Mr Mint (Chapter 3)

‘PEEEEEEeeeeppp!’

Tommy jumped out of the way – just in time: the taxi missed him by a metre.

‘Hey, you stupid kid!’ shouted the driver, his red face sticking out of its window. ‘I nearly hit you!’

‘Sorry,’ said Tommy. ‘I was…’

‘If you aren’t careful, you’ll wake up in hospital!’

‘I didn’t see you,’ Tommy said.

‘You didn’t look!’ said the taxi driver. ‘What’s the matter with you anyway?’

Tommy said nothing. There were lots of things were worrying him – running away from a crime and the police chasing him were just two! He stood there silently.

The taxi driver shook his head. ‘Next time, just be careful. Okay?’

‘Okay,’ said Tommy and the taxi began to move away. ‘Kids! What do their parents teach them, eh?’ he heard the driver say to someone. The taxi went past and Tommy’s mouth fell open: the passenger in the back seat of the taxi was the old lady!

‘Hey!’ called Tommy, ‘Come back.’ But it was too late. The lights were at green and the taxi was already half way up the street.

What’s going on? Why was she in the taxi? Why wasn’t she in the police station? Tommy kept his eyes on the taxi, following it as it went through the traffic. A few minutes later, it stopped at the King’s Hotel – the best and most expensive in town.

Immediately, Tommy began running. He was in the town’s busiest street and there were crowds of people enjoying their shopping in the summer sun. As fast as he could, he went through the people and past the shops, but then began to slow down. The third last shop on the other side of the road was his father’s gallery. As he came nearer, he looked across at its large windows and the name ‘WINTERBURN’S’ in gold letters above them. Perhaps his father was watching! Tommy hid behind a group of tourists. Following them all the way to the hotel, he stopped when he was outside it and looked in.

Inside the hotel, a man at a desk was smiling and giving the old lady a key. Tommy couldn’t see the suitcase. Where were the police? Why did no one call them? He didn’t understand. ‘Now what do I do?’ he asked himself. ‘Wait and see’ was his only answer.

Next to the hotel, on the same side of the road as his father’s gallery, there was a coffee shop. Tommy was hungry and he needed somewhere to wait. Soon, he was sitting outside in the sun with a sandwich in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other and his iPod in his ears, waiting and watching.

Over an hour went past. Taxis arrived and left every minute from the hotel and twice Tommy thought he saw the old lady, but twice it was someone different. ‘How long is this going to take?’ he thought. He looked at the money he had: not enough for another coffee. He was about to stand up when an old man came out of the hotel and began walking along the street. He wore a dark green suit, and a green shirt and tie. Tommy sat down, but he didn’t take his eyes off the man. There was something strange about him. Something…Just then, the old man stopped and looked hard at Tommy before walking quickly away.

Tommy jumped to his feet. The old man’s eyes – one green eye, one brown – and that green suit! Was it true? There was no other way to explain it: the old woman was now an old man –and that old man was now opening the door to WINTERBURN’S Gallery.

 

Glossary words

A gallery (n) – a shop that sells paintings

Tourists (n) – people on holiday

Mr Mint (Ch2)

The old lady found her other bag and looked out the train window. What was happening? Why was there a big crowd? Where was that tall boy with the brown hair? Quickly, she got off the train.

As soon as she put her foot on the platform, a policeman moved towards her.

‘Excuse me. Did you leave a suitcase on the platform?’ he asked.

She looked for her suitcase and saw it behind some people’s legs.

‘Yes, I left it with…’

‘Is that it over there?’ asked the policeman.

‘Yes,’ answered the old lady, ‘It is. But I don’t understand. Why…?’

‘I’m sorry, but I must ask you to open it.’

The old lady looked at the faces of the people who were looking at her. Some of them looked excited, some of them afraid.

‘But what is all this about?’

‘Would you please open your suitcase. Now!’ said the policeman. He looked angry.

‘Yes, of course,’ said the old lady. The people in the crowd moved to the side and made a road for her through them. That was when she saw it: red all over the platform. And the it was coming from her suitcase.

‘Oh!’ she said in a small voice.

