Section A: Reading
Read this true story of a dangerous accident which happened while the writer and
his friends were making their way by canoe past the side of a waterfall in Borneo.
The river twisted and turned and grew narrower, and the giant creepers, tumbling
down in profusion from 60 metres above our heads, grew closer.
The rapids and
cascades became more frequent.
We had to jump out into the river more often,
sometimes up to our armpits, pushing our long canoe up the shallows, guiding it into a
side-channel away from the main crash of the water.
‘Saytu, dua, tiga – bata!’ sang Dana, our head boatman, which even we could
reconstruct as ‘one, two, three – and push’.
Our crew, well used to the round, algae-covered stones on the river-bottom, gripped
them easily with their muscled, calloused toes.
Our boots, however, slipped into
crevices, slithered away in the current, and threatened to break off a leg at the ankle
or at the knee.
It was only possible to push hard when the boat was stuck fast.
Back aboard our canoe once more, we entered a wide reach of foaming water.
was an ominous noise of conflicting currents ahead. The preambles to the rapids that
we now encountered – foaming white water, swirling whirlpools and noise up ahead –
went on longer and louder than they ought to have done.
With the canoe pitching feverishly, we rounded a sweeping bend; and the reason for
the agitated river became obvious.
Ahead of us, the water was piling up into waves
higher than any we had met. There was a waterfall to the left of the river-course, a