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.
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
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!'
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.
By now, a rocket will have set off on its 35 million mile trip to Mars and scientists must be waiting anxiously for the results. The rocket will be travelling for six months before it reaches the planet.
It contains a number of scientific instruments, including a television camera. Any pictures that are taken will have to travel for three minutes before they reach the earth. If the pictures are successful, they may solve a number of problems about Mars and provide information about the markings on its surface which, nearly 100 years ago, the astronomer, Schiaparelli, thought to be canals.
It will be a long time before any landing on Mars can be attempted. This will only be possible when scientists have learnt a lot more about the atmosphere that surrounds the planet. If a satellite can one day be put into orbit round Mars, scientists will be able to find out a great deal. An interesting suggestion for measuring the atmosphere around Mars has been put forward. A rubber ball containing a radio transmitter could
be dropped from a satellite so that it would fall towards the surface of the planet. The radio would signal the rate which the ball was slowed down and scientists would be able to calculate how dense the atmosphere is. It may even be possible to drop a capsule containing scientific instruments on to the planet's surface. Only when a great deal more information has been obtained, will it be possible to plan a manned trip to Mars.
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'.
Lesson15 Fifty pence worth of trouble
Children always appreciate small gifts of money. Father, of course, provides a regular supply of pocket-money, but uncles and aunts are always a source of extra income. With some children, small sums go a long way. If sixpences are not exchanged for sweets, they rattle for months inside money-boxes. Only very thrifty children manage to fill up a money-box. For most of them, sixpence is a small price to pay for a satisfying bar of chocolate.
My nephew, George, has a money-box but it is always empty. Very few of the sixpences I have given him have found their way there. I gave him sixpence yesterday and advised him to save it. Instead, he bought himself sixpence worth of trouble. On his way to the sweet shop, he dropped his sixpence and it rolled along the pavement and then disappeared down a drain. George took off
his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and pushed his right arm through the drain cover. He could not find his sixpence anywhere, and what is more, he could not get his arm out. A crowd of people gathered round him and a lady rubbed his arm with soap and butter, but George was firmly stuck. The fire-brigade was called and two firemen freed George using a special type of grease. George was not too upset by his experience because the lady who owns the sweet shop heard about his troubles and rewarded him with a large box of chocolates.
Lesson16 Mary had a little lamb
Mary and her husband Dimitri lived in the tiny village of Perachora in southern Greece. One of Mary's prize possessions was a little white lamb which her husband had given her. She kept it tied to a tree in a field during the day and went to fetch it every evening. One evening, however, the lamb was missing. The rope had been cut, so it was obvious that the lamb had been stolen. When Dimitri came in from the fields, his wife told him what had happened. Dimitri at once set out to find the thief.
He knew it would not prove difficult in such a small village. After telling several of his friends about the theft, Dimitri found out that his neighbour, Aleko, had suddenly acquired a new lamb. Dimitri immediately went to Aleko's house and angrily accused him of stealing the lamb. He told him he had better return it or he would call the police. Aleko denied taking it and led Dimitri into his back-yard. It was true that he had just bought a lamb, he explained, but his lamb was black. Ashamed of having acted so rashly, Dimitri apologized to Aleko for having accused him. While they were talking it began to rain and Dimitri stayed in Aleko's house until the rain stopped. When he went outside half an hour later, he was astonished to find that the little black lamb was almost white. Its wool, which had been dyed black, had been washed clean by the rain !
Lesson17 The longest suspension bridge in the world
Verrazano, an Italian about whom little is known, sailed into New York Harbour in 1524 and named it Angouleme. He described it as 'a very agreeable situation located within two small hills in the midst of which flowed a great river.' Though Verrazano is by no means considered to be a great explorer, his name will probably remain immortal, for on November 21st, 1964, the greatest bridge in the world was named after him.
The Verrazano Bridge, which was designed by Othmar Ammann, joins Brooklyn to Staten Island. It has a span of 4260 feet. The bridge is so long that the shape of the earth had to be taken into account by its designer. Two great towers support four huge cables. The towers are built on immense underwater platforms made of steel and concrete. The platforms extend to a depth of over 100 feet under the sea. These alone took sixteen months to build. Above the surface of the water, the towers rise to a height of nearly 700 feet. They support the cables from which the bridge has been suspended. Each of the four cables contains 26,108 lengths of wire. It has been estimated that if the bridge were packed with cars, it would still only be carrying a third of its total capacity. However, size and strength are not the only important things about this bridge. Despite its immensity, it is both simple and elegant, fulfilling its designer's dream to create 'an enormous object drawn as faintly as possible'.
Lesson18 Electric currents in modern art
Modern sculpture rarely surprises us any more. The idea that modern art can only be seen in museums is mistaken. Even people who take no interest in art cannot have failed to notice examples of modern sculpture on display in public places. Strange forms stand in gardens, and outside buildings and shops. We have got quite used to them. Some so-called 'modern' pieces have been on display for nearly fifty years.
