A very short story of a urchin turned a tourist guide

July 25, 2015 at 3:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Dinh’s saga of survival

Dinh had arrived in the world unannounced, unsung and un-loved. He was born in a bombed, abandoned house in one desolate corner of Saigon. He saw his mother for barely a few minutes before she died, unable to battle anemia and infection.

Dinh survived, but just barely – in the family of a janitor. By 12, he had fallen in the bad company of petty criminals. He became a pickpocket. He lived rough – in the streets of the cruel city.

One evening, he was caught red-handed. The Magistrate sent him to a juvenile detention facility. Life was hard, and frugal. A dour, bearded teacher took a one-hour class in the morning. He thrashed Dinh for minor infractions. No wonder, Dinh hated his teacher. He dreaded him, and stubbornly refused to remember anything taught in the class.
One day, a French man from a French charity came to the juvenile prison to distribute gifts. Among the items were a few nicely printed booklets in French. He offered to teach French to those inmates who wanted to learn the language.

Dinh became a pupil. Soon, he was able to write and speak basic French. Encouraged by Dinh’s progress, the Frenchman gave Dinh a collection of Guy de Maupassant’s illustrated short stories. For Dinh, it was a gift from Heaven. He poured into the books with great enthusiasm.

Dinh had become 18– the age he had to leave the juvenile facility. Dark days in the streets stared at him again. He became despondent. His French teacher understood his anxiety. In days, he secured the job of a tourist guide for Dinh in the local French embassy. Dinh loved the job, and the excitement of being seen so admiringly and lovingly by the French tourists.
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ICSE English literature — I Belive — Notes

July 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I Believe
By Brucellis K Sangma

I believe if a pebble is thrown upwards
I can pierce the heavens
And see the angels at play.

The poem celebrates the undying spirit, optimism and the countless possibilities of the human beings’ abilities. But, for the miracles of their dreams to happen, they must have the grit, resoluteness, and the will power. Through fantasy the poet cites the throwing of a pebble skywards, and piercing the Heavens to underscore the fact that a human being needs to summon all his physical and mental strengths to accomplish the impossible. While reading the lines, the symbolism of the poet’s words come out loud and clear.
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I believe I can soar to the heights
Touch the silky clouds
And feel the stars.

Again the poet exudes superhuman audacity by stating that she could ‘touch the clouds and caper amidst the stars by her effort – but, only if she is determined. Super-human goals demand super-human endeavours. There is no short-cut here.
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I believe I can dive
Right into the depths
And swim with the sharks.

Again, the poet reiterates that she can do near-impossible feats, like diving into the depths of seas and frolic among the sharks if she wanted. Obviously, the poet is awash with confidence and courage. She reckons that feats that appear only in fantasy can be accomplished by a determined individual.
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I believe I can claw into the earth’s belly
Pick up the priceless gems
And adorn myself with them.

The author further illustrates her daring nature by stating that she can dig deep into the earth, mine her precious stones and decorate herself with them. It is a metaphoric exposing of her ingrained courage to explore the unknown, and enrich her mind with the knowledge gained through such expedition.
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I believe I can do many things
Amidst the human angels
Surrounded by the world’s treasures.

The author underlines her resolve to do some great acts of sacrifice and dedication for the good of the humanity. She feels she can utilize the world’s wealth for the betterment of mankind.
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But I firmly believe I’ve to complete
The role assigned to me here
Where I dream and breathe.

In the last lines, the author is far more circumspect. She knows letting the dreams soar high is busy, but accomplishing the objectives may prove to too daunting a task. So, she wants to be a pragmatist and a realist. She feels the duty before her, whether small or big, must be done with utmost sincerity and honesty. Wavering from the reality and flying among the clouds is futile, she cautions. The tasks in hand must get precedence over the mind’s limitless ambitions. Dreaming is easy, doing not.
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Questions and answers ..

a. What is the central message of the poem?
The author sings the praise of ‘the audacity of hope’ in this poem. She lifts the readers’ spirit by narrating the many daunting tasks one can undertake to make one’s life purposeful. Thus, the message is one of ambition, altruism and dedication. However, she cautions against the perils of dreaming and neglecting the tasks in hand. Hope must not be opium that makes a man sedate and indolent.

b. Can you guess the type of person the author is?
She is a brave, service-minded and benign person. At the same time, she is a hard realist, not a day-dreamer.

c. Why the author states such impossible tasks like ‘clawing into the heart of earth’ and ‘diving into the deep sea to swim with the sharks’?
These are nothing but very poetic metaphors to illustrate the daring nature of the author. While declaring her ambitions, she beckons others to follow in her footsteps and be audacious. Her call is for dedication to duty in true fearless and daring way.

