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Fumble   Listen
verb
Fumble  v. t.  To handle or manage awkwardly; to crowd or tumble together.






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Fumble" Quotes from Famous Books



... had been knocked from his hand. The only light came from the open trap in the floor above. Something fell softly at his feet; he picked it up. It was a cloth, saturated with chloroform. He flung it from him, and began with a new haste to grope and fumble for ...
— The Penalty • Gouverneur Morris

... For a moment he lay without motion, then (his face a-twitch with the effort) he came slowly to his elbow, gazed about him and so back to me again. Then I saw his hand creep down to the dagger at his hip, to fumble weakly there—howbeit, at the third essay he drew the blade and began to creep towards me. Very slowly and painfully he dragged himself along, and once I heard him groan, but he stayed not till he was come within striking distance, yet was he sore wounded and so weak withal that he was fain ...
— Black Bartlemy's Treasure • Jeffrey Farnol

... that in all probability she would pay the penalty on both sides of the grave. Awakening from one awful dream, she would, after listening to the stillness of the night for a time, lapse into another. Again she would suddenly awake and begin to fumble her rosary and repeat selections from a Catholic prayer book. Would she dare to turn back? Behind her was certain death; before her, the possibility of life. ...
— The Woman with a Stone Heart - A Romance of the Philippine War • Oscar William Coursey

... Jimmie Dale was standing against the door on the outside. His position was perfectly natural—a hundred passers-by would have noted nothing but a most commonplace occurrence—a man in the act of entering a store. And, if he appeared to fumble and have trouble with the latch, what of it! Jimmie Dale, however, was not fumbling—hidden by his back that was turned to the street, those wonderful fingers of his, in whose tips seemed embodied and concentrated every ...
— The Adventures of Jimmie Dale • Frank L. Packard

... youthful vanity, however, can be forgiven to those who are generous and faithful. Besides, Margaret Fuller was splendidly domestic. She advocated women's rights to a certain extent; but she was no forerunner to the modern brood of platform women who fumble their night-keys while they discourse on the duties of wives and mothers. She carried a helping hand into the families that she entered, as well as stirring all the inmates to an unwonted mental activity. She would knit socks while she talked Plato: but the best testimony to her character ...
— Sketches from Concord and Appledore • Frank Preston Stearns

... young fellow nodded. "Very well!" Something in the tone of the last words, some accent of desperation, caused Buddy to raise his head. He was in time to see Margie fumble with her purse and extract something therefrom; to Buddy's eyes it resembled a bottle. "There is no use fighting any more. ...
— Flowing Gold • Rex Beach

... till at last a weather-beaten New England skipper, in a pea-jacket, stumped him by exclaiming, "Darned if I don't bet you! But stop; let me see if all's right." Then taking up and inspecting it, as if to see that there was no deception in it, he returned it to the table, and began to fumble about in a side pocket, first taking out a jack-knife, then a twist of tobacco, &c., till he produced a roll of bank notes, from which he took one of $10 and handed it to a by-stander; the gambler did the same, and taking out a pen-knife, and literally ...
— The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun; • Various

... said. The next day at noon, punctual to the minute, he entered his lecture theatre, put his hat on the end of the table as his habit was, and carefully selected a large piece of chalk. It was a joke among his students that he could not lecture without that piece of chalk to fumble in his fingers, and once he had been stricken to impotence by their hiding his supply. He came and looked under his grey eyebrows at the rising tiers of young fresh faces, and spoke with his accustomed studied commonness of phrasing. "Circumstances ...
— Tales of Space and Time • Herbert George Wells

... the first baseman the pitcher should cover the base, and if the hit is slow or if the baseman fumbles it he may still have time to toss the ball to the pitcher. The pitcher should not wait until he sees the fumble before starting, but the instant the hit is made go for the base; he will then be there and ready to receive the ball and not be forced to take it on the run. So, too, the occasion may arise when he should cover second or third, where some combination ...
— Base-Ball - How to Become a Player • John M. Ward

... man that I used to be!'—is beyond the comprehension of the friendly peasants; Clive's "fear" is as much misunderstood by his auditor as his courage by the soldiers; the "foolishness" of Muleykeh equally illudes his Arab comrades; the Russian villagers, the Pope, and the lord have to fumble through a long process of argument to the conclusion which for Ivan had been the merest matter of fact from the first. Admirable in its quiet irony is the contrast between the stormy debate over his guilt or innocence and his ...
— Robert Browning • C. H. Herford

... frantically trying to remove his diving helmet again. Excitement made his motions ineffective, and he signaled for Farmer to help him, then continued to fumble with the fastenings himself. John Andrew turned, feeling completely doomed, to aid the man, and they started getting in each other's way and slowing down ...
— Stairway to the Stars • Larry Shaw

... very safe and reasonable contrivance for occupying the attention of the country, and is certainly a better way of settling questions than by push of pike. Yet, if one should ask it why it should not rather be called government by gabble, it would have to fumble in its pocket a good while before it found the change for a convincing reply. As matters stand, too, it is beginning to be doubtful whether Parliament and Congress sit at Westminster and Washington or in the editors' rooms of the leading journals, ...
— Harvard Classics Volume 28 - Essays English and American • Various

... had taken to calling him Pa; got it from the children. "You best strike the tuning fork and sing a tune or two before you start. Gets your throat limbered up and going smooth." Philomel had come to wait for her urging. Then he would fumble in his waistcoat pocket for the tuning fork and tapping it to chair rim or bootheel, he'd hold it to his ear, pitch the tune, and sing a verse or two of this ballad and of that. Then when he started forth on a winter's night, "Mind ...
— Blue Ridge Country • Jean Thomas

