On-line homework assignments will be assigned on Tuesdays and will be due the following Tuesday.  Students will have one week to finish their homework assignments.  Homework can be accessed from any device that is connected to the Internet, i.e. cell phone, tablet, computer, etc. 

***NOTE***The reading selections can also be found on this web page if you have trouble accessing them through the Skyward page. 

HOMEWORK #8 / INFORMATIONAL TEXTS  ("An Ocean on Mars" & "Fighting Malaria, One Mosquito at a Time")
 will be due TUESDAY, October 17, 2017!!

An Ocean on Mars


            Today, the surface of Mars is dry, made of rock and clay in its characteristic color of red.  Though it contains plains, valleys, and huge volcanoes, there are no oceans or streams.   But scientists have found that Mars is not quite as dry as it looks.  There are large quantities of ice in the planet’s polar ice caps.  There are small amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere.  There are reserves of ice far beneath the surface – perhaps even an ocean’s worth.  But water in liquid form is not found on Mars, at least at the surface.  Still, scientists have wondered about the possibility of vast quantities of water on the planet’s surface at some point in Mars’s history.  In particular, they have focused on an enormous plain near the northern pole, with a shape that suggests it could be the remains of an ancient ocean. 


Water on Mars

            Based on the current conditions on Mars, the possibility of an ocean seems remote.  The planet’s cold temperature causes the ground to be permanently frozen. And above ground, because of the low pressure of the thin atmosphere on Mars, when ice warms up, it goes directly from frozen ice to water vapor, a gas – bypassing the liquid water state entirely.  On Mars, water still freezes at 0ᵒC (32ᵒF), as it does on Earth.  But it boils not at 100ᵒC (212ᵒF) but at only 10ᵒC (50ᵒF).  That difference, of only 10 Celsius degrees or 18 Fahrenheit degrees, means that water spends almost no time in a liquid state. 

            Perhaps at some point in the past, Mars had a thicker atmosphere and warmer temperatures, which would make it easier for liquid water to exist for a longer time.  But it is difficult for climatologists to find enough evidence to tell whether this actually happened.  Instead, much of the research investigating an ocean on Mars has come from the field of geology.

Remains of a Seafloor

            In 2001, geologist Baerbel K. Lucchitta studied the contours, or the shapes of the landforms, on the plains of Mars.  She compared them to the Antarctic seafloor and found many similarities.  In the Antarctic, the seafloor is shaped by “ice streams,” slow-moving flows of underwater ice.  These ice streams move like glaciers on land, pulling rocks, sand, and other sediment along with them.  The great weight of the ice and the sediment carves out long gouges in the surface underneath.  On Mars, similar gouges suggested that there were once ice streams on the vast plain near the northern pole.  Perhaps that surface had indeed been the seafloor of an ice-covered ocean like Antarctica’s.

            NASA spacecraft had captured some images of possible shorelines around the “ocean” area.  However, the images suggested that the basin might not have been an ocean after all.  The images showed shorelines that were not level – as any container of liquid water would need to be.  In 2007, a team of scientists led by Michael Manga and Taylor Perron found a probably explanation.  They realized that Mars’s wobbly axis would be the cause.

            Earth’s moon helps its axis stay tilted at a stable 23 degrees.  Mars has a similar tilt, of about 25 degrees, but it does not have a moon.  Its axis can easily shift up to 10 degrees.  Manga and Perron calculated that the shoreline would have been level if the axis had moved by 50 degrees.  It was a surprisingly large shift.  But then, they realized that the filling of an ocean would cause Mars’s axis to shift far more than usual.  The mass of such a large amount of water close to a pole could cause the planet to tip up to 50 degrees.  Then, when the water eventually evaporated or sank back into the ground, the pole would return to its usual position.

            In 2-12, a European study by Jeremie Mouginot provided further evidence that there might be an ocean on Mars.  His research was based on earlier data from a NASA orbiter.  The data suggested that there might be deposits of sediment in the “ocean” area.  Sediment is left behind by moving ice or by water that has evaporated or disappeared into the ground.  To confirm this idea, Mouginot used a spacecraft that could map the surface in more detail with radio waves.  His results showed that the vast plain by the northern pole was in face covered with sedimentary deposits.  Beneath these were volcanic plains – a likely material for an ocean floor.

A Temporary Ocean

            Based on the geological evidence, it seems possible that there was in fact an ocean on Mars.  But if this ocean did exist, it might not have been there for very long.  Climatologists believe that round three billion years ago, the temperature beneath the surface might have been warm enough to melt some of the ice there.  The surging groundwater might have been enough to fill an ocean – but only to a depth of one hundred meters.  And this shallow ocean could have been more like a “flash flood,” at least from the perspective of a geologic timeline – lasting for only a million years before it evaporated or froze and was buried underground. 




 Image result for Mars





                Mars today

Fighting Malaria, One Mosquito at a Time

A Global Problem

1)    The disease of malaria may have largely disappeared from the United States and other parts of the developed world, but it is a problem of global proportions.  According to the World Health Organization, about 216 million people worldwide contracted malaria in 2010 alone.  About 655,000 of them died from the disease.

            Malaria feels like an intense flu, with high fevers and shaking chills.  But it can quickly get worse, especially if it is not treated immediately.  In developing areas, such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa, communities may not have nearby medical clinics or resources to treat the disease.  It can have devastating effects on those who are more susceptible to disease, or those at greater risk of becoming ill.

