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A DAY'S WAIT by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway, Ernest (1899-1961): a prominent American novelist and short-story writer. He began to write fiction about 1923, his first books being the reflection of his war experience. "The Sun Also Rises" (1926) belongs to this period as well as "A Farewell to Arms" (1929) in which the antiwar protest is particularly powerful. During the Civil War Hemingway visited Spain as a war correspondent. His impressions of the period and his sympathies with the Republicans found reflection in his famous play "The Fifth Column" (1937), the novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1940) and a number of short stories.

His later works are "Across the River and into the Trees" (1950) and "The Old Man and the Sea" (1952) and the very last novel "Islands in the Stream" (1970) published after the author's death. In 1954 he was awarded a Nobel Prize for literature. Hemingway's manner is characterized by deep psychological insight into the human nature. He early established himself asthe master of a new style: laconic and somewhat dry.

 

 

He came into the room to shut the windows while we were still in bed and I saw he looked ill. He was shivering, his face was white, and he walked slowly as though it ached to move. "What's the matter, Schatz?"

"I've got a headache."

"You'd better go back to bed."

"No, I'm all right."

"You go to bed. I'll see you when I'm dressed."

But when I came downstairs he was dressed, sitting by the fire, looking a very sick and miserable boy of nine years. When I put my hand on his forehead I knew he had a fever.

"You go up to bed," I said, "you're sick."

"I'm all right," he said.

When the doctor came he took the boy's temperature.

"What is it?" I asked him.

"One hundred and two."

Downstairs, the doctor left three different medicines in different colored capsules with instructions for giving them. One was to bring down the fever, another a purgative, the third to overcome an acid condition.

The germs of influenza can only exist in an acid condition, he explained. He seemed to know all about influenza and said there was nothing to worry about if the fever did not go above one hundred and four degrees. This was a light epidemic of flu and there was no danger if you avoided pneumonia.

Back in the room I wrote the boy's temperature down and made a note of the time to give the various capsules.

"Do you want me to read to you?"

"All right, if you want to," said the boy. His face was very white and there were dark areas under his eyes. He lay still in the bed and seemed very detached from what was going on.

I read aloud from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates, but I could see he was not following what I was reading.

"How do you feel, Schatz?" I asked him.

"Just the same, so far," he said.



I sat at the foot of the bed and read to myself while I waited for it to be time to give another capsule. It would have been natural for him to go to sleep, but when I looked up he was looking at the foot of the bed, looking very strangely.

"Why don't you try to go to sleep? I'll wake you up for the medicine."

"I'd rather stay awake."

After a while he said to me, "You don't have to stay in here with me, Papa, if it bothers you."

"It doesn't bother me."

"No, I mean you don't have to stay if it's going to bother you."

I thought perhaps he was a little light-headed and after giving him the prescribed capsules at eleven o'clock I went out for a while.

It was a bright, cold day, the ground covered with a sleet that had frozen so that it seemed as if all the bare trees, the bushes, the cut brush and all the grass and the bare ground had been varnished with ice. I took the young Irish setter for a little walk up the road and along a frozen creek. At the house they said the boy had refused to let any one come into the room.

"You can't come in," he said. "You mustn't get what I have." I went up to him and found him in exactly the position I had left him, white-faced, but with the tops of his cheeks flushed by the fever, staring still, as he had stared, at the foot of the bed. I took his temperature.

"What is it?"

"Something like a hundred," I said. It was one hundred and two and four tenths.

"It was a hundred and two," he said.

"Who said so?"

"The doctor."

"Your temperature is all right," I said. "It's nothing to worry about."

"I don't worry," he said, "but I can't keep from thinking."

"Don't think," I said. "Just take it easy."

"I'm taking it easy," he said and looked worried about something.

"Take this with water."

"Do you think it will do any good?"

"Of course, it will,"

I sat down and opened the Pirate Book and commenced to read but I could see he was not following, so I stopped.

"About what time do you think I'm going to die?" he asked.

"What?"

"About how long will it be before I die?"

"You aren't going to die. What's the matter with you?"

"Oh, yes, I am. I heard him say a hundred and two."

"People don't die with a fever of one hundred and two. That's a silly way to talk!"

"I know they do. At school in France the boys told me you can't live with forty-four degrees. I've got a hundred and two."

He had been waiting to die all day, ever since nine o'clock in the morning.

"You poor Schatz," I said. "Poor old Schatz, it's like miles and kilometers. You aren't going to die. That's a diflerent thermometer. On that thermometer thirty-seven is normal. On this kind it's ninety-eight."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely," I said. "It's like miles and kilometers. You know, like how many kilometers we make when we do seventy miles in the car?"

"Oh," he said.

But his gaze at the foot of the bed relaxed slowly. The hold over himself relaxed too, finally, and the next day it was very slack and he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.

 

I. Retell the text in reported speech following the outline given below:

1. The boy looks ill.

2. The father calls for a doctor.

3. The doctor diagnoses the illness and leaves instructions.

4. The boy seems detached from what is going on around him.

5. The father goes for a walk.

6. The boy's state troubles his father.

7. The father finds out what worries the boy.

8. The boy relaxes.

 

II. Answer the questions:

1. What were the symptoms of the boy's illness? 2. Why did it seem to the father that the doctor knew all about influenza? 3. What worried the boy? Since when? 4. Why did the boy prefer to stay awake? 5. What were the symptoms of the boy's nervous strain that the father took for the symptoms of his illness? 6. Wouldn't it have been more natural if the boy had told his father about his fears? Why? 7. Do you like the boy's behaviour? How does it characterize him? 8. How would you explain the contrasts in the boy's behaviour on the first and the second day of his illness? 9. Why did the author introduce the description of the father's walk? 10. Do you find the situation described in the story true to life? (Give your reasons.) 11. Do you think you would have behaved in the same way in the boy's place? 12. What do you consider to be the point of the story?


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 958


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