Tonya listens to the sea. She likes the noise. Then she hears something different.
‘Is it a baby crying?’ she thinks and looks up.
Ten metres in front of her is a big fin . . . a very big fin. Under the fin is a killer whale. The whale is making the noise. But it is not a baby – it is five metres long. Behind it is another whale. And another. And another.
‘Killer whales eat people. I am going to die,’ thinks Tonya.
The killer whales come nearer and nearer. Tonya can’t feel her legs. ‘It’s OK, they are cold. That’s all,’ she thinks. She starts to swim away from the big fins.
‘Help me!’ she shouts. ‘Help, help, help!’
The killer whales are all around her. She closes her eyes and waits.
‘Come in here!’ says Mike’s boss. He is angry – again.
Mike is a cameraman and he works for SFX News. His boss, Mr Frank, is angry with him. It is the second time this week.
Mike walks slowly into the office. He is in big trouble.
‘Close the door,’ says Mr Frank. There is a video in his hand.
‘This is bad,’ thinks Mike. ‘He doesn’t like my work.’
Mr Frank looks at Mike. ‘Are you a news cameraman?’ he asks.
‘Yes, of course,’ says Mike.
‘Well, this isn’t news.’ He throws the video at the door. ‘It’s…it’s…I have a three-year-old son. He can do better. Go away and find some news. I want a film that hits me here.’ Mr Frank puts his hand on his heart.
A big red car drives on a long, long road. In the car is a farmer, Bill. He is hot and tired. He wants to go home and have a bath.
Bill listens to the radio in his car and he sings. Bill likes singing. Sometimes people like Bill’s singing – but not very often.
He rubs his eyes. The sun is very hot and the road is long. Bill does not want to go to sleep so he sings some more. A kangaroo hears him and jumps away. Bill laughs, then rubs his eyes again.
Just then Bill sees something. Suddenly he is not tired and he is not laughing. The hair on his head stands up. There is something on the road.
He stops the car and gets out. The thing is a long way in front of Bill. He cannot see what it is – but he does not like it.
When the men begin to play again, Rip has a drink. He feels thirsty, so he drinks more and more.
Soon Rip is tired. His eyes close, and he goes to sleep.
When Rip opens his eyes, it’s a sunny morning. ‘Oh, no!’ he cries. ‘My wife doesn’t like me to sleep away from home!’
Rip remembers his night on the mountain. He stands up, but finds he can’t move very easily. And where is Wolf?
In the village, some children laugh at him. The building, the people and their clothes are all different. Rip feels afraid.
He finds his house – with no windows or door! And where are his wife and children? Rip doesn’t understand.
Just then, he put his hand to his face, and finds he has a long white beard!
Dorothy lived in a small house in Kansas, with Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, and a little black dog called Toto.
There were no trees and no hills in Kansas, and it was often very windy. Sometimes the wind came very fast and very suddenly. That was a cyclone, and it could blow trees and people and buildings away. There were cellars under all the houses. And when a cyclone came, people went down into their cellars and stayed there.
One day Uncle Henry came out and looked up at the sky. Then he ran quickly back into the house.
‘There’s a cyclone coming,’ he called to Aunt Em and Dorothy. ‘We must go down into the cellar!’
They ran to the door of the cellar, but Toto was afraid, and he ran under the bed. Dorothy ran after him.
‘Quick!’ shouted Aunt Em from the cellar. ‘Leave the dog and come down into the cellar!’
When Mr Crewe left London, he was very sad. Sara was very sad too, but she did not cry. She sat in her room and thought about her father on the ship back to India.
‘Father wants me to be happy,’ she said to her new doll. ‘I love him very much and I want to be a good daughter, so I must be happy.’
It was a very big, and very beautiful doll, but of course it could not answer.
Sara soon made new friends in the school. Some little rich girls are not very nice children – they think they are important because they have money and lots of expensive things. But Sara was different. She liked beautiful dresses and dolls, but she was more interested in people, and books, and telling stories.
A tear ran out of his eye and down the skin of his enormous, ugly face.
