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Alan Austen, as nervous as a kitten, went up certain dark and creaky stairs in the neighborhood of Pell Street, and peered about for a long time on the dime1 landing before he found the name he wanted written obscurely on one of the doors.
He pushed open this door, as he had been told to do, and found himself in a tiny room, which contained no furniture but a plain kitchen table, a rocking-chair, and an ordinary chair. On one of the dirty buff-coloured walls were a couple of shelves, containing in all perhaps a dozen bottles and jars. An old man sat in the rocking-chair, reading a newspaper. Alan, without a word, handed him the card he had been given.
"Sit down, Mr. Austen," said the old man very politely.
"I am glad to make your acquaintance."
"Is it true," asked Alan, "that you have a certain mixture that has-er-quite extraordinary effects?"
"My dear sir," replied the old man, "my stock in trade is not very large-I don't deal in laxatives and teething mixtures-but such as it is, it is varied2. I think nothing I sell has effects which could be precisely3 described as ordinary."
"Well, the fact is. . ." began Alan.
"Here, for example," interrupted the old man, reaching for a bottle from the shelf. "Here is a liquid as colourless as water, almost tasteless, quite imperceptible in coffee, wine, or any other beverage4. It is also quite imperceptible to any known method of autopsy5."
"Do you mean it is a poison?" cried Alan, very much horrified6.
"Call it a glove-cleaner if you like," said the old man indifferently. "Maybe it will clean gloves. I have never tried. One might call it a life-cleaner. Lives need cleaning sometimes."
"I want nothing of that sort," said Alan.
"Probably it is just as well," said the old man. "Do you know the price of this? For one teaspoonful7, which is sufficient, I ask five thousand dollars. Never less. Not a penny less."
"I hope all your mixtures are not as expensive," said Alan apprehensively8.
"Oh dear, no," said the old man. "It would be no good charging that sort of price for a love potion, for example. Young people who need a love potion very seldom have five thousand dollars. Otherwise they would not need a love potion."
"I am glad to hear that," said Alan.
"I look at it like this," said the old man. "Please a customer with one article, and he will come back when he needs another. Even if it is more costly9. He will save up for it, if necessary."
"So," said Alan, "you really do sell love potions?"
"If I did not sell love potions," said the old man, reaching for another bottle, "I should not have mentioned the other matter to you. It is only when one is in a position to oblige that one can afford to be so confidential10."
"And these potions," said Alan. "They are not just-just-er-"
"Oh, no," said the old man. "Their effects are permanent, and extend far beyond the mere11 casual impulse. But they include it. Oh, yes they include it. Bountifully, insistently12. Everlastingly13."
"Dear me!" said Alan, attempting a look of scientific detachment. "How very interesting!"
"But consider the spiritual side," said the old man.
"I do, indeed," said Alan.
"For indifference," said the old man, they substitute devotion. For scorn, adoration14. Give one tiny measure of this to the young lady-its flavour is imperceptible in orange juice, soup, or cocktails-and however gay and giddy she is, she will change altogether. She will want nothing but solitude15 and you."
"I can hardly believe it," said Alan. "She is so fond of parties."
"She will not like them any more," said the old man. "She will be afraid of the pretty girls you may meet."
"She will actually be jealous?" cried Alan in a rapture16. "Of me?"
"Yes, she will want to be everything to you."
"She is, already. Only she doesn't care about it."
"She will, when she has taken this. She will care intensely. You will be her sole interest in life."
"Wonderful!" cried Alan.
"She will want to know all you do," said the old man. "All that has happened to you during the day. Every word of it. She will want to know what you are thinking about, why you smile suddenly, why you are looking sad."
"That is love!" cried Alan.
"Yes," said the old man. "How carefully she will look after you! She will never allow you to be tired, to sit in a draught17, to neglect your food. If you are an hour late, she will be terrified. She will think you are killed, or that some siren has caught you."
"I can hardly imagine Diana like that!" cried Alan, overwhelmed with joy.
"You will not have to use your imagination," said the old man. "And, by the way, since there are always sirens, if by any chance you should, later on, slip a little, you need not worry. She will forgive you, in the end. She will be terribly hurt, of course, but she will forgive you-in the end."
"That will not happen," said Alan fervently18.
"Of course not," said the old man. "But, if it did, you need not worry. She would never divorce you. Oh, no! And, of course, she will never give you the least, the very least, grounds for-uneasiness."
"And how much," said Alan, "is this wonderful mixture?"
"It is not as dear," said the old man, "as the glove-cleaner, or life-cleaner, as I sometimes call it. No. That is five thousand dollars, never a penny less. One has to be older than you are, to indulge in that sort of thing. One has to save up for it."
"But the love potion?" said Alan.
