Bessie Coleman: In Flight
After the final performance
of one last
practice landing, the French instructor nodded to the
young African-American woman at the controls and
jumped down to the ground. Bessie Coleman was on
her own now. She lined up the nose of the open
cockpit biplane on the runway's center mark,
the engine full throttle, and took off into history.
It was a long journey from the
Southwest she'd been born in 1893, to these French
The year in which she was born was about a century ago.
There hadn't been much of a future for her in Oklahoma
then. After both semesters of the two-semester year
at Langston Industrial College, Coleman headed for
Chicago to see what could be done to realize a dream.
Ever since she saw her first airplane when she was
a little girl, Coleman had known that someday, somehow,
she would fly.
Try as she might, however, Coleman
not obtain flying lessons anywhere in the city. Then
she sought aid from Robert S. Abbott of
Weekly Defender. The newspaperman got in touch
with a flight school in France that was willing to
teach this determined young woman to fly.
 While they're, she had
as one of her
instructors Anthony Fokker, the famous aircraft
designer.  Bessie Coleman took a quick course in
French, should she settle her affairs, and
Europe.  Coping with a daily foreign language
and flying in capricious, unstable machines held
together with baling wire was daunting, but Coleman
On June 15, 1921, Bessie
Coleman, earned an international pilot's license,
issued by the International Aeronautical Federation.
Not only was she the first black woman to win her
pilot's wings, she was the first American woman to
hold this coveted license.
She was ready for a triumphant
return to the
United States to barnstorm and lecture
proof that if
the will is strong enough for one's dream
attained................................Choose the best alternative for the underlined part.
PROSE FICTION: This passage is adapted from
short story "The Housekeeper" (©1984 by
Outside, the rain continued to run down the
screened windows of Mrs. Sennett's little Cape Cod
cottage. The long weeds and grass that composed the
front yard dripped against the blurred background of
the bay, where the water was almost the color of the
grass. Mrs. Sennett's five charges were vigorously
playing house in the dining room. (In the wintertime,
Mrs. Sennett was housekeeper for a Mr. Curley, in
Boston, and during the summers the Curley children
boarded with her on the Cape.)
My expression must have changed. "Are those
children making too much noise?" Mrs. Sennett
demanded, a sort of wave going over her that might
mark the beginning of her getting up out of her chair. I
shook my head no, and gave her a little push on the
shoulder to keep her seated. Mrs. Sennett was almost
stone-deaf and had been for a long time, but she could
read lips. You could talk to her without making any
sound yourself, if you wanted to, and she more than
kept up her side of the conversation in a loud, rusty
voice that dropped weirdly every now and then into a
whisper. She adored talking.
To look at Mrs. Sennett made me think of eigh-
teenth-century England and its literary figures. Her hair
must have been sadly thin, because she always wore,
indoors and out, either a hat or a sort of turban, and
sometimes she wore both. The rims of her eyes were
dark; she looked very ill.
Mrs. Sennett and I continued talking. She said she
really didn't think she'd stay with the children another
winter. Their father wanted her to, but it was too much
for her. She wanted to stay right here in the cottage.
The afternoon was getting along, and I finally left
because I knew that at four o'clock Mrs. Sennett's "sit
down" was over and she started to get supper. At six
o'clock, from my nearby cottage, I saw Theresa coming
through the rain with a shawl over her head. She was
bringing me a six-inch-square piece of spicecake, still
hot from the oven and kept warm between two soup
A few days later I learned from the twins, who
brought over gifts of firewood and blackberries, that
their father was coming the next morning, bringing
their aunt and her husband and their cousin. Mrs.
Sennett had promised to take them all on a picnic at
pond some pleasant day.
On the fourth day of their visit, Xavier arrived
with a note. It was from Mrs. Sennett, written in blue
ink, in a large, serene, ornamented hand, on linen-finish
. . . Tomorrow is the last day Mr. Curley has and
the Children all wanted the Picnic so much. The Men
can walk to the Pond but it is too far for the Children. I
see your Friend has a car and I hate to ask this but
could you possibly drive us to the Pond tomorrow
morning? . . .
Very sincerely yours,
After the picnic, Mrs. Sennett's presents to me
were numberless. It was almost time for the children
go back to school in South Boston. Mrs. Sennett
insisted that she was not going; their father was coming
down again to get them and she was just going to stay.
He would have to get another housekeeper. She said
this over and over to me, loudly, and her turbans
kerchiefs grew more and more distrait.
One evening, Mary came to call on me and we sat
on an old table in the back yard to watch the sunset.
"Papa came today," she said, "and we've got to go
back day after
"Is Mrs. Sennett going to stay here?"
"She said at supper she was. She said this time she
really was, because she'd said that last year and came
back, but now she means it."
I said, "Oh
dear," scarcely knowing which side I
"It was awful at supper. I cried and cried."
"Did Theresa cry?"
"Oh, we all cried. Papa cried, too. We always do."
"But don't you think Mrs. Sennett needs a rest?"
"Yes, but I think she'll come, though. Papa told
her he'd cry every single night at supper if she didn't,
and then we all did."
The next day I heard that Mrs. Sennett was going
back with them just to "help settle." She came
following morning to say goodbye, supported by all
five children. She was wearing her traveling hat of
black satin and black straw, with sequins. High and
somber, above her ravaged face, it had quite a Spanish-
"This isn't really goodbye," she said. "I'll be back
as soon as I get these bad, noisy children off my
But the children hung on to her skirt and tugged at
her sleeves, shaking their heads frantically,
saying, "No! No! No!" to her with their
Considering how Mrs. Sennett is portrayed in the passage, it is
most reasonable to infer that the word ravaged, as
it is used in line 89, most nearly means that her face reveals:
Enthusiasm and excitement