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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Five Knots » CHAPTER II A LITTLE BIT OF STRING
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 Wilfrid Mercer's modest establishment was situated1 in High Street, Oldborough. A shining brass2 plate on the front door proclaimed him physician and surgeon, but as yet he had done little more than publish his name in the town. It had been rather a venture to settle in a conservative old place like Oldborough, where, by dint3 of struggling and scraping, he had managed to buy a small practice. By the time this was done and his house furnished, he would have been hard put to it to lay his hands on fifty pounds. As so frequently happens, the value of the practice had been exaggerated; the man he had succeeded had not been particularly popular, and some of the older patients took the opportunity of going elsewhere.
It was not a pleasant prospect4, as Mercer admitted, as he sat in his consulting-room that wintry afternoon. He began to be sorry that he had given up his occupation of ship's doctor. The work was hard and occasionally dangerous, but the pay had been regular and the chance of seeing the world alluring5. But for his mother, who had come to keep house for him, perhaps Wilfrid Mercer would not have abandoned the sea. However, they had few friends, and Mrs. Mercer was growing old and the change appeared to be prudent6. Up to the present Wilfrid had kept most of his troubles to himself, and his mother little knew how desperately7 near the wind he was sailing in money matters. Unfortunately he had been obliged to borrow, and before long one of his repayments8 would be falling due. Sorely against his will he had gone to a money-lender, and he knew that he could expect no quarter if he failed to meet his obligations.
While he sat gazing idly into the growing darkness, watching the thin traffic trickle9 by, he heard the sound of a motor horn and a moment later a big Mercedes car stopped before his door. There was an imperative10 ring at the bell, which Wilfrid answered in person.
"I believe you are Dr. Mercer," the driver said. "If so, I shall be glad if you will come at once to Maldon Grange. My master has met with an accident, and if you cannot come immediately I must find somebody else."
"I believe I can manage it," Wilfrid said with assumed indifference11. He was wondering who the man's master was and where Maldon Grange might be. A stranger in the neighbourhood, there were many large houses of which he knew nothing. It would be well, however, to keep his ignorance to himself. "If you'll wait a moment I'll put a few things into my bag."
Few words were spoken as the car dashed along the road till the lodge12 gates at Maldon Grange were passed and the car pulled up in front of the house. A footman came to the door and relieved Wilfrid of his bag. He speedily found himself in a morning room where he waited till Beatrice Galloway came in. She advanced with a smile.
"It is very good of you to come so promptly," she said. "I did not quite catch your name."
"Surely you have not forgotten me?" Wilfrid said.
"Wilfrid—Dr. Mercer!" Beatrice exclaimed. "Fancy seeing you here. When we last met in London six months ago I thought you were going abroad. I have heard several times from our friend, Mrs. Hope, and as she never mentioned your name, I concluded you were out of England. And all this time you have been practising in Oldborough."
"Well, not quite that," Wilfrid smiled. "I have only been in Oldborough about a month or so. I had to settle down for my mother's sake. To meet you here is a great surprise. Are you staying in the house?"
"Didn't you know?" Beatrice asked. "Well perhaps you could not. You see, when I was staying with Mrs. Hope my uncle was abroad, and I don't think his name was ever mentioned. I suppose you have heard of Samuel Flower?"
Wilfrid started slightly. There were few men who knew more of Flower and his methods than the young doctor. He had been surgeon on board the notorious Guelder Rose on which there had been a mutiny resulting in the death of one of the ship's officers. The Guelder Rose was one of the Flower Line, and ugly stories were still whispered of the cause of that mutiny, and why Samuel Flower had never brought the ring-leaders to justice. Wilfrid could have confirmed those stories and more. He could have told of men driven desperate by cruelty and want of food. He could have told of the part that he himself had played in the outbreak, and how he had brought himself within reach of the law. At one time he had been prepared to see the thing through. He had been eager to stand in the witness-box and tell his story. But by chance or design most of the malcontent13 crew had deserted14 at foreign ports, and had Samuel Flower chosen to be vindictive15, Mercer might have found himself in a serious position. And now, here he was, under the roof of this designing scoundrel, and before him was the one girl in all the world whom he cared for, and she was nearly related to the man whom he most hated and feared and despised.
