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Secret in Slovakia
After 17 hours of travel, we had finally made it. It was 10 o?clock at night and we were in Slovakia, standing in front of Great-Aunt Gertrude?s house, which stood at the end of a long, narrow street and looked to be made of ancient stone. The wind came whistling through the trees that surrounded the house in a way that reminded me of an eerie fairy tale that my grandmother told me when I was a child. In the dark, with its front windows and double-arched doors, the house looked as if it were about to eat us. Two days later, when we left, I would look at the house in the daylight and think it was very charming. Right then, I wanted nothing more than to find the inside much less frightening than the outside.
I was in Slovakia with my mother and uncle to prepare Aunt Gertrude?s house to be sold. Two years ago, when she became increasingly frail, she had come to the United States to live out her days close to the only family she had?my mother, my uncle, and their families. I had seen Aunt Gertrude more in the past two years than I had ever before in my life, and she could be terrifying, often wearing a mean scowl on her deeply lined face. She never had children of her own and worked as a governess when she was young, and although those children had to be my parents? age by now, I still felt bad for them. My grandmother had come to the United States when she and Gertrude were in their 20s, and Aunt Gertrude rarely spoke about herself, so we knew very little about her adult life.
Although I never felt particularly close to Aunt Gertrude, it was comforting to know she was close by in her last years. And now that she was gone, we were apparently going to discover the secret she had been keeping from all of us. I?ll never forget the last moments before she died. She knew the end was near, and she was saying her goodbyes to all of us. Then she turned to my mother, grasped her hand so tight that I saw surprise on my mother?s face, and she said ?I?m so sorry. You?ll find out all about it. I did what I thought was best. Forgive me.?
This was not the time to press Aunt Gertrude for details, and just a few minutes later, she died peacefully. Now we were at the house to gather her paperwork and retrieve some personal items that she had left behind. As we crossed the threshold, I realized that my wish about the inside of the house not being frightening would not be coming true. The furniture, all draped in sheets and lit only by the moonlight, looked like ghosts hovering in each room. It was so still we could hear each tick of the grandfather clock as we moved through the house. The three of us walked slowly and quietly down the wide hallway to the kitchen as if we were afraid of waking someone. My uncle turned on a light switch as we walked into the kitchen, and the bulb instantly blew out, sending my mother and me into a momentary panic. We all composed ourselves and made our way to the library. Aunt Gertrude had directed us specifically to this room so that we could gather certain books and other items that she wanted to remain in the family. As we crept into the room, we all noticed it at once. On the desk, there was an old, wooden box with a note on top in Aunt Gertrude?s handwriting that read, ?Forgive me.?
I had never asked my mother or uncle what they thought we might discover at Aunt Gertrude?s house because I was certain that they would not know. Aunt Gertrude had always been such a distant, shadowy figure, even when she was living in the United States. Now we were about to find out what she had kept secret for years.
My uncle opened the box and pulled out a stack of old papers. On the top was stationery that looked as if it were about 50 years old; the letterhead had a picture of a building with the words ?Bratislava School for Girls.? The second paper in the stack was a letter from Aunt Gertrude addressed to the family. In the letter, she explained that she had been bequeathed a large sum of money when she was a young woman by one of the families for whom she had worked. Aunt Gertrude had used it to open a school for orphan girls in the city where she had grown up. As he read the letter, my uncle paused at the end of almost every sentence. It was all so much to take in. Aunt Gertrude explained that she knew many orphans as a child growing up in the city and when she was given this money, she immediately knew what she would do with it.
The letter said that her only fear was that the family would be angry with her for not sharing the money. We all looked at each other in disbelief. A woman we had all feared had sacrificed what could have been a luxurious life in order to help orphans in her homeland, and she had worried that we would be angry about it. A few days later, we returned home with the surprising news about Aunt Gertrude. The news made me regret not knowing her better while she was alive, but at least our family now knows what kind of generous person Aunt Gertrude really was.
What is the effect of the author?s use of foreshadowing in ?Secret in Slovakia?? Use evidence from the text to support your response. Your response should be one complete paragraph.
Type your answer here. The effect of the authors’ use of foreshadowing in Secret In Slovakia is that he wanted to portray the altogether different… View the full answer

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