酷兔英语



THE DEVIL'S PAW

By E. Phillips Oppenheim

CHAPTER I

The two men, sole occupants of the somewhat shabbycottage parlour,

lingered over their port, not so much with the air of wine lovers,

but rather as human beings and intimates, perfectly content with

their surroundings and company. Outside, the wind was howling over the

marshes, and occasional bursts of rain came streaming against the

window panes. Inside at any rate was comfort, triumphing over varying

conditions. The cloth upon the plain deal table was of fine linen, the

decanter and glasses were beautifully cut; there were walnuts and, in

a far Corner, cigars of a well-known brand and cigarettes from a famous

tobacconist. Beyond that little oasis, however, were all the evidences

of a hired abode. A hole in the closely drawn curtains was fastened

together by a safety pin. The horsehair easy-chairs bore disfiguring

antimacassars, the photographs which adorned the walls were grotesque

but typical of village ideals, the carpet was threadbare, the closed

door secured by a latch instead of the usual knob. One side of the

room was littered with golf clubs, a huge game bag and several boxes

of cartridges. Two shotguns lay upon the remains of a sofa. It scarcely

needed the costume of Miles Furley, the host, to demonstrate the fact

that this was the temporary abode of a visitor to the Blakeney marshes

in search of sport.

Furley, broad-shouldered, florid, with tanned skin and grizzled hair,

was still wearing the high sea boots and jersey of the duck shooter.

His companion, on the other hand, a tall, slim man, with high forehead,

clear eyes, stubborn jaw, and straight yet sensitive mouth, wore the

ordinary dinner clothes of civilisation. The contrast between the two

men might indeed have afforded some ground for speculation as to the

nature of their intimacy. Furley, a son of the people, had the air

of cultivating, even clinging to a certain plebeian strain, never

so apparent as when he spoke, or in his gestures. He was a Member of

Parliament for a Labour constituency, a shrewd and valuable exponent of

the gospel of the working man. What he lacked in the higher qualities

of oratory he made up in sturdy common sense. The will-o'-the-wisp

Socialism of the moment, with its many attendant "isms" and theories,

received scant favour at his hands. He represented the solid element

in British Labour politics, and it was well known that he had refused

a seat in the Cabinet in order to preserve an absolute independence. He

had a remarkable gift of taciturnity, which in a man of his class made

for strength, and it was concerning him that the Prime Minister had made

his famous epigram, that Furley was the Labour man whom he feared the

most and dreaded the least.

Julian Orden, with an exterior more promising in many respects than

that of his friend, could boast of no similar distinctions. He was

the youngest son of a particularly fatuous peer resident in the

neighbourhood, had started life as a barrister, in which profession he

had attained a moderate success, had enjoyed a brief but not inglorious

spell of soldiering, from which he had retiredslightly lamed for life,

and had filled up the intervening period in the harmless occupation

of censoring. His friendship with Furley appeared on the surface too

singular to be anything else but accidental. Probably no one save the

two men themselves understood it, and they both possessed the gift of

silence.

"What's all this peace talk mean?" Julian Orden asked, fingering the

stem of his wineglass.

"Who knows?" Furley grunted. "The newspapers must have their daily

sensation."

"I have a theory that it is being engineered."

"Bolo business, eh?"

Julian Orden moved in his place a little uneasily. His long, nervous

fingers played with the stick which stood always by the side of his

chair.

"You don't believe in it, do you?" he asked quietly.

Furley looked straight ahead of him. His eyes seemed caught by the

glitter of the lamplight upon the cut-glass decanter.

"You know my opinion of war, Julian," he said. "It's a filthy,

intolerable heritage from generations of autocratic government. No

democracy ever wanted war. Every democracy needs and desires peace."

"One moment," Julian interrupted. "You must remember that a democracy

seldom possesses the imperialistic spirit, and a great empire can

scarcely survive without it."

"Arrant nonsense!" was the vigorous reply. "A great empire, from

hemisphere to hemisphere, can be kept together a good deal better by

democratic control. Force is always the arriere pensee of the individual

and the autocrat."

"These are generalities," Julian declared. "I want to know your opinion

about a peace at the present moment."

