In the 1820s, in America, most people went westwerd in the hope of having their own land, building a ranch, finding gold, or at least living a happier life. They made the journey in four-wheeled wagons. It was not safe for one wagon to go alone, so the people used to join other wagons to cross the wild territories together. This was called a "wagon train".
One early morning in September, Florence Tremble, aged 12, and her parents and grand-parents, packed their possessions and guns on the wagon and set off for the Far West with another nine wagons. Everybody was excited with a strong desire for liberty, independence and a new life. 16416u2016q
Creaking under the weight of the load, the four-wheeled vehicle became Flo's new home for the next six weeks. The wagon was covered with canvas to protect the travellers from the hot sun, the heavy rain, the rough wind or blizzards. During the day nearly everybody walked alongside the wagons, though some of the men rode horses. At night, the train Captain, a scout who used to guide them, chose the campsite. Then the wagons were put in a circle. It was safe in the middle for the children to play and for the adults to make camp fires, milk the cows, and cook something hot. Their food consisted mostly of bacon, dried fruit, biscuits, beans, rice, tea and coffee. Then they went to sleep.
The journey seemed to be going well, but one late afternoon, when the travellers camped at the foot of the mountains, the Captain noticed some smoke in the distance : Indians ! In the next few minutes arrows pierced the canvas of the wagons and the camp was in flames.There were shouts and yells, and cries. It was hell on Earth ! Flo thought it was the end. Half an hour later, the travellers were left counting the dead and the wounted . . But not all indians were warlike people; some came to ask for gifts of tea, tobacco or sugar; others bartered bead belts, bracelets or necklaces for combs or mirrors.
Later on, the big family of travellers had to face another danger. The ground began to tremble and they all heard the dreaded noise of a stampede. A large herd of buffaloes came rushing by suddenly and widly, almost trampling over the whole camp. The travellers were all tired, weak and desperate. Enthusiasm died, the journey seemed to have no end, they had no more supplies, and many died of starvation.
Exhausted and disappointed, at the end of their sixth week, the miracle appeared in front of their eyes. Smoke was coming out of chimneys, houses began to take shape in the distance and the closer they got, the better thay could hear the noise of the town and the songs of the cowboys.
Roll along, covered wagon, roll along,
To the turn of your wheels I'll sing a song,
City ladies may be fine,
But give me that girl of mine,
Roll along, covered wagon, roll along.
Ex : 1. - Read as you listen to the story. What was "the miracle" at the end of the journey ?
2. - Read the story again. Copy and complete the chart :
AND TIME IN HISTORY DESCRIPTION
OF WAGON TRAINS MAIN
PLACE AND TIME IN HISTORY
DESCRIPTION OF WAGON TRAINS
GOING BY BUS
Old man (to a paser-by) : Excuse me, how can I reach Victoria Circus ? Can I go there by tube ? - You se, I am a stranger to this city.
Passer-by : No, not from here. There is no underground station near here. But you can take any bus from the stop over there. Get on a thirty-one.
Old man (at the bus stop) : Excuse me, does a bus number 31 stop here ? - Does it take me to Victoria Circus ?
A lady : Yes, of course. Look, it's coming ! Jump on !
Old man on the bus (to a fellow passenger) : Will you tell me where I must get off for Victoria Circus ?
Passenger : I'll tell you. I'm going the same way / route myself.
Conductor : Fares, please ?
Old man : A ticket, please. What's the fare to Victoria Circus ?
Conductor : Twenty pence, please. - There's a vacant seat, won't you sit down ?
Old man : How long does it take to get there ?
A lady : It's the next stop. Make ready to get off. Move up to the front door. It'll be easier for you to step down.
Old man : Thank you. Most kind of you, Madam.