On-line homework assignments will be assigned on Tuesdays and will be due the following Tuesday.  Students will have one week to finish their homework assignments.  Homework can be accessed from any device that is connected to the Internet, i.e. cell phone, tablet, computer, etc. 

***NOTE***The reading selections can also be found on this web page if you have trouble accessing them through the Skyward page. 

HOMEWORK #5/ HISTORICAL FICTION ("California As I Saw It" & "A Woman's Kindness" ; "After the Quake" & "Waves of Earth")
 will be due WEDSDAY, September 27, 2017!!

“California as I Saw It”

A memoir by Luzena Stanley Wilson

            After two or three days in Sacramento, we sold our oxen and bought an interest in the hotel on what is now known as K Street.  The hotel we bought consisted of the kitchen, which was my special province, and the general living room. 

            It was a motley crowd that gathered every day at my table, but always at my coming the loud voices were hushed, the quarrels stopped, and deference and respect were tendered me as if I had been a queen.  I was a queen.  Any woman who spoke a kindly, sympathetic word to the lonely, homesick men, was a queen, and lacked no honor that a subject could bestow.  Women were scarce in those days.  I lived six months in Sacramento and saw only two.  There was no time for visiting or gossiping; it was hard work from daylight till dark, and sometimes long after.  It was a hand-to-hand fight with starvation at the first; later the “flush” times came, when the miners had brought all their gold to town, and everyone had money.

            Many a miserable unfortunate, stricken by fever, died in his lonely, deserted tent.  It has been a lifelong source of regret to me that I grew hardhearted like the rest.  I was hard-worked, hurried all day, and tired out, but I might have stopped for a minute to heed the moans from the canvas house next to me.  I knew a young man lived there, but I thought he had friends in the town.  When I heard his weak calls for water, I never thought but someone gave it.  One day the moans ceased, and, on looking in, I found him lying dead.  Many a time since have I wept for the sore heart of that poor boy’s mother and prayed that if ever want and sickness came to mine, some other woman would be more tender than I had been, and give them at least a glass of cold water. 



“A Woman’s Kindness”

            “Dreams of gold, hmph!” said Luzena to herself as she vigorously sliced a bread knife through her fresh-baked loaf of bread.  “Our whole life we gave up in the East to move out here, and for what? A hotel full of loud, hungry miners three times a day, work never ending, and hardly a moment’s rest, that’s what.”  She plunked the knife down, picked up the bread on the wooden cutting board, and carried it toward the main dining room of the hotel.  She paused a moment, just before pushing through the shutter doors, to smooth her skirts and hitch a smile onto her face.

            She could hear the shouts of the miners, telling another one of their rough jokes and guffawing loudly, but as she swept into the room, a hush fell over the table.  Though the miners hadn’t bothered to take off their caps, they touched their hands to them in a respectful salute.  “Many thanks, ma’am,” said one politely, as she placed the bread on the table next to a steaming tureen of soup.  She’d never seen him before, so he must have been working in the mines less than a week; some said those were the hardest of all days in the mine.  “It’s nice to have a woman’s kindness again.”

            Luzena smiled at him and went back into the kitchen thinking that miners were just happy to see any woman at all in Sacramento.  She herself had only seen one, perhaps two others since her own arrival.  If any place needed a woman’s feminine touch to soften things up, it was Sacramento, packed with forty-niners working day and night in pursuit of gold.  It was a grueling way to make a living.  She was pleased to be kind to them; it made her feel like a lady, like she had been before.

            The serving of lunch completed, she went straight outside to finish her family’s washing and hang the clothes on the line.  “Hardly a moment’s rest,” Luzena repeated to herself, but then she swallowed her complaint.  She knew better, after even a short time in Sacramento.  Everyone worked hard just to survive in this rough country, where there was no money to be had – only the promise of gold and the threat of hunger or disease.  Her own next door neighbor, though still a young man, had been moaning with fever three weeks so far, calling out for just a cup of cold water.  “But he has plenty of friends in town to help him,” Luzena thought.  “Not like me – with a family to feed and not one woman nearby to share the burden.”