... White Linen Nurse began to fumble through the pages of her memorandum book. "I've always had money enough to 'go slow and make things perfectly right,'" she confided a bit wistfully. "Never in all my life have I had a pair of boots that weren't guaranteed, or ...
— The White Linen Nurse • Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

... shook his head pityingly. "It's already too late. I'm sorry." He bent his head guiltily and began to fumble with ...
— Faithfully Yours • Lou Tabakow

... make a nice fumble, wouldn't we, if we didn't wear the uniform? What would it be—a month in the brig on hard ...
— Navy Boys Behind the Big Guns - Sinking the German U-Boats • Halsey Davidson

... fingers shaking so that it was with great difficulty that she managed the bag's clasp, she opened the receptacle, and, with accelerating nervousness which made her feel and fumble, took from it a small box—a jeweler's box. Slowly she returned to him, her feet dragging as if weighted; slowly, as she stood before him, drooping, frightened, she took off the cover of the little box, her heart hammering till it seemed as if it must burst ...
— The Old Flute-Player - A Romance of To-day • Edward Marshall and Charles T. Dazey

... if Hugh spent such a day alone, his thoughts seemed to have the same enlightening and invigorating quality. He did not fumble among dreary details, but saw swiftly into the essence of things, so that he smiled as he sate. A book would, on such occasions, touch into life a whole train of pretty thoughts, as a spark leaps along a scattered line ...
— Beside Still Waters • Arthur Christopher Benson

... door—unless, indeed, it were a dead man retracing his steps by some mysterious impulse, such as even the dead might feel? Trenholme's heart beat low with the thought as he heard a heavy body bump clumsily against the baggage-room door and a hand fumble at its latch. There was enough light shining through his window to have shown any natural man that the small door of his room was the right one by which to enter, yet the fumbling at ...
— What Necessity Knows • Lily Dougall

... spring and it plays, 'She's a Daisy, She's a Dumpling.' I borrowed it and put it in Pa's pistol pocket, where he keeps his tobacco box, and when the choir got most through singing Pa reached his hand in his pocket and began to fumble around for a chew. He touched the spring, and just as everybody bowed their heads to receive the benediction, and it was so still you could hear a gum drop, the music box began to play, and in the ...
— Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa - 1883 • George W. Peck

... he's not in hell. He's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. 'A made a finer end and went away an it had been any christom child. 'A parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o' the tide: for after I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers, and smile upon his fingers' ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and 'a babbled of green fields. "How now, Sir John!" quoth I; "what, man! be o' good cheer." So 'a cried out, "God, God, God!" three or four times. Now I, ...
— The Life of King Henry V • William Shakespeare [Tudor edition]

... porch, slipped into the bar, and thence into the hall. Dan motioned to Tom to conceal himself in a closet beneath the stairway, and he himself slipped behind the clock. Hardly were they safely hidden thus, than they heard a fumble at the latch of the door into the bar. Then the door was pushed open, and the Marquis stepped cautiously in the hall. He paused for a moment, listening intently. Then he held open the door a little wider; and ...
— The Inn at the Red Oak • Latta Griswold

... on till, though she held the page close to her eyes, she seemed to fumble over the words. She was by then at the end of the instalment, and when she put the magazine down she pressed her fingers to her lids and complained that her eyes hurt her. "They often do," she said; "it's a good ...
— Secret Bread • F. Tennyson Jesse

... in front of the parapet. A splinter from one lifted a man's cap from his head and sent it flying. The splinter's whirr and the man's sharp exclamation brought all eyes in his direction. His look of comical surprise and the half-dazed fashion of his lifting a hand to fumble cautiously at his head raised some laughter and a good deal ...
— Action Front • Boyd Cable (Ernest Andrew Ewart)

... match . . . Ha! at last my garret. Fumble at the latch, Close the door and bar it. Bed, you graciously Wait, despite my scorning . . . So, bibaciously Mad old world, ...
— Ballads of a Bohemian • Robert W. Service

... path across the floor wavered suddenly, the door opened, was locked again, and with a quick, catlike step a man moved along the side of the wall where the shadows lay thickest near the door, dropped on his knees, and began to fumble hurriedly with the base-board of the wall, pausing at every alternate second ...
— The Further Adventures of Jimmie Dale • Frank L. Packard

... only think!" said Rosina, turning her wrinkled face toward me, and actually shaking all over with the recollection of her terror. "I thought I should have sank into the earth! I stood for a moment aghast, and then I began to fumble in my pocket. 'Where can the key be?' said I, pretending to search for it; but my countenance betrayed me, and my voice shook so, that he read me like a book. I am sure he knew the truth from that moment. He looked hard at me, while his face ...
— Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 3, July, 1851 • Various

... was opened and dropped with an exclamation of disappointment. The searcher hurried. Penrun calmly noted that the fingers seemed to fumble and were not at all deft at this sort of work. He glanced down, and smiled grimly. A woman! He jerked his body away from the prodding pistol, gripped the slender hand that was about to plunge into his coat pocket, and whirled round, catching the ...
— Loot of the Void • Edwin K. Sloat

... "Take this one first, Perry. Gee, but it's stiff!" They had to fumble several minutes at the wet cable before they got it clear and let it slip over the bow. Then the other was cast off as well and Bert swung the lantern four times above his head as a signal to haul in. An answering ...
— The Adventure Club Afloat • Ralph Henry Barbour

... the matter with this horse; he goes very fumble-footed. I am sometimes afraid he ...
— Black Beauty • Anna Sewell