‘Dr Treves,’ he said, slowly. ‘You and the nurses are very kind, and I’m very happy here. Thank you very much. But... I know I can’t stay here long, and... I would like to live in a lighthouse, after the hospital, please. A lighthouse, or a home for blind people. I think those are the best places for me.’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Why?’
He did not look at me. He put the flower on the picture and looked at it carefully.
‘Lighthouses have sea all round them, don’t they?’ he said. ‘Nobody could look at me in a lighthouse, so I would be happy there. And blind people can see nothing, so they couldn’t see me, could they?’
The little swallow is dying from the cold, and he knows it. It isn’t easy for him, but he flies up and sits on the prince’s shoulder for the last time.
‘Goodbye, my Prince.’ he says quietly. ‘Can I kiss your hand?’
‘Ah, good. You’re going to Egypt, little Swallow. I’m happy about that,’ says the Prince. ‘It’s wrong of you to wait here any more. But kiss me on the mouth before you go.’
‘I’m not going to Egypt!’ replies the swallow. ‘I’m going to the house of the brother of sleep. I’m dying, you see.’
Then the little bird kisses the Happy Prince on the mouth … and at once he falls down dead at the statue’s feet.
Suddenly, there is a strange crack from the statue. The prince’s lead heart breaks in two.
It is truly a very cold winter that year.
In 1866, everyone was excited about one thing. There was a strange monster in the sea, people said. Different ships saw it at different times in the Atlantic and in the Pacific. It was very big, very long, and it moved very fast. It threw water up into the sky, too. Perhaps it was a whale? Of course, some people did not believe in the monster. But then, in 1867, some important ships had bad accidents. The worst of these accidents happened to a famous ship, the Scotia. After it hit something at the sea, the Scotia had a hole in it of two and a half metres! People said, ‘The monster did this! We must find it and kill it.’
Soapy was really angry now. He threw the umbrella away and said many bad things about policemen. Just because he wanted to go to prison, they did not want to send him there. He could do nothing wrong!
He began to walk back to Madison Square and home – his seat.
But on a quiet corner, Soapy suddenly stopped. Here, in the middle of the city, was a beautiful old church. Through one purple window he could see a soft light, and sweet music was coming from inside the church. The moon was high in the sky and everything was quiet. For a few seconds it was like a country church and Soapy remembered other, happier days. He thought of the days when he had a mother, and friends, and beautiful things in his life.
Then he thought about his life now – the empty days, the dead plans. And then a wonderful thing happened. Soapy decided to change his life and be a new man. ‘Tomorrow,’ he said to himself, ‘I'll go into town and find work. My life will be good again...’
It looked like a large animal to Alice, but it was only a mouse.
‘Shall I speak to it?’ thought Alice. ‘Everything’s very strange down here, so perhaps a mouse can talk.’
So she began: ‘Oh Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming, oh Mouse!’
The mouse looked at her with its little eyes, but it said nothing.
‘Perhaps it doesn’t understand English,’ thought Alice. ‘Perhaps it’s a French mouse.’ So she began again, and said in French: ‘Where is my cat?’
The mouse jumped half out of the water and looked at her angrily.
‘Oh, I'm so sorry!’ cried Alice quickly. ‘Of course, you don’t like cats, do you?’
‘Like cats?’ cried the mouse in a high, angry voice. ‘Does any mouse like cats?’
‘Well, perhaps not,’ Alice began kindly.
But the mouse was now swimming quickly away, and soon Alice was alone again. At last she found her way out of the pool and sat down on the ground. She felt very lonely and unhappy.
I went back twelve times, but soon after my twelfth visit there was another terrible storm. The next morning, when I looked out to sea, there was no ship.
When I saw that, I was very unhappy. ‘Why am I alive, and why are all my friends dead?’ I asked myself. ‘What will happen to me now, alone on this island without friends? How can I ever escape from it?’
