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A FACE IN THE NIGHT
Read the given passage carefully :
Mr Oliver. an Anglo-Indian teacher was returning to his school late one night, on the outskirts of the hill station of Shimla. The school was conducted on English public school lines and the boys, most of them from well-to-do Indian families, wore blazers. caps and ties. Life magazine, in a feature on India, had once called this school the ‘Eton of the East’. Mr Oliver had been teaching at this school for several years. The Shimla bazaar, with its cinemas and restaurants, was about two miles from the school: and Mr Oliver, a bachelor. usually strolled into the town in the evening returning after dark, when he would take a short-cut through a pine forest.
When there was a strong wind, the pine trees made sad, eerie sounds that kept most people to the main road. But Mr Oliver was not a nervous or imaginative man. He carried a torch and on the night I write of, its pale gleam — the batteries were running down—moved fitfully over the narrow forest path. When its flickering light fell on the figure of a boy, who was sitting alone on a rock, Mr Oliver stopped. Boys were not supposed to be out of school after 7 p.m. and it was now well past nine. ‘What are you doing out here, boy ?’ asked Mr Oliver sharply. moving closer so that he could recognise the miscreant. But even as he approached near the boy, Mr Oliver sensed that something was wrong. The boy appeared to be crying.
His head hung down, he held his face in his hands and his body shook convulsively. It was strange. soundless weeping and Mr Oliver felt distinctly uneasy. Well—what’s the matter ?’ he asked, his anger giving way to concern. What are you crying for ?’ The boy would not answer or look up. His body continued.
to be rocked with silent sobbing. Come on boy, you shouldn’t be out here at this hour. Tell me the trouble. Look up.’ The boy looked up. He took his hands from his face and looked up at his teacher. The light from Mr Oliver’s torch fell on the boy’s face. If you could call it a face. He had no eyes, ears nose at the mouth. It was just around the smooth head with
a school cap on top of it. And that’s where the story should end-as indeed it has, for several people who have had similar experiences and dropped dead of inexplicable heart-attacks. But for Mr Oliver, it did not end there. The torch fell from his trembling hand. He turned and scrambled down the path, running blindly through the trees and calling for help. He was still running towards the school buildings when he saw a lantern swinging in the middle of the path. Mr Oliver had never before been so pleased to see the night-watchman. He stumbled up to the watchman, gasping for breath and speaking incoherently. What is it, Sahib? asked the watchman. ‘Has there been an accident? Why are you running ?’
‘I saw something—something horrible—a boy weeping in the forest— and he had no face’ No face, Sahib ?”No eyes. nose, mouth-nothing’.
‘Do you mean it was like this, Sahib ?’ asked the watchman, and raised the lamp to his own face. The watchman had no eyes, no ears, no features at all—not even an eyebrow 1 The wind blew the lamp out, and Mr Oliver had his heart attack.
On the basis of your reading of the passage. answer the following questions as briefly as possible. Write your answers in the spaces provided.
(a) The school was called the ‘Eton of the East’ because :
(b) The boy whom Mr Oliver met is referred to as a miscreant because :
(c) ‘If you could call it a face’ (line 28).The writer is doubtful because :
(d) ‘For Mr Oliver, it did not end there’ (line 32). The story would have ended at this point of
(e) Do you mean it was like this ?” (line 40-42). What does ‘this’ refer to?
(f) The narrator says that Mr Oliver was not a nervous or an imaginative man. One event in the story which supports this view of Mr Oliver is that he :
(a) it was run on English public school lines.
(b) he was playing truant.
(c) it had no eyes. no ears, no nose and no mouth.
(d) he had dropped dead.
(e) This’ refers to the watchman’s face.
(f) did not have a heart attack when he saw the boy’s face.
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