SAT Reading - Khan Diagnostic Quiz level 1 - reading 2

Questions 1-5 are based on the following
passage.


This passage is excerpted from Herman Melville’s “Redburn: His First Voyage,” originally published in 1849. It describes the life of a young sailor during his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.




The order was given to loose the main-skysail, which is

the fifth and highest sail from deck. It was a very small sail,

and from the forecastle looked no bigger than a cambric
pocket-handkerchief. But I have heard that some ships carry
5 till smaller sails, above the skysail; called moon-sails, and

skyscrapers, and cloud-rakers. But I shall not believe in them

till I see them; a skysail seems high enough in all conscience;

and the idea of anything higher than that, seems

preposterous. Besides, it looks almost like tempting heaven,
10 to brush the very firmament so, and almost put the eyes of the

stars out; when a flaw of wind, too, might very soon take the

conceit out of these cloud-defying cloud-rakers.
Now, when the order was passed to loose the skysail, an

old Dutch sailor came up to me, and said, "Buttons, my boy,
15 it's high time you be doing something; and it's boy's business,

Buttons, to loose de royals, and not old men's business, like

me. Now, d'ye see dat leelle fellow way up dare? dare, just

behind dem stars dare: well, tumble up, now, Buttons, I zay,

and looze him; way you go, Buttons."
20 All the rest joining in, and seeming unanimous in the

opinion, that it was high time for me to be stirring myself,

and doing boy's business, as they called it, I made no more

ado, but jumped into the rigging. Up I went, not daring to

look down, but keeping my eyes glued, as it were, to the
25 shrouds, as I ascended.
It was a long road up those stairs, and I began to pant and

breathe hard, before I was half way. But I kept at it till I got

to the Jacob's Ladder; and they may well call it so, for it took

me almost into the clouds; and at last, to my own amazement,
30 I found myself hanging on the skysail-yard, holding on might

and main to the mast; and curling my feet round the rigging,

as if they were another pair of hands.
For a few moments I stood awe-stricken and mute. I could

not see far out upon the ocean, owing to the darkness of the
35 night; and from my lofty perch, the sea looked like a great,

black gulf, hemmed in, all round, by beetling black cliffs. I

seemed all alone; treading the midnight clouds; and every

second, expected to find myself falling—falling—falling, as I

have felt when the nightmare has been on me.
40 I could but just perceive the ship below me, like a long

narrow plank in the water; and it did not seem to belong at all

to the yard, over which I was hanging. A gull, or some sort of

sea-fowl, was flying round the truck over my head, within a

few yards of my face; and it almost frightened me to hear it;
45 it seemed so much like a spirit, at such a lofty and solitary

height.