Comprehension and Discussion Questions. 1. What is the significance of the title "Final Break" in this story?

1. What is the significance of the title "Final Break" in this story?

2. Who is Greg? Who is Helen?

3. Why is Greg so attentive to Helen?

4. Why does Greg insist on providing Helen with money for the future?

5. Which of these adjectives do you think best describes Helen as a mother: generous, possessive, unselfish, mod­ern?

6. How had Greg first met Sandra?

7. Had Helen, Greg's mother, ever met Sandra previously?

8. Why does the author say that the imagined picture of Sandra filled Helen with panic?

9. What kind of girl did Helen expect Sandra to be, judg­ing only by her name and by her own personal emo­tions?

10. Where does the meeting between Helen and Sandra take place?

Vocabulary and Idiom Review

A. Match the word in the left-hand column with the word in the right-hand column which has the SAME meaning:

1. tremble ___________ for example

2. shop ___________ angry

3. for instance ___________ put off

4. mad ___________ hug

5. pick ___________ pall off

6. keen ___________ shake

7. cancel ___________ pretend

8. postpone ___________ store

9. constantly ___________ select

10. make believe ___________ continuously

___________ sharp

B. Use the following expressions in sentences of your own:

1. walk along 5. break off 9. take an interest in

2. brush aside 6. wait upon 10. share with

3. see something through 7. look around 11. turn back

4. what about 8. lean back 12. at least

C. Another common adjective ending is -ive. Some verbs can be changed into adjectives with this ending.

Example: He's always doing something; he's a very active person.

Change the following verbs to adjectives by adding -ive. Then use each of the resulting words in a sentence of your own:

1. impress ___________ __________________________________________________________________

2. collect ___________ __________________________________________________________________

3. express ___________ __________________________________________________________________

4. instruct ___________ __________________________________________________________________

5. construct ___________ __________________________________________________________________

6. repress ___________ __________________________________________________________________

7. correct ___________ __________________________________________________________________

8. create ___________ __________________________________________________________________

9. prevent ___________ __________________________________________________________________

10. object ___________ __________________________________________________________________

Red Balloons

By Elmer Davis

Comprehension and Discussion Questions. 1. What is the significance of the title "Final Break" in this story? - Lundy told himself afterward that he had been temp­ted beyond his strength. In fact he had never been really tempted before, for he had never had such an opportunity. He had gone to the bank — the branch bank in the poor, run down neighborhood to which he had recently moved — to cut a coupon from his last bond; all the rest of his bonds and his money he had lost in his crazy attempt to make money on the stock market so that he could give up his job and live in Florida. He took his safe-deposit box to one of the booths where people shut themselves in while they open their safe-deposit boxes in order to cut coupons or to put in or remove valuables. The booth had just been vacated by a fat woman wearing many jewels who had left it covered with torn papers.

A little annoyed, Lundy brushed away the torn papers —and came upon an envelope filled with money which the fat woman had obviously overlooked. A bank failure in the town had recently frightened many people; the fat woman looked like the sort of person who would turn her bank balance into cash and lock it up in her safe-deposit box. Lundy half opened the door to call her back and saw her walking out of the bank. Quickly he shut the door, counted the money. Nearly thirty thousand dollars; enough to keep a man comfortably in some little Florida town for the rest of his life.

Quickly, Lundy slipped the envelope into his inside pocket.

Then he left the bank, crossing the street into a little park with a high iron fence around it. It was, he knew, a private park, the possession of the old families that had once lived on the square; at night its gates were locked, a watchman guarded it. But by day it was open to all. He sat down on a bench, trembling in the winter wind; the envelope in his pocket felt like a piece of hot metal.

What a fool he had been! He had thought when he took it that it wouldn't be missed for a month — not until the woman came again to cut coupons. But if she kept all her money in her safe-deposit box she might come back and find it missing tomorrow — this afternoon. The bank employees would remember Lundy — he had recently rented his safe-deposit box; they might remember that he had followed her into the booth. If he gave up his job now and left for Florida, that would be a confession. But tonight, tomorrow, he might be questioned, his rooms examined. Where could he hide the money?