‘Who was the boy that was watching your suitcase?’ asked the policeman, standing close to her. She could hear the words ‘train station’ and ‘blood’ coming out of his radio.

‘…Sorry, what?’ she asked.

‘The boy that ran away,’ said the policeman. ‘Who was he?’

‘His name was Tommy. I asked him to look after my suitcase while I got my other bag. You see, I left my small bag on the train.’ She held up a small, brown bag. ‘I didn’t want to carry my heavy suitcase into the train again, and I didn’t want to leave it on the platform.’

‘This boy – Tommy – ran away when he saw me coming,’ said the policeman.

‘He helped me with my suitcase – that’s all I know about him. Perhaps he ran away because he was afraid of you.’

‘Hmm’ said the policeman. ‘Open your suitcase.’

The old lady brought out a key from her small bag and put it into the suitcase’s lock.

She turned the key and the suitcase fell open. Inside, there were lots and lots of paints – and paper too.

‘You see,’ said the old lady, ‘I’m an artist and I use all of these colours to make pictures. But look at the red. It’s everywhere! Oh dear!’

Suddenly, someone in the crowd began to laugh, then another person and another. Soon everyone was laughing, the policeman too. In fact, he was laughing the loudest.

‘What’s happening?’ asked the old lady. ‘Why is everyone laughing?’

‘I’m so sorry,’ said the policeman, ‘this is all just a big mistake. We thought that the red paint was blood!’

‘Blood? My goodness! Did you all think I was a murderer?

‘I’m very sorry,’ said the policeman.

The old lady smiled, but then she remembered Tommy. ‘But what about Tommy? He must think the police want him!’

The policeman turned to the crowd. ‘Has anyone seen that boy? The one who ran away.’

But no one was interested. People turned away and began leaving the platform or getting on trains. There was nothing exciting to see: there was no blood; there was no murder; there was no dead body. The old lady was just an old lady with a suitcase full of red paint.

‘Sorry,’ said the policeman to the old lady. ‘But don’t worry – he’ll be fine.’

The old lady looked sad.

‘Let me carry your suitcase’ said the policeman, picking it up. ‘Do you live here?’

‘Thank you,’ said the old lady. ‘And no, I don’t live here. I’m just visiting. I am staying at the Kings Hotel in the centre of town.’

‘Well,’ said the policeman, ‘let’s find you a taxi.’

 

Glossary words

Paint (n) – We use this to make pictures. You can buy it in many colours.

An artist (n) – Someone who makes pictures/paintings.

Mr Mint (Chapter 1)

‘Oh, this suitcase is heavy!’

Tommy stopped walking and turned around. An old woman was still on the Tayworth to Dilling train, trying to push a suitcase out of the train’s door. She was wearing a green hat, a green dress and heavy green shoes. All around her, train doors were closing and people were walking along the platform, busy on their phones or talking to their friends, not looking at her.

But Tommy’s mother always told him to be kind to others. He walked back.

‘Excuse me. Can I help you?’ he asked the woman.

The old lady looked him through her thick glasses. Tommy saw that she had one green eye and one brown.

‘That is so kind of you…’ the old lady said.

‘I’ll pull and you push,’ said Tommy, climbing onto the train. He took hold of the suitcase and together they pushed and pulled it. ‘It’s heavy,’ thought Tommy. ‘What has she got in here?’ But soon they got it onto the platform.

‘Thank you so much. Er…What’s your name?’ asked the old lady.

‘Thomas, but just call me Tommy.’

‘Oh no!’ said the old lady, putting a hand to her mouth. ‘I think I left my other bag on the train. Can you watch my suitcase, Tommy?’

Tommy wasn’t in a hurry. ‘Sure,’ he said. ‘No problem.’

‘Oh, thank you so much,’ the old lady said. ‘I don’t want someone to steal it – there are so many thieves around these days!’

Tommy smiled. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘I’ll take care of it.’

Tommy watched her go inside the train again. He stuck his hands in his pockets. It was a sunny Saturday morning and he was just back from staying overnight at his uncle’s house in Tayworth.

