小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Mercer Boys on a Treasure Hunt » CHAPTER X THE ROPE IN THE DUNGEON
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
The light was gone at last and with it the professor’s hope. He was totally alone in the inky darkness, a prisoner in a cell whose size he was not certain of, down under the ruins of a castle in the woods. Far above him he could hear the slam of another door and the faint footsteps of the two men. Then there was complete silence and the teacher turned away from the barred door.

“A truly ancient castle,” grumbled1 the professor. “The dungeon2 completed before the rest of the house!”

He wondered, as he moved cautiously around if anyone had ever been a prisoner in this cold and wet-smelling cell. He found his way around without difficulty, running his hands along the wall and extending his feet carefully. There was not a single object in the place, and he felt that they had not expected to have him there, for there was no bed or chair in the place.

“Unless,” thought the savant, as he continued to feel his way around. “They wouldn’t be decent enough to give me a chair or bed, anyway. No use in expecting mercy from villains3 like these, I suppose.”

The walls were perfectly4 smooth, composed of sandstone, as was the entire castle. Ned had told his father that the opposite slope of the mountain was almost wholly composed of this particular type of stone, and the original owner and builder had no doubt had it quarried5 and dragged to the spot, using Indians who had been taken captive by the Spaniards. Such was the professor’s belief and it was reasonable. Even in his anxiety to escape from these men he found himself taking an interest in the place and resolved that if these men were ever cleaned out of it he would explore it thoroughly6.

The floor was also of stone, wet and slippery, and for all the professor knew, the dwelling7 place of spiders and other crawling things. He hated to sit down on it, but there was no other place and he was very tired from his long ride and the excitement of it all, so he felt around the floor with shrinking hand and finally found a spot near the door which seemed to be drier than the rest of the floor. Pretty much exhausted8 the history professor sank to the floor and rested his back against the cold wall.

He was in some doubt as to what to do. He felt that Ned would catch on to his meaning when he read the word “duress” and the boys would surely make a vigorous effort to find him, but how long that would be or what would happen in the meantime he had no idea. The men upstairs were convinced that he knew something about the treasure, that he possessed10 some information which he was withholding11, and they would do their best to get it out of him. They would try to starve him first, and in that fact he found a ray of hope, for it would take them several days to find out that he did not intend to say anything, and then they would adopt a more severe program. In that time Ned and the boys from Maine would have time to find him, and they would naturally look near the mountains. It was possible that they might think he had been carried off to sea, but surely the cook or Yappi would tell them the true facts of the case, provided they hadn’t been so frightened that they hadn’t even seen in which direction the cavalcade12 had gone.

But if the men decided13 to change their plans and try to pump information from him he would have a bigger problem on his hands. These men were by no means gentle, they were men who were willing and able to sweat hard to earn money and especially dishonest money, and they would not be likely to stop at anything cruel or inhuman14. They were miles away from any source of help and the woods would effectually hide any story which might shock the outside world if it were known. Sackett and the mate must know that the boys would soon be on the trail, and he was inclined to think that they would resort before very long to methods other than peaceful.

“If that is the case,” thought Professor Scott, jumping to his feet, “I’m just wasting time by sitting here. There seems to be no way of getting out of the place, but it may be that there is some flaw that will ultimately prove my biggest help.”

So once more he began to feel his way along the wall and then stopped as a new thought came to him. A few days before Ned had given him a cigar lighter15, a somewhat unreliable engine that lighted once in a great while, but which always gave off a bright flash when the little wheel was turned by the thumb. It was in his vest pocket and he reached for it. He had not had any matches with him and had secretly lamented16 the fact, but now his main difficulty was in a fair way to be overcome.

He took the little case from his pocket and spun17 the wheel. A sputtering18 little flash was the answer, which lighted up the cell for a split second and gave him his bearings. It was evident that the cigar lighter had no intentions whatsoever19 of lighting20 for any length of time, but it at least gave forth21 a flash that threw the heavy stones into a sort of bluish picture for an instant. Working it constantly the old gentleman moved around the dungeon, exploring the walls and floor, until something in one corner arrested his attention.

