学习啦【英语文摘】 编辑：韦彦 发布时间：2016-08-27
The loss of the Titanic“泰坦尼克”号的沉没
The great ship， Titanic， sailed for New York from Southampton on April 10th， 1912. She was carrying 1，316 passengers and crew of 891. Even by modern standards， the 46，000 ton Titanic was a colossal ship. At the time， however， she was not only the largest ship that had ever been built， but was regarded as unsinkable， for she had sixteen watertight 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 water of the North Atlantic， huge iceberg was suddenly spotted by a lookout. 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 walk 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 though that the ship had been damaged. Below， the captain realized to his horror that the Titanic was sinking rapidly， for five of her sixteen watertight 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 lifeboats for everybody， 1，500 lives were lost.
Customs Officers are quite tolerant these days， but they can still stop you when you are going through the Green Channel and have nothing to declare. Even 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 form 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 thing 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 gel.' 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.
Life on a desert island荒岛生活
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 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 cans 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 rainwater 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.
"It's only me'“是我，别害怕”
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 part 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 dinning 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 storeroom under the stairs. She heard the front door open and heavy footsteps in the hall. Suddenly the door of the storeroom 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 metre. She tried to explain the situation， saying 'It's only me'， but it was too late. The man let out cry and jumped back several paces. When Mrs. Richards walked towards him， he fled， slamming the door behind him.
A noble gangster贵族歹徒
There was a tine when the owners of shops and businesses in Chicago that 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 'protection 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 Johan 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 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 pictured with as dedicated to the memory of 'the most valiant soldier and most notable leader， Signor Giovanni Haukodue.'
Fifty pence worth of trouble五十便士的麻烦
Children always appreciate small gifts of money. Mum or dad， of course， provide a regular supply of pocket money， but uncles and ants are always a source of extra income. With some children， small sums go a long way. If fifty pence pieces 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， fifty pence is a small price to pay for a nice big bar of chocolate.
My nephew， George， has a money box but it is always empty. Very few of the fifty pence pieces and pound coins I have given him have found their way there. I gave him fifty pence yesterday and advised him to save it. Instead he bought himself fifty pence worth of trouble. On his way to the sweet shop， he dropped his fifty pence and it bounced along the pavement and then disappeared down a drain. George took off his jacket， rolled up his sleeves and pushed is right arm through the drain cover. He could not find his fifty pence piece anywhere， and what is more， he could no 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 fire fighter 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 large box of chocolates.
Mary had a little lamb玛丽有一头羔羊
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 backyard. 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 the little black lamb was almost white. Its wool， which had been dyed black， had been washed clean by the rain!
The longest suspension bridge in the world世界上最长的吊桥
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 longest suspension 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 4，260 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 make 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'.
Electric currents in modern art现代艺术的电流
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 eighty years.
In spite of this， some people —— including myself —— were surprise 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 form 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!