On many tests, like the SAT, ACT and GRE, the reading comprehension section is the toughest part, so practice is key. Try your hand here on this Reading Comprehension Worksheet 4. For more practice, check out these: Reading comprehension worksheets 1, 2 and 3.
Directions: The passage below is followed by questions based on its content; answer the questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.
Copyright: Matthews, Brander, ed. The Short-Story: Specimens Illustrating Its Development. New York: American Book Company, 1907; Bartleby.com, 2000
I DO not think that we ever knew his real name. Our ignorance of it certainly never gave us any social inconvenience, for at Sandy Bar in 1854 most men were christened anew. Sometimes these appellatives were derived from some distinctiveness of dress, as in the case of “Dungaree Jack”; or from some peculiarity of habit, as shown in “Saleratus Bill,” so called from an undue proportion of that chemical in his daily bread; or from some unlucky slip, as exhibited in “The Iron Pirate,” a mild, inoffensive man, who earned that baleful title by his unfortunate mispronunciation of the term “iron pyrites.” Perhaps this may have been the beginning of a rude heraldry; but I am constrained to think that it was because a man’s real name in that day rested solely upon his own unsupported statement. “Call yourself Clifford, do you?” said Boston, addressing a timid new-comer with infinite scorn; “hell is full of such Cliffords!” He then introduced the unfortunate man, whose name happened to be really Clifford, as “Jay-bird Charley,”—an unhallowed inspiration of the moment, that clung to him ever after.
But to return to Tennessee’s Partner, whom we never knew by any other than this relative title; that he had ever existed as a separate and distinct individuality we only learned later. It seems that in 1853 he left Poker Flat to go to San Francisco, ostensibly to procure a wife. He never got any farther than Stockton. At that place he was attracted by a young person who waited upon the table at the hotel where he took his meals. One morning he said something to her which caused her to smile not unkindly, to somewhat coquettishly break a plate of toast over his upturned, serious, simple face, and to retreat to the kitchen. He followed her, and emerged a few moments later, covered with more toast and victory. That day the next week they were married by a Justice of the Peace, and returned to Poker Flat. I am aware that something more might be made of this episode, but I prefer to tell it as it was current at Sandy Bar,—in the gulches and barrooms,—where all sentiment was modified by a strong sense of humor.
Of their married felicity but little is known, perhaps for the reason that Tennessee, then living with his partner, one day took occasion to say something to the bride on his own account, at which, it is said, she smiled not unkindly and chastely retreated,—this time as far as Marysville, where Tennessee followed her, and where they went to housekeeping without the aid of a Justice of the Peace. Tennessee’s Partner took the loss of his wife simply and seriously, as was his fashion. But to everybody’s surprise, when Tennessee one day returned from Marysville, without his partner’s wife,—she having smiled and retreated with somebody else,—Tennessee’s Partner was the first man to shake his hand and greet him with affection. The boys who had gathered in the cañon to see the shooting were naturally indignant. Their indignation might have found vent in sarcasm but for a certain look in Tennessee’s Partner’s eye that indicated a lack of humorous appreciation. In fact, he was a grave man, with a steady application to practical detail which was unpleasant in a difficulty.
Meanwhile a popular feeling against Tennessee had grown up on the Bar. He was known to be a gambler; he was suspected to be a thief. In these suspicions Tennessee’s Partner was equally compromised; his continued intimacy with Tennessee after the affair above quoted could only be accounted for on the hypothesis of a co-partnership of crime. At last Tennessee’s guilt became flagrant. One day he overtook a stranger on his way to Red Dog. The stranger afterward related that Tennessee beguiled the time with interesting anecdote and reminiscence, but illogically concluded the interview in the following words: “And now, young man, I’ll trouble you for your knife, your pistols, and your money. You see your weppings might get you into trouble at Red Dog, and your money’s a temptation to the evilly disposed. I think you said your address was San Francisco. I shall endeavor to call.” It may be stated here that Tennessee had a fine flow of humor, which no business pre-occupation could wholly subdue.
This exploit was his last. Red Dog and Sandy Bar made common cause against the highwayman. Tennessee was hunted in very much the same fashion as his prototype, the grizzly. As the toils closed around him, he made a desperate dash through the Bar, emptying his revolver at the crowd before the Arcade Saloon, and so on up Grizzly Cañon; but at its farther extremity he was stopped by a small man on a gray horse. The men looked at each other a moment in silence. Both were fearless, both self-possessed and independent; and both types of a civilization that in the seventeenth century would have been called heroic, but, in the nineteenth, simply “reckless.” “What have you got there?—I call,” said Tennessee, quietly. “Two bowers and an ace,” said the stranger, as quietly, showing two revolvers and a bowie knife. “That takes me,” returned Tennessee; and with this gamblers’ epigram, he threw away his useless pistol, and rode back with his captor.
Reading Comprehension Worksheet Questions
1. Which of the following is NOT a likely inference based on the information in the short story?
(A) Poker Flat was a brutal place to live in the 1850's.
(B) Tennessee's Partner valued Tennessee more than he valued his wife.
(C) Despite his sense of humor about it, Tennessee was a man who truly feared the law.
(D) The boys who had gathered in the canyon after Tennessee's return from Marysville were scared of Tennessee's Partner.
(E) The small man on the gray horse who stopped Tennessee after he fled up Grizzly Canyon, was a man who upheld the law.
2. This passage is narrated from the point of view of
(A) A nameless resident of Sandy Bar
(B) A man named Red Dog
(C) A nameless resident of Poker Flat
(D) A man named Tennessee
(E) Tennessee's Partner
3. In line 15 of the passage, the word "procure" most nearly means
4. Which of the following questions does the passage NOT supply enough information to answer?
(A) Was Tennessee exposed to gambling, and as such, predisposed to using language about gambling?
(B) Was the narrator well-acquainted with Tennessee's Partner?
(C) While it lasted, was the marriage between Tennessee's Partner and his wife a happy one?
(D) Was Jay-bird Charley a new resident of Sandy Bar?
(E) Did Tennessee commit more than one crime?
5. The author uses which of the following in this sentence: "Their indignation might have found vent in sarcasm but for a certain look in Tennessee’s Partner’s eye that indicated a lack of humorous appreciation."