IGCSE English (First Language): Specimen Questions with Answers 101 - 102 of 179

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Here is a story about two best friends who had to part ways. They return to keep an appointment they had made twenty years ago. Read to find out what happens when they meet again.

The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. The impressiveness was habitual and not for show, for spectators were few. The time was barely 10 o՚clock at night, but chilly gusts of wind with a taste of rain them had well-nigh deepeopled the streets. Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace.

The vicinity was one that kept early hours. Now and then you might see the lights of a cigar store or of an all-night lunch counter; but many of the doors belonged to business places that had long since been closed. When about midway of a certain block the policeman suddenly slowed his walk. In the doorway of a darkened hardware store a man leaned, with an unlighted cigar in his mouth. As the policeman walked up to him the man spoke up quickly.

“it՚s all right, officer,” he said, reassuringly. “I՚m just waiting for a friend. it՚s an appointment made twenty years ago. Sounds a little funny to you, doesn՚t it? Well, I՚ll explain if you՚d like to make certain it՚s all straight. About that long ago there used to be a restaurant where this store stands — Big Joe Brady՚s restaurant.” “Until five years ago,” said the policeman. “It was torn down then.”

The man in the doorway struck a match and lit his cigar. The light showed a pale, square-jawed face with keen eyes, and a little white scar near his right eyebrow. His scarf pin was a large diamond, oddly set. “Twenty years ago, tonight,” said the man, I dined here at Big Joe Brady՚s with Jimmy Wells, my best chum, and the finest chap in the world. He and I were raised here in New York, just like two brothers, together. I was eighteen and Jimmy was twenty. The next morning, I was to start for the West to make my fortune. You couldn՚t have dragged Jimmy out of New York; he thought it was the only place on earth. Well, we agreed that night that we would meet here again exactly twenty years from that date and time, no matter what our conditions might be or from what distance we might have to come.

We figured that in twenty years each of us ought to have our destiny worked out and our fortunes made, whatever they were going to be. “” It sounds pretty interesting, “said the policeman.” Rather a long time between meets, though, it seems to me. haven՚t you heard from your friend since you left? “” Well, yes, for a time we corresponded, “said the other.” But after a year or two we lost track of each other. You see, the West is a big proposition, and I kept hustling around over it lively. But I know Jimmy will meet me here if he՚s alive, for he always was the truest, staunchest old chap in the world. he՚ll never forget. I came a thousand miles to stand in this door tonight, and it՚s worth it if my old partner turns up. “The waiting man pulled out a handsome watch, the lids of it set with small diamonds.” Three minutes to ten, “he announced.” It was exactly ten o՚clock when we parted here at the restaurant door. “” Did pretty well out West, didn՚t you? “asked the policeman.” You bet! I hope Jimmy has done half as well. He was a kind of plodder, though, good fellow as he was. I՚ve had to compete with some of the sharpest wits going to get my pile. A man gets in a groove in New York. It takes the West to put a razor-edge on him. “The policeman twirled his club and took a step or two.” I՚ll be on my way. Hope your friend comes around all right. Going to call time on him sharp? “” I should say not! “said the other.” I՚ll give him half an hour at least. If Jimmy is alive on earth he՚ll be here by that time.

So long, officer. “Good-night, sir,” said the policeman, passing on along his beat, trying doors as he went. There was now a fine, cold drizzle falling, and the wind had risen from its uncertain puffs into a steady blow. The few foot passengers astir in that quarter hurried dismally and silently along with coat collars turned high and pocketed hands. And in the door of the hardware store the man who had come a thousand miles to fill an appointment, uncertain almost to absurdity, with the friend of his youth, smoked his cigar and waited. About twenty minutes he waited, and then a tall man in a long overcoat, with collar turned up to his ears, hurried across from the opposite side of the street. He went directly to the waiting man.

“Is that you, Bob?” he asked, doubtfully.

“Is that you, Jimmy Wells?” cried the man in the door.

