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THE BLACK CAT

AND OTHER STORIES

THE BLACK CAT

A man who is cruel to his cat. A prince who dances all night while his people are dying. And a visit to an old school friend in his decaying house.

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AND OTHER STORIES

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StandFor Graded Readers provide a range of engaging reading materials for learners of English. Carefully graded by level, the series includes retellings of great classics, and informative, factual titles.

Edgar Allan Poe

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Three stories from the strange and frightening pen of Edgar Allan Poe. Don’t read them alone, and don’t forget to lock your door!

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THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

Level 1 | 380 Headwords Level 2 | 580 Headwords Level 3 | 800 Headwords

ISBN 978-85-96-00515-9

A2

CEFR

www.standfor.com.br

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Level 4 | 1000 Headwords

graded readers

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3 THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

Edgar Allan Poe Retold by Bill Bowler

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© 2016 – StandFor Editorial Director Editorial Manager Editorial Coordinator Series Editor Editorial Assistant Production Manager Production Coordinator Proofreader Art Manager Art Coordinator Design Cover Design Art Supervisor Art Editors/Layout Illustrations Coordinator Illustrations Operations Director and Print Production Manager

Lauri Cericato Cayube Galas Ana Carolina Costa Lopes Nick Bullard Nathalia Thomaz Mariana Milani Marcelo Henrique Ferreira Fontes Hannah Fish Ricardo Borges Daniela Di Creddo Máximo Yan Comunicação Yan Comunicação Patrícia De Michelis Yan Comunicação, Lidiani Minoda Marcia Berne Pietro Antognioni Reginaldo Soares Damasceno

Dados Internacionais de Catalogação na Publicação (CIP) (Câmara Brasileira do Livro, SP, Brasil) Bowler, Bill The black cat and other stories : standfor graded readers, level 3 / Edgar Allan Poe ; retold by Bill Bowler ; illustrated Pietro Antognioni. -- 1. ed. -- São Paulo : FTD, 2016. ISBN 978-85-96-00515-9 (aluno) ISBN 978-85-96-00706-1 (professor) 1. Literatura infantojuvenil I. Poe, Edgar Allan. II. Antognioni, Pietro. III. Título. 16-05493 CDD-028.5

Índices para catálogo sistemático: 1. Literatura infantil  028.5 2. Literatura infantojuvenil  028.5 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of StandFor. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Rua Rui Barbosa, 156 – Bela Vista – São Paulo-SP – Brasil – CEP 01326-010 Phone 0800 772 2300 – Caixa Postal 65149 – CEP 01390-970 – www.standfor.com.br Impresso no Parque Gráfico da Editora FTD Avenida Antonio Bardella, 300 – Guarulhos-SP – CEP 07220-020 Tel. (11) 3545-8600 e Fax (11) 2412-5375 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809. His father left the family home in 1810 and his mother died in 1811. The young Edgar was taken in by another family who looked after him until he was an adult. Poe studied at the University of Virginia for a few months, then left and joined the army in 1827. However, he left the army in 1829 and decided to try and live as a writer. He was beginning to be successful when he died in 1849 at the age of 40.

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BEFORE READING

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Look at the picture on the front of the book and read the back cover. Check the correct answers. 1. All the stories in this book are… a. full of love and people marrying happily.  b. dark and full of crazy people and death.  ü c. about poor people’s sad lives in the 1840s.  d. about helping people when they are in trouble.  2. The man in The Black Cat story… a. loves the pet black cat, but his wife hates it.  b. and his wife both love their pet black cat.  c. kills his pet black cat and kills his wife.  d. hates his wife but loves her favorite pet black cat.  3. When many people get sick with the Red Death in his

country, Prince Prospero…

a. leaves them to die and has

a great party with his followers. 

b. visits the sick people and helps them to get better.  c. leaves the country for a time

because he doesn’t want to get sick. 

d. sends the sick people out of the

country until they die or get better. 

4. When Henry goes to visit his friend Roderick Usher and his

sister, Madeline, he…

a. falls in love with the sister and marries her.  b. helps the sick sister to get healthy again.  c. stops the crazy sister from killing Roderick.  d. helps Roderick after his sister dies. 

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Each of the three stories in this book ends in a surprising way. How, do you think? Finish these sentences. 1. The storyteller thinks, “The black cat isn’t here any more!” but… 2. Prince Prospero has a plan to get away from the Red Death, but… 3. Roderick Usher puts his sister in a room downstairs, but…

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Histor y

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The Black Cat

Today I need to tell you my story because tomorrow I’m going to die. For me it is a story of the darkest horror. When I was a child, my school friends laughed at my soft heart. I loved animals, so my parents gave me different pets. I spent many happy hours with them, playing or giving them food. I didn’t stop loving animals when I became a man. Animals are usually truer friends than people. I married young and my wife loved animals, too. She bought many nice pets for me. We had birds, goldfish, white mice, a dog – and a cat. 5

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Our cat was large, beautiful, and black all over. He looked very wise. My wife sometimes said, laughingly, “Maybe he’s a witch’s cat.” She didn’t mean it, of course. Pluto – that was the cat’s name – was my favorite pet. I loved playing with him. I always gave him his food, and he followed me around the house. When I went out, he followed me through the streets. Pluto and I stayed good friends for many years. But when I started drinking, this changed me. I became more selfish, more difficult, angrier. I started using bad language and hitting my wife. I stopping giving my pets their food and being nice to them, and started hitting them when they got in my way. I never hurt Pluto at first because he was special. But in time, that also changed. One night I arrived home after an evening of heavy drinking. I suddenly got angry because Pluto ran away from me. I caught him with both hands and he fought and hurt my hand. I went crazy. Holding him by the neck, I took a pocket-knife from my jacket, opened it, and cut out one of the poor animal’s eyes. I am deeply ashamed now to think of it.

