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儿童英语读物 The Mystery of the Spider's Clue CHAPTER 2 The Strange Invitation

时间:2017-10-18 06:38来源:互联网 提供网友:qing   字体: [ ]

Benny rang Sam’s bell. A moment later, the door opened. A man in a business suit greeted them. He was very tall, with gray hair that circled a bald spot.

“You must be Mrs. McGregor,” the man said with a friendly smile. “And I bet these are the famous Alden children.” He held out his hand. “I’m Thomas Paintner. An old friend of Sam’s.”

“I’ve often heard Sam speak of you,” Mrs. McGregor said warmly. “And you’re quite right. I’m Mrs. McGregor and these are the Aldens—Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny.”

They all shook hands. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Paintner,” the children said politely

“None of that formal stuff,” Sam’s old friend told them. “Please call me Thomas.”

“We’ll only be staying a moment,” said Mrs. McGregor. “We don’t want to intrude1.”

Thomas shook his head as he ushered2 them inside. “You won’t be intruding,” he said. “Besides, I can only stay a little while longer myself.”

The well-dressed man led them into the living room, where the afternoon sun shone through sparkling clean windows. Sam was resting on the couch, a faded old quilt thrown over him, his shirtsleeves rolled up and a cane3 nearby.

“I was hoping you could make it!” he said cheerfully as they came into the room.

Mrs. McGregor held up her paper bag. “I remembered your favorite cookies, Sam.”

Benny’s mouth dropped open as he looked around. Every square inch of every table was covered with get-well cards!

When she saw the look of surprise on Benny’s face, Mrs. McGregor smiled and said, “Sam’s been flooded with cards and phone calls since his accident.”

“Oh, yes!” put in Sam as he propped4 himself up higher on the pillows. “Folks have been real good to me. Even Thomas dropped everything and came right over. I called him the minute I saw his name on that invitation.”

Jessie and Henry exchanged glances. What did Thomas Paintner have to do with the strange invitation?

Mrs. McGregor said, “Why don’t I make a pot of tea. Then we can sit down and have a nice visit.”

Sam smoothed his droopy mustache and grinned a little. “Do you think we could have some cookies with that tea?”

Mrs. McGregor was already halfway5 to the kitchen. “Of course!” she called back over her shoulder.

The Aldens went along to help. While Mrs. McGregor put water on to boil, Benny arranged the cookies on a plate, Jessie poured four glasses of milk, Henry reached into the cupboard for the napkins and the teacups, and Violet filled the sugar bowl.

They made their way back to the living room. Henry helped clear a space on the coffee table for the tea tray.

Benny perched on a wooden footstool. “Will you tell us about the invitation now, Sam?” He couldn’t wait to hear all about the mystery.

“Sure thing.” With a nod of his head, Sam pulled an engraved6 invitation from his shirt pocket. He held it up for everyone to see. “This is it,” he said. “I got it in the mail today.”

Henry, Jessie, and Violet sat down together on the quilt-draped love seat, while Mrs. McGregor settled into one of the rocking chairs by the window. They waited expectantly for Sam to continue.

“My first thought,” Sam went on, “was that it was some kind of practical joke. That’s why I asked Thomas to stop by.”

“It’s definitely not a practical joke,” Thomas said firmly. “There’s a lot of money waiting for the first person to solve the mystery.”

The Aldens looked at one another in surprise.

“Money?” echoed Benny.

Thomas nodded as Mrs. McGregor poured his tea. “I’m a lawyer, and one of my clients was a very wealthy businessman. Before he died, he came up with the idea for a mystery. Whoever solved the mystery would inherit a portion of his estate—that means a good chunk7 of his money.”

“Who was he?” Benny wanted to know. “The businessman, I mean.”

Thomas stirred cream into his tea. “My client wanted that to be kept a secret, Benny.”

“You mean, until after the mystery’s solved?” Mrs. McGregor looked puzzled.