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Paper has more Patience than Man -School essay

July 20, 2015 at 4:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Paper has more Patience than Man

Ever since Paper was invented in China, it has continued to make deep inroads to the life of humans. In combination with the pen, it remains the most preferred medium to express one’s thoughts. Books, newspapers, important legal documents, photographs, product brochures, political manifestoes etc. are all written on paper. Despite the advent of the computers, and instant emailing and messaging facilities, Paper still remains the dominant conveyer and chronicler of emotions, events, views and accomplishments.

Sadly, Paper also suffers the most abuse and misuse in the hands of man. Pernicious propaganda, pornographic literature, and slanderous stories are all written on paper. Paper knows the obnoxious nature of the content, but its incredible patience makes it to bear the burden of immorality without a whimper. It faithfully holds the sinful content till it yellows and frays with age. People vent their anger by burning the books and newspapers they feel carry the loathsome content, but Paper never retaliates at such wanton injustice and humiliation.

Water colours are painted on Paper. With great deference to the artists, and the countless viewers, Paper holds on to the minutest details of the art with astounding faithfulness and sincerity. Sadly, in return, it is framed and kept imprisoned, and hung from a wall. Sandwiched between glass and cardboard with no access to air or sunlight, it chokes to death due to dotage. Paper’s patience is of Himalayan proportions.

Paper is put to still more ignominious use by humans. It is used as toilet paper and tissue paper to bear human waste. Because Paper has boundless patience, it never complains. The petulant and the irascible humans can take lessons on patience from Paper.
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Letter to Editor -Nepal Earthquake

July 12, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(By email)
To
The Editor
Hindu
Chennai

Sir,
As a stressed-out Indian businessman, I visit Nepal every year in May to unwind and reinvigorate my frayed mind. This year was no different – the only difference was I brought my wife along. It was 12.40 in the noon when we stepped into the Mariot Hotel’s dining hall. We went to a corner and waited for the steward. Just then, the entire Hall shook, and the food vessels kept on the buffet table toppled, emptying their contents on the floor. First, I thought it was a terror strike. But it was worse than that. It was God’s retribution. I grabbed the arms of my wife, pinned her down on her chair, and urged her to stay quiet. No one knew what was going on as the shards of glass from the window panes came flying at us. We escaped through the emergency exit as debris from the ceiling rained down on the floor. What happened after that is too harrowing for me to recall.

In hindsight, can we claim that the disaster could have been averted? The answer is ‘No’. It was Nature’s fury. Could the situation in the aftermath of the quake been managed better? The answer is ‘Yes’. The government of Nepal, debilitated by years of turmoil, was stretched too far. Break down of communication compounded the confusion. Thousands have perished: far more numbers of poor Nepalis are grappling with their wounds. Specter of hunger and epidemic stalks the kingdom. It is time, the nations of the whole world lend their shoulder to bring succor to this tiny nation that gives so much joy to the tourists who visit it.

Yours sincerely,

Abinash

Letter to Editor about traffic snarls

July 11, 2015 at 7:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(Through email)

To
The Editor
The Statesman
Guwahati
Sir,
As a school student, I have to commute to school riding pillion in my father’s scooter. By the time I reach school, this 4-kilometer ride leaves me chocked and irritable. Due to traffic rush, the journey takes 30 minutes instead of 10. The black exhaust fumes from auto-rikshaws, cars, and buses choke my lungs, blacken my face, and rob me of all energy to study. Additionally, I have to continuously move my legs to escape being hurt by passing vehicles. Irate drivers hurl obscene abuses at one another to get past each other. The traffic police in the stands do their duty, but many do not heed them. This adds to the confusion. It seems the people of Guwahati are condemned to live with this obnoxious problem.

