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CHAPTER X
 WHAT DOCTOR MUSKRAT1 THOUGHT ABOUT TRAPS
Quite a long while ago I promised to tell what Tommy Peele was doing in the Broad Field when he let Nibble2 Rabbit’s storm party out of the little cornstalk tent. Well, to begin with, he was looking for the tracks of the woodsfolk. But as long as the snow lay deep on the ground he didn’t find many.
 
For Doctor Muskrat and the fieldmice and Nibble Rabbit were about the only ones who stayed there. Doctor Muskrat was too clever to leave tracks where any one would see them. And the fieldmice had their tunnels far below the crust, so you never saw anything of them. And you’d have to creep around among the Pickery Things before you’d see many signs of Nibble Rabbit.
 
But the birds called very often to get a drink from the warm spring hidden among the bulrushes that was Doctor Muskrat’s front door. It was Chewee the Chickadee who brought news of the quail3. “They have to go a long way in the deep woods every day to find enough seeds for so large a flock,” he said. “And they told me that I must leave every last weed head that pricked4 up above the snow in their thicket5 for Nibble Rabbit.”
 
Now that was very nice of the quail because there were very few seeds left, and Nibble was eating the dried grasses that the Pickery Things kept from him and the delicate bark from the sunny side of the willows6.
 
Chaik, the Jay, perked7 his crest8 thoughtfully. “It must be horrid9 to live in big flocks like that where you can never find a full crop for everyone at once. The partridge are perching in some evergreens10. They say it’s safer than sleeping in the snow where they might be frozen in again. Only they can’t find anything to eat but birch and poplar buds, and they’re awfully11 hungry. But not so hungry as Hooter the Owl12 and his wife. I wonder why they flew away right in the middle of the terrible storm.”
 
“Silvertip the Fox left then, too,” said Gimlet the Woodpecker, who had been working in the orchard13 back of Tommy Peele’s barn. “There must be something in that.”
 
“There is,” said Nibble. “I was the game Mrs. Hooter chased into the cornstalk tent, but Silvertip was the one who came out of it. He mussed their feathers and they tweaked his ears, and now they’re afraid to meet each other!”
 
Chaik laughed. “The owls14 are still quarrelling,” he told Nibble.
 
“Well, Silvertip has learned to get into the chicken-coop,” Gimlet reported, “and Chirp15 Sparrow says that’s climbing into a peck of trouble.”
 
“Who cares?” Nibble rejoiced. “Now that Slyfoot’s gone to find a better hunting ground we have no one to look out for.”
 
But Doctor Muskrat spoke16 up very thoughtfully. “Yes, Nibble. Sooner or later we’ll have to look out for Man.”
 
“Shucks!” sniffed18 Nibble, carelessly flopping19 his ears. “No Man ever comes here unless it’s Tommy Peele. And he’s such a little one, who’s afraid of him?”
 
“I am.” And Doctor Muskrat stroked his whiskers with his paw. “You can’t judge the size of his jaw20 by the size of his trail, nor know how far he’ll reach out to bite you!”
 
But Nibble merely twiddled his tail to show how little he cared for a whole flock of Tommy Peeles. While Tommy had him in a cage up by the barn Tommy had been good to him. And none of the tame beasts were afraid of Tommy Peele. “He hasn’t any teeth to speak of,” Nibble protested, “and he hasn’t any claws. He couldn’t hurt any one. I’ve been right in his very paws, so I know.”
 
“Yes, you have,” agreed Doctor Muskrat. “And how did you get there? Didn’t he reach out and catch you when he was the whole length of the pasture away?”
 
And this time Nibble didn’t feel like twiddling his tail. It was perfectly21 true. He knew that somehow Tommy had been the one who made that dreadful wire snatch him into the air. And he hadn’t quite forgotten how it all but squeezed the life right out of him when he swung there. It hadn’t felt in the least like the soft touch of Tommy’s hand. So he asked with a little shiver, “What are those jaws22 like, Doctor Muskrat?”
 
“They’re harder than bone, and colder than stone. They never miss, and they never let go,” said the wise old Muskrat very earnestly. And that’s the truth about a muskrat trap. It’s just a pair of steel jaws, harder than bone and colder than stone, exactly as he said. And they’re worked by a terrible spring. They never miss because the spring won’t snap unless a beast steps right between them. And they won’t let go again until the Man opens the spring again. No beast can ever learn that. Because no beast has ever imagined that they weren’t a part of the Man.
 
