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CHAPTER I NO BIGGER THAN A MAN'S HAND
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 Something like a shadow seemed to flicker1 across the dim hall and then the strange visitant was lost to view. But was it substantial, real and tangible2, or only the creature of the imagination? For at half-past four on a December afternoon, before the lamps are lighted one might easily be deceived, especially in an old place like Maldon Grange, the residence of Samuel Flower, the prosperous ship-owner. Some such thought as this flashed through Beatrice Galloway's mind and she laughed at her own fears. Doubtless it was all imagination. Still, she could not divest3 herself of the impression that a man had flitted quietly past her and concealed4 himself behind the banks of palms and ferns in the conservatory5.
 
"How silly I am!" she murmured. "Of course there can be nobody there. But I should like——"
 
A footman entered and flashed up the score or so of lights in the big electrolier and Beatrice Galloway's fears vanished. Under such a dazzling blaze it was impossible to believe that she had seen anybody gliding6 towards the conservatory. Other lights were flashing up elsewhere, and all the treasures which Mr. Flower had gathered at Maldon Grange were exposed to the glance of envy or admiration7. Apparently8 nothing was lacking to make the grand house absolutely perfect. Not that Samuel Flower cared for works of art and beauty, except in so far as they advertised his wealth and financial standing9. Nothing in the mansion10 had been bought on his own responsibility or judgment11. He had gone with open cheque-book to a famous decorative12 artist and given him carte blanche to adorn13 the house. The work had been a labour of love on the part of the artist, so that, in the course of time, Maldon Grange had become a show-place and the subject of eulogistic14 notices in the local guide-books. Some there were who sneered15 at Samuel Flower, saying there was nothing that interested him except a ship, and that if this same ship were unseaworthy and likely to go to the bottom when heavily over-insured, then Flower admired this type of craft above all others. The reputation of the Flower Line was a bad one in the City and amongst sea-faring men. People shook their heads when Flower's name was mentioned, but he was too big and too rich and too vindictive16 for folk to shout their suspicions on the housetops. For the rest of it, Flower stuck grimly to his desk for five days in the week, spending the Saturday and Sunday at Maldon Grange, where his niece, Beatrice Galloway, kept house for him.
 
Beatrice loved the place. She had watched it grow from a bare, brown shell to a bewitching dream of artistic17 beauty. Perhaps in all the vast establishment she liked the conservatory best. It was a modest name to give the superb winter garden which led out of the great hall. The latter structure had been the idea of the artist, and under his designs a dome-like fabric18 had arisen, rich with stained glass and marble and filled now with the choicest tropical flowers, the orchids19 alone being worth a fortune. From the far end a covered terrace communicated with the rose garden, which even at this time of year was so sheltered that a few delicate blooms yet remained. The orchids were Beatrice's special care and delight, and for the most part she tended them herself. She had quite forgotten her transient alarm. Her mind was full of her flowers to the exclusion20 of everything else. She stood amongst a luxuriant tangle21 of blossoms, red and gold and purple and white, hanging in dainty sprays like clouds of brilliant moths22.
 
By and by Beatrice threw herself down into a seat to contemplate23 the beauty of the scene. The air was warm and languid as befitted those gorgeous flowers, and she felt half disposed to sleep as she lay in her comfortable chair. There would be plenty to do presently, for Flower was entertaining a large dinner party, and afterwards there was to be a reception of the leading people in the neighbourhood. Gradually the warmth of the place stole over her drowsy24 senses and for a few moments she lost consciousness.
 
She awoke with a start and an uneasy feeling of impending25 evil which she could not shake off. It was a sensation the like of which she had never experienced before, and wholly foreign to her healthy nature. But nothing was to be seen or heard. The atmosphere was saturated26 with fragrance27 and delicate blossoms fluttered in the lights like resplendent humming-birds. As she cast a glance around, her attention became riveted28 upon something so startling, so utterly29 unexpected, that her heart seemed to stand still.
 