All these things flashed through his mind in a moment. He would have to go through with it now. He would have to meet Samuel Flower face to face and trust to luck. It was lucky he had never met the man whom he regarded as the author of his greatest misfortunes, and no doubt a busy man like Flower would have already forgotten the name of Mercer. It was a comfort, too, that Beatrice Galloway knew nothing of the antecedents of her uncle. Else she would not have been under his roof.
"It is all very strange," he murmured. "You can understand how taken aback I was when I met you just now."
"Not disappointed, I hope," Beatrice smiled.
"I don't think there is any occasion to ask that question," Wilfrid said meaningly. "But I must confess that I am disappointed in a sense. You see, I did not know you were the probable heiress of a rich man like Mr. Flower. I thought you were poor like myself, and I hoped that in time—well, I think you know what my hopes were."
It was a bold, almost audacious, thing to say in the circumstances, and Wilfrid trembled at his own temerity17. But, saving a slight flush on the girl's cheeks, she showed no sign of disapproval18 or anger. There was something in her eyes which was not displeasing19 to Wilfrid.
"I am afraid we are wasting time," she said. "My uncle has had a fall and cut his hand badly with some glass. He is resting in the conservatory20, and I had better take you to him."
Mercer followed obediently. Samuel Flower looked up with a curt21 nod, as Beatrice proceeded to explain. Apparently22 the name of Mercer conveyed nothing to him, for he held out his hand in his prompt, business-like fashion and demanded whether anything was seriously wrong.
"This comes of listening to a woman," Flower muttered. "My niece got it into her head that a tramp was trying to break into the house, and in searching for him I slipped and came to grief. Of course I found nobody as I might have known at first."
"But, uncle," Beatrice protested. "I saw the man's hand through the glass. You can see for yourself where the pane23 has been removed, and there, lying on the floor, is the very piece of string he was using."
Beatrice pointed16 almost in triumph to the knotted string lying on the floor, but Flower shook his head impatiently and signified that the sooner Mercer went on with his treatment the better. As it happened, there was little the matter, and in a quarter of an hour the wounded hand was skilfully24 bandaged and showed only a few strips of plaster.
"You did that very neatly," Flower said in his ungracious way. "I suppose there are no tendons cut or anything of that kind? One hears of lockjaw following cut fingers. I suppose there's no risk of that?"
"For a strong man my uncle is terribly afraid of illness," Beatrice smiled. "I see he owes me a grudge25 for being the cause of his accident. And yet, indeed, I am certain that a man attempted to enter into the conservatory. Fortunately for me, I am in a position to prove it. You won't accuse me of imagining that there is a piece of string lying on the floor by the door. I will pick it up and convince you."
Beatrice raised the cord in her hand. It was about a foot in length, exceedingly fine and silky in texture26, and containing at intervals27 five strangely complicated knots of most intricate pattern. With a smile of triumph on her face Beatrice handed the fragment to her uncle.
"There!" she cried. "See for yourself."
Flower made no reply. He held the string in his hand, gazing at it with eyes dark and dilated28.
"Great heavens!" he exclaimed. The words seemed to be literally29 torn from him. "Is it possible——"


1 situated JiYzBH     
  • The village is situated at the margin of a forest.村子位于森林的边缘。
  • She is awkwardly situated.她的处境困难。
2 brass DWbzI     
  • Many of the workers play in the factory's brass band.许多工人都在工厂铜管乐队中演奏。
  • Brass is formed by the fusion of copper and zinc.黄铜是通过铜和锌的熔合而成的。
3 dint plVza     
  • He succeeded by dint of hard work.他靠苦干获得成功。
  • He reached the top by dint of great effort.他费了很大的劲终于爬到了顶。
4 prospect P01zn     
  • This state of things holds out a cheerful prospect.事态呈现出可喜的前景。
  • The prospect became more evident.前景变得更加明朗了。
5 alluring zzUz1U     
  • The life in a big city is alluring for the young people. 大都市的生活对年轻人颇具诱惑力。
  • Lisette's large red mouth broke into a most alluring smile. 莉莎特的鲜红的大嘴露出了一副极为诱人的微笑。
6 prudent M0Yzg     
  • A prudent traveller never disparages his own country.聪明的旅行者从不贬低自己的国家。
  • You must school yourself to be modest and prudent.你要学会谦虚谨慎。
7 desperately cu7znp     
  • He was desperately seeking a way to see her again.他正拼命想办法再见她一面。
  • He longed desperately to be back at home.他非常渴望回家。
8 repayments f8b697bfb3107d78e4b040d051ee8608     
偿还,报答,偿付的钱物( repayment的名词复数 )
  • The repayments of the loan are spread over 10 years. 贷款可在十年内分期偿还。
  • The repayments of the loan are spread over 25 years. 这笔贷款分摊二十五年偿还。
9 trickle zm2w8     
  • The stream has thinned down to a mere trickle.这条小河变成细流了。
  • The flood of cars has now slowed to a trickle.汹涌的车流现在已经变得稀稀拉拉。
10 imperative BcdzC     
  • He always speaks in an imperative tone of voice.他老是用命令的口吻讲话。
  • The events of the past few days make it imperative for her to act.过去这几天发生的事迫使她不得不立即行动。
11 indifference k8DxO     
  • I was disappointed by his indifference more than somewhat.他的漠不关心使我很失望。
  • He feigned indifference to criticism of his work.他假装毫不在意别人批评他的作品。
12 lodge q8nzj     
  • Is there anywhere that I can lodge in the village tonight?村里有我今晚过夜的地方吗?