"Not having any, thanks. You're a dilettante journalist by your own

confession, Julian, and I am not going to be drawn."

"There is something in it, then?"

"Maybe," was the careless admission. "You're a visitor worth having,

Julian. '70 port and homegrown walnuts! A nice little addition to my

simple fare! Must you go back to-morrow?"

Julian nodded.

"We've another batch of visitors coming,--Stenson amongst them, by the

bye."

Furley nodded. His eyes narrowed, and little lines appeared at their

corners.

"I can't imagine," he confessed. "What brings Stenson down to Maltenby.

I should have thought that your governor and he could scarcely spend ten

minutes together without quarrelling!"

"They never do spend ten minutes together alone," Julian replied drily.

"I see to that. Then my mother, you know, has the knack of getting

interesting people together. The Bishop is coming, amongst others. And,

Furley, I wanted to ask you--do you know anything of a young woman--she

is half Russian, I believe--who calls herself Miss Catherine Abbeway?"

"Yes, I know her," was the brief rejoinder.

"She lived in Russia for some years, it seems," Julian continued. "Her

mother was Russian--a great writer on social subjects."

Furley nodded.

"Miss Abbeway is rather that way herself," he remarked. "I've heard her

lecture in the East End. She has got hold of the woman's side of the

Labour question as well as any one I ever came across."

"She is a most remarkablyattractive young person," Julian declared

pensively.

"Yes, she's good-looking. A countess in her own right, they tell me, but

she keeps her title secret for fear of losing influence with the working

classes. She did a lot of good down Poplar way. Shouldn't have thought

she'd have been your sort, Julian."

"Why?"

"Too serious."

Julian smiled--rather a peculiar, introspective smile.

"I, too, can, be serious sometimes," he said.

His friend thrust his hands into his trousers pocket and, leaning back

in his chair, looked steadfastly at his guest.

"I believe you can, Julian," he admitted. "Sometimes I am not quite

sure that I understand you. That's the worst of a man with the gift for

silence."

"You're not a great talker yourself," the younger man reminded his host.

"When you get me going on my own subject," Furley remarked, "I find it

hard to stop, and you are a wonderful listener. Have you got any views

of your own? I never hear them."

Julian drew the box of cigarettes towards him.

"Oh, yes, I've views of my own," he confessed. "Some day, perhaps, you

shall know what they are."

"A man of mystery!" his friend jeered good-naturedly.

Julian lit his cigarette and watched the smoke curl upward.

"Let's talk about the duck," he suggested.

The two men sat in silence for some minutes. Outside, the storm seemed

to have increased in violence. Furley rose, threw a log on to the fire

and resumed his place.

"Geese flew high," he remarked.

"Too high for me," Julian confessed.

"You got one more than I did."

"Sheer luck. The outside bird dipped down to me."

Furley filled his guest's glass and then his own.

"What on earth have you kept your shooting kit on for?" the latter

asked, with lazy curiosity.

Furley glanced down at his incongruous attire and seemed for a moment

ill at ease.

"I've got to go out presently," he announced.

Julian raised his eyebrows.

"Got to go out?" he repeated. "On a night like this? Why, my dear

fellow--"

He paused abruptly. He was a man of quick perceptions, and he realised

his host's embarrassment. Nevertheless, there was an awkward pause in

the conversation. Furley rose to his feet and frowned. He fetched a jar

of tobacco from a shelf and filled his pouch deliberately:

"Sorry to seem mysterious, old chap," he said. "I've just a bit of a job

to do. It doesn't amount to anything, but--well, it's the sort of affair

we don't talk about much."

"Well, you're welcome to all the amusement you'll get out of it, a night

like this."

Furley laid down his pipe, ready-filled, and drank off his port.

"There isn't much amusement left in the world, is there, just now?" he

remarked gravely.

"Very little indeed. It's three years since I handled a shotgun before

to-night."

"You've really chucked the censoring?"

"Last week. I've had a solid year at it."

"Fed up?"

"Not exactly that. My own work accumulated so."

"Briefs coming along, eh?"

