537.

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1)On a December night, a long time ago, a family sat around the fireplace in their home. A golden light from the fire filled the room.

2) The family fell silent for a moment because the wind outside seemed to stop at their door. But then they realized that someone was knocking at their door. A young man came in..

3) The old grandmother put a chair near the fireplace for him. The oldest daughter gave him a warm, shy smile. And the baby held up its little arms to him.

4) «This fire is just what I needed,» the young man said. «The wind has been blowing in my face for the last two hours.» The father took the young man’s travel bag. «Are you going to Vermont?» the older man asked.

5) «Yes, to Burlington,» the traveller replied. «I wanted to reach the valley tonight. But when I saw the light in your window, I decided to stop. I would like to sit and enjoy your fire and your company for a while.»

6) As the young man took his place by the fire, something like heavy footsteps was heard outside. It sounded as if someone were running down the side of the mountain, taking enormous steps.

7) The father looked out one of the windows. «That old mountain has thrown another stone at us again. He must have been afraid we would forget him. He sometimes shakes his head and makes us think he will come down on top of us,» the father explained to the young man. «But we are old neighbours,» he smiled. «And we manage to get along together pretty well.»

8 ) As the father spoke, the mother prepared a hot meal for their guest. While he was eating, he talked freely to the family, as if it were his own. This young man did not trust people easily. Yet on this evening, something made him share his deepest secret with these simple mountain people.

9) The young man’s secret was that he was ambitious. He did not know what he wanted to do with his life, yet. But he did know that he did not want to be forgotten after he had died. He believed that sometime during his life he would become famous and be admired by thousands of people.

10) «So far,» the young man said, «1 have done nothing. If I disappeared tomorrow from the face of the earth, no one would know anything about me. No one would ask ‘Who was he? Where did he go?’ But I cannot die until I have reached my destiny. Then let Death come! I will have built my monument!»

#1. (…)Did the guest take to these people living high in the mountains easily?

#2. (…) Why did the strange guest need the fire?

#3. (…) Was the guest full of a strong desire for success, power, wealth and fame?

#4. (…)What was this young man’s cherished dream to achieve before Death came?

#5. (…) When did they hear the sounds of heavy steps?

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