Lesson1 A puma at large
Pumas are large, cat-like animals which are found in America. When reports came into London Zoo that a wild puma had been spotted forty-five miles south of London, they were not taken seriously. However, as the evidence began to accumulate, experts from the Zoo felt obliged to investigate, for the descriptions given by people who claimed to have seen the puma were extraordinarily similar.
The hunt for the puma began in a small village where a woman picking blackberries saw 'a large cat' only five yards away from her. It immediately ran away when she saw it, and experts confirmed that a puma will not attack a human being unless it is cornered（adj.被困得走投无路的）. The search proved difficult, for the puma was often observed at one place in the morning and at another place twenty miles away in the evening. Wherever it went, it left behind it a trail of dead deer and small animals like rabbits. Paw prints were seen in a number of places and puma fur was found clinging to bushes. Several people complained of 'cat-like noises' at night and a businessman on a fishing trip saw the puma up a tree. The experts were now fully convinced that the animal was a puma, but where had it come from ? As no pumas had been reported missing from any zoo in the country, this one must have been in the possession of a private collector and somehow managed to escape. The hunt went on for several weeks, but the puma was not caught. It is disturbing to think that a dangerous wild animal is still at large in the quiet countryside.
Lesson 2 Thirteen equals one
Our vicar is always raising money for one cause or another, but he has never managed to get enough money to have the church clock repaired. The big clock which used to strike the hours day and night was damaged many years ago and has been silent ever since.
' One night, however, our vicar woke up with a start: the clock was striking the hours! Looking at his watch, he saw that it was one o'clock, but the bell struck thirteen times before it stopped. Armed with a torch, the vicar went up into the clock tower to see what was going on. In the torchlight, he caught sight of a figure whom he immediately recognized as Bill Wilkins, our local grocer. 'Whatever are you doing up here Bill ?' asked the vicar in surprise. ' I'm trying to repair the bell,' answered Bill.' I've been coming up here night after night for weeks now. You see, I was hoping to give you a surprise.'
'You certainly did give me a surprise!' said the vicar. 'You've probably woken up everyone in the village as well. Still, I'm glad the bell is working again.'
'That's the trouble, vicar,' answered Bill. 'It's working all right, but I'm afraid that at one o'clock it will strike thirteen times and there's nothing I can do about it.' 'We'll get used to that Bill,' said the vicar. 'Thirteen is not as good as one but it's better than nothing. Now let's go downstairs and have a cup of tea.'
Lesson 3 An unknown goddess
Some time ago，an interesting discovery was made by archaeologists on the Aegean（adj.爱琴海的；n.）island of Kea．An American team explored a temple which stands in an ancient city on the promontory of Ayia Irini．The city at one time must have been prosperous，for it enjoyed a high level of civilization．Houses--often three storeys high--were built of stone．They had large rooms with beautifully decorated walls．The city was even equipped with
a drainage system ，for a great many clay pipes were found beneath the narrow streets ． The temple which the archaeologists explored was used as a place of worship from the fifteenth century B.C. until Roman times. In the most sacred room of the temple, clay fragments of fifteen statues were found. Each of these represented a goddess and had, at one time, been painted. The body of one statue was found among remains dating from the fifteenth century B.C. Its missing head happened to be among remains of the fifth century B.C. This head must have been found in Classical times and carefully preserved. It was very old and precious even then. When the archaeologists reconstructed the fragments, they were amazed to find that the goddess turned out to be a very modern-looking woman. She stood three feet high and her hands rested on her hip. She was wearing a full-length skirt which swept the ground. Despite her great age, she was very graceful indeed, but, so far, the archaeologists have been unable to discover her identity. 不久之前，在爱琴海的基亚岛上，考古工作者有一项有趣的发现。一个美国考古队在阿伊亚.依里尼海角的一座古城里考察了一座庙宇。这座古城肯定一度很繁荣，因为它曾享有高度的文明，房子一般有3层楼高，用石块修建。里面房间很大，墙壁装饰华丽。城里甚至还敷设了排水系统，因为在狭窄的街道底下发现了许许多多土制作的排水管道。 考古工作者考察的这座庙宇从公元前15世纪直到罗马时代一直是祭祀祈祷的场所。在庙中最神圣的一间殿堂里发现了15尊雕像的碎片。每一尊雕像代表一位女神，而且一度上过色。其中有一尊雕像，她的躯体是在公元前15世纪的历史文物中发现的，而她那身异处的脑袋却碰巧是在公元前5世纪的文物中找到的。她的脑袋一定是在古希腊罗马时代就为人所发现，并受到精心的保护。却使在当时，它也属历史悠久的珍奇之物。考古工作者把这些碎片重新拼装起来后，惊奇地发现那位女神原来是一位相貌十分摩登的女郎。她身高3英尺，双手叉腰。身穿一条拖地长裙，尽管上了年纪，但体态确实优美。不过，考古工作者至今未能确定这位女神的身份。
Lesson4 The double life of Alfred Bloggs
