Practice Test 17 Archives ACT Reading - Examgroup (2024)

PROSE FICTION: This passage is adapted from The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich © 1869.

I call my story the story of a bad boy, partly to distinguish myself from those faultless young gentlemen who generally figure in narratives of this kind, and partly because I really was not an angel. I may

Line 5 truthfully say I was an amiable, impulsive lad, and no hypocrite. I didn’t want to be an angel; I didn’t think the sermons presented to me by the Reverend Hawkins were half so nice as Robinson Crusoe; and I didn’t send my pocket-change to the needy, but spent it on

10 peppermint-drops and taffy candy. In short, I was a real human boy, such as you may meet anywhere in New England, and not like the impossible boy in a storybook. Whenever a new scholar came to our school,

15 I used to confront him at recess with the following words: “My name’s Tom Bailey; what’s your name?” If the name struck me favorably, I shook hands with the new pupil cordially; but if it didn’t, I would turn and walk away, for I was particular on this point. Such

20 names as Higgins, Wiggins, and Spriggins were offensive affronts to my ear; while Langdon, Wallace, Blake, and the like, were passwords to my confidence and esteem. I was born in Rivermouth almost fifty years

25 ago, but, before I became very well acquainted with that pretty New England town, my parents moved to New Orleans, where my father invested in the banking business. I was only eighteen months old at the time of the move, and it didn’t make much difference to me

30 where I was because I was so small; but several years later, when my father proposed to take me North to be educated, I had my own views on the subject. I instantly kicked over the little boy, Sam, who happened to be standing by me at the moment, and, stamping my foot

35 violently on the floor, declared that I would not be taken away to live among a lot of Yankees! You see I was what is called “a Northern man with Southern principles.” I had no recollection of New England: my earliest memories were connected

40 with the South. I knew I was born in the North, but hoped nobody would find it out. I never told my schoolmates I was a Yankee because they talked aboutthe Yankees in such a scornful way it made me feel that it was quite a disgrace not to be born in the South.

45 And this impression was strengthened by Aunt Chloe, who said, “there wasn’t no gentlemen in the North no way.” To be frank, my idea of the North was not at all accurate. I supposed the inhabitants were divided into two classes—hunters and schoolmasters. I pictured it to

50 be winter pretty much all the year round. The prevailing style of architecture I took to be log-cabins. With this picture of Northern civilization in my eye, the reader will easily understand my terror at the bare thought of being transported to Rivermouth to

55 school, and possibly will forgive me for kicking over little Sam, when my father announced this to me. As for kicking little Sam, I always did that, more or less gently, when anything went wrong with me. My father was greatly perplexed and troubled by

60 this violent outbreak. As little Sam picked himself up, my father took my hand in his and led me thoughtfully to the library. I can see him now as he leaned back in the bamboo chair and questioned me. He appeared strangely puzzled on learning the nature of my

65 objections to going North, and proceeded at once to knock down all my pine log houses, and scatter all the hunters and schoolmasters with which I had populated the greater portion of the Eastern and Middle States. “Who on earth, Tom, has filled your brain with

70 such silly stories?” asked my father calmly. “Aunt Chloe, sir; she told me.” My father devoted that evening and several subsequent evenings to giving me a clear and succinct account of New England: its early struggles, its

75 progress, and its present condition—faint and confused glimmerings of which I had obtained at school, where history had never been a favorite pursuit of mine. I was no longer unwilling to go North; on the contrary, the proposed journey to a new world full of

80 wonders kept me awake nights. Long before the moving day arrived I was eager to be off. My impatience was increased by the fact that my father had purchased for me a fine little Mustang pony, and shipped it to Rivermouth two weeks before the date set for our own

85 journey. The pony completely resigned me to the situation. The pony’s name was Gitana, which is the Spanish for “gypsy,” so I always called her GypsyFinally the time came to leave the vine-covered mansion among the orange-trees, to say goodbye to

90 little Sam (I am convinced he was heartily glad to get rid of me), and to part with Aunt Chloe. I imagine them standing by the open garden gate; the tears are rolling down Aunt Chloe’s cheeks; Sam’s six front teeth are glistening like pearls; I wave my hand to him manfully.

95 Then I call out “goodbye” in a muffled voice to Aunt Chloe; they and the old home fade away. I am never to see them again!

Practice Test 17 Archives ACT Reading - Examgroup (2024)
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