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CHAPTER XXV
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THE COMBAT AND ITS ISSUE.
 
Lord Aspenly made one or two eager passes at his opponent, which were parried with perfect ease and coolness; and before he had well recovered his position from the last of those lunges, a single clanging sweep of the major's sword, taking his adversary1's blade from the point to the hilt with irresistible2 force, sent his lordship's weapon whirring through the air some eight or ten yards away.
 
"Take your life, my lord," said the major, contemptuously; "I give it to you freely, only wishing the present were more valuable. What do you say now, my lord, to the terms?"
 
"I say, sir—what do I say?" echoed his lordship, not very coherently. "Major O'Leary, you have disarmed3 me, sir, and you ask me what I say to your terms. What do I say? Why, sir, I say again what I said before, that I cannot and will not subscribe4 to them."
 
Lord Aspenly, having thus delivered himself, looked half astonished and half frightened at his own valour.
 
"Everyone to his taste—your lordship has an uncommon5 inclination6 for slaughter," observed the major coolly, walking to the spot where lay the little gentleman's sword, raising it, and carelessly presenting it to him: "take it, my lord, and use it more cautiously than you have done—defend yourself!"
 
Little expecting another encounter, yet ashamed to decline it, his lordship, with a trembling hand, grasped the weapon once more, and again their blades were crossed in deadly combat. This time his lordship prudently7 forbore to risk his safety by an impetuous attack upon an adversary so cool and practised as the major, and of whose skill he had just had so convincing a proof. Major O'Leary, therefore, began the attack; and pressing his opponent with some slight feints and passes, followed him closely as he retreated for some twenty yards, and then, suddenly striking up to the point of his lordship's sword with his own, he seized the little nobleman's right arm at the wrist with a grasp like a vice8, and once more held his life at his disposal.
 
"Take your life for the second and the last time," said the major, having suffered the wretched little gentleman for a brief pause to fully9 taste the bitterness of death; "mind, my lord, for the last time;" and so saying, he contemptuously flung his lordship from him by the arm which he grasped.
 
"Now, my lord, before we begin for the last time, listen to me," said the major, with a sternness, which commanded all the attention of the affrighted peer; "I desire that you should fully understand what I propose. I would not like to kill you under a mistake—there is nothing like a clear, mutual10 understanding during a quarrel. Such an understanding being once established, bloodshed, if it unfortunately occurs, can scarcely, even in the most scrupulous11 bosom12, excite the mildest regret. I wish, my lord, to have nothing whatever to reproach myself with in the catastrophe13 which you appear to have resolved shall overtake you; and, therefore, I'll state the whole case for your dying consolation14 in as few words as possible. Don't be in a hurry, my lord, I'll not detain you more than five minutes in this miserable15 world. Now, my lord, you have two strong, indeed I may call them in every sense fatal, objections to my proposal. The first is, that if you write the letter I propose, you must fight Sir Richard and young Henry Ashwoode. Now, I pledge myself, my soul, and honour, as a Christian16, a soldier, and a gentleman, that I will stand between you and them—that I will protect you completely from all responsibility upon that score—and that if anyone is to fight with either of them, it shall not be you. Your second objection is, that having been fool enough to tell the world that you were coming here for a wife, you are ashamed to go away without one. Now, without meaning to be offensive, I never heard anything more idiotic17 in the whole course of my life. But if it must be so, and that you cannot go away without a wife, why the d——l don't you ask Emily Copland—a fine girl with some thousands of pounds, I believe, and at all events dying for love of you, as I am sure you see yourself? You can't care for one more than the other, and why the deuce need you trouble your head about their gossip, if anyone wonders at the change? And now, my lord, mark me, I have said all that is to be said in the way of commentary or observation upon my proposal, and I must add a word or two about the consequences of finally rejecting it. I have spared your life twice, my lord, within these five minutes. If you refuse the accommodation I have proposed, I will a third time give you an opportunity of disembarrassing yourself of the whole affair by running me through the body—in which, if you fail, so sure as you are this moment alive and breathing before me, you shall, at the end of the next five, be a corpse18. So help me God!"
 