  • I shall lodge at the inn for two nights.我要在这家小店住两个晚上。
13 malcontent IAYxQ     
  • The malcontent is gunning for his supervisor.那个心怀不满的人在伺机加害他的上司。
  • Nevertheless,this kind of plan brings about partial player is malcontent.不过,这种方案招致部分玩家不满。
14 deserted GukzoL     
  • The deserted village was filled with a deathly silence.这个荒废的村庄死一般的寂静。
  • The enemy chieftain was opposed and deserted by his followers.敌人头目众叛亲离。
15 vindictive FL3zG     
  • 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。
16 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。
17 temerity PGmyk     
  • He had the temerity to ask for higher wages after only a day's work.只工作了一天,他就蛮不讲理地要求增加工资。
  • Tins took some temerity,but it was fruitless.这件事做得有点莽撞,但结果还是无用。
18 disapproval VuTx4     
  • The teacher made an outward show of disapproval.老师表面上表示不同意。
  • They shouted their disapproval.他们喊叫表示反对。
19 displeasing 819553a7ded56624660d7a0ec4d08e0b     
  • Such conduct is displeasing to your parents. 这种行为会使你的父母生气的。
  • Omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity. 不能省略任何刺眼的纹路,不能掩饰任何讨厌的丑处。
20 conservatory 4YeyO     
  • 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。
21 curt omjyx     
  • He gave me an extremely curt answer.他对我作了极为草率的答复。
  • He rapped out a series of curt commands.他大声发出了一连串简短的命令。
22 apparently tMmyQ     
  • 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。
23 pane OKKxJ     
  • He broke this pane of glass.他打破了这块窗玻璃。
  • Their breath bloomed the frosty pane.他们呼出的水气,在冰冷的窗玻璃上形成一层雾。
24 skilfully 5a560b70e7a5ad739d1e69a929fed271     
adv. (美skillfully)熟练地
  • Hall skilfully weaves the historical research into a gripping narrative. 霍尔巧妙地把历史研究揉进了扣人心弦的故事叙述。
  • Enthusiasm alone won't do. You've got to work skilfully. 不能光靠傻劲儿,得找窍门。
25 grudge hedzG     
  • I grudge paying so much for such inferior goods.我不愿花这么多钱买次品。
  • I do not grudge him his success.我不嫉妒他的成功。
26 texture kpmwQ     
  • We could feel the smooth texture of silk.我们能感觉出丝绸的光滑质地。
  • Her skin has a fine texture.她的皮肤细腻。
27 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。
28 dilated 1f1ba799c1de4fc8b7c6c2167ba67407     
adj.加宽的,扩大的v.(使某物)扩大,膨胀,张大( dilate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Her eyes dilated with fear. 她吓得瞪大了眼睛。
  • The cat dilated its eyes. 猫瞪大了双眼。 来自《简明英汉词典》
29 literally 28Wzv     
  • He translated the passage literally.他逐字逐句地翻译这段文字。
  • Sometimes she would not sit down till she was literally faint.有时候,她不走到真正要昏厥了,决不肯坐下来。


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