... we heard the tramp of men coming to the door, and heard them begin to fumble with the pad-lock, and heard ...
— Innocents abroad • Mark Twain

... turned to fumble with some papers on his desk. The Commissioner sat silent, his eyes wide and a bit shiny. He said nothing for at least half a minute, then, clearing ...
— The Boy Scouts Book of Stories • Various

... Once in a generation a mysterious wish for war passes through the people. Their instinct tells them that there is no other way of progress and of escape from habits that no longer fit them. Whole generations of statesmen will fumble over reforms for a lifetime which are put into full-blooded execution within a week of a declaration of war. There is no other way. Only by intense sufferings can the nations grow, just as the snake once a year must with anguish slough off the once beautiful ...
— Gallipoli Diary, Volume I • Ian Hamilton

... took up the attack. Again the sickening stench was about them as gaping jaws gleamed fiery beneath the hateful eyes and tore at the flimsy structure. Thorpe jammed more cartridges into the gun and fired again and again, then dropped the weapon to fumble for the rockets that Brent had ...
— Astounding Stories of Super-Science, June, 1930 • Various

... who had saved the whiskey stumbled to his feet, and leaning against a pile of lumber stood open-mouthed, waiting for the preacher's rebuke; but Davis hung his head, and began to fumble for a pipe in his sagging coat pocket; with clumsy fingers, scattering the tobacco from his little bag, he ...
— John Ward, Preacher • Margaret Deland

... image of the Virgin and Child, and another offered comfits in a box; a third presented the wassail-cup, into which Raby immediately poured some silver, and Coventry followed his example. Grace fumbled for her purse, and, when she had found it, began to fumble in ...
— Put Yourself in His Place • Charles Reade

... was in the drain, and when he heard the bailiff's heavy footsteps, and the noise he made fumbling about with the trap, he laughed, and said to himself: "Fumble away, you old stupid—I know what you are doing. You are setting up a gin in the same place you have set it twenty times before. Twenty times you have set the gin up there and never caught anything, and yet you cannot see, and you ...
— Wood Magic - A Fable • Richard Jefferies

... Flaxie began to fumble with the key. Ninny smiled to hear her breathe so hard, but never thought the wee, wee fingers could do ...
— Lill's Travels in Santa Claus Land and other Stories • Ellis Towne, Sophie May and Ella Farman

... her presents to other members of the party under the very noses of the givers, to let them see what she thinks of their choice. The great idea is to sit down by her quickly when you see her begin to fumble with something you would like to have. I got quite a nice bag that way ...
— The Independence of Claire • Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey

... plays. Meet the ball; don't wait for it to get to you. That applies to you backs," and he nodded at Tom and his two mates. "Quarter, don't fumble when you pass the ball back. Be accurate. Don't make a mistake ...
— Tom Fairfield's Pluck and Luck • Allen Chapman

... the latter broke like paper, and the first streamed through for a dozen yards. And so it went until the second found itself only a few yards from its goal line. There, with the backs pressed close against the forwards, the second held and secured the ball on downs, only to lose it again by a fumble on the part of Post. Then a delayed pass gained two yards for the first and a mass at left tackle found another. But the next play resulted disastrously, for when the ball was passed back there was no one to take it, and the quarter was borne back several yards ...
— The Half-Back • Ralph Henry Barbour

... pain and thirst, the wounded German hesitates between suspicion and pity, but pity gets the upper hand, and he crawls with his water bottle to the Russian. Later, as he lies helpless, his fears are aroused by seeing the Russian fumble with something in his breast. Is it a revolver? The wounded German, overstrained with suffering, waits in terror, but the Russian dies before his hand can bring out what it sought. When the stretcher bearers come the German ...
— The Better Germany in War Time - Being some Facts towards Fellowship • Harold Picton

... treated each year? Tough, independent Senator Dan Fowler fights a one-man battle against the clique that seeks perpetual power and perpetual youth, in this hard-hitting novel by Alan E. Nourse. Why did it have to be his personal fight? The others fumble it—they'd foul it up, Fowler protested? But why was he in the fight and what was to happen to Senator Fowler's fight against this fantastic conspiracy? Who ...
— Martyr • Alan Edward Nourse

... generally reached in cricket matches. Baldwin and Crane were both on their mettle and the fielding being of the sharpest kind safe hits were few and far between. Up to the ninth inning Chicago led by two runs, but here Earle's three-bagger, Hanlon's base on balls, Burns' fumble of Brown's hit and Carroll's double settled our chances, the All-Americas winning by a score of 4 ...
— A Ball Player's Career - Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson • Adrian C. Anson

... clearer with the growing day; And in the cold dawn light her hair is grey: Her lifted arms are naught but bone: her hands White withered claws that fumble as she stands Trying to pin that wisp into its place. O Philip, I must look upon her face There in the mirror. Nay, but I will rise And peep over her shoulder ... Oh, the eyes That burn out from that face of skin and bone, Searching my very marrow, ...
— Georgian Poetry 1920-22 • Various

... hands—with both huge arms go stretch Along the black wall of thy cellar. Nay, There may be some odd thing hidden away? Who knows—there may! Those great hands might so come In course of ghastly fumble through the gloom, Upon a sword—a sword! The hands once clasp Its hilt, must wield it with a ...
— Poems • Victor Hugo

... in clearly denned, isolated, intermittent movements, each one of which has a definite beginning and a definite end. As compared with imagination, intuition is passive and receptive; as compared with instinct it does not fumble and grope forward, steadily and tenaciously, among the roots of things; but it suspends itself, mirror-like, upon the surface of the unfathomable waters, and suspended there reflects in swift sudden glimpses the mysterious movements of ...
— The Complex Vision • John Cowper Powys