            It is possible to control malaria in an area, although it is not easy.  In the 1940s, malaria was a growing problem in the United States, especially in the southeast.  With a great effort over many years, federal and state agencies managed to control the disease.  But it required organization, infrastructure, and incredible expense.  For countries without these resources, the problem of malaria continues.

Two Crucial Discoveries

    People have been battling malaria since the 1880s, when a French military doctor named Alphonse Laveran began to study a deadly disease that was striking many in the army.  He discovered that it was caused by a single-celled parasite in the blood.  But he could not find out what delivered it; no one at the time knew how the parasite was transmitted.  The disease did not travel from person to person, as a cough or cold might.

5)         A decade later, a British military doctor, Ronald Ross, began to study the disease.  He had heard about Laveran’s discovery that malaria was a parasite, but like most people of the time, he did not believe it.  This was partly because of French scientist Louis Pasteur, who was making great strides in his research on bacteria at the same time.  People were inclined to think that bacteria were the likely cause of any uncontrollable disease.

            But in 1894, Ross visited a British scientist, Patrick Manson, who showed him the malaria parasite on a microscope slide.  Manson had done groundbreaking work in the field of tropical medicine, which was of great importance to the British officers living in India and other parts of what was then the British Empire.  A decade before, Manson had shown that a different parasite that caused disease in humans could also infect a mosquito.  Ross felt sure the same was true for malaria.  He left England for India in 1895, determined to prove that mosquitoes were somehow related to the transmission of malaria.

            By 1897, Ross had found his proof.  He had caught a mosquito that had fed on a person with malaria.  When he examined the mosquito’s stomach, he found the malaria parasite.  But it took Ross another year to prove that mosquitoes could not only be infected but could also transmit th4e disease to humans.  Through experiments with malaria in birds, he was finally able to observe the full process.  The parasites would enter the mosquito through a sick bird and grow inside the mosquito.  Eventually, they would move into the mosquito’s salivary glands – exactly the area the mosquito used to bite.  The parasites would then infect a bird through the mosquito’s bite.  Ross’s discovery forever changed how people approached the disease of malaria.  In 1902, he won a Nobel Prize for his work.

Preventing Malaria

            Ross’s discovery gave people a way to help prevent malaria:  fighting the mosquitoes[PN1]  that carried it.  They drained areas of standing water where mosquitoes bred.  They cut back brush and grasses, since it was believed that mosquitoes preferred those areas to open spaces.  They screened windows.  They found and destroyed adult mosquitoes and larvae.  In later years, they were able to use insecticides, developed to kill mosquitoes and other bugs.  In this way, the United States and much of the developed world largely controlled or wiped out malaria. 

            Other countries, however, had no money for drugs and insecticides.  They could still take some actions, such as draining standing water.  But often, authorities were not organized enough to enforce these practices consistently.  As a result, malaria continued to spread.

(10)     But in the past decade, a different kind of solution has begun to offer hope for those countries still plagued with malaria – “bed nets” treated with insecticide.  Bed nets are already used in many cultures to keep bugs away at night.  These nets are made of a very thin fabric in a very tight weave that mosquitoes and other insects cannot get through.  Many people use them as canopies over their beds, tucking in the edges each night as a protective barrier.  Nets treated with insecticide not only protect people at night, but they also kill insects on contact and even help repel mosquitoes.  In several studies in Africa, these mosquito nets reduced the death of children under five years of age by about 20 percent.

            Many organizations distribute these nets, helping communities prevent malaria in an affordable way.  In sub-Saharan Africa alone, as many as 294 million nets were distributed between 2008 and 2010.  Perhaps someday, for countries around the world, malaria will be a disease of the past. 

A mosquito net is draped over a bed to repel bugs.


HOMEWORK #7 / POETRY ("The Snowing of the Pines" & "Helen")
 will be due TUESDAY, October 10, 2017!!

The Snowing of the Pines

by Thomas Wentworth Higginson


Softer than silence, stiller than still air

Float down from high pine-boughs the slender leaves.

The forest floor its annual boon receives

That comes like snowfall, tireless, tranquil, fair.

5     Gently they glide, gently they clothe the bard

Old rocks with grace.  Their fall a mantle weaves

Of paler yellow than autumnal sheaves

Or those strange blossoms the witch-hazels wear.

Athwart (1)  long aisles the sunbeams pierce their way;

10     High up, the crows are gathering for the night;

The delicate needles fill the air; the jay

Takes through their golden mist his radiant flight;

They fall and fall, till at November’s close

The snowflakes drop as lightly – snows on snows.


  1. athwart  -  across


 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

excerpted from


By Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (“Susan Coolidge”)


The autumn seems to cry for thee,

Best lover of the autumn days!

Each scarlet-tipped and wine-red tree,

Each russet branch and branch of gold,

5     Gleams through its veil of shimmering haze,

And seeks thee as they sought of old”

For all the glory of their dress,

They wear a look of wistfulness.


In every wood I see thee stand,

10     The ruddy boughs above thy head,

And heaped in either slender hand

The  frosted white and amber ferns,

The sumach’s (1) deep, resplendent red,

Which like a fiery feather burns,

15     And, over all, thy happy eyes,

Shining as clear as autumn skies

Where art thou, comrade true and tried?

The woodlands call for thee in vain,

And sadly burns the autumn-tide

20     Before my eyes, made dim and blind

By blurring, puzzling mists of pain.

