Read the passage and answer the questions that follow.

When Tao Ying rides on the bus alone, quite often she does not bother to buy a ticket. Why should she? Without her, the bus would still be stopping at every stop, a driver and a conductor would still have to be employed, and the same amount of petrol used. Clearly Tao Ying has to be astute. When the bus conductor looked like the responsible type, she would buy a ticket as soon as she got on board. But if he appeared to be casual and careless, she would not dream of paying, considering it a small punishment for him and a little saving for herself.

Today she is with her son Xiao Ye. She follows him onto the bus. As the doors shut her jacket is caught, ballooning up like a tent behind her. She twists this way and that, finally wrenching herself free. ‘Mama, tickets!’ Xiao Ye says. Children are often more conscious of rituals than adults. Without a ticket in his hand, the ride doesn’t count as a proper ride. On the peeling paint of the door somebody has painted the shape of a pale finger. It points at a number: 1.10 m. Between Xiao Ye ’s round head and the tip of the painted digit setting out the height requirement for a ticket rests the beautiful slender fingers of Tao Ying. ‘Xiao Ye, you are not quite tall enough, still one centimetre away,’ she tells him softly.

‘Mama! I’m tall enough, I’m tall enough!’ Xiao Ye shouts at the top of his voice, stamping on the floor as if it were a tin drum. ‘You told me the last time I could have a ticket the next time, this is the next time. You don’t keep your word!’ He looks up at his mother angrily. Tao Ying looks down at her son. A ticket costs twenty cents. Twenty cents is not to be scoffed at. It can buy a cucumber, two tomatoes or, at a reduced price, three bunches of radishes or enough spinach to last four days. But Xiao Ye’s face is raised up like a half-open blossom, waiting to receive his promise from the sun. She says, ‘Two tickets, please.’ The fierce conductor has beady eyes. ‘This child is one centimetre short of requiring a ticket.’

Xiao Ye shrinks, not just one but several centimetres— the need for a ticket has all of a sudden become interwoven with the pride of a small child. To be able to purchase self-esteem with twenty cents is something that can only happen in childhood and certainly no mother can resist an opportunity to make her son happy. ‘I would like to buy two tickets,’ she says politely.

Question 36

Xiao Ye was eager to buy a bus ticket because he:

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