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Late next morning I woke up. Lying in bed, I remembered taking my knife to Pluto’s eye. I felt very sorry about it. But what did I do? I got up, opened a bottle of wine, and drank without stopping for days. During this time, the cat got better. The hole in his face looked bad. But it didn’t hurt him any more, I could see. Of course, when I got near him, he ran away. At first I felt bad about this. But soon I felt angry again.

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Often we do something bad just because it is wrong. People say, “That’s not right. Don’t do it!” After this, we really want to do the bad thing. I felt that way. A voice in my head said, “You started by hurting your cat. Why not finish the job and kill it?” So one morning I took a rope, put it around the cat’s neck and hanged it from a tree in the garden. I cried while I was doing it. I felt really sorry. That night I woke up in bed to hear someone shouting, “Fire!” My bed was burning, and my house was on fire. My wife and I ran from the burning building. The fire burned our house and everything in it. We moved into a cheap house next to our old house that night. Did the fire happen because I killed the cat? I don’t think so. The day after the fire, I visited my old home. Only one wall of it was still standing. It was my old bedroom wall. It had new plaster on it and this saved it from the fire, I was sure. A lot of people were standing around this wall and looking at it. “That’s unusual!” they said. I went nearer and I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the white wall there was a picture of a big cat with a rope around its neck. It looked so real!

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My heart was full of horror when I first saw it. But then I thought, “Maybe when the fire began, somebody cut the dead cat down from the tree and sent it through my bedroom window to wake me. But the cat hit the wet plaster. Then, when the house fell down, this pushed the cat’s body into the plaster and it became a piece of the wall. Finally the fire burned the cat’s body until it was no longer soft. That explains the picture.”

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The Black Cat and Other Stories

Although I explained the picture this way, it was still unusual. For weeks I couldn’t stop thinking about my dead cat. During this time I began to feel sorry about losing Pluto. So when I went drinking in town, I started looking for a large black cat to be my new pet. One evening, I found him. I was feeling sleepy after drinking too much in a cheap drinking-house on the poor side of town. There wasn’t much furniture in the room – but there was a large barrel of strong drink, with something black on top.

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The Black Cat

I went near and touched it with my hand. It was a large cat – as big as Pluto. It looked nearly the same as Pluto but in one thing it was different. Pluto had no white hair on his body, but on the cat’s chest there was a large patch of white hair. When I touched him, he pushed against my hand and made happy noises. “I was looking for a black cat, and here you are,” I cried. I asked the landlord, “Can I buy your cat?” But he answered, “I don’t have a cat!” When I showed him the cat on the barrel, he said, “I never saw that cat before.” I played with the cat some more. When I got up to leave, it followed me into the street. I walked home, and it followed me to my front door. When I opened the door, it went inside. My wife was happy about this. So the black cat moved in with us and soon became my wife’s favorite pet.

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After it arrived – to my surprise – I didn’t like it. It loved me, but in time, I began to hate it. I still remembered killing Pluto, and I felt ashamed of that, so I did nothing to hurt this new cat. But when it came near, I always moved out of its way. The morning after it came to live with us, I first saw its face in the light of day. It had only one eye! I thought of Pluto. My wife loved the animal more after she saw this. She was a sweet woman with a good heart.

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The Black Cat

I hated that cat more every day, but the cat loved me back more, I could see. It followed me everywhere. When I was sitting, it sat under my chair or jumped on my legs happily. When I was walking around the house, it ran between my legs and made me nearly fall to the floor. Or it ran up my pants and climbed onto my chest. When it did that, I wanted to kill it. But then I remembered hanging Pluto and that stopped me. I also had – I must tell you – a real horror of the animal. This horror was of something unworldly. My wife first saw it. Some weeks after the cat arrived with us, she said, “Look at the patch on its chest!” I told you about this large patch of white hair. This made it different from Pluto. But slowly, over time, the patch changed. “It’s now a white gallows,” said my wife. She was right. My heart was full of horror when I saw it. “I can’t kill the animal now,” I thought.

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I looked at the gallows and thought of Pluto’s death. I couldn’t sleep after that by day or night! By day, the black cat never left me alone. By night, I woke every hour from bad dreams to find the cat sitting on my chest, on my heart. These events changed me from half good to fully bad. I hated everything and everybody. I often shouted at my wife. She just listened and said nothing. One day my wife came with me down into the cellar of our new house to look for something. The cat ran down the steps after us and got under my feet. I nearly fell down the steps and I became crazy. I took a heavy old ax in my hands and began to bring this down on the animal. I wanted to kill it. But my wife put her hand on my arm and stopped me.

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The Black Cat

When she put her hand on my arm I became crazier. I pulled it away and brought the ax down on her head. She died at once and fell to the cellar floor without a noise. Now I needed to hide my wife’s dead body. “I can’t take it out of the house,” I thought, “because people in the houses around us could see that.” What could I do? Could I cut the body into pieces and burn it? Could I make a hole in the cellar floor and put it there? Could I put it in a big box and pay someone to take it away from the house? Finally I thought of the best plan. “I know. I can hide it inside one of the cellar walls.”