There was a crevice22 there, running from the floor to the ceiling and in that crack was a moulded rope. The rope ended near the floor, and hung straight down from a round hole in the ceiling above him. He took hold of the rope, to find it wet and slippery but fairly strong. The men had evidently not seen it and he knew why. Anyone who stood in the room and threw the beams of a lantern around would cast the light in a confused way into the corners and so miss seeing the rope, which was deep in the cranny, and indeed the professor would not have seen it himself if he had not been standing23 right at the crevice. Probably the men had never gone over the walls inch by inch, and unless one did that the hidden rope would surely escape their eye. But now that he had the rope, what was he to do with it?

He pulled on the rope and his answering came with a suddenness that startled him into stepping back hastily. Far above his head a bell pealed24 out sharply, shattering the silence of the mountain fastness with disconcerting vigor9. Nervously25 he dropped the lighter and then picked it up, his brow wet with a nervous perspiration26.

“Great heavens!” murmured the professor. “I must stop that, or I’ll have them down on me.”

Upstairs there was a moment of silence and then a sudden commotion27. A chair fell over and he heard running footsteps. Apparently28 the upper door was opened, for he could hear the words of the men.

“What is ringing that bell?” he heard Sackett roar.

“You got me, captain,” replied Abel, while rapid chattering29 in Mexican reached the ears of the professor. “That bell is just up there in the tower and nobody can ring it. There must be ghosts in this place, I tell you!”

“Keep shut about your ghosts!” snarled30 the leader. “What’s that Mexican saying?”

“He’s howling prayers because he’s scared,” the mate said.

Understanding came over the professor all at once. One tall tower had struck his attention as they had approached the ruined castle and it was evident that this tower had in it a large bell, placed there when the castle was first built. The rope which the professor had pulled led directly to this bell, a circumstance of which the men upstairs knew nothing, and he found that fate had provided him with a weapon to work against them with telling force. Realizing in the long run what this would mean the teacher once more took hold of the rope.

“Somebody is ringing that bell,” said Sackett, his tone ugly and uncertain. “Ain’t there no way to get up in that tower and stop it?”

“No,” answered Abel. “The tower has no steps and it’s no use anyway. I tell you a spirit is ringing that bell! I knew I hadn’t ought to have come in on a game like this.”

“Oh, shut up,” growled31 Sackett. “It isn’t ringing anymore.”

But at that moment the bell rang out, and this time the professor used it effectively. With long sweeping32 strokes he tolled33 it, so that the melancholy35 sounds sounded out and over the country for miles. It was a solemn and fearful sound, and the men above were thoroughly awed36 and frightened by it.

“Go see if that professor has escaped from his cell,” ordered Sackett, as the professor paused in his labors37. “He may be out and doing this somehow.”

The professor thanked his lucky stars that he had overheard this bit of conversation and gave the bell a final toll34. Then he quickly resumed his place near the door, holding onto the bars and peering anxiously out as the mate came down the stairs with the lantern.

The man flashed the light full in the face of the professor, who blinked and threw up his hand to cover his eyes. At the same time he eagerly questioned the mate.

“Why is that bell ringing? What does it mean? Why is there a bell here?” he cried.

The mate looked troubled but attempted to pass it off. “You mind your own business,” he said, in a surly tone. At the same time he pressed close to the door and flashed the light into the dungeon, looking intently at the corners. Without another word he went back up the winding38 stairs, and before he closed the door the professor heard him say: “The old man is all right. He hasn’t been out of the cell and he couldn’t ring the bell. I tell you——”

That was as much as Professor Scott heard but it was enough to satisfy him. His best plan was now to mystify the men in the hope of terrifying them so that they would leave the place and take him somewhere else. Whether that would in the end be a better move or not he did not know, but it was at least better than waiting and wasting time, and it would serve to bring Ned and the boys to the spot. There was no doubt that the sound could be heard far from the mountain, and he had no doubt that it would be of great value to him.