I look before, I look behind;

Beauty and loss seem everywhere,

And grief and glory fill the air.


25     Already, in these few short weeks,

A hundred things I leave unsaid,

Because there is no voice that speaks

In answer, and no listening ear,

No one to care now thou art dead!

30     And month by month, and year by year,

I shall but miss thee more, and go

With half my thought untold, I know.


  1.  sumach  a flowering plant with red fruit


HOMEWORK #6 / DRAMA ("The Proposal" & "Lights Out")
 will be due TUESDAY, October 3, 2017!!

excerpted and adapted from

The Proposal

By Anton Chekov




NATALYA STEPANOVNA, his daughter, twenty-five years old

IVAN VASSILEVITCH LOMOV, a landowner and neighbor of Chubukov


SETTING:  The scene is set at a drawing g-room in Chubukov’s house.  Lomov enters, wearing a dress jacket and white gloves.  Chubukov rises to meet him.


 1   CHUBUKOV:  My dear fellow, Ivan Vassilevitch!  I am extremely glad!  (squeezes his hand)  Sit down, please do – my dear fellow, why are you so formal in your get-up?  Can you be going anywhere?

LOMOV:  No, I’ve come only to see you, honored Stepan Stepanovitch.

CHUBUKOV:  Then why are you in evening dress, as if you’re paying a New Year’s Eve visit?

LOMOV:  Well, you see, it’s like this.  (takes his arm)  I’ve come to you, honored Stepan Stepanovitch, to trouble you with a request.  Not once or twice have I already had the privilege of applying to you for help, and you have always, so to speak – I must ask your pardon, I am getting excited.  I shall drink some water, honored Stepan Stepanovitch.  (drinks)

5   CHUVUKOV:  (aside) He’s come to borrow money!  Shan’t give him any! (aloud)  What is it, my beauty?

LOMOV:  You see, Honor Stepanitch – I beg pardon, Stepan Honoritch – I mean, I’m awfully excited, as you will please notice.  The fact is, I’ve come to ask the hand of your daughter, Natalya Stepanovna, in marriage.

CHUBUKOV:  (joyfully) My dear fellow, I’m so glad, and so on, yes, indeed, and all that sort of thing.  (embraces and kisses Lomov)  I’ve been hoping for it for a long time; it’s been my continual desire.  (sheds a tear)  What am I behaving in this idiotic way for?  I’m off my balance with joy, absolutely off my balance!  I’ll go and call Natasha, (1) and all that. 

  1. Natasha a nickname for Natalya

LOMOV:  (greatly moved) Honored Stepan Stepanovitch, do you think I may count on her consent?

CHUBUKOV:  Why, of course, my darling, and – as if she won’t consent!  She’s in love; egad, she’s like a love-sick cat, and so on.  Shan’t be long!  (exits)

10  LOMOV:  It’s cold; I’m trembling all over, just as if I’d got an examination before me.  The great thing is, I must have my mind made up.  If I give myself time to think to hesitate, to talk a lot, to look for an ideal, or for real love, then I’ll never get married – brr, it’s cold!  Natalya Stepanovna is an excellent housekeeper, not bad-looking, well-educated – what more do I want?  But I’m getting a noise in my ears from excitement.  (drinks)  And it’s impossible for me not to marry;  in the first place, I’m already thirty-five – a critical age, so to speak.  In the second place, I ought to lead a quiet and regular life.  I suffer from palpitations, I’m excitable and always getting awfully upset; at this very moment my lips are trembling, and there’s a twitch in my right eyebrow.  But the very worst of all is the way I sleep:  I no sooner get into bed and begin to go off when suddenly something in my left side gives a pull, and I can feel it in my shoulder and head.  I jump up like a lunatic, walk about a bit, and lie down again, but as soon as I begin to get off to sleep there’s another pull!  And this may happen twenty times.

(Natalya Stepanovna comes in.)

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  Papa said, “Go; there’s a merchant come for his goods.”  How do you do, Ivan Vassilevitch!

LOMOV:  How do you do, honored Natalya Stepanovna?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  Why, you’re in evening dress!  Are you going to a ball, or what?  - though I must say you look better.  Tell me, why are you got up like that?

LOMOV:  (excited) You see, honored Natalya Stepanovna, the fact is, I’ve made up my mind to ask you to hear me out – of course you’ll be surprised and perhaps even angry, but – (aside) It’s awfully cold!

15  NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  What’s the matter?  (pause) Well?

LOMOV:  You must know, honored Natalya Stepanovna, that I have long had the privilege of knowing your family.  The Lomovs and the Chubukovs have always had the most friendly, and I might almost say the most affectionate, regard for each other.  And, as you know, my land is a near neighbor of yours.  You will remember that my Oxen Meadows touch your birchwoods.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  Excuse my interrupting you.  You say, “my Oxen Meadows,” but are they yours?

LOMOV:  Yes, mine.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  What are you talking about?  Oxen Meadows are ours, not yours!

20  LOMOV:  No, mine, honored Natalya Stepanovna.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  Well, how do you make that out?

LOMOV:  You can see from the documents, honored Natalya Stepanovna.  Oxen Meadows, it’s true were once the subject of dispute, but now everybody knows that they are mine. You see, my aunt’s grandmother gave the free use of these meadows in perpetuity to the peasants of your father’s grandfather, in return for which they were to make bricks for her.  The peasants belonging to your father’s grandfather had the free use of the Meadows for forty years, and had got into the habit of regarding them as their own.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  No, it isn’t at all like that!  Both my grandfather and great-grandfather reckoned that their land extended to Burnt Marsh – which means that Oxen Meadows were outs.

