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Lingvistov Reading Club: A Tidy Ghost

tidy - аккуратный 
estate – земельная собственность, участок 
estate agent – агент по продаже недвижимости 
row [raʊ] – ссора 
to catch flu – заболеть гриппом 
embarrassed – смущенный, неловкий 
A Tidy Ghost 
Looking for a house 
Ghost_by_toinjointsMarilyn and Rick bought a new house and moved in during September. They had been living in rented flats for years, and this was their first house. The weekends were wonderful. They painted, cleaned, decorated and worked in the garden. By Christmas the house really seemed like home.
The first of the little surprises came early in January. Marilyn and Rick arrived home, as usual, just after six o'clock one Tuesday evening. Rick opened the door, and went into the kitchen to make some tea. Marilyn followed him in.
'Rick,' she said, 'did you pick up the letters in the hall?'
'No,' he said, 'you know I didn't. You were just behind me.'
'Well, that's funny. Look, the post arrived after we'd left for work. It always does at this house. So, usually it's lying on the doormat when we get home. Right?'
'Yes,' said Rick. 'Why?'
'The post isn't on the floor now. It's in a neat pile on the table, next to the telephone.'
Rick followed her into the hall. There were four or five letters in a pile on the hall table.
'Maybe ... maybe the post arrived earlier than usual today. Perhaps it arrived before we left for work. Maybe we picked it up, put it there, and forgot,' he said.
The next surprise was two weeks later. They had been out to dinner with friends on Wednesday evening, and they hadn't woken up when the alarm clock rang. Rick woke up at twenty to nine. They both got dressed quickly and left home without breakfast. They didn't make the bed, and they left their nightclothes on the floor. They were usually very tidy people, but there wasn't enough time. When they got home, Rick went upstairs first.
'Marilyn,' he said, 'Come up here.'
Marilyn walked into the bedroom. The bed was made.
Everything looked neat and tidy. She pulled back the bed covers. Rick's pajamas and her nightdress were folded neatly on the pillows.
'I'm sure we didn't make the bed,' she said.
'Did you come home at lunchtime?' asked Rick.
'No, of course not. I never do. There isn't enough time.'
'I didn't come home either,' he said.
'Then, we forgot,' said Marilyn. We made the bed and forgot we'd done it.’
There were a few more surprises in the next few weeks. Once they found the letters on the hall table again. Another time they were late for work, and they left their coffee cups on the table. When they got home, the coffee cups had been washed up, and were set on the table.
Rick laughed. 'Maybe there's a ghost in the house,' he said. 'A very tidy ghost.'
'Don't be silly,' she said, 'it's a new house, not an old castle. There's no ghost.'
Suddenly there was a flash of lightning, and the noise of thunder. It started raining. She looked out of the window.
'Rick,' she said, 'there isn't a ghost, is there?'
They both laughed then.
They didn't laugh at the next surprise. They had been out to dinner, and they got home late. They were both tired. They went into the living room.
'I'll make some tea, Rick,' said Marilyn. "You look in the newspaper and see what's on television.'
She went into the kitchen.
'Marilyn,' called Rick, 'where's the newspaper? I can't find it.'
She came back into the living room. 'It was on the coffee table. I put it there this morning.'
'It isn't here now,' said Rick.
They looked everywhere for the newspaper, but they couldn't find it anywhere.
'I'm tired of this,' said Rick. 'Let's have a drink.'
He went to the cupboard to get the bottle of whisky they had brought back from holiday two years before. They didn't usually drink whisky, and the bottle was nearly full. Rick opened the cupboard, and there was the newspaper!
'Why did you put it in here?' he said.
'I didn't. I was reading it before we left for work, and I put it on the coffee table,' said Marilyn.
'I haven't opened this cupboard for weeks,' said Rick. 'Anyway, neither of us would put the newspaper in here. What's happening?'
Marilyn sat down. 'Rick,' she said, 'you don't think there is a ghost here, do you?'
'What? A tidy ghost? I've never heard of a tidy ghost.'
'Why not?'
Rick sat down too. 'But it's a new house.'
'Maybe someone died here,' said Marilyn.
'Or maybe there were houses here before…’
'Well,' said Marilyn, 'I'm going to the library tomorrow lunchtime. I'm going to discover what was here before this house was built.'

A visit to the library
The next day, at twelve thirty, Marilyn hurried to the Sandbourne Central Library. She went over to the man at the desk.
'Excuse me,' she said, 'have you got any books about the history of Sandbourne ... old maps, anything like that?'