Feeling that it would do him no good to keep on tolling39 the bell he gave up the task for the time being, planning to ring it wildly in the very middle of the night. The men would no doubt be asleep and he could ring it out in such a way as to bring them to their feet with fast beating hearts, convinced that the place was haunted by a spirit that rang the bell. If they persisted in staying even after that he would keep ringing the bell at intervals40, taking care not to break the rope, which, fortunately for him had originally been tarred and so was preserved.

With that thought in mind the professor pulled his coat more closely around him, curled himself up on the hard floor and went to sleep. His sleep was fitful and restless, and after two hours of it he had the impression that something nearby was scratching. Awakening41 at last he sat up, wide awake in an instant, to find that the steady scratching sound was no dream, but an actual fact, and seemed to come from the wall beside him.


1 grumbled ed735a7f7af37489d7db1a9ef3b64f91     
抱怨( grumble的过去式和过去分词 ); 发牢骚; 咕哝; 发哼声
  • He grumbled at the low pay offered to him. 他抱怨给他的工资低。
  • The heat was sweltering, and the men grumbled fiercely over their work. 天热得让人发昏,水手们边干活边发着牢骚。
2 dungeon MZyz6     
  • They were driven into a dark dungeon.他们被人驱赶进入一个黑暗的地牢。
  • He was just set free from a dungeon a few days ago.几天前,他刚从土牢里被放出来。
3 villains ffdac080b5dbc5c53d28520b93dbf399     
n.恶棍( villain的名词复数 );罪犯;(小说、戏剧等中的)反面人物;淘气鬼
  • The impression of villains was inescapable. 留下恶棍的印象是不可避免的。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Some villains robbed the widow of the savings. 有几个歹徒将寡妇的积蓄劫走了。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
4 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • 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。
5 quarried 179eab1335896d6d04cd00168ad15bd2     
v.从采石场采得( quarry的过去式和过去分词 );从(书本等中)努力发掘(资料等);在采石场采石
  • The workmen quarried out a huge block of marble. 工人们从采石场采得一块很大的大理石。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The large limestone caves are also quarried for cement. 同时还在这些大石灰岩洞里开采水泥原料。 来自辞典例句
6 thoroughly sgmz0J     
  • The soil must be thoroughly turned over before planting.一定要先把土地深翻一遍再下种。
  • The soldiers have been thoroughly instructed in the care of their weapons.士兵们都系统地接受过保护武器的训练。
7 dwelling auzzQk     
  • Those two men are dwelling with us.那两个人跟我们住在一起。
  • He occupies a three-story dwelling place on the Park Street.他在派克街上有一幢3层楼的寓所。
8 exhausted 7taz4r     
  • It was a long haul home and we arrived exhausted.搬运回家的这段路程特别长,到家时我们已筋疲力尽。
  • Jenny was exhausted by the hustle of city life.珍妮被城市生活的忙乱弄得筋疲力尽。
9 vigor yLHz0     
  • The choir sang the words out with great vigor.合唱团以极大的热情唱出了歌词。
  • She didn't want to be reminded of her beauty or her former vigor.现在,她不愿人们提起她昔日的美丽和以前的精力充沛。
10 possessed xuyyQ     
  • He flew out of the room like a man possessed.他像着了魔似地猛然冲出房门。
