1. TO the little girl he was a figure to be feared and
avoided. Every morning before going to work he came
into her room and gave her a casual kiss, to which
she responded with “Goodbye, Father”. And oh,
there was a glad sense of relief when she heard the
noise of the carriage growing fainter and fainter
down the long road!
In the evening when he came home she stood
near the staircase and heard his loud voice in the
hall. “Bring my tea into the drawing-room... Hasn’t
the paper come yet? Mother, go and see if my paper’s
out there — and bring me my slippers.”
2. “Kezia,” Mother would call to her, “if you’re a
good girl you can come down and take off father’s
boots.” Slowly the girl would slip down the stairs,
more slowly still across the hall, and push open
the drawing-room door.
By that time he had his spectacles on and looked
at her over them in a way that was terrifying to
the little girl.
“Well, Kezia, hurry up and pull off these boots
and take them outside. Have you been a good
“I d-d-don’t know, Father.”
“You d-d-don’t know? If you stutter like that
Mother will have to take you to the doctor.”
3. She never stuttered with other people — had
quite given it up — but only with Father, because
then she was trying so hard to say the words
“What’s the matter? What are you looking so
wretched about? Mother, I wish you taught this child
not to appear on the brink of suicide... Here, Kezia,
carry my teacup back to the table carefully.”
He was so big — his hands and his neck,
especially his mouth when he yawned. Thinking
about him alone was like thinking about a giant.
4. On Sunday afternoons Grandmother sent her
down to the drawing-room to have a “nice talk with
Father and Mother”. But the little girl always found
Mother reading and Father stretched out on the
sofa, his handkerchief on his face, his feet on one
of the best cushions, sleeping soundly and snoring.
She sat on a stool, gravely watched him until he
woke and stretched, and asked the time — then
looked at her.
“Don’t stare so, Kezia. You look like a little
One day, when she was kept indoors with a cold,
her grandmother told her that father’s birthday was
next week, and suggested she should make him a
pin-cushion for a gift out of a beautiful piece of
5. Laboriously, with a double cotton, the little girl
stitched three sides. But what to fill it with? That
was the question. The grandmother was out in the
garden, and she wandered into Mother’s bedroom
to look for scraps. On the bed-table she discovered
a great many sheets of fine paper, gathered them
up, tore them into tiny pieces, and stuffed her case,
then sewed up the fourth side.
That night there was a hue and cry in the house.
Father’s great speech for the Port Authority had
been lost. Rooms were searched; servants
questioned. Finally Mother came into Kezia’s room.
Kezia, I suppose you didn’t see some papers on
a table in our room?
Oh yes,” she said, I tore them up for my
What!” screamed Mother. Come straight down
to the dining-room this instant.
6. And she was dragged down to where Father was
pacing to and fro, hands behind his back.
Well?” he said sharply.
He stopped and stared at the child.
Did you do that?
N-n-no”, she whispered.
Mother, go up to her room and fetch down the
damned thing — see that the child’s put to bed
7. Crying too much to explain, she lay in the
shadowed room watching the evening light make a
sad little pattern on the floor.
Then Father came into the room with a ruler in
I am going to beat you for this,” he said.
Oh, no, no”, she screamed, hiding under the
He pulled them aside.
Sit up,” he ordered, and hold out your hands.
You must be taught once and for all not to touch
what does not belong to you.
But it was for your b-b-birthday.
Down came the ruler on her little, pink palms.
8. Hours later, when Grandmother had
wrapped her in a shawl and rocked her in the
rocking-chair, the child clung to her soft body.
What did God make fathers for?” she sobbed.
Here’s a clean hanky, darling. Blow your nose.
Go to sleep, pet; you’ll forget all about it in the
morning. I tried to explain to Father but he was too
upset to listen tonight.
But the child never forgot. Next time she saw
him she quickly put both hands behind her back
and a red colour flew into her cheeks.
9. The Macdonalds lived next door. They had
five children. Looking through a gap in the fence
the little girl saw them playing ‘tag’ in the
evening. The father with the baby, Mao, on his
shoulders, two little girls hanging on to his coat
pockets ran round and round the flower-beds,
shaking with laughter. Once she saw the boys
turn the hose on him—and he tried to catch them
laughing all the time.
Then it was she decided there were different
sorts of fathers.
Suddenly, one day, Mother became ill, and she
and Grandmother went to hospital.
The little girl was left alone in the house with
Alice, the cook. That was all right in the daytime,
but while Alice was putting her bed she asked
10. "What’ll I do if I have a nightmare?” she asked.
I often have nightmares and then Grannie takes
me into her bed—I can’t stay in the dark—it all
You just go to sleep, child,” said Alice, pulling
off her socks, and don’t you scream and wake your
But the same old nightmare came — the butcher
with a knife and a rope, who came nearer and
nearer, smiling that dreadful smile, while she could
not move, could only stand still, crying out,
Grandma! Grandma!” She woke shivering to see
Father beside her bed, a candle in his hand.
What’s the matter?” he said.
11. Oh, a butcher — a knife — I want Grannie.”
He blew out the candle, bent down and caught up
the child in his arms, carrying her along the
passage to the big bedroom. A newspaper was on
the bed — a half-smoked cigar was near his readinglamp.
He put away the paper, threw the cigar into
the fireplace, then carefully tucked up the child.
He lay down beside her. Half asleep still, still with
the butcher’s smile all about her it seemed, she
crept close to him, snuggled her head under his
arm, held tightly to his shirt.
Then the dark did not matter; she lay still.
Here, rub your feet against my legs and get
them warm,” said Father.
12. Tired out, he slept before the little girl. A
funny feeling came over her. Poor Father, not so big,
after all — and with no one to look after him. He was
harder than Grandmother, but it was a nice
hardness. And every day he had to work and was too
tired to be a Mr Macdonald… She had torn up all his
beautiful writing… She stirred suddenly, and sighed.
What’s the matter?” asked her father. Another
Oh, ” said the little girl, my head’s on your heart.
I can hear it going. What a big heart you’ve got,
Rain on the Roof
When the sky is covered with dark clouds and it starts raining,
have you ever listened to the patter of soft rain on the roof ?
What thoughts flashed through your mind as you heard this
melody of nature? Read the poem to find out what the poet
dreamed of while listening to the rain.
Author: COATES KINNEY
When the humid shadows hover
Over all the starry spheres
And the melancholy darkness
Gently weeps in rainy tears,
What a bliss to press the pillow
Of a cottage-chamber bed
And lie listening to the patter
Of the soft rain overhead!
Every tinkle on the shingles
Has an echo in the heart;
And a thousand dreamy fancies
Into busy being start,
And a thousand recollections
Weave their air-threads into woof,
As I listen to the patter
Of the rain upon the roof.
Now in memory comes my mother,
As she used in years agone,
To regard the darling dreamers
Ere she left them till the dawn:
O! I feel her fond look on me
As I list to this refrain
Which is played upon the shingles
By the patter of the rain.
Online Lessons with Spoken text and correct pronounciation