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TEXT 3: DIARIES ARE FOR SECRET

by Ruth E. Hampton

Celia was still fuming as she hopped off her bicycle and picked up a can from beside the highway. Mom had just given her another talk – all because she was caught reading her sister Merrilee’s diary.

Dear Diary, Joan thinks I should dye my hair. . . . Dear Diary, I think David likes me. . . . Dear . . .

Naturally, Mom took Merrilee’s side. “Why can’t you be more like your sister, Celia?” she had asked. “Other girls don’t spend their lives riding a bicycle or walking in ditches. Other girls keep diaries of their own instead of reading their sister’s. Other girls . . .”

Wouldn’t her family laugh if she admitted she was trying to help clean up the world! Picking up trash might not be her family’s idea of a job, but Celia had saved over twenty dollars from gathering cans and bottles. It sure beat baby-sitting. She’d do anything rather than baby-sit.

Maybe today would be the day the red-tail hawk’s eggs hatched. She pedaled hard, turning up the canyon road in a cloud of dust.

The nest, high in a double-topped pine at the foot of the hill, didn’t show from the road. Celia hid her bike and ran up the hillside until she was level with the nest. A hawk flew out of the tree, leaving the untidy cradle of sticks looking flat and empty. Only when the breeze lifted the blanket of feathers could Celia see the flash of white eggs.

Her eyes ached from squinting, but one of the eggs seemed to be moving among the sticks and fluff. She climbed up a juniper tree to get a better look. It wasn’t an egg. It was a tiny white ghost of a bird with black, staring eyes. When it disappeared, Celia pulled a note-book from her pocket. Balanced against the juniper, she wrote: April 14. 3:30 p.m. Casper – No. 1 nestling.

The next week, two more fluffy ghosts appeared in the nest. Celia named them Spook and Phantom.

After school on Monday, Celia hurried into her jeans and pedaled the two miles to the canyon. Each hour she was away, she worried that someone would find the hawks. A green truck passed her on the dirt road, so she casually coasted past the place where she usually hid her bike. Later she wrote: April 21. Possibly 4 babies. Looks like Casper pecks others. Cold! Adult flew down with something in talons. Feeding? Celia stared at the faraway nest. She wished she dared to ask for Dad’s field glasses.

The next Saturday, she rode out to the shopping center and found a pair of low-priced binoculars - $22.95, seven power. She rushed outside the store and, pedaling her way through the traffic, hurried to the canyon. Her money was gone, but she hadn’t been forced to tell about the nest of hawks.

On the outside, she unwrapped the glasses and read the instructions: “Cover left eye, adjust right eyepiece … Cover right eye, adjust …” It worked. She was staring at a pine branch that appeared inches instead of yards away. It took practice, but Celia found the nest in time to see Casper, definitely the largest, peck one of the other nestlings. When Casper settled back and closed its eyes, a fly moved down its dark, curved beak.

The bird book said that a hawk’s eye may be eight times sharper than a human’s. That meant the hawk screaming overhead could see Celia a little better than she was seeing it. Swinging back to the nest, she definitely counted four young. She named the fourth one Shadow. In her notebook, she wrote: April 23. Casper is getting small spots on its wings. Others still white. Shadow No. 4.

May 1. Overcast. Babies are fed mice, moles, gophers. Parents tear up meat, bone, hair, and poke it down throats.

May 2. Today when I started up the hill, the parents both came screaming over my head. The little ones froze. Didn’t move once in twenty minutes. When I left, the darker, heavier female (?) flew over and screamed, “All clear.”

May 9. Couldn’t go to nest. Green truck in canyon.

May 12. Casper looks pinkish, others dirty gray.

May 16. Boys in yellow car with gun, hunting.

May 20. Casper and Spook have feathers just alike. Same age, maybe same sex? They bully little ones.

May 26. One of the younger ones almost fell out of nest. Went down over the side. Had to scramble back. The stupid parents just watched.

One Friday when Celia arrived at the pine tree, the nest looked empty. Worried, she searched the lower limbs and ground. Then a slight movement above the nest caught her eye. Perched on a branch was one youngster, looking like the adult birds except for having a slightly lighter color. The other two feathered ones were on perches too. Shadow, still downy, was lying low in the nest.

June 3. Today was wing-stretching day. All four were up, two on nest, two above. Parent brought gopher, and they mobbed her, pecking and flapping.

June 4. Casper was up in a branch crying out loud when the boys drove by. I stood still so the adults wouldn’t see me and scream. Green truck went by again.

June 7. Casper was gone. Thought boys had shot it, but it was staring at me from another tree. Golden with small spots.