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The cellar was just right for this. The walls were not very strong and the plaster on them was new and uneven. On one wall there was an old fireplace. Plaster closed off the old fireplace to make a wall. Perhaps I could break open this wall, put the body inside the old fireplace, and then close the wall up and put new plaster over it. With a big stick I made a hole in the fireplace wall. I put the body inside and I built up the wall again. I made some new plaster and put this on the wall. Now it looked no different from the other cellar walls. I felt happy. I cleaned the trash from the cellar floor, and said, “I did a good job here.� 16

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The Black Cat

Then I looked for the cat. I couldn’t find it. “It ran away!” I cried. I wanted to kill it, but it didn’t come back. “I’m angry and it knows to stay away,” I thought. I was really happy to be without the cat that day. It did not come back that evening either. So for the first time since the cat came to live with us, I slept well – the night after killing my wife! The next day and the day after that the animal stayed away. I felt very happy. “That black cat is never coming back,” I thought. On the fourth day after my wife’s death, the police visited my house. There were six of them and they wanted to look at all the rooms. I agreed. They looked everywhere but didn’t find anything. I wasn’t worried. They could never find the dead body behind the fireplace wall, I was sure. For the fourth time they climbed

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down to the cellar. I went down after them. I didn’t feel ashamed. I put my arms across my chest and walked easily from one end of the room to the other. The police were leaving the cellar when I said. “Thank you for coming. I have nothing to hide and you know it. Goodbye. And next time be nicer when you come.” The police were climbing the steps now. “Are you going?” I asked. Then I said, “This is a strong house, with strong walls!” With the stick in my hand I hit the wall at the front of the old fireplace very strongly. My wife’s dead body was just behind it! Then – horror of horrors – the noise of the stick died, and there came from behind the wall an

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The Black Cat

answering sound. It was soft at first – the cry of a small baby – but then it became louder until it was the angry cry of a dangerous animal. I felt suddenly sick and fell against the opposite wall. The policemen ran down the steps and hurried to the fireplace. They began pulling at the wall. Suddenly it fell. The dead body behind, with blood all over it, stood before them. Upon its head, with a wide red mouth and one open eye, sat the black cat. This witch’s animal made me kill my wife. Then it helped the police to find her cold body with its cry. So tomorrow they must hang me – because when I built the wall to hide my wife, I accidentally left the cat inside!

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The Masque of The Red Death

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The “Red Death” first came to the country months ago. Many people died from this plague then. Many are dying from it now. It is the deadliest plague ever. When you catch it, your head hurts and you can’t stand. Then you become sick, and the blood-red patches on your face tell other people, “I have the Red Death.” So they run away from you in horror and do not help you. The worst thing of all is this: after you catch the Red Death you are dead in half an hour. Prince Prospero did not worry about the plague. When half the people in his country were dead, he took one thousand healthy, party-loving courtiers – men and women – to one of his favorite palaces far from the city. Years before, the prince planned this building. It was large, with a strong, high wall around it. There was a great door of iron in this wall. When the prince and his courtiers were inside the palace, they worked hard on this iron door, to make it stronger. After they finished, it was impossible for anybody to go in or out of the building. Inside there was a lot of food and wine. In this way, the prince and the courtiers left the plague outside and forgot about it. The prince had plans to have a good time with all his followers during their stay. Inside the palace there were actors, dancers, singers, and musicians. Outside there was the “Red Death”. At the end of the fifth month of their stay – when the plague outside was killing hundreds of people every day – the prince held a wonderful “masque” or costume party.

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Prospero and his thousand followers celebrated in seven large rooms on one floor of the palace. Every room was thirty meters long. In most palaces rooms go in a straight line. When you open up the great doors between them, you can see from one end of the palace to the other. But Prospero was an artist and his rooms were different. The doors between were on the right in one room, and on the left in the next. 22

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The Masque of The Red Death

So from every room you could see only into the next room. On two of the walls in each room there were high, narrow, windows. Behind these windows a corridor ran along both sides of the rooms. It followed their uneven floor plan. The color of the glass in the windows was nearly always the same as the color of the rooms. In the east of the palace, the first room was blue and the glass in the windows was blue. The second room was purple and the windows here were purple. The third room was green and the windows here were also green. The fourth room was orange, and its windows had orange glass. The fifth room was white and it had white windows. The sixth room was gray and its windows were also gray. The seventh and last room in the west of the palace was black. But the windows here were a deep blood red. All the rooms had special gold carvings in them. None had lights. But in the corridors, behind every narrow window, a heavy dish on three legs held a burning fire. The light of these fires traveled through the windows and made the color in the rooms really bright. 23

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Only one room was not bright – the black room. Here the red glass did not go well with the black walls. The two colors made people look unhealthy. Few people went into this unusual, dark room. In the black room, against the west wall, there was a large black clock. It made a loud noise every second. Every time the minute hand arrived at the top of the clock face, the clock sounded the hour with a piece of deep, dark, and very sad music. The musicians stopped playing, and the dancers stopped dancing and listened. Everyone’s faces became white. But when the sad music of the clock finally ended, everyone laughed and the party began again. Between these hourly breaks, it was a happy and wonderful event. Prince Prospero was a true artist. He spent many hours at work in his palace, and planned all the furniture in the seven rooms. He also planned all the costumes for his courtiers

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The Masque of The Red Death

to wear. Some wore rich Spanish clothes with bright jewelry. Some moved freely in fine Arabian clothes. Some costumes were crazy, some were beautiful, some were unusual, some were exciting, and some were dark pictures of horror. The costumes moved around the seven rooms during the party. They changed color while they danced from room to room, and the musicians played in time with their steps. Every hour, when the great black clock sounded, everything stopped and became quiet. The only noise then was the voice of the clock. The dancers stood and listened. Then the clock finished sounding the hour. The courtiers laughed, relaxed, and began dancing once more through the different rooms. The fires lit the rooms through the windows of different colors.

