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Cool hand as he was, even Lechmere glanced with astonishment1 at the King of Asturia. The ruler was small and mean-looking generally, but now he seemed to be transformed. Varney's drug must have been a powerful one to make that difference. For here was a king—a boy specimen2 with red hair, but a king all the same. Count Gleikstein flashed a furious glance at Mazaroff, who merely shrugged3 his shoulders. But he was puzzled and annoyed, as Lechmere could see from the expression of his face. The comedy was a pleasing one for the old queen's messenger.
The great salon4 was still well filled by Lord Merehaven's guests, for this was one of the functions of the season, and few people were going farther to-night. It was known, too, that the great diva also had captured all hearts and was going to sing again. Therefore the big room, with its magnificent pictures and china and statuary gleaming with hundreds of electric lights, was still filled with a brilliant mass of moving colour.
A thrill and a murmur5 had run round the brilliant assembly as the King of Asturia came in. There had been many rumours6 lately, but nobody quite knew the truth. The King of Asturia had either abdicated7 his throne or he had been deposed8 by a revolution. The papers had been full of gossip lately, for the Queen of Asturia was a popular figure[139] in London society, and people were interested. It was for this reason—it was for the sake of necessary people that Lord Merehaven had hoped to have seen his royal guest earlier.
But here he was at last, making a dramatic entrance at exactly the proper time, and surprising even the man who had brought this mischief9 about.
"The constitution of an ox," Varney told himself. "With a heart like his, too! And yet an hour ago he was looking death in the face. I'll try that drug again."
The king came forward smiling and at his ease. He bowed to the queen, and placed her hand to his lips. Then he extended his fingers to Lord Merehaven.
"My dear lord, I am much distressed10 to be so late," he said. "I dare say the queen will have told you the reason why I have been delayed. Ah, good evening, Count Gleikstein. Prince Mazaroff, I wonder you are not ashamed to look me in the face."
Mazaroff muttered something and looked uncomfortable. He was understood to ask what he had done.
"Now there is an elastic11 conscience for you!" the king cried. "That man comes between me and my duty to my people, and then he asks what he has done! He knows that love of pleasure is my stumbling-block, and he plays on my weakness. Only this very afternoon he comes to me with a proposal which I find utterly12 irresistible13. My dear prince, I shall have to forswear your company. You had no right to take me where you took me to-day."
Mazaroff stepped back puzzled and confused. He had decided14 that he knew his man well, but here[140] was an utterly unexpected phase of his character.
"You gave me certain papers to sign," the king went on. "Positively15, I have utterly forgotten what they were all about. Nothing very important, or I should not have presumed to sign them. Something to do with concessions16, were they not?"
"That is so, please your majesty17," Mazaroff stammered18. "It is a matter that will keep. If you will go over the petition at your leisure? As a liberal-minded man myself——"
"My dear Mazaroff, your liberal-mindedness is proverbial. But as to those papers, I lost them. Positively, they are nowhere to be found. You must let me have others."
A curious clicking sound came from Mazaroff's lips. The face of Count Gleikstein turned pale with anger. There was a comedy going on, and the grave listeners with their polite attention knew what was happening quite as well as if the conversation had been in plain words.
"Your majesty is pleased to jest with me," Mazaroff said hoarsely19.
"Indeed I am not, my good fellow. Blame yourself for the excellency of that brand of champagne20. We dined somewhere, did we not? I must have changed somewhere after, for I distinctly remember burning a hole in my shirt front with a cigarette, and behold21 there is no burn there now! Somewhere in the pocket of a dress-coat lies your precious concessions."
"I think," the queen said with some dignity, "we had better change the conversation. I do not approve of those medieval customs in my husband. Ah, Madame Peri is going to sing again."
There was a hush22 and a stir, and the glorious[141] liquid notes broke out again. Mazaroff slipped away, followed presently by Count Gleikstein. The latter's face was smiling and gay as he addressed some remark to Mazaroff in a low tone, but his words were bitter.
"You senseless fool," he said. "How have you managed to blunder in this idiotic23 way? And after everything had been so perfectly24 arranged. It would have been known to-morrow in every capital in Europe that the Queen of Asturia attended the important diplomatic and social function alone. We could have hinted that the king had already fled. In the present state of feeling in Asturia that would have insured the success of the revolution."
"And the occupation of Russia in the interests of peace," Mazaroff sneered25. "My dear Gleikstein, I am absolutely dumbfounded. It was as the king says. I lured26 him into a house where only the fastest of men go, a gambling27 den28. I saw that act of abdication29 in his pocket. I saw him so helplessly intoxicated30 that it was any odds31 he was not seen before morning. I arranged for him to be detained where he was. To-morrow the thing would have been done; it would have been done to-day but he was past signing. Then he comes here clothed and in his right mind. It is amazing. We shall have to begin all over again, it seems to me."
