Friday, December 30, 2011

Reading practice - English story - THY NEED IS GREATER THAN MINE

It was Christmas time.

But the sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy were at home feeling very unhappy because it just didn’t feel like Christmas. There was a war in America and their father was a soldier in the army.

Their mother had given them a dollar each to spend for Christmas. They were dreaming of what they would get for themselves. Meg, the oldest longed for pretty things, Jo wanted a book, Beth wanted to buy some sheets of music, for she played the piano and Amy, the youngest, wanted to buy some coloured pencils.

Jo held out mother’s shoes over the fire in order to warm them. The shoes were worn out and Jo murmured, “She needs a new pair”. Beth thought that she would get her mother a pair with her dollar. Immediately an argument began among them, as to who should buy mother the shoes. Finally Beth had an idea. She said, “Let’s each get her something for Christmas, and not get
anything for ourselves”.

They decided that Meg would get her a pair of gloves, Jo a sturdy pair of shoes, Beth a set of handkerchiefs and Amy, a small bottle of cologne which would leave enough money for the coloured pencils. Once they had made up their minds they felt much happier. Christmas morning arrived. They were all hungry and eager to begin eating. But mother came in just then and told them of a family that stayed nearby that had nothing to eat and no warm clothes. Hearing this, the girls went silent for a minute, then they heroically offered to take them their own breakfast.

So they trooped out, four girls and one woman, bringing goodwill and comfort to a sad, cold and hungry family in a bare miserable room that they called home. It was a very happy breakfast for the sisters, even though they did not get any of it.

It was even better when they went home. Mother came into the room as Amy threw open the door and Beth played her happiest tune. Meg escorted her to the table and all of them watched as she opened her gifts. She was surprised and touched and was very proud of her daughters. She wore the new shoes, put a hanky  cented with Amy’s cologne into her pocket, and put on the gloves. The other girls were surprised and happy to see that Amy had got a large bottle of cologne after all, spending her full dollar on mother’s
present. The morning passed quickly as all of them hugged and kissed and laughed and talked at once.

They began to prepare for the evening’s festivities. They had planned to put up a play for their friends. Everything went off well. The audience was delighted with the play. The cook arrived and announced that dinner was ready. The sisters were amazed when they saw the dinner laid out on the table. There were cakes,
fruits, sweets of all sorts, and lots of ice-cream. The girls stared

first in shock and then in delight. Such a wonderful treat was a thing of the past, when they had plenty of money.

“Did the fairies bring this?” Amy asked in a hushed voice.

Beth clapped and said, “It’s Santa Claus!” But they were both wrong. Mother smiled at them as she said, “Our neighbour Mr. Laurence sent it. Our cook told one of his servants about your breakfast party. He was so pleased when he heard that you had sacrificed your breakfast. So now you have a feast to make up for
what you gave up.”

“And also to make up for the Christmas gifts that we gave up”, thought the four sisters.

It was the happiest Christmas ever.

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