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Not many people went into the room in the west of the palace. Here the red windows shone and the walls were black with horror. Here people heard the clock more loudly than in the other rooms. Those other rooms were the living heart of the party – full of music and the sound of dancing feet. In the middle of the night, the clock sounded twelve. The dancers and the musicians stopped. Because it was twelve o’clock, everybody had more time to think while they listened to the clock. When the clock finished, many saw, for the first time, someone in a new mask standing in the blue room. They spoke in low voices about this. It surprised them and brought horror to their hearts. Of all the party costumes, you couldn’t forget this one. “It’s not funny,” the courtiers said. The new party-goer was tall and thin. He wore white clothes. His mask

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The Masque of The Red Death

was a death’s head. It looked very real. The other partygoers didn’t worry too much about his clothes and his mask. The trouble was the blood on his body and his face. This was a costume of “The Red Death”. And it walked slowly between the dancers. When Prince Prospero first saw the man, he was angry. He held up his hand to stop the musicians.

“Who comes here in a plague costume?” he asked. “Take him and pull his mask off. Let’s see him. Tomorrow morning we must hang him from the top of the palace walls!” The prince spoke in the blue room, but partygoers in all seven rooms heard his strong, deep voice. The newcomer stood not far away. 27

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At Prospero’s words, some courtiers moved nearer to the man with the death’s head mask. But not one put a hand on him to catch him. Then the man in the plague costume came nearer to the prince. He was only a meter away from Prospero. Nobody stopped him. All the party-goers suddenly moved away from the middle of the rooms, and nearer to the walls. Then the newcomer moved away from Prospero and walked slowly out of the blue room and into the purple room, then the green room, the orange room, the white room, and the gray room. Prince Prospero felt ashamed because earlier he did nothing about the man. So he took out his knife and went after him. The prince hurried through the six rooms. Nobody ran to help him. All eyes were full of horror. Prospero stopped just behind the newcomer inside the last room. The man looked back. There was a great cry. First the prince’s knife fell to the black floor. Then Prospero fell face down – dead – on top of it.

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At once some courtiers ran into the black room. The newcomer was standing in front of the clock there. They caught him in their hands, but suddenly they shouted out in horror. They still held the man’s mask and his costume – but these were now empty. Then they understood: The Red Death was with them in the palace – a deadly thief in the night. One by one the courtiers fell to the floor in the rooms of different colors. There was blood everywhere. The plague killed them all. After the last courtier was dead, the black clock stopped. The fires in the dishes behind the windows died – and night, decay, and the Red Death held the palace.

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The Fall of The House of Usher

It was a dark, quiet day in October with low black clouds in the sky. I rode my horse across the most deathly country. Nothing was living there. At last, in the early evening, I arrived at the House of Usher. When I first saw the building, it depressed me. Why? I don’t know. Usually when I look at old buildings I can see something beautiful about them, but I could see nothing beautiful about this old house. Its gray walls had dark windows for eyes. I looked at the dry gardens around it, the decaying white trees, and my heart felt as cold as ice. I thought only of dark things and could not smile. Why did the House of Usher do this to me? I don’t know. Maybe – I thought – looking at the same things in a different way could help to stop me worrying. So I rode over to the dark lake around the house. I looked down into its waters. There I saw again 30

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(but the other way up) the dry garden, the decaying white trees, and the gray building with dark windows for eyes. My heart felt sicker than before. I planned to stay in this great house for some weeks. It was the house of an old school friend of mine, Roderick Usher. We last met years before, but a month ago I got a surprise when Roderick sent a letter to me. Dear Henry, Please visit me at my home – the House of Usher. I am sick in body and everything depresses me. I hope to see you soon. You are my best – and only – friend. You are a good man and I want you to stay with me for a week or two. You can help me to get better, I am sure. Your friend, Roderick Usher 31

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The Black Cat and Other Stories

Roderick’s letter spoke to my heart, and I could not say “no”. So I rode my horse to his house, and was ready to spend some time with him. It is true; we were good friends when we were young, but I didn’t know much about Roderick. He was a very private person. The Ushers were an old family, I knew. They loved art and music, and they often gave money privately to help poor people who lived around their house. The family was never large. The house always went from father to son when the father died. The country people living near the house called both the building and the family “The House of Usher”. I looked up at the house again and thought, “It’s full of old family stories, I’m sure.” But the irongray lake, the gray walls, the black clouds above it, the white fog, and the decaying trees around it all depressed me. My head felt full of dark, heavy dreams. I pushed those dreams to the back of my head, and I looked at the real building in front of me. It was very old – that was the most important thing. There were different colors because it was so old, but no walls or windows were missing. When I looked carefully, I could just see a very long, thin crack in the front wall. This went from the top of the building to the bottom and ended in the dark waters of the lake. The old walls were 32

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The Fall of The House of Usher| History 3

full of decay, but they were still standing strongly and not ready to fall yet, I felt. Looking at all this, I rode my horse across a low bridge over the lake. Just outside the house, a servant took my horse and I went through the narrow front door. Once inside, another servant took me, without speaking, along many dark corridors to his master’s room. The old guns and knives on the walls, the black floors, and the carvings above our heads depressed me even more than before. 33

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On the stairs we met the old Usher family doctor. He wasn’t smiling. He gave his name, said “Hello” coldly, and walked past me down the stairs. Then the servant opened a door and showed me in to meet his master. Roderick was in a large room with long, narrow windows. These were impossible to open from inside. A soft light came through these windows, and in this light I could see some of the things in the room, but the far corners were still dark. All the furniture in the room – chairs, tables, and a couch – was old and heavy. Many books, an old guitar, and some pages of music sat on some shelves. But these did nothing to make the room more friendly. 34

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The Fall of The House of Usher

