The weekly column
Article 86, January 2002
THE GYPSY AND THE PRIEST
By Michael Berman
Level: Upper Intermediate - Advanced
Target Audience: Adults
Language / Skills Focus: Listening, Speaking & Quantifiers for uncountable nouns
Materials: Photocopies of the worksheet. Photocopies of the story (optional) to hand out at the end of the session.
1. Pre-listening: The story is about an encounter between a gypsy and a priest. Who do you think is going to come out on top? Now listen to the story to find out if you were right.
2. Post-listening: What do you think the moral of the story is?
3. Match the numbers on the left with the letters on the right to find explanations for the new vocabulary.
ANSWERS: 1-n 2-e 3-i 4-p 5-f 6-c 7-a 8-l 9-j 10-k 11-b 12-m 13-g 14-d 15-h 16-o
4. The words stroke and blade are quantifiers for uncountable nouns. Match the numbers on the left with the letters on the right to make combinations like the examples. ANSWERS: 1-b 2-c 3-m 4-e 5-f 6-i 7-j 8-n 9-k 10-l 11-g 12-h 13-d 14-a
The Gypsy And The Priest is adapted from a story in Russian Gypsy Tales collected by Yefim Druts & Alexei Gessler - Interlink Books 1992.
THE GYPSY AND THE PRIEST
Just before harvest a gypsy went to a priest in search of work.
"I'll cut you enough hay to last you all winter," he promised.
"Very well," agreed the priest. "I've got a large field with waist-high grass. Cut it for me and earn yourself ten roubles. Fair enough?"
"Done, Your Reverence. Only it won't be a quick job. Give me some food and drink to put fire in my belly."
Well why not? The priest gave him meat, bread, and a bottle of vodka - to keep the fellow going. And off to the meadow went the gypsy, his bundle of food over one shoulder, a scythe over the other.
The grass in the meadow was so high and thick that you could stand up in it and not be seen. But the first thing the gypsy did was to put up his tent. Then he got a fire going and started to cook the food. He boiled the meat and ate and drank to his heart's content. Then he lay down to sleep. In two days he finished off the priest's rations, yet he did not do a stroke of work. When nothing remained of the food he set off back to the church house.
"Right then, Your Reverence," he said, "let's settle up."
"Have you cut the lot, gypsy?" asked the holy man.
"Every little bit," replied the gypsy. "I can assure you there isn't a blade of grass left in the field and it's all cut and neatly stacked."
So the priest handed over ten roubles but the man lingered on.
"Toss another five in," the gypsy said. "I had a hard job with that tall grass it was really tough to cut down. If I'd known, I would never have agreed to do it."
"Oh no, gypsy boy," said the man of God. "We made a deal. Take your money and go."
"So you won't give me another penny?"
"No. Not a penny more."
"If that's the case, then let the grass grow as tall as before!"
With that the gypsy slammed the door and left.
Fearing the gypsy curse, the priest hurried off to the meadow … and there was the grass standing just as tall and thick as ever.
"Well I'm blessed," he gasped. "He's made the grass grow again. I shouldn't have been so mean. Now I'll have to hire someone else to do the job!"
WORKSHEET: THE GYPSY AND THE PRIEST
Match the numbers on the left with the letters on the right to find explanations for the new vocabulary:
"In two days he finished off the priest's rations, yet he did not do a stroke of work."
"I can assure you there isn't a blade of grass left in the field …"
The words stroke and blade are quantifiers for uncountable nouns. Match the numbers on the left with the letters on the right to make combinations like the examples:
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