Shoe-Bar Stratton - Chapter 36
文章來源:未知 文章作者:enread 發布時間:2021-02-24 07:34 字體: [ ]  進入論壇
Mrs. Archer1 sat alone in the ranch2-house living-room, doing absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, she had little use for those minor3 solaces4 of knitting or crocheting5 which soothe6 the waking hours of so many elderly women. More than once, indeed, she had been heard to state with mild emphasis that when she was no longer able to entertain herself with human nature, or, at the worst, with an interesting book, it would be high time to retire into a nunnery, or its modern equivalent.
Sitting there beside one of the sunny southern windows, her small, faintly wrinkled hands lying reposefully7 in her lap, she made a dainty, attractive picture of age which was yet not old. Her hair was frankly8 gray, but luxuriant and crisply waving. No one would have mistaken the soft, faded pink of her complexion9, well preserved though it was, for that of a young woman. But her eyes, bright, eager, humorous, changing with every mood, were full of the fire of eternal youth.
Just now there was a thoughtful retrospection in their clear depths. Occasionally she glanced interestedly out of the window, or turned her head questioningly toward the closed door of her niece's bedroom. But for the most part she sat quietly thinking, and the tolerant, humorous curve of her lips showed that her thoughts were far from disagreeable.
"Astonishing!" she murmured presently. "Really quite amazing! And yet things could scarcely have turned out more--" She paused, a faint wrinkle marring the smoothness of her forehead. "Really, I must guard against this habit of talking to myself," she went on with mild vexation. "They say it's one of the surest signs of age. Come in!"
The outer door opened and Buck10 Stratton entered. Pausing for an instant on the threshold, he glanced eagerly about the room, his face falling a little as he walked over to where Mrs. Archer sat.
She looked up at him for a moment in silence, surveying with frank approval his long length, his wide chest and lean flanks, the clean-cut face which showed such few signs of fatigue11 or strain. Then her glance grew quizzical.
"You give yourself away too quickly," she smiled. "Even an old woman scarcely feels complimented when a man looks downcast at the sight of her."
"Rubbish!" retorted Buck. "You know it wasn't that." Bending swiftly, he put an arm about her shoulders and kissed her. "You brought it on yourself," he told her, grinning, as he straightened up. "You've no business to look so--pretty."
The pink in Mrs. Archer's cheeks deepened faintly. "Aren't you rather lavish12 this morning?" she murmured teasingly. "Hadn't you better save those for--" Suddenly her face grew serious. "I do understand, of course. She hasn't come out yet, but she's dressing13. I made her eat her breakfast in bed."
"Good business," approved Buck. "How is she?"
"Very much better, physically14. Her nerves are practically all right again; but of course she's very much depressed15."
Stratton's face clouded. "She still persists--"
Mrs. Archer nodded. "Oh, dear me, yes! That is, she thinks she does. But there's no need to look as if all hope were lost. Indeed, I'm quite certain that a little pressure at the right moment--" She broke off, glancing at the bedroom door. "I've an idea it would be better for me to do a little missionary16 work first. Suppose you go now and come back later. Come back," she finished briskly, "when you see my handkerchief lying here on the window-ledge."
He nodded and was half way across the room when she called to him guardedly:
"Oh, Buck! There's a phrase I noticed in that rather lurid17 magazine Bud brought me two or three weeks ago." Her eyes twinkled. "'Cave-man stuff,' I think it was." Coming from her lips the words had an oddly bizarre sound. "It seemed descriptive. Of course one would want to use refinements18."
"I get you!" Stratton grinned as he departed.
His head had scarcely passed the window before the inner door opened and Mary Thorne appeared.
Her face was pale, with deep shadows under the eyes, and her slim, girlish figure drooped19 listlessly. She walked slowly over to the table, took up a book, fluttered the pages, and laid it down again. Then a pile of mail caught her eyes, and picking up the topmost letter, she tore it open and glanced through it indifferently.
"From Stella," she commented aloud, dropping it on the table. "They got home all right. She says she had a wonderful time, and asks after--"
"After me, I suppose," said Mrs. Archer, as Mary paused. "Give her my love when you write." She hesitated, glancing shrewdly at the girl. "Don't you want to hear the news, dear?" she asked.
Mary turned abruptly20, her eyes widening with sudden interest. "News? What news?"