‘THE NEXT TRAIN TO TAYWORTH WILL LEAVE FROM PLATFORM 4,’ said a oud voice and a crowd of people began pushing their way past Tommy. It was always the same: adults were always walking into him or telling him to watch out or get out of the way. He was fourteen years old – nearly an adult. He took out his iPod and chose one of his favourite songs. ‘I need some music while I…’

‘EEEeeeeeeeekkkkkk!

Tommy jumped in surprise, nearly dropping his iPod. A woman with a white face was looking at him. Others were too. ‘What’s the matter? What’s happening?’ he asked.

‘BLOOD!’ screamed the woman. ‘There’s blood coming from that suitcase!’

Tommy looked down: big red fingers of blood were moving slowly across the ground next to him.

‘It’s coming from his suitcase. It’s blood. It’s blood,’ the woman was shouting.

‘But…’ began Tommy.

‘OUT OF THE WAY!’ A policeman with a radio to his mouth shouted, pushing his way through the crowd that was now around Tommy.

‘But…’ continued Tommy.

‘CATCH HIM!’ called the policeman and two tall men tried to catch Tommy – but he was too fast.

Under their arms, then through some legs and down the platform Tommy went, running as fast as he could. No one could catch him and he didn’t look back.

 

Glossary words

A platform (n) = A place in a rail way station. Trains stop next to it.

An uncle (n) – your mother’s (or father’s) brother.

All about ‘Mr Mint’, our new story

We are starting a new story. It is called ‘Mr Mint’. Mr Mint is about a confidence trickster, or con artist. A con artist is someone who tricks others people in order to steal from them. The story has ten chapters and is for low-intermediate learners. We hope you enjoy it.

Fight with a Ghost (Ch10)

‘Whatever it is, it is up there,’ I said. ‘The question is, who is going up?’

George put his candle on the floor and stepped onto the ladder. It cracked beneath his weight. He stopped.

‘Come down,’ I said, ‘it will not hold you. I shall have to go.’

I had never been so frightened. I slowly climbed the ladder and pushed open the trap door. No sooner than I had opened the trap door than something fell – literally fell – on me from the darkness above. It kicked and spat and tore at me as I stood clinging onto the ladder. It lasted only a moment, but in that moment I lived a lifetime of terror. The ladder cracked and swayed below me and I fell with the thing gripping my throat like a vice. In the next instant, George had stunned it with a blow from the poker and dragged it off me. It lay upon its back on the floor – a ragged, hideous shape. And the mystery was solved.’

‘But you haven’t really told us what it was,’ said one of the listeners.

The doctor smiled.

‘It was the owner of the house,’ he replied. ‘He had not gone abroad. He had gone to a private lunatic asylum. A fortnight after this, he had escaped. After making his way to his former home, he had hid himself in the loft. It is only surprising that he did not kill someone before he was caught.’

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Chapter 9)

I took George by the arm and led him out of the room.

‘George,’ I said to him. ‘We must find out the reason for this at once. I am certain that I felt someone go past me on the stairs. Do those stairs lead to another place, apart from our rooms?’

George thought for a moment.

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘There is a door at the end of the passageway. It leads up to another room.’

‘Then we must explore it,’ I said. ‘I can’t go back to sleep until I get to the bottom of this. Get the butler to bring a light.’

Soon the butler arrived with a lantern. He looked as nervous as I felt. We began, the three of us. First, we searched the rooms above, where George and I slept. We found nothing unusual. Then we went down to the door at the end of the corridor. I pushed it open. A crazy looking staircase led up into the darkness. Slowly, we climbed the stairs. I went first, with the candle; then George, and last of all, the butler with the lantern. At the top of the stairs, we stepped into a large, low room. Our lights threw strange shadows but there was nothing to find: just a few large boxes, a roll of carpet, and some broken chairs. But in the far corner of the room, we saw an old ladder that led up to a trap door. Just then, I heard the half-groan, half-sigh again. We stood and looked at each other. We all heard the sound.

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch 8)

I tore the curtains apart and rushed into the next room. It was empty. The lamp was on and the door was open, just as George had left it. In the corridor outside, all was quiet. I came back into the study and found George was running his fingers through his hair with anxiety.

‘There is one person too many in the house. I think we should search the house and find out who it is,’ I said.