When I arrived, my friend got up from the couch and came across to meet me. He took my hand and said warmly, “Excuse me! I was just relaxing. I’m so happy to see you.” That sounded false to me and I thought, “Does he want to be funny?” But when I looked at his white, smiling face, I understood: his words were true. We sat down, and he said nothing for a time. I looked at him and felt sorry. The many changes in him since our schooldays surprised me. Roderick the man was very different from Roderick the boy. His dark eyes were large and his mouth was thin, but friendly. His nose was long and not too narrow. He was manly, but he did not look strong. There were soft clouds of long, thin, blond hair on either side of his face. Something important was worrying him, I could see. He wanted to hide it with smiles and fine words. But I saw through this. He began to talk. Sometimes the words came quickly, loudly, and he couldn’t stop them. Sometimes it was difficult for him to talk: he sounded exhausted and his voice became low and soft. 35

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“I wanted to see you, Henry,” Roderick said, “because I’m feeling sick. Not sick in my body, you understand. It’s in my head. It’s an Usher family thing and there isn’t any medicine for it, or any way to stop it. But soon I hope to be better again.” “Let’s hope so,” I answered. “But what’s the matter?” “Well, the thing is: I taste, feel, smell, see, and hear things too well,” he explained. “This means I can’t eat strong-tasting food and I must even wear special soft clothes. The smell of the smallest flower hurts my nose and any light is bad for my eyes. The quietest sounds hurt my ears and I can only listen to guitar music.” “I see,” I answered. 36

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“I’m getting sicker every day,” he said. “What can tomorrow bring? Going crazy or dying maybe? My heart becomes full of horror when I think of that.” “What makes you feel worse?” I asked. “This house,” he said. “I never go outside now. I stopped that years ago. When I see its gray walls, its narrow windows, and the dark lake under it, I always feel sick.” “Is that all?” I asked. He didn’t speak for a minute. Then he explained. “I also worry about my sister, Madeline. She became sick weeks ago – and she’s getting worse. She and I are the only people now in the Usher family. When she dies, I’m going to be all alone.” While he was speaking, a young woman (It was Madeline!) opened a door at the far end of the room. She crossed the room but didn’t look at us. Seeing her was surprising. I felt exhausted while my eyes were watching her. Why? I don’t know. At last she opened a door on the left and walked through it. She closed this door carefully behind her. I looked across at her brother. He had his face in his hands. The fingers of those hands were whiter than before, I saw. 37

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The Black Cat and Other Stories

Later Roderick told me more. What was the matter with Madeline? The doctor was puzzled. She always felt sleepy. She got thinner and thinner. Often she fell into a deep sleep during the day and it was not possible to wake her. She fought against all of this, and for weeks she never went to bed, but preferred to walk the corridors of the house at night. Very late that night I was in my bedroom. Roderick came to my door and spoke to me again about his sister.

“Madeline’s in bed now,” he told me. “She gets sicker every day. She cannot take any more nightly walks.”

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The Fall of The House of Usher

After that, we both went back to our beds and we slept until the morning. During the next few days Roderick and I did not talk about Madeline. We read books, we painted pictures, and we spoke about other things. I listened to him while he played his old guitar. I wanted to see my friend smile, but he couldn’t. He saw the world too darkly, and everything depressed him. I can never forget those days alone with the master of the House of Usher. He was sick with horror and this put an unusual light on everything. We did many crazy things during that time. When he painted, his pictures were very special. With a few drops and patches of paint, he could catch and show the unusual dreams in his head. I never saw another painter do this. I remember one small but interesting – and worrying – picture of his. It showed a long, square corridor deep under the ground. This corridor had no doors or windows, no lights, but it was surprisingly bright, nearly white. I really loved that little picture. 39

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I can still remember listening to his wonderfully dark guitar music, too. He never wrote any of his guitar music down on paper, he just listened to his heart – and he played for hours. While he was playing, he often spoke poetry or sang songs over the music. Roderick called one of these unusual songs “The Palace of Dead Dreams”. Here are the words of that song. I don’t remember them all, but these are not far from my old friend’s words.

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The Fall of The House of Usher

Long ago there stood a palace, In the greenest country here. And the best and sweetest people Said, “This building’s very dear!”

Here a prince lived, rich and smiling, Playing music all day long. And his courtiers, living with him, Sang with him his happy song.

Yellow were the courtiers’ dresses And their prince wore clothes of gold. Sunny were the hearts of all those In that palace fine and old.

But years later, sad times called there. Death and horror came to stay. The good master and his servants One black evening ran away.

Now when travelers see the palace, In the middle of the night, None agrees to stop and stay In deathly rooms of blood-red light. 41

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I remember after he finished singing this song, Roderick spoke to me. “Trees think, you know,” he said. His eyes were large and bright at the time. “What do you mean?” I asked him. “Look at the white decaying trees in our garden, for example. They can think.” 42

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The Fall of The House of Usher

“How do you know?” “I can see it when I look into the dark waters of the lake around this house.” “Really? How?” “Because when those trees think, they become wet. Many of the walls in this house are wet, too. And the water from the trees and the house goes down into the lake. What’s more, I can see it when I look at my family. The Ushers are a very unlucky family. My sister Madeline and I are unlucky. It’s because we have thinking trees in our garden.” I said nothing. Roderick was going crazy, I knew, and – listening to the sad words of his song – there were times when he knew it, too, I felt sure. During my stay, Roderick and I read many of the books in his library. These were unusual, expensive, and interesting. There were books of funny poetry and books of true stories. There were books in French, Italian, Swedish, and German. Some of the books were about reading people’s hands, and some answered the question, “What happens after death?” Roderick was reading a book about this last question not long before he told me some sad news one evening. “My sister’s dead,” he said. “I’m very sorry to hear it,” I answered. 43

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The Black Cat and Other Stories

Roderick looked at me with bright eyes. “Before I put Madeline’s body in its grave, I want to leave it for two weeks in one of the cellars under this house,” he told me. “Why?” I asked. “Because I’m worried,” he explained. “The family doctor told me after Madeline died, ‘Be careful, Mr. Usher. Is this really death or is she just in a deep sleep?’ I must be sure, Henry. I don’t want to put her in the cold ground when she’s still alive.” I remembered very well the unsmiling doctor on the stairs when I first arrived. “You’re doing the right thing!” I told my friend. Roderick asked me, “Can you help me?” So I did. We carried her body in its coffin down to a small, dark cellar deep under my bedroom. The heavy door to this cellar was made of iron. It made a loud noise when we opened it. We took the coffin through this door and put it on a narrow, high table in the middle of the cellar. Then we opened the coffin and looked inside.

