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Pot of Gold
nights on a plan that promised him a well-paying
job in Texas, but through no fault of his
own this promise was never realized. In
the third year of his marriage with Laura,
a firm that was almost identical in size
and character with the firm Ralph worked
for underwent a change of ownership, and
Ralph was approached and asked if he would
be interested in joining the overhauled
firm. His own job promised only meager security
after a series of slow promotions and he
was glad of the chance to escape. He met
the new owners, and their enthusiasm for
him seemed intense. They were prepared to
put him in charge of a department and pay
him twice what he was getting then. The
arrangement was to remain tacit for a month
or two, until the new owners had secured
their position, but they shook hands warmly
and had a drink on the deal, and that night
Ralph took Laura out to dinner at an expensive
They decided to look for a larger apartment,
to have a child, and to buy a secondhand
car. They faced their good fortune with
perfect calm, for it was what they had expected
all along. The city seemed to them a generous
place, where people were rewarded either
by a sudden and deserved development like
this or by the capricious bounty of lawsuits,
eccentric and peripheral business ventures,
unexpected legacies and other windfalls.
He was twenty-eight years old; poverty and
youth were inseparable in his experience,
and one was ending with the other. The life
they were about to 'leave had not been hard,
and he thought with sentiment of the soiled
tablecloth in the Italian restaurant where
they usually went for their celebrations,
and the high spirits with which Laura on
a wet night ran from the subway to the bus
stop. But they were drawing away from all
this. Shirt sales in department-store basements,
lines at meat counters, weak drinks, the
roses he brought her up from the subway
in the spring, when roses were cheap - these
were all unmistakably the souvenirs of the
poor, and while they seemed to him good
and gentle, he was glad that they would
soon be memories.
The reorganization and Ralph's new position
hung fire, but they talked about it freely
when with friends. "All we need is
patience," Laura would say. There were
many delays and postponements, and they
waited with the patience of people expecting
justice. He decided to telephone his potential
employers. Their secretary told him they
were both out. This made him apprehensive.
He called several times from the telephone
booth in the lobby of the building he worked
in and was told that they were busy, they
were out, they were in conference with lawyers,
or they were talking long-distance. This
variety of excuses frightened him. He said
nothing to Laura that evening and tried
to call them the next day. Late in the afternoon,
after many tries, one of them came to the
phone. "We gave the job to somebody
else, sonny," he said. Like a saddened
father, he spoke to Ralph in a hoarse and
gentle voice. "Don't try and get us
on the telephone any more. We've got other
things to do besides answer the telephone.
This other fellow seemed better suited,
sonny. That's all I can tell you, and don't
try to get me on the telephone any more."
extract from The Pot of Gold by H. Melville)
What type of firm was Ralph offered a job
1) Same type as the previous job.
2) Overhauled firm.
3) Identical in size.
4) Security firm.
decided to accept the job offer because:
1) he would have been given a pay rise.
2) he would have been given a promotion.
3) he wanted to escape poverty.
4) the owners were very enthusiastic.
Ralph and Laura looked forward to the new
1) with excitement.
2) with dreams about the future.
3) with indifference.
4) with the feeling that they deserved it.
bought Laura roses because:
1) they were her favourite flowers.
2) they were cheap.
3) they were sold nearby.
4) he liked them.
to the author:
1) Ralph didn't want to leave the life he
2) Ralph regretted his departure.
3) Their life was full of pleasant things.
4) Ralph was eager to escape but was sentimental.
was Laura reaction at delays of the new
1) She telephoned the employers.
2) She was patient.
3) She was worried.
4) She kept silent about it.
new owners' attitude to Ralph:
1) has remained as enthusiastic as before.
2) was sympathetic.
3) has changed with time.
4) was rude.