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Lesson Eleven


The Midnight Visitor Robert Arthur

Pre-class Work I

Read the text once for the main idea. Do not refer to the notes, dictionaries or the glossary yet.

Ausable did not fit the description of any secret agent Fowler had ever read about. Following him down the corridor of the gloomy French hotel where Ausable had a room, Fowler felt disappointed. It was a small room on the sixth floor and hardly a setting for a romantic figure.
Ausable was, for one thing, fat. Very fat. And then there was his accent. Though he spoke French and German passably, he had never altogether lost New England accent he had brought to Paris from Boston twenty years ago.
"You are disappointed," Ausable said wheezily over his shoulder. "You were told that I was a secret agent, a spy, dealing in espionage and danger. You wished to meet me because you are a writer, young and romantic. You thought you would have mysterious figures in the night, the crack of pistols, drugs in the wine."
"Instead, you have spent a dull evening in a French music hall with a sloppy fat man who, instead of having messages slipped into his hand by dark-eyed beauties, gets only an ordinary telephone call making an appointment in his room. You have been bored!" The fat man chuckled to himself as he unlocked the door of his room and stood aside to let his frustrated guest enter.
"You are disillusioned," Ausable told him. "But take cheer, my young friend. Before long you will see a paper, a quite important paper for which several men and women have risked their lives, come to me in the next-to-last step of its journey into official hands. Some day soon that paper may well affect the course of history. There is drama in that thought, don't you think?" As he spoke, Ausable closed the door behind him. Then he switched on the light.
And as the light came on, Fowler had his first real thrill of the day. For halfway across the room, a small automatic pistol in his hand, stood a man.
Ausable blinked a few times.
"Max," he wheezed, "you gave me quite a start. I thought you were in Berlin. What are you doing in my room?"
Max was slender, not tall, and with a face that suggested the look of a fox. Except for the gun, he did not look very dangerous.
"The report," he murmured. "The report that is being brought to you tonight concerning some new missiles. I thought I would take it from you. It will be safer in my hands than in yours."
Ausable moved to an armchair and sat down heavily. "I'm going to raise the devil with the management this time; I am angry," he said grimly. "This is the second time in a month that somebody has gotten into my room off that confounded balcony!" Fowler's eyes went to the single window of the room. It was an ordinary window, against which now the night was pressing blackly.
"Balcony?" Max asked curiously. "No, I had a passkey. I did not know about the balcony. It might have saved me some trouble had I known about it."
"It's not my balcony," explained Ausable angrily. "It belongs to the next apartment." He glanced explanatorily at Fowler. "You see," he said, "this room used to be part of a large unit, and the next room through that door there used to be the living room. It had the balcony, which extends under my window now. You can get onto it from the empty room next door, and somebody did, last month. The management promised to block it off. But they haven't."
Max glanced at Fowler, who was standing stiffly a few feet from Ausable, and waved the gun with a commanding gesture. "Please sit down," he said. "We have a wait of half an hour, I think."
"Thirty-one minutes," Ausable said moodily. "The appointment was for twelvethirty. I wish I knew how you learned about the report, Max."
The little spy smiled evilly. "And we wish we knew how your people got the report. But, no harm has been done. I will get it back tonight. What is that? Who is at the door?"
Fowler jumped at the sudden knocking at the door. Ausable just smiled, "That will be the police," he said. "I thought that such an important paper should have a little extra protection. I told them to check on me to make sure everything was all right."
Max bit his lip nervously. The knocking was repeated.
"What will you do now, Max?" Ausable asked. "If I do not answer the door, they will enter anyway. The door is unlocked. And they will not hesitate to shoot."
Max's face was black with anger as he backed swiftly toward the window; with his hand behind him, he opened the window and put his leg out into the night. "Send them away!" he warned. "I will wait on the balcony. Send them away or I'll shoot and take my chances!"
The knocking at the door became louder and a voice was raised. "Mr. Ausable! Mr. Ausable!"
Keeping his body twisted so that his gun still covered the fat man and his guest, the man at the window swung his other leg up and over the window sill.
The doorknob turned. Swiftly Max pushed with his left hand to free himself and drop to the balcony. And then as he dropped, he screamed once, shrilly.
The door opened and a waiter stood there with a tray, a bottle and two glasses. "Here is the drink you ordered, sir." He set the tray on the table, uncorked the bottle, and left the room.
White faced and shaking, Fowler stared after him. "But... but... what about... the police?" he stammered.
"There never were any police." Ausable sighed. "Only Henry, whom I was expecting."
"But what about the man on the balcony?" Fowler began.
"No," said Ausable, "he won't return."

