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Towards the close of the last century there stood in one of the Midland

counties of England, in the centre of two cross-roads, a venerable

hostelry, built in the reign of Elizabeth, and known by the sign of "Ye

Headless Lady." Its ancient gables were shaded by luxuriant elms and

beech trees. The woodwork of the building and its weather-stained walls

of brick were partially overgrown with thick ivy, while its high,

dingy-red roof was tinted with every variety of lichen. The windows were

narrow, and the framework heavy, as is usual in houses of that period.

The host of this establishment, one Jack Hearty, was one of the old

school of landlords--robust, jovial, and never above his business. His

fathers had owned the inn before him, and "he never wished to be a

better man than his father, nor a worse either, for the matter of that,"

as he would say. All day long, when not engaged with his customers

indoors, he was to be seen at the door of his inn, with his apron girt

around him, and a "yard of clay" at his lips, straining his eyes down

the long cross-roads for the first glimpse of a customer.

Often after gazing long and intently into the distance he would turn

back with a sigh, knock the ashes from his pipe, refill it, take a deep

draught of his own home-brewed ale, then, if none of his customers

required anything, and the affairs of his household permitted it, he

would sally out again. This time, perhaps, his eyes would be greeted by

the sight of a solitary wayfarer, or, better still, the stage-coach.

Then it was that the honest landlord's face would brighten up, as it was

certain to bring him some of the "big-wigs" from town. He would rub his

hands and chuckle, while Dame Hearty would begin to bustle about to

welcome the fresh arrivals. It was not often, however, that the

"Headless Lady" was entirely deserted.

A small clique or brotherhood, known as "The Wonder Club," had been

nightly in the habit of assembling here for years, and this served to

bring grist to the mill. Some of the eminent men from the neighbouring

village, among whom were the doctor, the lawyer, an antiquary, an

analytical chemist, and others, had formed among themselves a club,

which was to consist only of very choice spirits, like themselves, and

if any guest were introduced among them, it was only to be with a letter

of introduction and the full consent of all parties. By these strict

rules they hoped to keep the club select. A room at the inn was set

apart for them, into which no one not belonging to the club ever

presumed to enter, unless it was the landlord, who would be called every

now and then to replenish the bowl, and whom sometimes the guests of

the club would "draw out," as it was whispered in the village that the

landlord of the "Headless Lady" knew a rare lot of stories, he did; also

how to tell 'em, too, my word! but these he generally reserved for his

more intimate customers. One strict law of the club that we have not yet

mentioned was that no guest invited was to be a "business man." Should a

commercial traveller ever have the hardihood to enter the sacred

precincts of the club, he was assailed with a battery of glances from

the members that must have completely cowed him, unless he were a man of

more than usual strength of nerve; but as this rarely happened, all such

outward manifestations of contempt were kept within due bounds. Business

was, of course, tabooed; even politics were only admitted on sufferance

and by a special permission of the chairman. There was one evening in

the year, however, when the chairman never granted any such permission,

and that was on the anniversary of the founding of the club. On this

evening such subjects as business and politics would have been cried

down, and the daring introducer of the obnoxious themes would have been

condemned to drink a cup of cold water on his bended knees by way of

expiating his offence. No subjects of public or private interest were

tolerated on this evening, or, indeed, on any other. The chief delight

of this club was to tell or to listen to stories which were all more or

less of the marvellous class, and which each took it by turn to relate

to the rest, the strictest silence and order being preserved during the

recital. The evening that we are about to describe to the reader was the

tenth anniversary of the founding of the club. This was a very grand

event. For any one of its members or guests, whether married or single,

to have been absent, on this occasion would have been little less than

an insult to the rest. Let us try to give our readers a glimpse of the

club room and its guests on this memorable evening.

Imagine, then, a large room with low ceiling and walls of dark oak

panel, a large old-fashionedfireplace with dogs, and a Yule log blazing

on the hearth. The curtains are old and embroidered, and closely drawn.

