Matura podstawowa – czytanie – ćwiczenie 13

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Mrs. Luella Bates was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but a hammer and nails. It was eleven o’clock at night, and she was walking alone after a hard day’s work. Suddenly, a boy ran up behind her and tried to steal her purse. The strap broke easily as the boy pulled it from behind. But the weight of the purse caused him to lose his balance so, instead of running away, the boy fell on his back, and his legs flew up.

The woman turned around, reached down and picked the boy up. Holding him tightly by his shirt the woman said, “Pick up my purse, boy. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” By that time two or three people passed, stopped, turned to look, and some stood watching. “If I set you free, will you run?” asked the woman. “Yes,” said the boy. “Then I won’t set you free,” said the woman. “Let’s have a look at you. Your face is dirty. It will get washed this evening,” said the woman going up the street and dragging the frightened boy behind her.

When they finally got to her house, she dragged the boy inside. She switched on the light and left the door open. “What’s your name?” she asked. “Roger,” answered the boy. “Then, Roger, you go to that sink and wash your face,” said the woman. She set him free at last. Roger looked at the door, looked at the woman and went to the sink. “Are you going to call the police? Will you take me to jail?” he asked. “No, with that face I would not take you anywhere,” said the woman. “Here I am trying to get home to cook dinner and rest a little and you take my purse! Why did you do it? Maybe you haven’t had your dinner either. Have you?” “There’s nobody home,” said the boy. “Then we’ll eat,” said the woman, “I believe you’re hungry. Isn’t that why you wanted to steal my purse?” “No. I just wanted a pair of blue leather shoes I saw in the shop window,” said the boy. “Well, you didn’t have to steal my purse to get shoes,” said Mrs. Bates. “You could have asked me.”

The woman was sitting on the sofa. After a while she said, “I was young once and I wanted things I could not get. I’m sure you think I want to say that I didn’t steal people’s purses to get them. Well, I didn’t. But I have done things, too; things I’m not very proud of. So you just stay here and I will fix us something to eat. Then we will talk.” Mrs. Bates got up and went to the other corner of the room. The woman did not watch the boy to see if he was going to run away. But the boy sat quietly on the far side of the room so that she could easily see him. He wanted her to trust him. She heated some lima beans and ham and set the table. The woman avoided asking the boy anything that would embarrass him. Instead, as they ate, she told him about what she did in a hotel beauty-shop that stayed open late, what the work was like, and how all kinds of women came in and out to have their hair done. When they finished eating she got up and said, “Now, here, take ten dollars and get yourself the shoes. And next time, do not make the mistake of snatching anybody’s purse – because shoes got this way will burn your feet. I need to get my rest now.”

She led him down the hall to the front door . “Good night! Behave yourself, boy!” she said, looking out into the street. The boy wanted to say something else to Mrs. Bates, but he couldn’t do so. He barely managed to say “Thank you” before she shut the door. And he never saw her again.
adapted from Thank You, Ma’am by Langston Hughes

6.1. Mrs. Bates was attacked
6.2. The boy fell down because
6.3. When Mrs. Bates got home with the boy, she
6.4. The boy wanted to steal the woman’s purse because he
6.5. The boy sat on the far side of the room because
6.6. While they were eating, the woman
6.7. The story is about