"Why, about everything that's happened. They caught all of the men except that wretch21, Pedro. The sheriff's taken them to Perilla for trial. He says they'll surely be convicted. Better yet, one of them has turned State's evidence and implicated22 a swindler named Draper, who was at the bottom of everything."
"Everything?" repeated the girl in a slightly puzzled tone, as she dropped listlessly into a chair beside her aunt. "What do you mean, dear, by--everything?"
"How dull I am!" exclaimed Mrs. Archer. "I hope that isn't another sign of encroaching age. I quite forgot you hadn't heard what it was all about. It seems there's oil in the north pasture. Lynch found it and told this man Draper, and ever since then they've been trying to force you to sell the ranch so they could gobble it up themselves."
"Oil?" questioned Mary. "You mean oil wells, and that sort of thing?"
"There'll be wells in time, I presume; just now it's merely in the ground. I understand it's quite valuable."
She went on to explain in detail all she knew. Mary listened silently, head bent24 and hands absently plucking at the plaiting of her gown. When Mrs. Archer finally ceased speaking, the girl made no comment for a time, but sat quite motionless, with drooping25 face and nervously26 moving fingers.
"Did you hear about--about--" she began in an uncertain voice, and then stopped, unable to go on.
"Yes, dear," returned Mrs. Archer simply. "Bud told me. It's a--a terrible thing, of course, but I think--" She paused, choosing her words. "You mustn't spoil your life, my dear, by taking it--too seriously."
Mary turned suddenly and stared at her, surprise battling with the misery27 in her face.
"Too seriously!" she cried. "How can I possibly help taking it seriously? It's too dreadful and--and horrible, almost, to think of."
"It's dreadful, I admit," returned the old lady composedly. "But after all, it's your father's doings. You are not to blame."
The girl made a swift, dissenting28 gesture with both hands. "Perhaps not, in the way you mean. I didn't do the--stealing." Her voice was bitter. "I didn't even know about it. But I--profited. Oh, how could Dad ever have done such an awful thing? When I think of his--his deliberately29 robbing this man who--who had given his life bravely for his country, I could die of shame!"
Her lips quivered and she buried her face in her hands. Mrs. Archer reached out and patted her shoulder consolingly.
"But he didn't die for his country," she reminded her niece practically. "He's very much alive, and here. He's got his ranch back, with the addition of valuable oil deposits, or whatever you call them, which, Bud tells me, might not have been discovered for years but for this." She paused, her eyes fixed30 intently on the girl. "Do you--love him, Mary?" she asked abruptly.
The girl looked up at her, a slow flush creeping into her face. "What difference does that make?" she protested. "I could never make up to him for--for what--father did."
"It makes every difference in the world," retorted Mrs. Archer positively31. "As for making up-- Why, don't you know that you're more to him than ranches32, or oil wells, or--anything on earth? You must realize that in your heart."
Placing her handkerchief on the window-ledge, she rose briskly.
"I really must go and change my shoes," she said in quite a different tone. "These slippers33 seem to--er--pinch a bit."
If they really did pinch, there was no sign of it as she crossed the room and disappeared through a door at the farther end. Mary stared after her, puzzled and a little hurt at the apparent lack of sympathy in one to whom she had always turned for comfort and understanding. Then her mind flashed back to her aunt's farewell words, and her brow wrinkled thoughtfully.
A knock at the door made her start nervously, and for a long moment she hesitated before replying. At the sight of Buck Stratton standing34 on the threshold, she flushed painfully and sprang to her feet.
"Good morning," he said gently, as he came quickly over to her. "I hope you're feeling a lot better."
"Oh, yes," she answered briefly35. "I'm really quite all right now."
He had taken her hand and still held it, and somehow the mere23 pressure of his fingers embarrassed her oddly and seemed to weaken her resolution.
"You don't quite look it," he commented. "I reckon it'll take some time to get rid of those--those shadows and hollows and all."
He was looking down at her with that same tender, whimsical smile that quirked the corners of his mouth unevenly36, and the expression in his eyes set Mary's heart to fluttering. She could not bear it, somehow! To give him up was even harder than she had expected, and suddenly her lids drooped defensively to hide the bright glitter that smarted in her eyes.
Suddenly he broke the brief silence. "When are you going to marry me, dear?" he asked quietly.
Her lids flew up and she stared at him through a blurring37 haze38 of tears. "Oh!" she cried unsteadily. "I can't! I--can't. You--you don't know how I feel. It's all too--dreadful! It doesn't seem as if I could ever--look you in the face again."