The room is well lighted, and in the middle is a long table, at which,

through a cloud of tobacco smoke, a party of nine--all lords of the

creation--may be discovered. A bowl of punch is in the centre of the

table, at which every now and then each guest replenishes his glass. Mr.

Oldstone, the antiquary, has been elected chairman. Watch with what

dignity he fills his post of honour. Look! he rises and thumps the

table. He is going to make a speech. The strictest silence reigns; you

might hear a pin drop.

"Gentlemen," began the worthy chairman, after one or two preliminary

"hems," "it is with feelings of mixed pride and pleasure that I feel

myself called upon to-night to preside at this most honourable meeting."

(Hear, hear!) The chairman resumed, "This is the tenth anniversary of

our club of choice spirits (cheers), and so shamefully nicknamed by our

enemies 'The Morbid Club.' (Groans.) Irritated at our exclusiveness, and

envious at the reports of the superior talent that circulates nightly at

our table, and which bursts into a halo of genius on our great

saturnalias, what wonder, gentlemen, if the worthy members of our select

club should make enemies out of their own circle? Only 'birds of a

feather flock together,' and perhaps the contempt of our enemies is the

best compliment they can pay us." (Hear, hear! and various shouts and

yells of delight, amid clapping of hands, stamping, and rattling of

glasses.) Here the chairman paused to take breath, and then, after a

preliminary sip at his glass of punch, proceeded.

"Gentlemen, I feel duly sensible of the honour conferred upon me this

evening in being selected to preside at our meeting on this very

important occasion, an honour which I feel unable to support, and for

which I feel my abilities so inadequate. (No, no!) Gentlemen, we are a

company of nine this evening, the number of the muses--the omen is

auspicious. I see around me faces that were present at the inauguration

of our club, ten years ago, though others, alas! have gone to their long

rest." Here the speaker was visibly moved, and passed his hand over his

eyes to wipe away an incipient tear. Then, recovering himself, "Need I

proceed, gentlemen? Need I trespass longer upon the time and patience of

guests so illustrious? (Yes, yes!) Then, gentlemen," continued the

speaker, "I would but detain you one moment longer, to propose the

following toast, to be drunk with three times three. (Hear, hear!) 'Long

live the "Wonder Club," and all its choice members.'" Here the

president, at the conclusion of his speech, held a bumper above his

head, and repeated the toast with the rest of the company, with a "Hip,

hip, hip, hurrah!" "May their brains be as fertile as the plains of

Elysium, and may the fame of the 'Wonder Club' spread to the ends of the

earth." This sentiment was followed by a burst of applause.

In the midst of the stamping, cheering, and rattling of glasses that

ensued a knock was heard at the door. Who could it be? The landlord? It

was not his wont to disturb the club for a trifle. He only made his

appearance when called for. What was it? Was the inn on fire? Who could

venture to disturb the solemn meeting of the "Wonder Club" on their

tenth anniversary? One of the members rose from his seat and opened the

door ajar, still holding the handle in his hand.

"Who is it? What do you want at this hour?" he asked.

"I beg pardon, gentlemen," said the voice of the honest landlord

without, "for disturbing the company; but a gentleman has just brought a

letter for the chairman, and I thought it _might_ be important.

Leastways, I thought it wouldn't be much harm to deliver it at once.

The gentleman has sent in his card. Excuse the interruption, sirs; I

hope no offence."

The letter was delivered to Mr. Oldstone. He glanced at the card.

"What, a visitor!" he said; "and at this time of night. Let me tell you,

landlord--ahem--that this is a most unwarrantable infringement

of--er--er--of the rules laid down by--er--eh? Stay, what have we here?