            But glancing toward the canvas tent that the young man called home, she paused in her work.  It was quiet in the yard – too quiet.  “Surely he’s gotten well,” she told herself, “well enough to finally leave the tent.”  But she couldn’t be sure.  Trembling, afraid of what she might find, Luzena put down her basket of washing.  She walked slowly to the opening of the flap of the tent.  What she saw made her gently close the flap and turn away, tears in her eyes.  “A cup of cold water – such a small request,” she said to herself.  “Well, I’ve become as hard as the rest of them out here, I guess.  That miner was wrong – I’ve no ‘woman’s kindness’ left.  But I mean to help as many as I can, now.  It’s all I can do for that poor young man.”

“After the Quake”

by Alejandra Hernandez


Dear Tia(1) Luz,

     I am writing first of all to reassure you that we are safe!  So many around us have lost everything, and I cannot even bear to describe the devastation in Mexico City.  Here in Mitla, we are a hundred miles from Mexico City, but we still felt an earthquake so powerful that we will never forget it for the rest of our lives.

     It began just a couple of days ago, on Thursday morning.  The milk started sloshing in my cereal bowl, and the palm trees were swaying outside – even though there wasn’t any wind.  Aida and I knew then that it was an earthquake, and we ran outside as quickly as we could.

     But once we exited outside, we couldn’t even stand; the ground was actually heaving so much that it looked like a lake, rippling with waves.  We didn’t know how bad it was then, so we thought it was fun to jump over the waves as they came to us across the ground.  I should have known, once I saw the sidewalk crack, that it was more serious than I had ever dreamed.

     Don’t worry; our house is still standing, although we will have many repairs to the sidewalk and one crack to fix in one of the walls.  What has happened to us is nothing compared to what happened to thousands of others in Mexico City.  Their buildings collapsed; many people are missing, and perhaps a hundred thousand are homeless now.  

     Tia, you would have been so proud of Papi.(2)  He radioed other helicopter pilots closer to Mexico City, and together they made a plan for how to help get people the food and medical aid they needed.  He had been gone for the past few days, helping with the relief effort, and I was so worried.  But now he is home safe, and we are all here together.  We are thinking of you and wishing you well.





  1. Tia Spanish word for “aunt”

  2. Papi Spanish word for “dad”


“Waves of Earth”

     “Ale,” called Aida from the living room, “can you help me finish constructing my model for science class?”

     “When I’m done with breakfast,” replied her twin sister Alejandra, “but, Aida, I’m not even sure I can see straight this morning.”  Alejandra trailed off, staring into her cereal bowl.  Was she imagining things – or had she nodded off right at the breakfast table?  It looked like the milk in her bowl was sloshing from side to side.

     She called to her sister, but Aida was standing at the living room window, looking in horror at the palm trees.  “Ale,” she called, sounding scared, “there’s no breeze at all, but the palm trees are swaying until they almost touch the ground, as if there was a hurricane.”

     Alejandra, always the braver one, darted to the window.  “Aida,” she yelled, “this has to be an earthquake – hurry, let’s go outside and see what’s happening!”

     “I’m not sure, Ale, it doesn’t sound safe,” Aida protested, but she allowed Alejandra to lead her out the door.

     “See?” said Alejandra, “it’s perfectly – “but she stopped as both of them lost their balance, the earth itself swaying beneath them.  Aids looked petrified, but Alejandra pointed in amazement and asked, “Aida, have you ever seen anything like that?”

     The twins could hardly believe their eyes:  incredibly, a swell of earth was approaching like an ocean wave moving through the water.  As they stood on the sidewalk, they could see the concrete slabs farther down begin to buckle.  They both leaped over the wave as it passed under them, then turned back anxiously as it continued under the house – but miraculously the house stayed standing.

     “Wow, I’ve never done that before,” said Alejandra, laughing nervously.  But as another wave, and another, passed beneath them, the swells of earth became too high for them to do anything besides try to somehow keep their balance.

     “Ale,” said Aida in a small voice, as the vibrations shook the ground, “how much longer will it go on?”

     But just as she finished speaking, the quake stopped as suddenly as it had started.  The twins swayed, their balance uncertain on the strangely still earth.  A few minutes later, they heard the welcome sound of their father’s truck rumbling up the street; when he pulled into the driveway and climbed out, they ran to him like small children.

     “I came home as soon as I could, mis hijas” (1), he told them.  “The roads were moving up and down so much that people could hardly drive.  But I’, so glad you’re safe.”

     With the quake only a memory and her father nearby, Alejandra had regained some of her natural confidence.  “It was an adventure, Papi!” she said, smiling.

