A walk in the forest (B2)

Walking her dog in the forest, Grace has a chance encounter that will present her with a dilemma. 


Do the preparation exercise first and then read the story. If you find it too difficult, try one of the lower levels. After reading, do the exercises to check your understanding.


Going through the forest is my favourite part of the walk. Benji loves it too. There are rabbits to chase and old leaves to smell. Benji’s my dog, by the way, and I’m Grace. I live on a farm with my parents and take Benji for a walk most days after school. Dad doesn’t approve of me walking through the forest. 'Don’t talk to strangers,' he says. Though the truth is that there’s never anyone here. Just me, Benji and lots of rabbits and birds.

While Benji runs ahead, I stop and take a photo of a butterfly that’s resting on a flower. A new Facebook photo? Maybe, but my friends at school already tease me with the nickname 'Nature Girl', so perhaps not. As I put my phone away, I hear Benji barking along the path. Benji barks to say hello, he’s scared of cats and wouldn’t hurt anyone, but, of course, other people don’t know that. Benji’s barking and jumping round a boy. The boy’s about my age. He’s holding some wood in his arms and looks worried. 

'Benji, stop! Come here!' I yell. I reach into my pocket for Benji’s ball. I’m about to apologise to the boy, but he’s gone, vanished between the trees. 


I’m out with Benji again. It’s cold and rainy today and I’ve got a mountain of homework to do, so we’re going at a brisk pace. No admiring butterflies or photos today. As I’m coming through the forest, I feel the first drops of rain so I start to run. Suddenly, I’m slipping and falling and, before I know it, I’m flat on my back. Ouch! That hurt. Then there’s someone there and a voice says,
'Are you all right? That was a bad fall.' I look up and see the boy from yesterday. 
'I’m OK, I think,' I say uncertainly. The boy helps me up slowly and then Benji arrives to check on me. The boy pats Benji on the head.
'I haven’t seen you at school. Do you live near here?' I ask.
'No, I’m from Manchester,' he says. 'Listen! I have to go. Are you OK to walk home? Do you need help?'
'No, I’m fine. Thanks!' I say, as the boy sets off.
'Hey, I’m Grace. What’s your name?' I call, but he’s already out of sight.

Back home, Mum’s watching the news on TV.
'Hi Grace. Have you heard about this boy, Mark?' she asks.
'No, what boy?' I say.
'A boy from Manchester. He’s run away from home. Look! This is his dad.'
I look at the TV and there’s a man in tears sitting next to a policeman as cameras flash around him. A man who clearly hasn’t slept for days and is worried out of his mind. Then they show a photo of the missing boy. I know him. It’s the boy from the forest. He’s Mark. Should I say something? Should I tell Mum?
'Poor man,' says Mum. 'I just hope they find his son soon.'
No, I can’t say anything. If I tell Mum now, the police will come and find Mark in the forest. What if he’s run away for a good reason? I have to talk to him first. 
'Mum, I’m going to do my homework,' I say, counting the hours till I can go back to the forest.


I’ve looked and looked but I can’t find Mark in the forest. If I’m not home soon, my parents will worry. So I take a chance and shout, 'Mark, Mark, where are you?'
Nothing, no answer, just birds singing.
'Mark,' I yell again, 'I know about you.'
After a moment, I hear his voice behind me.
'What do you know? How do you know my name?'
I turn and there he is. 'Your dad was on TV last night. Half the police in the country are out looking for you.'
He looks shocked and asks, 'Did you say anything? Have you told them?'
'No,' I say. 'I wanted to talk to you first. What’s happened? Why have you run away?'
He looks at the ground, then up at me. 'I had an argument with my dad. A bad one.'
'What about?' I ask. It’s not my business, but the question just comes out. 
Mark gestures to a fallen tree and we sit down. He’s quiet for a while, then he takes a deep breath.
'My mum died four years ago. It was very tough. Tough for me and for Dad. He was sad for a long time, but then he met someone new at work. Mel’s her name.'
'Oh, and don’t you like her?' I ask.
'No, not really. She’s not a bad person, but well, we just don’t connect. She wants my dad for herself and isn’t interested in me. I don’t think she wants me around.'
'But, what about your dad? Have you talked to him?'
'He keeps telling me to make an effort with her, but I just can’t. She’s not my mum. The night I ran away, he came to my room and said that we’re all moving to London. Mel’s from London, you see. And then he told me that he and Mel want to get married and have a baby. We both got angry and I told him I’m not moving to London. I took my tent and a bit of food and left in the middle of the night.'
'But what will you do? You can’t live in the forest,' I tell him.
'I know, but my school and my friends are in Manchester. My grandad’s there too. I don’t want to move to London. I’ll lose all my friends.'
'You might make new friends,' I say.
Mark sighs, 'That’s what my dad says too.'
I feel sorry for Mark, but I think of his dad crying on TV and feel sorry for him too.
'What are you going to do?' I ask.
'I don’t know. I need time to think. Grace, can you bring me some food tomorrow? I’m starving.'