Read the text a second time. Learn the new words and expressions listed below.


n. the way a person pronounces the words of a language showing which country or which part of a country he comes from 口音;腔调

n. 代理人;a secret ~ : 特工人员

adv. completely; entirely

n. a set of rooms within a large building where one lives 一套公寓房间

n. a comfortable chair with sides to rest your arms on 有扶手的单人沙发

adj. 自动的

n. a city in Germany 柏林

v. to shut and open your eyes quickly 眨眼

n. a city in the U. S. 波士顿

adj. 命令式的,威严的

adj. damned; used to show you are annoyed

n. a long narrow passage, between two rows of rooms in a building 走廊

n. evil spirit 魔鬼;raise the ~ (= raise hell): to behave in an angry and threatening way 好好闹一闹;好好抗议一下

adj. feeling disappointed and unhappy because sb. or sth. is not as good as you thought 幻想破灭的

n. 门把;拉手

n. the activity of secretly finding out a country's secrets 间谍活动

adv. 邪恶地

adj. meant to explain

v. to continue for a particular distance 延伸

adj. feeling upset and impatient because you can not control a situation or achieve sth. 有挫折感的

n. 手势

adj. dark, especially in a way that seems sad 阴暗的

adv. seriously; sternly 阴沉着脸地

v. to be slow in deciding 犹豫不决

n. 导弹

adv. feeling unhappy or angry 愤愤地;不快地

adj. with an unpleasant smell

adj. 神秘的

adj. good enough to be accepted; not bad

n. 万能钥匙

n. 手枪

v. 冒险

adj. 浪漫的

adv. shouting in a sharp or high-pitched voice

n. 窗台

v. to give sb. sth. quietly and secretly 悄悄地递过去

adj. careless about clothes 衣着随便的

n. a secret agent 间谍

v. to speak with difficulty, repeating words or sounds because one is nervous or afraid 结结巴巴地说

v. to look with wide-open eyes because of fear

adv. without being able to move one's body 僵硬地

adv. fast; rapidly

n. a sudden strong feeling of great excitement and pleasure

n. 盘子

v. 扭曲,弯曲

v. to open a bottle by removing the cork 开瓶塞

v. to breathe noisily 喘息

adv. (说话)呼哧呼哧响地


The Night the President Met
the Burglar Richard C. Garvey

The author uses narration to recount a news story that was suppressed for over fifty years. The story is now noteworthy more from a human interest perspective than from a news standpoint. The author uses both direct and reported speech in the article. Although character development is not extensive, Garvey includes sufficient details to explain the actions of the President, Mrs. Coolidge, and the burglar so that we understand the reasons for their behavior.

A cat burglar invaded the bedroom of the President of the United States, who confronted him, struck a deal with him and helped him escape.
The President and First Lady—she slept through the encounter—never notified the Secret Service and he enjoined a journalist friend not to print the story.
The journalist kept his word, and this is the first time the incident has been reported.
The event occurred in the early morning hours in one of the first days of the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, late in August, 1923. He and his family were living in the same third-floor suite at the Willard Hotel in Washington that they had occupied during his vice presidency. President Warren G. Harding's widow still was living in the White House.
Coolidge awoke to see an intruder go through his clothes, remove a wallet and unhook a watch chain.
Coolidge spoke: "I wish you wouldn't take that."
The intruder, gaining his voice, said: "Why?"
"I don't mean the watch and chain, only the charm. Take it near the window and read what is engraved on the back of it," the President said.
The burglar read: "Presented to Calvin Coolidge, Speaker of the House, by the Massachusetts General Court."
"Are you President Coolidge?" he asked.
The President answered, "Yes, and the Legislature gave me that watch charm . . . I'm fond of it. It would do you no good. You want money. Let's talk this over."
Holding up the wallet, the intruder bargained: "I'll take this and leave everything else."
Coolidge, knowing there was $ 80 in the billfold, persuaded the intruder to sit down and talk. The young man said he and his college roommate had overspent during their vacation and did not have enough money to pay their hotel bill.
Coolidge added up the room rate and two rail tickets back to the campus. Then he counted out $ 32 and said it was a loan.
He then told the intruder that there probably would be a Secret Service agent patrolling the hotel corridor and asked if an escape could be made by going back along the hotel ledge. The man left through the same window he had entered.
The President told his wife, Grace, about the event. Later, he confided in two friends, Judge Walter L. Stevens, the family lawyer, and Frank MacCarthy, a freelance writer and photographer. I
The President held MacCarthy to silence and never told him the intruder's name. As the 25th anniversary of the event approached, 15 years after Coolidge's death, MacCarthy, by then working for the Springfield Union, asked Mrs. Coolidge to let him use the story.
She declined, saying, "There is already too much publicity given to acts of vandalism and violence." MacCarthy honored her request, asking only that she review the story for accuracy and allow him to use it after her death.
Mrs. Coolidge died July 8, 1957, and MacCarthy died less than four months later without publishing his article.
MacCarthy had shared the story with me when we worked together. Because all reasons for secrecy have vanished, this report has been reconstructed from MacCarthy's own article.
I have called the young man a burglar because MacCarthy' s article so identifies him, but his notes show that Coolidge said the young man repaid the $ 32 loan in full.