These days, people who do manual work often receive far more money than clerks who work in offices. People who work in offices are frequently referred to as' white collar workers' for the simple reason that they usually wear a collar and tie to go to work. Such is human nature, that a great many people are often willing to sacrifice higher pay for the privilege of becoming white collar workers. This can give rise to curious situations, as it did in the case of Alfred Bloggs who worked as a dustman for the Ellesmere Corporation. When he got married, Alf was too embarrassed to say anything to his wife about his job. He simply told her that he worked for the Corporation. Every morning, he left home dressed in a smart black suit. He then changed into overalls (n.工作服) and spent the next eight hours as a
dustman. Before returning home at night, he took a shower and changed back into his suit. Alf did this for over two
years and his fellow dustmen kept his secret. Alf's wife has never discovered that she married a dustman and she never will, for Alf has just found another job. He will soon be working in an office as a junior clerk. He will be earning only half as much as he used to, but he feels that his rise in status is well worth the loss of money. From now on, he will wear a suit all day and others will call him 'Mr. Bloggs', not 'Alf'.
Lesson 5 The facts
Editors of newspapers and magazines often go to extremes to provide their readers with unimportant facts and statistics. Last year a journalist had been instructed by a well-known magazine to write an article on the president's palace in a new African republic. When the article arrived, the editor read the first sentence and then refused to publish it. The article began: 'Hundreds of steps lead to the high wall which surrounds the president's palace.' The editor at once sent the journalist a fax instructing him to find out the exact number of steps and the height of the wall. The journalist immediately set out to obtain these important facts, but he took a long time to send them. Meanwhile, the editor was getting impatient, for the magazine would soon go to press. He sent the journalist two urgent telegrams, but received no reply. He sent yet another telegram informing the journalist that if he did not reply soon he would be fired. When the journalist again failed to reply, the editor reluctantly published the article as it had originally been written. A week later, the editor
at last received a telegram from the journalist. Not only had the poor man been arrested, but he had been sent to prison as well. However, he had at last been allowed to send a cable in which he informed the editor that he had been
arrested while counting the 1084 steps leading to the 15-foot wall which surrounded the president's palace.
Lesson 6 Smash-and-grab
The expensive shops in a famous arcade near Piccadilly were just opening. At this time of the morning, the arcade was almost empty. Mr Taylor, the owner of a jewellery shop was admiring a new window display. Two of his assistants had been working busily since 8 o'clock and had only just finished. Diamond necklaces and rings had been beautifully arranged on a background of black velvet. After gazing at the display for several minutes, Mr Taylor went back into his shop.
The silence was suddenly broken when a large car, with its headlights on and its horn blaring, roared down the arcade. It came to a stop outside the jeweler's. One man stayed at the wheel while two others with black stockings over their faces jumped out and smashed the window of the shop with iron bars. While this was going on, Mr Taylor was upstairs. He and his staff began throwing furniture out of the window. Chairs and tables went flying into the arcade. One of the thieves was struck by a heavy statue, but he was too busy helping himself to diamonds to notice any pain. The raid was all over in three minutes, for the men scrambled back into the car and it moved off at a fantastic speed. Just as it was leaving, Mr Taylor rushed out and ran after it throwing ashtrays and vases, but it was impossible to stop the thieves. They had got away with thousands of pounds worth of diamonds.
Lesson 7 Mutilated ladies
Children often have far more sense than their elders. This simple truth was demonstrated rather dramatically during a civil defence exercise in a small town in Canada. Most of the inhabitants were asked to take part in the exercise during which they had to pretend that their city had been bombed. Air-raid warnings were sounded and thousands of people went into special air-raid shelters. Doctors and nurses remained above ground while Police patrolled the streets in case anyone tried to leave the shelters too soon.
The police did not have much to do because the citizens took the exercise seriously. They stayed underground for twenty minutes and waited for the siren to sound again. On leaving the air-raid shelters, they saw that doctors and nurses were busy. A great many people had volunteered to act as casualties. Theatrical make-up and artificial blood had been used to make the injuries look realistic. A lot of People were lying 'dead' in the streets. The living helped to carry the dead and wounded to special stations.
A Child of six was brought in by two adults. The child was supposed to be dead. With theatrical make-up on his face, he looked as if he had died of shock. Some people were so moved by the sight that they began to cry. However, the child suddenly sat up and a doctor asked him to comment on his death. The child looked around for a moment and said, 'I think they're all crazy!'
