The Charm by Jan Carew

The Charm by Jan Carew

People usually said about the main character of this book that he was a brave man and he was never afraid of anything. They were wrong. He really was brave, but he knew what fear was, like other people. He had a very important job and even colleagues did not know what kind of man he had been before. In his youth, he was very shy and was afraid to talk to strangers. Especially if they were women. He was sure that they would laugh at him. But at that time the war began and he had to defend the country. He was afraid, like others. But he thought that the rest of the soldiers were very brave and laughed at him. He had no friends at all in those years, and he felt terrible. But one day he went home for a week and helped the old man cross the road when all the other people passed by. His life was changed after that.

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The Charm by Jan Carew

‘He’s a brave man,’ people say about me. ‘He’s never afraid.’

They are wrong. I wasn’t always a brave man, and at times I was afraid – very afraid.

The Charm by Jan Carew

I am an important man now. I have an important job. People know me and like me. They don’t know that I wasn’t always brave. I will tell yon the story.

I was a very shy young man. I didn’t like talking to other young men; I was afraid. ‘They’ll laugh at me,’ I thought.

Women were worse. I never spoke to them; I was always afraid of them.

I try to help shy people now. I never laugh at them, because I remember that time. I was very unhappy then.

Then there was a war between my country and another country. I had to be a soldier. Me! I was always afraid, but I had to be a soldier! And it was very dangerous.

I was afraid. The other soldiers didn’t talk about it, but they knew. ‘They’re laughing at me,’ I thought. ‘They aren’t afraid.’ I was wrong, but I didn’t know that. I felt very bad.

One day, I was in the town. I had two days holiday, away from the other soldiers. I wasn’t with friends; I didn’t have any friends. I was very unhappy. I walked slowly past some shops.

An old man stood by the road. There weren’t many cars on it.

‘Why doesn’t he walk across the road?’ I thought. ‘Is he afraid?’

I went near him, and then I saw his eyes. ‘Oh,’ I thought. ‘Now I know. He can’t see! He wants to go across, but he can’t go without help.’

Other people walked quickly past him. They had to go to work, or to their homes. They didn’t help him; they didn’t have time.

But I had time – a lot of time. ‘I’m not doing anything,’ I thought. ‘Why can’t I help him? I won’t be afraid of him.’

I took the old man’s arm, and I helped him across the road. ‘Thank you!’ he said. His hand felt my coat. ‘This is a soldier’s coat,’ he said. ‘Are you a soldier?’…

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