Excuse me, gentlemen, while I break the seal. Ha! from my old friend

Rustcoin. You remember him, gentlemen--my brother antiquary, formerly a

member of our club. He writes from Rome:

"'MY DEAR FRIEND,--I dare say you are surprised to hear from me again,

after my long silence. The fact is that I had put off writing to you,

having some time ago formed a resolution of returning to England, when I

hoped to surprise you by suddenly appearing unexpectedly in time for the

tenth anniversary of the inauguration of our club. Certain affairs,

however, have prevented me from being present myself in the flesh, but I

beg to introduce to your notice my young friend, Mr. Vandyke McGuilp, an

artist who has for some time past been prosecuting his studies here in

Rome. He is a young man of talent and genius, possessing a great fund of

stories of the marvellous and supernatural order, such as your club

particularly prides itself on. He is quite one of our sort, and you

would be doing me a great favour to introduce him to the rest of the

members. If he could arrive in time for your grand saturnalia, I should

be doubly pleased.--Your old friend,


"Well, gentlemen," said the president, "what do you say to that? Shall

the neophyte be admitted? You see, he is not a commercial traveller, nor

a business man, but an artist; one of those restless strivers after the

ideal. A traveller, too--a man full of stories, like one of us. What do

you say--shall he be admitted?"

The guests gave an unanimous consent, and the next moment our host

ushered the stranger into the club-room. All eyes were directed towards

the stranger. He was a young man, bordering on thirty, about the middle

height, who, contrary to the custom of the period, wore his own hair,

which at that time was considered extremely vulgar. He wore a slouch hat

instead of the usual three-cornered shape, and an Italian cloak thrown

over the left shoulder.

He doffed his hat with dignity and courtesy as he entered the apartment,

and after shaking the snow from his cloak (for it had been snowing hard

without that night, being in December), he handed cloak and hat to the

landlord and accepted the offer of a chair that Mr. Oldstone had placed

for him near the fire.

"Here! mine host," shouted Mr. Oldstone, "bring another log, and see

that you make this gentleman comfortable to-night, for I see without

asking him any questions that he is one of our set."

"Ay, ay, sir," said the landlord, who was just leaving the room. "Never

fear, sir, I'll see to the gentleman's wants, and my old woman will warm

the bed, for it's a nasty night to be out in. My blessed eyes, how it

snows! The gentleman must have had pressing business with you, sir, to

bring him out here such a night as this."

"No, my good host," replied the artist; "nothing more than a desire to

be present at the tenth anniversary of the club that I have heard so

much about."

The host looked astonished, and the guests felt flattered. The

landlord's respect for the members of the club was augmented


"Well, well; to think of that, now," he muttered to himself. "To think

that this gentleman should trouble himself to come from who knows how

far off, just to be present at the tenth anniversary of _our_ club, and

on such a night as this, too."

"By the by, Mr. Hearty," said the new comer to the landlord: "I believe

that's your name, is it not?"

"The same, sir; Jack Hearty, at your service, sir."

"Well, then, Jack Hearty, I have just come from foreign parts, where I

have left an old customer of yours; one Mr. Rustcoin, a great friend of

Mr. Oldstone's. Do you recollect him?"

"_Recollect_ him!" exclaimed the landlord. "Ay, indeed, sir, do I; a

pleasanter gentleman over his bottle of port or over his bowl of punch

hasn't crossed my threshold since he left it. Many's the good yarn we

would have together. I hope you left him very well, sir?"

"In excellent health, thank you, Jack," said the stranger. "He desired

to be remembered to you."

"Thank you, sir," said the host.

"Yes; those slippers will do," said the new guest.

"Draw near to the table, my friend," said Mr. Oldstone, "for I must

introduce you to the other members and guests here to-night."

"My friends," said the chairman, "this gentleman is Mr. Vandyke McGuilp,

an artist from Rome, great friend of my old chum Rustcoin, whom most of

you knew. Mr. McGuilp, this gentleman on my right is Mr. Hardcase, the

lawyer, who will be the first to relate a story to-night. On his right

is Dr. Bleedem, one of our celebrated physicians; next to him is Mr.

Cyanite, professor of geology, and then comes Mr. Blackdeed, one of our

eminent tragedians; next to him is Mr. Parnassus, a young poet of great

promise; after him is Mr. Crucible, analytical chemist, one of the

oldest members of our club; next to him, as guest to-night, is Captain

Toughyarn, commander of Her Majesty's good ship the _Dreadnought_; then,

next door neighbour to yourself is Mr. Jollytoast, celebrated low


The new visitor bowed to each guest at the table with urbanity, and the

guests returned the salute cordially.