LOMOV:  I’ll show you the documents, Natalya Stepanovna!

25  NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  We’ve had the land for nearly three hundred years, and then we’re suddenly told that it isn’t ours!  Ivan Vassilevitch, I can hardly believe my own ears.  The meadows are outs, and that’s all.

LOMOV:  Mine.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA:  Ours!  You can go on proving it for two days on end, you can go and put on fifteen dress jackets, but I tell you they’re ours, ours, ours!  So there! 


Lights Out




SARA, their oldest daughter

ANDREW, their younger son

SETTING: A dining room during the end of an everyday family dinner in a suburban dining room next to a kitchen.  Outside there is a thunderstorm, so the sounds of rain and occasional thunder and lightning are audible in the background.  Mom and Dad are talking pleasantly, Sara is looking off in the distance, bored, and Andrew is engaged in trying to create a giant skyscraper of vegetables on his plate.


1   MOM:  (to Dad) Yes, could you believe he had the nerve to say that?  What a day at work – Oh, Andrew, stop whatever you’re doing to those vegetables.

(Andrew scowls and rearranges the food on his plate in a more normal pattern.)

SARA:  Mommmmmmmmmm, can I please be excused?

MOM:  (brightly)  Sara, there are still a few minutes of family dinner night!

ANDREW:  Can I go watch TV?

5   DAD:  No, Andrew!

SARA:  If Andrew and I go watch TV together, that will be a family activity, won’t it?

MOM:  (exasperated)  No!  And anyway, can’t you hear the storm?  It’s probably not a good idea to turn the TV on if there’s lightning outside.

(Suddenly all the lights in the house go out.)

ANDREW:  (making ghost noises) Whooooo!  Scary!

SARAH:  Stop it, Andrew.

10   DAD:  Hang on a minute.  Let me find us some light.

(The sound of fumbling in a drawer is heard, and a moment later, there is the sound of a match being struck.  Dad lights a candle he is holding, puts it on the table, and then lights a second.  The family members stare at each other in the soft, flickering light.)

MOM:  That’s better.

ANDREW:  (groaning)  No, it isn’t.  That means I definitely can’t watch TV!

DAD:  (cheerfully)  Well, that’s just terrible, Andrew; we’ll have to think of something else.

MOM:  You know, we haven’t played any games together in a while.  What about dominoes?  (to Sara and Andrew)  You know how much Dad loves that game, but you two never even learned how to play.

(Sara and Andrew groan in protest.)

15   MOM:  Oh, it could be fun – just give it a chance!  I’ll be right back.

(She picks up one of the candles and carries it carefully out of the room.  After a moment’s thought, Dad takes the other candle into the kitchen, finds a lantern in a cupboard, lights it, and brings it back to the table with the other candle.  Sara and Andrew grimace at each other in the slightly brighter light.)

DAD:  You know, it’s not so bad to have no electricity.  When I was growing up, we didn’t have reliable electricity – in fact, we knew we would have light for only a couple of hours each night. 

SARA:  (horrified)  What did you do?

DAD:  (smiling)  We spent time together.  My brother – your uncle – and I would play dominoes or tell each other stories of what we’d do someday when we grew up.  Of course, we’d also sneak into the kitchen and grab some of my mother’s wonderful cookies when she wasn’t looking.  It was easier in the dark!

ANDREW:  That doesn’t sound so bad.

20   DAD:  (a little sadly)  That’s true, but then when we moved here, we never seemed to have time for dominoes and stories anymore.  We were so distracted by having to work together for the family business and trying to succeed in a new place!

SARA:  Sounds kind of like us, Dad – we’ve been pretty preoccupied, too, I guess.

(Mom enters with the candle and a set of dominoes.  As she does so, Andrew edges off into the darkness of the kitchen nearby.)

MOM:  (still slightly exasperated)  Now, I know you two aren’t really interested in playing –

SARA:  (interrupting her)  Actually, Mom, I’ve kind of been wondering how to play dominoes.  It seems strange that I never learned how!

MOM:  (startled) Oh, well – that would be wonderful, Sara, and I’m sure your father would love to teach you!

(Andrew reemerges from the kitchen with a plate of cookies, which he places on the table as he sits down and grins at his father.)

25   ANDREW:  (to Dad)  You’re right, Dad:  it really is easier to grab cookies in the dark!

(Sara and Dad laugh, and Andrew takes a cookie from the plate and starts to munch on it as Mom begins to set up the dominoes for a game.)

DAD:  OK, let me show you how we begin the game.  The first thing you do –

(He stops as suddenly all the lights in the house come back on.  All characters blink at one another in the bright light, and the beeps of various electronic appliances are heard as everything comes back on.)

DAD:  (slightly disappointed)  Oh well, then, I expect you’re going to want to go watch TV.  We can always play dominoes another time.

SARA:  I don’t know, Dad – we were just starting to play, so it seems a little pointless to stop now.

ANDREW:  Yeah, Dad – plus we have this whole plate of cookies to eat !  (He grins and offers a cookie to Dad.)  We’ve got to do something while we munch on these, and dominoes is as good as anything. 