"I'm a sort of hack journalist as well, as you reminded me just now,"

Julian explained a little evasively.

"I wonder you stuck at the censoring so long. Isn't it terribly

tedious?"

"Sometimes. Now and then we come across interesting things, though. For

instance, I discovered a most original cipher the other day."

"Did it lead to anything?" Furley asked curiously.

"Not at present. I discovered it, studying a telegram from Norway.

It was addressed to a perfectlyrespectable firm of English timber

merchants who have an office in the city. This was the original: `Fir

planks too narrow by half.' Sounds harmless enough, doesn't it?"

"Absolutely. What's the hidden meaning?"

"There I am still at a loss," Julian confessed, "but treated with the

cipher it comes out as `Thirty-eight steeple on barn.'"

Furley stared for a moment, then he lit his pipe.

"Well, of the two," he declared, "I should prefer the first rendering

for intelligibility."

"So would most people," Julian assented, smiling, "yet I am sure there

is something in it--some meaning, of course, that needs a context to

grasp it."

"Have you interviewed the firm of timber merchants?"

"Not personally. That doesn't come into my department. The name of the

man who manages the London office, though, is Fenn--Nicholas Fenn."

Furley withdrew the pipe from his mouth. His eyebrows had come together

in a slight frown.

"Nicholas Fenn, the Labour M.P.?"

"That's the fellow. You know him, of course?"

"Yes, I know him," Furley replied thoughtfully. "He is secretary of the

Timber Trades Union and got in for one of the divisions of Hull last

year."

"I understand that there is nothing whatever against him personally,"

Julian continued, "although as a politician he is of course beneath

contempt. He started life as a village schoolmaster and has worked

his way up most creditably. He professed to understand the cable as it

appeared in its original form. All the same, it's very odd that, treated

by a cipher which I got on the track of a few days previously, this same

message should work out as I told you."

"Of course," Furley observed, "ciphers can lead you--"

He stopped short. Julian, who had been leaning over towards the

cigarette bog, glanced around at his friend. There was a frown on

Furley's forehead. He withdrew his pipe from between his teeth.

"What did you say you made of it?" he demanded.

"`Thirty-eight steeple on barn.'"

"Thirty-eight! That's queer!"

"Why is it queer?"

There was a moment's silence. Furley glanced at the little clock upon

the mantelpiece. It was five and twenty minutes past nine.

"I don't know whether you have ever heard, Julian," he said, "that our

enemies on the other side of the North Sea are supposed to have divided

the whole of the eastern coast of Great Britain into small, rectangular

districts, each about a couple of miles square. One of our secret

service chaps got hold of a map some time ago."

"No, I never heard this," Julian acknowledged. "Well?"

"It's only a coincidence, of course," Furley went on, "but number

thirty-eight happens to be the two-mile block of seacoast of which this

cottage is just about the centre. It stretches to Cley on one side and

Salthouse on the other, and inland as far as Dutchman's Common. I am not

suggesting that there is any real connection between your cable and this

fact, but that you should mention it at this particular moment--well, as

I said, it's a coincidence."

"Why?"

Furley had risen to his feet. He threw open the door and listened for a

moment in the passage. When he came back he was carrying some oilskins.

"Julian," he said, "I know you area bit of a cynic about espionage

and that sort of thing. Of course, there has been a terrible lot of

exaggeration, and heaps of fellows go gassing about secret service jobs,

all the way up the coast from here to Scotland, who haven't the least

idea what the thing means. But there is a little bit of it done, and in

my humble way they find me an occasional job or two down here. I won't

say that anything ever comes of our efforts--we're rather like the

special constables of the secret service--but just occasionally we come

across something suspicious."

"So that's why you're going out again to-night, is it?"

Furley nodded.

"This is my last night. I am off up to town on Monday and sha'n't be

able to get down again this season."

"Had any adventures?"

"Not the ghost of one. I don't mind admitting that I've had a good many

wettings and a few scares on that stretch of marshland, but I've never

seen or heard anything yet to send in a report about. It just happens,

though, that to-night there's a special vigilance whip out."

"What does that mean?" Julian enquired curiously.