Several days later, Celia hid the binoculars under her shirt. Then she climbed on her bicycle and pedaled slowly to the canyon. School was out. It was almost time for the young hawks to fly away. Even if the parents came back to the nest next year, it wouldn’t be the same. Never again would she watch the lives of Casper, Spook, Phantom, and Shadow together as a family.

She smiled, remembering how they had looked like little ghosts at first, peering over the edge. The smile faded. Was growing up always hurting, leaving, losing? Merrilee was growing up. Mom had said. That’s why she’d rather go on dates and keep secret diaries than do things with her own sister. Well, Celia had a secret diary too – a hawk diary.

The sudden roar of a motor sent Celia into the ditch. The yellow car was racing toward her, and from the window, a gun pointed at the sky. She looked up and saw one of the hawks going into its dive to warn off the intruders and cry “freeze” to its young.

“No! No!” Celia was screaming as the car skidded to a halt, and the boy steadied for a shot. She hurled herself off the bike to try to stop him, but she was thrown backward as the shot rang out. The binoculars flew out from under her shirt and came down on her mouth. The sky went black.

Celia woke up to the taste of blood and the sight of a blue work shirt blotting out the world. Celia moaned, “The red tail. They shot the red tail.”

“They missed him. It’s okay. Are you all right? Looks like a broken tooth is the worst of it.” The woman bending over her motioned to her young helper. “Daryl, give me a hand.” They loaded Celia’s bike into the back of the green truck, then helped her into the cab. “Hasn’t anybody told you to wear binoculars under your arm?” the woman asked. When Celia didn’t answer, she went on. “You must be a red-tail fan. Don’t suppose you’d know where there is a nest, would you?”

Celia drew her tongue across the ragged sharpness of her tooth and once more said nothing.

“We’ve been trying to locate the nests so we can determine when the young hawks fly. So far this year, we haven’t had one nest sighting for this area.”

“Why? Do you shoot them too?” Celia pulled herself up and sat stiffly between the woman and her helper.

“No, not at all. We protect hawks. And we try not to start logging in hawk and eagle areas until the nestlings fly. What we need are some dates for this canyon.”

Slowly, Celia pulled the note pad from her pocket. “Do you mean like this?”

Daryl flipped the pages. “Hmmm. Egg hatched the fourteenth of April. Dates, times, weather. Looks like they’ll fly any day now. This is a well-kept diary …”

Celia reached for the pad and shuddered. “Oh, please,” she said, “this isn’t a diary; it’s my notebook.” She smiles a slightly crooked smile as she added, “Diaries are for secrets.”

I. Using Context to Get Word Meaning

In each of the following sentences, a word is underlined. Below the sentence, there are three words or groups of words. Read each sentence. Choose the letter of the word or word group that has the same meaning as the underlined word.

1. The customers were fuming about the rude way they had been treated.

a. angry b. hot c. satisfied

2. Some people are paid to keep a diary of the television programs they watch.

a. daily record b. ship’s log c. weekly letter

3. The eagle carried a rabbit in its talons.

a. beak b. claws c. tail

4. We were all glad to see the sun break through the overcast sky.

a. cloudy b. blue c. without clouds

5. The yard had a fence to keep out intruders.

a. rude guests b. visiting friends c. unwanted persons

6. The pitcher hurled the ball through the air toward the batter.

a. carried b. threw c. dropped

7. The equipment was tested to determine whether it was safe.

a. hide b. find out c. look at

II. Making Comparisons

Choose the letter of the ending that makes a correct comparison from the story “Diaries Are for Secrets.”

1. The most important difference between Celia and Merrilee at this time in their lives was that

a. they had different friends.

b. they had different interests.

c. they had different bicycles.

2. Celia thought the hawk family was similar to her own in that

  1. the parents in both families favored one child.
  2. the young in both families were protected from danger.
  3. the young in both families had to grow up and leave home.

3. The main difference between Celia’s and Merrilee’s diaries was

  1. Celia’s was helpful while Merrilee’s was for secrets.
  2. Celia’s was for secrets while Merrilee’s was helpful.

c. Celia’s had a red cover while Merrilee’s had a blue one.

III. Understanding Cause-Effect Relationships

In each sentence below, there is a cause and an effect. Read each sentence carefully. If the underlined part of the sentence is the cause, write C. If the underlined part is the effect, write E. Then draw a line around the clue word that helped you to find the cause or the effect.

1. Celia didn’t want anyone else to know about the hawks because she was afraid the hawks might be shot by hunters.

2. Celia couldn’t see the birds well enough, so she bought a pair of binoculars.

3. The young hawks were ready to fly; therefore, Celia knew that things would no longer be the same.

4. Since the people in the green truck wanted to protect the hawks, Celia showed them her notebook.






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