"We certainly have received a check," Gleikstein admitted with a better grace. "But there are other cards to play yet. Those papers missing from the Foreign Office, for instance. To get to the bottom of England's game will be a great advantage."
"Don't you know that we have been beaten there as well?" said Mazaroff.
"You don't mean to say so! Impossible! Why, the[142] countess sent a cypher message to say that she had been entirely32 successful. The message was not sent direct to me, of course, but it came by a sure hand about eight o'clock. The countess had not read those papers, but they were most assuredly in her possession. She promised me that——"
"Well, she is no longer in a position to fulfil her promise," said Mazaroff. "To return, the papers were most impudently33 stolen from her house. It is quite true, my dear Gleikstein, that we both realize the powerful secret combination that we have to fight against. Don't you see what a clever lot they are! How they have tracked our deeds and acts! How did they manage to recover the king and bring him here clothed and in his right mind? Why, the thing is nothing less than a miracle. Then the countess loses those papers almost before they are in her possession. It is any odds that she had not even sufficient time to glance at them."
"But you are quite sure that the papers have been lost, Mazaroff?"
"Absolutely certain, though the countess did not tell me so. She left here in a violent hurry on her maid coming to say that there had been a burglary at her house. I heard all that in the hall. The maid said that nothing but papers had vanished. One glance at the face of the countess told me what papers those were. And so we have a powerful combination against us who can work miracles and undo34 our best efforts almost before the knots are securely tied. For the present we are beaten, and it will be just as well for you to realize it thoroughly35."
Gleikstein would have said more, but Lechmere lounged up at the same moment. His grey, lean[143] face was quite smooth and placid36; there was a smile on his face.
"What are you two old friends conspiring37 about?" he asked.
"There is never any conspiracy38 so far as diplomacy39 is concerned," Gleikstein said smoothly40. "We are all crystal wells of truth. Who told you we were old friends?"
"My eyes," Lechmere said quite coolly. "And my excellent memory. It is idle to try and deceive an old queen's messenger like me. You look puzzled, both of you. Cast your minds back to 15th November, 1897, at Moscow. It was at the Hotel Petersburg. Three men were playing loo. There was a waiter with one eye in the room. Come, there is a puzzle for you."
And Lechmere lounged on as if anxious to catch up a passing acquaintance.
"What does he mean?" Mazaroff muttered anxiously. "What does the fellow know?"


1 astonishment VvjzR     
  • They heard him give a loud shout of astonishment.他们听见他惊奇地大叫一声。
  • I was filled with astonishment at her strange action.我对她的奇怪举动不胜惊异。
2 specimen Xvtwm     
  • You'll need tweezers to hold up the specimen.你要用镊子来夹这标本。
  • This specimen is richly variegated in colour.这件标本上有很多颜色。
3 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》
4 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。
5 murmur EjtyD     
  • They paid the extra taxes without a murmur.他们毫无怨言地交了附加税。
  • There was a low murmur of conversation in the hall.大厅里有窃窃私语声。
6 rumours ba6e2decd2e28dec9a80f28cb99e131d     
n.传闻( rumour的名词复数 );风闻;谣言;谣传
  • The rumours were completely baseless. 那些谣传毫无根据。
  • Rumours of job losses were later confirmed. 裁员的传言后来得到了证实。
7 abdicated 0bad74511c43ab3a11217d68c9ad162b     
放弃(职责、权力等)( abdicate的过去式和过去分词 ); 退位,逊位
  • He abdicated in favour of his son. 他把王位让给了儿子。
  • King Edward Ⅷ abdicated in 1936 to marry a commoner. 国王爱德华八世于1936年退位与一个平民结婚。
8 deposed 4c31bf6e65f0ee73c1198c7dbedfd519     
v.罢免( depose的过去式和过去分词 );(在法庭上)宣誓作证
  • The president was deposed in a military coup. 总统在军事政变中被废黜。
  • The head of state was deposed by the army. 国家元首被军队罢免了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
9 mischief jDgxH     
  • Nobody took notice of the mischief of the matter. 没有人注意到这件事情所带来的危害。
  • He seems to intend mischief.看来他想捣蛋。
10 distressed du1z3y     
  • He was too distressed and confused to answer their questions. 他非常苦恼而困惑,无法回答他们的问题。
  • The news of his death distressed us greatly. 他逝世的消息使我们极为悲痛。
11 elastic Tjbzq     
  • Rubber is an elastic material.橡胶是一种弹性材料。
  • These regulations are elastic.这些规定是有弹性的。
12 utterly ZfpzM1     
  • Utterly devoted to the people,he gave his life in saving his patients.他忠于人民,把毕生精力用于挽救患者的生命。
  • I was utterly ravished by the way she smiled.她的微笑使我完全陶醉了。
13 irresistible n4CxX     
  • The wheel of history rolls forward with an irresistible force.历史车轮滚滚向前,势不可挡。
  • She saw an irresistible skirt in the store window.她看见商店的橱窗里有一条叫人着迷的裙子。
14 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。
15 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。
16 concessions 6b6f497aa80aaf810133260337506fa9     
n.(尤指由政府或雇主给予的)特许权( concession的名词复数 );承认;减价;(在某地的)特许经营权
  • The firm will be forced to make concessions if it wants to avoid a strike. 要想避免罢工,公司将不得不作出一些让步。
  • The concessions did little to placate the students. 让步根本未能平息学生的愤怒。
17 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!