Through your columns, I intend to draw the attention of the senior traffic officials to this vexing problem so that the streets of Guwahati become more orderly and life in this city becomes more livable.

Yours truly,
——- ———
Cell number —–

ICSE English literature — The Inchcape Rock – Explanation

July 5, 2015 at 8:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Inchcape Rock by Robert Southey (1820)

No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The Ship was still as she could be;
Her sails from heaven received no motion,
Her keel was steady in the ocean.
Meaning .. The sea was calm and the water was placid. The ship stood still as the wind blew too slowly to add any thrust to its sails. The ship’s keel was upright. On the whole, there was nothing ominous for the crew to worry about.

Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
Meaning … The Inchcape Bell anchored to the undersea Inchcape Rock had fallen silent too as the sedate waves had no power to rock the bell. Naturally, the Bell could make no sound.

The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.

When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok
Meaning …  The Abbot of Aberbrothok, being a spiritual man, knew the danger posed by the submerged rock for the passing ships. It could catch the unsuspecting captain of a ship off-guard. A collision of the keel with the rock could cripple and sink it. In order to forewarn the sailors, he had placed a large bell atop a buoy and had it anchored to the rock with a chain. The sea waves relentlessly rocked the bell back and forth. The sound from the large bell reverberated all around warning the passing ships to steer clear of the rock. It was a simple arrangement to avert disasters. Mariners invariably praised the Abot for this kind act of placing the warning device on the rock.

The Sun in the heaven was shining gay,
All things were joyful on that day;
The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
And there was joyaunce in their sound.
Meaning … It was a cheerful sunny day. The sea birds flew past the ship in their typical raucous manner. The mood aboard the ship was buoyant.

The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen
A darker speck on the ocean green;
Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
And fix’d his eye on the darker speck.
Meaning .. Sir Rover, the Captain of the ship paced along the ship’s deck in a relaxed mood. His eyes fell on the buoy of the Inchcape Bell visible from a long distance. It was a tiny dark piece with the green ocean’s waters. He observed the bell carefully.

He felt the cheering power of spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess,
But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.
Meaning … The Spring season lifted his spirits. He felt unusually joyous as magic of the cheerful weather gripped his mind. He whistled and sang in delight as his heart swayed in joy. Sadly, the joy rekindled the devil inside him.

His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”
Meaning .. The Satan inside him made him to cook up a very nasty plan. He wanted the good work of the Abot to be destroyed due to no apparent reason. The intent was so clearly wicked. By destroying the Bell, he could engineer many more fatal collisions of passing ships with the hidden treacherous rock. It was so sinful an idea, but Rover felt impelled to carry it out. He ordered his men to lower a small boat from the ship so that he could row to the Bell’s proximity to uproot it. The warning signal could be gone forever.

The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.
Meaning … In no time, Rover approached the Bell. From his boat, he bent over to cut the chain of the buoy, thus destroying the device.

Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around;
Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the Rock,
Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”
Meaning … With the buoy separated, the Bell sank to the bed of the sea. The sound died and the bubbles vanished. Rover rejoiced at what he had done. He knew the peril will soon ravage many ships and there will be none to shower their gratitude on the Abot!

Sir Ralph the Rover sail’d away,
He scour’d the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plunder’d store,
He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.
Meaning .. Having done the despicable act, Rover sailed away on his voyage. It was a long voyage that took him from place to place. He was a pirate who amassed his wealth through banditry on the high seas. He attacked other ships and looted their wealth at gunpoint. Finally, he headed towards Scotland.

So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.
Meaning .. On one occasion, the sea became rough, windy, and dark. A thick haze descended on the waters like a shroud. Visibility was very poor. The atmosphere was gloomy. The howling winds of the day, however, had slowed down by dusk.

On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
So dark it is they see no land.
Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising Moon.”
Meaning … Rover stood in the deck a little concerned, and scanned the horizon. The darkness made it impossible to sight any land. Sir Ralph wanted to remain optimistic. He thought things would return to normalcy with the day’s passing. Moon had appeared in the night sky.

