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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Schoolmaster and Other Stories » AN INADVERTENCE
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PYOTR PETROVITCH STRIZHIN, the nephew of Madame Ivanov, the colonel’s widow—the man whose new goloshes were stolen last year,—came home from a christening party at two o’clock in the morning. To avoid waking the household he took off his things in the lobby, made his way on tiptoe to his room, holding his breath, and began getting ready for bed without lighting1 a candle.
Strizhin leads a sober and regular life. He has a sanctimonious2 expression of face, he reads nothing but religious and edifying3 books, but at the christening party, in his delight that Lyubov Spiridonovna had passed through her confinement4 successfully, he had permitted himself to drink four glasses of vodka and a glass of wine, the taste of which suggested something midway between vinegar and castor oil. Spirituous liquors are like sea-water and glory: the more you imbibe5 of them the greater your thirst. And now as he undressed, Strizhin was aware of an overwhelming craving6 for drink.
“I believe Dashenka has some vodka in the cupboard in the right-hand corner,” he thought. “If I drink one wine-glassful, she won’t notice it.”
After some hesitation7, overcoming his fears, Strizhin went to the cupboard. Cautiously opening the door he felt in the right-hand corner for a bottle and poured out a wine-glassful, put the bottle back in its place, then, making the sign of the cross, drank it off. And immediately something like a miracle took place. Strizhin was flung back from the cupboard to the chest with fearful force like a bomb. There were flashes before his eyes, he felt as though he could not breathe, and all over his body he had a sensation as though he had fallen into a marsh8 full of leeches9. It seemed to him as though, instead of vodka, he had swallowed dynamite10, which blew up his body, the house, and the whole street. . . . His head, his arms, his legs—all seemed to be torn off and to be flying away somewhere to the devil, into space.
For some three minutes he lay on the chest, not moving and scarcely breathing, then he got up and asked himself:
“Where am I?”
The first thing of which he was clearly conscious on coming to himself was the pronounced smell of paraffin.
“Holy saints,” he thought in horror, “it’s paraffin I have drunk instead of vodka.”
The thought that he had poisoned himself threw him into a cold shiver, then into a fever. That it was really poison that he had taken was proved not only by the smell in the room but also by the burning taste in his mouth, the flashes before his eyes, the ringing in his head, and the colicky pain in his stomach. Feeling the approach of death and not buoying11 himself up with false hopes, he wanted to say good-bye to those nearest to him, and made his way to Dashenka’s bedroom (being a widower12 he had his sister-in-law called Dashenka, an old maid, living in the flat to keep house for him).
“Dashenka,” he said in a tearful voice as he went into the bedroom, “dear Dashenka!”
Something grumbled13 in the darkness and uttered a deep sigh.
“Eh? What?” A woman’s voice articulated rapidly. “Is that you, Pyotr Petrovitch? Are you back already? Well, what is it? What has the baby been christened? Who was godmother?”
“The godmother was Natalya Andreyevna Velikosvyetsky, and the godfather Pavel Ivanitch Bezsonnitsin. . . . I . . . I believe, Dashenka, I am dying. And the baby has been christened Olimpiada, in honour of their kind patroness. . . . I . . . I have just drunk paraffin, Dashenka!”
“What next! You don’t say they gave you paraffin there?”
“I must own I wanted to get a drink of vodka without asking you, and . . . and the Lord chastised14 me: by accident in the dark I took paraffin. . . . What am I to do?”
Dashenka, hearing that the cupboard had been opened without her permission, grew more wide-awake. . . . She quickly lighted a candle, jumped out of bed, and in her nightgown, a freckled15, bony figure in curl-papers, padded with bare feet to the cupboard.
“Who told you you might?” she asked sternly, as she scrutinized16 the inside of the cupboard. “Was the vodka put there for you?”
“I . . . I haven’t drunk vodka but paraffin, Dashenka . . .” muttered Strizhin, mopping the cold sweat on his brow.
“And what did you want to touch the paraffin for? That’s nothing to do with you, is it? Is it put there for you? Or do you suppose paraffin costs nothing? Eh? Do you know what paraffin is now? Do you know?”