“And a Man can have a whole pack of those jaws,” the old doctor went on. “They’ll hide out in the leaves where you can’t see or hear them; sometimes you just sniff17 the faintest chilly23 smell on them. They’re worse than a whole pack of Silvertips because you can see and hear and SMELL him.”
 
“How awful!” breathed Nibble. “It isn’t fair!”
 
“Well, Mother Nature wasn’t fair to Man in the First-Off Beginning,” argued the wise old beast. “The cows complained and got their horns, and so did a lot of others, but Man wouldn’t complain. It’s a law that when a beast invents anything for himself he has a right to use it. So you can’t blame Man for using anything.”
 
“Well,” said Nibble thankfully, “I’m glad Tommy Peele doesn’t use those jaws.”
 
But up behind the barn Tommy Peele had his first pair of the awful things. He wouldn’t have dreamed of using them on the chickens or Watch the Dog, or even on Nibble Rabbit, because they were friends of his. But he didn’t think any more of using them on a muskrat, that he didn’t know, than the muskrat would have thought of using his sharp teeth on Tommy Peele. And he wanted the muskrat’s skin. Which was perfectly natural because every man has had to use some other creature’s fur since the First-Off Beginning of things—until he got to be friends with them.

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 muskrat G6CzQ     
n.麝香鼠
参考例句:
  • Muskrat fur almost equals beaver fur in quality.麝鼠皮在质量上几乎和海獭皮不相上下。
  • I saw a muskrat come out of a hole in the ice.我看到一只麝鼠从冰里面钻出来。
2 nibble DRZzG     
n.轻咬,啃;v.一点点地咬,慢慢啃,吹毛求疵
参考例句:
  • Inflation began to nibble away at their savings.通货膨胀开始蚕食他们的存款。
  • The birds cling to the wall and nibble at the brickwork.鸟儿们紧贴在墙上,啄着砖缝。
3 quail f0UzL     
n.鹌鹑;vi.畏惧,颤抖
参考例句:
  • Cowards always quail before the enemy.在敌人面前,胆小鬼们总是畏缩不前的。
  • Quail eggs are very high in cholesterol.鹌鹑蛋胆固醇含量高。
4 pricked 1d0503c50da14dcb6603a2df2c2d4557     
刺,扎,戳( prick的过去式和过去分词 ); 刺伤; 刺痛; 使剧痛
参考例句:
  • The cook pricked a few holes in the pastry. 厨师在馅饼上戳了几个洞。
  • He was pricked by his conscience. 他受到良心的谴责。
5 thicket So0wm     
n.灌木丛,树林
参考例句:
  • A thicket makes good cover for animals to hide in.丛林是动物的良好隐蔽处。
  • We were now at the margin of the thicket.我们现在已经来到了丛林的边缘。
6 willows 79355ee67d20ddbc021d3e9cb3acd236     
n.柳树( willow的名词复数 );柳木
参考例句:
  • The willows along the river bank look very beautiful. 河岸边的柳树很美。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Willows are planted on both sides of the streets. 街道两侧种着柳树。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
7 perked 6257cbe5d4a830c7288630659113146b     
(使)活跃( perk的过去式和过去分词 ); (使)增值; 使更有趣
参考例句:
  • The recent demand for houses has perked up the prices. 最近对住房的需求使房价上涨了。
  • You've perked up since this morning. 你今天上午精神就好多了。
8 crest raqyA     
n.顶点;饰章;羽冠;vt.达到顶点;vi.形成浪尖
参考例句:
  • The rooster bristled his crest.公鸡竖起了鸡冠。
  • He reached the crest of the hill before dawn.他于黎明前到达山顶。
9 horrid arozZj     
adj.可怕的;令人惊恐的;恐怖的;极讨厌的
参考例句:
  • I'm not going to the horrid dinner party.我不打算去参加这次讨厌的宴会。
