CSSE English 2003

CSSE 2003 English Paper

Click on “MATERIALS” above to see the comprehension text.
The passage is from “Tobermory” by H. H. Munro.
To the left of each line you will see the lines have been numbered.
This will help you when answering the questions.
Spend about 8 minutes reading the text.
You will have 32 minutes to complete the test.

The following passage is from “Tobermory” by H. H. Munro

  1.    The undisguised open-mouthed attention of the entire party was fixed on the homely negative

  2.   personality of Mr. Cornelius Appin. He had subsided into mere Mr. Appin, and the Cornelius seemed a piece of

  3.   transparent baptismal fluff. And now he was claiming to have launched on the world a discovery beside

  4.   which the invention of gunpowder, of the printing-press, and of steam locomotion were inconsiderable

  5.    trifles. Science had made bewildering strides in many directions during recent decades, but this thing seemed

  6.    to belong to the domain of miracle rather than to scientific achievement.

  7.    “And do you really ask us to believe,” Sir Wilfrid was saying, “that you have discovered a means for

  8.    instructing animals in the art of human speech, and that dear old Tobermory has proved your first successful

  9.    pupil?”

  10.    “It is a problem at which I have worked for the last seventeen years,” said Mr. Appin, “but only during

  11.    the last eight or nine months have I been rewarded with glimmerings of success. Of course I have

  12.    experimented with thousands of animals, but latterly only with cats, those wonderful creatures which have

  13.    assimilated themselves so marvellously with our civilization while retaining all their highly developed feral

  14.    instincts. Here and there among cats one comes across an outstanding superior intellect, just as one does

  15.    among the ruck of human beings, and when I made the acquaintance of Tobermory a week ago I saw at

  16.    once that I was in contact with a “Beyond-cat” of extraordinary intelligence. I had gone far along the road

  17.    to success in recent experiments; with Tobermory, as you call him, I have reached the goal.”

  18.    Mr. Appin concluded his remarkable statement in a voice which he strove to divest of a triumphant

  19.    inflection. No one said “Rats,” though Clovis’s lips moved in a monosyllabic contortion, which probably invoked

  20.    those rodents of disbelief.

  21. “And do you mean to say,” asked Miss Resker, after a slight pause, “that you have taught Tobermory

  22.    to say and understand easy sentences of one syllable?”

  23.    “My dear Miss Resker,” said the wonder-worker patiently, “one teaches little children and savages and backward

  24.    adults in that piecemeal fashion; when one has once solved the problem of making a beginning with an

  25.    animal of highly developed intelligence one has no need for those halting methods. Tobermory can speak

  26.    our language with perfect correctness.”

  27.    This time Clovis very distinctly said, “Beyond-rats!” Sir Wilfred was more polite but equally sceptical.

  28.    “Hadn’t we better have the cat in and judge for ourselves?” suggested Lady Blemley.

  29.    Sir Wilfred went in search of the animal, and the company settled themselves down to the languid

  30.    expectation of witnessing some more or less adroit drawing-room ventriloquism.

  31.    In a minute Sir Wilfred was back in the room, his face white beneath its tan and his eyes dilated with

  32.    excitement.

  33.    “By Gad, it’s true!”

  34.    His agitation was unmistakably genuine, and his hearers started forward in a thrill of wakened

  35.    interest.

  36.    Collapsing into an armchair he continued breathlessly: “I found him dozing in the smoking-room, and

  37.    called out to him to come for his tea. He blinked at me in his usual way, and I said, ‘Come on, Toby; don’t

  38.    keep us waiting’ and, by Gad! He drawled out in a most horribly natural voice that he’d come

  39.    when he dashed well pleased! I nearly jumped out of my skin!”

  40.    Appin had preached to absolutely incredulous hearers; Sir Wilfred’s statement carried instant

  41.    conviction. A Babel-like chorus of startled exclamation arose, amid which the scientist sat mutely enjoying

  42.    the first fruit of his stupendous discovery.

  43.    In the midst of the clamour Tobermory entered the room and made his way with velvet tread and

  44.    studied unconcern across the group seated round the tea-table.

  45.    A sudden hush of awkwardness and constraint fell on the company. Somehow there seemed an

  46.    element of embarrassment in addressing on equal terms a domestic cat of acknowledged dental ability.

  47.    “Will you have some milk, Tobermory?” asked Lady Blemley in a rather strained voice.

  48.    “I don’t mind if I do,” was the response, couched in a tone of even indifference. A shiver of

  49.    suppressed excitement went through the listeners, and Lady Blemley might be excused for pouring out the

  50.    saucerful of milk rather unsteadily.

  51.    “I’m afraid I’ve spilt a good deal of it,” she said apologetically.

  52.    “After all, it’s not my Axminster,” was Tobermory’s rejoinder.

  53.    Another silence fell on the group, and then Miss Resker, in her best district-visitor manner, asked if

  54.    the human language had been difficult to learn. Tobermory looked squarely at her for a moment and then

  55.    fixed his gaze serenely on the middle distance. It was obvious that boring questions lay outside his scheme

  56.    of life.

  57.    “What do you think of human intelligence?” asked Mavis Pellington lamely.

  58.    “Of whose intelligence in particular?” asked Tobermory coldly.

  59.    “Oh, well, mine for instance,” said Mavis with a feeble laugh.

  60.    “You put me in an embarrassing position,” said Tobermory, whose tone and attitude certainly did not

  61.    suggest a shred of embarrassment.