Good afternoon, my dear English learners! Today I would like to introduce a new story that we will be reading together: THE STAR-SENT KNAVES by Keith Laumer. It will be divided into several posts with vocabulary notes and posted every day. Feel free to comment below and write your questions or additional information about the text notes. Enjoy the first part!!!
THE STAR SENT KNAVES
When the Great Galactic Union first encounters Earth ... is this what is going to happen?
Clyde W. Snithian was a bald eagle of a man, dark-eyed, pot-bellied, with the large, expressive hands of a rug merchant1. Round-shouldered in a loose cloak, he blinked small reddish eyes at Dan Slane's travel-stained six foot one.
"Kelly here tells me you've been demanding to see me." He nodded toward the florid man at his side. He had a high, thin voice, like something that needed oiling. "Something about important information regarding safeguarding my paintings."
"That's right, Mr. Snithian," Dan said. "I believe I can be of great help to you."
"Help how? If you've got ideas of bilking2 me...." The red eyes bored into3 Dan like hot pokers.
"Nothing like that, sir. Now, I know you have quite a system of guards here--the papers are full of it--"
"Damned busybodies! Sensation-mongers4! If it wasn't for the press, I'd have no concern for my paintings today!"
"Yes sir. But my point is, the one really important spot has been left unguarded."
"Now, wait a minute--" Kelly started.
"What's that?" Snithian cut in.
"You have a hundred and fifty men guarding the house and grounds day and night--"
"Two hundred and twenty-five," Kelly snapped.
"--but no one at all in the vault5 with the paintings," Slane finished.
"Of course not," Snithian shrilled. "Why should I post a man in the vault5? It's under constant surveillance from the corridor outside."
"The Harriman paintings were removed from a locked vault5," Dan said. "There was a special seal on the door. It wasn't broken."
"By the saints, he's right," Kelly exclaimed. "Maybe we ought to have a man in that vault5."
"Another idiotic scheme to waste my money," Snithian snapped. "I've made you responsible for security here, Kelly! Let's have no more nonsense. And throw this nincompoop6 out!" Snithian turned and stalked away7, his cloak flapping8 at his knees.
"I'll work cheap," Dan called after him as Kelly took his arm. "I'm an art lover."
"Never mind that," Kelly said, escorting Dan along the corridor. He turned in at an office and closed the door.
"Now, as the old buzzard9 said, I'm responsible for security here. If those pictures go, my job goes with them. Your vault5 idea's not bad. Just how cheap would you work?"
"A hundred dollars a week," Dan said promptly. "Plus expenses," he added.
Kelly nodded. "I'll fingerprint you and run a fast agency check. If you're clean, I'll put you on, starting tonight. But keep it quiet."
1. rug merchant a merchant who sells rugs
2. bilking to get money from someone in a dishonest way
3. bored into if someone’s eyes bore into you, they look at you very hard and this makes you feel nervous
4. sensation – monger someone who spreads sensations
5. vault a strongly protected room in a bank where money, gold etc is kept
6. nincompoop nonsense
7. stalk away/off/out to walk in a way that shows you feel angry or offended
8. flap to move noisily up and down or from side to side, especially in the wind
9. buzzard avaricious or otherwise unpleasant person