最近的一个案例与简.巴特林有关，她的未婚夫约翰拥有一家生意兴隆家具店。有一天约翰的生意很好，他把一只装有3,000 英镑的钱包放进微波炉保存。然后，他和简一起去骑马。回家后，简用微波炉煮了晚饭，无意中之中把她未婚夫的钱包也一起煮了。可以想像他们发现一只煮得很好看的钱包，钞票已化成灰时的沮丧心情。约翰去找银行经理，经理把约翰的钱包和纸币的残留物送到英国银行在纽卡斯尔的一个专门部门——残钞鉴别组。他们鉴定了这些残留物。约翰拿回了他损失的全部数额。“只要有东西可供识别，我们会把钱还给人家的，”银行的一位女发言人说。“去年，我们对21，000 起索赔要求支付了150万英镑。”
Lesson8 A famous monastery
The Great St Bernard Pass connects Switzerland to Italy. At 2470 metres, it is the highest mountain pass in Europe. The famous monastery of St Bernard, which was founded in the eleventh century, lies about a mile away. For hundreds of years, St Bernard dogs have saved the lives of travellers crossing the dangerous Pass. These friendly dogs, which were first brought from Asia, were used as watch-dogs even in Roman times. Now that a tunnel has been built through the mountains, the Pass is less dangerous, but each year, the dogs are still sent out into the snow whenever a traveller is in difficulty. Despite the new tunnel, there are still a few people who rashly attempt to cross the Pass on foot.
During the summer months, the monastery is very busy, for it is visited by thousands of people who cross the Pass in cars, As there are so many people about, the dogs have to be kept in a special enclosure. In winter, however, life at the monastery is quite different. The temperature drops to -30 and very few people attempt to cross the Pass. The monks Prefer winter to summer for they have more privacy. The dogs have greater freedom, too, for they are allowed to wander outside their enclosure. The only regular visitors to the monastery in winter are parties of skiers who go there at Christmas and Easter. These young people, who love the peace of the mountains, always receive a warm.
Welcome at St Bernard's monastery.
Lesson9 Flying cats 飞猫
Cats never fail to fascinate human beings. They can be friendly and affectionate towards humans, but they lead mysterious lives of their own as well. They never become submissive like dogs and horses. As a result, humans have learned to respect feline independence. Most cats remain suspicious of humans all their lives. One of the things that fascinates us most about cats is the popular belief that they have nine lives. Apparently, they is a good deal of truth in this idea. A cat’s ability to survive falls is based on fact.
Recently the New York Animal Medical Centre made a study of 132 cats over a period of five months. All these cats had one experience in common: they had fallen off high buildings, yet only eight of them died from shock or injuries. Of course, New Yorkis the ideal place for such an interesting study, because there is no shortage of tall buildings. There are plenty of high-rise windowsills to fall from! One cat, Sabrina, fell 32 storeys, yet only suffered from a broken tooth. ‘ Cats behave like well-trained paratroopers,’ a docto r said. It seems that the further cats fall, the less they are likely to injure themselves. In a long drop, they reach speeds of 60 miles an hour and more. At high speeds, falling cats have time to relax. They stretch out their legs like flying squirrel. This increases their air-resistance and reduces the shock of impact when they hit the ground.
Lesson10 The loss of Titanic
The great ship, Titanic, sailed for New York from Southampton on April 10th, 1912. She was carrying 1316 passengers and a crew of 89l. Even by modern standards, the 46,000 ton Titanic was a colossal ship. At that time, however, she was not only the largest ship that had ever been built, but was regarded as unsinkable, for she had sixteen water- tight compartments. Even if two of these were flooded, she would still be able to float. The tragic sinking of this great liner will always be remembered, for she went down on her first voyage with heavy loss of life.
Four days after setting out, while the Titanic was sailing across the icy waters of the North Atlantic, a huge
iceberg was suddenly spotted by a look-out. After the alarm had been given, the great ship turned sharply to avoid a direct collision. The Titanic turned just in time, narrowly missing the immense wall of ice which rose over 100 feet out of the water beside her. Suddenly, there was a slight trembling sound from below, and the captain went down to see what had happened. The noise had been so faint that no one thought that the ship had been damaged. Below, the captain realized to his horror that the Titanic was sinking rapidly, for five of her sixteen water-
tight compartments had already been flooded ! The order to abandon ship was given and hundreds of people plunged into the icy water. As there were not enough life-boats for everybody, 1500 lives were lost.
