Read this extract from a historical novel which
describes the wedding day of Ibrahim, an important official at a Middle
Eastern court, to Muhsine. Five
paragraphs have been removed from the extract. Choose from the
paragraphs (A-to-F) the one which fits each gap 1-to-5. There is one
extra paragraph which you do not need to use. Then
check the correct answers.
Afterwards he remembered her
hand, small, olive-skinned, perfect, with its oval fingernails and henna-tinted
palm. It appeared from the materials and rose to her head and drew back
the silk veil. Well, she was beautiful, no doubt about that, but she was
also a complete stranger.
But at last, on his return,
he had been led, with a great deal of good-humoured pushing and shoving,
to the door of the harem. Some woman (he had no idea who she was) had
taken his hand and led him up to a motionless figure dressed in rose
He felt embarrassment rise,
and took out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead. Ibrahim, my friend,
he commanded himself, control yourself. Remember who you are, and never
let it be said you were upset by a. woman.
She came at last, carried
in a chair beneath a baldachin of rich silk so that she still remained
invisible, and accompanied by a noisy procession of musicians and male
relatives. Even then he wasn't allowed to see her.
So now, here was Ibrahim
the married man, standing, as he had been instructed, on her bridal
veil, which had been laid carefully over the floor just inside her
room, while Muhsine, with her black hair streaming over her shoulders,
stood on the edge of it, hands folded in front of her.
Well, he could sympathise
there; and suddenly he remembered that something was expected of him.
He searched in the folds of his sash, and finally brought out his gift
of one perfect pear-shaped pearl. Since she seemed as confused as he,
he pressed it into her hand.
Now the day, so long awaited and so meticulously
prepared for, had come and nearly gone. His house had been full to
bursting from first light. Muhsine's younger sisters, her cousins and
friends and aunts, had arrived early. He had heard them chattering and
laughing and the rustle of their wedding clothes as they made their way
to the harem – the private rooms in the house – to await the coming of
He had instead to go to the neighbourhood mosque
with his friends – and what a lot of friends he found he suddenly had!
And what a fool he felt, although normally no one enjoyed being the
centre of attention more than he.
Later, when he thought about it, he was compelled
to admit that all he had felt at that moment had been impatience to get
the whole thing over. He was tired, he had expended too much emotion on
– what? He didn't know, but he did know
that he had not felt fulfilment or anything like it.
While she took his hand and kissed it and murmured
something, he didn't hear what, he thought about that. The perfect face
that had been revealed to him was empty of meaning for him, except that
he thought he could detect signs of strain around the large, black eyes.
Then it was all over and he had to return to the
selamik – the reception area in the house – there to suffer the curious
or sly glances from his friends, and to remember that in his confusion
he had forgotten that he should have embraced his wife when he gave her
the pearl. Now, no doubt, she must think him a complete boor.
The wedding feast, of which he could eat little,
seemed to last forever and he longed to escape from it, even if it meant
making himself agreeable to this strange girl ...
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