  • He behaved like someone possessed.他行为举止像是魔怔了。
11 withholding 7eXzD6     
  • She was accused of withholding information from the police. 她被指控对警方知情不报。
  • The judge suspected the witness was withholding information. 法官怀疑见证人在隐瞒情况。
12 cavalcade NUNyv     
  • A cavalcade processed through town.马车队列队从城里经过。
  • The cavalcade drew together in silence.马队在静默中靠拢在一起。
13 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
14 inhuman F7NxW     
  • We must unite the workers in fighting against inhuman conditions.我们必须使工人们团结起来反对那些难以忍受的工作条件。
  • It was inhuman to refuse him permission to see his wife.不容许他去看自己的妻子是太不近人情了。
15 lighter 5pPzPR     
  • The portrait was touched up so as to make it lighter.这张画经过润色,色调明朗了一些。
  • The lighter works off the car battery.引燃器利用汽车蓄电池打火。
16 lamented b6ae63144a98bc66c6a97351aea85970     
adj.被哀悼的,令人遗憾的v.(为…)哀悼,痛哭,悲伤( lament的过去式和过去分词 )
  • her late lamented husband 她那令人怀念的已故的丈夫
  • We lamented over our bad luck. 我们为自己的不幸而悲伤。 来自《简明英汉词典》
17 spun kvjwT     
  • His grandmother spun him a yarn at the fire.他奶奶在火炉边给他讲故事。
  • Her skilful fingers spun the wool out to a fine thread.她那灵巧的手指把羊毛纺成了细毛线。
18 sputtering 60baa9a92850944a75456c0cb7ae5c34     
n.反应溅射法;飞溅;阴极真空喷镀;喷射v.唾沫飞溅( sputter的现在分词 );发劈啪声;喷出;飞溅出
  • A wick was sputtering feebly in a dish of oil. 瓦油灯上结了一个大灯花,使微弱的灯光变得更加阴暗。 来自汉英文学 - 家(1-26) - 家(1-26)
  • Jack ran up to the referee, sputtering protest. 贾克跑到裁判跟前,唾沫飞溅地提出抗议。 来自辞典例句
19 whatsoever Beqz8i     
  • There's no reason whatsoever to turn down this suggestion.没有任何理由拒绝这个建议。
  • All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,do ye even so to them.你想别人对你怎样,你就怎样对人。
20 lighting CpszPL     
  • The gas lamp gradually lost ground to electric lighting.煤气灯逐渐为电灯所代替。
  • The lighting in that restaurant is soft and romantic.那个餐馆照明柔和而且浪漫。
21 forth Hzdz2     
  • The wind moved the trees gently back and forth.风吹得树轻轻地来回摇晃。
  • He gave forth a series of works in rapid succession.他很快连续发表了一系列的作品。
22 crevice pokzO     
  • I saw a plant growing out of a crevice in the wall.我看到墙缝里长出一棵草来。
  • He edged the tool into the crevice.他把刀具插进裂缝里。
23 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
24 pealed 1bd081fa79390325677a3bf15662270a     
v.(使)(钟等)鸣响,(雷等)发出隆隆声( peal的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The bells pealed (out) over the countryside. 钟声响彻郊野。 来自辞典例句
  • A gun shot suddenly pealed forth and shot its flames into the air. 突然一声炮响,一道火光升上天空。 来自辞典例句
25 nervously tn6zFp     
  • He bit his lip nervously,trying not to cry.他紧张地咬着唇,努力忍着不哭出来。
  • He paced nervously up and down on the platform.他在站台上情绪不安地走来走去。
26 perspiration c3UzD     
  • It is so hot that my clothes are wet with perspiration.天太热了,我的衣服被汗水湿透了。
  • The perspiration was running down my back.汗从我背上淌下来。
27 commotion 3X3yo     
  • They made a commotion by yelling at each other in the theatre.他们在剧院里相互争吵,引起了一阵骚乱。
  • Suddenly the whole street was in commotion.突然间,整条街道变得一片混乱。
