They say that blood is thicker than water, that our relatives
are more important to us than others. Everyone was so kind to the
old lady on her birthday. Surely her daughter would make an even
bigger effort to please her?
It was the old lady’s birthday.
She got up early to be ready for the post. From the second floor flat she could see the postman when he came down the street, and the little boy from the ground floor brought up her letters on the rare occasions when anything came.(1)
Today she was sure there would be something. Myra wouldn’t forget her mother's birthday, even if she seldom wrote at other times. Of course Myra was busy. Her husband had been made Mayor, and Myra herself had got a medal for her work for the aged.(2)
The old lady was proud of Myra, but Enid was the daughter she loved. Enid had never married, but had seemed content to live with her mother, and teach in a primary school round the corner.
One evening, however, Enid said, “I’ve arranged for Mrs. Morrison to look after you for a few days, Mother. Tomorrow I have to go into hospital—just a minor operation. (3) I’ll soon be home.”
In the morning she went, but never came back— she died on the operating table. Myra came to the funeral, and in her efficient way arranged for Mrs. Morrison to come in and light the fire and give the old lady her breakfast.
Two years ago that was, and since then Myra had been to see her mother three times, but her husband never.
The old lady was eighty today. She had put on her best dress. Perhaps— perhaps Myra might come. After all, eighty was a special birthday, another decade lived or endured just as you chose to look at it.(4)
Even if Myra did not come, she would send a present. The old lady was sure of that. Two spots of colour brightened her cheeks. She was excited—like a child. She would enjoy her day.
Yesterday Mrs. Morrison had given the flat an extra clean, and today she had brought a card and a bunch of marigolds when she came to do the breakfast. Mrs. Grant downstairs had made a cake, and in the afternoon she was going down there to tea. The little boy, Johnnie, had been up with a packet of mints, and said he wouldn't go out to play until the post had come.(5)
“I guess you’ll get lots and lots of presents,” he said. “I did last week when I was six.”
What would she like? A pair of slippers perhaps. Or a new cardigan. A cardigan would be lovely. Blue's such a pretty colour. Jim had always liked her in blue. (6) Or a table lamp. Or a book, a travel book, with pictures, or a little clock, with clear black numbers. So many lovely things.
She stood by the window, watching. The postman turned round the corner on his bicycle. Her heart beat fast. Johnnie had seen him too and ran to the gate.
Then clatter, clatter up the stairs. Johnnie knocked at her door.
“Granny, granny,” he shouted, “I’ve got your post.”
He gave her four envelopes. Three were unsealed cards from old friends. The fourth was sealed, in Myra’s writing. The old lady felt a pang of disappointment.
“No parcel, Johnnie?”
Maybe the parcel was too large to come by letter post. That was it. It would come later by parcel post. She must be patient.
Almost reluctantly she tore the envelope open. Folded in the card was a piece of paper. Written on the card was a message under the printed Happy Birthday—Buy yourself something nice with the cheque, Myra and Harold.(7)
The cheque fluttered to the floor like a bird with a broken wing. Slowly the old lady stooped to pick it up. Her present, her lovely present. With trembling fingers she tore it into little bits.
Useful Words and Expressions
on the rare occasion 难得，偶尔
They spent most of their time in the countryside and went to town on the rare occasions.
rare: unusual; uncommon 稀有的；罕见的
Peacocks and storks (鹳) are rare birds in the United States.
Snow is rare in Florida .
注意 rare表示某人很少做某事时，一般不用sb. is rare to do sth.，而用it is rare for sb. to do
He is rare to arrive late. (wrong)
It is very rare for him to arrive late.
比较rare & scarce
Certain commodities have become so rare that their prices soared. (wrong)
Certain commodities have become so scarce that their prices soared. 某些商品已变得很少见，以至其价格猛涨。
1) a time when sth. happens 时刻；时机
On that occasion I was not at home.
2) a special event or ceremony特殊活动；盛会
It was so important an occasion, we couldn’t miss it.
The young people celebrated the occasion with a dinner.
seize the occasion to抓住……的时机 find occasion to找到……的机会
a formal occasion正式场合 a historical occasion历史性时刻
on occasion有时 on the occasion of在……之际
on this/that occasion在这样/那样的场合 on rare occasions难得；偶尔
Even if it rains tomorrow, we’ll go on a picnic.
Even if the air is still, when we move the balloon through it, the air gives rise to a force opposing the move. 即使空气是静止的，但如果在空中推动气球，空气就会产生阻力。
注意： even if和even though, although, though均不能与连接词but并用。
seldom: not often; rarely 很少；难得
I have seldom read a novel so touching as this.
Seldom have I read a novel so touching as this.