... future fame as a bugman, as the fellows irreverently said; 'Stumpy' Smith, a demon bowler; Polly Lindsay, slow as ever and as sure as when he held the half-back line with Graeme, and used to make my heart stand still with terror at his cool deliberation. But he was never known to fumble nor to funk, and somehow he always got us out safe enough. Then there was Rattray—'Rat' for short—who, from a swell, had developed into a cynic with a sneer, awfully clever and a good enough fellow at heart. Little ...
— Black Rock • Ralph Connor

... patience, it seemed, but continued to fumble about, and at last, with his back turned to me, got my lamp lighted. For a moment he stood staring at the wall, as though he lacked the resolution to turn. And when he wheeled I knew that I looked upon the countenance of a man who had been broken on the ...
— The Cruise of the Shining Light • Norman Duncan

... his head, and commenced his afternoon work; then there came up the hill the sound of the school-bell, but Tip took no notice of that; he didn't want to think of school, much less even go. He began to fumble presently for his Bible,—he must have some help. It opened of itself at the Psalms, and he read the first line which he saw: "Unto Thee, O God, do we give thanks "—No, not that, and he turned back a couple of leaves. "Make ...
— Tip Lewis and His Lamp • Pansy (aka Isabella Alden)

... but it held, and I got to the top, and began to fumble for the hasp or lock of the scuttle. It was thick with cob-webs and dust, and for a while it refused to move. While I was working at it I heard Mr. Snider open the door at the foot of ...
— The Voyage of the Hoppergrass • Edmund Lester Pearson

... that?" interrupted Jimmy, rising and picking up a cigarette, so as to have something to fumble at with his fingers. "Whose fault is it, Lily, if not that ... well, if not Trampy's? Isn't it fair that he should pay for it? It would really become too easy, else, to steal other people's ideas! You know quite well, Lily—you saw ...
— The Bill-Toppers • Andre Castaigne

... it, even to himself, but that answer sounded a lot more probable. Machine technicians weren't exactly picked off the streets at random; they were highly trained for their work, and the idea of a whole crew of them starting to fumble at once, in a big way, was a little ...
— Supermind • Gordon Randall Garrett

... a surprise as the lunch. He watched the woman fumble over lighting the fire in the stove until he could stand ...
— The Man in Gray • Thomas Dixon

... continued to fumble among her possessions in the bureau drawer; at last she brought forth an orange-coloured satin ribbon, which she placed in the Indian woman's hands ...
— The Girl of the Golden West • David Belasco

... the mantelpiece and began to fumble for the switch; in the silence his nails scratching at the panelling made a sound like to that of a gnawing mouse. He found it at last, and next instant the office broke into a blaze of light, showing Mr. Haswell, his rubicund face quite pale, his hat and umbrella on the floor, gasping like a ...
— The Yellow God - An Idol of Africa • H. Rider Haggard

... a little piece of wood out of his pocket, also a steel nail, and with the latter tapped several times upon the bit of veneering. Immediately they saw the sitting boy begin to fumble, as though he might be getting something out of his pocket. Then came an answering series of staccato taps, ...
— The Banner Boy Scouts on a Tour - The Mystery of Rattlesnake Mountain • George A. Warren

... honour of Pan, which comes so soon in Endymion! The dim rich depths of the dark forests are stirred by it, and its murmurs die away, over the wailing spaces of the marshes. Obscure growths, and drowsy weeds overhanging moon-lit paths, where fungoid things fumble for light and air, hear that cry in their voluptuous dreams and move uneasily. The dumb vegetable expectancy of young tree-trunks is roused by it into sensual terror. For this is the sound of the hoof of Pan, stamping ...
— Visions and Revisions - A Book of Literary Devotions • John Cowper Powys

... they hae room to grumble! Hadst thou taen aff some drowsy bummle, [drone] Wha can do nought but fyke an' fumble, [fuss] 'Twad been nae plea; [grievance] But he was gleg as ony wumble, [lively, ...
— Robert Burns - How To Know Him • William Allan Neilson

... who in moments of strong feeling could not strike out a poetical thought, and afterwards polish it so as to be presentable. But men of sense know better than so to waste their time; and those who sincerely love poetry, know the touch of the master's hand on the chords too well to fumble among them after him. Nay, more than this, all inferior poetry is an injury to the good, inasmuch as it takes away the freshness of rhymes, blunders upon and gives a wretched commonalty to good thoughts; and, in general, adds to ...
— Selections From the Works of John Ruskin • John Ruskin

... the captain, rising. "Ye see," he said, apologetically, "we got to talking o' Roger and ole times, and I got a little out o' my course. It's a matter of—" he began to fumble in his pockets, and finally produced a small memorandum-book, which he glanced over—"it's ...
— Drift from Two Shores • Bret Harte

... grasped his arm with one hand, while with the other he seized the lamp. The man cursed, and began to fumble at his belt, as though for a knife, whereon Peter, putting out his strength, twisted his arm so fiercely that in his pain he loosed the lamp, which remained in Peter's hand. The inn-keeper made a grab at it, missed his footing and rolled down ...
— Fair Margaret • H. Rider Haggard

... need you, being come to sense, But fumble in a greasy till And add the halfpence to the pence And prayer to shivering prayer, until You have dried the marrow from the bone; For men were born to pray and save, Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, It's with O'Leary in ...
— The Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth Century • William Lyon Phelps