“Dear Dashenka,” moaned Strizhin, “it’s a question of life and death, and you talk about money!”
“He’s drunk himself tipsy and now he pokes17 his nose into the cupboard!” cried Dashenka, angrily slamming the cupboard door. “Oh, the monsters, the tormentors! I’m a martyr18, a miserable19 woman, no peace day or night! Vipers20, basilisks, accursed Herods, may you suffer the same in the world to come! I am going to-morrow! I am a maiden21 lady and I won’t allow you to stand before me in your underclothes! How dare you look at me when I am not dressed!”
And she went on and on. . . . Knowing that when Dashenka was enraged22 there was no moving her with prayers or vows23 or even by firing a cannon24, Strizhin waved his hand in despair, dressed, and made up his mind to go to the doctor. But a doctor is only readily found when he is not wanted. After running through three streets and ringing five times at Dr. Tchepharyants’s, and seven times at Dr. Bultyhin’s, Strizhin raced off to a chemist’s shop, thinking possibly the chemist could help him. There, after a long interval25, a little dark and curly-headed chemist came out to him in his dressing26 gown, with drowsy27 eyes, and such a wise and serious face that it was positively28 terrifying.
“What do you want?” he asked in a tone in which only very wise and dignified29 chemists of Jewish persuasion30 can speak.
“For God’s sake . . . I entreat31 you . . .” said Strizhin breathlessly, “give me something. I have just accidentally drunk paraffin, I am dying!”
“I beg you not to excite yourself and to answer the questions I am about to put to you. The very fact that you are excited prevents me from understanding you. You have drunk paraffin. Yes?”
“Yes, paraffin! Please save me!”
The chemist went coolly and gravely to the desk, opened a book, became absorbed in reading it. After reading a couple of pages he shrugged32 one shoulder and then the other, made a contemptuous grimace33 and, after thinking for a minute, went into the adjoining room. The clock struck four, and when it pointed34 to ten minutes past the chemist came back with another book and again plunged35 into reading.
“H’m,” he said as though puzzled, “the very fact that you feel unwell shows you ought to apply to a doctor, not a chemist.”
“But I have been to the doctors already. I could not ring them up.”
“H’m . . . you don’t regard us chemists as human beings, and disturb our rest even at four o’clock at night, though every dog, every cat, can rest in peace. . . . You don’t try to understand anything, and to your thinking we are not people and our nerves are like cords.”
Strizhin listened to the chemist, heaved a sigh, and went home.
“So I am fated to die,” he thought.
And in his mouth was a burning and a taste of paraffin, there were twinges in his stomach, and a sound of boom, boom, boom in his ears. Every moment it seemed to him that his end was near, that his heart was no longer beating.
Returning home he made haste to write: “Let no one be blamed for my death,” then he said his prayers, lay down and pulled the bedclothes over his head. He lay awake till morning expecting death, and all the time he kept fancying how his grave would be covered with fresh green grass and how the birds would twitter over it. . . .
And in the morning he was sitting on his bed, saying with a smile to Dashenka:
“One who leads a steady and regular life, dear sister, is unaffected by any poison. Take me, for example. I have been on the verge36 of death. I was dying and in agony, yet now I am all right. There is only a burning in my mouth and a soreness in my throat, but I am all right all over, thank God. . . . And why? It’s because of my regular life.”
“No, it’s because it’s inferior paraffin!” sighed Dashenka, thinking of the household expenses and gazing into space. “The man at the shop could not have given me the best quality, but that at three farthings. I am a martyr, I am a miserable woman. You monsters! May you suffer the same, in the world to come, accursed Herods. . . .”
And she went on and on. . . .


