O. Henry. A Retrieved Reformation. Part 7 (read in English)
7. Suddenly there was a scream or two from the women, and a commotion. Unperceived by the elders, May, the nine-year-old girl, in a spirit of play, had shut Agatha in the vault. She had then shot the bolts and turned the knob of the combination as she had seen Mr. Adams do.
The old banker sprang to the handle and tugged at it for a moment. “The door can’t be opened,” he groaned. “The clock hasn’t been wound nor the combination set.”
Agatha’s mother screamed again, hysterically.
“Hush!” said Mr. Adams, raising his trembling hand. “All be quite for a moment. Agatha!” he called as loudly as he could. “Listen to me.” During the following silence they could just hear the faint sound of the child wildly shrieking in the dark vault in a panic of terror.
“My precious darling!” wailed the mother. “She will die of fright! Open the door! Oh, break it open! Can’t you men do something?”
“There isn’t a man nearer than Little Rock who can open that door,” said Mr. Adams, in a shaky voice. “My God! Spencer, what shall we do? That child—she can’t stand it long in there. There isn’t enough air, and, besides, she’ll go into convulsions from fright.”
Agatha’s mother, terrified now, beat the door of the vault with her hands. Somebody wildly suggested dynamite. Annabel turned to Jimmy, her large eyes full of anguish, but not yet despairing. To a woman nothing seems quite impossible to the powers of the man she worships.
“Can’t you do something, Ralph—try, won’t you?”
He looked at her with a queer, soft smile on his lips and in his keen eyes.
“Annabel,” he said, “give me that rose you are wearing, will you?”
Hardly believing that she heard him alright, she unpinned the flower from the bosom of her dress, and placed it in his hand. Jimmy stuffed it into his vest-pocket, threw off his coat and pulled up his shirt-sleeves. With that act Ralph D. Spencer passed away and Jimmy Valentine took his place.
“Get away from the door, all of you,” he commanded, shortly.
He set his suit-case on the table, and opened it out flat. From that time on he seemed to be unconscious of the presence of anyone else. He laid out the shining, queer tools swiftly and orderly, whistling softly to himself as he always did when at work. In a deep silence and immovable, the others watched him as if under a spell.
In a minute Jimmy’s pet drill was biting smoothly into the steel door. In ten minutes—breaking his own burglarious record—he threw back the bolts and opened the door.
Agatha, almost collapsed, but safe, was gathered into her mother’s arms.
Jimmy Valentine put on his coat, and walked toward the front door. As he went he thought he heard a far-away voice that he once knew call “Ralph!” But he never hesitated.
At the door a big man stood somewhat in his way.
“Hello, Ben!” said Jimmy, still with his strange smile. “Got around at last, have you? Well, let’s go. I don’t know that it makes much difference, now.”
And then Ben Price acted rather strangely.
“Guess you’re mistaken, Mr. Spencer,” he said. “Don’t believe I recognize you. Your car’s waiting for you, isn’t it?”
And Ben Price turned and walked down the street.
Задания к тексту:
1. Выпишите подчеркнутые слова в словарь (пассивная лексика ), прослушайте их произношение и выучите.
2. Answer the questions:
- Did the story have a surprise ending, in your opinion?
- What can you say about Jimmy Valentine?
- What can you say about Ben Price?
3. Retell the story.
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