'Oh, yes,' he said. 'What do you want to know?'
dcrep9Kc9 copy'Er, I'm interested in the High Trees Estate area. I live there.'
'Well, come over here, we'll have a look.'
Marilyn followed the man to a shelf of books about the history of the area.
'I'm very interested in old stories ... ghost stories ... things like that,' she said.
'Ghost stories?' he said. ‘There won't be many ghost stories about that area. It's all new.'
'Er ... what was there before the housing estate?' asked Marilyn.
'Well, that's easy. It used to be High Trees Farm. They knocked down the farm five, maybe six years ago.'
'Have you got an old map?' she asked.
'Yes, I'll find it for you,' said the man.
When Rick came out of the office, Marilyn was waiting in the car. She opened the door.
'Rick,' she said, 'I went to the library today.'
'Why?' he said. 'You don't believe there really is a ghost, do you?'
'I found an old map of the area,' she said. There used to be a farm. The estate is built on an old farm.'
'So?' said Rick.
'I looked at the map. Our house is just where the farmhouse used to be. I looked in another book. The farmhouse was built about two hundred years ago.'
'That doesn't mean there's a ghost! There are thousands of old houses with no ghost stories. Anyway, I don't believe in ghosts. And neither do you.'
'Until today,' said Marilyn. 'Can you explain about the newspaper in the cupboard? The letters? The bed that was made? The clean coffee cups? The light in the bathroom?'
'We've been very busy,' said Rick. ‘We've been busy at work, and we've been working hard in our free time on the house. We're forgetting things, that's all.'
'I hope so, Rick,' she said. 'I hope so.'
They arrived home. Marilyn opened the door and turned on the light. There, on the hall table, was a neat pile of letters.

Murder at the old farm
A week later there was another surprise, and this time they had a row. It was the worst row since they had got married. They got home, as usual, at six o'clock. Rick went into the living room.
'Marilyn,' he said, 'what's this?'
The ashtray, which was usually on the shelf near the radio, was on the coffee table. A cigarette end was in the ashtray.
'Who's been here?' said Rick.
Marilyn picked up the ashtray. 'Look, Rick,' she said, 'you told me that you had stopped smoking. You know that I don't like smoking.'
'It's not mine,' he said. 'I haven't had a cigarette for more than two years. Have you been home today?'
'No, I haven't,' she said. 'But somebody has. I've never smoked. You know that.'
She picked up the cigarette end. There was red lipstick on it. She showed it to Rick.
'A woman's been here,' she said. 'What's happening, Rick? Who is she?'
'A woman ghost that smokes Marlboro cigarettes,' he said.
'It isn't funny, Rick,' she said. She went to the door. 'I'm going out for a walk. Don't come with me. I want to think.'
Marilyn walked along the street. All the houses were the same. They had all been built two years before. But there was one older house at the end of Osborne Way. It had been there before the estate was built. An old man was working in the garden.
'Good evening,' said Marilyn.
'Good evening,' he replied. 'It's a lovely evening, isn't it?'
'Yes,' she said. 'Er ... have you lived here for a long time?'
'Oh, yes, my dear,' he said. 'I've been living here for thirty years.'
'Do you remember the old farm?'
'High Trees Farm? Of course I do. I used to work there.' The old man walked over to her.
'Who lived there?' said Marilyn.
'Well, the farm belonged to old Giles Varley. He lived there by himself - since his wife died, that is. He was a strange man. Nobody liked him very much. I didn't. He used to be a very difficult boss, you see. Everything had to be in the right place. "Don't put that on the shelf!" he used to say to me. "Put it in the cupboard!" And the house . . . I've never seen a place as clean and tidy as that house. His wife had always been a very tidy woman, and he wanted to keep the house the same. Yes, poor old Varley.'
dcrep9Kc9 copy1'What happened to him?' said Marilyn.
'It was sad,' he said, 'very sad. They never found the murderer, either.'
'The murderer?' said Marilyn.
'That's right. He was murdered in the old farmhouse. A robber, that's what the police thought. I found the body, you know.'
Marilyn felt suddenly cold. 'I see,' she said. Well, thank you. It's been very interesting.'
'Good night, then,' said the old man. Marilyn turned round and walked home very slowly.
When she got home, Rick was in the garden. They had bought a small tree at the weekend, and Rick was putting it in the front garden. He called to her.
'Marilyn! Come here. Look at this!'
She walked over to him. There was a hole in the ground for the tree. There were a lot of old bricks in the hole.
'So,' he said, 'there was a building here before they built this house. Do you think it was the old farmhouse?'
Marilyn felt cold. 'Rick,' she said, 'come inside. We'll have a cup of tea. I've got something to tell you.'