“Bless my heart!” exclaimed the new arrival, grasping both the other՚s hands with his own. “It՚s Bob, sure as fate. I was certain I՚d find you here if you were still in existence. Well, well, well! Twenty years is a long time. The old restaurant՚s gone, Bob; I wish it had lasted, so we could have had another dinner there. How has the West treated you, old man?” “Bully; it has given me everything I asked it for. You՚ve changed lots, Jimmy. I never thought you were so tall by two or three inches.” “Oh, I grew a bit after I was twenty.” “Doing well in New York, Jimmy?” “Moderately. I have a position in one of the city departments. Come on, Bob; we՚ll go around to a place I know of, and have a good long talk about old times.” The two men started up the street, arm in arm. The man from the West, his egotism enlarged by success, was beginning to outline the history of his career. The other, submerged in his overcoat, listened with interest. At the corner stood a drug store, brilliant with electric lights. When they came into this glare each of them turned simultaneously to gaze upon the other՚s face. The man from the West stopped suddenly and released his arm. You՚re not Jimmy Wells, he snapped. Twenty years is a long time, but not long enough to change a man՚s nose from a Roman to a pug. “It sometimes changes a good man into a bad one,” said the tall man. You՚ve been under arrest for ten minutes, Silky Bob. Chicago thinks you may have dropped over our way and wires us she wants to have a chat with you. Going quietly, are you? That՚s sensible. Now, before we go on to the station here՚s a note, I was asked to hand you. You may read it here at the window. it՚s from Patrolman Wells. The man from the West unfolded the little piece of paper handed to him. His hand was steady when he began to read, but it trembled a little by the time he had finished. The note was rather short. Bob, I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar, I saw it was the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow, I couldn՚t do it myself, so I went around and got a plainclothes man to do the job.

Question 101 (3 of 8 Based on Passage)


Write in Short

Short Answer▾

What would you do in this situation if you were Jimmy Wells? Substantiate your reason. (Marks 25)


If I were Jimmy Wells, I would not send plain clothes cop to arrest Bob. Instead I would arrest him on the spot as soon as I knew that he was the criminal wanted in Chicago. My policy is duty first and friendship next.

I stick to my principle even if I face any hurdles. I shall try to be sincere till the doom՚s day. For, while I go away and try to find another police officer, Bob may become tired of waiting and he may go away. Therefore, as soon as Bob lights up his cigar and I identify him as a notorious criminal in New York. I would arrest him before he could have any chance of escaping.

Question 102 (4 of 8 Based on Passage)


Write in Short

Short Answer▾

Compare and contrast the characters of Jimmy Wells and Bob with suitable references from the story to support your view. (Marks 25)


  • “After Twenty years” by O. Henry is an interesting story with a twist at the end. A 38-year old Bob is waiting at the door of a hardware store in New York to meet his friend Jimmy wells. A policeman is on patrol duty. He asks Bob why he is standing there. Bob tells the cop that he (Bob) is waiting to meet his friend Jimmy Wells. He says that they make a promise to meet at the same place at the same time on the same date after twenty years, before parting. Bob tells the policeman that he (Bob) has kept his promise.
  • Bob is sure that Jimmy Wells will surely come and meet him. After listening to the story, the cop walks away. Twenty minutes later, a tall man in plain clothes comes to meet Bob. Bob thinks him Jimmy Wells.
  • Later Bob identifies that the man he is talking to is not his friend. The man is a police officer in plain clothes He gives Bob a letter from Jimmy. Bob leaks from the letter that the police officer whom he met earlier was Jimmy, his old friend. Since Bob is a criminal wanted by the Police, Jimmy Wells does not want to arrest his intimate friend. So, he has sent another police officer to do the work.
  • Here Bob is a criminal. But he is a true friend. He wants to fulfill his promise at any cost. On the other hand, his friend Jimmy Wells is an honest police officer. When he comes to know that his friend is a criminal, he does not want to arrest him himself He has sent another policeman to arrest Bob. For him duty is more important than friendship,

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