Major O'Leary paused, leaving Lord Aspenly in a state of confusion and horror, scarcely short of distraction19.
 
There was no mistaking the major's manner, and the old beau garçon already felt in imagination the cold steel busy with his intestines20.
 
"But, Major O'Leary," said he, despairingly, "will you engage—can you pledge yourself that no mischief21 shall follow from my withdrawing as you say? not that I would care to avoid a duel22 when occasion required; but no one likes to unnecessarily risk himself. Will you indeed prevent all unpleasantness?"
 
"Did I pledge my soul and honour that I would?" inquired the major sternly.
 
"Well, I am satisfied. I do agree," replied his lordship. "But is there any occasion for me to remove to-night?"
 
"Every occasion," replied the major, coolly. "You must come directly with me, and write the letter—and this evening, before supper, you must leave Morley Court. And, above all things, just remember this, let there be no trickery or treachery in this matter. So sure as I see the smallest symptom of anything of the kind, I will bring about such another piece of work as has not been for many a long day. Am I fully understood?"
 
"Perfectly—perfectly, my dear sir," replied the nobleman. "Clearly understood. And believe me, Major, when I say that nothing but the fact that I myself, for private reasons, am not unwilling23 to break the matter off, could have induced me to co-operate with you in this business. Believe me, sir, otherwise I should have fought until one or other of us had fallen to rise no more."
 
"To be sure you would, my lord," rejoined the major, with edifying24 gravity. "And in the meantime your lordship will much oblige me by walking up to the house. There's pen and paper in Sir Richard's study; and between us we can compose something worthy25 of the occasion. Now, my lord, if you please."
 
Thus, side by side, walked the two elderly gentlemen, like the very best friends, towards the old house. And shrewd indeed would have been that observer who could have gathered from the manner of either (whatever their flushed faces and somewhat ruffled26 exterior27 might have told), as with formal courtesy they threaded the trim arbours together, that but a few minutes before each had sought the other's life.

