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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Weight of the Crown » CHAPTER XVII A BOW AT A VENTURE
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With a strong feeling of congratulation that he had gleaned1 the whole story of her wild adventure from Jessie Harcourt, Varney walked coolly up the staircase. He had little difficulty in locating the room where the dissolute ruler of Asturia lay. It was the only locked door in that corridor, and he had the key in his pocket, which key, it will be remembered, Jessie handed over to him.
The lights were still burning there; the king still lay in the huddled2 uniform of General Maxgregor on the bed. At the end of the corridor a telephone gleamed. Varney crossed over and called up his own confidential3 servant, to whom he gave a long message. This being done, he returned to the bedroom and carefully locked the door behind him. He crossed over to the bed and shook the royal occupant much as a policeman shakes a drunken tramp asleep in a gutter4.
"Get up," he said. "Get up; you are wanted at once. And drink this—do you hear?"
The blear-eyed wretch5 sat up in bed. He was shaking from head to foot. His hands shook as he held them out for the contents of the bottle that Varney was holding—the rest of the drug that had been administered to Sir Reginald Lancing.
"I hope it won't hurt me," the king whispered. "My doctor here, Dr. Varney——"
"I am Dr. Varney," said the latter coldly, "only you are still too drunk to know who I am. I am not likely to give you anything harmful—at least, not for the present. Where are your clothes? You never came here in that uniform."
"I was in evening dress," the king said helplessly. "Somebody must have changed with me. Look and see, there's a good fellow. Must have been a big fellow who played this trick on me."
Varney gave a grunt6 of disappointment. He recollected7 now that Maxgregor had gone off in the guise8 of the king. Therefore, if the king had that proposed treaty of abdication9 in his pocket, the same was in the possession of Maxgregor at this moment.
"You are in the house of Lord Merehaven," Varney said. "You should have come here to-night with the queen. In the interests of your country, and in the interests of Europe, you should have been here. Instead of that you go off somewhere and get wretchedly drunk in some gambling-house. It was by great good luck that you were found and conveyed secretly here by the garden entrance. Kings have done some disgraceful things in their time, but nothing quite so bad as your conduct to-night. Where is the document that Prince Mazaroff gave you to sign?"
It was a bow drawn10 at a venture, but the shaft11 went home.
"I don't know," the king groaned12. "I put it in my pocket. It was not the thing to sign all at once. Shouldn't have pluck enough whilst I was sober. Then I had too much champagne13. What was that you gave me to drink just now? Seems to make a new man of me. Haven't felt so fit and[122] well for years. Feel as if I could do anything now."
"You'll want all your manhood presently," Varney said coolly. "Your father was a man of courage, as I found out for myself in his last painful illness. You had pluck enough as a boy; you'd have it again now if you dropped your champagne. Wash yourself well, and make yourself look as respectable as possible. We are going downstairs."
"What, like this!" the king cried in dismay. "In a uniform that is far too big——"
"Nothing of the kind. There is a change coming for you from your hotel. My confidential servant is seeing to it, and he will be here presently. With clean clothes and linen14 and an order or two you will be a passable king yet. Go and wash yourself at once. You are in my hands to-night."
There was a cold, stinging contempt in Varney's tones by no means lost on the listener. Perhaps some sense of shame was stirring within him, for no reproof15 rose to his trembling, bibulous16 lips. Varney passed out presently, locking the door behind him as coolly as if he had been a gaoler. At the foot of the stairs a neat-looking footman was waiting with a parcel for Varney. As he took it Hope crossed the hall. There was a look of alertness, a desire for battle in his face.
"What is going on?" Varney asked. "Something seems to have happened?"
"Count Gleikstein is here," Ronald whispered. "The Russian chargé d'affaires, in the absence at St. Petersburg of the Ambassador. You can imagine what he has come for. There was a great battle of wits going on in the salon17. The Queen of Asturia is talking to Gleikstein, and I have secured the presence of Prince Mazaroff. Lechmere looks[123] anxious for the fray18, and I should say from the expression on his face that he has a knife up his sleeve. If we could play some strong card——"
"We are going to," Varney snapped, as he hugged his bundle under his arm. "Only keep the ball rolling for another quarter of an hour, and I shall be ready for you. Listen!"
Very rapidly Varney whispered a few instructions into the ear of Hope. The latter grinned delightedly, then his face grew grave again. The thing was serious enough, and yet there was a fine element of comedy in it. It was diplomacy19 gone mad. On the hall stand was a stack of visiting cards. On one of them, chosen at haphazard20, Hope wrote a message. He trusted that the queen would understand; in fact, he felt sure that she would.