Lesson11 Not guilty
Going through the Customs is a tiresome business. The strangest thing about it is that really honest people are often made to feel guilty. The hardened professional smuggler, on the other hand, is never troubled by such feelings, even if he has five hundred gold watches hidden in his suitcase. When I returned from abroad recently, a particularly officious young Customs Officer clearly regarded me as a smuggler.
'Have you anything to declare?' he asked, looking me in the eye.
'No,' I answered confidently.
'Would you mind unlocking this suitcase please ?'
'Not at all,' I answered.
The Officer went through the case with great care. All the things I had packed so carefully were soon in a dreadful mess. I felt sure I would never be able to close the case again. Suddenly, I saw the Officer's face light up. He had spotted a tiny bottle at the bottom of my case and he pounced on it with delight. 'Perfume, eh?' he asked sarcastically. 'You should have declared that.' Perfume is not exempt from import duty.' 'But it isn't perfume,' I said.' It's hair-oil.' Then I added with a smile,' It's a strange mixture I make myself.' As I expected, he did not believe me.
'Try it!' I said encouragingly.
The Officer unscrewed the cap and put the bottle to his nostrils. He was greeted by an unpleasant smell which convinced him that I was telling the truth. A few minutes later, I was able to hurry away with precious chalk-marks on my baggage.
Lesson12 Life on a desert island
Most of us have formed an unrealistic picture of life on a desert island. We sometimes imagine a desert island to be a sort of paradise where the sun always shines. Life there is simple and good.
Ripe fruit falls from the trees and you never have to work. The other side of the picture is quite the opposite. Life on a desert island is wretched. You either starve to death or live like Robinson Crusoe, waiting for a boat which never comes. Perhaps there is an element of truth in both these pictures, but few of us have had the opportunity to find out.
Two men who recently spent five days on a coral island wished they had stayed there longer. They were taking a badly damaged boat from the Virgin Islands to Miami to have it repaired. During the journey, their boat began to sink. They quickly loaded a small rubber dinghy with food, matches, and tins of beer and rowed for a few miles across the Caribbean until they arrived at a tiny coral island. There were hardly any trees on the island and there was no water,
but this did not prove to be a problem. The men collected rain-water in the rubber dinghy. As they had brought a spear gun with them, they had plenty to eat. They caught lobster and fish every day, and, as one of them put it 'ate like kings'. When a passing tanker rescued them five days later, both men were genuinely sorry that they had to leave.
Lesson13 It’s only me
After her husband had gone to work, Mrs Richards sent her children to school and went upstairs to her bedroom. She was too excited to do any housework that morning, for in the evening she would be going to a fancy dress party with her husband. She intended to dress up as a ghost and as she had made her costume the night before, she was impatient to try it on. Though the costume consisted only of a sheet, it was very effective. After putting it on, Mrs Richards went downstairs. She wanted to find out whether it would be comfortable to wear.
Just as Mrs Richards was entering the dining-room, there was a knock on the front door. She knew that it must be the baker. She had told him to come straight in if ever she failed to open the door and to leave the bread on the kitchen table. Not wanting to frighten the poor man, Mrs Richards quickly hid in the small store-room under the stairs. She heard the front door open and heavy footsteps in the hall. Suddenly the door of the store-room was opened and a man entered. Mrs Richards realized that it must be the man from the Electricity Board who had come to read the meter. She tried to explain the situation, saying' It's only me', but it was too late. The man let out a cry and jumped back several paces. When Mrs Richards walked towards him, he fled, slamming the door behind him.
Lesson14 A noble gangster
There was a time when the owners of shop and businesses in Chicago had to pay large sums of money to gangsters in return for' protection' If the money was not paid promptly, the gangsters would quickly put a man out of business by destroying his shop. Obtaining 'protechon money' is not a modern crime. As long ago as the fourteenth century, an Englishman, Sir John Hawkwood, made the remarkable discovery that people would rather pay large sums of money than have their life work destroyed by gangsters.
Six hundred years ago, Sir John Hawkwood arrived in Italy with a band of soldiers and settled near Florence. He soon made a name for himself and came to be known to the Italians as Giovanni Acuto. Whenever the Italian city-states were at war with each other, Hawkwood used to hire his soldiers to princes who were willing to pay the high price he demanded. In times of peace, when business was bad, Hawkwood and his men would march into a city-state and, after burning down a few farms, would offer to go away if protection money was paid to them. Hawkwood made large sums of money in this way. In spite of this, the Italians regarded him as a sort of hero. When he died at the age of eighty, the Florentines gave him a state funeral and had a picture painted which was dedicated to the memory of 'the most valiant soldier and most notable leader, Signor Giovanni Haukodue'.