(Mom raises her eyebrows in surprise, and Dad looks more cheerful.)

DAD:  Well, if you’re sure, then let’s play!  We each begin with ten dominoes in our hand, like this.

(He continues talking as the sound faces on the family enjoying the game of dominoes and the curtain falls.)


HOMEWORK #5/ HISTORICAL FICTION ("California As I Saw It" & "A Woman's Kindness" ; "After the Quake" & "Waves of Earth")
 will be due WEDNESDAY, September 27, 2017!!

“California as I Saw It”

A memoir by Luzena Stanley Wilson

            After two or three days in Sacramento, we sold our oxen and bought an interest in the hotel on what is now known as K Street.  The hotel we bought consisted of the kitchen, which was my special province, and the general living room. 

            It was a motley crowd that gathered every day at my table, but always at my coming the loud voices were hushed, the quarrels stopped, and deference and respect were tendered me as if I had been a queen.  I was a queen.  Any woman who spoke a kindly, sympathetic word to the lonely, homesick men, was a queen, and lacked no honor that a subject could bestow.  Women were scarce in those days.  I lived six months in Sacramento and saw only two.  There was no time for visiting or gossiping; it was hard work from daylight till dark, and sometimes long after.  It was a hand-to-hand fight with starvation at the first; later the “flush” times came, when the miners had brought all their gold to town, and everyone had money.

            Many a miserable unfortunate, stricken by fever, died in his lonely, deserted tent.  It has been a lifelong source of regret to me that I grew hardhearted like the rest.  I was hard-worked, hurried all day, and tired out, but I might have stopped for a minute to heed the moans from the canvas house next to me.  I knew a young man lived there, but I thought he had friends in the town.  When I heard his weak calls for water, I never thought but someone gave it.  One day the moans ceased, and, on looking in, I found him lying dead.  Many a time since have I wept for the sore heart of that poor boy’s mother and prayed that if ever want and sickness came to mine, some other woman would be more tender than I had been, and give them at least a glass of cold water. 



“A Woman’s Kindness”

            “Dreams of gold, hmph!” said Luzena to herself as she vigorously sliced a bread knife through her fresh-baked loaf of bread.  “Our whole life we gave up in the East to move out here, and for what? A hotel full of loud, hungry miners three times a day, work never ending, and hardly a moment’s rest, that’s what.”  She plunked the knife down, picked up the bread on the wooden cutting board, and carried it toward the main dining room of the hotel.  She paused a moment, just before pushing through the shutter doors, to smooth her skirts and hitch a smile onto her face.

            She could hear the shouts of the miners, telling another one of their rough jokes and guffawing loudly, but as she swept into the room, a hush fell over the table.  Though the miners hadn’t bothered to take off their caps, they touched their hands to them in a respectful salute.  “Many thanks, ma’am,” said one politely, as she placed the bread on the table next to a steaming tureen of soup.  She’d never seen him before, so he must have been working in the mines less than a week; some said those were the hardest of all days in the mine.  “It’s nice to have a woman’s kindness again.”

            Luzena smiled at him and went back into the kitchen thinking that miners were just happy to see any woman at all in Sacramento.  She herself had only seen one, perhaps two others since her own arrival.  If any place needed a woman’s feminine touch to soften things up, it was Sacramento, packed with forty-niners working day and night in pursuit of gold.  It was a grueling way to make a living.  She was pleased to be kind to them; it made her feel like a lady, like she had been before.

            The serving of lunch completed, she went straight outside to finish her family’s washing and hang the clothes on the line.  “Hardly a moment’s rest,” Luzena repeated to herself, but then she swallowed her complaint.  She knew better, after even a short time in Sacramento.  Everyone worked hard just to survive in this rough country, where there was no money to be had – only the promise of gold and the threat of hunger or disease.  Her own next door neighbor, though still a young man, had been moaning with fever three weeks so far, calling out for just a cup of cold water.  “But he has plenty of friends in town to help him,” Luzena thought.  “Not like me – with a family to feed and not one woman nearby to share the burden.”

            But glancing toward the canvas tent that the young man called home, she paused in her work.  It was quiet in the yard – too quiet.  “Surely he’s gotten well,” she told herself, “well enough to finally leave the tent.”  But she couldn’t be sure.  Trembling, afraid of what she might find, Luzena put down her basket of washing.  She walked slowly to the opening of the flap of the tent.  What she saw made her gently close the flap and turn away, tears in her eyes.  “A cup of cold water – such a small request,” she said to herself.  “Well, I’ve become as hard as the rest of them out here, I guess.  That miner was wrong – I’ve no ‘woman’s kindness’ left.  But I mean to help as many as I can, now.  It’s all I can do for that poor young man.”

“After the Quake”

by Alejandra Hernandez


Dear Tia(1) Luz,

     I am writing first of all to reassure you that we are safe!  So many around us have lost everything, and I cannot even bear to describe the devastation in Mexico City.  Here in Mitla, we are a hundred miles from Mexico City, but we still felt an earthquake so powerful that we will never forget it for the rest of our lives.

     It began just a couple of days ago, on Thursday morning.  The milk started sloshing in my cereal bowl, and the palm trees were swaying outside – even though there wasn’t any wind.  Aida and I knew then that it was an earthquake, and we ran outside as quickly as we could.