The door leading on the terrace was locked, as she knew. It was a half-glass door, the upper part being formed of stained mosaics30, leaded after the fashion of a cathedral window. And now one of the small panes31 over the latch32 had been forced in, and a hand, thrust through the opening, was fumbling33 for the catch.
 
The incident was sinister34 enough, but it did not end the mystery. The hand and the arm were bare, and Beatrice saw they were lean and lanky35 and brown, like the leg of a skinny fowl36. From the long fingers with blackened nails depended a loop of string which the intruder was endeavouring to drop over the catch. Unnerved as Beatrice was, she did not lose her self-possession altogether. While she gazed in fascinated horror at that strange yellow claw, it flashed into her mind that the hand could not belong to a white man. Then, half unconsciously, she broke into a scream and the fingers were withdrawn37. The string fell to the ground, where it lay unheeded.
 
Beatrice's cry for help rang out through the house, and a moment later hurried steps were heard coming towards the conservatory. It was Samuel Flower himself who burst into the room demanding to know what was amiss. At the sight of his stalwart frame and strong grim face Beatrice's fears abated38.
 
"What is the matter?" he asked.
 
"The hand," Beatrice gasped39. "A man's hand came through that hole in the glass door. He was trying to pass a loop of string over the latch. The light was falling fully40 on the door and I saw the hand distinctly."
 
"Some rascally41 tramp, I suppose," Flower growled42.
 
"I don't think so," Beatrice said. "I am sure the man, whoever he was, was not an Englishman. The hand might have been that of a Hindoo or Chinaman, for it was yellow and shrivelled, like a monkey's paw."
 
Something like an oath crossed Flower's lips. His set face altered swiftly. Though alarmed and terrified, Beatrice did not fail to note the look of what was almost fear in the eyes of her uncle.
 
"What is the matter?" she said. "Have I said or done anything wrong?"
 
But Flower was waiting to hear no more. He dashed across the floor and threw the door open. Beatrice could hear his footsteps as he raced down the terrace. Then she seemed to hear voices in angry altercation43, and presently there was a sound of breaking glass and the fall of a heavy body. It required all Beatrice's courage to enable her to go to the rescue, but she did not hesitate. She ran swiftly down the corridor, when, to her profound relief, she saw Flower coming back.
 
"Did you see him?" she exclaimed.
 
"I saw nothing," Flower panted. He spoke44 jerkily, as if he had just been undergoing a physical struggle. "I am certain no one was there. I slipped on the pavement and crashed into one of those glass screens of yours. I think I have cut my hand badly. Look!"
 
As coolly as if nothing had happened Flower held up his right hand from which the blood was dripping freely. It was a nasty gash45, as Beatrice could tell at a glance.
 
"I am so sorry," she murmured, "Uncle, this must be attended to at once. There is danger in such a cut. I will send one of the servants into Oldborough."
 
"Perhaps it will be as well," Flower muttered. "I shall have to get this thing seen to before our friends turn up. Tell them to fetch the first doctor they can find."
 
Without another word Beatrice hurried away leaving Flower alone. He crossed to the outer door and locked it. Then he threw himself down on the seat which Beatrice had occupied a few minutes before, and the same grey pallor, the same queer dilation46 of his keen grey eyes which Beatrice had noticed returned. His strong lips twitched47 and he shook with something that was not wholly physical pain.
 
"Pshaw!" he muttered. "I am losing my nerve. There are foreign tramps as well as English in this country."