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The Fall of The House of Usher

The sister and brother had nearly the same face. “We were born at the same hour of the same day in the same year,” explained Roderick. “She understood me better than anybody.” She was beautiful even in death – she had a soft smile on her face. We put the heavy top back on the coffin, left the cellar, and closed the big iron door behind us. Then we went upstairs to the living room. After his sister’s death, Roderick’s sickness became worse. He walked from room to room in that great house every day. His face became white as paper, his eyes were no longer bright. His deep voice now became high and worried. He sat looking at nothing for hours. Was he crazy? Living in that house, I began to feel crazy, too.

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The Black Cat and Other Stories

Seven days after Madeline’s death, late at night, there was a great storm. I was in my bed when it started, but I was not sleeping. From time to time, through the noise of the storm, I could hear sounds far away in the house around me. I got up and dressed. Suddenly there was a knock on my bedroom door. I opened it and found Roderick outside. His face was whiter than usual. “Have you seen it?” he asked me. “What?” I said. To answer me, he went across to my window and he opened it. The cold wind came into the room suddenly from outside, and we both jumped.

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The Fall of The House of Usher

Outside the window we could see low clouds in the night sky. The wind was moving these around the house in a circle. We could not see either the moon or the stars above them. Under the clouds there was an unusual, foggy green light around the house. “Leave the window,” I said. “And don’t worry about that fog. It comes from the waters of the lake around your house, I’m sure. Come. Let’s sit and I can read to you.” I closed the window and took Roderick to two chairs. We both sat and I took an old book from the table near my chair. It was called The Crazy Meeting by Launcelot Canning. I opened it and started reading: Then Ethelred the Great arrived at the old man’s house. There was a storm outside and he wanted to go in, so he knocked on the door.

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The old man came and spoke with him through the door, but he did not open his house to the traveler. After all the wine he drank earlier, Ethelred quickly became angry. He took the old door in his strong hands and he broke it into a thousand pieces… I stopped with the story for a minute because – just then – I heard, far away in the house (or did I dream it?) the noises of Ethelred breaking down the old man’s door. 48

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The Fall of The House of Usher

Then I went back to the book and read more to my friend. When he was inside the house, angry Ethelred had a surprise. There was a dragon, not the old man, in front of him – and fire was coming from its mouth. This dragon sat in front of a gold palace to stop people going in. On the wall there was a fine yellow shield. It had writing on it:

These words are for all fighters’ eyes: Would you like to win this prize? Kill the dragon in a fight And you can win this shield of light. So Ethelred took his heavy iron stick and he fought the dragon and hit it on the head. With a great shriek the dragon died at Ethelred’s feet… 49

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Again I stopped reading because I heard the great shriek of a dragon far away in the house. I was sure about it this time. Did Roderick hear it too? I didn’t want to worry him so I said nothing about this noise. Roderick sat in his chair and I sat in mine. He was looking over to the door of my room and I was looking across at the window. He was moving from side to side worriedly in his chair. His mouth was moving but no words were coming out. I started reading again. Then Ethelred pushed the dragon’s body to one side. He went over to get his prize, the shield, down from the wall, but before he could take it in his hands, it fell to the floor with a loud noise. 50

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Just then I heard the noise of a heavy shield hitting the floor from deep inside the house. I jumped up at this. Could Roderick hear it, too? I looked across at my friend and I went to him. He was still moving from side to side in his chair, but there was now a crazy smile on his mouth and he was talking in a low voice. “Oh yes, I hear it. Why didn’t I say something earlier? We buried my sister alive! I hear things more strongly than other people and I heard her moving in her coffin days ago. But I said nothing. And now tonight in the story of Ethelred the Great, we heard the breaking door, the dragon’s shriek, and the falling of the shield – or the breaking coffin, my sister’s shriek, and the opening of the iron door.” 51

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The Black Cat and Other Stories

I listened in surprise and my friend spoke again. “Where can I go? Madeline’s coming upstairs for me! She’s angry with me because I buried her too soon! Wait! I can hear her steps in the corridor. I can hear her heart in her chest. Am I crazy? She’s standing outside your door!” He jumped up at this and suddenly the heavy black door to my room began to open. Did the wind do that? Standing outside the door was Roderick’s tall, thin, sister Madeline in her white clothes. There was blood on these and she was exhausted from her long fight to come back from an early death, I could see. For a minute she stood there, unsure on her feet. Then she stepped nearer to her brother and with a dying shriek she fell on top of him. His heart – never strong – stopped suddenly from the horror of it all, and he fell to the floor, dead under his sister.

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The Fall of The House of Usher

I ran from the room and out into the storm. I crossed the bridge over the lake. Suddenly I saw a strong light. It was coming from behind me. I looked back. The light was from the large blood-red moon. It was coming up in the stormy night sky. The light from the moon came brightly through the long crack in the old house. While I watched, the crack got wider and wider. A strong wind came through it. I could now see the whole of the bloody moon between the two halves of the building. Then the great walls fell with the shriek of a thousand waters and the deep, dark lake at my feet closed over the very last pieces of “The House of Usher�.

