A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (a short story for intermediate level)

Part 8 (in English)

Words for you:

  • could not help saying – had to say (не могли не сказать)
  • hatchet – a kind of big knife (топорик)
  • be through — finish (закончить)

The two women sat motionless, not looking at each other, as if peering into something. When they spoke now it was as if they were afraid of what they were saying, but as if they could not help saying it.
«She liked the bird,» said Martha Hale, low and slowly. «She was going to bury it in that pretty box.»

«When I was a girl,» said Mrs. Peters, under her breath, «my kitten—there was a boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes—before I could get there—» She covered her face. «If they hadn’t held me back I would have»—she caught herself, looked upstairs where footsteps were heard, and finished weakly—»killed him.»

Then they sat without speaking or moving.
«No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird,» Mrs. Hale at last said, — «a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that too.»
Mrs. Peters moved uneasily, «Of course we don’t know who killed the bird.»
«I knew John Wright,» was Mrs. Hale’s answer.

«It was an awful thing done in this house that night, Mrs. Hale,» said the sheriff’s wife. «To kill a man while he was sleeping by — slipping a rope round his neck and to choke the life out of him.»

Mrs. Hale’s looked at the bird-cage. «His neck. Choked the life out of him.»
«We don’t know who killed him,» whispered Mrs. Peters wildly. «We don’t know.»

Mrs. Hale had not moved. «If there had been years and years of—nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful—after the bird was still.»

«I know what stillness is,» she Mrs. Peters said, in a queer, monotonous voice. «When my first baby died—after he was two years old—and me with no other then—»
Mrs. Hale moved.

«How soon do you suppose they’ll be through looking for the evidence?»
«I know what stillness is,» repeated Mrs. Peters again. Then she said: «The law has got to punish crime, Mrs. Hale.»
«I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster,» was the answer, «when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons, and stood up there in the choir and sang.»

Part 8 (in Russian)

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Part 8 (in English, continuation)

Words for you:

  • take on – worry (волноваться)
  • clumsy – not skilful (неумелый)
  • unwillingly – as if against one’s will (против желания)
  • conviction – decision that someone is guilty of a criminal offence (осуждение)
  • snatch – take from smb very quickly (выхватить)

The End of the Story «A Jury of her Peers (in English)»

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2 thoughts on “A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (a short story for intermediate level)
  1. I read to the end but didn’t understand why the man was strangled?

    • Tatiana says:

      You mean, why did she murder him? Looking around her kitchen, the women made their own investigation. In contrast to the men’s words that «nothing in the kitchen would point to any motive» they little by little found some evidence of their friend’s unhappiness: half done things, a bad stove, shabby clothes, rough sewing and the last straw — an empty broken cage. They thought that there must be a dead bird somewhere and when they found it they guessed right. Her husband had been murdering her slowly. But she didn’t want to be dead like her bird!

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