The little group in the salon, under the famous Romney and the equally famous Velasquez, was a striking one—the Queen of Asturia, tall and stately, and smiling as if perfectly21 at her ease; by her side Count Gleikstein, the Russian chargé d'affaires, slim waisted, dark of face and stern of eye, yet with a waxed moustache and an air that gave a suggestion of effeminacy to him. Lechmere was lounging by in a listless kind of way, and yet from time to time there was an eager tightening22 of his mouth that proved him ready for the fray. Prince Mazaroff completed the group.
Ronald Hope came up with a respectful bow, and tendered the card to the queen. She glanced at it leisurely23; her face betrayed nothing as she read the message and handed the card back to Ronald again. One grateful look flashed from her eyes.
"I regret that I cannot," she said. "I have so many calls of that kind on my time. If the lady is a[124] friend of yours, Captain Hope, I may stretch a point in her favour. She may call on my secretary at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning."
Ronald bowed deeply as if charged with a message, and hastened into the hall. The card he tore into small fragments and cast into a waste paper basket under one of the hall tables. Then he went back to the striking group under the picture again.
"I am afraid that it concerns all of us," the count was saying in a dangerously insinuating24 voice. "Of course, one can hardly be responsible for what the papers say, but in the present dangerous state of public opinion in Asturia—the queen will pardon me?"
"I pardon anybody who does their duty to their country at any cost," the queen said. "If we could produce those papers that your royal master is so suspicious about——"
"Then I am to understand that some papers of importance have really been stolen?" the count said swiftly.
"On the contrary, you are not to understand anything of the kind," Lord Merehaven smiled. "My dear count, I could lead you a fine wild-goose chase if I chose to allow your imagination free run. As a matter of fact, the papers you allude25 to were in my own hands at seven o'clock this evening. It is hardly possible that they could have been stolen and their contents made known to an American paper within an hour from that time. So easy am I in my mind that I have not even sent down to my office to see if the papers are still extant. And when you see the King of Asturia——"
"But I understand that he has gone to Paris?" Count Gleikstein said, with a swift, meaning glance[125] at the queen. "Of course, if his majesty26 were here, and could give us an assurance that he has in no way given his authority and let you know what I mean. I am afraid that those agreeable Bohemian excursions that his majesty is so fond of are not regarded in Asturia in the same liberal light that they might be. Still, your assurance, my dear Lord Merehaven, will not——"
"Will not weigh like that of his majesty," Merehaven said. "If he were only here——"
"He has been detained," the queen said, ignoring a meaning smile that passed between the count and Prince Mazaroff. "If I could only have a message——"
A quick, smothered27 cry broke from Mazaroff as he looked to the door. Gleikstein followed his glance, and his face fell wofully. The queen smiled and advanced one step towards the door. Her dark eyes were filled with a great and lasting28 joy.
"I think your kindness is going to be rewarded, count," she said. "Yes, I was not mistaken."
A tall footman in the doorway29 announced—"His Majesty the King of Asturia!"


1 gleaned 83f6cdf195a7d487666a71e02179d977     
v.一点点地收集(资料、事实)( glean的过去式和过去分词 );(收割后)拾穗
  • These figures have been gleaned from a number of studies. 这些数据是通过多次研究收集得来的。
  • A valuable lesson may be gleaned from it by those who have eyes to see. 明眼人可从中记取宝贵的教训。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
2 huddled 39b87f9ca342d61fe478b5034beb4139     
  • We huddled together for warmth. 我们挤在一块取暖。
  • We huddled together to keep warm. 我们挤在一起来保暖。
3 confidential MOKzA     
  • He refused to allow his secretary to handle confidential letters.他不让秘书处理机密文件。
  • We have a confidential exchange of views.我们推心置腹地交换意见。
4 gutter lexxk     