"Well, gentlemen," began the president, "what do you say to a bumper to

the health of our new guest?"

"Hear, hear!" cried the guests, unanimously.

Each filled up his glass from the punch-bowl, and our artist's health

was drunk with cheers, to which he responded in a short and modest

speech. (Applause.)

"And now, Mr. Hardcase," said the chairman, after the formalities were

gone through, "I think it was arranged that you should tell the first

story. I hope you have one ready. I am anxious for my young friend to

  • prince [´prins] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.王子;亲王;君主   (初中英语单词)
  • hudson [´hʌdsn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.哈得孙河   (初中英语单词)
  • variety [və´raiəti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.变化;多样(性);种类   (初中英语单词)
  • establishment [i´stæbliʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.建(成)立;研究所   (初中英语单词)
  • glimpse [glimps] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.瞥见   (初中英语单词)
  • lawyer [´lɔ:jə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.律师;法学家   (初中英语单词)
  • chemist [´kemist] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.化学家;药剂师   (初中英语单词)
  • introduction [,intrə´dʌkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.介绍;引言;引导   (初中英语单词)
  • landlord [´lændlɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地主;房东;店主   (初中英语单词)
  • intimate [´intimit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.亲密的 n.知己   (初中英语单词)
  • rarely [´reəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.难得;非凡地   (初中英语单词)
  • politics [´pɔlitiks] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政治(学);政治活动   (初中英语单词)
  • permission [pə´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.允许;同意;许可   (初中英语单词)
  • absent [´æbsənt, əb´sent] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不在的 vt.使缺席   (初中英语单词)
  • insult [in´sʌlt, ´insʌlt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.侮辱;损害   (初中英语单词)
  • old-fashioned [´əuld´feʃənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.老式的;过时的   (初中英语单词)
  • tobacco [tə´bækəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.烟草(叶);卷烟   (初中英语单词)
  • worthy [´wə:ði] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有价值的;值得的   (初中英语单词)
  • honourable [´ɔnərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.荣誉的;正直的   (初中英语单词)
  • talent [´tælənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天才;才干;天资   (初中英语单词)
  • genius [´dʒi:niəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天才(人物);天赋   (初中英语单词)
  • circle [´sə:kəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.圆圈 v.环绕;盘旋   (初中英语单词)
  • breath [breθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呼吸;气息   (初中英语单词)
  • sensible [´sensəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.感觉得到的   (初中英语单词)
  • unable [ʌn´eibəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不能的;无能为力的   (初中英语单词)
  • speaker [´spi:kə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.演讲人;代言人   (初中英语单词)
  • patience [´peiʃəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.忍耐(力);耐心;坚韧   (初中英语单词)
  • conclusion [kən´klu:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.结束;结论;推论   (初中英语单词)
  • sentiment [´sentimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.情绪;多愁善感   (初中英语单词)
  • disturb [di´stə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.扰乱;使不安;打乱   (初中英语单词)
  • trifle [´traifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.琐事,小事;少量   (初中英语单词)
  • solemn [´sɔləm] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.严肃的;隆重的   (初中英语单词)
  • pardon [´pɑ:dən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.原谅;饶恕;赦免   (初中英语单词)
  • interruption [intə´rʌpʃ(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.停止,中断   (初中英语单词)
  • formerly [´fɔ:məli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.从前,以前   (初中英语单词)
  • writing [´raitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.书写;写作;书法   (初中英语单词)
  • resolution [,rezə´lu:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.决心;坚决;果断   (初中英语单词)
  • commercial [kə´mə:ʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.商业的 n.广告节目   (初中英语单词)
  • restless [´restləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.没有休息的   (初中英语单词)
  • contrary [´kɔntrəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.相反的 n.相反   (初中英语单词)
  • extremely [ik´stri:mli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.极端地;非常地   (初中英语单词)
  • italian [i´tæliən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意大利 n.意大利人   (初中英语单词)
  • dignity [´digniti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.尊严,尊贵;高官显贵   (初中英语单词)
  • customer [´kʌstəmə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.顾客,买主,主顾   (初中英语单词)
