charlie: He was always an oddball. Him and his whole family.

64. Don: What do you say we ask him?

(The group suddenly starts toward the house.)

65. Steve: Wait a minute... wait a minute! Let's not be a mob!

(The people seem to pause for a moment. Then, much more quietly and slowly, they start to walk across the street.

GOODMAN stands there alone, facing the people.)

66. Goodman: I just don't understand it. I tried to start it, and it wouldn't start. You saw me.

(And now, just as suddenly as the engine started, it stops. There's a frightened murmuring of the people.)

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