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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Mercer Boys on a Treasure Hunt » CHAPTER XII THE TOLLING OF THE BELL
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The four boys hastily armed themselves to go and find the professor. Ned packed some provisions in a knapsack and slung1 it behind his saddle, not knowing just how long they might be on their hunt. The other boys watered their horses and Ned’s and waited around for him to get ready.

Just before leaving Ned made a final look around, greatly puzzled at the absence of Yappi and the cook. “Must have taken them prisoner, too,” was his conclusion, as he joined the others. It was a somewhat grim cavalcade2 that swung out of the ranch3 yard.

There were two possibilities, the sea and the mountains. One guess was as good as the other, but Ned chose the mountains and they headed that way. They had gone but a scant4 mile when Don pulled up.

“Who is this coming?” he asked, pointing to a lone5 figure which was running over a nearby hill.

“Looks like the cook,” said Ned. It was Spanci and he drew nearer, evidently recognizing them. When he came up he was slightly out of breath but able to talk.

“Spanci, where have they taken my father?” asked Ned, in Spanish.

“They have taken him to the mountains, senor, but do not fear, Yappi is with him, trailing them.” The cook then went on to tell of the raid and of Yappi’s stealthy trailing and his own effort. “I ran to the ranch of the Senorita Mercedes, senor, and she has sent her overseer and two men out to the mountain to aid your father.”

Ned thanked the old Indian for his devotion and the cook went on back to the ranch, to await the turn of events. Ned was greatly relieved to hear that Yappi was on the trail, and he knew that the old mestizo would stick to it and help his father no matter what turned up. It was with a much more cheerful heart that the party rode on toward the mountains.

“No doubt they will stop and hold dad somewhere for a day or two,” argued Ned. “We should run across them shortly, and if it is possible Yappi will leave some kind of a guiding sign.”

“The best part of it is that we know now that they didn’t go toward the sea,” put in Terry and Ned nodded.

They stopped briefly6 late in the afternoon to eat and rest the horses and in the early evening reached the edge of the mountain range. Once within the shadows of the mighty7 trees they were at a loss as to how to go. Had the party gone north or south? It was a big decision to make, for if they proceeded far in one direction and found that they were wrong they would have to retrace8 and lose valuable time. Just as the last shadows of the day were stealing across the sky they stopped for a council of war.

“There is nothing to indicate which way they would be likely to go,” said Jim.

“Wouldn’t they be most likely to go south, to get away into a wilder country?” asked Terry.

“Maybe,” said Ned. “But the northern part of the range is the wildest. So we can’t tell. They may have even gone right on over, to the waste of wilderness9 on the other side.”

“Whichever way we guess we may be dead wrong,” murmured Don.

“Yes, and we can’t afford to be wrong,” Ned answered. “Look here, we’ll have to split the party.”

“Split the party?” echoed the others.

“Yes. Don and I will go south, and Jim and Terry north and over the top. In that way we should be able to cover a lot of territory. I propose that we make this spot our meeting place, and that we all assemble here at seven o’clock tomorrow morning to compare notes. Let’s have a signal of three shots. That will mean to either come back to the meeting place, or ride toward the shots.”

“Better make it the signal to ride toward the shots,” advised Don. “We’ll repeat the shooting and keep it up until the other party joins us. But if one party picks up Professor Scott it had better ride back here with him and fire the shots from here, because we all know just where this place is and can find it easily.”

“That’s right,” agreed Ned. “Of course, we are splitting our party and lessening10 our strength.”

“I don’t see that we can help that,” Jim argued. “If we were looking for something that didn’t require every minute we could keep together and take our time. But there is no knowing what the outfit11 will do to the professor. Besides, two of us should be able to handle those fellows, even if there are three of them.”

“We should be able to depend on a surprise attack,” said Terry.

“Yes,” agreed Ned. “What is that?”

The others looked at him questioningly. Ned listened intently. “I thought I heard the sound of a bell tolling13,” he said.

“Where would there be a bell around here?” asked Don.

“I don’t think that there is a bell nearer than the mines. I guess I must have imagined it, that is all. Well, it is growing dark. Shall we separate now?”

“Guess we might as well,” the others agreed.

With mutual14 goodbyes and agreeing to meet again at the grove15 in which they were at present stopped, the four boys split into two groups and went in opposite directions. Terry and Jim rode north and up the mountain, and Ned and Don began to make their way south, moving up the mountain on a gradual slant16.

“Funny about that bell,” Ned said, as they rode slowly forward. “I could have sworn to it that I heard a bell ringing.”

“What kind of a bell?” asked Don.

“Sounded like a church bell, and it seemed to be tolling. But I guess it was some other sounds that I mistook. Certainly there is no church anywhere around here.”

“Doesn’t look as though there is,” grinned Don.

The sun had now set on the other side of the giant range and they were in total darkness. Knowing that it would be useless to push on very rapidly during the night they planned to put up a temporary camp on some ridge17 and wait there until daylight came. That would give them a few hours to look around before returning to their meeting place to compare notes.

