Active vocabulary

1 ruthless



2 closet

3 belongings

, ,

4 inviting


, ,

5 to act (in the right way, in the wrong way, quickly, foolishly, etc.)



6 caretaker

, , ,

7 you wrong me

8 to uncork

9 an antidote

10 revenge

to take revenge on somebody

in revenge





, ;



11 to approve (of)




12 harshly



13 to interfere in somebodys affairs


14 to suspect something, somebody (of something, of doing something)

-, - ( -)

-, - ( -)

15 rat poison

16 to betray

his voice betrayed him






, , ;


, ;


17 (im)patient



18 point


, ,

19 to convince somebody of something;

to persuade somebody to do something

- -;

, -

- -, -;

, - -

20 to know something from experience



21 to deserve something



22 to stumble

23 to lose consciousness;

to recover




24 to obey somebody, something;



-, -;

-, -, -;


I Read the text in parts and answer the questions.


(After W. De Mille)

Judson Webb entered the living-room of his mountain camp and crossed to a closet set in the wall. It was his special closet and in it he kept guns, fishing-rods and wine. Not even his wife was allowed to have a key, for Judson Webb valued his personal belongings and got very angry when they were touched by any hand but his own.

The closet door stood open; he had been packing his things away for the winter, and in a few minutes would be driing back to civilization.

As he looked at the shelf on which the wine stood his smile was not attractive. All the bottles were unopened except one which was placed invitingly in front. There was a whiskey glass by its side. This bottle was less than half full. As he took it from the shelf his wife, Marcia, spoke from the bedroom.

Im all packed, Judson. Hasnt Alec come to get the keys?

Alec lived about a mile down the road and acted as caretaker when they were away.

Marcia came into the room carrying her suitcase. She paused in surprise as she saw the bottle in her husbands hand.

Judson, she exclaimed, you are not taking a drink at ten oclock in the morning?

You wrong me, my dear, he replied. Im not taking anything out of the bottle. On the contrary, I am putting something into it.

His closed hand opened and he put upon the table two small white tablets as he started to uncork the whiskey.

Whoever broke into my closet last winter and stole my wine will probably try it again once we are out of here, he went on, only this time hell wish he hadnt.

She watched him drop the tablets into the bottle and began to guess what he intended to do.

What are they? Something to make him sick?

And how, he exclaimed. At least no one has found an antidote. He corked his bottled revenge and set it back on the shelf beside the little whiskey glass.

Everything nice and handy, he remarked approvingly. Now, Mr. Thief, when you break in, drink heartily.

Dont do it, Judson, she said, If somebody had really broken in, he would have taken something more valuable. You may have opened the bottle yourself, you just forgot it.

Not me, he said harshly. Somebody did break in

The womans face grew pale. She knew that he was stubborn and hard to deal with both in everyday life and in business and hated it when somebody interfered in his affairs. But she never suspected that he could be so cruel.

But its horrible, its murder, a crime, she said.

The law wouldnt call it murder if I shot a thief entering my house by force. Also the use of rat poison is quite legal. The only way one can get into this closet is to break in. What happens then is his own affair, not mine.

Dont do it, Judson, she begged. Her voice betrayed excitement. The law doesnt punish robbery by death. What right have you?

When it comes to protecting my property, I make my own laws, he said impatiently.

But all they did was to steal a little wine, she insisted.

Thats not the point, he said. If a man holds me up and robs me of five dollars it makes me just as angry as if he had taken a hundred. A thief is a thief.

She made one last effort. We are not likely to come here till next spring. I cant bear to think of a death trap waiting there all the time. Supposing something happens to us and no one knows ...

If I drop dead, you can do as you please. The bottle will be yours.

He was impossible to convince. There was no use trying to persuade him to give up his intentions. She knew it from experience. But the crime had to be prevented.

Ill walk down the road and say good-bye at the farmhouse, she said quietly. You can pick me up there. She had made up her mind to tell Alecs wife. Someone had to know.

Okay, my dear, he smiled, and dont worry about your poor, little thief. He will get what he deserves.

