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the outback
 

the outback

 


1. Reading comprehension. Read the story carefully. Then retell Mrs Hardbristle's story in your own words. Do not copy the text. Do not write more than 180 words ( ±10 %).

A story from Australia

 


Mrs Hardbristle sniffed. 'We have to get out of here,' she said. 'Fast.'

 


I was with Mrs Hardbristle and her little Brownie pack. She looked at us all and then at her husband. 'Mr Hardbristle,' she said. 'There is a bushfire.

 

We have to get back to town.' Mr Hardbristle had come along 'to look after us', but that was a bit of a joke. He was all bent over and weak and

 

could hardly keep up with us. He was much older than Mrs Hardbristle. Some of the girls started to cry as wisps of smoke drifted through the dry

 

bush. Even though we were young, we could imagine the cruel flames that would soon engulf the very spot where we were standing. 


We set off as fast as we could. Leave me,' yelled Mr Hardbristle. 'Get the girls to safety.' He puffed and wheezed as he followed along behind.

 

'Nonsense,' said his wife. She put one of his arms over her shoulder and dragged him behind her like a sack. She was strong, was Mrs Hardbristle.

 

A strong woman. Twigs cracked under our feet. The hot sun scorched our backs. A kangaroo bounded away in fright, desperately trying to

 

escape the flames. Before long the air was filled with smoke.

 

We started to cough and cry. 'Keep going girls,' ordered Mrs Hardbristle between gasps.

 

'Keep going'. She was starting to tire. It was too much really, dragging the old man behind her. 'Don't stop, Brownies,' she shouted.

 

And we didn't. Somehow or other we all stumbled through the forest until we reached town. I say town, but it only had about six shops and a pub

 

and about twenty houses.

 

The dusty street was empty. Not a car. Not a person.

 


Mrs Hardbristle gently put her husband down in the shade. 'The fire is going to take out the town, she said. 'Girls, into the middle of the square.'

 


There was a little grassy patch in the middle of the street with a picnic table there.She ran into the general store and came back with a spade and a

 

large blanket. Without a word she started to dig. Mr Hardbristle tried to help but he was too weak. Smoke swirled in the air. We could hear the

 

flames now. Crackling in the surrounding forest. The sun was blotted out by smoke. The Brownies' faces were black except for the little rivers

 

made by their tears.

 

On dug Mrs Hardbristle. On and on and on. Suddenly the fire was upon us. The general store exploded like a bomb.

 

Flames ate into the walls.

 

Mrs Hardbristle stopped digging. 'Get in,' she said. She helped her husband into the hole and I climbed in with the other Brownies.

 

We felt the blanket placed over our heads. Everything went dark. Suddenly we were wet. She was pouring water over the blanket.

 

Poor old Hardbristle was worried about his wife. ’Get in, get in,’ he croaked at her.

 

‘I’ll be all right,’ we heard Mrs Hardbristle say. ‘You look after the girls.’

 

We felt the fire roar past. Its heat stifled us. Its smoke choked us. But the flames did not claim us. We survived.

 

When we climbed out the town had gone. Not a building was left. Just by the hole we found Mrs Hardbristle. Stretched out. She had saved us all.

 

And had lost her own life.

 

 

(about 570 words)

 

from: Paul Jennings, Unmentionable, in ‘The Mouth Organ’


2. Tenses. Complete the following text. Use the simple past or the past perfect forms of the verbs in brackets.

Last Friday Sheila (have to go) to the shops for her parents. When she (arrive) at Tesco's,

 

she (meet) her old friend Mary.

 

As they (not see) each other for weeks, they (decide) to go to a pizzeria together.

 

When they (come) out of the pizzeria, it (start) to rain.

 

Sheila (not want) to get wet, so she (run) to the nearest supermarket as fast as she  (can).

 

When she (buy) everything and (want) to pay, she (notice) that she   (lose) her purse.

 

She (be) very unhappy. Where (she / lose) it? She  (know) she (pay)

 

for the meals in the pizzeria, so she (run) back and (ask) the waitress if anybody (see) her money.

 

Fortunately, a waiter (find) it after she and Mary (leave) the pizzeria.


3. The gerund. Complete these sentences with a suitable gerund.

3.1. to work by car can take a long time. I usually go by train.


3.2. too much TV is bad for your eyes. a good book is much nicer to spend your free time.


3.3. homework can be boring. Especially on summer evenings.


3.4. the drums is really fun, but you've got to practise every day.


3.5. Patrick, the flat is hard work, but it's necessary. It gets so dirty.


3.6. for Mrs Jennings isn't much fun. She's a very difficult boss.


3.7. is one of my favourite hobbies. But I think I need a new tent soon.


3.8. with you isn't easy. You just don't listen.


3.9. letters to friends is so boring. I always phone people.


3.10.  mountains is not something I enjoy very much. Let's take the mountain railway.

 
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