The ghost appears
A few days later, both Marilyn and Rick caught flu. They felt terrible all weekend. On Monday neither of them felt well enough to go to work. They telephoned their offices, and decided to spend the day at home. It was a boring day. They both had headaches, and they spent the day in the living room. Rick watched videos, Marilyn read a book from the library, Ghosts of Sandbourne and East Wessex. At half past two Marilyn suddenly looked up.
'What's that?' she said.
They heard voices outside the front door. Then they heard the sound of a key in the lock. Rick jumped up. 'What ...?'
They heard footsteps in the hall.
'It's a very nice hall.' It was a man's voice. Rick and Marilyn looked at each other. Then the living room door began to open. Marilyn took Rick's hand. Two men and a woman walked into the room. They stopped in surprise.
'What are you doing here?' said Rick angrily. 'Oh, I'm terribly sorry,' said one of the men. 'I thought you were out.'
He turned to the man and woman behind him. 'Oh, this is Mr. and Mrs. Patterson. They're very interested in your house.'
'And who are you?' said Marilyn.
'Oh, I'm sorry. Of course we haven't met. I'm Michael Webb. From “Burchill and Bradley”. I'm very pleased to meet you, Mrs. Barclay.'
'I'm not Mrs. Barclay!' said Marilyn. The Barclays moved months ago. Last September.'
Rick was laughing. 'Ah! I understand! You're the tidy ghost.'
Mr. Webb looked worried. 'The tidy ghost? I don't understand ...'
'Yes, the tidy ghost,' said Rick. He turned to Marilyn. The letters, the nightclothes, the newspaper ...'
Marilyn was laughing too. '... the lipstick on the cigarette, the coffee cups, the bathroom light,' she said.
'I'm sorry,' said Mr. Webb, 'I really don't understand.'
'We bought the house from the Barclays. We bought it through “Norman and Naylor”... and you're from “Burchill and Bradley”, the other estate agents!' said Marilyn.
'Oh, I see!' said Mr. Webb. The Barclays never told us that the house had been sold. I've been showing the house to people for six months. I am sorry. The Barclays gave us a set of keys, and told us to show people the house when they were at work.'
Marilyn smiled. 'And you've been tidying the house for us, haven't you?' she said.
Mr. Webb looked uncomfortable and embarrassed. His face was going redder and redder.
'Er, yes,' he said. 'You see, I usually arrive before the people that want to see the house. So ... I've been coming in and ... er, tidying things.'
'And the cigarette with lipstick?' said Marilyn.
'Yes, I'm sorry about that. I brought a lady to see the house, Mrs. Green. She wanted a cigarette while we were talking about the house. I forgot to throw it away. I remembered later in the evening. Didn't you know that it was someone looking at the house?'
'Well, no ... we didn't,' said Marilyn.
'Oh, dear,' said Mr. Webb. 'I hope there wasn't any trouble about it.'
'I thought ...' Marilyn looked at Rick. 'I thought my husband ...' Then she felt sorry for Mr. Webb, who was very embarrassed. 'I thought my husband had started smoking again,' she said.
Mr. Webb remembered that Marilyn had said 'the cigarette with lipstick'. He went redder again.
'I'm very, very sorry,' he said.
Marilyn smiled. She looked at Mr. and Mrs. Patterson, who were looking embarrassed too.
'It's a pity,' said Mrs. Patterson. 'It's a lovely house, and it's a lovely area.'
'Yes, well, it's my fault. I'm sorry I've wasted your time,' said Mr. Webb.
'It isn't your fault,' Marilyn said. The Barclays didn't tell you they had moved. Look, can I get you all a cup of tea?'
'Yes, please take a seat,' said Rick. 'I know that Mr. and Mrs. Collins at number twenty-nine are trying to sell their house. It's just the same as this one. Perhaps we're going to be neighbours!'
Mr. and Mrs. Patterson sat down. Mr. Patterson picked up Marilyn's book, which was lying on the coffee table.
'Hmm,' he said, 'Ghosts of Sandbourne and East Wessex. I hope there aren't any ghosts round here.'
'Oh, no,' said Marilyn, 'there aren't any ghosts round here. They're all new houses.'
She went into the kitchen to make the tea. They had had a cup of tea and a sandwich an hour earlier, and she hadn't washed up. There, on the kitchen table was the teapot, and a neat pile of plates and cups. She opened the teapot. It was clean!
'But...' she said. Then she heard a laugh behind her. It was Rick. 'Don't worry,' he said, 'it was me. I came out and washed up half an hour ago. Don't you remember?'
