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Task 1This is an open-end detective story, which means it doesn’t give us an answer to the famous question “Who's done it?” You will have to work it out yourselves. Think thoroughly and explain your decision.
The Dinner Party
There are still some rich people in the world. And there were many more some thirty years ago. Please do not think that they lead dull, frustrated lives, compelled to sit through interminable operas and chamber music they do not understand, bow unwillingly to royalty and force down their gullets1 such dietary dross as pate de foie gras2, trout in aspic3and champagne. No, they lead lives of particular pleasure commanding the best artists to sing and play exactly what they wish to hear, greeting royalty on terms of pleasure and intimacy, and eating and drinking precisely what they want – often pate de fois gras, trout in aspic, and champagne. But rich people do have their problems. They are seldom problems of finance, since most of them have enough sense to hire other people to take care of their worries. But there are other, more genuine problems. They are the problems of behaviour.
Let me tell you one such a story which happened to my uncle Octavian a full thirty years ago. At that time I myself was fifteen. My uncle Octavian was then a rich man. He was a charming and accomplished host whose villa on the Cote d’Azur was an accepted rendezvous of the great. He was a hospitable and most amiable man—until January 3, 1925.
There was nothing special about that day in the life of my uncle Octavian, except that it was his fifty-fifth birthday. As usual on such a day he was giving a party, a party for twelve people, all of them old friends.
I, myself, aged fifteen, was deeply privileged. I was staying with my uncle at his exquisite villa, on holiday from school. And as a special concession on this happy day, I was allowed to come down to dinner. I was excited to be admitted to such an outstanding company, which included a newspaper proprietor of exceptional intelligence and his fabulous American wife, a recent prime-minister of France, a monumental statesman of post-war Germany, a Habsburg4 prince and princess and, as a tribute to his younger days, two of his “old flames” with their husbands.
At that age, you will guess, I was dazzled. Even today, 30 years later, one may fairly admit that the company was distinguished. But I should stress again that they were all old and intimate friends of my uncle Octavian.
Towards the end of a wonderful dinner, when dessert had been brought in and the servants had left, my uncle leant forward to admire a magnificent solitaire diamond ring on the princess's hand. She turned her hand gracefully towards my uncle. Across the table, the newspaper proprietor leant across and said: "May I also have a look?" She smiled and nodded. Then she took off the ring and held it out to him. "It was my grandmother's — the old empress," she said. "I have not worn it for many years. It is said to have once belonged to Genghis Khan."
There were exclamations of delight and admiration. The ring was passed from hand to hand. For a moment it rested on my own palm, gleaming splendidly with that interior yellow glow that such jewels can command. Then I passed it on to my neighbor. And as I turned away again, I think I saw her pass it on.
It was some 20 minutes later when the princess stood up and said: "Before we leave you, may I have my ring back?"
I remember my uncle murmuring: “Ah yes – that wonderful ring!” I remember the newspaper proprietor saying: “By Jove! Mustn’t forget that!” and one of the women laughing.
Then there was a pause, while each of us looked expectantly at his neighbor. Then there was silence.
The princess was still smiling, though less easily. She was unused to asking for things twice. “If you please,” she said, with a touch of hauteur. “Then we can leave the gentlemen to their port.”
The silence continued but I still thought that it could only be a practical joke and that one of us— probably the prince himself—would produce the ring with a laugh. But when nothing happened at all, I knew that the rest of the night would be dreadful.
I am sure that you can guess the sort of scene that followed. There was the embarrassment of the guests — all of them old and valued friends. There was the freezing politeness of the prince, the near-tears of the princess, the inspection of the whole room. There were also the demands to be searched. There was the fact that presently no one would meet anyone else’s eye.
But nothing brought the princess's ring back again. It had vanished— an irreplaceable heirloom5, worth possibly two hundred thousand pounds—in a roomful of twelve people, all known to each other.
No servants had entered the room. No one had left it for a moment. The thief (for now it could only be theft) was one of us, one of my uncle Octavian's cherished friends.