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 adversary mxrzt     
adj.敌手,对手
参考例句:
  • He saw her as his main adversary within the company.他将她视为公司中主要的对手。
  • They will do anything to undermine their adversary's reputation.他们会不择手段地去损害对手的名誉。
2 irresistible n4CxX     
adj.非常诱人的,无法拒绝的,无法抗拒的
参考例句:
  • 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。
3 disarmed f147d778a788fe8e4bf22a9bdb60a8ba     
v.裁军( disarm的过去式和过去分词 );使息怒
参考例句:
  • Most of the rebels were captured and disarmed. 大部分叛乱分子被俘获并解除了武装。
  • The swordsman disarmed his opponent and ran him through. 剑客缴了对手的械,并对其乱刺一气。 来自《简明英汉词典》
4 subscribe 6Hozu     
vi.(to)订阅,订购;同意;vt.捐助,赞助
参考例句:
  • I heartily subscribe to that sentiment.我十分赞同那个观点。
  • The magazine is trying to get more readers to subscribe.该杂志正大力发展新订户。
5 uncommon AlPwO     
adj.罕见的,非凡的,不平常的
参考例句:
  • Such attitudes were not at all uncommon thirty years ago.这些看法在30年前很常见。
  • Phil has uncommon intelligence.菲尔智力超群。
6 inclination Gkwyj     
n.倾斜;点头;弯腰;斜坡;倾度;倾向;爱好
参考例句:
  • She greeted us with a slight inclination of the head.她微微点头向我们致意。
  • I did not feel the slightest inclination to hurry.我没有丝毫着急的意思。
7 prudently prudently     
adv. 谨慎地,慎重地
参考例句:
  • He prudently pursued his plan. 他谨慎地实行他那计划。
  • They had prudently withdrawn as soon as the van had got fairly under way. 他们在蓬车安全上路后立即谨慎地离去了。
8 vice NU0zQ     
n.坏事;恶习;[pl.]台钳,老虎钳;adj.副的
参考例句:
  • He guarded himself against vice.他避免染上坏习惯。
  • They are sunk in the depth of vice.他们堕入了罪恶的深渊。
9 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。
10 mutual eFOxC     
adj.相互的,彼此的;共同的,共有的
参考例句:
  • We must pull together for mutual interest.我们必须为相互的利益而通力合作。
  • Mutual interests tied us together.相互的利害关系把我们联系在一起。
11 scrupulous 6sayH     
adj.审慎的,小心翼翼的,完全的,纯粹的
参考例句:
  • She is scrupulous to a degree.她非常谨慎。
  • Poets are not so scrupulous as you are.诗人并不像你那样顾虑多。
12 bosom Lt9zW     
n.胸,胸部;胸怀;内心;adj.亲密的
参考例句:
  • She drew a little book from her bosom.她从怀里取出一本小册子。
  • A dark jealousy stirred in his bosom.他内心生出一阵恶毒的嫉妒。
13 catastrophe WXHzr     
n.大灾难,大祸
参考例句:
  • I owe it to you that I survived the catastrophe.亏得你我才大难不死。
  • This is a catastrophe beyond human control.这是一场人类无法控制的灾难。
14 consolation WpbzC     
n.安慰,慰问
参考例句:
  • The children were a great consolation to me at that time.那时孩子们成了我的莫大安慰。
  • This news was of little consolation to us.这个消息对我们来说没有什么安慰。
15 miserable g18yk     
adj.悲惨的,痛苦的;可怜的,糟糕的
参考例句:
  • 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。
16 Christian KVByl     
adj.基督教徒的;n.基督教徒
参考例句:
  • They always addressed each other by their Christian name.他们总是以教名互相称呼。
  • His mother is a sincere Christian.他母亲是个虔诚的基督教徒。
17 idiotic wcFzd     
adj.白痴的
参考例句:
  • 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。
18 corpse JYiz4     
n.尸体,死尸
参考例句:
  • What she saw was just an unfeeling corpse.她见到的只是一具全无感觉的尸体。
  • The corpse was preserved from decay by embalming.尸体用香料涂抹以防腐烂。
19 distraction muOz3l     
n.精神涣散,精神不集中,消遣,娱乐
参考例句:
  • Total concentration is required with no distractions.要全神贯注,不能有丝毫分神。
  • Their national distraction is going to the disco.他们的全民消遣就是去蹦迪。
20 intestines e809cc608db249eaf1b13d564503dbca     
n.肠( intestine的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • Perhaps the most serious problems occur in the stomach and intestines. 最严重的问题或许出现在胃和肠里。 来自辞典例句
  • The traps of carnivorous plants function a little like the stomachs and small intestines of animals. 食肉植物的捕蝇器起着动物的胃和小肠的作用。 来自辞典例句
21 mischief jDgxH     
n.损害,伤害,危害;恶作剧,捣蛋,胡闹
参考例句:
  • 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。
22 duel 2rmxa     
n./v.决斗;(双方的)斗争
参考例句:
  • The two teams are locked in a duel for first place.两个队为争夺第一名打得难解难分。
  • Duroy was forced to challenge his disparager to duel.杜洛瓦不得不向诋毁他的人提出决斗。
23 unwilling CjpwB     
adj.不情愿的
参考例句:
  • The natives were unwilling to be bent by colonial power.土著居民不愿受殖民势力的摆布。
  • His tightfisted employer was unwilling to give him a raise.他那吝啬的雇主不肯给他加薪。
24 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 )
参考例句:
  • 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
25 worthy vftwB     
adj.(of)值得的,配得上的;有价值的
参考例句:
  • I did not esteem him to be worthy of trust.我认为他不值得信赖。
  • There occurred nothing that was worthy to be mentioned.没有值得一提的事发生。
26 ruffled e4a3deb720feef0786be7d86b0004e86     
adj. 有褶饰边的, 起皱的 动词ruffle的过去式和过去分词
参考例句:
  • She ruffled his hair affectionately. 她情意绵绵地拨弄着他的头发。
  • All this talk of a strike has clearly ruffled the management's feathers. 所有这些关于罢工的闲言碎语显然让管理层很不高兴。
27 exterior LlYyr     
adj.外部的,外在的;表面的
参考例句:
  • The seed has a hard exterior covering.这种子外壳很硬。
  • We are painting the exterior wall of the house.我们正在给房子的外墙涂漆。


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