... Argentine. His spirits rose slightly at the prospect before him; his step was fairly light and buoyant as he proceeded in the direction of his bedroom. There was no light in the room, so that he had to fumble about in his pockets for a box of matches which fell from his fingers and dropped on ...
— The Mystery of the Four Fingers • Fred M. White

... silverstrian things; and from that they said about him it seemed to me that this person was quite white, and was a kind of madness that would settle down quite blankly upon a place, a kind of mist in which reason could not live; and it was the fear of this that made them fumble nervously at the lock of that rotten door; but with the Sphinx it was not so ...
— The Book of Wonder • Edward J. M. D. Plunkett, Lord Dunsany

... fumble in his pockets with much discretion, and could always find his latch-key, for its shape was odd, but with that latch-key he could not find the keyhole in the door. There came a clamor always at the end. When finally he entered, Mrs. ...
— The Wolf's Long Howl • Stanley Waterloo

... of being glorious to-night, and I made sure to sleep by his side—now he'll be quite sober—and I'll be food for fishes; it's a cold bed that I shall turn into before morning, that's certain. Hand me the cakes, boy, if you can fumble them out; the more we fill ourselves, the less room for salt water. Well, then, wind and waves are great bullies; they fly slap back in a fright when they bang against a great ship; but when they get ...
— Percival Keene • Frederick Marryat

... low, wise and foolish, cultivated and rude. This Teacher does not only impart wisdom by words as from without, though He does that too, but He comes into men's spirits, and communicates Himself, and so makes them wise. Other teachers fumble at the outside, but 'in the hidden parts He makes me to know wisdom.' So it is safe to take this Teacher absolutely, and to say, 'Thou art my Master, Thy word is truth, and the opening of Thy lips to ...
— Expositions of Holy Scripture - St. Matthew Chaps. IX to XXVIII • Alexander Maclaren

... "ownness" there's desperate doubt of, And which (if she's nous) you can't keep in your house, nor yet (if she's "savvy") keep out of! What is "Hymen's halter"? I fidget and falter! The Beaks seem to palter and fumble. In such a strange fashion, I fly in a passion, and vow that the world is a jumble. Law seems a wigged noodle, as tame as a poodle, the whole darned caboodle (as 'ARRY sees) Is ructions and "rot," and our "rulers" a lot of confounded old foodles and Pharisees! Yes, that's what I think about Marriage ...
— Punch, Or The London Charivari, Vol. 100, May 23, 1891 • Various

... man hadn't sense to stop; again and again he flung his insults at the infuriated Sheeley, impatiently fighting off the efforts of his companion who sought to part them. Suddenly Chick saw him step back, while the others were grappling, and fumble in his rear pocket. He saw him steady himself against the door jamb, not four feet away, and raise a pistol. There was a sharp report, a smothered groan, ...
— A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill • Alice Hegan Rice

... a pale, plain child, with sharp, intelligent eyes, and a busy little mind, that did a good deal more thinking than anybody imagined. She was just at the unattractive, fidgety age when no one knew what to do with her, and so let her fumble her way up as she could, finding pleasure in odd things, and living much alone, for she did not go to school, because her shoulders were growing round, and Mrs. Shaw would not "allow her figure to be spoiled." That suited Maud excellently; ...
— An Old-fashioned Girl • Louisa May Alcott

... fumble nervously in her purse "It's horrid, I think, to ask for presents," she said to the youth in deep humiliation, more on his ...
— Christopher and Columbus • Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim

... to whimper. "I—I do not know; unless some one has stolen my key." She put a hand down to fumble in ...
— Sir John Constantine • Prosper Paleologus Constantine

... disgust. Was it possible? Was this the lady who had charmed him the other day? Who had spoken of England and conjured up the memories of his own home in the Midlands? With a playful gesture, she sent her hat careering across the street and began to fumble at her breast, unlacing or unbuttoning something. It was horrible, in ...
— South Wind • Norman Douglas

... at once obey, Alfred actually began to fumble hastily with the straps that held her riding-skirt in place. This was so unusual in the bashful Alfred that Miss Caldwell roused and ...
— Blazed Trail Stories - and Stories of the Wild Life • Stewart Edward White

... some points, seized with his haughty glance the characteristic outlines of that catastrophe of human genius in conflict with divine chance. All the other historians suffer from being somewhat dazzled, and in this dazzled state they fumble about. It was a day of lightning brilliancy; in fact, a crumbling of the military monarchy which, to the vast stupefaction of kings, drew all the kingdoms after it—the fall of force, the ...
— Les Miserables - Complete in Five Volumes • Victor Hugo

... gleam came into his eyes. He turned to fumble noisily with the glasses as he replaced them in ...
— Doom Castle • Neil Munro

... amusing to hear Madame Poulard talk of the priests stopping the pilgrimages! The priests? Why, that's all they have left them to live upon now. These peasants' are the only pockets in which they can fumble nowadays." ...
— In and Out of Three Normady Inns • Anna Bowman Dodd

... He began to fumble in his own pockets as he spoke, but vaguely, as one who knows the search is vain. She ...
— Many Kingdoms • Elizabeth Jordan

... now, that whined before, That pried and tried and trod so gingerly, Till in its silkiness the trap-teeth join; Then you know how the bristling fury foams. They listen, this wrapped in his folds of red, While his feet fumble for the filth below; The other, as beseems a stouter heart, Working his best with beads and cross to ban The enemy that come in like a flood Spite of the standard set up, verily And in no trope at all, ...
— An Introduction to the Study of Browning • Arthur Symons