In spite of this, some people--including myself--were surprised by a recent exhibition of modern sculpture. The first thing I saw when I entered the art gallery was a notice which said: 'Do not touch the exhibits. Some of them are dangerous!' The objects on display were pieces of moving sculpture. Oddly shaped forms that are suspended from the ceiling and move in response to a gust of wind are quite familiar to everybody. These objects, however, were different. Lined up against the wall, there were long thin wires attached to metal spheres. The spheres had been magnetized and attracted or repelled each other all the time. In the centre of the hall, there were a number of tall structures which contained coloured lights. These lights flickered continuously like traffic lights which have gone mad. Sparks were emitted from small black boxes and red lamps flashed on and off angrily. It was rather like an exhibition of prehistoric electronic equipment. These Peculiar forms not only seemed designed to shock people emotionally, but to give them electric shocks as well !
Lesson19 A very dear cat
Kidnappers are rarely interested in Animals, but they recently took considerable interest in Mrs Eleanor Ramsay's cat. Mrs Eleanor Ramsay, a very wealthy old lady, has shared a flat with her cat, Rastus, for a great many years. Rastus leads an orderly life. He usually takes a short walk in the evenings and is always home by seven o'clock. One evening, however, he failed to arrive. Mrs Ramsay got very worried. She looked everywhere for him but could not find him.
Three day after Rastus' disappearance, Mrs Ramsay received an anonymous letter. The writer stated that Rastus was in safe hands and would be returned immediately if Mrs Ramsay paid a ransom of &1000. Mrs Ramsay was instructed to place the money in a cardboard box and to leave it outside her door. At first, she decided to go to the police, but fearing that she would never see Rastus again --the letter had made that quite clear--she changed her mind. She drew &1000 from her bank and followed the kidnapper's instructions. The next morning, the box had disappeared but Mrs Ramsay was sure that the kidnapper would keep his word. Sure enough, Rastus arrived punctually at seven o'clock that evening. He looked very well, though he was rather thirsty, for he drank half a bottle of milk. The police were astounded when Mrs Ramsay told them what she had
done. She explained that Rastus was very dear to her. Considering the amount she paid, he was dear in more ways than one!
Lesson20 Pioneer pilots
In 1908 Lord Northcliffe offered a prize of &1000 to the first man who would fly across the English Channel. Over a year passed before the first attempt was made. On July 19th, 1909, in the early morning, Hubert Latham took off from the French coast in his plane the 'Antoinette IV'. He
had travelled only seven miles across the Channel when his engine failed and he was forced to land on the sea. The 'Antoinette' floated on the water until Latham was picked up by a ship.
Two days later, Louis Bleriot arrived near Calais with a plane called 'No. XI'. Bleriot had been making planes since 1905 and this was his latest model. A week before, he had completed a successful overland flight during which he covered twenty-six miles. Latham, however did not give up easily. He, too, arrived near Calais on the same day with a new 'Antonette'. It looks as if there would be an exciting race across the Channel. Both planes were going to take off on July 25th, but Latham failed to get up early enough. After making a short test flight at 4.15 a.m., Bleriot set off half an hour later. His great flight lasted thirty seven minutes. When he landed near Dover, the first person to greet him was a local policeman. Latham made another attempt a week later and got within half a mile of Dover, but he was unlucky again. His engine failed and he landed on the sea for the second time.
Lesson21 Daniel Mendoza
Boxing matches were very popular in England two hundred years ago. In those days, boxers fought with bare fists for Prize money. Because of this, they were known as 'prize-fighters'. However, boxing was very crude, for there were no rules and a prize-fighter could be seriously injured or even killed during a match.
One of the most colourful figures in boxing history was Daniel Mendoza who was born in 1764. The use of gloves was not introduced until 1860 when the Marquis of Queensberry drew up the first set Of rules. Though he was technically a prize-fighter, Mendoza did much to change crude prize-fighting into a sport, for he brought science to the game. In his day, Mendoza enjoyed tremendous popularity. He was adored by rich and poor alike. Mendoza rose to fame swiftly after a boxing-match when he was only fourteen years old. This attracted the attention of Richard Humphries who was then the most eminent boxer in England. He offered to train Mendoza and his young pupil was quick to learn. In fact, Mendoza soon became so successful that Humphries turned against him. The two men quarrelled bitterly and it was clear that the argument could only be settled by a fight. A match was held at Stilton where both men fought for an hour. The public bet a great deal of money on Mendoza, but he was defeated. Mendoza met Humphries in the ring on a later occasion and he lost for a second time. It was not until his third match in 1790 that he finally beat Humphries and became Champion of England. Meanwhile, he founded a highly successful Academy and even Lord Byron became one of his pupils. He earned enormous sums of money and was paid as much as &100 for a single appearance. Despite this, he was so extravagant that he was always in debt. After he was defeated by a boxer called Gentleman Jackson, he was quickly forgotten. He was sent to prison for failing to pay his debts and died in poverty in 1836.
Lesson22 By heart
Some plays are so successful that they run for years on end. In many ways, this is unfortunate for the poor actors who are required to go on repeating the same lines night after night. One would expect them to know their parts by heart and never have cause to falter. Yet this is not always the case.