“Human motives are an involved affair” – meaning in a sample text

This is a paragraph (13th) from An Egyptian Hornet, a short story by Algernon Blackwood: Human motives, even in the professedly holy, are an involved affair at any time. Just now, in the Rev. James Milligan, they were quite inextricably mixed. He claims this explanation, at any rate, in excuse of his abominable subsequent behaviour. … Read more

“It was wonderfully made” – meaning?

I would like to know what the first sentence means (from a story, it is a description of a hornet): It was wonderfully made, both before and behind. Its wings were folded upon its terrible body. Answer If a created thing is ‘wonderfully made’ it is considered by the speaker to be attractively, beautifully, cleverly, … Read more

What does “ungenerously, wishing I could help her” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "ungenerously, wishing I could help her" means in the following sentences: ‘I don’t mean to pry.’ She shifted, visibly uncomfortable, vulnerable even, but not nearly as much as me. ‘Tell me honestly – does Janusz have another girl?’ A part of me wanted to laugh out loud, hysterically, until … Read more

What does “as soon as you can” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "as soon as you can" means in the following sentences: ‘I know you are not in the Party,’ he said, his voice barely more than a whisper, ‘and it’s too late to join now anyway. Even if you wanted to.’ He lowered his eyes, maybe embarrassed by what he … Read more

What does “little earth” mean when used as an adjective?

In the following sentence (from a story called Messenger by A. Blackwood): Nothing upon the earth— familiar, friendly, well-known, little earth—could have brought this sense that pressed upon the edges of true reverence. What is the meaning of "little earth"? Also, is the "edges of true reverence" something idiomatic? I understand it simply as "true … Read more

What does “I wasn’t even sure why I’d come.” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "I wasn’t even sure why I’d come." means in the following sentences: ‘No,’ I said to the man’s stony face. ‘I don’t have any names.’ It wasn’t easy – he was determined to get what was his. But I knew to persist, knew to take his mounting threats as … Read more

What does “It carried messages I had never expected were there.” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "It carried messages I had never expected were there." means in the following sentences: ‘What is this?’ I asked. Hania looked around the group, everyone smiling at my question. ‘Zupa,’ she said, meaningfully. ‘Poppy-stem soup. It will send you flying.’ Her black eyes gleamed. You were sitting next to … Read more

What does “anything that wasn’t that moment – no, not even that – was beyond me” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "anything that wasn’t that moment – no, not even that – was beyond me" means in the following sentences: I sat in the hallway and tried not to cry. I wanted to cease existing. I wanted to un-be. I sat in the hallway and tried not to think of … Read more

“a moment next of such confusion” and one other question related to a sample from an old story

I would like to ask two questions regarding the following sentence: There was a moment next of such confusion that I did not see what happened to Riquette, for the sight of my companion kneeling on the dusty boards and praying with a curious sort of passionate happiness, while tears pressed between her covering fingers—the … Read more