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 flicker Gjxxb     
vi./n.闪烁,摇曳,闪现
参考例句:
  • There was a flicker of lights coming from the abandoned house.这所废弃的房屋中有灯光闪烁。
  • At first,the flame may be a small flicker,barely shining.开始时,光辉可能是微弱地忽隐忽现,几乎并不灿烂。
2 tangible 4IHzo     
adj.有形的,可触摸的,确凿的,实际的
参考例句:
  • The policy has not yet brought any tangible benefits.这项政策还没有带来任何实质性的好处。
  • There is no tangible proof.没有确凿的证据。
3 divest 9kKzx     
v.脱去,剥除
参考例句:
  • I cannot divest myself of the idea.我无法消除那个念头。
  • He attempted to divest himself of all responsibilities for the decision.他力图摆脱掉作出该项决定的一切责任。
4 concealed 0v3zxG     
a.隐藏的,隐蔽的
参考例句:
  • The paintings were concealed beneath a thick layer of plaster. 那些画被隐藏在厚厚的灰泥层下面。
  • I think he had a gun concealed about his person. 我认为他当时身上藏有一支枪。
5 conservatory 4YeyO     
n.温室,音乐学院;adj.保存性的,有保存力的
参考例句:
  • At the conservatory,he learned how to score a musical composition.在音乐学校里,他学会了怎样谱曲。
  • The modern conservatory is not an environment for nurturing plants.这个现代化温室的环境不适合培育植物。
6 gliding gliding     
v. 滑翔 adj. 滑动的
参考例句:
  • Swans went gliding past. 天鹅滑行而过。
  • The weather forecast has put a question mark against the chance of doing any gliding tomorrow. 天气预报对明天是否能举行滑翔表示怀疑。
7 admiration afpyA     
n.钦佩,赞美,羡慕
参考例句:
  • He was lost in admiration of the beauty of the scene.他对风景之美赞不绝口。
  • We have a great admiration for the gold medalists.我们对金牌获得者极为敬佩。
8 apparently tMmyQ     
adv.显然地;表面上,似乎
参考例句:
  • 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。
9 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • 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。
10 mansion 8BYxn     
n.大厦,大楼;宅第
参考例句:
  • The old mansion was built in 1850.这座古宅建于1850年。
  • The mansion has extensive grounds.这大厦四周的庭园广阔。
11 judgment e3xxC     
n.审判;判断力,识别力,看法,意见
参考例句:
  • The chairman flatters himself on his judgment of people.主席自认为他审视人比别人高明。
  • He's a man of excellent judgment.他眼力过人。
12 decorative bxtxc     
adj.装饰的,可作装饰的
参考例句:
  • This ware is suitable for decorative purpose but unsuitable for utility.这种器皿中看不中用。
  • The style is ornate and highly decorative.这种风格很华丽,而且装饰效果很好。
13 adorn PydzZ     
vt.使美化,装饰
参考例句:
  • She loved to adorn herself with finery.她喜欢穿戴华丽的服饰。
  • His watercolour designs adorn a wide range of books.他的水彩设计使许多图书大为生色。
14 eulogistic bndxk     
adj.颂扬的,颂词的
参考例句:
  • This is a formal eulogistic composition.这是一篇正式的颂扬性文章。
  • One is the eulogistic word freedom,and the other is the opprobrious word chance. 一个是表示褒义的词“自由”,另一个是表示贬义的词“偶然”。
15 sneered 0e3b5b35e54fb2ad006040792a867d9f     
讥笑,冷笑( sneer的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • 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。
16 vindictive FL3zG     
adj.有报仇心的,怀恨的,惩罚的
参考例句:
  • I have no vindictive feelings about it.我对此没有恶意。
  • The vindictive little girl tore up her sister's papers.那个充满报复心的小女孩撕破了她姐姐的作业。
17 artistic IeWyG     
adj.艺术(家)的,美术(家)的;善于艺术创作的
参考例句:
  • The picture on this screen is a good artistic work.这屏风上的画是件很好的艺术品。
  • These artistic handicrafts are very popular with foreign friends.外国朋友很喜欢这些美术工艺品。
18 fabric 3hezG     
n.织物,织品,布;构造,结构,组织
参考例句:
