by Akhmetzyanova Landysh
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It was cold. The snow was falling. And the wind was howling outside the tent. The night was white but full of danger. Everything there seemed to be expecting his death. The mountains seemed the worst but at the same time the best place to be in. Nothing can compare to the beauty of it, the feeling of freedom and physical challenge that makes you feel alive. But now he was lost. His horse was outside tired and trying to have some rest. And although he was tired himself and would prefer to sleep, he couldn’t. They had enough food for four or five days. Thank God, water wasn’t a problem in this place. Mountains are never your friends, no matter how beautiful they are.
The light of the dawning sun started to enter the tent. He packed the little things he had and they continued their endless walk in search of a village, a good road and people. He was sure they moved in the right direction – thanks to modern technology. He wondered if somebody had already sent a helicopter after him, if people were looking for him, if his relatives and friends were panicking because he had disappeared. If so, he would be found and taken home in no time. He hoped so. But the nature seemed to have different plans for him. All he saw during the last three days after he had lost the rest of the group was mountains. It was more and more difficult to walk not only for the horse but also for the human himself. He checked and rechecked his GPS, everything worked fine, but the surroundings became wilder and wilder. Sometimes he thought that maybe instead of coming closer to the villages he went farther and farther from them. The weather changed all the time. It rained and snowed, then the sun came up, and then the rain started again. It was tough. His only companion was his horse. He called it Sugar.
“It was a bad idea to give you a name,“ he said. “You don’t name your food. And face it - it’s a possibility, Sugar.”
That night the storm had risen. The man and the horse found a cave where they could spend the night. The fire made funny shadows dance on the walls. The dinner consisted of two pieces of bread and dried meat. It’d been a week since he last had a cup of coffee. And somehow it seemed to be a bigger problem for him than the overall lack of food. “Stay optimistic,” he said. He had started to talk to himself and to Sugar a lot recently. “Help is coming. Soon you will have so much coffee, that you will be able to drown in it.” With such thoughts the man prepared his makeshift bed. All of a sudden something cracked under his feet. The man looked down and saw that he had stepped on a small mirror that he had been carrying around. He threw it away and went to bed. The young man dreamt about the city, its streets and crowds. He saw faces, some of them were familiar and some were unknown. And in his dream he heard the loud cry of a crow. Suddenly something pinched his arm and made him wake up. The sound of the crow did not disappear though. There looking down on him was an old man. He had a long beard and grey robes. A black crow was sitting on his shoulder.
“Who are you?” asked the young man. He didn’t feel scared, maybe because he was still tired and sleepy and thought it was nothing but a dream. The stranger didn’t answer. Instead he turned around and went down the cave away from the entrance. Our hero stood up, looked at his poor horse, at the view of the small valley that opened from the cave and the night sky full of stars, and followed the old man.
The darkness covered him like a blanket. He wouldn’t possibly be able to know his way if it weren’t for the sound of the stranger’s steps. From time to time the crow cried out, as if telling the young man to hurry up. They had been walking for a long time when he finally saw an exit. Beyond stretched a valley. Its hills were silver under the light of stars. Fog covered the ground.
The young man approached the stranger who was looking over at the hills. He looked around but there was nothing there except for the vast emptiness. The stranger turned his expressionless face to him. He said nothing. Instead he gently placed the black crow on the young man’s shoulder and motioned them away.
“I…” started the young man when he heard the crow whisper into his ear.
“Go,” it said. “Go. Look! And you will see them.”
He walked as if in a dream. The night was cobalt blue and gleaming. The grass had turned to ice and was crisping under his feet. They made their way along the narrow path. Black tentacles of dwarf trees and bushes covered the earth on either side of them.
“I don’t see anything,” said the young man. Then the big talking crow lifted her big black wings and sat on his forehead. It began to peck on his skin tearing it up. He tried to fend off the crow’s painful attacks but couldn’t. Through the hole on his forehead out gazed a black eye. Only then did the young man realize that there was something unusual about his surroundings. Small semitransparent creatures were floating in the air. They made no sound, but slowly moved like soap bubbles reflecting the moonlight.
“So, what do you say?” asked the crow.
“What are they?” demanded the young man.
“They are the dust,” replied the crow. “Your kind trapped them here and sealed off your world many ages ago.”
“Why?” wondered the young man.
“Because they were afraid,” answered the crow. “Afraid of things the dust can do.”
“What things?” asked the man.
“Have you ever wanted real magic to exist?” asked the crow in its turn. “Have you ever wondered if magic is real or if it has ever been real? What people now have is nothing compared to what they could have had. The power it gives. The stars you could reach, the people you could help, the problems you could solve. Your world is limited. This world has no limits. So what do you say?”
“You solve one problem and create another,” said the young man.
“Magic is bottomless,” replied the crow. “So what do you say?”
“It will be abused,” said the man.
“You can’t hold magic in leash. Once it is there, it is there for everyone. So what do you say?”
“What happened last time it was set free?”
“A mistake. So what do you say?”