28 apparently tMmyQ     
  • An apparently blind alley leads suddenly into an open space.山穷水尽,豁然开朗。
  • He was apparently much surprised at the news.他对那个消息显然感到十分惊异。
29 chattering chattering     
n. (机器振动发出的)咔嗒声,(鸟等)鸣,啁啾 adj. 喋喋不休的,啾啾声的 动词chatter的现在分词形式
  • The teacher told the children to stop chattering in class. 老师叫孩子们在课堂上不要叽叽喳喳讲话。
  • I was so cold that my teeth were chattering. 我冷得牙齿直打战。
30 snarled ti3zMA     
v.(指狗)吠,嗥叫, (人)咆哮( snarl的过去式和过去分词 );咆哮着说,厉声地说
  • The dog snarled at us. 狗朝我们低声吼叫。
  • As I advanced towards the dog, It'snarled and struck at me. 我朝那条狗走去时,它狂吠着向我扑来。 来自《简明英汉词典》
31 growled 65a0c9cac661e85023a63631d6dab8a3     
v.(动物)发狺狺声, (雷)作隆隆声( growl的过去式和过去分词 );低声咆哮着说
  • \"They ought to be birched, \" growled the old man. 老人咆哮道:“他们应受到鞭打。” 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He growled out an answer. 他低声威胁着回答。 来自《简明英汉词典》
32 sweeping ihCzZ4     
  • The citizens voted for sweeping reforms.公民投票支持全面的改革。
  • Can you hear the wind sweeping through the branches?你能听到风掠过树枝的声音吗?
33 tolled 8eba149dce8d4ce3eae15718841edbb7     
  • Bells were tolled all over the country at the King's death. 全国为国王之死而鸣钟。
  • The church bell tolled the hour. 教堂的钟声报时。
34 toll LJpzo     
  • The hailstone took a heavy toll of the crops in our village last night.昨晚那场冰雹损坏了我们村的庄稼。
  • The war took a heavy toll of human life.这次战争夺去了许多人的生命。
35 melancholy t7rz8     
  • All at once he fell into a state of profound melancholy.他立即陷入无尽的忧思之中。
  • He felt melancholy after he failed the exam.这次考试没通过,他感到很郁闷。
36 awed a0ab9008d911a954b6ce264ddc63f5c8     
adj.充满敬畏的,表示敬畏的v.使敬畏,使惊惧( awe的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The audience was awed into silence by her stunning performance. 观众席上鸦雀无声,人们对他出色的表演感到惊叹。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I was awed by the huge gorilla. 那只大猩猩使我惊惧。 来自《简明英汉词典》
37 labors 8e0b4ddc7de5679605be19f4398395e1     
v.努力争取(for)( labor的第三人称单数 );苦干;详细分析;(指引擎)缓慢而困难地运转
  • He was tiresome in contending for the value of his own labors. 他老为他自己劳动的价值而争强斗胜,令人生厌。 来自辞典例句
  • Farm labors used to hire themselves out for the summer. 农业劳动者夏季常去当雇工。 来自辞典例句
38 winding Ue7z09     
  • A winding lane led down towards the river.一条弯弯曲曲的小路通向河边。
  • The winding trail caused us to lose our orientation.迂回曲折的小道使我们迷失了方向。
39 tolling ddf676bac84cf3172f0ec2a459fe3e76     
  • A remote bell is tolling. 远处的钟声响了。
  • Indeed, the bells were tolling, the people were trooping into the handsome church. 真的,钟声响了,人们成群结队走进富丽堂皇的教堂。
40 intervals f46c9d8b430e8c86dea610ec56b7cbef     
n.[军事]间隔( interval的名词复数 );间隔时间;[数学]区间;(戏剧、电影或音乐会的)幕间休息
  • The forecast said there would be sunny intervals and showers. 预报间晴,有阵雨。
  • Meetings take place at fortnightly intervals. 每两周开一次会。
41 awakening 9ytzdV     
n.觉醒,醒悟 adj.觉醒中的;唤醒的
  • the awakening of interest in the environment 对环境产生的兴趣
  • People are gradually awakening to their rights. 人们正逐渐意识到自己的权利。


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533