"Something supposed to be up," was the dubious reply. "We've a very

imaginative chief, I might tell you."

"But what sort of thing could happen?" Julian persisted. "What are you


生词表:
  • cottage [´kɔtidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.村舍;小屋;小别墅   (初中英语单词)
  • occasional [ə´keiʒənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;临时的   (初中英语单词)
  • well-known [,wel´nəun] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.著名的,众所周知的   (初中英语单词)
  • carpet [´kɑ:pit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地毯 vt.铺地毯   (初中英语单词)
  • costume [´kɔstju:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.服装(试样);女装   (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)
  • jersey [´dʒə:zi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.毛织运动衫;毛线衫   (初中英语单词)
  • companion [kəm´pæniən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同伴;同事;伴侣   (初中英语单词)
  • contrast [´kɔntrɑ:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.对比 v.使对比(照)   (初中英语单词)
  • apparent [ə´pærənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.显然的;表面上的   (初中英语单词)
  • valuable [´væljuəbəl, -jubəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有价值的,贵重的   (初中英语单词)
  • working [´wə:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工人的;劳动的   (初中英语单词)
  • attendant [ə´tendənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.随员 a.伴随的   (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)
  • cabinet [´kæbinit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.橱,柜;内阁   (初中英语单词)
  • preserve [pri´zə:v] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.保藏 n.保藏物   (初中英语单词)
  • absolute [´æbsəlu:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.绝对的 n.绝对   (初中英语单词)
  • independence [,indi´pendəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.独立,自主,自立   (初中英语单词)
  • remarkable [ri´mɑ:kəbl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.值得注意的;显著的   (初中英语单词)
  • minister [´ministə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.部长;大臣 v.伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • promising [´prɔmisiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有希望的;有为的   (初中英语单词)
  • profession [prə´feʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.职业;声明;表白   (初中英语单词)
  • moderate [´mɔdərit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.适度的n.温和主义者   (初中英语单词)
  • slightly [´slaitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.轻微地;细长的   (初中英语单词)
  • democracy [di´mɔkrəsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.民主政治(政体)   (初中英语单词)
  • survive [sə´vaiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.幸存;残存   (初中英语单词)
  • careless [´keəlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗心的;草率的   (初中英语单词)
  • admission [əd´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.接纳;承认   (初中英语单词)
  • addition [ə´diʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.加;加法;附加物   (初中英语单词)
  • governor [´gʌvənə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总督;州长   (初中英语单词)
  • bishop [´biʃəp] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.主教   (初中英语单词)
  • writer [´raitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.作者;作家   (初中英语单词)
  • attractive [ə´træktiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有吸引力;诱人的   (初中英语单词)
  • peculiar [pi´kju:liə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.特有的;奇异的   (初中英语单词)
  • thrust [θrʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.猛推;冲;刺;挤进   (初中英语单词)
  • trousers [´trauzəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裤子,长裤   (初中英语单词)
  • violence [´vaiələns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猛烈;暴力(行)   (初中英语单词)
  • abruptly [ə´brʌptli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.突然地;粗鲁地   (初中英语单词)
  • nevertheless [,nevəðə´les] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.然而;不过   (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)
  • mysterious [mi´stiəriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神秘的;难以理解的   (初中英语单词)
  • amount [ə´maunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总数;数量 v.合计   (初中英语单词)
  • welcome [´welkəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.受欢迎的;可喜的   (初中英语单词)
  • amusement [ə´mju:zmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.娱乐;文娱设施   (初中英语单词)
  • telegram [´teligræm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.电报   (初中英语单词)
  • hidden [´hid(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  hide 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • timber [´timbə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.木材;木料;横梁   (初中英语单词)
  • whatever [wɔt´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.&a.无论什么   (初中英语单词)
  • politician [,pɔli´tiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政治家;政客   (初中英语单词)
  • forehead [´fɔrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.额,前部   (初中英语单词)
  • supposed [sə´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.想象的;假定的   (初中英语单词)