I remember it was the French cabinet minister who was most insistent on being searched, indeed, in his excitement he had already started to turn out his pockets, before my uncle held up his hand and stopped him. "There will be no search in my house," he commanded. "You are all my friends. The ring can only be lost. If it is not found"— he bowed towards the princess— "I will naturally make amends myself."
The ring never did appear, either then or later. My uncle, to the last, remained true to his rigid code that no one was to be searched.
I was glad to go back to England and to school a few days later. The sight of my uncle’s face and the knowledge that all that he was left with was a question mark: which of his intimate friends was the thief? – were more than I could bear.
We do not know on what scale my uncle made amends to the princess. We only know that he never returned to his lonely house near Cap d’Antibe and remained a recluse for the rest of his days.
To our family's surprise, uncle Octavian died a comparatively poor man. He didn’t die a broken man, but a profoundly sad one, with the special sadness of a hospitable host who never gave a single lunch or dinner party for the last thirty years of his life.
Task 2. Find in the text English equivalents for the following words and expressions.
1. вести жизнь, состоящую из одних удовольствий 11. великолепное кольцо с бриллиантом
2. проблемы, связанные с деньгами 12. передавали из рук в руки
3. очаровательный хозяин 13. выжидательно посмотреть
each of us 4. место, где обычно встречались великие мира сего an 14. смущение гостей was the embarrassment of the guests
5. радушный и хороший человек
15. старые, проверенные друзья
6. устраивал прием на 12 персон
16. незаменимая фамильная ценность
7. мне оказали особую привилегию
17. больше всех настаивал на обыске
8. (человек) необычайного ума
18. выворачивать карманы
9. я был ослеплен 19. возместить ущерб
10. общество было избранным 20. ни тогда, ни потом Task 3. Give Russian equivalents for the following words and expressions from the text and use them in the sentences of your own:
1. to hire smb. - нанимать кого-л.
Let's hire a nanny.
2. to have enough (much, little, no) sense to do smth - иметь достаточно (много, мало, не иметь ) смысла делать что-л.
This sentence have no sense!
3. be allowed to do smth. - быть допущенным к чему-л.
He was allowed to perform laboratory work.
4. to admire smth.- восхищаться чем-л.
I always admired my mom!
5.to have a look at - взглянуть на
Elly has a look at her dress with admiration.
6. to be (un) used to doing smth - быть (не) привыкшим делать что-л.
My neighbors were not used to washing dishes.
7. to smb's surprise. - к удивлению кого-л.
To the policeman's surprise, he was not a killer.
8. theft - кража
This theft has affected the whole city…
9. to vanish - исчезать
My desire to live has vanished a long time ago.
10. to remain a recluse - оставаться отшельником.
I want to go to France and remain a recluse.
Task 4. Answer these questions:
How old was the author of the story which happened to his uncle?
He was 15 years old.
What kind of man was uncle Octavian?
He was hospitable and most amiable man.
In what way did he want to celebrate his fifty-fifth birthday?
He was giving a party for twelve people, all of them old friends.
Describe the guests.
It was an outstanding company, which included a newspaper proprietor of exceptional intelligence and his fabulous American wife, a recent prime-minister of France, a monumental statesman of post-war Germany, a Habsburg prince and princess and, as a tribute to his younger days, two of his “old flames” with their husbands.
Why did the boy consider himself to be deeply privileged?
Because of company.
What was peculiar about all those people present at the party?
These were rich and famous people who were close friends of his uncle.
What did the princess tell the guests about her ring?
It was her grandmother's — the old empress, she has not worn it for many years and it is said to
have once belonged to Genghis Khan.
Why did the boy think it was a joke when the ring had disappeared?
He thought it was a joke because the company was too decent and no one could steal the ring.
What attempts were made to find the ring?
They tried to find him in the room and the French cabinet minister who was most insistent on being searched, indeed, in his excitement he had already started to turn out his pockets
Could the servants take the ring?
No, because no servants had entered the room
Why didn't uncle Octavian allow the guests to be searched? That would be bad form.
Why did he tell the princess he would make amends though it was clear he wasn't the thief?
He did not want to embarrass the guests and was too well brought up.
What was the reason of uncle Octavian's not giving parties in the last thirty years of his life?
For him, this situation was a shame.