C2 Proficiency

The Pirate Island

Read this extract of the first chapter of "The Pirate Island" and then answer the multiple choice questions.


Chapter One - The Wreck on the Gunfleet

It was emphatically "a dirty night." The barometer had been slowly but persistently falling during the two previous days; the dawn had been red and threatening, with a strong breeze from S.E.; and as the short dreary November day waxed and waned this strong breeze had steadily increased in strength until by nightfall it had become a regular "November gale," with frequent squalls of arrowy rain and sleet, which, impelled by the furious gusts, smote and stung like hail, and cleared the streets almost as effectually as a volley of musketry would have done.

It was not fit for a dog to be out of doors. So said Ned Anger as he entered the snug bar-parlour of the "Anchor" at Brightlingsea, and drawing a chair close up to the blazing fire of wreck-wood which roared up the ample chimney, flung himself heavily down thereon to await the arrival of the "pint" which he had ordered as he passed the bar.

"And yet thereís a many poor souls as has to be out in it, and as is out in it," returned the buxom hostess, entering at the moment with the aforesaid pint upon a small tray. "Itís to be hoped as none of íem wonít meet their deaths out there among the sands this fearful night," she added, as Ned took the glass from her, and deposited his "tuppence" in the tray in payment therefore.

A sympathetic murmur of concurrence went round the room in response to this philanthropic wish, accompanied in some instances by doubtful shakes of the head.

"Ay, ay, we all hope that," remarked Dick Bird. "Dicky Bird" was the name which had been playfully bestowed upon him by his chums, and by which he was generally known. "We all hopes that; but I, for one, feels uncommon duberous about it. Thereís hardly a capful of wind as blows but what some poor unfortínate craft leaves her bones out there," with a jerk of the thumb over his shoulder to seaward, "and mostly with every wreck thereís some lives lost. I say, mates, I sípose thereís somebody on the look-out?"

"Ay, ay," responded old Bill Maskell from his favourite corner under the tall old-fashioned clock-case, "Bobís gone across the creek and up to the tower, as usual. The boy will go; always says as how itís his duty to go up there and keep a look-out in bad weather; so, as his eyes is as sharp as needles, and since one is as good as a hundred for that sort of work, I thought Iíd just look in here for a hour or two, soís to be on the spot if in case any of us should be wanted."

"Iíve often wondered how it is that it always falls to Bobís lot to go upon the look-out in bad weather. How is it?" asked an individual in semi-nautical costume at the far end of the room, whose bearing and manner conveyed the impression that he regarded himself, as indeed he was, somewhat of an intruder. He was a ship-chandlerís shopman, with an ambition to be mistaken for a genuine "salt," and had not been many months in the place.

"Well, you see, mister, the way of it is just this," explained old Maskell, who considered the question as addressed more especially to him: "Bob was taken off a wrack on the Maplin when he was a mere babby, the only one saved; found him wrapped up warm and snug in one of the bunks on the weather side of the cabin with the water surging up to within three inches of him; so ever since heís been old enough to understand heíve always insisted that it was his duty, by way of returning thanks, like, to take the look-out when a wrack may be expected. And, donít you make no mistake, there ainít an eye so sharp as his for a signal-rocket in the whole place, sees íem almost before they be fired, he do."

1. Which word is closest in meaning to "impelled" in paragraph 1

    frozen

    strengthened

    driven

    supported

2. What did the hostess mean when she spoke about the people out in the bad weather?

    only those who had to were out in it

    she knew most of those who were out in it

    those who were out in it had only themselves to blame

    work was a necessary but harsh reality

3. What word best describes Dicky Bird's mood?

    miserable

    pessimistic

    depressed

    cowardly

4. Which of these is NOT a reason why Bill Maskell is happy to leave Bob on lone look-out duty?

    the lookout is close to the pub

    the boy has experience

    the boy has good eyes

    the boy insisted on being left alone

5. What do the narrator's comments about the stranger suggest?

    he was looking for a job

    it was his first time in the pub

    he wasn't well liked by the others

    he didn't really belong

6. According to old Maskell, what does Bob feel when he does his look-out duty?

    obligation

    excitement

    comfort

    nervousness

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