Swiftly his arms slid about her, and she was drawn39 gently but irresistibly40 to him.
"Don't try just now, dear, if you'd rather not," he murmured, smiling down into her tear-streaked face. "You'll have a long time to get used to it, you know."
Instinctively41 she tried to struggle. Then all at once a wave of incredible happiness swept over her. Abruptly nothing seemed to matter--nothing on earth save this one thing. With a little sigh like that of a tired child, her arm stole up about his neck, her head fell gently back against his shoulder.
"Oh!" Mary said abruptly, struck by a sudden recollection. It was an hour later, and they sat together on the sofa. "I had a letter from Stella to-day." A faintly mischievous42 light sparkled in her eyes. "She sent her love--to you."
Buck flushed a little under his tan. "Some little kidder, isn't she, on short acquaintance?" he commented.
"Short!" Mary's eyes widened. "Why, she knew you before I did!"
"Maybe so, but I didn't know her."
Buck had rather dreaded43 the moment when he would have to tell her of that beastly, vanished year, but somehow he did not find it hard.
"As long as you don't ever let it happen again, I sha'n't mind," she smiled, when he had finished. "I simply couldn't bear it, though, if you should lose your memory--now."
"No danger," he assured her, with a look that deepened the color in her radiant face.
For a moment she did not speak. Then all at once her smile faded and she turned quickly to him.
"The--the ranch, dear," she said abruptly. "There's something, isn't there, I should do about--about turning it over--to you?"
He drew her head down against his shoulder. "No use bothering about that now," he shrugged44. "We're going to be made one so soon that-- How about riding to Perilla to-morrow and--"
"Oh, Buck!" she protested. "I--I couldn't."
His arm tightened45 about her. "Well, say the day after," he suggested. "I'm afraid we'll have to spend our honeymoon46 right here getting things to rights, so you won't have to get a lot of new clothes and all that. There's nothing unlucky about Thursday, is there?"
She hid her face against his coat. "No-o; but I don't see how--I can--so soon. Well, maybe--perhaps--"


1 archer KVxzP     
  • The archer strung his bow and aimed an arrow at the target.弓箭手拉緊弓弦將箭瞄準靶子。
  • The archer's shot was a perfect bull's-eye.射手的那一箭正中靶心。
2 ranch dAUzk     
  • He went to work on a ranch.他去一個大農場干活。
  • The ranch is in the middle of a large plateau.該牧場位于一個遼闊高原的中部。
3 minor e7fzR     
  • The young actor was given a minor part in the new play.年輕的男演員在這出新戲里被分派擔任一個小角色。
  • I gave him a minor share of my wealth.我把小部分財產給了他。
4 solaces a630244a5d85e1b69cf6b5eded2df719     
n.安慰,安慰物( solace的名詞復數 )
  • Next to love, it is the one thing which solaces and delights. 除了愛情,也就數這事能給人安慰,令人愉快了。 來自英漢文學 - 嘉莉妹妹
  • A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved. 來自所愛之人的安慰再多,情人也不嫌。 來自互聯網
5 crocheting 7f0108207249d2f35ad1587617bc69e3     
v.用鉤針編織( crochet的現在分詞 );鉤編
  • She sat there crocheting all day. 她整天坐在那里用鉤針編織東西。 來自互聯網
  • The crafts teacher is skillful in knitting,crocheting,embroidery,and the use of the hand loom. 手工藝教師善于紡織、鉤編、刺繡和使用手搖織布機。 來自互聯網
6 soothe qwKwF     
  • I've managed to soothe him down a bit.我想方設法使他平靜了一點。
  • This medicine should soothe your sore throat.這種藥會減輕你的喉痛。
7 reposefully b5f5c2483b4c02efd778bd447ec3a3cc     
  • Locking mold configuration: Adopt international advanced crossing board structure, locking mold fleetly and reposefully. 鎖模結構:采用國際先進十字板結構,鎖模快速、平穩。 來自互聯網
8 frankly fsXzcf     