... in the same plight. I am waiting for mine." Mrs. Damer hastened to veil her solicitude, which was evidently unwelcome. She caught up her cloak and began to fumble with ...
— The Knave of Diamonds • Ethel May Dell

... little sleight-of-hand stunt between Murphy and your nigger is working fine. They not only put it over on the judges, but none of the other owners are wise. I'd try it myself some day if I wasn't afraid somebody would fumble and give ...
— Old Man Curry - Race Track Stories • Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan

... but untidy head, was urging them to undo the strings of their great leather purses, and replied to their somewhat indelicate jokes in a shrill voice, as she sat on the knee of the youngest, and allowed him to kiss her and to fumble in her bodice, ...
— The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume III (of 8) • Guy de Maupassant

... him shuffle a few steps and fumble with a drawer of the desk. In a moment the cold hard butt of a pistol was thrust into his hand. ...
— Astounding Stories, March, 1931 • Various

... of going out with the economy of staying at home. There was only one hindrance—that I seemed not to know any of the people this brilliant couple had known. I think he wondered extremely, during the term of our intercourse, whom the deuce I DID know. He hadn't a stray sixpence of an idea to fumble for, so we didn't spin it very fine; we confined ourselves to questions of leather and even of liquor- saddlers and breeches-makers and how to get excellent claret cheap- -and matters like "good trains" and the habits of ...
— Some Short Stories • Henry James

... he watched the Oakdale nine at practice. At times he smiled with a supercilious air of amusement, and especially was this noticeable when Eliot complimented the players or some one made some sort of a fumble or fluke. ...
— Rival Pitchers of Oakdale • Morgan Scott

... corner is marked out as a part of the "sphere of influence" of anthropology, but there is not the slightest indication of an effective occupation among these raiding considerations and uncertain facts. Until anthropology produces her Daltons and Davys we must fumble in this corner, just as the old alchemists fumbled for centuries before the dawn of chemistry. Our utmost practice here must be empirical. We do not know the elements of what we have, the human characteristics we are working upon to get that end. The sentimentalized affinities ...
— Mankind in the Making • H. G. Wells

... believe much unreason and a little truth than to deny for denial's sake truth and unreason alike, for when we do this we have not even a rush candle to guide our steps, not even a poor sowlth to dance before us on the marsh, and must needs fumble our way into the great emptiness where dwell the mis-shapen dhouls. And after all, can we come to so great evil if we keep a little fire on our hearths and in our souls, and welcome with open hand whatever ...
— The Celtic Twilight • W. B. Yeats

... Jackson began to fumble with weak and trembling hands about his throat, to undo his shirt-collar,—he would not let me help him,—and presently, flushed and panting from the effort, he drew out a length of delicate Panama chain fastened rudely together by a link of copper ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 5, March, 1858 • Various

... up," remarked Tom, as he tooted his horn and waved his flag, and Sam followed suit. Then the fun-loving Rover placed his horn under his arm and began to fumble at something in ...
— The Rover Boys in the Air - From College Campus to the Clouds • Edward Stratemeyer

... skill, she can easily and at any time outdistance the most brilliant high-school graduate, for skill is her education, and she handles, and fingers, and computes sometimes many thousands of delicate threads, or intricate bits of metal, the slightest fumble of which might throw out of gear a powerful machine. This is applied mathematics, is it not? She uses no pencil nor paper, but counts by allowing one line to overlap another at every five hundred cards, done in some fine print work, and ...
— The Girl Scout Pioneers - or Winning the First B. C. • Lillian C Garis

... moistened his dry lips, thrust out his chest, and after a momentary fumble, stuck three ...
— The Cruise of the Dry Dock • T. S. Stribling

... hee's not in Hell: hee's in Arthurs Bosome, if euer man went to Arthurs Bosome: a made a finer end, and went away and it had beene any Christome Childe: a parted eu'n iust betweene Twelue and One, eu'n at the turning o'th' Tyde: for after I saw him fumble with the Sheets, and play with Flowers, and smile vpon his fingers end, I knew there was but one way: for his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields. How now Sir Iohn (quoth I?) what man? be a good cheare: so a cryed out, God, God, God, three or foure times: now I, to comfort ...
— The First Folio [35 Plays] • William Shakespeare

... won it I telegraphed to the Morning Post that now at last success was a distinct possibility. With this important feature in our possession it was certain that we held the key to Ladysmith, and though we might fumble a little with the lock, sooner or later, barring the accidents of war, ...
— London to Ladysmith via Pretoria • Winston Spencer Churchill

... wading in the torrent Of high excitement, snatch me from the riot— (Fool that he is)—and fumble with his warrant, And hail a hearse, and beg me to ...
— Twenty • Stella Benson

... coming spring, when the roads would be open and the days warm. Confident of his perfect security on the peninsula, and possessed by a sneaking, but denied, abhorrence for rush and discomfort, he rejoiced at delay. So, having left his snug bed to fumble about in the dark for his clothes, and, these donned, having loosed his speech before the grateful blaze in the fireplace, he did not argue fatigue or freezing as an excuse for procrastination; he passed over these rather too briefly and enlarged upon ...
— The Plow-Woman • Eleanor Gates

... subjective first principles in the development of his system; and it was not until adopted by Kant, or rather by Fichte, that the transcendental method showed its true colours. Even today philosophers fumble with it, patching soliloquy with physics and physics with soliloquy. Moreover, Locke's misunderstandings of Descartes were partly justified by the latter's verbal concessions to tradition and authority. A man who has a clear head, and like Descartes is rendered by his aristocratic pride ...
— Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy - Five Essays • George Santayana