     But once we exited outside, we couldn’t even stand; the ground was actually heaving so much that it looked like a lake, rippling with waves.  We didn’t know how bad it was then, so we thought it was fun to jump over the waves as they came to us across the ground.  I should have known, once I saw the sidewalk crack, that it was more serious than I had ever dreamed.

     Don’t worry; our house is still standing, although we will have many repairs to the sidewalk and one crack to fix in one of the walls.  What has happened to us is nothing compared to what happened to thousands of others in Mexico City.  Their buildings collapsed; many people are missing, and perhaps a hundred thousand are homeless now.  

     Tia, you would have been so proud of Papi.(2)  He radioed other helicopter pilots closer to Mexico City, and together they made a plan for how to help get people the food and medical aid they needed.  He had been gone for the past few days, helping with the relief effort, and I was so worried.  But now he is home safe, and we are all here together.  We are thinking of you and wishing you well.





  1. Tia Spanish word for “aunt”

  2. Papi Spanish word for “dad”


“Waves of Earth”

     “Ale,” called Aida from the living room, “can you help me finish constructing my model for science class?”

     “When I’m done with breakfast,” replied her twin sister Alejandra, “but, Aida, I’m not even sure I can see straight this morning.”  Alejandra trailed off, staring into her cereal bowl.  Was she imagining things – or had she nodded off right at the breakfast table?  It looked like the milk in her bowl was sloshing from side to side.

     She called to her sister, but Aida was standing at the living room window, looking in horror at the palm trees.  “Ale,” she called, sounding scared, “there’s no breeze at all, but the palm trees are swaying until they almost touch the ground, as if there was a hurricane.”

     Alejandra, always the braver one, darted to the window.  “Aida,” she yelled, “this has to be an earthquake – hurry, let’s go outside and see what’s happening!”

     “I’m not sure, Ale, it doesn’t sound safe,” Aida protested, but she allowed Alejandra to lead her out the door.

     “See?” said Alejandra, “it’s perfectly – “but she stopped as both of them lost their balance, the earth itself swaying beneath them.  Aids looked petrified, but Alejandra pointed in amazement and asked, “Aida, have you ever seen anything like that?”

     The twins could hardly believe their eyes:  incredibly, a swell of earth was approaching like an ocean wave moving through the water.  As they stood on the sidewalk, they could see the concrete slabs farther down begin to buckle.  They both leaped over the wave as it passed under them, then turned back anxiously as it continued under the house – but miraculously the house stayed standing.

     “Wow, I’ve never done that before,” said Alejandra, laughing nervously.  But as another wave, and another, passed beneath them, the swells of earth became too high for them to do anything besides try to somehow keep their balance.

     “Ale,” said Aida in a small voice, as the vibrations shook the ground, “how much longer will it go on?”

     But just as she finished speaking, the quake stopped as suddenly as it had started.  The twins swayed, their balance uncertain on the strangely still earth.  A few minutes later, they heard the welcome sound of their father’s truck rumbling up the street; when he pulled into the driveway and climbed out, they ran to him like small children.

     “I came home as soon as I could, mis hijas” (1), he told them.  “The roads were moving up and down so much that people could hardly drive.  But I’, so glad you’re safe.”

     With the quake only a memory and her father nearby, Alejandra had regained some of her natural confidence.  “It was an adventure, Papi!” she said, smiling.

     But her father did not return the smile.  “Ale,” he said seriously, “I wish it had been only an adventure.  I’ve been on the radio at work, talking to other helicopter pilots closer to Mexico City.  We’ve had a terrible quake here, but they got the worst of it, by far; buildings have collapsed, many in the city have lost their homes, and no one knows how many people are missing.”

     He squeezed the twins’ shoulders reassuringly and continued, “I don’t want you to worry, but I need to help in the city.  I will call your abuela (2) – I hope she is safe – who will come to stay with you for a few days.  I’ve got to see what I can do to help.  There will be people who need medical aid, food, and maybe even rescue.”

     Seeing his daughters’ concern, he hugged them again and said, “You’ve got to be brave for only a few days, mis hijas.  By Sunday, I promise we will all be together, safe and sound.”

     Aida and Alejandra nodded solemnly.  It was typical of their father, swooping in to help people in time of need.  They glanced at each other, agreeing silently to be brave until Sunday. 


  1. Mis hijas  Spanish phrase for “my daughters”

  2. Abuela Spanish word for “grandmother”

HOMEWORK #2/ FOLKLORE ("The Horse, the Hunter, and the Stag" & "The First Moccasins")
 will be due TUESDAY, September 5, 2017!!

The Horse, the Hunter, and the Stag

Adapted from a fable by Aesop


 (1)    There was a time, long ago, when the horse was not the domesticated animal he is today.  Once, he ran wild with the other animals:  his mane and tail waved in the breeze as he trotted in between the trees of the forest and galloped through the valleys whenever he pleased.  Yet the horse was known not only for his beauty and grace, but also for his pride and arrogance.  He could not bear to think that someone might have the upper hand, and he would go to any length to make sure that he was the victor in an argument. 

(2)     Most often he clashed with the stag, who of all the animals most resembled him.  The stag, too, could run with beauty and grace.  He had no mane, of course, and it was true that his tail was not as beautiful as the horse’s.  But the stag had one thing that the horse did not:  beautiful antlers that branched out from his head and pointed toward the heavens.  The stag did not particularly pride himself on his antlers; in fact, he thought very little about them at all.  But the horse spent many days watching those antlers out of the corner of his eye.  For the sake of those antlers, he hated the stag.