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WHILE READING AFTER ACTIVITIES: THE ACTIVITIES BLACK CAT READING

1

Read the story. Put these sentences in the correct order. Number them 1 through 10. a. He finds a black cat with a

white patch on it to be his new pet.

b. They take down the wall and

send him to prison for killing his wife.

c.

He hits the wall and the police hear the cat.

d. He kills his wife angrily and then can’t find the cat. e. He puts his wife’s body in an old

fireplace and builds a wall to hide it.

f.

He wants to kill the cat in the cellar, but his wife stops him.

g. He kills Pluto. h. One night he cuts out one of

Pluto’s eyes after the cat runs from him.

2

i.

After the storyteller marries, his wife gets him a black cat, Pluto.

j.

The police come to his house to look for his wife.

1

Match the words with the pictures. ax barrel gallows rope witch stick

a. gallows

b.

c.

d.

e.

f.

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There are 10 words from the story in the box. Use them to complete the sentences. C

I

V

W

D

O

Y

H

W

M

E

P

N

I

Q

S

V

O

F

V

L

C

C

N

O

D

I

R

C

J

L

H

P

E

T

P

S

R

A

L

A

E

F

N

L

Q

S

O

R

A

R

S

M

C

Z

T

Y

R

V

N

B

T

M

R

H

K

E

P

I

D

K

L

P

A

T

C

H

F

N

L

Y

H

P

Z

S

Z

A

Q

G

O

D

T

S

Y

R

V

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G

P

R

F

D

J

H

B

S

G

T

V

D

1. We call a room under a house a   cellar  . 2. The second black cat in the story has a

of white

AFTER READING ACTIVITIES: THE BLACK CAT

1

hairs on its body. 3. When you think in a very unusual way, you are 4. Do you have a

.

dog or cat at home?

5. My mother and father sometimes drink red

at dinner.

6. “This man killed his wife. We must

him!”

7. I love Dracula and Frankenstein and other

stories.

8. You call the top of the front of your body your

.

9. The old chair in the Cairo Museum has a

of an Egyptian family on it. 10. When we got to our hotel, the

was very friendly. 55

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WHILE READING ACTIVITIES: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH AFTER READING ACTIVITIES

1

Read the story. Are these sentences True (T) or False (F)? 1. Prince Prospero takes a thousand men

and a thousand women to his favorite palace.  F

2. They want to have a good time while

people outside are sick with the Red Death. 

3. Once inside, they close the great door to

stop anybody from going in or coming out. 

4. There is eating and drinking in the

palace. Outside people die from the Red Death. 

5. At the end of the fourth week of

their stay, they have a great costume party. 

6. They celebrate the party in the

seven great rooms of different colors. 

7. People really like going into the

room with the black clock in it. 

8. When the clock sounds the hour,

people stop dancing and playing music to listen. 

9. At 11 o’clock, a new party-goer arrives at the party.  10. The newcomer is wearing a

death’s head mask and white clothes. 

2

Match the beginnings and endings of these sentences. 1. The blue room is….

a. a big, black, noisy clock in it.

2. The black room is….

b. gray and it has windows

3. There are blood

red windows…

4. The second room is… 5. The middle

rooms are…

6. The sixth room is.... 7. Prince Prospero

falls dead…

8. The black room has…

of gray glass.

c. green, orange, and white. d. in the black room. e. in the east of the

Prince’s palace.

f. in the west of the

Prince’s palace.

g. on the floor of the

black room.

h. purple and it has

purple windows.

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Complete the sentences with the words from the box. corridor costumes courtiers decay grave iron mask music newcomer palace plague 1. A musician plays   music  . 2. When someone dies, you put their body in a

.

3. We call the large and fine house of a prince a

.

4. An

door is gray and very strong.

5. In the Venice Carnival people wear beautiful

and to go to parties.

6. I can’t see his face because he’s wearing a

over it.

7. When many people in a country get

sick and die, we call this a

.

8. A prince usually lives with many 9. You could see the

of the old palace.

around him. in the walls and windows

10. They walked along the narrow

of the house to the other.

from one side

11. “I didn’t see you before. Are you a

2

here?”

Which of these ideas do you think is the message of the story? 1.

You can’t run away from death forever.

2.

The best plans often go badly wrong.

3.

When you don’t think of others, they forget you.

4.

A prince must help his people or stop being their prince.

5.

 oney helps you to live in a better way, but it M isn’t everything.

6.

Being healthy is more important than being rich.

AFTER READING ACTIVITIES: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

1

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WHILE READING ACTIVITIES: THE FALL OF THE HOUSEACTIVITIES OF USHER AFTER READING

1

Read pages 30–41 of the story. Check the correct answers. 1. Why does Henry go and stay with Roderick Usher? a.

Because he’s interested in Roderick’s sister.

b.

ü Because Roderick asked him to in a letter.

c.

Because he’s interested in buying Roderick’s old house.

d.

Because Roderick is his only friend.

2. What does Henry know about the Usher family? a.

Nearly nothing.

b.

Everything possible there is to know.

c.

It is a small, old family and they are art and music lovers.

d.

They love horses, fine food and drink, and fast cars.

3. Which sentence is not true about the House of Usher? a.

It is in the middle of a dark lake.

b.

It has a crack down the middle of it.

c.

It has decaying trees in its gardens.

d.

It has white outside walls and bright lights in its windows.

4. What doesn’t the Usher family doctor do? a.

Walk down the stairs while Henry is going up them.

b.

Smile at Henry.

c.

Give his name to Henry.

d.

Say “hello” to Henry.

5. What isn’t Roderick worried about? a.

The family money.

b.

His sister.

c.

Being sick.

d.

Going crazy and dying.

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6. What don’t Henry and Roderick do during Henry’s visit to

the House of Usher?

2

a.

Read books and paint pictures.

b.