... urgent claim beyond the fact that she was now her only one. Aunt Emily's clear vision might, indeed, be said to have found the way through a tangle of poignant conditions in which her own poor heart had been able to do nothing but fumble helplessly. ...
— The Letter of the Contract • Basil King

... and there, sure enough, was the oak itself. Kneeling down, he slipped off his burden and pushed it through a jagged hole at the root. Then he glanced round him, a long, stealthy look, down at the earth and up at the sky, and crept into the tree. In the dimness I could see him fumble for the thing he wanted, pause to thumb its edge, and, throwing up his chin, ...
— The Broad Highway • Jeffery Farnol

... them hereditary, had welcomed the two apparitors (if that be the proper name for them) and led them kindly down the valley, and told them then to serve their writ. Misliking the look of things, these poor men began to fumble among their clothes; upon which the Doones cried, "off with them! Let us see if your message he on your skins." And with no more manners than that, they stripped, and lashed them out of the valley; only bidding them come to us, if they wanted ...
— Lorna Doone - A Romance of Exmoor • R. D. Blackmore

... face, the Tigers made one last desperate rally and in doing so called repeatedly on Kelly, with the result that with this star carrying the ball in nearly every rush the Princeton eleven carried the ball fifty-five yards up the field only to lose it at last on a fumble to Jim Rodgers. ...
— Football Days - Memories of the Game and of the Men behind the Ball • William H. Edwards

... plainsman born and bred, the other a sergeant of cavalry. They dismount in the timber and picket their horses, then follow on foot the lead of their companion of the guard. While the corporal and the scout proceed to the wagon-fly and fumble at the opening, the tall sergeant stands silently a little distance in their rear, and the occupants of a neighboring shelter—the counterpart of the colonel's—begin to stir, as though their light slumber had been broken by the smothered sound of footsteps. One of them sits up ...
— From the Ranks • Charles King

... to begin!" and see and hear BALFE'S pretty little Girl of Bohemia while she is still visible and audible at Drury Lane. Mr. EADIE a trifle gawky as Thaddeus, but then he finds himself in an awkward situation, especially when he has to fumble for the documentary evidence of his birth, attested at a Bohemian Registry Office. CARL ARMBRUSTER conducted this, and then up got Herr FELD "with his little lot," represented by the unrivalled and unequalled Cavalleria Rusticana. Ah! Cavalleria is a treat, ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 104, April 15, 1893 • Various

... the letter which lay on the table in front of him and unfolded it. He glanced at it and then put it down and began to fumble ...
— General John Regan - 1913 • George A. Birmingham

... herself and two men,—an interval of a year between each,—and there had also been a kiss in an alcove designed by her dearest friend, Ella Linton, for the undoing of mankind, a place of softened lights and shadowy palms. It was her recollection of these incidents that had caused her to fumble with the blind cord when her father had been suggesting to her the disadvantages of inexperience in matters of the heart. But the incidents had led to nothing, except, perhaps, a week or two of remorse. But she could not help ...
— Phyllis of Philistia • Frank Frankfort Moore

... speckled from the night before, so I handed him the fruit-lozenges, and went to pack my own box. Cousin Egbert I found sitting as I had left him, on the edge of a chair, carefully holding his hat, stick, and gloves, and staring into the wall. He had promised me faithfully not to fumble with his cravat, and evidently he had not once stirred. I packed my box swiftly—my "grip," as he called it—and we were presently off once more, without another sight of the Honourable George, who was to join us at tea. I could hear him moving about, using rather ultra-frightful ...
— Ruggles of Red Gap • Harry Leon Wilson

... silver ribbon on the dark bosom of the meadow, was before me. Grasses and weeds were laden with dew, and the water whirled and whispered about the roots. I could have believed that the purling formed itself into words when I knelt down to fumble for the snake-bite cure. I would not let myself be scared. I kept saying over and over—"To save his life! to ...
— When Grandmamma Was New - The Story of a Virginia Childhood • Marion Harland

... We fumble and light up. They leave us our pipes, tobacco and matches; presently, one knocks with his pipe on the iron trap of the door and asks for water, which is brought in a tin pint-pot. Then follow ...
— The Rising of the Court • Henry Lawson

... to decipher. When I used to inquire if he had anything for me, or for Holdsworth (he was not particular to whom he gave up the letters, so that he got rid of them somehow, and could set off homewards), he would say he thought that he had, for such was his invariable safe form of answer; and would fumble in breast-pockets, waistcoat-pockets, breeches-pockets, and, as a last resource, in coat-tail pockets; and at length try to comfort me, if I looked disappointed, by telling me, 'Hoo had missed this toime, but was sure to ...
— Cousin Phillis • Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

... tightening his fingers about his throat. As he did, Forrest writhing in the chair under his attack, began to fumble with his hand at his hip as if instinctively seeking something there. Stephen's eyes followed the movement, even while he, too, relaxed his hold to seize with his free hand the arm of his adversary. Only for a moment, however; for he immediately felt himself seized ...
— The Loyalist - A Story of the American Revolution • James Francis Barrett

... once Ken saw a bloody finger. It was cold in the cage. Even an ordinarily hit ball must have stung the hands, and the way a hard grounder cracked was enough to excite sympathy among those scornful spectators, if nothing more. But they yelled in delight at every fumble, at everything that happened. Ken kept whispering to himself: "I can't see the fun in it. ...
— The Young Pitcher • Zane Grey