“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?
For methinks we should be near the shore.”
“Now, where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.”
Meaning .. A sailor onboard the ship stood on the deck clueless about the position of the ship. The roar of the waves were somewhat muted. Someone guessed they were close to land. At that moment, the sailor wished he could hear the Inchcape Bell’s warning (and comforting) knells.

They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along;
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
“Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!”
Meaning … The sea became more worrisome. The sailors tried to trace the Inchcape Bell’s sound, but heard nothing of the sort. The sea drifted listlessly. Then came the thud and the sound all sailors dread. It was the shock caused by the ship running into the infamous Inchcape Rock. The ship was doomed.

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.
Meaning .. It was the day of reckoning for the hideous Ralph. He had fallen into the ditch he had dug for others. As water gushed in from all sides, Sir Ralph knew the end was near. He cursed himself over and over again in anger, disgust and frustration. The ship was heading towards its watery grave.

But even in his dying fear,
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.
Meaning …. In the moments preceding his death, Sir Rover heard a sound that must have sent a chill down his spine. It was the sound of the sunken Inchcape Bell. Apparently, the devils in the deep sea were ringing the Bell to tell Ralph that it was sweet revenge!

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Questions from ….

Inchcape Rock by Robert Southey (1820)

No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The Ship was still as she could be;
Her sails from heaven received no motion,
Her keel was steady in the ocean.

Meaning .. The sea was calm and the water was placid. The ship stood still as the wind blew too slowly to add any thrust to its sails. The ship’s keel was upright. On the whole, there was nothing ominous for the crew to worry about.

Question 1.. Describe the conditions at sea when Sir Ralph’s voyage started. [Suggested use of words .. Tepid, Sag, Stationary,]

Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.

Meaning … The Inchcape Bell anchored to the undersea Inchcape Rock had fallen silent too as the sedate waves had no power to rock the bell. Naturally, the Bell could make no sound.

Question 2 …Why was the Inchcape Bell not making any sound? [Suggested words … Static, Motionless, Whimper]

The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.

When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok

Meaning … The Abbot of Aberbrothok, being a spiritual man, knew the danger posed by the submerged rock for the passing ships. It could catch the unsuspecting captain of a ship off-guard. A collision of the keel with the rock could cripple and sink it. In order to forewarn the sailors, he had placed a large bell atop a buoy and had it anchored to the rock with a chain. The sea waves relentlessly rocked the bell back and forth. The sound from the large bell reverberated all around warning the passing ships to steer clear of the rock. It was a simple arrangement to avert disasters. Mariners invariably praised the Abot for this kind act of placing the warning device on the rock.

Question 3 …. Why did the Abot of Aborbrothok place the Bell on the Inchcape Rock? How did the bell work? Suggested words .. [Noble-hearted, Un-suspecting, Lurk, Cripple, Warn, Emanate, Steer,

The Sun in the heaven was shining gay,
All things were joyful on that day;
The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
And there was joyaunce in their sound.

Meaning … It was a cheerful sunny day. The sea birds flew past the ship in their typical raucous manner. The mood aboard the ship was buoyant.

Question 4 .. How did the sea look on that day? [Suggested words … Generous, Upbeat, Romp, Boisterous]

The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen
A darker speck on the ocean green;
Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
And fix’d his eye on the darker speck.

Meaning .. Sir Rover, the Captain of the ship paced along the ship’s deck in a relaxed mood. His eyes fell on the buoy of the Inchcape Bell visible from a long distance. It was a tiny dark piece with the green ocean’s waters. He observed the bell carefully.

Question 5..        How did the Bell appear to Sir Ralph? [Suggested words .. [Suggested words … Tiny, Afar]

He felt the cheering power of spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess,
But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.

Meaning … The Spring season lifted his spirits. He felt unusually joyous as magic of the cheerful weather gripped his mind. He whistled and sang in delight as his heart swayed in joy. Sadly, the joy rekindled the devil inside him.

