A level 3 Oxford Bookworms Library graded readers. Retold for Learners of English by Rosemary Border.
Conradin is ten years old. He lives alone with his aunt. He has two big secrets. The first is that he hates his aunt. The second is that he keeps a small, wild animal in the garden shed. The animal has sharp, white teeth, and it loves fresh blood. Every night, Conradin prays to this animal and asks it to do one thing for him, just one thing.
This collection of short stories is clever, funny, and shows us ‘Nature, red in tooth and claw’. In other words, it is Saki at his very best.
to the bottom of the garden. It stopped for a moment, then went quietly into the long grass and disappeared for ever. ‘Tea is ready,’ said the housekeeper. ‘Where is your aunt?’ ‘She went down to the shed,’ said Conradin. And, while the housekeeper went down to call the aunt, Conradin took the toasting-fork out of the dining-room cupboard. He sat by the fire and toasted a piece of bread for himself. While he was toasting it and putting butter on it, Conradin listened to the noises beyond the dining-room door. First there were loud screams — that was the housekeeper. Then there was the cook’s answering cry. Soon there came the sound of several pairs of feet. They were carrying something heavy into the house. ‘Who is going to tell that poor
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Sredni Vashtar Conradin was ten years old and was often ill.
‘The boy is not strong,’ said the doctor. ‘He will not live much longer.’ But the doctor did not know about Conradin’s imagination. In Conradin’s lonely, loveless world, his imagination was the only thing that kept him alive.
Conradin’s parents were dead and he lived with his aunt. The aunt did not like Conradin and was often unkind to him. Conradin hated her with all his heart, but he obeyed her quietly and took his medicine without arguing. Mostly he kept out of her way. She had no place in his world. His real, everyday life in his aunt’s colourless, comfortless house was narrow and uninteresting. But inside his small, dark head exciting and violent thoughts ran wild. In the bright world of his imagination Conradin was strong and brave. It was a wonderful world, and the aunt was locked out of it.
The garden was no fun. There was nothing interesting to do. He was forbidden to pick the flowers. He was forbidden to eat the fruit. He was forbidden to play on the grass. But behind some trees, in a forgotten corner of the garden, there was an old shed.
Nobody used the shed, and Conradin took it for his own. To him it became something between a playroom and a church. He filled it with ghosts and animals from his imagination. But there were also two living things in the shed. In one corner lived an old, untidy-looking chicken. Conradin had no people to