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Good memories are the most precious of our treasures. They remain with us all our lives, like favourite books to be plucked down and enjoyed. But sometimes an otherwise marvellous memory brings guilt and uncertainty. This happened to me. The experience goes back 36 years to my childhood in rural Virginia.

In those soft days so long ago, my closest friends were Lou Coles and her ten children. They lived in a log cabin Within hollering distance of our house. I especially liked Louis Coles and two of his brothers. Every day we would holler back and forth urgently discussing our plans.

Lou Coles was a stout woman who usually kept her head wrapped in a kerchief. The Coles cabin had two small rooms downstairs and one upstairs. It sat on a hill among large shade trees, surrounded by acres of cow pasture. I suppose I loved the Coleses as dearly as I did my own little sister. To me, their lives seemed idyllic, even though the bigger children spent long days labouring in the tobacco fields. Their water came from a hand-dug well and their light from kerosene lamps. But there was a warmth about their lives that I longed to share — and did.

The cabin had an aroma to it that I suspect has vanished from the earth forever. Even in summer, the stove was going most of the day, as old Lou boiled and simmered and fried food for the table.

It was my good fortune to have an extraordinary mother who allowed me to spend plenty of time with the Coleses—though, in reality, she couldn't have kept us apart. She gave the Coles boys strict orders to make me take turns, share everything and act nice. In this respect, our lives seemed equal. My special friend was Louis, for he was closest to my age. The palms of his black hands were light, and I remember — that summer in the South in 1948 _ telling him the old Uncle Remus fable: Once upon a time all humanity was black. Word spread that there was a special pond in which the black could be washed off. But by the time the laziest people reached the pond, there was only enough water to wash off the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet. «And that,» I explained to Louis as we waded in the creek chasing crawfish, «is why I'm white all over and you're not.» And Louis cheerfully agreed.

Test № 12

I. Определите, верны (True) или неверны (False)следую­щие утверждения.

1. 36 years ago the author lived in the countryside in Virginia.

2. The author loved the Coleses family because he was an only child.

3. The author and Louis were almost the same age.

4. The author's mother wanted to keep her son apart from the Coleses but she couldn't.

II. Ответьте на следующие вопросы.

1. What kind of house did the Coleses live in?

2. Why did the author love the Coleses family?

3. Why does the author feel guilty?

4. When did the author tell Louis the old Uncle Remus fable?

ill. Исправьте предложения в соответствии с содержани­ем текста.

1. Old Lou Coles cooked food on the stove only in winter.

2. Louis cried when the author told him the fable.


Прочитайте текст два раза и выполните следующие задания.

One Saturday in September 1985,1 was at my desk when the telephone rang. «My name is Louis Coles,» a voice said. «I don't know if you remember me, but...»

«Louis!» I exclaimed, my eyes brimming with tears. «How can you ask if I remember you? I've been thinking about you for thirty years!»

Louis explained that I had been a constant fixture in his memory, that he had often wanted to seek me out. We repeated the same things, asked the same questions, and I laughed as our memories mingled.11 learned that for the past 21 years Louis has worked at Glassboro State College in New Jersey. Louis' wife, Brenda, has worked for Mobil Oil. They have two children, and own a house on a gentle hill in the country.

Louis reported that his brothers and sisters are doing well too. They are happily settled in different spots from Virginia to New York — all working and most with families.

A few weeks later, Louis and I got together in Chatham. More than six feet tall, Louis is an affable2 man, with the same energetic spontaneity he had as a child. We began to talk quietly of serious things — racism, black poverty and the old segregationist South. It was clear that we both understood how profoundly wrong the old way was, yet Louis insisted that as a child he never felt the bite of racism. I mentioned how we used to go to the movies and be separated at the door. Didn't that bother him? «Why would it, Henry?» I could sense a hidden grin. «The movies I saw were always better than the ones you saw!»

But I was still puzzled about how his home could be so important to Louis. What had he found here that could fuel his life with happiness and success?

«The most important thing came from my mamma,» he said. «She taught all of us that people are going to treat you just like you treat them. And that's all I've ever done. When you understand that, it makes it really easy to get along in life.» He brushed a tear from his eye.

1 to mingle—смешиваться

2 affable—приветливый

Test № 13

I. Определите, верны (True) или неверны (False) следую­щие утверждения.

1. Henry and Louis Coles had not seen each other for 30 years.

2. Henry and Louis had the same memories.

3. Louis's brothers and sisters were all married.

4. Louis was not bothered by racism when he was a child.

II. Ответьте на следующие вопросы.

1. What did Henry learn about Louis when they talked over the telephone?

2. When did Louis and Henry get together in Chatham?

3. What was the author's impression of Louis when he saw him in Chatham?

4. What had helped to fill Louis's life with happiness and success?

III. Исправьте предложения в соответствии с содержани­ем текста.

1. Louis had worked at a college in New Jersey for the past 10 years.

2. All Louis's brothers and sisters were settled in the same town.


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