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Pot of Gold
Ralph worked nights
on a plan that promised him a well-paying job in Texas,
but through no fault of his own this promise was never
realized. In the third year of his marriage with Laura,
a firm that was almost identical in size and character
with the firm Ralph worked for underwent a change of
ownership, and Ralph was approached and asked if he
would be interested in joining the overhauled firm.
His own job promised only meager security after a series
of slow promotions and he was glad of the chance to
escape. He met the new owners, and their enthusiasm
for him seemed intense. They were prepared to put him
in charge of a department and pay him twice what he
was getting then. The arrangement was to remain tacit
for a month or two, until the new owners had secured
their position, but they shook hands warmly and had
a drink on the deal, and that night Ralph took Laura
out to dinner at an expensive restaurant.
They decided to look for a larger apartment, to have
a child, and to buy a secondhand car. They faced their
good fortune with perfect calm, for it was what they
had expected all along. The city seemed to them a generous
place, where people were rewarded either by a sudden
and deserved development like this or by the capricious
bounty of lawsuits, eccentric and peripheral business
ventures, unexpected legacies and other windfalls.
He was twenty-eight years old; poverty and youth were
inseparable in his experience, and one was ending with
the other. The life they were about to 'leave had not
been hard, and he thought with sentiment of the soiled
tablecloth in the Italian restaurant where they usually
went for their celebrations, and the high spirits with
which Laura on a wet night ran from the subway to the
bus stop. But they were drawing away from all this.
Shirt sales in department-store basements, lines at
meat counters, weak drinks, the roses he brought her
up from the subway in the spring, when roses were cheap
- these were all unmistakably the souvenirs of the poor,
and while they seemed to him good and gentle, he was
glad that they would soon be memories.
The reorganization and Ralph's new position hung fire,
but they talked about it freely when with friends. "All
we need is patience," Laura would say. There were
many delays and postponements, and they waited with
the patience of people expecting justice. He decided
to telephone his potential employers. Their secretary
told him they were both out. This made him apprehensive.
He called several times from the telephone booth in
the lobby of the building he worked in and was told
that they were busy, they were out, they were in conference
with lawyers, or they were talking long-distance. This
variety of excuses frightened him. He said nothing to
Laura that evening and tried to call them the next day.
Late in the afternoon, after many tries, one of them
came to the phone. "We gave the job to somebody
else, sonny," he said. Like a saddened father,
he spoke to Ralph in a hoarse and gentle voice. "Don't
try and get us on the telephone any more. We've got
other things to do besides answer the telephone. This
other fellow seemed better suited, sonny. That's all
I can tell you, and don't try to get me on the telephone
from The Pot of Gold by H. Melville)
A15 What type
of firm was Ralph offered a job in?
1) Same type as the previous job.
2) Overhauled firm.
3) Identical in size.
4) Security firm.
to accept the job offer because:
1) he would have been given a pay rise.
2) he would have been given a promotion.
3) he wanted to escape poverty.
4) the owners were very enthusiastic.
A17 Ralph and
Laura looked forward to the new position:
1) with excitement.
2) with dreams about the future.
3) with indifference.
4) with the feeling that they deserved it.
Laura roses because:
1) they were her favourite flowers.
2) they were cheap.
3) they were sold nearby.
4) he liked them.
to the author:
1) Ralph didn't want to leave the life he led.
2) Ralph regretted his departure.
3) Their life was full of pleasant things.
4) Ralph was eager to escape but was sentimental.
A20What was Laura
reaction at delays of the new position?
1) She telephoned the employers.
2) She was patient.
3) She was worried.
4) She kept silent about it.
A21The new owners'
attitude to Ralph:
1) has remained as enthusiastic as before.
2) was sympathetic.
3) has changed with time.
4) was rude.