“Before and after, Mrs. McGregor,” answered Thomas. “The millionaire’s name will never be revealed.”

Henry scratched his head. “Why did he want to keep it a secret?”

Thomas said only, “I’m sure my client had his reasons.”

Sam looked around at everyone. “The whole thing sounded kind of fishy8 to me. But Thomas swears that the invitation is for real.” Sam was patting his shirt pockets. “Now, where did I put my glasses?” He glanced over at the Aldens. “Could someone read the invitation out loud for me?”

Jessie stood up. “Of course.” She took the invitation from Sam, then began to read it aloud:

    To Samuel Snow,

    You are cordially invited to solve the mystery of the Spider’s Clue.

    In a separate envelope, you will find a series of clues that will lead you through Greenfield to a secret code word.

    If you are the first to solve the mystery of the Spider’s Clue and discover the secret code word, you will be the winner of an inheritance.

    This code word must he given to Thomas Paintner, at the law firm of Paintner and Bradley, by July 12.

    Good luck to one and all!

When she was finished, Jessie sank back against a cushion. She had never seen such a strange invitation before.

“There isn’t much time to find the code word,” Violet pointed9 out. “The twelfth of July is only one week away.”

Thomas took a sip10 of his tea. “That’s true,” he said. “And there’ll be others trying to solve the mystery too.”

“It seems odd,” Henry said thoughtfully. “Why would the millionaire make a game out of giving away his money?”

Jessie was curious, too. “Why didn’t he just name somebody in his will?”

“I bet the millionaire liked mysteries,” Benny guessed, his eyes shining. “Maybe he wanted everyone to have some fun trying to solve one.”

“You’re a smart young man, Benny,” said Thomas with a slow smile. “Not many people would’ve figured that out.”

Benny smiled.

Sam put down his teacup and looked at each of the Aldens in turn. “I was wondering if you’d like to tackle this mystery for me,” he said. “I’d try to solve it myself, but I can’t get around much right now. It takes me a long time to walk anywhere.”

The children didn’t have to think about it. “We’d be happy to solve it for you,” Henry said in an excited voice.

“Great!” Sam was pleased. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

“Sam often tells me about the Alden adventures,” said Thomas as he reached for another cookie. “And I love to hear about them. I quite enjoy a good mystery.”

“Thomas is a big mystery fan,” Sam told them. “Always has been.”

Thomas laughed. “I’ve had a soft spot for mysteries ever since I was a kid,” he confessed. “Even now, I like to hide a bit of candy somewhere in the house when my grandchildren come to visit. I make a list of codes and clues to help them track it down.”

That sounded like fun to Benny. “Your grandchildren must really like visiting you.”

“I think they do,” said Thomas.

Suddenly Jessie had a thought. “What happens if nobody finds the code word?” she asked Thomas. “What happens to the inheritance?”

“According to my client’s will, if no one solves the mystery the money goes to his relatives.”

Henry had a question, too. “Do you think the millionaire knew the people he sent invitations to?” he asked. “Or did he just pick their names out of the phone book?”

Thomas smiled mysteriously. “We may never know the answer to that.”

The Aldens exchanged glances. Why was Sam’s old friend being so vague?

As if reading their minds, Thomas quickly added, “I drew up the will, but my client didn’t tell me much else. He requested that the invitations be sent out after his death, and his butler did that. I didn’t even know Sam was on the mailing list until he called today. I know the code word, of course,” he went on. “And I know that the first person to come up with it by July twelfth will inherit a nice sum of money. But I’m afraid that’s all I know.” Thomas glanced at his watch. “I don’t like to rush off, but I do have another appointment.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” said Sam. “I appreciate your stopping by.”

Thomas stood up. “You know, those cookies bring back a lot of memories. When we were kids, we used to eat cookies until they were coming out of our ears!” Thomas had a faraway look in his eyes. “We did everything together back then. Why, we were like the Three Musketeers—Sam and Simon and I. Do you remember the way little Pinky used to follow the three of us around, Sam? Whenever we—”

“The past is best forgotten!” Sam suddenly broke in, giving Thomas a hard look.