‘Alright,’ said George picking up the poker from the fireplace. ‘If it is anything made from flesh and blood then we will need this…’

Suddenly, an awful scream filled the house. I had never heard anything like it before and never want to hear anything like it again. For a moment, we stood staring at each other. Then George Carson ran out the room and down the corridor to the stairs. I followed him.

In the darkness, we ran down the stairs. But before I reached the landing below, where Miss Stonor’s room was, something brushed past me, just like the night before. I turned and made a grab for it as I ran. But my hand only gripped empty air. I was about to turn back and follow it when a cry from George stopped me. I looked down and saw him standing over the body of Miss Stonor. She was lying on the floor. I could see from the moonlight from her room window that she lay in her nightdress. The whole house was woken by her scream. We picked her up and got her into her bed. All the while, she was whispering the same words, over and over: ‘Oh, the face, the face!’

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch 7)

I turned the handle gently and opened my bedroom door. There was nothing to see in the corridor. But across the corridor, a door was open and I could see George’s head peeping out from behind it.

‘Hello,’ he said.

‘Hello,’ I replied.

‘Were you walking in the corridor just now?’ he asked.

‘No,’ I answered. ‘I thought it was you.’

‘Then who was it?’ he said. ‘I am sure I heard someone.’

We were silent for a moment; then he spoke again. ‘Come over here for a minute, I want to speak to you.’ I walked across the corridor and into the little study that joined his bedroom.

Inside George’s study, George poked the fire. ‘Do you think something strange is happening here in this house?’ he asked.

I said nothing.

George continued. ‘Every night, I hear footsteps out on the stairs…You have heard them, haven’t you?’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I have.’

George’s voice shook when he spoke. ‘A couple of nights ago, I saw a horrible face staring at me from between those curtains behind you. It was gone in a second, but I definitely saw it.’

‘Did you look in your bedroom or in the corridor?’

`Yes – right away,’ he replied. ‘There was nothing there, but twice later I heard footsteps…’ He suddenly stopped talking and sat up straight in his chair, staring straight over my shoulder. His face was bloodless.

‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘What’s the matter?’ I turned around in my chair to look at the curtains just as they dropped back into place.

‘I saw it again – the same face – staring at me from between the curtains!’ George stammered.

 

 

 

 

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch6)

I gave Mrs Carson the same prescription as Mrs Stonor. However, I decided not to tell George about the matter. I did not want to go back on my word to Mrs Carson or Miss Stonor. And my own experience on the stairs the night before had made me wary. But I was determined and I promised myself that the next day – which was Sunday – that I would not go to church. With the rest of them away, I would stay at home and explore the house. There was obviously a mystery and I wanted to try and clear it up.

We all sat up late that night. Everyone was reluctant to go to bed. But at last Mrs Carson got up and said ‘Goodnight’. She gave me a nod. Miss Stonor got out of her chair and both the ladies went upstairs. George and I parted company in the corridor above. Our rooms were opposite each other.

I did not get ready for bed at once but sat down and tried to come up with a theory about what was happening. But the more I thought about it the more confused I became. I was sure that I had put my hand on something very alive and extremely unpleasant the night before. The thought of it made me shudder. What living thing could possibly be creeping around the house at night? It was a man’s hand. Because of its size, I was sure of that. It wasn’t George Carson’s hand. That was out of the question because he was in his room all the time. Nor was old Mr Carson sneaking about his own house and refusing to answer. I did not feel comfortable at all and looked in all the cupboards and even under my own bed before I started to undress for bed. Then I went to my door to lock it. Just as I put my hand on the key I heard a soft step in the corridor outside. It was then followed by a sigh and a groan.

 

Our adaptation of A Fight With A Ghost (Ch5)

I put down my billiard cue and went over to Miss Stonor.

`Look, Miss Stonor,’ I said taking her hand, which was hot and feverish. `I am a doctor and a friend of George. Now tell me all about it, and I will do my best to sort it out.’

She was crying as she spoke. But she managed to tell me that every night since arriving at Woodcote she had been awakened in some mysterious way. She had seen a horrible face looking at her. As soon as she moved, the face would disappear. She believed the apparition only existed in her imagination, and this frightened her even more: she feared she was going mad.