Then I told myself that I was lucky – lucky to be alive, lucky to have food and tools, lucky to be young and strong. But I knew that my island was somewhere off the coast of South America. Ships did not often come down this coast, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be on this island for a long time.’ So, on a long piece of wood, I cut these words :
I CAME HERE ON 30TH SEPTEMBER 1659
After that, I decided to make a cut for each day.
I don’t know, my friends. Look at the world! How beautiful it is, the sun, the sky, the stars! But to me, it is empty and dead. What a piece of work is a man! How strong and clever, the greatest of God’s animals! But to me, man is uninteresting – and so is woman.
To be or not to be, that is the question: to go on living, fighting against this sea of troubles, or to die and end everything? Why be afraid of death? To die is to sleep, no more. Perhaps to dream? Yes, that’s the problem: in that sleep of death, what dreams will come?
The soldier walked on alone, taking his own road home. He did not think about the other soldiers, or about the war. He thought only about the long road back to his home.
‘Home,’ thought the soldier. ‘I know my home is at the end of this road. I just need to go on walking.’
The road felt hard under his boots, and the only sound was the noise of his boots on the road – tramp, tramp, tramp. He was tired and thirsty, and his mouth was dry as dust.
‘There’s no water,’ he thought. ‘Just dust. Dust in my mouth. Dust everywhere.’
Tramp, tramp, tramp went his boots.
‘Don’t stop walking,’ he told himself. ‘I can’t stop. I mustn’t stop. I’ll rest when I get home. Mother will make tea, and then I can rest.’
She was a young woman of great beauty, and even more beautiful when she was smiling and laughing.
It was a dark day when she saw, and loved, and married the painter. He was already famous for his art, and was always studying and working. The great love of his life was his work, his painting.
His beautiful young wife was playful, full of life and light and smiles, as happy and as loving as a child. But she learned to fear and then to hate everything about painting. Her husband’s work was her enemy, because it kept him away from her, hour after hour.
So it was a terrible thing for her when he said he wanted to paint her portrait. But she agreed because she loved him and wanted to please him.
For many weeks she sat in a dark high room where the light from above fell onto the painting and onto her. Day after day, she sat still and silent, not moving, not speaking.
They were not railway children at the beginning. They lived with their father and mother in London. There were three of them. Roberta – she was always called Bobbie, and was the oldest. Next came Peter, who wanted to be an engineer when he grew up. And the youngest was Phyllis, who was always trying to be good.
Mother was almost always at home, ready to play with the children, or to read to them. And she wrote stories, then read them to the children after tea.
These three lucky children had everything that they needed. Pretty clothes, a warm house, and lots of toys. They also had a wonderful father who was never angry, and always ready to play a game.
They were very happy. But they did not know how happy until their life in London was over, and they had to live a very different life indeed.
The awful change came suddenly.
The most interesting place I saw there was the university, which was full of very clever men, with very clever ideas. They were all working hard to find better, faster, cheaper, easier ways of doing and making things. They had ideas for building houses from the roof downwards, turning rocks into soft material, making rivers run uphill, and saving sunshine in bottles. I cannot remember half of the astonishingly clever ideas which they were working on.
One day, they told me, they would find the answers to all these problems, and then their country would be the most wonderful place in the world. Meanwhile, I noticed that the people looked hungry and miserable. Their clothes were old and full of holes, their houses were badly built and falling down. There were no vegetables or corn growing in the fields.
One day I had a little health problem, and I went to the British Museum Library to read about it. I took the book off the library shelf, and I began to read. After some time, I turned over the page and I began to read about another illness. I don't remember the name of the illness, but I know it was something really terrible. I read about half a page – and then I knew that I had that disease too.
I sat there for a time, cold with horror. Slowly, I began to turn over more pages. I came to a disease which was worse than the last one. I began to read about it and, as I expected, I had that disease too. Then I began to get really interested in myself, so I went back to the beginning of the book. I started with the letter ‘a’ and I read from ‘a’ to ‘z’. I found that there was only one disease which I did not have. This made me a little unhappy. Why didn't I have that disease too?
When I walked into that reading-room, I was a happy, healthy young man. When I left I was a very sick man, close to death...