Comprehension Exercises
ex. 1 General understanding of the story
  1. Where and when is the scene laid?
  2. Who are the main characters of the story?
  3. Who was the tidy ghost?
ex. 2 True or False
  1. Marilyn and Rick had lived in the house for a long time before strange things started to happen.
  2. One day they came home and saw that the letters were not on the floor but in a neat pile on the hall table.
  3. Marilyn and Rick were not very tidy people.
  4. They saw the tidy ghost put the newspaper in the cupboard.
  5. The librarian said there was nothing about the history of the High Trees Estate.
  6. Marilyn and Rick worked very hard and just imagined these things.
  7. One day they had an argument because Marilyn found a cigarette with lipstick on it.
  8. The High Trees Farm belonged to old Mrs. Varley who was killed by a robber.
  9. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson were their neighbors.
  10. Mr. Webb was the lawyer of the ghost who wanted his farm back.
ex. 3 Answer the questions
  1. When did the strange things start to happen in Marilyn and Rick's house?
  2. Give the examples of these strange things.
  3. How did Marilyn and Rick try to explain them?
  4. Why did they call him a "tidy ghost"?
  5. What did Marilyn find out in the library?
  6. Why did the couple have a big row one day?
  7. How did Marilyn find out about the story of the owner of High Trees Farm?
  8. Why was old Mr. Varley strange? How did he die?
  9. Why did Marilyn and Rick stay at home on that Monday?
  10. Who was Mr. Michael Webb?
  11. Why did he bring Mr. and Mrs. Patterson to Marilyn and Rick's house?
  12. Were there ghosts in the estate?
Vocabulary Exercises
ex. 1 Find English equivalents in the text and make your own sentences with them
одинаковый, следовать, однажды, объяснять, достаточно, аккуратный, заправить постель, обнаружить, интересоваться чем-либо, взглянуть на что-либо, то есть, смущенный, головная боль, какая жалость, почти
ex. 2 Find synonyms for the following words
enough, to discover, the same, usually, to be interested in something, tidy, old, once, to surprise, nearly
ex. 3 Give opposites of the following words
neat, later, everywhere, find, leave, to reply, sudden, boring, lovely
ex. 4 Give three forms of these verbs
feel, buy, arrive, get, wake up, set, start, hear, build, come, mean, tell, say, keep, read, move, understand, show, think
ex. 5 Explain these words and expressions
to have a look at something
that is
to follow
to make the bed
to explain
Grammar Exercises
ex. 1 Rewrite the sentences using "enough" according to the rule
enough + nouns
adjective + enough
adverb + enough
He was tall enough to join the basketball team.
She was a beautiful enough girl.
You can never have enough friends.
I knew him well enough.
  1. He was handsome.
  2. There were chairs in the room.
  3. I don't speak English well.
  4. I have read books.
  5. My sister is a clever girl.
  6. They had money to buy a new house.
  7. I can't swim well to compete at the Olympic Games.
  8. I'm afraid, you don't have experience to do this job.
  9. I don't have time to talk to you now.
ex. 2 Rewrite the sentences using "used to/didn't use to"
used to - имел обыкновение / привычку что-то делать
I used to watch TV a lot when I was young. (I don’t watch TV a lot now)
He didn't use to work so much a year ago. (He works a lot now)
Did they use to sell postcards? (Did they sell them in the past?)
  1. When I was a child I played football.
  2. He never read a lot of books.
  3. There were many shops on our street.
  4. Before they built our house, there was a farm here.
  5. I studied French a few years ago, now I study German.
  6. I liked vanilla ice-cream, but now I love chocolate ice-cream.
  7. He said he liked opera.
  8. He broke glasses all the time, now he's more careful.
ex. 3 Study the rules of using "there is/are/was/were..." and do the exercise
there is/are - где-то что-то есть
There are trees in the garden. - В саду есть деревья.
There is a dog and two cats in the room. - В конате пес и две кошки.
there was/were - где-то что-то было
There was an old farm here. - Тут была старая ферма.
There were many guests in the hotel. - В гостинице было много гостей. 
there can be
there must be
there should be etc.
  1. В моей комнате нет цветов.
  2. В этой книге много информации о Китае?
  3. В английском языке довольно много исключений.
  4. Когда я вышел на улицу, там не было никого.
  5. Привидений не существует.
  6. Сколько людей будет на собрании?
  7. Что было в твоем чемодане?
  8. Не выходи, на улице может быть много людей.
  9. Не может быть, чтобы у нас закончился сахар. На кухне должно быть немного сахара.
  10. У тебя дома должно быть больше книг.