18 stammered 76088bc9384c91d5745fd550a9d81721     
v.结巴地说出( stammer的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He stammered most when he was nervous. 他一紧张往往口吃。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Barsad leaned back in his chair, and stammered, \"What do you mean?\" 巴萨往椅背上一靠,结结巴巴地说,“你是什么意思?” 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
19 hoarsely hoarsely     
  • "Excuse me," he said hoarsely. “对不起。”他用嘶哑的嗓子说。
  • Jerry hoarsely professed himself at Miss Pross's service. 杰瑞嘶声嘶气地表示愿为普洛丝小姐效劳。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
20 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。
21 behold jQKy9     
  • The industry of these little ants is wonderful to behold.这些小蚂蚁辛勤劳动的样子看上去真令人惊叹。
  • The sunrise at the seaside was quite a sight to behold.海滨日出真是个奇景。
22 hush ecMzv     
  • A hush fell over the onlookers.旁观者们突然静了下来。
  • Do hush up the scandal!不要把这丑事声张出去!
23 idiotic wcFzd     
  • It is idiotic to go shopping with no money.去买东西而不带钱是很蠢的。
  • The child's idiotic deeds caused his family much trouble.那小孩愚蠢的行为给家庭带来许多麻烦。
24 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。
25 sneered 0e3b5b35e54fb2ad006040792a867d9f     
讥笑,冷笑( sneer的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sneered at people who liked pop music. 他嘲笑喜欢流行音乐的人。
  • It's very discouraging to be sneered at all the time. 成天受嘲讽是很令人泄气的。
26 lured 77df5632bf83c9c64fb09403ae21e649     
  • The child was lured into a car but managed to escape. 那小孩被诱骗上了车,但又设法逃掉了。
  • Lured by the lust of gold,the pioneers pushed onward. 开拓者在黄金的诱惑下,继续奋力向前。
27 gambling ch4xH     
  • They have won a lot of money through gambling.他们赌博赢了很多钱。
  • The men have been gambling away all night.那些人赌了整整一夜。
28 den 5w9xk     
  • There is a big fox den on the back hill.后山有一个很大的狐狸窝。
  • The only way to catch tiger cubs is to go into tiger's den.不入虎穴焉得虎子。
29 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。
30 intoxicated 350bfb35af86e3867ed55bb2af85135f     
  • She was intoxicated with success. 她为成功所陶醉。
  • They became deeply intoxicated and totally disoriented. 他们酩酊大醉,东南西北全然不辨。
31 odds n5czT     
  • The odds are 5 to 1 that she will win.她获胜的机会是五比一。
  • Do you know the odds of winning the lottery once?你知道赢得一次彩票的几率多大吗?
32 entirely entirely     
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
33 impudently 98a9b79b8348326c8a99a7e4043464ca     
  • She was his favorite and could speak to him so impudently. 她是他的宠儿,可以那样无礼他说话。 来自教父部分
  • He walked into the shop and calmly (ie impudently and self-confidently) stole a pair of gloves. 他走进商店若无其事地偷了一副手套。 来自辞典例句
34 undo Ok5wj     
  • His pride will undo him some day.他的傲慢总有一天会毁了他。
  • I managed secretly to undo a corner of the parcel.我悄悄地设法解开了包裹的一角。
35 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。
36 placid 7A1yV     
  • He had been leading a placid life for the past eight years.八年来他一直过着平静的生活。
  • You should be in a placid mood and have a heart-to- heart talk with her.你应该心平气和的好好和她谈谈心。
37 conspiring 6ea0abd4b4aba2784a9aa29dd5b24fa0     
密谋( conspire的现在分词 ); 搞阴谋; (事件等)巧合; 共同导致
  • They were accused of conspiring against the king. 他们被指控阴谋反对国王。
  • John Brown and his associates were tried for conspiring to overthrow the slave states. 约翰·布朗和他的合伙者们由于密谋推翻实行奴隶制度的美国各州而被审讯。
38 conspiracy NpczE     
  • The men were found guilty of conspiracy to murder.这些人被裁决犯有阴谋杀人罪。
  • He claimed that it was all a conspiracy against him.他声称这一切都是一场针对他的阴谋。
39 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。
40 smoothly iiUzLG     
  • The workmen are very cooperative,so the work goes on smoothly.工人们十分合作,所以工作进展顺利。
  • Just change one or two words and the sentence will read smoothly.这句话只要动一两个字就顺了。


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