  • The medicine is horrid and she couldn't get it down.这种药很难吃,她咽不下去。
10 evergreens 70f63183fe24f27a2e70b25ab8a14ce5     
n.常青树,常绿植物,万年青( evergreen的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • The leaves of evergreens are often shaped like needles. 常绿植物的叶常是针形的。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The pine, cedar and spruce are evergreens. 松树、雪松、云杉都是常绿的树。 来自辞典例句
11 awfully MPkym     
adv.可怕地,非常地,极端地
参考例句:
  • Agriculture was awfully neglected in the past.过去农业遭到严重忽视。
  • I've been feeling awfully bad about it.对这我一直感到很难受。
12 owl 7KFxk     
n.猫头鹰,枭
参考例句:
  • Her new glasses make her look like an owl.她的新眼镜让她看上去像只猫头鹰。
  • I'm a night owl and seldom go to bed until after midnight.我睡得很晚,经常半夜后才睡觉。
13 orchard UJzxu     
n.果园,果园里的全部果树,(美俚)棒球场
参考例句:
  • My orchard is bearing well this year.今年我的果园果实累累。
  • Each bamboo house was surrounded by a thriving orchard.每座竹楼周围都是茂密的果园。
14 owls 7b4601ac7f6fe54f86669548acc46286     
n.猫头鹰( owl的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • 'Clumsy fellows,'said I; 'they must still be drunk as owls.' “这些笨蛋,”我说,“他们大概还醉得像死猪一样。” 来自英汉文学 - 金银岛
  • The great majority of barn owls are reared in captivity. 大多数仓鸮都是笼养的。 来自辞典例句
15 chirp MrezT     
v.(尤指鸟)唧唧喳喳的叫
参考例句:
  • The birds chirp merrily at the top of tree.鸟儿在枝头欢快地啾啾鸣唱。
  • The sparrows chirp outside the window every morning.麻雀每天清晨在窗外嘁嘁喳喳地叫。
16 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
参考例句:
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
17 sniff PF7zs     
vi.嗅…味道;抽鼻涕;对嗤之以鼻,蔑视
参考例句:
  • The police used dogs to sniff out the criminals in their hiding - place.警察使用警犬查出了罪犯的藏身地点。
  • When Munchie meets a dog on the beach, they sniff each other for a while.当麦奇在海滩上碰到另一条狗的时候,他们会彼此嗅一会儿。
18 sniffed ccb6bd83c4e9592715e6230a90f76b72     
v.以鼻吸气,嗅,闻( sniff的过去式和过去分词 );抽鼻子(尤指哭泣、患感冒等时出声地用鼻子吸气);抱怨,不以为然地说
参考例句:
  • When Jenney had stopped crying she sniffed and dried her eyes. 珍妮停止了哭泣,吸了吸鼻子,擦干了眼泪。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The dog sniffed suspiciously at the stranger. 狗疑惑地嗅着那个陌生人。 来自《简明英汉词典》
19 flopping e9766012a63715ac6e9a2d88cb1234b1     
n.贬调v.(指书、戏剧等)彻底失败( flop的现在分词 );(因疲惫而)猛然坐下;(笨拙地、不由自主地或松弛地)移动或落下;砸锅
参考例句:
  • The fish are still flopping about. 鱼还在扑腾。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • What do you mean by flopping yourself down and praying agin me?' 咚一声跪下地来咒我,你这是什么意思” 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
20 jaw 5xgy9     
n.颚,颌,说教,流言蜚语;v.喋喋不休,教训
参考例句:
  • He delivered a right hook to his opponent's jaw.他给了对方下巴一记右钩拳。
  • A strong square jaw is a sign of firm character.强健的方下巴是刚毅性格的标志。
21 perfectly 8Mzxb     
adv.完美地,无可非议地,彻底地
参考例句:
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
22 jaws cq9zZq     
n.口部;嘴
参考例句:
  • The antelope could not escape the crocodile's gaping jaws. 那只羚羊无法从鱷鱼张开的大口中逃脱。
  • The scored jaws of a vise help it bite the work. 台钳上有刻痕的虎钳牙帮助它紧咬住工件。
23 chilly pOfzl     
adj.凉快的,寒冷的
参考例句:
  • I feel chilly without a coat.我由于没有穿大衣而感到凉飕飕的。
  • I grew chilly when the fire went out.炉火熄灭后,寒气逼人。


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