A puma at large

《A puma at large》
新概念英语第三册的第一篇文章,作者是英国作家P. G. Wodehouse,最初发表于1936年的杂志上,后来被收录在Wodehouse的短片小说集里。
标题中at large的是一个固定短语搭配,large是常见的形容词,最常见的意思是表示大的,在这个搭配中的意思是自由的,广泛的,固定搭配表示未受限制的意思,短语的意思就是指在逃的罪犯或野生动物,所以标题的正确意思是《在逃的美洲狮》

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.
主句是“它们没有被认真对待”。(they were not taken seriously)
主句中的它们指的是“报告送到伦敦动物园的时候”。时间状语从句前置。(when reports came into London Zoo)
that提供的定语从句修饰报告内容。“一只美洲狮在伦敦以南45英里被发现”。(that a wild puma had been spotted forty-five miles south of London)

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.

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.