I told her that she had a nervous disorder, and I promised that I would get her a prescription from the village. She told me not to tell anyone, especially George and she went away relieved. But I was not certain that I had made the correct diagnosis of her. You see I had been rather upset myself just hours before. George was away longer than I thought and I was going to go away and find him when I met Mrs Carson.

`Can you spare me a moment?’ she asked. `I want to speak to you, alone.’

`With pleasure, Mrs Carson,’ I replied. `Let’s speak an hour from now.’

`It is good to have a doctor in the house,’ she said with a nervous laugh. `Now I want you to prescribe me a sleeping pill. My nerves are out of order and I am not sleeping well.’

‘Do you see faces…and such things when you wake?’ I asked.

“How do you know?’ she asked quickly.

`We doctors notice and observe these things.’ I said.

‘I know you might think that I am mad but it is making me quite ill. It seems rather real to me. I didn’t want to mention it to Mr Carson or George in case they thought I was mad too.’

 

A Fight with a Ghost (Ch4)

I must admit, I was in a bit of a panic. It must have shown in my face.

‘What’s the matter?’ George asked, as I almost fell into his study.

‘Oh, nothing,’ I answered. ‘I dropped my candle and lost my way.’

‘But who were you talking to? ’

‘I was only cursing out loud because I dropped my candle, ‘ I lied.

‘Oh, I thought perhaps you had seen…somebody,’ replied George.

For some reason, I didn’t want to tell him the truth. I did not want him to laugh me. But I was determined to stay and have a complete rest.

That night, I woke up several times with the feeling of that cold hand under my own – a clammy hand which writhed its fingers under my own as my fingers closed upon it.

The next morning after breakfast, I was in the billiard room again practicing some shots and George Carson was over at the stables. The door opened and Miss Stonor looked in.

‘Come in,’ I said. ‘George will be back from the stables in a few minutes.’

‘I wanted to speak to you, ‘ she said.

She was looking very tired and ill and began to think I should not have had this holiday at all.

‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ she asked, closing the door and coming towards the billiard table. She stood leaning with both her hands upon it.

‘No,’ I replied, missing an easy shot as I remembered my experience on the stairs last night.

‘And, supposing that a person did believe in them and saw them, ‘ Miss Stonor paused, ‘Is there any cure?’

‘What do you mean, Miss Stonor?’ I asked, looking at her with some surprise. `Do you mean that you… ‘ I stopped because Miss Stonor turned away, sat down in one of the chairs, and burst into tears.

‘Oh, please help me,’ she cried. `I believe I am going mad!’

Our adaptation of ‘A Fight with a Ghost’ Chapter 3

The second night after my arrival – I remember, the rest of the family had all gone to bed – George and I retired to the study for a drink and a chat before bed. The study was upstairs and next to his bedroom. We sat down and I remembered that I had left my pipe in the billiard room. The house was now in darkness, so I lit a candle and made my way down through the house. The house looked weird in the flickering light of the candle and the stairs creaked in an awful way as I made my way down them. It sounded like someone was following me down them. I found my pipe where I had left it in the billiard room. I returned upstairs in more of a hurry than was needed and I stumbled on the stairs and dropped my candle. It went out. After a few moments, I found it, but I had no matches and I had to make my way along by feeling the cold wooden banister of the stair. It was so dark that I could not see my own hand. As I made my way slowly up the stairs, with my hand sliding along the cold smooth wood, it suddenly slid over something cold and clammy. I stopped dead and closed my fingers around it. It was another hand, a thin, bony hand that pulled itself slowly away from the grip of my own. And although I could see and hear nothing, I could feel something going past me on the stairs.

‘What’s that? Who are you?’ I called.

There was no answer.

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch2)

“The house was called ‘Woodcote’ and it was a nice place to look at. It was out in the country but not too far from the train station. It was quiet but not remote. The Carsons had been lucky. It was a very good house, bought at a good price. George had told me that the owner had taken unwell and he had moved abroad because of his poor health.