Everyone seemed surprised by Sam’s harsh tone. Why was he getting so upset about the past? And who were Simon and Pinky?

Thomas looked as if he wanted to argue with his old friend, but he didn’t. There was a strained silence until Mrs. McGregor finally spoke11 up.

“I’m glad you enjoyed the cookies, Thomas,” she said, trying to change the subject. “They’ve always been a great favorite around the Alden house.”

Thomas gave Mrs. McGregor a warm smile. Then he said good-bye and left.

Sam lay back on his pillows. He did not look one bit happy.

“You seem tired, Sam,” Mrs. McGregor commented. “Perhaps we should be going, too.”

Benny’s eyes widened in alarm. “But what about the clues?” he cried. “We can’t go before we open the other envelope!”

“Right you are,” said Sam, stirring himself. He reached for the second envelope from the coffee table. “Would you like to open it for me, Benny?”

“Sure thing!” Benny jumped from the stool and took the envelope from Sam. Everyone held their breath as Benny opened it and pulled out a folded sheet of paper.

“Oh!” Benny exclaimed, his eyes widening as he unfolded the paper. “It’s a poem!” He held it up for everyone to see.

“Would you like me to read it, Benny?” Violet asked. The youngest Alden was just learning to read.

Benny passed the poem to his sister.

Violet cleared her throat, then she read aloud:

    When the sheep in the meadow

    And the cow in the corn

    Do a figure eight

    In the early morn,

    Look no further,

    For you will see

    The Spider’s Clue

    In the hollow tree.

Amazed, the Aldens sat in puzzled silence. Jessie looked at Henry. How would they ever figure out such a strange poem?

Sam seemed to know what they were thinking. “That’s going to be a tough mystery to solve,” he remarked. “You certainly have your work cut out for you.”

Mrs. McGregor laughed. “If there’s anything these children like, it’s work!”

“We’re good at figuring out clues,” Benny told Sam. “We’ll find that code word in no time.” He turned to the others. “Right?”

“Yes,” said Henry. Then he added honestly “At least, we’ll do our best.”

Mrs. McGregor said, “Now you can relax, Sam. The mystery’s in good hands. Besides, it’s been ages since you’ve had any time away from your job.”

Sam’s eyes clouded. “Oh, I don’t mind a bit of time to myself. But I do feel badly for my friends—the ones who rely on me. Some of them are getting older, you know. They can’t get around much anymore. They really enjoy looking out their windows at the flowers and the trees.” Sam shook his head sadly. “I try to keep their windows clean. Every week I do one or two houses for free. The homes where my older friends live, I mean.”

“Maybe we could lend a hand,” volunteered Henry.

“Of course,” agreed Jessie, while Benny and Violet nodded eagerly.

Sam looked surprised—and pleased. “Would you?” he asked.

“We’d like to help,” Violet said in her soft voice.

Sam looked at the children’s eager faces. “Washing windows is hard work,” he warned them.

“No problem!” Benny said. “We can handle it!”

“I just might take you up on that offer,” Sam said, smiling for the first time. “I don’t like to let folks down.”

The Aldens looked at one another. They understood what Sam meant. Helping12 people always made them feel good, too.

“The houses aren’t far from here.” Sam scribbled13 the names and addresses on a piece of paper. “I know they’ll appreciate your help.”

Henry folded the paper that Sam handed to him. Then he carefully put the addresses in his pocket.

Jessie spoke up. “Do you mind if I make a copy of the Spider’s Clue poem, Sam?”

Sam didn’t mind at all. “Be my guest,” he said.

Jessie tugged14 her small notebook and pencil from her pocket. While she copied the poem, the other Aldens helped Mrs. McGregor. They gathered up the glasses and saucers and teacups and took them into the kitchen to wash them. It wasn’t until they were saying good-bye that the children remembered to give Sam their get-well card.