Question 6 .. How did the cheerful weather impact Sir Rover’s mind? [Suggested words .. Upbeat, Jovial, Trigger, Sinful]

His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

Meaning .. The Satan inside him made him to cook up a very nasty plan. He wanted the good work of the Abot to be destroyed due to no apparent reason. The intent was so clearly wicked. By destroying the Bell, he could engineer many more fatal collisions of passing ships with the hidden treacherous rock. It was so sinful an idea, but Rover felt impelled to carry it out. He ordered his men to lower a small boat from the ship so that he could row to the Bell’s proximity to uproot it. The warning signal could be gone forever.

Question 7 .. Why did the Rover want to dislodge the Inchcape Bell? [Suggested words … Spite, Avert, Doom]

The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.

Meaning … In no time, Rover approached the Bell. From his boat, he bent over to cut the chain of the buoy, thus destroying the device.

Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around;
Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the Rock,
Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

Meaning … With the buoy separated, the Bell sank to the bed of the sea. The sound died and the bubbles vanished. Rover rejoiced at what he had done. He knew the peril will soon ravage many ships and there will be none to shower their gratitude on the Abot!

Question 8 .. Describe how the Rover destroyed the Inchcape Bell.   [Suggested words .. Sadistic, Accomplish, Devious, Remorse, Inflict]

Sir Ralph the Rover sail’d away,
He scour’d the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plunder’d store,
He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.

Meaning .. Having done the despicable act, Rover sailed away on his voyage. It was a long voyage that took him from place to place. He was a pirate who amassed his wealth through banditry on the high seas. He attacked other ships and looted their wealth at gunpoint. Finally, he headed towards Scotland.

Question 9 .. What was the Rover by profession? Does it explain why he cut off the Bell? [Suggested words .. Nefarious, Turn on, Pillage, Ill-gotten]

So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.

Meaning .. On one occasion, the sea became rough, windy, and dark. A thick haze descended on the waters like a shroud. Visibility was very poor. The atmosphere was gloomy. The howling winds of the day, however, had slowed down by dusk.

Question 10… How did the doomsday arrive? How was the weather that day?   [Suggested words .. Foreboding, Grim, Shroud]

On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
So dark it is they see no land.
Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising Moon.”

Meaning … Rover stood in the deck a little concerned, and scanned the horizon. The darkness made it impossible to sight any land. Sir Ralph wanted to remain optimistic. He thought things would return to normalcy with the day’s passing. Moon had appeared in the night sky.

Question 11 .. Describe the state of mind of the Rover amid the gloomy weather. [Suggested words … Perplexed, Summon, Unruffled]

“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?
For methinks we should be near the shore.”
“Now, where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.”

Meaning .. A sailor onboard the ship stood on the deck clueless about the position of the ship. The roar of the waves were somewhat muted. Someone guessed they were close to land. At that moment, the sailor wished he could hear the Inchcape Bell’s warning (and comforting) knells.

Question 12 .. How did the other members of the crew react to the bad weather? [Suggested words … Confused, Grope]

They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along;
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
“Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!”

Meaning … The sea became more worrisome. The sailors tried to trace the Inchcape Bell’s sound, but heard nothing of the sort. The sea drifted listlessly. Then came the thud and the sound all sailors dread. It was the shock caused by the ship running into the infamous Inchcape Rock. The ship was doomed.

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

Meaning .. It was the day of reckoning for the hideous Ralph. He had fallen into the ditch he had dug for others. As water gushed in from all sides, Sir Ralph knew the end was near. He cursed himself over and over again in anger, disgust and frustration. The ship was heading towards its watery grave.

Question 13 .. Describe how the Rover’s last moments arrived.   [Suggested words … [Singe, Pervade, Dread, Panic, Penance, Distraught, Ponder]

But even in his dying fear,
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.

Meaning …. In the moments preceding his death, Sir Rover heard a sound that must have sent a chill down his spine. It was the sound of the sunken Inchcape Bell. Apparently, the devils in the deep sea were ringing the Bell to tell Ralph that it was sweet revenge!

Question 14 … What sound did the Rover hear? Was it real? If not, what was it? [Suggested words … Tormented, Retribution, Hallucination]

Model answers will be posted soon.
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