  • To speak frankly, I don't like the idea at all.老實說,我一點也不贊成這個主意。
  • Frankly speaking, I'm not opposed to reform.坦率地說,我不反對改革。
9 complexion IOsz4     
  • Red does not suit with her complexion.紅色與她的膚色不協調。
  • Her resignation puts a different complexion on things.她一辭職局面就全變了。
10 buck ESky8     
  • The boy bent curiously to the skeleton of the buck.這個男孩好奇地彎下身去看鹿的骸骨。
  • The female deer attracts the buck with high-pitched sounds.雌鹿以尖聲吸引雄鹿。
11 fatigue PhVzV     
  • The old lady can't bear the fatigue of a long journey.這位老婦人不能忍受長途旅行的疲勞。
  • I have got over my weakness and fatigue.我已從虛弱和疲勞中恢復過來了。
12 lavish h1Uxz     
  • He despised people who were lavish with their praises.他看不起那些阿諛奉承的人。
  • The sets and costumes are lavish.布景和服裝極盡奢華。
13 dressing 1uOzJG     
  • Don't spend such a lot of time in dressing yourself.別花那么多時間來打扮自己。
  • The children enjoy dressing up in mother's old clothes.孩子們喜歡穿上媽媽舊時的衣服玩。
14 physically iNix5     
  • He was out of sorts physically,as well as disordered mentally.他渾身不舒服,心緒也很亂。
  • Every time I think about it I feel physically sick.一想起那件事我就感到極惡心。
15 depressed xu8zp9     
  • When he was depressed,he felt utterly divorced from reality.他心情沮喪時就感到完全脫離了現實。
  • His mother was depressed by the sad news.這個壞消息使他的母親意志消沉。
16 missionary ID8xX     
  • She taught in a missionary school for a couple of years.她在一所教會學校教了兩年書。
  • I hope every member understands the value of missionary work. 我希望教友都了解傳教工作的價值。
17 lurid 9Atxh     
  • The paper gave all the lurid details of the murder.這份報紙對這起兇殺案聳人聽聞的細節描寫得淋漓盡致。
  • The lurid sunset puts a red light on their faces.血紅一般的夕陽映紅了他們的臉。
18 refinements 563606dd79d22a8d1e79a3ef42f959e7     
n.(生活)風雅;精煉( refinement的名詞復數 );改良品;細微的改良;優雅或高貴的動作
  • The new model has electric windows and other refinements. 新型號有電動窗和其他改良裝置。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
  • It is possible to add a few useful refinements to the basic system. 對基本系統進行一些有益的改良是可能的。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
19 drooped ebf637c3f860adcaaf9c11089a322fa5     
彎曲或下垂,發蔫( droop的過去式和過去分詞 )
  • Her eyelids drooped as if she were on the verge of sleep. 她眼瞼低垂好像快要睡著的樣子。
  • The flowers drooped in the heat of the sun. 花兒曬蔫了。
20 abruptly iINyJ     
  • He gestured abruptly for Virginia to get in the car.他粗魯地示意弗吉尼亞上車。
  • I was abruptly notified that a half-hour speech was expected of me.我突然被通知要講半個小時的話。
21 wretch EIPyl     
  • You are really an ungrateful wretch to complain instead of thanking him.你不但不謝他,還埋怨他,真不知好歹。
  • The dead husband is not the dishonoured wretch they fancied him.死去的丈夫不是他們所想象的不光彩的壞蛋。
22 implicated 8443a53107b44913ed0a3f12cadfa423     
  • These groups are very strongly implicated in the violence. 這些組織與這起暴力事件有著極大的關聯。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
  • Having the stolen goods in his possession implicated him in the robbery. 因藏有贓物使他涉有偷盜的嫌疑。 來自《現代漢英綜合大詞典》
23 mere rC1xE     
  • That is a mere repetition of what you said before.那不過是重復了你以前講的話。
  • It's a mere waste of time waiting any longer.再等下去純粹是浪費時間。
24 bent QQ8yD     
  • He was fully bent upon the project.他一心撲在這項計劃上。
  • We bent over backward to help them.我們盡了最大努力幫助他們。
25 drooping drooping     
adj. 下垂的,無力的 動詞droop的現在分詞
  • The drooping willows are waving gently in the morning breeze. 晨風中垂柳裊裊。
  • The branches of the drooping willows were swaying lightly. 垂柳輕飄飄地擺動。
26 nervously tn6zFp     
  • He bit his lip nervously,trying not to cry.他緊張地咬著唇,努力忍著不哭出來。
  • He paced nervously up and down on the platform.他在站臺上情緒不安地走來走去。
27 misery G10yi     
  • Business depression usually causes misery among the working class.商業不景氣常使工薪階層受苦。