1 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。
2 sanctimonious asCy4     
  • It's that sanctimonious air that people can't stand.人们所不能容忍的就是那副假正经的样子。
  • You do not have to be so sanctimonious to prove that you are devout.您不必如此伪善。
3 edifying a97ce6cffd0a5657c9644f46b1c20531     
adj.有教训意味的,教训性的,有益的v.开导,启发( edify的现在分词 )
  • Young students are advised to read edifying books to improve their mind. 建议青年学生们读一些陶冶性情的书籍,以提高自己的心智。 来自辞典例句
  • This edifying spectacle was the final event of the Governor's ball. 这个有启发性的表演便是省长的舞会的最后一个节目了。 来自辞典例句
4 confinement qpOze     
  • He spent eleven years in solitary confinement.他度过了11年的单独监禁。
  • The date for my wife's confinement was approaching closer and closer.妻子分娩的日子越来越近了。
5 imbibe Fy9yO     
  • Plants imbibe nourishment usually through their leaves and roots.植物通常经过叶和根吸收养分。
  • I always imbibe fresh air in the woods.我经常在树林里呼吸新鲜空气。
6 craving zvlz3e     
  • a craving for chocolate 非常想吃巧克力
  • She skipped normal meals to satisfy her craving for chocolate and crisps. 她不吃正餐,以便满足自己吃巧克力和炸薯片的渴望。
7 hesitation tdsz5     
  • After a long hesitation, he told the truth at last.踌躇了半天,他终于直说了。
  • There was a certain hesitation in her manner.她的态度有些犹豫不决。
8 marsh Y7Rzo     
  • There are a lot of frogs in the marsh.沼泽里有许多青蛙。
  • I made my way slowly out of the marsh.我缓慢地走出这片沼泽地。
9 leeches 1719980de08011881ae8f13c90baaa92     
n.水蛭( leech的名词复数 );蚂蟥;榨取他人脂膏者;医生
  • The usurers are leeches;they have drained us dry. 高利贷者是吸血鬼,他们吸干了我们的血汗。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Does it run in the genes to live as leeches? 你们家是不是遗传的,都以欺压别人为生? 来自电影对白
10 dynamite rrPxB     
  • The workmen detonated the dynamite.工人们把炸药引爆了。
  • The philosopher was still political dynamite.那位哲学家仍旧是政治上的爆炸性人物。
11 buoying 805d7264ffb7b8241d68c6919014473a     
v.使浮起( buoy的现在分词 );支持;为…设浮标;振奋…的精神
  • For years, the government has been buoying up cotton prices. 多年来政府一直保持棉花高价格。 来自互联网
  • He is buoying the channel. 他在用浮标指示航道。 来自互联网
12 widower fe4z2a     
  • George was a widower with six young children.乔治是个带著六个小孩子的鳏夫。
  • Having been a widower for many years,he finally decided to marry again.丧偶多年后,他终于决定二婚了。
13 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。
14 chastised 1b5fb9c7c5ab8f5b2a9ee90d5ef232e6     
v.严惩(某人)(尤指责打)( chastise的过去式 )
  • He chastised the team for their lack of commitment. 他指责队伍未竭尽全力。
  • The Securities Commission chastised the firm but imposed no fine. 证券委员会严厉批评了那家公司,不过没有处以罚款。 来自辞典例句
15 freckled 1f563e624a978af5e5981f5e9d3a4687     
adj.雀斑;斑点;晒斑;(使)生雀斑v.雀斑,斑点( freckle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Her face was freckled all over. 她的脸长满雀斑。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Her freckled skin glowed with health again. 她长有雀斑的皮肤又泛出了健康的红光。 来自辞典例句
16 scrutinized e48e75426c20d6f08263b761b7a473a8     
v.仔细检查,详审( scrutinize的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The jeweler scrutinized the diamond for flaws. 宝石商人仔细察看钻石有无瑕庇 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Together we scrutinized the twelve lemon cakes from the delicatessen shop. 我们一起把甜食店里买来的十二块柠檬蛋糕细细打量了一番。 来自英汉文学 - 盖茨比
17 pokes 6cad7252d0877616449883a0e703407d     
v.伸出( poke的第三人称单数 );戳出;拨弄;与(某人)性交
  • He pokes his nose into everything. 他这人好管闲事。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • Only the tip of an iceberg pokes up above water. 只有冰山的尖端突出于水面。 来自辞典例句