Very seldom does he eat breakfast.
at other times: on other occasions 在另外一些场合中; 在其他时候
If you work hard at other times, you won’t worry about tomorrow’s exam.
at any time 在任何时候 at the same time 同时
at times 有时 at all times 无论何时；一直
in (good) time 及时 on time 按时
kill time 消磨时间 make time 腾出时间
afford time 花得起时间 fix a time 规定时间
1) satisfied; happy满足的，满意的 (常与with连用)
I am content with what little I have.
2) the state of being satisfied; satisfaction 满意；满足
to one’s heart’s content 痛痛快快地，尽情地
It’s the weekend, so you can sleep to your heart’s content. 是周末了，你可以睡个够。
3) the subject matter of a book, paper, etc.（书籍、文件等的）内容
I didn’t understand the content of his article.
注意：content一词作第1）、2）义用时，重音在第二音节 /kn'tent/，作第3）义用时，重音在第一音节，且读音有所变化 /'kntent/。
round the corner: very near in distance or time 附近；即将来临
Sadly we looked after the last bus as it disappeared round the corner.
At 21 they feel they have lost their childhood, at 30 their youth, at 40 they worry about middle
age, at 50 they see old age round the corner.
注意：该短语与around the corner同义，可互换。7. arrange for
arrange for: make a plan about sth.; organize sth. to be done 安排好
They have arranged for her to be operated on by the best doctors in the city.
I shall arrange for a photographer to take pictures after the ceremony.8. look after
1) take care of 照顾，照料
I’ll look after the children in his absence.
Barbara has looked after the dog since three years ago.
2) watch sb. or sth. , usually from the back, as he /it moves away 目送
He turned and left, not knowing that she was looking after him with tears in her eyes.
They looked after the train as it left the station.
比较 look back on/to 回顾 look forward to期待；盼望
look on...as把……看成 look out for当心；提防
1) of less importance or seriousness 次要的
The question is of minor importance to us.
Correct the important errors in your paper, but do not bother with the minor ones.
2) (BrE) being the younger of 2 boys (usu.brothers) of the same stated name (esp. in the same
Do you refer to Smith major or Smith minor? 你是指大史密斯呢，还是小史密斯？
1) dress oneself in穿衣；戴帽
You’d better put on your overcoat before going out.
Patty could have found Linda if she had put on her glasses.
2) gain weight 增加体重
In the past few months she hasn’t put on any weight.
How can I put on three pounds over Christmas?
3) cause sth. such as a performance or show to take place上演节目; 演出
The college always puts on a concert or a film show on weekends.
4) pretend sth. such as an opinion or quality 装出；假装
The woman felt very sad, but she put on a smile.
注意 put on是瞬间动词，不能与表示一段时间的状语连用。
比较 wear表示“穿戴” 的状态，而put on表示 “穿戴” 的动作。
She likes to wear the light green dress.
Our English teacher wears glasses.
endure: bear (pain, suffering, etc.) 忍受（痛苦、磨难等）
He that endures is not overcome. 忍者胜。
He endured humiliation in order to carry out an important mission. 为了完成一项重要的使命，他忍辱负重。
比较 bear, stand & tolerate :
If help does not come, we must endure to the end.
He bears responsibility well.
I can't bear the sound of chalk scrapping on the blackboard.我不能忍受粉笔在黑板上写
The thin ice cannot bear truckload.
stand为非正式用语, 可与 bear 互换，暗含“顽强、勇敢”之意。
He can stand more than anyone else I know. 他比我所知道的其他任何人更能忍受痛
This work will hardly stand close examination.
How do you stand living with him?
I can't tolerate your bad manners any more. 我再也不能容忍你粗野的行为了。
The men tolerated him for the sake of his good heart. 那些人是因为他的好心才容忍他
choose to: decide to; prefer to 选定；愿意
He chose to remain an onlooker during most of his family’s quarrels.
1) lift sth. as from the floor or furniture（从地上或家具上）拾起，拣起
She went over to pick up the receiver.
2) be able to receive sth. such as electricity, sound waves, etc. 接收到（电波、声波等）
We picked up signals for help from the burning plane.
3) collect sth.; take on board; stop to give a lift to 领取某物；接某人上车；停车带乘客
Will you please pick up my parcel at the post office as you pass .
It’s not safe to travel by standing at the roadside hoping to be picked up by passing vehicles.
注意 pick up是及物动词词组，如果后面的宾语是代词, 该代词必须位于pick up中间；
如果是两个以上单词组成的名词词组，则只能放在pick up的后面。类似用法的动词词组还有take out, carry out, put on等。
When the young man saw a letter on the ground, he picked it up.
We must carry out the order at once.
1) pull apart or into pieces by force 撕破；撕碎
The librarian caught the student tearing a page out of the book.
You ought not to have torn up the letter in your rage. 你本不该一气之下撕了这封信的。
The boy burst into tears.
in tears 哭泣, 流泪: The little was in tears because she'd lost her mother.
注意 tear作动词时读 /tÜÝ/，作名词时读 /t¾Ý/。