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Unit 1, The Best Christmas Present in the World
- What did the author find in a junk shop?
Ans. The author found a roll-top desk in a junk shop which was made of oak, but it was in a very poor condition.
- What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?
Ans. He found a small black tin box in a secret drawer. There was an envelop inside that box. I think that the owner of the junk shop had put it there.
- Who had written the letter, to whom, and when?
Ans. Captain Jim Macpherson had written the letter to his wife Connie on 26th December, 1914.
- Why was the letter written — what was the wonderful thing that had happened?
Ans. The letter was written to describe a wonderful thing that happened with Jim on the day of Christmas. Even though there was a war going on between two armies- the British and the German, they played football and celebrated Christmas together.
- What jobs did Hans Wolf and Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers?
Ans. Before joining the army, Hans Wolf used to play the cello in an orchestra in Dusseldorf and Jim Macpherson was a school teacher in Dorset, in the west of England.
- Had Hans Wolf ever been to Dorset? Why did he say he knew it?
Ans. No, Hans Wolf had never been to Dorset. He had learned all he knew of England from school, and from reading books in English. His favourite writer was Thomas Hardy and his favourite book was ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.
- Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from the war? How do you know this?
Ans. No, I don’t think Jim Macpherson came back home from the war. This might be a reason why his wife preserved his last letter and on top of it wrote a note, in shaky handwriting: “Jim’s last letter, received January 25, 1915. To be buried with me when the time comes.”
- Why did the author go to Bridport?
Ans. The author went to Bridport to meet Connie Macpherson and return her the letter that was written by her husband Jim Macpherson.
- How old was Mrs Macpherson now? Where was she?
Ans. Mrs. Macpherson was a hundred and one years old now. She was in a nursing home, named Burlington House.
- Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was?
Ans. Connie Macpherson thought that the visitor was her husband, Jim Macpherson.
- Which sentence in the text shows that the visitor did not try to hide his identity?
Ans. The sentence which shows that the visitor did not try to hide his identity is, “I explained about the desk, about how I had found it, but I don’t think she was listening”.
Working with the text
- For how long do you think Connie had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans. Connie had kept Jim’s letter for a very long time as she told the author that she used to read his letter every day while hoping for him to return someday.
- Why do you think the desk had been sold, and when?
Ans. I think the desk had been sold after Connie’s house caught fire. Everything got burnt and even the desk was also in a bad condition when the author bought it.
- Why do Jim and Hans think that games or sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree?
Ans. Jim and Hans thought that games or sports were good ways of resolving conflicts because unlike wars, no one died in a game, no children got orphaned, and no wives became widows. They both hoped that the fighting would end soon and they would see their families again. Both the armies longed for peace.
Yes, I do agree that sports are a good way of resolving conflicts among countries without causing any harm to any individual.
- Do you think the soldiers of the two armies are like each other, or different from each other? Find evidence from the story to support your answer.
Ans. The soldiers of the two armies were similar to each other. We can say this because they were friendly with each other, they ate food together, they played a football match and also celebrated Christmas together. Both the armies agreed that there should be peace among countries.
- Mention the various ways in which the British and the German soldiers become friends and find things in common at Christmas.
Ans. The British and the German soldiers were opponents to each other fighting in a war. However, on the day of Christmas, the German soldiers started with waving hands at the British soldiers. At first, the British soldiers thought that it was a trick to deceive them but soon they realised that it was not. They all met and greeted each other, ate together, laughed together, and played a football match with each other. They shared their thoughts on wars and hoped for a peaceful end.
At the end of the day, they exchanged carols for a while and then they all fell silent.
- What is Connie’s Christmas present? Why is it “the best Christmas present in the world”?
Ans. On the day of Christmas, the author went to Connie to deliver her husband’s letter to her. It had been such a long time since she was hoping for her husband to return, that she mistook him to be her husband. Her eyes were filled with tears and said that it was the best Christmas present in the world. This is because, in the letter, her husband had mentioned that he would return by Christmas time next year. However, when the author told her how he found the letter, she ignored all that he said and felt it was Jim who had come to visit her after a long time.
- Do you think the title of this story is suitable for it? Can you think of any other title(s)?
Ans. The title, “The Best Christmas Present in the World” is suitable here as the old lady had waited for her husband for a very long time. He was to return on Christmas day and therefore when the author visited her to return the last letter written by her husband, she mistook him to be her husband. However, she was wrong but also was genuinely happy.
Working with language
(ii) Fill in the blanks using the correct form of the verbs in brackets.
My little sister is very naughty. When she came (come) back from school yesterday,
she had torn (tear) her dress. We asked (ask) her how it had happened (happen). She
said (say) she had quarrelled (have, quarrel) with a boy. She had beaten (have, beat) him
in a race and he had tried (have, try) to push her. She had told (have,tell) the teacher
and so he had chased (have, chase) her, and she had fallen (have, fall) down and had
torn (have, tear) her dress.
(iii) Underline the verbs and arrange them in two columns, Past and Earlier past.
(a) My friends set out to see the caves in the next town, but I stayed at home, because I had seen them already.
(b) When they arrived at the station, their train had left. They came back home, but by that time I had gone out to see a movie!
(c) So they sat outside and ate the lunch I had packed for them.
(d) By the time I returned, they had fallen asleep!
|set out, stayed||had seen|
|arrived, came||had left, had gone|
|sat, ate||had packed|