“Guess we might as well camp and eat,” Ned suggested, and they found a spot that was dry and sheltered, where they speedily kindled18 a small fire and made some coffee. Sandwiches went with it and then they settled down beside the fire, talking quietly and keeping both ears and eyes open for any strange sound. It was early when they turned in and slept soundly.

How long they had been asleep was a matter of conjecture19, but they were shocked into a state of wakefulness by the furious tolling of a bell. It was near at hand, and they leaped to their feet with rapidly beating hearts. Alone there on the mountain fastness the sound was awe-inspiring and unpleasantly thrilling, and both boys felt chills running up and down their backs. The bell which was ringing so mysteriously was not more than a hundred feet from them.

“My goodness, what in the name of glory is that!” gasped20 Ned, as the horses moved restlessly back and forth21.

“Your bell,” cried Don, snatching up his rifle. “We were camped almost on top of it!”

Ned secured his weapon. “Never mind the horses, let’s see what is up,” he shouted. They started on a run in the direction of the sound of the bell, breaking recklessly through the undergrowth. In less than a hundred yards they emerged into a clearing and came upon the ruins of a castle, in the tower of which the bell was tolling madly.

A man stood in a doorway22, a faint light behind him. He had seen them coming and shouted something to someone within. The bell ceased to toll12 and the boys pressed on, straight for the figure in the doorway. It was joined by another and Ned raised a shout.

“Sackett!” he cried. “I guess we’ll find dad now!”

His answer was a shot from Sackett’s revolver, and they threw themselves flat on the ground, to send two high shots whistling through the narrow doorway. Had Sackett and Abel known that they were alone the two outlaws23 would not have run, but they were unable to make out anything accurate against the black trees and thought that a full party had arrived. The two men did not linger, but made their way out over the ruins of the first floor and escaped the boys hearing them take to their horses.

“They didn’t take dad with them,” cried Ned, leaping to his feet. “He must be in the house yet.”

They entered the castle, to find a candle in a bottle giving light to the single good room which remained of the ruins. Seeing the door in the side of the wall Ned and Don made for it, the former taking up the candle as they did so. They had no more fear of the bandits and they fairly ran down the stairs, to find Professor Scott waiting at the barred door.

“Dad!” cried Ned in delight. “So you are really here?”

“Oh, yes, and I thought I’d be here for sometime,” smiled Mr. Scott. “You boys arrived just in time. How did you like my bell concert?”

“If it hadn’t been for that we might never have found you,” said Ned. He broke the padlock with the butt24 of his gun, and then stepped hastily back. “What is that?”

A dark figure was worming through the hole in the wall of the dungeon25. “Don’t be afraid,” the professor said cheerfully. “It is Yappi, who is joining the party.”

The padlock was broken off, the door opened and Ned and his father embraced warmly. He shook Don by the hand and after hasty explanations had been made they followed Yappi up the stairs. The mestizo had refused to accept any thanks and took the lead in getting them out of the place.

They made a hasty search but found nothing of importance. The men had escaped on their mounts, and it was useless to think of following them. Yappi took them to the mouth of the underground passage and showed them how to drop down in it, and they walked along it back to the dungeon and then once more went back to the courtyard before the castle.

“The rascals26 either took my horse or loosed it,” said the professor. “I guess I’ll have to walk home.”

“No, no, senor,” said Yappi, quietly. “I have provide for that. Two horses in yonder bush.”

And he went to the thicket27 indicated and led out two horses. They praised his foresight28 lavishly29 but he was indifferent to their praises. Ned then proposed that they go back to the meeting place.

Accordingly they mounted and went down the mountain to the place where they had left Terry and Jim. It was decided30 to wait until morning for the other two, rather than fire off their guns to attract them.

“They should be here at seven in the morning, and it won’t be long before it is that time,” Don said. “So we might as well wait.”

So they waited, sleeping by turns, waking at last to greet a fine warm day. Seven o’clock came and passed and no sign of the others was to be seen. When a half hour had passed they began to fire their guns at intervals31, but there was nothing but silence after the echoes had broken in different places over the mountain sides.

Refusing to be worried over it they ate breakfast and again fired their guns, riding out from their camp for a few miles in either direction. But when ten o’clock in the morning came they once more assembled in the camp and faced the bitter facts.

“Well,” said Ned, in despair. “Now those fellows are gone. They must have become lost.”

“Either that,” said Don, gravely. “Or they have fallen into the hands of Sackett!”