Over the years, the house had been repaired and other rooms had been added. A billiard room had been built out at the back of the house. This was very handy when the weather was bad and you could not go out. Attending that New Year at the house was George, his mum and dad, young Ms Carson and Miss Stonor, who now, of course, is Mrs Carson, and lastly, myself.

Now Miss Stonor should have been happy. George Carson was, apart from being a very nice fellow, wealthy and ambitious. But, it appeared to me that there was something on her mind because she looked nervous and restless. I saw that George had noticed this. He looked puzzled, and a couple of times I caught him watching Miss Stonor anxiously. But, there was no doctor there and I was not a doctor, so it was no business of mine. But I was to discover the reason for Miss Stonor’s anxiety before I left Woodcote. “

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Chapter 1) by Q.E.D

‘No, I have never believed in ghosts,’ said the doctor, `but I have always been afraid of them.’

‘Have you ever seen one?’ asked one of the other men.

The doctor took the cigar from his mouth and looked at it for a moment before replying. `I have had some rather strange and surprising experiences,’ he said. `Do you want to hear about one of them? It gives me the shivers just speaking about it.’

We all nodded. The doctor took a sip of his drink, shook his shoulders, and began:

`Do you remember George Carson who played for the University some years ago; a big chap with a light moustache? Well, I saw a lot of him before he got married. It was just after he got engaged to Miss Stonor, who is now Miss Carson, and he asked me to go down to a place that his people owned in the country. Miss Stonor was going to be there and I was to meet her. I could not go down on Christmas day because I wanted to be with my own family that day. However, I wanted a bit of a rest, and some time in the country sounded good, so I decided to go and see George for a couple of days around New Year.’

Final chapter of The Purple Pileus by H.G. Wells

‘Well one day, Jennie and her boyfriend came to my home,’ Mr Coombes told Tom. `We had a terrible row and after that, I came out here for a walk – it was a day just like this. I thought about what to do. Then I went back to the house and had another row!’

`Really?’ asked his brother Tom.

`Yes. I threw Jennie’s boyfriend out the house and smashed things about.’

`What did Mrs Coombes do?’

`Well, she ran up the stairs and locked herself in the bedroom.’

`And?’

`Well, I just told her. Now you know what I am like when I’m angry. And I never had to say one word more again.’

`And you have been happy ever after, eh?’

Mr Coombes thought for a second. `Yes,’ he said. ‘It has been better. If it hadn’t been for that afternoon…I’d be walking the roads right now. There’s nothing like putting your foot down. Now we’re alright and the business is doing well.’

`Good,’ said Tom. ‘I’m glad.’

They walked on together. But then Tom stopped. `What a lot of strange fungi there are here!’ he said, looking at the ground.

Mr Coombes looked down too. `I think they must be for some wise purpose,’ he said.

And that was the only thanks that the Purple Pileus ever got for waking up this absurd little man and changing his life forever.

Our adaptation of the Purple Pileus by H.G. Wells (Ch9)

Five years passed. Again it was a Sunday afternoon in October and again Mr Coombes was out walking by the canal. He was still the same man as before, and yet there was something different about him. He was thinner and he walked straighter, his overcoat was new as was his hat and gloves. He looked like a man who was happy with himself. Beside him, walked his brother Tom, just back from Australia.

`You have a very nice little business, Jim,’ said brother Tom. `In these hard days you have done well. And you are lucky to have a wife who is so happy to help you.’

`Between you and me,’ said Mr Coombes, `it wasn’t always like this. To begin with, she was not keen to help at all.’

`Really?’

Mr Coombes continued. `You would not think it, but at first she was very extravagant and always angry at me. I was a bit too loving, too gentle. She did what she wanted, always having her relations over and her girlfriends and their chaps. Comic songs on a Sunday, too. It was all getting too much and driving business away. I tell you Tom, the place wasn’t my own.’

`Dear, oh dear,’ said Tom, `I’m surprised.’

‘I tried to bargain with her. But she wouldn’t listen to me…She wouldn’t listen to my warnings.’

`So what happened?’ asked brother Tom.