(3)     One day, the horse sauntered up to the stag, where he was drinking water from a little pool in the forest.  Seemingly bending down to drink water next to the stag, he suddenly leaned with his shoulder and shoved the stag forward.  The stag lost his balance and fell forward, his face splashing into the water.  The stag had had enough; he pulled himself out of the water and challenged the horse with his antlers.  Had the horse been another stag, the two would simply have locked antlers, pushing each other back and forth.  But the horse had no antlers, so he could not defend himself from the sudden charge.  A point on one of the stag’s antlers grazed the full length of the horse’s nose – but then, coming to his senses, the stag turned around and raced off into the forest.

(4)     The horse returned to the pool to wash his nose, and as he did so, he looked at his own reflection in the water.  He realized bitterly that now there would always be a scar running down his beautiful nose like a crack in a porcelain vase.  He seethed at the thought that there, for everyone to see, would be the humiliating proof that he had been bested by the stag.  In that instant, he began planning his revenge.

(5)     The next morning, the horse did something the other animals would have found unthinkable:  he went to the house of the hunter to ask for his assistance.  “I have heard that you hunters have never been able to track down the stag,” said the horse, “for he runs far faster than your short legs can move.  I myself can run as fast as the stag – and even faster – but I have no weapon to use against him.  Let us work together to accomplish our mutual goal.”

(6)     The hunter agreed to the horse’s plan, but on one condition:  “If we are to work together,” he said, “you must allow me to put this iron bit in your mouth, so that I may use these reins to guide you on the way.  And you must permit me to place this saddle on your back, so that I may stay steady enough to aim properly.”  The horse agreed, and soon, fully saddled and bridled, he was on his way to the forest with the hunter on his back.

(7)     With the speed of the horse beneath him, the hunter easily found and overcame the stag.  The horse should have been terribly sad that he had betrayed one of the other animals, but he felt only triumph.  Obeying the guidance of the hunter through the bit and the reins, he returned to the hunter’s house.  “And now, friend,” he said to the hunter, “you must climb down and remove those things you have put in my mouth and on my back.”

(8)     “Friend,” said the hunger, “you have sadly misjudged the situation.  Now that I have you saddled and bridled and under my command, I much prefer to keep you that way.”  Then, the hunter led the horse to a stable by his home – and that is where horses have stayed to this day.

(9)     The moral of the story is that if you allow others to use you for your own purposes, they will use you for theirs.



“The First Moccasins”

Adapted from a Native American legend


(1)    In the old days, the people had no horses, nor did they need them, for their feet had become tough and hardy through years of running swiftly after the hunt.  But there was once a chief who had feet with the softness and sensitivity of a baby’s skin.  His official name was Chief Tallfeather, but behind his back the people called him Chief Tenderfoot. 

(2)     Chief Tenderfoot was otherwise great and powerful, so no one dared to laugh at him.  They tried very hard to keep a straight face as he hobbled by, delicately avoiding every twig and pebble in his path.  But once he had passed, they imitated his hesitant steps with great enjoyment.

(3)     “I am becoming a laughingstock among my people,” said Chief Tenderfoot crossly to his medicine man one day.  “Something must be done, and you are going to do it!  By tomorrow, when the sun is at the same place, you must find a solution for my feet – or face the consequences!”

(4)     The medicine man left the chief’s longhouse feeling greatly troubled.  He did not want to face any consequences, whatever they might be, but he could not understand why the chief was so upset.  As long as he was still powerful, and there were still plenty of hunters to run through the forest for food, why was it so terrible that his feet were tender?  “There are many among the people,” he thought, “who would even carry the great man where he needs to go.  But he says that a chief must walk!”  Then he stopped, for his own words had given him an idea.

(5)     That night, he enlisted the help of the women who were most skilled in weaving.  They toiled through the night, and in the morning, the medicine man rolled out their handiwork before the chief.  “I have thought of a way to solve your problem,” he said.  “You will not step on the hard ground ever again; you will step only on this soft reed mat.  Two of your braves can roll it out before you, and two can roll it up behind you, so that you will always have a soft path underneath your feet.”

(6)     The chief was delighted, and he decided to use the mat to join a hunting party the very next day.  But as he was enjoying walking in comfort among his braves, he suddenly saw a deer moving through the trees to his right.  Without thinking, or even watching where he was going, he turned and leaped off the mat toward the deer.  His first steps landed right in the middle of a cluster of thorn bushes beside the path.  “Ow, ow, ow!” howled the chief, holding his feet.

(7)     When Chief Tenderfoot finally returned to his longhouse, he summoned the medicine man immediately.  “I am worse off now than before your great idea, medicine man!” raged the chief.  “Your mat was not enough to save my poor feet – which even now are still stinging from those terrible thorns!  So here is what you must do:  you must make the mat stronger, so that even thorns cannot pierce it, and you must make a mat large enough to cover not only one path but the whole earth!”

(8)     “That is not possible, O great chief,” said the medicine man, trying to be reasonable. 

(9)     “It will have to be” said Chief Tenderfoot sulkily, pouring cool water over his injured feet.  “You have one month to carry out the task – or you will die when the full moon rises.”

(10)   The medicine man returned to his tent, but he could not sleep.  He was cold with fear, so he pulled his bed coverings of elk hide up to his chin.  Then, he sat up straight, clutching the elk hide.  Perhaps a mat of leather would satisfy the chief!  But of course no one could make a mat large enough to cover the whole earth.  Over the next weeks he thought and thought, but he could come up with no solution.