     But her father did not return the smile.  “Ale,” he said seriously, “I wish it had been only an adventure.  I’ve been on the radio at work, talking to other helicopter pilots closer to Mexico City.  We’ve had a terrible quake here, but they got the worst of it, by far; buildings have collapsed, many in the city have lost their homes, and no one knows how many people are missing.”

     He squeezed the twins’ shoulders reassuringly and continued, “I don’t want you to worry, but I need to help in the city.  I will call your abuela (2) – I hope she is safe – who will come to stay with you for a few days.  I’ve got to see what I can do to help.  There will be people who need medical aid, food, and maybe even rescue.”

     Seeing his daughters’ concern, he hugged them again and said, “You’ve got to be brave for only a few days, mis hijas.  By Sunday, I promise we will all be together, safe and sound.”

     Aida and Alejandra nodded solemnly.  It was typical of their father, swooping in to help people in time of need.  They glanced at each other, agreeing silently to be brave until Sunday. 


  1. Mis hijas  Spanish phrase for “my daughters”

  2. Abuela Spanish word for “grandmother”

HOMEWORK #2/ FOLKLORE ("The Horse, the Hunter, and the Stag" & "The First Moccasins")
 will be due TUESDAY, September 5, 2017!!

The Horse, the Hunter, and the Stag

Adapted from a fable by Aesop


 (1)    There was a time, long ago, when the horse was not the domesticated animal he is today.  Once, he ran wild with the other animals:  his mane and tail waved in the breeze as he trotted in between the trees of the forest and galloped through the valleys whenever he pleased.  Yet the horse was known not only for his beauty and grace, but also for his pride and arrogance.  He could not bear to think that someone might have the upper hand, and he would go to any length to make sure that he was the victor in an argument. 

(2)     Most often he clashed with the stag, who of all the animals most resembled him.  The stag, too, could run with beauty and grace.  He had no mane, of course, and it was true that his tail was not as beautiful as the horse’s.  But the stag had one thing that the horse did not:  beautiful antlers that branched out from his head and pointed toward the heavens.  The stag did not particularly pride himself on his antlers; in fact, he thought very little about them at all.  But the horse spent many days watching those antlers out of the corner of his eye.  For the sake of those antlers, he hated the stag.

(3)     One day, the horse sauntered up to the stag, where he was drinking water from a little pool in the forest.  Seemingly bending down to drink water next to the stag, he suddenly leaned with his shoulder and shoved the stag forward.  The stag lost his balance and fell forward, his face splashing into the water.  The stag had had enough; he pulled himself out of the water and challenged the horse with his antlers.  Had the horse been another stag, the two would simply have locked antlers, pushing each other back and forth.  But the horse had no antlers, so he could not defend himself from the sudden charge.  A point on one of the stag’s antlers grazed the full length of the horse’s nose – but then, coming to his senses, the stag turned around and raced off into the forest.

(4)     The horse returned to the pool to wash his nose, and as he did so, he looked at his own reflection in the water.  He realized bitterly that now there would always be a scar running down his beautiful nose like a crack in a porcelain vase.  He seethed at the thought that there, for everyone to see, would be the humiliating proof that he had been bested by the stag.  In that instant, he began planning his revenge.

(5)     The next morning, the horse did something the other animals would have found unthinkable:  he went to the house of the hunter to ask for his assistance.  “I have heard that you hunters have never been able to track down the stag,” said the horse, “for he runs far faster than your short legs can move.  I myself can run as fast as the stag – and even faster – but I have no weapon to use against him.  Let us work together to accomplish our mutual goal.”

(6)     The hunter agreed to the horse’s plan, but on one condition:  “If we are to work together,” he said, “you must allow me to put this iron bit in your mouth, so that I may use these reins to guide you on the way.  And you must permit me to place this saddle on your back, so that I may stay steady enough to aim properly.”  The horse agreed, and soon, fully saddled and bridled, he was on his way to the forest with the hunter on his back.

(7)     With the speed of the horse beneath him, the hunter easily found and overcame the stag.  The horse should have been terribly sad that he had betrayed one of the other animals, but he felt only triumph.  Obeying the guidance of the hunter through the bit and the reins, he returned to the hunter’s house.  “And now, friend,” he said to the hunter, “you must climb down and remove those things you have put in my mouth and on my back.”