  • relate [ri´leit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.阐明;使联系;涉及   (初中英语单词)
  • celebrated [´selibreitid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.著名的   (初中英语单词)
  • commander [kə´mɑ:ndə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.指挥员,司令员   (初中英语单词)
  • visitor [´vizitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.访问者;来宾;参观者   (初中英语单词)
  • salute [sə´lu:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.招呼;行礼;敬礼   (初中英语单词)
  • anxious [´æŋkʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.担忧的;渴望的   (初中英语单词)
  • hearty [´hɑ:ti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.热忱的;强健的   (高中英语单词)
  • solitary [´sɔlitəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.独居的;孤独的   (高中英语单词)
  • brighten [´braitn] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)明亮;(使)愉快   (高中英语单词)
  • chuckle [´tʃʌkl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.轻声笑;暗自笑   (高中英语单词)
  • bustle [´bʌsəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)匆忙 n.匆忙   (高中英语单词)
  • brotherhood [´brʌðəhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.兄弟情谊;兄弟关系   (高中英语单词)
  • eminent [´eminənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.卓越的;杰出的   (高中英语单词)
  • strict [strikt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.严厉的;精确的   (高中英语单词)
  • battery [´bætəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.炮兵连;炮台;电池   (高中英语单词)
  • contempt [kən´tempt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.轻蔑;受辱;不顾   (高中英语单词)
  • memorable [´memərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难忘的;重大的   (高中英语单词)
  • fireplace [´faiəpleis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.壁炉,炉灶   (高中英语单词)
  • hearth [hɑ:θ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.炉边;家庭(生活)   (高中英语单词)
  • preside [pri´zaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.主持(会议);主管   (高中英语单词)
  • compliment [´kɔmplimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.敬意 vt.赞美;祝贺   (高中英语单词)
  • illustrious [i´lʌstriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.杰出的,显赫的   (高中英语单词)
  • detain [di´tein] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.留住;拘留   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • fertile [´fə:tail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.肥沃的;有繁殖力的   (高中英语单词)
  • courtesy [´kə:tisi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.礼貌;殷勤;好意   (高中英语单词)
  • threshold [´θreʃhəuld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.门槛;入门;开端   (高中英语单词)
  • glacier [´glæsiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.冰河,冰川   (英语四级单词)
  • partially [´pɑ:ʃəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.部分地;局部地   (英语四级单词)
  • lichen [´laikən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地衣,青苔   (英语四级单词)
  • intently [in´tentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.专心地   (英语四级单词)
  • anniversary [,æni´və:səri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.周年纪念(日)   (英语四级单词)
  • daring [´deəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.勇敢(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • nightly [´naitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&ad.每夜(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • unexpectedly [´ʌniks´pektidli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.意外地;突然地   (英语四级单词)
  • unanimous [ju:´næniməs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.一致同意的   (英语四级单词)
  • vulgar [´vʌlgə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗俗的;大众的   (英语四级单词)
  • blessed [´blesid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.享福的;神圣的   (英语四级单词)
  • recollect [rekə´lekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.重新集合;恢复   (英语四级单词)
  • phantom [´fæntəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幽灵;幻影 a.幻想的   (英语六级单词)
  • luxuriant [lʌg´zjuəriənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.繁茂的;丰富的   (英语六级单词)
  • woodwork [´wudwə:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.木制品;木工   (英语六级单词)
  • framework [´freimwə:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.骨架;计划;机构   (英语六级单词)
  • replenish [ri´pleniʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(再)装满;补充   (英语六级单词)
  • trespass [´trespəs, -pæs] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.侵入(占);打扰   (英语六级单词)
  • holding [´həuldiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保持,固定,存储   (英语六级单词)
  • inauguration [inɔ:gju´reiʃ(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开幕仪式;就职典礼   (英语六级单词)
  • doubly [´dʌbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.加倍地,双重地   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:26:16
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