When the 12.25 train from Cambridge arrived in London and all the people got put, fifty of them hadn’t got any shoes on their feet. With red faces they hurried along the platform to where a hundred shoes, men’s, women’s and children’s were already waiting. How did they lose them? One of the people, a tall man with his shoes in his hand, explained.
“We were travelling on the train from Cambridge to London when three young men in white coats went into our compartment with important papers from the government. They gave us the paper to look at. Then they explained that a disease was killing all the chickens near Cambridge and the government wanted to stop it. They asked for our shoes and of course we all gave them at once. One of the young men took them along the train to wash them,” said the tall man looking at his shoes, “and for he rest of the journey we sat with our feet on newspapers because the floor was dirty. We arrived in London before he brought them back.”
But there was something he and all the people on the train didn’t know. The young people weren’t from the government. They were only students from the Cambridge University. And here was no disease. It was all a joke. When the train left Cambridge the students walked along the train asking for shoes. When they had about two hundred, they started to give them back. But the train arrived in London and they had a hundred shoes left. So they put them on the platform for the people to find.
This happened during the students’ “rag week”. At English Universities the students study all the year, but one week during the year they keep for jokes. Often people give them money for their jokes and they put all the money together and give it to charity. There was no money for this joke. But of course everyone laughed when they heard what had happened to their shoes.
I. Choose the continuation of the sentences (3 points)
1. The young men in white coats said that
a) the government wanted to stop a disease that was killing the chicken
b) the government wanted to prevent passengers from catching the disease
c) it was dangerous for the passengers to travel on that train
2. The passengers didn’t know that
a) the disease was not dangerous
b) the whole thing was a joke
c) where the three men would be waiting for them in London
3. By the end of the journey
a) none of the passengers had got their shoes back
b) fifty passengers hadn’t got their shoes back
c) a hundred passengers hadn’t got their shoes back
II. Fill in the missing parts of the sentences.
1. The train was travelling from _________ to ______________ .
2. The passengers sat with their feet on _________ because the floor was dirty.
3. The students got ________________ for this joke.
4. Everybody ______________ when they heard what had happened to their shoes.
III. Answer the questions (9 points)
1. How did the passengers lose their shoes?
2. Why did the people believe the young man?
3. How did the students spend the money they had got during the “rag week”?
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