Read an adapted part of the story “Luck” written by Mark Twain

Level A2

Luck” is a short story written by Mark Twain in 1886 and published in Harper’s Magazine in 1891. As you might guess, it’s all about luck.

‘Luck’ by Mark Twain, adapted part

About forty years ago, I was an instructor in the military academy at Woolwich when young Scoreby took his first examination. I felt extremely sorry for him. Everybody answered the questions well, intelligently, while he – why, dear me – he did not know anything, so to speak. He was a nice, pleasant young man. It was painful to see him stand there like a dummy and give answers that were miracles of stupidity and ignorance.

I knew, of course, that when examined again he would fail and be thrown out. So, I said to myself, it would be a simple, harmless act of charity to help him as much as I could.

I took him aside and found he knew a little of Caesar’s history. And as he did not know anything else, I went to work and drilled and tested him. I made him work, over and over again, on a few questions about Caesar which I knew would be used.

If you believe me, he came through with flying colours on examination day. He got high praise, too, while others who knew a thousand times more than he, failed.

My conscience tortured me day and night – what I was doing was not right. But I only wanted to make his dismissal a little less painful for him. It was pure charity. I never dreamed it would lead to such strange, laughable results. I thought that sooner or later one thing was sure to happen: the first real test would ruin him.

Then, the Crimean War broke out. Nervously I waited for the worst to happen. It did. He was appointed to a captaincy. A captain! I thought my hair would turn white.


instructor – викладач

painful – болючий

dummy – манекен

miracles of stupidity and ignorance –  чудеса дурості та невігластва

fail – провалитися (на екзамені)

be thrown out – бути виключеним

harmless – нешкідливий

charity – благодійність

Caesar – Цезар

with flying colours –  блискуче

get high praise – отримати високу оцінку

conscience – свідомість

torture – мучити

dismissal – виключення

appoint – призначати

Reading Comprehension

  1. Where did the narrator of the story work?
  2. How did the young man answer?
  3. What did the instructor decide to do?
  4. Was Scoreby asked the questions on history or biology?
  5. Did the young man fail at the exam?
  6. What was the young man appointed to during the Crimean War?
  7. Did you have a teacher who was very helpful?