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Grade: 5,    Subject: LanguageArts,    Topic: Reading Non-Fiction
See the following text/image to answer questions 1 through 10
The Boys' Ambition (Part 2)
by Mark Twain

My father was a justice of the peace, and I supposed he possessed the power of life and death over all men and could hang anybody that offended him. This was distinction enough for me as a general thing; but the desire to be a steamboat-man kept intruding, nevertheless. I first wanted to be a cabin-boy, so that I could come out with a white apron on and shake a tablecloth over the side, where all my old comrades could see me; later I thought I would rather be the deckhand who stood on the end of the stage-plank with the coil of rope in his hand, because he was particularly conspicuous. But these were only day-dreams,-- they were too heavenly to be contemplated as real possibilities. By and by one of our boys went away. He was not heard of for a long time. At last he turned up as apprentice engineer or 'striker' on a steamboat. This thing shook the bottom out of all my Sunday-school teachings. That boy had been notoriously worldly, and I just the reverse; yet he was exalted to this eminence, and I left in obscurity and misery. There was nothing generous about this fellow in his greatness. He would always manage to have a rusty bolt to scrub while his boat tarried at our town, and he would sit on the inside guard and scrub it, where we could all see him and envy him and loathe him. And whenever his boat was laid up he would come home and swell around the town in his blackest and greasiest clothes, so that nobody could help remembering that he was a steamboat-man; and he used all sorts of steamboat technicalities in his talk, as if he were so used to them that he forgot common people could not understand them. He would speak of the 'labboard' side of a horse in an easy, natural way that would make one wish he was dead. And he was always talking about 'St. Looy' like an old citizen; he would refer casually to occasions when he 'was coming down Fourth Street,' or when he was 'passing by the Planter's House,' or when there was a fire and he took a turn on the brakes of 'the old Big Missouri;' and then he would go on and lie about how many towns the size of ours were burned down there that day. Two or three of the boys had long been persons of consideration among us because they had been to St. Louis once and had a vague general knowledge of its wonders, but the day of their glory was over now. They lapsed into a humble silence, and learned to disappear when the ruthless 'cub'-engineer approached. This fellow had money, too, and hair oil. Also an ignorant silver watch and a showy brass watch chain. He wore a leather belt and used no suspenders. If ever a youth was cordially admired and hated by his comrades, this one was. No girl could withstand his charms. He 'cut out' every boy in the village. When his boat blew up at last, it diffused a tranquil contentment among us such as we had not known for months. But when he came home the next week, alive, renowned, and appeared in church all battered up and bandaged, a shining hero, stared at and wondered over by everybody, it seemed to us that the partiality of Providence for an undeserving reptile had reached a point where it was open to criticism.

This creature's career could produce but one result, and it speedily followed. Boy after boy managed to get on the river. The minister's son became an engineer. The doctor's and the post-master's sons became 'mud clerks;' the wholesale liquor dealer's son became a barkeeper on a boat; four sons of the chief merchant, and two sons of the county judge, became pilots. Pilot was the grandest position of all. The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary--from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay. Two months of his wages would pay a preacher's salary for a year. Now some of us were left disconsolate. We could not get on the river-- at least our parents would not let us.

So by and by I ran away. I said I never would come home again till I was a pilot and could come in glory. But somehow I could not manage it. I went meekly aboard a few of the boats that lay packed together like sardines at the long St. Louis wharf, and very humbly inquired for the pilots, but got only a cold shoulder and short words from mates and clerks. I had to make the best of this sort of treatment for the time being, but I had comforting daydreams of a future when I should be a great and honored pilot, with plenty of money, and could kill some of these mates and clerks and pay for them.
Question 1:
What word describes Mark Twain's father?


Question 2:
Why was the author not happy when one of his friends turned up as an apprentice engineer of the steamboat?

because he thought that guy deserved better job then an engineerbecause working in a steamboat was not a prestigious job in those days

because the author applied for the same job and got rejectionbecause that guy was very infamous
Question 3:
Who according to the author was an "undeserving reptile"?

the fellow who became pilot on the steamboatthe fellow who became apprentice engineer on the steamboat

a snake he once saw in the streets of his townthe mates and clerks on the boat
Question 4:
How does the author describe himself?


Question 5:
Why would the apprentice engineer walk in the town in his blackest and greasiest clothes?

to show people that he worked in the steamboatto show people that he didn't care about his clothes

he didn't have enough time to change his clothesto show people that how less paid he was
Question 6:
What is the meaning of the following line?

This thing shook the bottom out of all my Sunday-school teachings.

the author was delightedthe author was shocked

the author was scaredthe author was satisfied
Question 7:
Why would the apprentice engineer sit on the inside guard and scrub a rusty bolt?

so that his friends could feel happy to see his successso that he could irritate the cabin- boys

so that his friends could see him and envy himso that his boss could be proud of his hard work
Question 8:
According to the author, which job was considered the best in those days?


Question 9:
Who became a barkeeper on a boat?

the wholesale brick dealer's sonthe minister's son

the wholesale liquor dealer's sonthe wholesale timber dealer's son
Question 10:
How did the mates and clerks of the boats treat Mark Twain when he went aboard to inquire for the pilots?


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