(8)     “Friend,” said the hunger, “you have sadly misjudged the situation.  Now that I have you saddled and bridled and under my command, I much prefer to keep you that way.”  Then, the hunter led the horse to a stable by his home – and that is where horses have stayed to this day.

(9)     The moral of the story is that if you allow others to use you for your own purposes, they will use you for theirs.



“The First Moccasins”

Adapted from a Native American legend


(1)    In the old days, the people had no horses, nor did they need them, for their feet had become tough and hardy through years of running swiftly after the hunt.  But there was once a chief who had feet with the softness and sensitivity of a baby’s skin.  His official name was Chief Tallfeather, but behind his back the people called him Chief Tenderfoot. 

(2)     Chief Tenderfoot was otherwise great and powerful, so no one dared to laugh at him.  They tried very hard to keep a straight face as he hobbled by, delicately avoiding every twig and pebble in his path.  But once he had passed, they imitated his hesitant steps with great enjoyment.

(3)     “I am becoming a laughingstock among my people,” said Chief Tenderfoot crossly to his medicine man one day.  “Something must be done, and you are going to do it!  By tomorrow, when the sun is at the same place, you must find a solution for my feet – or face the consequences!”

(4)     The medicine man left the chief’s longhouse feeling greatly troubled.  He did not want to face any consequences, whatever they might be, but he could not understand why the chief was so upset.  As long as he was still powerful, and there were still plenty of hunters to run through the forest for food, why was it so terrible that his feet were tender?  “There are many among the people,” he thought, “who would even carry the great man where he needs to go.  But he says that a chief must walk!”  Then he stopped, for his own words had given him an idea.

(5)     That night, he enlisted the help of the women who were most skilled in weaving.  They toiled through the night, and in the morning, the medicine man rolled out their handiwork before the chief.  “I have thought of a way to solve your problem,” he said.  “You will not step on the hard ground ever again; you will step only on this soft reed mat.  Two of your braves can roll it out before you, and two can roll it up behind you, so that you will always have a soft path underneath your feet.”

(6)     The chief was delighted, and he decided to use the mat to join a hunting party the very next day.  But as he was enjoying walking in comfort among his braves, he suddenly saw a deer moving through the trees to his right.  Without thinking, or even watching where he was going, he turned and leaped off the mat toward the deer.  His first steps landed right in the middle of a cluster of thorn bushes beside the path.  “Ow, ow, ow!” howled the chief, holding his feet.

(7)     When Chief Tenderfoot finally returned to his longhouse, he summoned the medicine man immediately.  “I am worse off now than before your great idea, medicine man!” raged the chief.  “Your mat was not enough to save my poor feet – which even now are still stinging from those terrible thorns!  So here is what you must do:  you must make the mat stronger, so that even thorns cannot pierce it, and you must make a mat large enough to cover not only one path but the whole earth!”

(8)     “That is not possible, O great chief,” said the medicine man, trying to be reasonable. 

(9)     “It will have to be” said Chief Tenderfoot sulkily, pouring cool water over his injured feet.  “You have one month to carry out the task – or you will die when the full moon rises.”

(10)   The medicine man returned to his tent, but he could not sleep.  He was cold with fear, so he pulled his bed coverings of elk hide up to his chin.  Then, he sat up straight, clutching the elk hide.  Perhaps a mat of leather would satisfy the chief!  But of course no one could make a mat large enough to cover the whole earth.  Over the next weeks he thought and thought, but he could come up with no solution.

(11)   “Whatever can I do?” said the medicine man to himself on the last night before the full moon.  “The task is impossible – even Chief Tenderfoot knows it!  He wants a covering over the whole earth, but there is time only to make a very small one.”  Then the medicine man looked up thoughtfully, for he had had another idea.  He picked up his bed covering again, found a small knife, and got to work.

(12)   The next morning, the medicine man emerged from his home with only a small packet wrapped in deerskin.  Smiling, he walked to Chief Tenderfoot’s longhouse.  “What do you have for me?” said the chief hopefully. 

(13)   “These,” said the medicine man, unwrapping the deerskin package and taking out what looked like two small leather sacks.  Kneeling, he slipped them over the chief’s feet.  The chief looked down in puzzlement and wiggled his toes.

(14    “O great chief,” said the medicine man, “from this day forward, the whole earth – for you – will be covered in strong leather.  Wherever you walk, whatever direction you take, your feet will be protected from the ground.”