  • The fabric will spot easily.这种织品很容易玷污。
  • I don't like the pattern on the fabric.我不喜欢那块布料上的图案。
19 orchids 8f804ec07c1f943ef9230929314bd063     
n.兰花( orchid的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • Wild flowers such as orchids and primroses are becoming rare. 兰花和报春花这类野花越来越稀少了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • She breeds orchids in her greenhouse. 她在温室里培育兰花。 来自《简明英汉词典》
20 exclusion 1hCzz     
n.拒绝,排除,排斥,远足,远途旅行
参考例句:
  • Don't revise a few topics to the exclusion of all others.不要修改少数论题以致排除所有其他的。
  • He plays golf to the exclusion of all other sports.他专打高尔夫球,其他运动一概不参加。
21 tangle yIQzn     
n.纠缠;缠结;混乱;v.(使)缠绕;变乱
参考例句:
  • I shouldn't tangle with Peter.He is bigger than me.我不应该与彼特吵架。他的块头比我大。
  • If I were you, I wouldn't tangle with them.我要是你,我就不跟他们争吵。
22 moths de674306a310c87ab410232ea1555cbb     
n.蛾( moth的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • The moths have eaten holes in my wool coat. 蛀虫将我的羊毛衫蛀蚀了几个小洞。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The moths tapped and blurred at the window screen. 飞蛾在窗帘上跳来跳去,弄上了许多污点。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
23 contemplate PaXyl     
vt.盘算,计议;周密考虑;注视,凝视
参考例句:
  • The possibility of war is too horrifying to contemplate.战争的可能性太可怕了,真不堪细想。
  • The consequences would be too ghastly to contemplate.后果不堪设想。
24 drowsy DkYz3     
adj.昏昏欲睡的,令人发困的
参考例句:
  • 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。
25 impending 3qHzdb     
a.imminent, about to come or happen
参考例句:
  • Against a background of impending famine, heavy fighting took place. 即将发生饥荒之时,严重的战乱爆发了。
  • The king convoke parliament to cope with the impending danger. 国王召开国会以应付迫近眉睫的危险。
26 saturated qjEzG3     
a.饱和的,充满的
参考例句:
  • The continuous rain had saturated the soil. 连绵不断的雨把土地淋了个透。
  • a saturated solution of sodium chloride 氯化钠饱和溶液
27 fragrance 66ryn     
n.芬芳,香味,香气
参考例句:
  • The apple blossoms filled the air with their fragrance.苹果花使空气充满香味。
  • The fragrance of lavender filled the room.房间里充满了薰衣草的香味。
28 riveted ecef077186c9682b433fa17f487ee017     
铆接( rivet的过去式和过去分词 ); 把…固定住; 吸引; 引起某人的注意
参考例句:
  • I was absolutely riveted by her story. 我完全被她的故事吸引住了。
  • My attention was riveted by a slight movement in the bushes. 我的注意力被灌木丛中的轻微晃动吸引住了。
29 utterly ZfpzM1     
adv.完全地,绝对地
参考例句:
  • 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。
30 mosaics 2c3cb76ec7fcafd7e808cb959fa24d5e     
n.马赛克( mosaic的名词复数 );镶嵌;镶嵌工艺;镶嵌图案
参考例句:
  • The panel shows marked similarities with mosaics found elsewhere. 这块嵌板和在其他地方找到的镶嵌图案有明显的相似之处。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The unsullied and shining floor was paved with white mosaics. 干净明亮的地上镶嵌着白色图案。 来自辞典例句
31 panes c8bd1ed369fcd03fe15520d551ab1d48     
窗玻璃( pane的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • The sun caught the panes and flashed back at him. 阳光照到窗玻璃上,又反射到他身上。
  • The window-panes are dim with steam. 玻璃窗上蒙上了一层蒸汽。
32 latch g2wxS     
n.门闩,窗闩;弹簧锁
参考例句:
  • She laid her hand on the latch of the door.她把手放在门闩上。
  • The repairman installed an iron latch on the door.修理工在门上安了铁门闩。
33 fumbling fumbling     
n. 摸索,漏接 v. 摸索,摸弄,笨拙的处理
参考例句:
