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Guided Reading



Alex opened his eyes. So he was still alive! That was a nice surprise. He was lying on a bed in a large, comfortable room. The bed was modern, but the room was old with beams running across the ceiling, a stone fireplace, and narrow windows in an ornate wooden frame. He had seen rooms like this in books when he was studying Shakespeare. He would have said the building was Elizabethan. It had to be somewhere in the country. There was no sound of traffic. Outside, he could see trees.

Someone had undressed him. His school uniform was gone. Instead he was wearing loose pajamas, silk from the feel of them… All his clothes were here, neatly hung up. He took out a pair of Gap combat trousers, Nike sweatshirt and sneakers, got dressed, then sat on the bed and waited.

About fifteen minutes later there was a knock and the door opened. A young Asian woman in a nurse’s uniform came in, beaming.

“Oh, you’re awake. And dressed. How are you feeling? Not too groggy, I hope. Please come this way. Mr Blunt is expecting you for lunch.”

Alex followed her out of the room. The stairs led down into a tall galleried room with a rug spread out over flagstones and a fireplace big enough to park a car in. A long, polished wooden table had been set for three. Alan Blunt and a dark, rather masculine woman sucking a peppermint were already sitting down. Mrs Blunt?

“Alex.” Blunt smiled briefly as if it was something he didn’t enjoy doing. “It’s good of you to join us.”

Alex sat down. “You didn’t give me a lot of choice.”

“Yes. I don’t quite know what Crawley was thinking of, having you shot like that, but I suppose it was the easiest way. May I introduce my colleague, Mrs Jones.”

The woman nodded at Alex. Her eyes seemed to examine him minutely, but she said nothing.

“Who are you?” Alex asked. “What do you want with me?”

Blunt began. “As I’m sure you’ve gathered,” he said, “the Royal and General is not a bank. In fact, it doesn’t exist… it’s nothing more than a cover. And it follows, of course, that your uncle had nothing to do with banking. He worked for me. My name, as I told you at the funeral, is Blunt. I am the chief executive of the Special Operations Division of MI6. And your uncle was, for want of a better word, a spy.”


1. What clues suggested to Alex that he was now in the country?

2. How can the reader tell that the people who have Alex don't want to hurt him?

3. How is Mrs Jones described in the text? What kind of person do you think she is?

4. Do you think Alex will be shocked to hear that his uncle was a spy? Give a reason for your answer.

5. What do you think Blunt and Jones want with Alex? Are there any clues in the text that suggest that they want him for something?