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Fiction Passages

Passage 1

Prometheus was one of the Titans, the giants who warred against the gods. He was known for being tricky, and when he saw the Titans were losing the war, he switched over to the gods’ side to avoid punishment. But he was also the protector of mankind, and he used his wiles to help those poor, defenseless creatures who lacked fangs or claws.

He saw that humans were sacrificing their best cattle to the gods, and he decided to do something to help them. He asked the chief god, Zeus to choose between two sacrificial offerings. One was wrapped in delicious-looking fat, but inside it contained only beef bones. The other was wrapped in a disgusting-looking beef stomach, but inside was delicious meat. Not knowing what was inside the offerings, Zeus chose the one filled with worthless bones. From then on, at their sacrifices, the people ate the meat and the gods could only savor the smoke that rose to their home.

To punish mankind, Zeus in his anger hid the secret of fire from them. But Prometheus stole fire back and returned it to the humans. More enraged than ever, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock on a far-off mountain and commanded an eagle to peck at Prometheus’s liver every day. Titans were immortal, so every night Prometheus’s liver healed, only to be pecked at again the next day, for countless years, until the great hero Hercules arrived and killed the eagle.

Passage 2

We had one of the wounded men told off to keep a watch upon the seas and cry us warning. Well, we had the boat about ready to be launched, when this man sang out pretty shrill: “For God’s sake, hold on!” We knew by his tone that it was something more than ordinary; and sure enough, there followed a sea so huge that it lifted the brig right up and canted her over on her beam. Whether the cry came too late, or my hold was too weak, I know not; but at the sudden tilting of the ship I was cast clean over the bulwarks into the sea.

I went down, and drank my fill, and then came up, and got a blink of the moon, and then down again. They say a man sinks a third time for good. I cannot be made like other folk, then; for I would not like to write how often I went down, or how often I came up again. All the while, I was being hurled along, and beaten upon and choked, and then swallowed whole; and the thing was so distracting to my wits, that I was neither sorry nor afraid.

Presently, I found I was holding to a spar, which helped me somewhat. And then all of a sudden I was in quiet water, and began to come to myself.

Passage 3

One Thursday evening Nancy left the store and turned across Sixth Avenue westward to the laundry. She was expected to go with Lou and Dan to a musical comedy.

Dan was just coming out of the laundry when she arrived. There was a queer, strained look on his face.

"I thought I would drop around to see if they had heard from her," he said.

"Heard from who?" asked Nancy. "Isn't Lou there?"

"I thought you knew," said Dan. "She hasn't been here or at the house where she lived since Monday. She moved all her things from there. She told one of the girls in the laundry she might be going to Europe."

"Hasn't anybody seen her anywhere?" asked Nancy.

Dan looked at her with his jaws set grimly, and a steely gleam in his steady gray eyes.

"They told me in the laundry," he said, harshly, "that they saw her pass yesterday—in an automobile. With one of the millionaires, I suppose, that you and Lou were forever busying your brains about."

Passage 4

Montmorency’s ambition in life is to get in the way and be sworn at. If he can squirm in anywhere where he particularly is not wanted, and be a perfect nuisance, and make people mad, and have things thrown at his head, then he feels his day has not been wasted.

To get somebody to stumble over him, and curse him steadily for an hour, is his highest aim and object; and, when he has succeeded in accomplishing this, his conceit becomes quite unbearable.

He came and sat down on things, just when they were wanted to be packed; and he labored under the fixed belief that, whenever Harris or George reached out their hand for anything, it was his cold, damp nose that they wanted. He put his leg into the jam, and he worried the teaspoons, and he pretended that the lemons were rats, and got into the hamper and killed three of them before Harris could land him with the frying-pan.

Harris said I encouraged him. I didn’t encourage him. A dog like that don’t want any encouragement.

Passage 5

“Robbery!” whispered the boy, pointing, in high delight, to the empty box.

“You were told to wait down-stairs,” I said. “Go away!”

“And Murder!” added Gooseberry, pointing, with a keener relish still, to the man on the bed.

There was something so hideous in the boy’s enjoyment of the horror of the scene, that I took him by the two shoulders and put him out of the room.

At the moment when I crossed the threshold of the door, I heard Sergeant Cuff’s voice, asking where I was. He met me, as I returned into the room, and forced me to go back with him to the bedside.

“Mr. Blake!” he said. “Look at the man’s face. It is a face disguised—and here’s a proof of it!”

He traced with his finger a thin line of livid white, running backward from the dead man’s forehead, between the swarthy complexion, and the slightly-disturbed black hair. “Let’s see what is under this,” said the Sergeant, suddenly seizing the black hair, with a firm grip of his hand.


Source: Fiction Passages
Retold by Richard Cohen, Exploros, Inc. CC BY-SA 4.0
By Robert Louis Stevenson, Gutenberg.org, Public Domain
By O. Henry, from The Trimmed Lamp, Gutenberg.org, Public Domain
By Jerome K. Jerome, Gutenberg.org, Public Domain
By Wilkie Collins, Gutenberg.org, Public Domain

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