Play and listen to music.

c.

Go horse-riding and walking outside.

d.

Talk until late in the night.

Read pages 42–53 of the story. Correct these false sentences. 1. Roderick talks to his friend Henry about thinking furniture. Roderick talks to his friend Henry about thinking trees. 2. Roderick has no books in different languages in his house.

3. Roderick tells Henry one evening, “My brother’s dead.”

4. Henry and Roderick take Madeline’s body down to the lake

and leave it there.

5. Three nights later, there is a great storm.

6. Henry reads some old poetry to Roderick to stop him from

worrying.

7. Henry and Roderick hear noises from the bathroom.

8. Roderick dies, his heart full of love, when his sister, alive

again, arrives in his room and falls on him.

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AFTER READING ACTIVITIES: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER

1

What happens when Henry visits his old friend Roderick? Complete this summary. Use the words in the box. coffin crack depresses dragon ground horse lake master servant shield shrieks storm

Henry rides his   horse   to his friend Roderick Usher’s house. There are the dark waters of a A

     around the house.

    takes Henry upstairs to see his old friend, now      of The House of Usher. Roderick is sick and

the

everything

    him. After sickly Madeline falls into a

     deathly sleep, Henry and Roderick put her body in a and take it down to the cellar. Some nights later, in the middle     , Henry reads to Roderick from an old story.

of a

In this story, a     and a

     falls noisily down to the     opens its mouth and

   . Henry hears these unusual sounds in the house

around him while he is reading. When Roderick and Madeline die, the in the front of their old family house opens widely and the building falls down. This is the end of the story.

2

Circle the correct words to complete this letter from Henry to his father. Dear Father, I have just seen the end / start of the House of Usher. It was a very sad / happy event. My old school friend Roderick and his wife / sister were the only two living people in their old family, and now they are both dead / very sick. Their old house, too, is no more. It fell to the ground / into the lake before my eyes. Your son, Henry

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3

Choose the best question word for these questions. Then complete the answers. 1. In   which   month did Henry arrive at Roderick’s 2. 3. 4.

called the family and their old house “The House of Usher”? The

people who lived around it.

did Henry’s favorite picture by Roderick Usher show? A bright, nearly white

under the ground.

did Roderick sing “The Palace of Dead

Dreams” to Henry?

5.

did Roderick die when he saw Madeline alive again? It was a great surprise for him and he was not a

6.

4

house? The month of   October  .

Madeline died.

man. did Henry stop Roderick from worrying during the storm? He read an

story to his friend.

Complete these sentences with the correct name: Roderick or Madeline. 1.   Roderick   must wear special soft clothes. 2.

falls into a deep sleep during the day.

3.

can’t eat strong-tasting food.

4.

can’t smell the smallest flower because it hurts.

5.

gets thinner and thinner.

6.

can listen only to soft guitar music.

7.

has a smile on her face.

8.

has long, thin, blond hair. 61

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GLOSSARY ax a big knife for cutting trees barrel a large round container for liquids carving something made by cutting out wood or stone cellar a room under a house chest the top of the front of the body coffin a box for a dead person corridor a long narrow room costume special clothes courtier a person who works for a king or prince crack a long thin hole crazy stupid, not sensible decay begin to fall apart because of age depress make unhappy dragon a large animal that can breathe fire gallows where people are killed by hanging grave a  place in the ground where you put a dead person hang k ill a person or an animal with a rope around the neck heart the part of the body where you feel love and emotions horror great shock or great fear

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horse an animal with four legs; you can ride it iron a hard, strong metal lake a large area of water landlord a man who owns a hotel mask something you put over your face master a man who has people to work for him musician a person who plays music newcomer a person who has just come to a place palace a big house; an important person lives here patch a small part pet an animal that people have in the home plague a dangerous sickness prince the son or grandson of a king or queen rope a long, thick string servant a person who works for someone shield a  large metal thing which soldiers use to protect themselves shriek a loud high noise stick a long piece of wood storm very bad weather with strong winds wine a drink made from grapes witch a woman who can do magic

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StandFor Readers StandFor Readers provide a range of extensive reading materials for learners of all ages. The readers are carefully selected to cater for a range of interests, and are available across nine levels. Each title is meticulously graded for both vocabulary and structure, and topics have been selected to reflect the age and ability of students. Standfor Graded Readers are graded according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Factual titles respond to the need for Content and Language Integrated Learning materials.

StandFor Young Readers Level 1

125 Headwords

The Enormous Turnip Little Red Hen The Three Little Pigs Katie’s Camera

Level 2

240 Headwords

The Cats and the Fishes The Gingerbread Man The Three Hungry Goats Peach Boy

Level 3

390 Headwords

The Emperor’s New Clothes The Little Prince Little Red Riding Hood The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse What Is Inside the Big Red Suitcase?

Level 4

540 Headwords

Arachne Couscous Puss in Boots Transportation Around the World The Twelve Months

Level 5

680 Headwords

Dragon Boat Icarus Let’s Go to the City Nuala The Stories of King Arthur

StandFor Graded Readers Level 1

380 Headwords

CEFR: A1

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Festivals Rip Van Winkle

Level 2

580 Headwords

CEFR: A2

Great Navigators The Monkey’s Paw Sherlock Holmes: The Yellow Band

Level 3

800 Headwords

CEFR: A2

The Black Cat and Other Stories Oceans The Ransom of Red Chief and Other Stories

Level 4

1000 Headwords

CEFR: B1

The Call of the Wild Climate Change Robinson Crusoe

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Profile for Editora FTD

3 ANO - THE BLACK CAT ANDE OTHER STORIES - STANDFOR  

3 ANO - THE BLACK CAT ANDE OTHER STORIES - STANDFOR  

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