  • If he actually managed to the ball instead of fumbling it with an off-balance shot. 如果他实际上设法拿好球而不是fumbling它。50-balance射击笨拙地和迅速地会开始他的岗位移动,经常这样结束。
  • If he actually managed to secure the ball instead of fumbling it awkwardly an off-balance shot. 如果他实际上设法拿好球而不是fumbling它。50-50提议有时。他从off-balance射击笨拙地和迅速地会开始他的岗位移动,经常这样结束。
34 sinister 6ETz6     
adj.不吉利的,凶恶的,左边的
参考例句:
  • There is something sinister at the back of that series of crimes.在这一系列罪行背后有险恶的阴谋。
  • Their proposals are all worthless and designed out of sinister motives.他们的建议不仅一钱不值,而且包藏祸心。
35 lanky N9vzd     
adj.瘦长的
参考例句:
  • He was six feet four,all lanky and leggy.他身高6英尺4英寸,瘦高个儿,大长腿。
  • Tom was a lanky boy with long skinny legs.汤姆是一个腿很细的瘦高个儿。
36 fowl fljy6     
n.家禽,鸡,禽肉
参考例句:
  • Fowl is not part of a traditional brunch.禽肉不是传统的早午餐的一部分。
  • Since my heart attack,I've eaten more fish and fowl and less red meat.自从我患了心脏病后,我就多吃鱼肉和禽肉,少吃红色肉类。
37 withdrawn eeczDJ     
vt.收回;使退出;vi.撤退,退出
参考例句:
  • Our force has been withdrawn from the danger area.我们的军队已从危险地区撤出。
  • All foreign troops should be withdrawn to their own countries.一切外国军队都应撤回本国去。
38 abated ba788157839fe5f816c707e7a7ca9c44     
减少( abate的过去式和过去分词 ); 减去; 降价; 撤消(诉讼)
参考例句:
  • The worker's concern about cuts in the welfare funding has not abated. 工人们对削减福利基金的关心并没有减少。
  • The heat has abated. 温度降低了。
39 gasped e6af294d8a7477229d6749fa9e8f5b80     
v.喘气( gasp的过去式和过去分词 );喘息;倒抽气;很想要
参考例句:
  • 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》
40 fully Gfuzd     
adv.完全地,全部地,彻底地;充分地
参考例句:
  • The doctor asked me to breathe in,then to breathe out fully.医生让我先吸气,然后全部呼出。
  • They soon became fully integrated into the local community.他们很快就完全融入了当地人的圈子。
41 rascally rascally     
adj. 无赖的,恶棍的 adv. 无赖地,卑鄙地
参考例句:
  • They said Kelso got some rascally adventurer, some Belgian brute, to insult his son-in-law in public. 他们说是凯尔索指使某个下贱的冒险家,一个比利时恶棍,来当众侮辱他的女婿。
  • Ms Taiwan: Can't work at all, but still brag and quibble rascally. 台湾小姐:明明不行,还要硬拗、赖皮逞强。
42 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
参考例句:
  • \"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》
43 altercation pLzyi     
n.争吵,争论
参考例句:
  • Throughout the entire altercation,not one sensible word was uttered.争了半天,没有一句话是切合实际的。
  • The boys had an altercation over the umpire's decision.男孩子们对裁判的判决颇有争议。
44 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
参考例句:
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
45 gash HhCxU     
v.深切,划开;n.(深长的)切(伤)口;裂缝
参考例句:
  • The deep gash in his arm would take weeks to heal over.他胳膊上的割伤很深,需要几个星期的时间才能痊愈。
  • After the collision,the body of the ship had a big gash.船被撞后,船身裂开了一个大口子。
46 dilation 58fac7152c9934c2677139c81cdb697b     
n.膨胀,扩张,扩大
参考例句:
  • Time dilation works both ways. 时间膨胀在两方面都起作用。 来自辞典例句
  • The ciliary body is an anterior dilation of the choroid at the level of the lens. 晶状体是脉络膜石晶状体平面上向前扩大的部分。 来自辞典例句
47 twitched bb3f705fc01629dc121d198d54fa0904     
vt.& vi.(使)抽动,(使)颤动(twitch的过去式与过去分词形式)
参考例句:
  • Her lips twitched with amusement. 她忍俊不禁地颤动着嘴唇。
  • The child's mouth twitched as if she were about to cry. 这小孩的嘴抽动着,像是要哭。 来自《简明英汉词典》


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