For some time the young man contemplated the beautiful little creatures that filled the space around him. There were billions of them. He saw them float in frosty air glowing softly. They bumped into him, bounced off and gently flew away. Sometimes he thought they were the source of silence, for it was absolute. The young man opened his mouth to answer and then the blackness veiled his eyes.
He felt the pleasant warmth around his neck and woke up. Sugar was standing by his side breathing down on him. It was well past morning. The whiteness outside was almost unbearable. It had been snowing for several hours already. It was hard to make out the path, let alone the outline of the mountains. The young man had breakfast, packed his things and set off leaving behind his last night dreams and the mirror that was shining out among the rocks perfectly intact.
to expect – ожидать
challenge – вызов, испытание, сложная задача
to have rest - отдыхать
thanks to somebody/something – благодаря чему-либо, кому-либо
to look for something/somebody – искать что-либо, кого-либо
in no time – в миг, очень быстро
Face it – посмотри правде в глаза!
to face something – смотреть в лицо, встречать смело
to consist of something – состоять из чего-либо
sleepy - сонный
to turn around - повернуться
to hurry up – поторапливаться (Hurry up! – Поторопись! Скорее!)
to approach something – подойти к чему-либо, приблизиться
except for – за исключением
to wonder – гадать, хотеть знать, спрашивать себя
to contemplate - созерцать
to set off – отправляться в путь
to leave something behind – оставить что-либо позади
I. Match the words and their meanings:
- to expect
- except for
- thanks to
- to look for
- in no time
- to hurry
- to contemplate
- a demanding or stimulating situation
- to observe, to look at something thoughtfully
- to look forward to or be waiting for
- very quickly; almost instantaneously
- other than; apart from
- relaxation from exertion or labour
- to search for
- to speed up the completion; to rush
- inclined to or needing sleep
- because of, due to
II. Finish the sentences based on the plot of the story
- The young man didn't expect that...
- This freedom and physical challenge made him...
- He hoped that his friends were looking for him and...
- Face it. You shouldn't...
- In no time he will be...
- The young man approached...
- They contemplated...
- He set off for his journey leaving behind...
III. Use prepositions: on, at, in, about, to, for, in front of, around, under or no prepositions
- He could feel there was something strange ___ that man.
- He felt miserable ___ the day he lost his fellows.
- The crow sat ___ his forehead and began to peck on his skin.
- There was only emptiness ___ him.
- ___ the next day he set off for his journey.
- ___ them stretched a vast valley.
- There were no people except ___ two of them.
- The crow told him ___ the dust.
- He had been riding his horse alone ___ three days already.
- He wondered if people were looking ___ him.
- Thanks ___ modern technology he was sure about the direction he had to take.
- They will find me ___ no time!
- There was something unusual ______ his surroundings.
IV. Complete the sentences using the correct phrasal verb:
- hurry up
- turn around
- look down on
- set off
- leave behind
- He was a nasty and annoying man. He thought he was better than everyone else and ______ on us.
- "______" said Mike. "We are going to be late! Look at the time!"
- I made up my mind to go to Scotland and ______ all my bad thoughts and troubles.
- I heard the sound of steps and ______. There was a stranger walking behind me.
- We packed our bags, took some food and ______.
V. Open the brackets using Subjunctive mood
- If you (not/warn) yesterday, now they (expected) you to show up at their party.
- If they (be lost), we (look for) them.
- If you (be able) to face your problems like a man, you (not/be) in this situation now.
- If I (not/be) so tired and sleepy, I (throw) you out of my house!
- If you (not/hurry) then, I (go) to Jane's alone.
- She (like) it, if you (approach) her and (be) not afraid to talk about the issues you have.
- If there (not/be) that ugly house, I (contemplate) the marvelous view of the park from my balcony.
- You (see) us, if you (turn) around.
- It (be) a great challenge for you, if you (come) with us to that trip last year.
VI. Say whether the following sentences are true or false
- Mountains are full of danger, you cannot find any food or water when you're lost in them.
- He was badly prepared, had no food and no equipment, because all his things were left with the group.
- He started talking to himself and to his horse a lot.
- The surrounding landscape grew wilder and wilder.
- The young man missed hot tea the most.
- He woke up that night and saw no one.
- When the young man saw the valley he thought there was something strange about that place.
- The crow tried to persuade him.
- The young man admired the silent beauty of the unusual creatures.
- The next morning he continued his journey without any trouble.
VII. Answer the questions
- Did the hero of the story enjoy the beauty of the mountains?
- What was the weather like?
- What did he have with himself when he got lost?
- Why did the man decide to give a name to his horse?
- What did the man see in his dream when he stayed in the cave that night? Why?
- Why did the young man decide to follow the stranger into the darkness?
- What did the crow do to allow the man to see the dust?
- What do you think the crow wanted the young man to do?
- Do you think the man agreed? What did he open his mouth to say?
- Do you think he remembered what had happened?
- Why was the mirror intact?
VIII. Discussion points
How would you behave if you got lost? What would you do? Are you an optimist? Do you consider yourself a fighter?
Would you follow the stranger as this young man did? Why (not)?
If you got the similar offer, would you say yes?
Do you think it was a dream or reality? What happened in the end?