Our adaptation of The Purple Plieus (Chapter 8)

The young man, Clarence, was a coward. He would not meet the fury in Mr Coombes’s eyes. Coombes rushed at him, fungi in hand. Jennie gave a shriek like a ghost and ran for the door, trying to escape. Mr Coombes followed her, but Clarence got in the way. With a crash, the tea table fell over as Coombes grabbed Clarence by the collar and tried to push the fungus into Clarence’s mouth. Clarence struggled free, happy to leave his collar in Mr Coombes’s hand as he escaped into the hall.

‘Run!’ Mrs Coombes cried. She wanted to shut the living room door, but her legs would not move. Jennie saw the shop door open at the back of the house. She ran in there and locked the door behind her. At the same time, Clarence ran into the kitchen, and Mrs Coombes ran upstairs and locked herself in the spare bedroom.

Standing in the hall, Mr Coombes hesitated. With a hat full of fungus under his arm, he considered where to go first. He decided on the kitchen. Clarence was still trying to lock the door. He heard Mr Coombes coming and ran for the back door. Mr Coombes caught Clarence before he could open the door to the yard. Mr Coombes told him that his face was a mess and dragged him to the kitchen sink and scrubbed his head under the tap with a hard black brush. After this, he gave Clarence his coat and Clarence was allowed to leave. Jennie was still locked in the shop, and she stayed there the rest of the evening.

Mr Coombes returned to the kitchen and drank the five bottles of beer that Mrs Coombes kept for ‘medical’ purposes. Then Mr Coombes ended that Sunday evening by having a long and peaceful sleep in the coal shed.

Our adaptation of the Purple Pileus by H. G. Wells (Ch7)

Something fell over in the shop; it sounded like a chair. Then there was the noise of steps, careful and deliberate, outside in the hall. A moment later, the living room door opened, and Mr Coombes appeared. But he looked different. His usually neat collar was undone, his velvet hat was upside down and was filled with strange fungi, and his coat was inside out and marked with grass. But it was his face that had changed the most. It was white as a sheet, his eyes were wild, and he was grinning from ear to ear.

‘A merry hello!’ Mr Coombes said, danced three steps into the room, and bowed.

‘Jim!’ cried Mrs Coombes, her mouth open wide in surprise.

`Tea!’ said Mr Coombes, `and toadstools too. A jolly thing!’

‘He’s drunk,’ said Jennie.

Mr Coombes held out a handful of the fungi to Mr Clarence, `Have some,’ he said. ‘It’s jolly good stuff,’ Mr Coombes said, sounding happy and relaxed. But a moment later, when he saw their shocked faces, his mood changed completely. `It is my house!’ he yelled furiously, ‘I am master here and you will eat what I give you!’

He stood in the middle of the room and stared at them. In his outstretched hand, the red and yellow fungi lay.

Our adaptation of The Purple Pileus by H.G. Wells (Ch6)

Mr Coombes laughed at the sudden happiness he felt. Was he dull? If so, he would not be dull any longer! Unsteadily, he stood up and looked at the world around him with a smile on his face. He began to remember. He had been disagreeable at home earlier because they wanted to be happy. But they were right and I was wrong; life should be as happy as possible. I’ll go home and be less grumpy, he thought. And I’ll take some of this fungus. In fact, I’ll fill my hat with it! So he did. And when his hat was full, he walked off, singing and looking forward to a happy evening…

 

*

The three of them – Mr Clarence, Mrs Coombes, and Jenny – were sitting around the fire, looking miserable.

‘You see what I have to put up with, Mr Clarence,’ said Mrs Coombes angrily.

‘He is a bit hasty,’ replied Mr Clarence.

‘All he cares about is his old shop. And if I buy myself something to make myself look nice or spend some of the housekeeping money or have a bit of company, there is an argument. He lies awake at night worrying about money and how to make me do without.’

‘If a man appreciates a woman,’ Mr Clarence said, ‘he must make sacrifices for her.’

‘I agree,’ said Jennie.

‘I should not have married him,’ said Mrs Coombes. A silence fell. Eventually Mrs Coombes got up and made some tea. When she came back, she heard a key turn in the door. Mr Coombes had returned.

‘Here is my Lord and master,’ said Mrs Coombes, sarcastically. ‘He went out like a lion but comes back like a lamb. Just you wait and see.’