A Mistake

Adapted from Saki (H.H. Munro)

Written on . Posted in Intermediate Reading.

Times viewed: 1140

Tagged with: Age 13-17, Intermediate Reading, Age 18+

Martin Stoner was tired and hungry. He walked slowly across the fields and he did not know where he wanted to go. Martin Stoner was not happy in his life. He had no friends, no money, no home.

Now he came up to the gate of a farm-house. It began to rain so he thought that perhaps he could stay here for the night. He knocked on the door and in a moment an old man stood before him.

"May I come in?" Martin asked.

"Come in, Master Tom," the old man said with a smile. "I have always been sure that you must come back sooner or later." Martin did not understand why the old man called him ‘Master Tom'.

"Sit down. I'll give you supper," the old man continued. Martin was very hungry so he sat the table at once.

"You haven't changed much," the old man said, and here everything is the same. I'll go and tell Aunt Ann that you have come. She doesn't want to see you, but I'm sure she will let you stay here."

With these words the old man left the room. Martin looked out of the window. The rain still continued. "I'm so lucky that I can stay here," he thought. He finished his food and waited for the old man. Soon he came back and spoke to Martin again.

"I was right. Aunt Ann doesn't want to see you, but she allows you to stay in the house." Perhaps you're tired. Let me show you your room. You'll see that nothing has changed here since you left. The farm is the same and it will be yours when Aunt Ann dies."

Martin got up from the table, thanked the old man for the supper and followed him out of the room. When he woke up in the morning he laughed. "I'm sure that the old man thinks I am somebody else," he told himself. "Perhaps I look very much like Master Tom. I think that I'll eat my breakfast now and then go away before they see their mistake."

When Martin came to the kitchen he found breakfast ready for him. "Would you like to have a ride after breakfast? I have a very good horse for you," the old man said. "But I have no clothes for a ride," Martin answered.

"Why, Master Tom, all you clothes are there - the same as you left them. Go for a ride, it will be good for you to stay in the open air for an hour. But be careful. People here have not forgotten the old story and all the bad things that you did then!"

All this seemed a dream to Martin. He did not understand anything. "What is ‘the old story' and what did Master Tom do? Why are the people of the village against him?" he thought. But he did not ask any questions. He went to his room and put on Master Tom's clothes and went for a ride. In the street Martin met a few boys and one of them shouted, "That's Master Tom! I recognize him at once. So he is here again!"

During his ride Martin noticed the angry looks of men and women. When he came back for dinner he sat down at the table and thought hard. "Perhaps it is foolish of me to stay here. Master Tom may come back home any moment," he told himself," at the same time I'd not like to go away. I live in a pleasant house and have all I want. Besides, I can work on the farm and help the old man. I must try to learn what the young man has done and why the people are so angry with me."

He spoke about it with the old man when they were on their way home from work. "Oh, yes, they are all against you," the old man said, "and they are right. It's a sad story, a very sad story."

Some time passed. It was an October cold evening when the old man came up and spoke to Martin. "Master Tom," he said, "you'd better go away from here. Michael Ley is back in the village. He is terribly angry with you and he will kill you if he meets you. And he will do it. Nobody can help you here. "

"But where shall I go?" asked Martin.

"Go to the nearest town and stay there for some time. I think Ley will go away soon. Then I will send you a letter."

"But I..."

"Don't worry about the money. Take this - Aunt Ann asked me to give it to you."

Martin knew that he was not going to come back again. But he was not sorry about it. All the same he could not stay with these people and play the role of another man all his life. He said good-bye to the old man and left the house at once.

He walked down the road that ran across the large field. Suddenly he saw a man with a gun who came from behind a tree. There was no need to ask the man his name. And Michael could shoot very well.

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