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New SAT Reading Practice Test 4 | 16 phút

This passage is excerpted from the 1854 book Walden by Henry David Thoreau, which details Thoreau's experiences living in a cabin alone for two years.

I think that I love society as much as most,
and am ready enough to fasten myself like
a bloodsucker for the time to any full-blooded man
that comes in my way. I am naturally no hermit,
Line 5 but might possibly sit out the sturdiest frequenter
of the bar-room, if my business called me thither.
I had three chairs in my house; one for
solitude, two for friendship, three for society.
When visitors came in larger and unexpected
10 numbers there was but the third chair for them
all, but they generally economized the room by
standing up. It is surprising how many great men
and Women a small house will contain. I have
had twenty-five or thirty souls, with their bodies,
15 at once under my roof, and yet we often parted
without being aware that we had come very near
to one another.
One inconvenience I sometimes experienced
in so small a house, the difficulty of getting to
20 a sufficient distance from my guest when we
began to utter the big thoughts in big words. You
want room for your thoughts to get into sailing
trim and run a course or two before they make
their port. The bullet of your thought must have
25 overcome its lateral and ricochet motion and
fallen into its last and steady course before it
reaches the ear of the hearer, else it may plow
out again through the side of his head. Also,
our sentences wanted room to unfold and form
30 their columns in the interval. Individuals, like
nations, must have suitable broad and natural
boundaries, even a considerable neutral ground,
between them. I have found it a singular luxury
to talk across the pond to a companion on the
35 opposite side. In my house we were so near that
We could not begin to hear-we could not speak
low enough to be heard; as when you throw two
stones into calm water so near that they break
each other's undulations. As the conversation
40 began to assume a loftier and grander tone, we
gradually shoved our chairs farther apart till they
touched the Wall in opposite corners, and then
commonly there was not room enough.
My "best” room, however, my withdrawing
45 room, always ready for company, on whose
carpet the sun rarely fell, was the pine Wood
behind my house. Thither in summer days, when
distinguished guests came, I took them, and a
priceless domestic swept the floor and dusted the
50 furniture and kept the things in order.
If one guest came he sometimes partook of
my frugal meal, and it was no interruption to
conversation to be stirring a hasty-pudding,
or Watching the rising and maturing of a loaf
55 of bread in the ashes, in the meanwhile. But
if twenty came and sat in my house there was
nothing said about dinner, though there might
be bread enough for two, more than if eating
were a forsaken habit; but we naturally practised
60 abstinence; and this was never felt to be an
offence against hospitality, but the most proper
and considerate course. The waste and decay of
physical life, which so often needs repair, seemed
miraculously retarded in such a case, and the vital
65 vigor stood its ground. I could entertain thus a
thousand as well as twenty; and if any ever went
away disappointed or hungry from my house
when they found me at home, they may depend
upon it that I sympathized with them at least. So
70 easy is it, though many housekeepers doubt it, to
establish new and better customs in the place of the
old. You need not rest your reputation on the
dinners you give.
As for men, they will hardly fail one
75 anywhere. I had more visitors while I lived in the
Woods than at any other period in my life; I mean
that I had some. I met several there under more
favorable circumstances than I could anywhere
else. But fewer came to see me on trivial business.
80. In this respect, my company was winnowed by
my mere distance from town. I had withdrawn so
far within the great ocean of solitude, into which
the rivers of society empty, that for the most part,
so far as my needs were concerned, only the finest
85 sediment was deposited around me.

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