In the Withaak’s Shade

under the withaak treeThe short story writing style of South African author Herman Bosman has been likened to that of the great American humorist Mark Twain. This story about a farmer’s unlikely meeting with a leopard as he was lying down under a withaak tree while busily searching for some lost cattle is a wonderful example of this. Both writers made extensive use of satire. Twain used it to attack problems he saw in mid-19th century American society. Bosman used it to draw attention to the conflicting forces and ideas in South African society during the first half of the 20th century.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

A withaak is a kind of African tree which has wide-ing branches at the top which provide good shade. Because of this, its common English name is the umbrella . The other words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Intermediate level 1800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

There is also a word that is in our Intermediate word list but has a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used. The story talks a number of times about things happening in the bush. This use of the word is only found in South Africa and Australia. It means wild land far from cities and towns that still has the native trees and plants on it.


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(v: spread, spreads, spread, spreading) To open, arrange, or place something over a large area. (ปกคลุม) 2000

thorn(n: thorn pl thorns) A sharp point on the stem of some plants [such as roses]. (หนาม)

barbed-wire(n: barbed-wire, noncount) Wire that has sharp points and that is often used for fences.

beast(n: beast pl beasts) 1. Any animal other than man, especially a large, four-footed one. 2. A very cruel, hurtful person or creature. 5000

bee(n: bee pl bees) A black and yellow flying insect that can sting and makes honey. 4000

(n: Boer pl Boers) A white South African who is associated with Boer culture and whose first language is Afrikaans. The Boers were originally farmers from a number of European countries who settled the Transvaal region of South Africa in the 17th century. In the mid-1800s, gold and diamonds were found in the Transvaal and the Boers found themselves under attack from Britain. This lead to a series of conflicts which came to be known as the Boer Wars. Britain won these, and South Africa became part of the British Empire.

bullet(n: bullet pl bullets) A small piece of metal or another material that is shot out of a gun. 4000

calf(n: calf pl calves) The young of various large animals such as cow, elephant, whale etc. 5000

cattle(n: cattle, noncount) A group of cows, bulls, or steers that are kept on a farm for meat or milk. 4000
(n: cattle-dog pl cattle-dogs) A special breed of dog developed in Australia for driving cattle over long distances across rough country.

companion(n: companion pl companions) A person or animal you spend time with or enjoy being with. 5000

curl up(phrasal verb: curl up) To lie or sit with your back bent forward and your legs pulled up close to your body.

embarrass(v: embarrass, embarrasses, embarrassed, embarrassing) To make (a person, group, government, etc.) feel foolish, self-conscious or ashamed about something. 2000

growl(v: growl, growls, growled, growling) To make a long deep rough sound like an angry dog. (คำราม) 6000

jaw(n: jaw pl jaws) Either one of the two bones of a head where teeth grow. (ขากรรไกร) 3000

lamb(n: lamb pl lambs) 1. A young sheep. The ewe has had three lambs (ลูกแกะ) 2. (noncount) The meat of a young sheep eaten as food. A roast leg of lamb. (เนื้อแกะ) 3. A lovable or gentle person, usually used to talk about a child. The poor lamb. (ไร้พิษภัย) 3000

leopard(n: leopard pl leopards) A large brownish-yellow member of the cat family with black spots that lives in Asia and Africa. (เสือดาว) 10000

remind(v: remind, reminds, reminded, reminding) 1. To tell or cause (someone) to remember that there is something he or she ought to do, remember etc. (เตือน) 2. To cause (someone) to remember or think of (something) etc. (ทำให้นึกถึง) 2000

sniff(v: sniff, sniffs, sniffed, sniffing) To smell (something or someone) by putting your nose close to it and taking air in through your nose in short breaths. (สูดกลิ่น) 3000

vulture(n: vulture pl vultures) A type of large bird that eats dead animals and has a small and featherless head. (นกแร้ง) 8000

wink(v: wink, winks, winked, winking) To shut and open an eye quickly in friendly greeting, or to show that something is a secret etc. (ขยิบตา) 8000

bush(n: bush pl bushes) A plant that has stems of wood and is smaller than a tree.
(n: the bush, noncount) In Australia and South Africa, the wild land far from cities and towns that still has the native trees and plants on it. 3000

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