"Oh, that," said the old man, opening the drawer in the kitchen table, and taking out a tiny, rather dirty-looking phial. "That is just a dollar."
"I can't tell you how grateful I am," said Alan, watching him fill it.
"I like to oblige," said the old man. "Then customers come back, later in life, when they are better off, and want more expensive things. Here you are. You will find it very effective."
"Thank you again," said Alan. "Good-bye."
"Au revoir," said the man.


1 dime SuQxv     
  • A dime is a tenth of a dollar.一角银币是十分之一美元。
  • The liberty torch is on the back of the dime.自由火炬在一角硬币的反面。
2 varied giIw9     
  • The forms of art are many and varied.艺术的形式是多种多样的。
  • The hotel has a varied programme of nightly entertainment.宾馆有各种晚间娱乐活动。
3 precisely zlWzUb     
  • It's precisely that sort of slick sales-talk that I mistrust.我不相信的正是那种油腔滑调的推销宣传。
  • The man adjusted very precisely.那个人调得很准。
4 beverage 0QgyN     
  • The beverage is often colored with caramel.这种饮料常用焦糖染色。
  • Beer is a beverage of the remotest time.啤酒是一种最古老的饮料。
5 autopsy xuVzm     
  • They're carrying out an autopsy on the victim.他们正在给受害者验尸。
  • A hemorrhagic gut was the predominant lesion at autopsy.尸检的主要发现是肠出血。
6 horrified 8rUzZU     
  • The whole country was horrified by the killings. 全国都对这些凶杀案感到大为震惊。
  • We were horrified at the conditions prevailing in local prisons. 地方监狱的普遍状况让我们震惊。
7 teaspoonful Ugpzi1     
  • Add a teaspoonful of mixed herbs. 加入一茶匙混合药草。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Add a teaspoonful of curry powder. 加一茶匙咖喱粉。 来自《简明英汉词典》
8 apprehensively lzKzYF     
  • He glanced a trifle apprehensively towards the crowded ballroom. 他敏捷地朝挤满了人的舞厅瞟了一眼。 来自辞典例句
  • Then it passed, leaving everything in a state of suspense, even the willow branches waiting apprehensively. 一阵这样的风过去,一切都不知怎好似的,连柳树都惊疑不定的等着点什么。 来自汉英文学 - 骆驼祥子
9 costly 7zXxh     
  • It must be very costly to keep up a house like this.维修这么一幢房子一定很昂贵。
  • This dictionary is very useful,only it is a bit costly.这本词典很有用,左不过贵了些。
10 confidential MOKzA     
  • He refused to allow his secretary to handle confidential letters.他不让秘书处理机密文件。
  • We have a confidential exchange of views.我们推心置腹地交换意见。
11 mere rC1xE     
  • That is a mere repetition of what you said before.那不过是重复了你以前讲的话。
  • It's a mere waste of time waiting any longer.再等下去纯粹是浪费时间。
12 insistently Iq4zCP     
  • Still Rhett did not look at her. His eyes were bent insistently on Melanie's white face. 瑞德还是看也不看她,他的眼睛死死地盯着媚兰苍白的脸。
  • These are the questions which we should think and explore insistently. 怎样实现这一主体性等问题仍要求我们不断思考、探索。
13 everlastingly e11726de37cbaab344011cfed8ecef15     
  • Why didn't he hold the Yankees instead of everlastingly retreating? 他为什么不将北军挡住,反而节节败退呢?
  • "I'm tired of everlastingly being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do. "我再也忍受不了这样无休止地的勉强自己,永远不能赁自己高兴做事。
14 adoration wfhyD     
  • He gazed at her with pure adoration.他一往情深地注视着她。
  • The old lady fell down in adoration before Buddhist images.那老太太在佛像面前顶礼膜拜。
15 solitude xF9yw     
n. 孤独; 独居,荒僻之地,幽静的地方
  • People need a chance to reflect on spiritual matters in solitude. 人们需要独处的机会来反思精神上的事情。
  • They searched for a place where they could live in solitude. 他们寻找一个可以过隐居生活的地方。
16 rapture 9STzG     
  • His speech was received with rapture by his supporters.他的演说受到支持者们的热烈欢迎。
  • In the midst of his rapture,he was interrupted by his father.他正欢天喜地,被他父亲打断了。
17 draught 7uyzIH     
  • He emptied his glass at one draught.他将杯中物一饮而尽。
  • It's a pity the room has no north window and you don't get a draught.可惜这房间没北窗,没有过堂风。
18 fervently 8tmzPw     
  • "Oh, I am glad!'she said fervently. “哦,我真高兴!”她热烈地说道。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • O my dear, my dear, will you bless me as fervently to-morrow?' 啊,我亲爱的,亲爱的,你明天也愿这样热烈地为我祝福么?” 来自英汉文学 - 双城记