His throat was dry; he got up, walked to the center of the park, where he had seen a drinking fountain. Unable to de­cide what to do, he stared at the drinking fountain, at its tall concrete base. Then his eyes narrowed; the base was broken on one side — a hole big enough to put your hand through. Inside, there was a dark space where no one would think of looking for anything; where a man who had hidden something could come back and get it almost anytime.

Beside the drinking fountain, Lundy kneeled down; any­one who had passed would have seen only a man with an unbuttoned overcoat hanging loose about him, kneeling down, tying his shoe. But when he went on, the envelope of money no longer lay like a piece of hot metal in his pocket. He had hidden it in the hole at the base of the drinking fountain.

That evening two detectives from police headquarters came to see him, to question him very politely and he met them smiling.

"Yes, yes," he said. "There was a fat woman in the booth just before me; she left it covered with torn pieces of paper and I brushed them aside into the wastepaper basket. Find out where the wastepaper basket went, and you'll probably find the money.... No, I've no objection at all if you want to look around here just to satisfy yourselves."

Afterward he wondered whether he had not overdone it. They went away apparently convinced, but he couldn't feel safe. He had better leave the money where it was, for a while. There wasn't a chance in a million that anyone would look into the broken drinking fountain. There was no hope of his recovering the money at night: the park gate was locked; the watchman was on duty. Someday, when no one was near, he would kneel down as if to tie his shoe —

As he entered the park next morning, he saw something like a red cloud just above the drinking fountain. A red warning of danger. He became very nervous but then saw that it was only a group of toy balloons held by an old man. Lundy had never seen anyone selling balloons here in the three weeks in which he lived nearby; business couldn't be good, the old man would soon leave. But when Lundy came back at evening, he was still there in the same spot near the drinking fountain.

Lundy looked at him in passing; he was old but he looked strong. He might be a younger man in disguise — not a seller of balloons; he might be a detective placed there to watch him. Lundy went home trembling. No one could have seen him put the money away — but suppose that by some acci­dent the money had been found. The police would know the thief must come back for it; thus they had left a man on guard. But had they left the money there in order to trap him?

The next morning the balloon-seller was still there. That day Lundy went to the bank and risked a question. No, said the manager of the bank, they hadn't found the money, but they expected to find it. It seemed to Lundy that the man­ager looked at him in a rather suspicious manner.

That evening he spoke, in passing, to the balloon-seller. "You work late, eh? Business must be good." "Not so good. But I stay around until they lock the gates each night and the watchman arrives to guard the place."

There was not a moment when the fountain was not being watched. That was the first night that Lundy could not sleep. In the morning the red cloud was still there, hanging above his treasure.

Well, if business was bad, the balloon-seller would soon leave and go somewhere else to sell his balloons. Lundy waited three more days, in which he saw, morning and eve­ning, that red sign of danger. He couldn't stand this much longer: a balloon-seller, staying in a place where Lundy had never seen one before, couldn't be a balloon-seller. But, there was one chance, if the police had left the money. Policemen in uniform seldom came here; Lundy could wait for his chance until there was no one around, attack the balloon-seller, knock him out, take the money, and escape before anyone came.

And so he waited his chance, found the old man alone, walked up to him, pretended to buy a balloon, then hit him, straight and hard on the jaw. Down went the old man — down and out; down went Lundy on his knees, his arm reaching into the hole at the base of the fountain.

Up into the air went a dozen red balloons, released from the old man's hand as he fell; a dozen sudden red danger signals which could be seen everywhere in the park and from the nearby streets as well. As Lundy rose, pushing the money into his pocket, he saw a policeman coming up; he turned only to face another, tried to walk away coolly —

"Here!" said the policeman. "What's the matter with old Joe?"

"I don't know. I've done nothing." But the balloon man was talking now, explaining to the policeman what had hap­pened. The policeman turned toward Lundy, severe.

"What's the idea of knocking down an old man that's just out of the hospital?"

"Just out of the hospital?" Lundy asked.

"Sure. He's been sick for a month. Haven't you noticed that for the past month he hasn't been here, at his regular place near the fountain? First time he's been away for twenty years. . . . Here, you — take your hand out of that pocket! Oh, it isn't a gun? Just papers? Well, come along with me and show them to the captain at police headquarters."

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