  • seacoast [´si:kəust] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海滨   (初中英语单词)
  • connection [kə´nekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.联系;关系;联运   (初中英语单词)
  • humble [´hʌmbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.谦卑的 vt.贬抑   (初中英语单词)
  • occasionally [ə´keiʒənəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.偶然地;非经常地   (初中英语单词)
  • shabby [´ʃæbi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(衣服)破旧的   (高中英语单词)
  • perfectly [´pə:fiktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.理想地;完美地   (高中英语单词)
  • typical [´tipikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.典型的;象征的   (高中英语单词)
  • demonstrate [´demənstreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.证明;表明;示威   (高中英语单词)
  • temporary [´tempərəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.暂时的 n.临时工   (高中英语单词)
  • stubborn [´stʌbən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.顽固的;坚持的   (高中英语单词)
  • sensitive [´sensitiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.敏感的;感光的   (高中英语单词)
  • speculation [,spekju´leiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.思索,推测;投机   (高中英语单词)
  • strain [strein] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.拉紧 vi.拖 n.张力   (高中英语单词)
  • shrewd [ʃru:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精明的;狡猾的   (高中英语单词)
  • gospel [´gɔspəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.福音;信条;真理   (高中英语单词)
  • sturdy [´stə:di] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.坚强的;坚定的   (高中英语单词)
  • concerning [kən´sə:niŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  prep.关于   (高中英语单词)
  • resident [´rezidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.居住的 n.居民   (高中英语单词)
  • harmless [´hɑ:mləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无害的,无恶意的   (高中英语单词)
  • vigorous [´vigərəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精力旺盛的;健壮的   (高中英语单词)
  • amongst [ə´mʌŋst] 移动到这儿单词发声  prep.其中之一 =among   (高中英语单词)
  • attire [ə´taiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.装饰;穿 n.衣服   (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)
  • awkward [´ɔ:kwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.笨拙的;为难的   (高中英语单词)
  • respectable [ri´spektəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可敬的;有身价的   (高中英语单词)
  • personally [´pə:sənəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.亲自;就个人来说   (高中英语单词)
  • withdrew [wið´dru:] 移动到这儿单词发声  withdraw的过去式   (高中英语单词)
  • thoughtfully [´θɔ:tfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.深思地;体贴地   (高中英语单词)
  • previously [´pri:viəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.预先;以前   (高中英语单词)
  • inland [´inlənd, in´lænd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.内地的 ad.在内地   (高中英语单词)
  • beautifully [´bju:tifəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.美丽地;优美地   (英语四级单词)
  • intimacy [´intiməsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.亲密;熟悉;秘密   (英语四级单词)
  • plebeian [pli´bi:ən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(古罗马的)平民   (英语四级单词)
  • exterior [ik´stiəriə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.外表(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • accidental [,æksi´dentl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;附属的   (英语四级单词)
  • heritage [´heritidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.遗产,继承物   (英语四级单词)
  • hemisphere [´hemisfiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.半球;范围,领域   (英语四级单词)
  • remarkably [ri´mɑ:kəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.非凡地;显著地   (英语四级单词)
  • poplar [´pɔplə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.白杨;杨木   (英语四级单词)
  • listener [´lisənə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(收)听者,听众之一   (英语四级单词)
  • embarrassment [im´bærəsmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.窘迫;困惑;为难   (英语四级单词)
  • steeple [´sti:pəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(礼拜堂等的)尖塔   (英语四级单词)
  • schoolmaster [´sku:l,mɑ:stə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.教练;(男)教师   (英语四级单词)
  • coincidence [kəu´insidəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.巧合;符合;一致   (英语四级单词)
  • oratory [´ɔrətəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.演讲(术);修辞   (英语六级单词)
  • retired [ri´taiəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.退休的;通职的   (英语六级单词)
  • uneasily [ʌn´i:zili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不安地;局促地   (英语六级单词)
  • good-looking [] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.漂亮的,美貌的   (英语六级单词)
  • countess [´kauntis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.伯爵夫人;女伯爵   (英语六级单词)
  • talker [´tɔ:kə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.说话人;空谈家   (英语六级单词)
  • vigilance [´vidʒiləns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.警惕,警戒   (英语六级单词)
  • dubious [´dju:biəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.怀疑的;可疑的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:33:35
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