Once upon a time, in a land far, far way....no, hang on a minute, that's no good. All stories start like that. How about we have something different for this story. Mmm, I know: Very, very recently, in a place that is close to where I live, something strange and fascinating happened. It is a tale of mystery, that has changed our village forever. It all started on a warm Spring Sunday. It was a glorious, lazy afternoon. Church was over, and people were relaxing on their porches and in their gardens; children were running around playing, and the sound of birds chirping filled the air. It was approaching three o'clock. The bell tower of the local church overlooked the whole village, and when the hour was chimed, the sound would ring out in a clear and familiar way. Today, however, it was different. At first, the bells rang rhythmically, normally; nobody really took any notice as the sound was so well known and expected. But, suddenly, there was a huge crashing of metal, like the bells were being thrown together. High notes and low notes were screaming in a violent, angry chaos. It went on and on.
Everybody looked up, stood up, and turned their heads towards the church on the hill. What on earth was going on? Who was up in the bell tower? Was this some kind of joke? A couple of men ran up the hill to see what was happening, but the angry noise continued until they were almost at the church door, when suddenly it stopped. Running out of the church, with a crazed look on her face, came Mrs Brompton, the church bell ringer and cleaner.
"Help!" she cried, her face pale, and her hair sticking up in all directions. "Ooo, it's horrible! Just horrible!" she yelled, grabbing the beard of one of the men, and shaking his head, as if to make him understand. "Ow!" exclaimed Mr. Meads, prying her hands off of his beard, "Now, Mrs Brompton, what on earth is going on? What's happened?" At those words, Mrs Brompton went very quiet, she wanted to speak but she couldn't. She grabbed Mr. Mead's beard again with one hand and tried to say something. "....a curse!" came out in a whisper, and, at that, her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she fainted, falling to the ground like lead.
After the ambulance took Mrs Brompton, the vicar and a group of men searched the church, every room, every nook, every staircase. They found nothing unusual. Even in the bell tower, nothing was out of place. The huge, metal bells hung silently, expressionless, but something about the room felt different. The group of men had assembled here again. Having found no clues at all, they automatically came back to the room where the chaos had started. They stood silently thinking. "Oh, Mrs Brompton's off her rocker, I'd say," said Jeffrey Mullins with a wave of his hand. But his humor wasn't reflected in the other faces. The vicar, Reverend Holtworth, had a particularly serious expression; his face was grey, and his eyes were heavy with thoughts. "It'll be nothing to worry about, I'm sure, vicar, "said Thomas Black. "I bet Betsy just had a funny turn and got tangled up in the ropes." But Rev. Holtworth said nothing in response.
The sun was low in the sky as they left the church. The men headed down the path back to the village. Thomas Black stayed behind to talk to the vicar. Standing there, they could hear Jeffrey Mullins, "The old bat has given everybody something to talk about, hasn't she?" he said with a loud laugh, and the others joined in. Black and the vicar stood in silence for a few moments. "I'm sure when we hear from Betsy it'll all turn out to be nothing," Black said as if asking a question. The vicar said nothing in response, but gave Black a weak smile and a quick nod, as if to reassure him. "If you need anything, you know my number," called out Black as he headed down the path. The sun was setting now, and the birds had fallen silent. Rev. Holtworth stood staring at the bell tower, and uttered under his breath, "There was nobody in the bell tower this afternoon."
STAGE III NATIONAL STUDENTS OLYMPIAD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Listening Comprehension Test for 11th Form Students
Task1. Choose whether the statements is True or False
- The narrator likes the structure of old fairy tales.
- This story is not very significant to the narrator.
- This is a story about a big city.
- A bell ringing is the first major event of the story.
- Mrs. Brompton is the church secretary.
- Mr. Mead didn’t have a beard.
- Mrs. Brompton didn’t scare anyone with her reaction.
- The vicar laughed at Mrs. Brompton’s statement.
Task2. Choose the best answer.
- The bells at the church
- were the most beautiful part of the village.
- always chimed in rhythm.
- chimed differently when Mrs. Brompton rang them.
- didn’t chime on the day of the story.
- The first people up the hill were
- 3 boys that had been playing by the church.
- 2 men that had run up the hill.
- 2 vicars that worked at the church.
- Mr. Black and the vicar.
- Mrs. Brompton was
- laughing when she came out of the church.
- screaming for help when she exited.
- very excited by all the noise in the church
- asleep when the church bells rang.
- When the men checked the bell tower
- There was a man in the tower.
- There was a bird in the tower.
- The bells were still ringing.
- The bells were silent but there was different about the room.
- A vicar is a
- When the men left the church
- it was almost night.
- they went to a party.
- the sun was coming up.
- they went back to town together.
- The vicar thinks
- everything is fine.
- that Mrs. Brompton is crazy.
- that something is wrong.
- someone was in the bell tower today.