As Marcia went down the road, Judson started to close the closet door. Then he paused as he remembered his hunting boots drying outside on the porch. They belonged in the closet, so leaving the door open he went to fetch them from a heavy table on which they stood, along with his bag and coat.

Alec was coming up from the river and waved to him from a distance. Judson, reaching for his boots, stepped on the acorn and as he fell his head struck the massive table. He lost consciousness.

Several minutes later he began to come to.

Alecs strong arm was supporting him as he lay on the porch and a kind voice was saying: Here, take this, itll pull you together.

A small whiskey glass was pressed to his lips. Half conscious, he obeyed and drank the whiskey.

I 1. Why had Judson been packing his things?

2. Where was he going?

3. When was he to leave his mountain camp?

4. What did he keep in his closet?

5. Why didnt he allow his wife to have the key to his closet?

II 1. What did Judson discover as he opened the closet?

2. What was Alec?

3. Why was Marcia surprised when she saw the bottle in her husbands hand?

III 1. What was Judson Webb putting into the bottle?

2. Why did his wife get so much worried?

3. What did Judson Webb intend to do?

4. Did Marcia approve or disapprove of his plan?

IV 1. Was Judson easy or difficult to deal with?

2. Did he like or did he hate it when somebody interfered in his affairs?

3. Was he kind or cruel?

4. Why did Judson Webb think that what he was doing was quite legal?

5. What poison did Judson put into the bottle?

6. Is the use of rat poison legal or illegal?

V 1. What did Marcia ask husband not to do? Why?

2. How did Judson Webb try to justify his action?

3. What made him so angry?

4. Did Marcia manage or fail to persuade Judson to give up his plan?

5. Why didnt she manage to persuade him to give up his plan?

VI 1. Was Judson Webb easy or hard to convince?

2. How did Marcia intend to prevent the crime?

3. Why did she go to the farmhouse?

4. Who lived in the farmhouse?

VII 1. How did Judson Webb happen to fall down?

2. Why did he faint?

3. What did Alec give him to drink?

4. What happened to Judson Webb?

5. Did he deserve the punishment?

Exercise 1. Correct wrong statements. Begin your sentences with On the contrary, Nothing of the kind, I cant agree, Rubbish, I wouldnt say that, Its absurd to say.

1. Judson Webb was a kind-hearted man.

2. Judson Webb wanted to spare the thief.

3. His wife tried to persuade him to put poison into bottle.

4. The Webbs had just arrived at the camp and were unpacking their things.

5. His wife didnt want anyone to know about the poison.

6. Judson Webb didnt deserve the punishment he got.

Exercise 2. Finish the sentences.

1. When Judson Webb opened the closet he discovered

that ...

2. He put poison into the bottle because he wanted ...

3. His wife told him not to put poison into the bottle as ...

4. His wife didnt manage to persuade him to give up his plan as he was ...

5. Judson Webb was difficult to deal with thats why his wife

6. Judson Webb drank the poisoned whiskey because

Alec ...

7. Judson Webb had no right to punish the thief like this because stealing whiskey is not ...

Exercise 3. Finish the sentences by choosing a word or a phrase from those given in brackets.

1. Judson Webb was ... (kind-hearted; cruel; ruthless; hard to deal with; impossible to convince)

2. When he opened the closet he discovered that ... (his gun had been stolen; his finishing-rod was missing; one of the bottles of whiskey was only half full)

3. When he saw that somebody had stolen his whiskey he ... (didnt pay attention to it; decided to punish the thief; told his wife about it)

4. Judson Webbs wife ... (supported his plan; tried to prevent the crime; told him to put some poison into the bottle)

5. Judson Webb lost consciousness because he ... (fell down and struck his head against the table; was running a high temperature)

6. he drank the poisoned whiskey because he ... (was thirsty, was half conscious)

1. Comment on the title of the text.

2. How would you act if you were in that situation?

3. What was the authors intention when he gave this title?

Act out the conversation between Judson Webb and his wife.