“Nobody’s ever drawn15 a picture of me before,” Sam told them, taking a long look at the card. “And a poem, too! I can’t believe it.”

Mrs. McGregor smiled. “Well, there’s a first time for everything.”

Sam tucked the get-well card into his shirt pocket. “This one is a keeper!” he said in a choked voice.

Violet was afraid Sam might get lonely all by himself. “We’ll stop by every day,” she promised. “And we’ll keep you up to date on the mystery.”

“I’d like that,” Sam told her.

Jessie was worried about Sam, too. There was such a sad note in his voice. But she didn’t know what to say to make him feel better, so she just stared out the window. Her eyes suddenly widened when she caught a glimpse of movement outside.

Was it just her imagination? Or was the same man still watching Sam’s house from behind the trees?


1 intrude Lakzv     
  • I do not want to intrude if you are busy.如果你忙我就不打扰你了。
  • I don't want to intrude on your meeting.我不想打扰你们的会议。
2 ushered d337b3442ea0cc4312a5950ae8911282     
v.引,领,陪同( usher的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The secretary ushered me into his office. 秘书把我领进他的办公室。
  • A round of parties ushered in the New Year. 一系列的晚会迎来了新年。 来自《简明英汉词典》
3 cane RsNzT     
  • This sugar cane is quite a sweet and juicy.这甘蔗既甜又多汁。
  • English schoolmasters used to cane the boys as a punishment.英国小学老师过去常用教鞭打男学生作为惩罚。
4 propped 557c00b5b2517b407d1d2ef6ba321b0e     
支撑,支持,维持( prop的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sat propped up in the bed by pillows. 他靠着枕头坐在床上。
  • This fence should be propped up. 这栅栏该用东西支一支。
5 halfway Xrvzdq     
  • We had got only halfway when it began to get dark.走到半路,天就黑了。
  • In study the worst danger is give up halfway.在学习上,最忌讳的是有始无终。
6 engraved be672d34fc347de7d97da3537d2c3c95     
v.在(硬物)上雕刻(字,画等)( engrave的过去式和过去分词 );将某事物深深印在(记忆或头脑中)
  • The silver cup was engraved with his name. 银杯上刻有他的名字。
  • It was prettily engraved with flowers on the back. 此件雕刻精美,背面有花饰图案。 来自《简明英汉词典》
7 chunk Kqwzz     
  • They had to be careful of floating chunks of ice.他们必须当心大块浮冰。
  • The company owns a chunk of farmland near Gatwick Airport.该公司拥有盖特威克机场周边的大片农田。
8 fishy ysgzzF     
adj. 值得怀疑的
  • It all sounds very fishy to me.所有这些在我听起来都很可疑。
  • There was definitely something fishy going on.肯定当时有可疑的事情在进行中。
9 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。
10 sip Oxawv     
  • She took a sip of the cocktail.她啜饮一口鸡尾酒。
  • Elizabeth took a sip of the hot coffee.伊丽莎白呷了一口热咖啡。
11 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
12 helping 2rGzDc     
  • The poor children regularly pony up for a second helping of my hamburger. 那些可怜的孩子们总是要求我把我的汉堡包再给他们一份。
  • By doing this, they may at times be helping to restore competition. 这样一来, 他在某些时候,有助于竞争的加强。
13 scribbled de374a2e21876e209006cd3e9a90c01b     
v.潦草的书写( scribble的过去式和过去分词 );乱画;草草地写;匆匆记下
  • She scribbled his phone number on a scrap of paper. 她把他的电话号码匆匆写在一张小纸片上。
  • He scribbled a note to his sister before leaving. 临行前,他给妹妹草草写了一封短信。
14 tugged 8a37eb349f3c6615c56706726966d38e     
v.用力拉,使劲拉,猛扯( tug的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She tugged at his sleeve to get his attention. 她拽了拽他的袖子引起他的注意。
  • A wry smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. 他的嘴角带一丝苦笑。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 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风景所吸引。
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