Novels Intermediate

a twentieth century malady by Foreman Peter

He looked a sad young man and we wanted to be kind to him. When he moved into the house next to ours, my wife Janet said, ‘I think he’s sad because he lives alone. I feel sorry for him.’

We live in a semi-detached house outside a village. The house next to ours was empty for a long time, and then the young man came. He arrived in a van with a few pieces of furniture. Then we didn’t see him very much. Sometimes he went for a walk in the country. And every day he walked to the village to do some shopping. He always walked; he didn’t have a car.

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a twentieth century malady by Foreman Peter

He looked away and said nothing.

‘You must come,’ I insisted. ‘My wife will be very disappointed.’


He thought a moment. ‘Okay, I’ll come,’ he said. He didn’t look very happy about it.

But Janet was very happy. She cooked a wonderful vegetarian meal. But she put butter in the vegetables. And she also made a big fruit pudding with lots of sugar and cream.

‘He must eat some real food,’ she said.

a twentieth century malady by Foreman Peter

That evening we learnt the young man’s name: Richard. He didn’t talk much but we also learnt that he was twenty-eight. He couldn’t find a job and he didn’t have much money. His parents were dead and he didn’t have any brothers or sisters. We felt sorry for him.

He didn’t eat much that evening. He said he wasn’t hungry. Janet was a little offended.

‘I cooked all that horrible vegetarian food for him and he left it on his plate. And he didn’t drink any wine, either!’

Yes, Janet was a bit angry. But she quickly forgot about it. Then she began to think about Richard again….

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