Mark’s waiting for me in the forest. I’ve only got a couple of apples and some biscuits for him. My parents were in the kitchen at home so I couldn’t bring much. I’ve also got some news.
'Mark, Mum says the police came to the farm this morning. They’re going to search the forest tomorrow.'
Mark puts his head in his hands, 'I didn’t want this. My dad on TV and the police and everything. I don’t know what to do.'
'I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you live with your grandad in Manchester? Let your dad and Mel move to London and visit them in the holidays.'
Mark doesn’t answer for a while, then he nods his head and smiles.
'Can I use your phone?' he asks. 'I need to call my dad.'

Robin Newton


Did you like the story? Do you think Grace did the right thing?

Language level
Average: 4.5 (4 votes)
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Submitted by Tolis5 on Sun, 07/11/2021 - 15:50

The story was really great!!I loved it!!I believe Grace did the right thing!❤❤
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Submitted by Kostantinus on Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:05

I like that story very much, because it's written in a very good way. It keeps an intrigue for a while so the readers are very interested in following details of the story. In my opinion, the girl did very well not telling her mother about a boy she found in the forest. We all know there are many different families in the world. Some parents treat own children not well. The story's end is happy so I got good impressions from reading it.

Submitted by skyutomo on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 14:25

i like that grace is not a snitch

Submitted by Marina on Wed, 03/18/2020 - 09:59

I liked the story. And I think it's interesting that the story is told through a kind of diary. In my opinion Grace did the best thing she could do. Because she found a great solution for Mark and his father. Maybe this story is a bit irreal bacause I think the police would have found Mark before Grace, but it doesn't matter bacause it's fiction. In general I liked it.
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Submitted by Elsa007 on Sat, 03/24/2018 - 08:30

Eventually, Grace was of great help for Mark! I think if I had been Grace, I would have done the same thing. Why? Because, although Mark was in difficulties, he talked to Grace without hiding anything from her. I think Grace simply thought that she wanted to help him and they could put their trust at this point. That's why it's natural that Grace could talk to Mark first as well. If Grace had thought Mark kept something deceptive from her, she might have sided with the police... In this story, Grace might be intelligent, but I'd rather say Mark's honesty and trust discovered his own answer thanks to Grace!

Submitted by NicolasS on Sun, 03/11/2018 - 19:11

I didn't really like this story because its end is too open. Moreover I thought this story a little bit boring because there is no action. I am not sure that if I had been Grace I would have done the same thing but I think that she took a good decision to talk with the boy first.

Submitted by severin on Sun, 03/11/2018 - 14:07

Well, this story is rather interesting but I think it isn’t very realistic. Nowadays the police would not mobilise all these policemen for a young boy who disappeard ! But, agreed. I won’t pay attention. I think Grace has made a good choice to talk with Mark before calling the police : talking often settles problems ! But in this story, Mark has had the wrong behavior. He should have thought about his situation before acting and creating very big problems ! But no problem ! I have enjoyed this text so thank you to share with us those stories !

Submitted by khawlaclosson on Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:11

I believe Mark should have taken more time to think about the situation, maybe have a conversation with his father before trying to leave? He was crying over the loss of his child on tv, it implies his deep love for Mark, he probably would have listened to him. Panicking and not knowing what to do, he chose the easy option, then, consequently, ran away from his personal matters. Grace did a great job dealing with this issue by keeping her calm and trying to understand the boy, she provided a simple solution to his complicated problem, without telling anyone about Mark, not even once. In my opinion, she definitively acted the right way. Grace's character is clever and understanding. Moreover, she clearly knows how to deal with people.
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