(15)   Slowly, Chief Tenderfoot smiled.  “Very good, medicine man,” he said, “it is a brilliant idea.  But make sure that you make a pair for yourself, too – and for every one of my people – so that tat last there will be no difference between the feet of my people and the tender feet of their chief.”



Excerpt from The Count of Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas

1.)  Suddenly, about nine o'clock in the evening, Edmond heard a hollow sound in the wall against which he was lying.

2.)  So many loathsome animals inhabited the prison, that their noise did not, in general, awake him; but whether abstinence had quickened his faculties, or whether the noise was really louder than usual, Edmond raised his head and listened. It was a continual scratching, as if made by a huge claw, a powerful tooth, or some iron instrument attacking the stones.

3.)  Although weakened, the young man's brain instantly responded to the idea that haunts all prisoners - liberty! It seemed to him that heaven had at length taken pity on him, and had sent this noise to warn him on the very brink of the abyss. Perhaps one of those beloved ones he had so often thought of was thinking of him, and striving to diminish the distance that separated them.

4.)  No, no, doubtless he was deceived, and it was but one of those dreams that forerun death!

5.)  Edmond still heard the sound. It lasted nearly three hours; he then heard a noise of something falling, and all was silent.

6.)  Some hours afterwards it began again, nearer and more distinct. Edmond was intensely interested. Suddenly the jailer entered.

7.)  For a week since he had resolved to die, and during the four days that he had been carrying out his purpose, Edmond had not spoken to the attendant, had not answered him when he inquired what was the matter with him, and turned his face to the wall when he looked too curiously at him; but now the jailer might hear the noise and put an end to it, and so destroy a ray of something like hope that soothed his last moments.

8.)  The jailer brought him his breakfast. Dantes raised himself up and began to talk about everything; about the bad quality of the food, about the coldness of his dungeon, grumbling and complaining, in order to have an excuse for speaking louder, and wearying the patience of his jailer, who out of kindness of heart had brought broth and white bread for his prisoner.

9.)  Fortunately, he fancied that Dantes was delirious; and placing the food on the rickety table, he withdrew. Edmond listened, and the sound became more and more distinct.

10.)  "There can be no doubt about it," thought he; "it is some prisoner who is striving to obtain his freedom. Oh, if I were only there to help him!" Suddenly another idea took possession of his mind, so used to misfortune, that it was scarcely capable of hope - the idea that the noise was made by workmen the governor had ordered to repair the neighboring dungeon.

11.)  It was easy to ascertain this; but how could he risk the question? It was easy to call his jailer's attention to the noise, and watch his countenance as he listened; but might he not by this means destroy hopes far more important than the short-lived satisfaction of his own curiosity? Unfortunately, Edmond's brain was still so feeble that he could not bend his thoughts to anything in particular.

12.)  He saw but one means of restoring lucidity and clearness to his judgment. He turned his eyes towards the soup which the jailer had brought, rose, staggered towards it, raised the vessel to his lips, and drank off the contents with a feeling of indescribable pleasure. He had often heard that shipwrecked persons had died through having eagerly devoured too much food. Edmond replaced on the table the bread he was about to devour, and returned to his couch - he did not wish to die. He soon felt that his ideas became again collected - he could think, and strengthen his thoughts by reasoning. Then he said to himself, "I must put this to the test, but without compromising anybody. If it is a workman, I need but knock against the wall, and he will cease to work, in order to find out who is knocking, and why he does so; but as his occupation is sanctioned by the governor, he will soon resume it. If, on the contrary, it is a prisoner, the noise I make will alarm him, he will cease, and not begin again until he thinks every one is asleep."

13.)  Edmond rose again, but this time his legs did not tremble, and his sight was clear; he went to a corner of his dungeon, detached a stone, and with it knocked against the wall where the sound came. He struck thrice. At the first blow the sound ceased, as if by magic.

14.)  Edmond listened intently; an hour passed, two hours passed, and no sound was heard from the wall - all was silent there.

15.)  Full of hope, Edmond swallowed a few mouthfuls of bread and water, and, thanks to the vigor of his constitution, found himself well-nigh recovered.

16.)  The day passed away in utter silence - night came without recurrence of the noise.

17.)  "It is a prisoner," said Edmond joyfully. The night passed in perfect silence. Edmond did not close his eyes.


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