Read this extract and then place the sentences (a to f)
below onto the most suitable blanks (1 to 6):
It is a quiet day; very quiet. Hardly any wind.
Just a gentle breeze now and then.
Falling leaves rustle through the branches as they float to the ground.
The swans, two white and four light brown but beginning to be speckled with
white, lie in soft low mounds, their necks twisted round and back,
they beaks buried under their wings, asleep on the bank.
Even the ducks on the top lake are paddling about in a desultory fashion,
poking here and there at weed in the murky water. The occasional bird
can be heard deep in the woods.
The sun is warm on my back as I make my way to the bottom lake.
The wooded slope between the two lakes looks natural but two hundred
and fifty years ago it was a pile of boulders, rocks and earth as the dam
was being constructed. At the bottom of the slope is a kissing gate leading onto
a lakeside path. ________1_________.
A few fishermen are at the far end, sitting motionless, watching the water.
The bottom lake is the same murky green colour as the top one but deeper
and kept full of fish for the anglers. On other occasions I have been startled
by noisy splashes as a fish leaps out of the water but I never see them,
only the telltale ripples circling ever wider across the surface of the water.
The lake looks peaceful in the late summer sunlight.
I turn to walk back and a small movement catches my eye.
A widening dark arrow is moving towards the opposite bank only a
few metres away.
I have seen things swimming in the lakes before – snakes, voles –
but this is definitely not a snake as there is no side-to-side movement.
The animal reaches the other side and begins to clamber out.
A flat head bristling with whiskers is followed by a humpy back and a
thick strong tail almost as long as its body. Is it what I think it is? _______2_______. It is. I am looking at one of the
most elusive animals in this country. An otter. They are known to be around here,
drawn by the fish in the lake. But so close to a city centre? In broad daylight?
I hardly dare breathe.
The otter starts to scamper
along the water’s edge picking its way over and under tree roots arching up from
the mud, investigating every hole and crevice. _______3_________
I feel a breath of wind on my face and I thank God I’ downwind of the animal.
Suddenly it stops and raises its head in my direction. It looks across the water
at me in a rather shortsighted way, one paw raised, as if it’s not sure what to make
of a tall blue and grey object, which has suddenly come into its field of vision on the
opposite bank. _______4___________ Its wet fur glistens in
the sunlight, its small button-eyes dark with concentration. I avert my gaze slightly.
I want to be perceived as an object, not an animal with a powerful mind behind a
threatening gaze. I don’t want to intimidate it in any way. It decides to carry on and
after another scrabble around in the roots disappears into the undergrowth. _______5______. Nothing. I start to turn away.
A robin sets up its warning note in a nearby bush. Suddenly a tremendous
screeching and squawking breaks out at the bottom of a tree overgrown with ivy close
to where the otter disappeared from view. Something thrashes around and I catch
sight of the otter loping away across the field, its silvery-grey colour blending and then disappearing into the long grass.
Silence descends once more. It has gone. I may never see another otter in the wild.
But if it happens just once in a lifetime, it’s nothing short of a miracle. ____________6__________.
And I have had that privilege.
a) I wait
b) It is not as big as I expected so it’s either a female or a cub.
c) In fact, it’s a privilege.
d) We look at each other for what seems like a long time but can only be for a few seconds.
e) It can’t be
f) I begin to walk along it eating my sandwich