  • There's a cigarette packet thrown into the gutter.阴沟里有个香烟盒。
  • He picked her out of the gutter and made her a great lady.他使她脱离贫苦生活,并成为贵妇。
5 wretch EIPyl     
  • You are really an ungrateful wretch to complain instead of thanking him.你不但不谢他,还埋怨他,真不知好歹。
  • The dead husband is not the dishonoured wretch they fancied him.死去的丈夫不是他们所想象的不光彩的坏蛋。
6 grunt eeazI     
  • He lifted the heavy suitcase with a grunt.他咕噜着把沉重的提箱拎了起来。
  • I ask him what he think,but he just grunt.我问他在想什麽,他只哼了一声。
7 recollected 38b448634cd20e21c8e5752d2b820002     
adj.冷静的;镇定的;被回忆起的;沉思默想的v.记起,想起( recollect的过去式和过去分词 )
  • I recollected that she had red hair. 我记得她有一头红发。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • His efforts, the Duke recollected many years later, were distinctly half-hearted. 据公爵许多年之后的回忆,他当时明显只是敷衍了事。 来自辞典例句
8 guise JeizL     
  • They got into the school in the guise of inspectors.他们假装成视察员进了学校。
  • The thief came into the house under the guise of a repairman.那小偷扮成个修理匠进了屋子。
9 abdication abdication     
  • The officers took over and forced his abdication in 1947.1947年军官们接管了政权并迫使他退了位。
  • Abdication is precluded by the lack of a possible successor.因为没有可能的继承人,让位无法实现。
10 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
11 shaft YEtzp     
  • He was wounded by a shaft.他被箭击中受伤。
  • This is the shaft of a steam engine.这是一个蒸汽机主轴。
12 groaned 1a076da0ddbd778a674301b2b29dff71     
v.呻吟( groan的过去式和过去分词 );发牢骚;抱怨;受苦
  • He groaned in anguish. 他痛苦地呻吟。
  • The cart groaned under the weight of the piano. 大车在钢琴的重压下嘎吱作响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
13 champagne iwBzh3     
  • There were two glasses of champagne on the tray.托盘里有两杯香槟酒。
  • They sat there swilling champagne.他们坐在那里大喝香槟酒。
14 linen W3LyK     
  • The worker is starching the linen.这名工人正在给亚麻布上浆。
  • Fine linen and cotton fabrics were known as well as wool.精细的亚麻织品和棉织品像羊毛一样闻名遐迩。
15 reproof YBhz9     
  • A smart reproof is better than smooth deceit.严厉的责难胜过温和的欺骗。
  • He is impatient of reproof.他不能忍受指责。
16 bibulous CNgzO     
  • He is a bibulous fellow.他是个爱喝酒的家伙。
  • But it can control the bibulous of handsheet in the demanding range through accession suitable waterproof. 但通过添加适量的防水剂可以使纸板的吸水值在要求的范围内。
17 salon VjTz2Z     
  • Do you go to the hairdresser or beauty salon more than twice a week?你每周去美容院或美容沙龙多过两次吗?
  • You can hear a lot of dirt at a salon.你在沙龙上会听到很多流言蜚语。
18 fray NfDzp     
  • Why should you get involved in their fray?你为什么要介入他们的争吵呢?
  • Tempers began to fray in the hot weather.大热天脾气烦燥。
19 diplomacy gu9xk     
  • The talks have now gone into a stage of quiet diplomacy.会谈现在已经进入了“温和外交”阶段。
  • This was done through the skill in diplomacy. 这是通过外交手腕才做到的。
20 haphazard n5oyi     
  • The town grew in a haphazard way.这城镇无计划地随意发展。
  • He regrerted his haphazard remarks.他悔不该随口说出那些评论话。
21 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。
22 tightening 19aa014b47fbdfbc013e5abf18b64642     
  • Make sure the washer is firmly seated before tightening the pipe. 旋紧水管之前,检查一下洗衣机是否已牢牢地固定在底座上了。
  • It needs tightening up a little. 它还需要再收紧些。
23 leisurely 51Txb     
  • We walked in a leisurely manner,looking in all the windows.我们慢悠悠地走着,看遍所有的橱窗。
  • He had a leisurely breakfast and drove cheerfully to work.他从容的吃了早餐,高兴的开车去工作。
24 insinuating insinuating     
adj.曲意巴结的,暗示的v.暗示( insinuate的现在分词 );巧妙或迂回地潜入;(使)缓慢进入;慢慢伸入
  • Are you insinuating that I' m telling a lie ? 你这是意味着我是在说谎吗? 来自辞典例句
  • He is extremely insinuating, but it's a vulgar nature. 他好奉承拍马,那是种庸俗的品格。 来自辞典例句
25 allude vfdyW     
  • Many passages in Scripture allude to this concept.圣经中有许多经文间接地提到这样的概念。
  • She also alluded to her rival's past marital troubles.她还影射了对手过去的婚姻问题。
26 majesty MAExL     
  • The king had unspeakable majesty.国王有无法形容的威严。
  • Your Majesty must make up your mind quickly!尊贵的陛下,您必须赶快做出决定!
27 smothered b9bebf478c8f7045d977e80734a8ed1d     
(使)窒息, (使)透不过气( smother的过去式和过去分词 ); 覆盖; 忍住; 抑制
  • He smothered the baby with a pillow. 他用枕头把婴儿闷死了。
  • The fire is smothered by ashes. 火被灰闷熄了。
28 lasting IpCz02     
  • The lasting war debased the value of the dollar.持久的战争使美元贬值。
  • We hope for a lasting settlement of all these troubles.我们希望这些纠纷能获得永久的解决。
29 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。


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