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of sadness. It was the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five.
In France there was a King and a Queen, and in England there was a King and a Queen. They believed that nothing would ever change. But in France things were bad, and getting worse. The people were poor, hungry and unhappy. The King made paper money and spent it, and the people had nothing to eat. Behind closed doors in the homes of the people, voices spoke in whispers against the King and his noblemen; they were only whispers, but they were the angry whispers of desperate people.
What more could I want? Freedom! For the first four years of my life I had a large field where I could gallop around at full speed – with no straps, no bit, and no blinkers. Now I stood in a stable, night and day, except when I was wanted for work, and sometimes when John took me out, I felt so strong, so full of life, that I wanted to jump or dance.
‘Calm down, boy!’ he would say.
Then, as soon as we were out of the village, he would let me trot fast for a few miles. Some grooms punished a horse for getting too excited, but not John. He knew how to control me with only the sound of his voice, and I was very fond of him.
Sometimes we did have our freedom in the field for an hour or two. This was on fine Sundays in the summer, because the carriage never went out on Sundays. It was wonderful. The grass was cool and soft to our feet, and the air was so sweet. And we could gallop or lie down or roll over on our backs, or do what we liked.
One day while the she-wolf was out hunting, the grey wolf cub went to the mouth of the cave. He looked out at the world for the first time. The light was very bright, but he saw the trees and the river. He saw the mountain and the sky above it.
At first he was afraid, and the hairs on his back stood up. But nothing happened, and after a time he moved outside – and immediately fell half a metre down to the ground below! He hit his nose on the ground and cried out. Then he fell down a hill. Over and over he went until at last he stopped.
For a minute or two the grey cub was afraid to move. He sat and looked around him. Then he got up and began walking. He walked into things or fell over them, and he hurt his feet on stones and his head on trees. He came to a stream and looked into the water. But when he put his foot on it, it was cold and his foot went through it!
‘It’s silly, isn’t it, Ellen,’ he muttered, ‘that I have worked all my life to destroy these two families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons. I’ve got their money and their land. Now I can take my final revenge on the last Earnshaw and the last Linton, I no longer want to! There’s a strange change coming in my life. I’m in its shadow. I’m so little interested in daily events that I even forget to eat and drink. I don’t want to see those two, that’s why I don’t care if they spend time together. She only makes me angry. And he looks so like Catherine! But everything reminds me of Catherine! In every cloud, in every tree I see her face! The whole world reminds me that she was here once, and I have lost her!’ … I can’t continue like this! I have to remind myself to breathe – almost to remind my heart to beat! I have a single wish, for something my whole body and heart and brain have wanted for so long! Oh God! It’s a long fight! I wish it were finished!’
The evening arrived; the soup was served, and the bowls were empty again in a few seconds. Oliver went up to the master, with his bowl in his hand. He felt very frightened, but also desperate with hunger.
‘Please, sir, I want some more.’
The master was a fat, healthy man, but he turned very pale. He looked at the little boy in front of him with amazement. Nobody else spoke.
‘What?’ he asked at last, in a faint voice.
‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’
The master hit him with the serving spoon, then seized Oliver's arms and shouted for the beadle. The beadle came quickly, heard the dreadful news, and immediately ran to tell the board.
‘He asked for more?’ Mr Limbkins, the fattest board member, asked in horror. ‘Bumble – is this really true?’
‘I wish... I wish I’d never been born! I wish I’d never come to Thornfield!’ No longer able to control my feelings, I poured out what was in my heart. ‘I can’t bear to leave! Because here I’ve been treated kindly. And because I’ve met you, Mr Rochester, and I can’t bear never to see you again. Now I have to leave, I feel as if I'm dying! … I can’t stay!’ I cried furiously. ‘Do you think I can watch another woman become your bride? Do you think I’m a machine, without feelings? Do you think, because I’m small and poor and plain, that I have no soul and no heart? Well you’re wrong! I have as much soul and heart as you. It is my spirit that speaks to your spirit! We are equal in the sight of God!’
– Jane Eyre