  • He has rescued me from the mire of misery.他把我從苦海里救了出來。
28 dissenting kuhz4F     
  • He can't tolerate dissenting views. 他不能容納不同意見。
  • A dissenting opinion came from the aunt . 姑媽卻提出不贊同的意見。
29 deliberately Gulzvq     
  • The girl gave the show away deliberately.女孩故意泄露秘密。
  • They deliberately shifted off the argument.他們故意回避這個論點。
30 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你們倆選定婚期了嗎?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目標一旦確定,我們就不應該隨意改變。
31 positively vPTxw     
  • She was positively glowing with happiness.她滿臉幸福。
  • The weather was positively poisonous.這天氣著實討厭。
32 ranches 8036d66af8e98e892dc5191d7ef335fc     
大農場, (兼種果樹,養雞等的)大牧場( ranch的名詞復數 )
  • They hauled feedlot manure from the ranches to fertilize their fields. 他們從牧場的飼養場拖走肥料去肥田。
  • Many abandoned ranches are purchased or leased by other poultrymen. 許多被放棄的牧場會由其他家禽監主收買或租用。
33 slippers oiPzHV     
n. 拖鞋
  • a pair of slippers 一雙拖鞋
  • He kicked his slippers off and dropped on to the bed. 他踢掉了拖鞋,倒在床上。
34 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震過后只有幾幢房屋還立著。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他們堅決反對對法律做任何修改。
35 briefly 9Styo     
  • I want to touch briefly on another aspect of the problem.我想簡單地談一下這個問題的另一方面。
  • He was kidnapped and briefly detained by a terrorist group.他被一個恐怖組織綁架并短暫拘禁。
36 unevenly 9fZz51     
  • Fuel resources are very unevenly distributed. 燃料資源分布很不均勻。
  • The cloth is dyed unevenly. 布染花了。
37 blurring e5be37d075d8bb967bd24d82a994208d     
n.模糊,斑點甚多,(圖像的)混亂v.(使)變模糊( blur的現在分詞 );(使)難以區分
  • Retinal hemorrhage, and blurring of the optic dise cause visual disturbances. 視網膜出血及神經盤模糊等可導致視力障礙。 來自辭典例句
  • In other ways the Bible limited Puritan writing, blurring and deadening the pages. 另一方面,圣經又限制了清教時期的作品,使它們顯得晦澀沉悶。 來自辭典例句
38 haze O5wyb     
  • I couldn't see her through the haze of smoke.在煙霧彌漫中,我看不見她。
  • He often lives in a haze of whisky.他常常是在威士忌的懵懂醉意中度過的。
39 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的風景所吸引。
40 irresistibly 5946377e9ac116229107e1f27d141137     
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside. 她的目光禁不住被外面的風景所吸引。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
  • He was irresistibly attracted by her charm. 他不能自已地被她的魅力所吸引。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
41 instinctively 2qezD2     
  • As he leaned towards her she instinctively recoiled. 他向她靠近,她本能地往后縮。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
  • He knew instinctively where he would find her. 他本能地知道在哪兒能找到她。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
42 mischievous mischievous     
  • He is a mischievous but lovable boy.他是一個淘氣但可愛的小孩。
  • A mischievous cur must be tied short.惡狗必須拴得短。
43 dreaded XuNzI3     
adj.令人畏懼的;害怕的v.害怕,恐懼,擔心( dread的過去式和過去分詞)
  • The dreaded moment had finally arrived. 可怕的時刻終于來到了。
  • He dreaded having to spend Christmas in hospital. 他害怕非得在醫院過圣誕節不可。 來自《用法詞典》
44 shrugged 497904474a48f991a3d1961b0476ebce     
  • Sam shrugged and said nothing. 薩姆聳聳肩膀,什么也沒說。
  • She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 她聳聳肩,裝出一副無所謂的樣子。 來自《簡明英漢詞典》
45 tightened bd3d8363419d9ff838bae0ba51722ee9     
收緊( tighten的過去式和過去分詞 ); (使)變緊; (使)繃緊; 加緊
  • The rope holding the boat suddenly tightened and broke. 系船的繩子突然繃斷了。
  • His index finger tightened on the trigger but then relaxed again. 他的食指扣住扳機,然后又松開了。
46 honeymoon ucnxc     
  • While on honeymoon in Bali,she learned to scuba dive.她在巴厘島度蜜月時學會了帶水肺潛水。
  • The happy pair are leaving for their honeymoon.這幸福的一對就要去度蜜月了。
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