18 martyr o7jzm     
  • The martyr laid down his life for the cause of national independence.这位烈士是为了民族独立的事业而献身的。
  • The newspaper carried the martyr's photo framed in black.报上登载了框有黑边的烈士遗像。
19 miserable g18yk     
  • It was miserable of you to make fun of him.你取笑他,这是可耻的。
  • Her past life was miserable.她过去的生活很苦。
20 vipers fb66fba4079dc2cfa4d4fc01b17098f5     
n.蝰蛇( viper的名词复数 );毒蛇;阴险恶毒的人;奸诈者
  • The fangs of pit vipers are long, hollow tubes. 颊窝毒蛇的毒牙是长的空心管子。 来自辞典例句
  • Vipers are distinguishable from other snakes by their markings. 根据蛇身上的斑纹就能把┹蛇同其他蛇类区别开来。 来自辞典例句
21 maiden yRpz7     
  • The prince fell in love with a fair young maiden.王子爱上了一位年轻美丽的少女。
  • The aircraft makes its maiden flight tomorrow.这架飞机明天首航。
22 enraged 7f01c0138fa015d429c01106e574231c     
使暴怒( enrage的过去式和过去分词 ); 歜; 激愤
  • I was enraged to find they had disobeyed my orders. 发现他们违抗了我的命令,我极为恼火。
  • The judge was enraged and stroke the table for several times. 大法官被气得连连拍案。
23 vows c151b5e18ba22514580d36a5dcb013e5     
誓言( vow的名词复数 ); 郑重宣布,许愿
  • Matrimonial vows are to show the faithfulness of the new couple. 婚誓体现了新婚夫妇对婚姻的忠诚。
  • The nun took strait vows. 那位修女立下严格的誓愿。
24 cannon 3T8yc     
  • The soldiers fired the cannon.士兵们开炮。
  • The cannon thundered in the hills.大炮在山间轰鸣。
25 interval 85kxY     
  • The interval between the two trees measures 40 feet.这两棵树的间隔是40英尺。
  • There was a long interval before he anwsered the telephone.隔了好久他才回了电话。
26 dressing 1uOzJG     
  • Don't spend such a lot of time in dressing yourself.别花那么多时间来打扮自己。
  • The children enjoy dressing up in mother's old clothes.孩子们喜欢穿上妈妈旧时的衣服玩。
27 drowsy DkYz3     
  • Exhaust fumes made him drowsy and brought on a headache.废气把他熏得昏昏沉沉,还引起了头疼。
  • I feel drowsy after lunch every day.每天午饭后我就想睡觉。
28 positively vPTxw     
  • She was positively glowing with happiness.她满脸幸福。
  • The weather was positively poisonous.这天气着实讨厌。
29 dignified NuZzfb     
  • Throughout his trial he maintained a dignified silence. 在整个审讯过程中,他始终沉默以保持尊严。
  • He always strikes such a dignified pose before his girlfriend. 他总是在女友面前摆出这种庄严的姿态。
30 persuasion wMQxR     
  • He decided to leave only after much persuasion.经过多方劝说,他才决定离开。
  • After a lot of persuasion,she agreed to go.经过多次劝说后,她同意去了。
31 entreat soexj     
  • Charles Darnay felt it hopeless entreat him further,and his pride was touched besides.查尔斯-达尔内感到再恳求他已是枉然,自尊心也受到了伤害。
  • I entreat you to contribute generously to the building fund.我恳求您慷慨捐助建设基金。
32 shrugged 497904474a48f991a3d1961b0476ebce     
  • Sam shrugged and said nothing. 萨姆耸耸肩膀,什么也没说。
  • She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 她耸耸肩,装出一副无所谓的样子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
33 grimace XQVza     
  • The boy stole a look at his father with grimace.那男孩扮着鬼脸偷看了他父亲一眼。
  • Thomas made a grimace after he had tasted the wine.托马斯尝了那葡萄酒后做了个鬼脸。
34 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
35 plunged 06a599a54b33c9d941718dccc7739582     
v.颠簸( plunge的过去式和过去分词 );暴跌;骤降;突降
  • The train derailed and plunged into the river. 火车脱轨栽进了河里。
  • She lost her balance and plunged 100 feet to her death. 她没有站稳,从100英尺的高处跌下摔死了。
36 verge gUtzQ     
  • The country's economy is on the verge of collapse.国家的经济已到了崩溃的边缘。
  • She was on the verge of bursting into tears.她快要哭出来了。


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