1 slung slung     
抛( sling的过去式和过去分词 ); 吊挂; 遣送; 押往
  • He slung the bag over his shoulder. 他把包一甩,挎在肩上。
  • He stood up and slung his gun over his shoulder. 他站起来把枪往肩上一背。
2 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。
3 ranch dAUzk     
  • He went to work on a ranch.他去一个大农场干活。
  • The ranch is in the middle of a large plateau.该牧场位于一个辽阔高原的中部。
4 scant 2Dwzx     
  • Don't scant the butter when you make a cake.做糕饼时不要吝惜奶油。
  • Many mothers pay scant attention to their own needs when their children are small.孩子们小的时候,许多母亲都忽视自己的需求。
5 lone Q0cxL     
  • A lone sea gull flew across the sky.一只孤独的海鸥在空中飞过。
  • She could see a lone figure on the deserted beach.她在空旷的海滩上能看到一个孤独的身影。
6 briefly 9Styo     
  • I want to touch briefly on another aspect of the problem.我想简单地谈一下这个问题的另一方面。
  • He was kidnapped and briefly detained by a terrorist group.他被一个恐怖组织绑架并短暂拘禁。
7 mighty YDWxl     
  • A mighty force was about to break loose.一股巨大的力量即将迸发而出。
  • The mighty iceberg came into view.巨大的冰山出现在眼前。
8 retrace VjUzyj     
  • He retraced his steps to the spot where he'd left the case.他折回到他丢下箱子的地方。
  • You must retrace your steps.你必须折回原来走过的路。
9 wilderness SgrwS     
  • She drove the herd of cattle through the wilderness.她赶着牛群穿过荒野。
  • Education in the wilderness is not a matter of monetary means.荒凉地区的教育不是钱财问题。
10 lessening 7da1cd48564f42a12c5309c3711a7945     
  • So however much he earned, she spent it, her demands growing and lessening with his income. 祥子挣多少,她花多少,她的要求随着他的钱涨落。 来自汉英文学 - 骆驼祥子
  • The talks have resulted in a lessening of suspicion. 谈话消减了彼此的怀疑。
11 outfit YJTxC     
  • Jenney bought a new outfit for her daughter's wedding.珍妮为参加女儿的婚礼买了一套新装。
  • His father bought a ski outfit for him on his birthday.他父亲在他生日那天给他买了一套滑雪用具。
12 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。
13 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。
14 mutual eFOxC     
  • We must pull together for mutual interest.我们必须为相互的利益而通力合作。
  • Mutual interests tied us together.相互的利害关系把我们联系在一起。
15 grove v5wyy     
  • On top of the hill was a grove of tall trees.山顶上一片高大的树林。
  • The scent of lemons filled the grove.柠檬香味充满了小树林。
16 slant TEYzF     
  • The lines are drawn on a slant.这些线条被画成斜线。
  • The editorial had an antiunion slant.这篇社论有一种反工会的倾向。
17 ridge KDvyh     
  • We clambered up the hillside to the ridge above.我们沿着山坡费力地爬上了山脊。
  • The infantry were advancing to attack the ridge.步兵部队正在向前挺进攻打山脊。
18 kindled d35b7382b991feaaaa3e8ddbbcca9c46     
(使某物)燃烧,着火( kindle的过去式和过去分词 ); 激起(感情等); 发亮,放光
  • We watched as the fire slowly kindled. 我们看着火慢慢地燃烧起来。
  • The teacher's praise kindled a spark of hope inside her. 老师的赞扬激起了她内心的希望。
19 conjecture 3p8z4     
  • She felt it no use to conjecture his motives.她觉得猜想他的动机是没有用的。
  • This conjecture is not supported by any real evidence.这种推测未被任何确切的证据所证实。
20 gasped e6af294d8a7477229d6749fa9e8f5b80     
v.喘气( gasp的过去式和过去分词 );喘息;倒抽气;很想要
  • She gasped at the wonderful view. 如此美景使她惊讶得屏住了呼吸。
  • People gasped with admiration at the superb skill of the gymnasts. 体操运动员的高超技艺令人赞叹。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
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 doorway 2s0xK     
  • They huddled in the shop doorway to shelter from the rain.他们挤在商店门口躲雨。
  • Mary suddenly appeared in the doorway.玛丽突然出现在门口。
23 outlaws 7eb8a8faa85063e1e8425968c2a222fe     
歹徒,亡命之徒( outlaw的名词复数 ); 逃犯
  • During his year in the forest, Robin met many other outlaws. 在森林里的一年,罗宾遇见其他许多绿林大盗。
  • I didn't have to leave the country or fight outlaws. 我不必离开自己的国家,也不必与不法分子斗争。
24 butt uSjyM     
  • The water butt catches the overflow from this pipe.大水桶盛接管子里流出的东西。
  • He was the butt of their jokes.他是他们的笑柄。
25 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。
26 rascals 5ab37438604a153e085caf5811049ebb     
流氓( rascal的名词复数 ); 无赖; (开玩笑说法)淘气的人(尤指小孩); 恶作剧的人
  • "Oh, but I like rascals. "唔,不过我喜欢流氓。
  • "They're all second-raters, black sheep, rascals. "他们都是二流人物,是流氓,是恶棍。
27 thicket So0wm     
  • 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。
28 foresight Wi3xm     
  • The failure is the result of our lack of foresight.这次失败是由于我们缺乏远虑而造成的。
  • It required a statesman's foresight and sagacity to make the decision.作出这个决定需要政治家的远见卓识。
29 lavishly VpqzBo     
  • His house was lavishly adorned.他的屋子装饰得很华丽。
  • The book is lavishly illustrated in full colour.这本书里有大量全彩插图。
30 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。
31 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。


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