(11)   “Whatever can I do?” said the medicine man to himself on the last night before the full moon.  “The task is impossible – even Chief Tenderfoot knows it!  He wants a covering over the whole earth, but there is time only to make a very small one.”  Then the medicine man looked up thoughtfully, for he had had another idea.  He picked up his bed covering again, found a small knife, and got to work.

(12)   The next morning, the medicine man emerged from his home with only a small packet wrapped in deerskin.  Smiling, he walked to Chief Tenderfoot’s longhouse.  “What do you have for me?” said the chief hopefully. 

(13)   “These,” said the medicine man, unwrapping the deerskin package and taking out what looked like two small leather sacks.  Kneeling, he slipped them over the chief’s feet.  The chief looked down in puzzlement and wiggled his toes.

(14    “O great chief,” said the medicine man, “from this day forward, the whole earth – for you – will be covered in strong leather.  Wherever you walk, whatever direction you take, your feet will be protected from the ground.”

(15)   Slowly, Chief Tenderfoot smiled.  “Very good, medicine man,” he said, “it is a brilliant idea.  But make sure that you make a pair for yourself, too – and for every one of my people – so that tat last there will be no difference between the feet of my people and the tender feet of their chief.”



Excerpt from The Count of Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas

1.)  Suddenly, about nine o'clock in the evening, Edmond heard a hollow sound in the wall against which he was lying.

2.)  So many loathsome animals inhabited the prison, that their noise did not, in general, awake him; but whether abstinence had quickened his faculties, or whether the noise was really louder than usual, Edmond raised his head and listened. It was a continual scratching, as if made by a huge claw, a powerful tooth, or some iron instrument attacking the stones.

3.)  Although weakened, the young man's brain instantly responded to the idea that haunts all prisoners - liberty! It seemed to him that heaven had at length taken pity on him, and had sent this noise to warn him on the very brink of the abyss. Perhaps one of those beloved ones he had so often thought of was thinking of him, and striving to diminish the distance that separated them.

4.)  No, no, doubtless he was deceived, and it was but one of those dreams that forerun death!

5.)  Edmond still heard the sound. It lasted nearly three hours; he then heard a noise of something falling, and all was silent.

6.)  Some hours afterwards it began again, nearer and more distinct. Edmond was intensely interested. Suddenly the jailer entered.

7.)  For a week since he had resolved to die, and during the four days that he had been carrying out his purpose, Edmond had not spoken to the attendant, had not answered him when he inquired what was the matter with him, and turned his face to the wall when he looked too curiously at him; but now the jailer might hear the noise and put an end to it, and so destroy a ray of something like hope that soothed his last moments.

8.)  The jailer brought him his breakfast. Dantes raised himself up and began to talk about everything; about the bad quality of the food, about the coldness of his dungeon, grumbling and complaining, in order to have an excuse for speaking louder, and wearying the patience of his jailer, who out of kindness of heart had brought broth and white bread for his prisoner.

9.)  Fortunately, he fancied that Dantes was delirious; and placing the food on the rickety table, he withdrew. Edmond listened, and the sound became more and more distinct.

10.)  "There can be no doubt about it," thought he; "it is some prisoner who is striving to obtain his freedom. Oh, if I were only there to help him!" Suddenly another idea took possession of his mind, so used to misfortune, that it was scarcely capable of hope - the idea that the noise was made by workmen the governor had ordered to repair the neighboring dungeon.

11.)  It was easy to ascertain this; but how could he risk the question? It was easy to call his jailer's attention to the noise, and watch his countenance as he listened; but might he not by this means destroy hopes far more important than the short-lived satisfaction of his own curiosity? Unfortunately, Edmond's brain was still so feeble that he could not bend his thoughts to anything in particular.

12.)  He saw but one means of restoring lucidity and clearness to his judgment. He turned his eyes towards the soup which the jailer had brought, rose, staggered towards it, raised the vessel to his lips, and drank off the contents with a feeling of indescribable pleasure. He had often heard that shipwrecked persons had died through having eagerly devoured too much food. Edmond replaced on the table the bread he was about to devour, and returned to his couch - he did not wish to die. He soon felt that his ideas became again collected - he could think, and strengthen his thoughts by reasoning. Then he said to himself, "I must put this to the test, but without compromising anybody. If it is a workman, I need but knock against the wall, and he will cease to work, in order to find out who is knocking, and why he does so; but as his occupation is sanctioned by the governor, he will soon resume it. If, on the contrary, it is a prisoner, the noise I make will alarm him, he will cease, and not begin again until he thinks every one is asleep."

13.)  Edmond rose again, but this time his legs did not tremble, and his sight was clear; he went to a corner of his dungeon, detached a stone, and with it knocked against the wall where the sound came. He struck thrice. At the first blow the sound ceased, as if by magic.

14.)  Edmond listened intently; an hour passed, two hours passed, and no sound was heard from the wall - all was silent there.

15.)  Full of hope, Edmond swallowed a few mouthfuls of bread and water, and, thanks to the vigor of his constitution, found himself well-nigh recovered.

16.)  The day passed away in utter silence - night came without recurrence of the noise.

17.)  "It is a prisoner," said Edmond joyfully. The night passed in perfect silence. Edmond did not close his eyes.


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