Historias de Misterio y Detectives



The Case of the

2m 02s - American English


Thomas Hunt is talking to his friend Dr. DeLator...


I don't mind telling you, Dr. DeLator, that inheriting the Hunt fortune has had its nerve‑racking moments. Do you remember Martin, the gardener?


A smiling and bowing little man, isn't he?


That's the fellow. I dismissed him when I inherited the house in East Hampton. Well, three days ago he came to my office, bowing and smirking, and demanded that I pay him a hundred thousand dollars. He claimed to have been tending the spruce trees outside my father's study when Dad drew up another will, naming his brother in Alaska as sole heir.


You believed him?


I confess the news hit me like a thunderbolt. Dad and I had quarreled over Veronica sometime during the last week in November. Dad was very opposed to my marrying her, and it seemed plausible that he had cut me off from the inheritance. Martin said that he possessed this second will, which he felt sure would be worth a good deal more to me than he was asking. As it was dated November 31 ‑the day after the executed will- it would be legally recognized, he claimed.


What did you do?


I refused to be blackmailed. But then he tried to bargain, asking fifty thousand and then twenty‑five thousand dollars.


You paid nothing, I hope.


You can bet I paid nothing. I just kicked him out.


You certainly did the right thing. Imagine trying to peddle a tale like that!

Source: English Teaching Forum


What was Martin's blunder?



blackmailer: someone who extorts payment by threatening to disclose information that would bring disgrace or ruin (chantajista).
I don't mind telling you = I want to tell you: a relatively meaningless introductory phrase (déjeme decirle, permítame comentarle).
nerve‑racking: extremely trying to one's patience; causing irritation or exasperation (exasperante, que pone los pelos de punta).
smirking: smiling affectedly (mostrando una sonrisa falsa).
tending: looking after (cuidando).
spruce trees: coniferous trees (abetos, pinos).
study: a room in a house designed for studying, writing, reading, etc. (estudio, oficina privada).
drew up: composed or drafted in proper‑form (redactó).
the legal statement of a person's wishes concerning the disposal of his property after death (testamento). .
his brother in Alaska as sole‑heir
: By placing the peak of stress and intonation on Alaska rather than on sole heir, the speaker implies that sole heir is an old idea and that the brother in Alaska is the new, contrastive element. We can assume, therefore, that Thomas Hunt was previously the sole heir.
(su hermano de Alaska como único heredero).
You believed him? = Do you mean to tell me that you believed him?: a yes‑no question formed by rising intonation only, without inversion of subject and verb. It may indicate a certain skepticism on DeLator's part (¿Y usted le creyó?).

thunderbolt: a discharge of lightning accompanied by thunder (rayo, centella).
quarreled: had angry disputes (discutido, peleado).
cut me off
: disinherit me; deprive the of the right to inherit(
separado, dejado fuera, eliminado)
felt sure:
was certain (estaba seguro, comvencido)
a good deal
: much
: asking me to pay him
(pidiéndome que le pagara).
the executed will:
the valid, existing will. Notice the contrastive stress on executed. The stress is shifted from the noun will (here an "old" element) onto the new or contrastive feature (la ejecución del testamento)
I refused to be blackmailed
: Notice the peak of stress and intonation on refused rather than later in the sentence, because to be blackmailed is an "old" idea
(me negué a ser chantajeado)
bargain = negotiate (negociar).
You can bet
You can be sure. Notice the stress and intonation peak on bet (same reason as previous note) (puedes estar seguro, puedes apostarle)
him out
: (colloquial) got rid of him; dismissed him (me lo saqué de encima)

: an expression of disgust, surprise, or incredulity
: metaphorically, to try to convince that something is true
(hacerme creer).
blunder: an embarrassing mistake (un gran error)


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