... very weak himself. As I shout down the hole to encourage him, the coon, with one final effort, wrests himself free from the dog and comes scuttling out of the hole. With undignified haste I back away from the outlet and fumble a blunt arrow on the string, and I am just in time, for here comes one of the maddest and one of the sickest coons I ever saw. With a hasty shot back of the ear, I bowl him over and put him out of his misery. Turning him over with my foot ...
— Hunting with the Bow and Arrow • Saxton Pope

... sill. They fumble on the wall. They stretch to reach the gun which stands beside the clock. Another inch and they will grasp it and Red Joe will be saved. The arm rubs against the pendulum of the clock. It swings and the clock starts to tick. ...
— Wappin' Wharf - A Frightful Comedy of Pirates • Charles S. Brooks

... to the girl, keeping his eyes on the Easterners, and his weapon steady. He had hung the wire coil over his shoulder, leaving his left hand free to fumble for and untie the cords around Naomi's ...
— When the Sleepers Woke • Arthur Leo Zagat

... his most awful attributes. And yet she comforted herself with the thought, that, as he had forgiven her ignorance, she herself might surely forget it. Happy Lizzie, I envy you this easy path to knowledge! The volume she most frequently consulted was an old German "Faust," over which she used to fumble with a battered lexicon. The secret of this preference was in certain marginal notes in pencil, signed "J.". I hope they were really of ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 89, March, 1865 • Various

... peradventure, whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty; considering him something in the light of a culprit at the bar; when they were brought to a pause by seeing him lay down his pipe and begin to fumble with his walking-staff. For a moment those present would not have given half a crown for both the crowns of the commissioners; but Peter Stuyvesant repressed his mighty wrath and stayed his hand; he scanned the varlets from head to foot, satchels and all, with a look of ...
— Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete • Washington Irving

... Bellamy had been the name of the gentleman who, a year and a half before, was to have met Pandora on the arrival of the German steamer; it was in Bellamy's name that she had addressed herself with such effusion to Bellamy's friend, the man in the straw hat who was about to fumble in her mother's old clothes. This was a fact that seemed to Count Otto to finish the picture of her contradictions; it wanted at present no touch to be complete. Yet even as it hung there before him it continued to fascinate him, and he stared at it, detached from surrounding ...
— Pandora • Henry James

... attached. After the mayor had fulfilled his office so well, General Grant said: "Mr. Mayor, as I knew that this ceremony was to occur, and as I am not used to speaking, I have written something in reply." He then began to fumble in his pockets, first his breast-coat pocket, then his pants, vest; etc., and after considerable delay he pulled out a crumpled piece of common yellow cartridge-paper, which he handed to the mayor. His whole manner ...
— The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Complete • William T. Sherman

... of his own greatness were expressing his approval of the conduct of a little boy. Disraeli stopped dead short in his speech and one of the finest bits of comedy I can remember to have seen ensued. He closed his eyes and began very deliberately to fumble about the breast of his frock-coat within and without in search of something which he was evidently not over anxious to find. Alighting at last on the object of this perfunctory search he produced an eyeglass and, ...
— Recollections • David Christie Murray

... English are, in general, the worst linguists in the world, seeing that they pursue a system diametrically opposite? For example, when they attempt to speak Spanish, the most sonorous tongue in existence, they scarcely open their lips, and putting their hands in their pockets, fumble lazily, instead of applying them to the indispensable office of gesticulation. Well may the poor Spaniards exclaim, THESE ENGLISH TALK SO CRABBEDLY, THAT SATAN HIMSELF WOULD NOT ...
— The Bible in Spain • George Borrow

... hasty exclamation, an exclamation uttered as though the words had affrighted her. Whereafter, with quivering lips, she began hesitantly and uncertainly to fumble ...
— Through Russia • Maxim Gorky

... Alcove with four Volumes that were being dissected at the drawing-room Clinics, she took a hack at the first and last Chapter of each. Just enough to protect her against a Fumble if she found herself next to a ...
— Ade's Fables • George Ade

... blue eyes opened. At first she seemed not to see the anxious countenances bent over her. Then a look of recognition crept into her face, and a wan little smile parted the lips. She lifted one hand and began to fumble feebly in ...
— Nine Little Goslings • Susan Coolidge

... a pair of violet eyes and a pair of the most mysterious gray, I began to fumble in my ...
— American Adventures - A Second Trip 'Abroad at home' • Julian Street

... if you should sympathize too much with your brother, you might fumble at the right time or make a poor play which ...
— Interference and Other Football Stories • Harold M. Sherman

... names!" retorted the officer brutally. The other officer came up and began to fumble for a note book in the breast of his dirty tunic. When he found it he licked the lead of his pencil and squinted at the ex-Empress out of ...
— The Crimson Tide • Robert W. Chambers

... she answered. "I had—I wanted to—" And suddenly she commenced to fumble with her hand-bag; she brought forth a package of money which she placed before him on the desk. Her hands trembled so violently that she disarranged the bills, she even dropped a few; she stooped down and picked them up and stammered: "Take it, please; don't say ...
— Shallow Soil • Knut Hamsun

... into my pocket, and there I found the greater part of a ship's biscuit, which, as I was quitting the cabin, I had mechanically thrust into it. I almost shouted for joy as I found the prize—though it was not much to be divided among four men. The discovery made the rest fumble in their pockets. McTavish had a tobacco-box, which he had only just filled, and Jack found a huge lump of grease, which, though not very savoury, was not to be despised. How it had come there he could not recollect. These treasures, however, we determined not to begin ...
— Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman • W. H. G. Kingston

... are connected by a loop of fringe, a couple of cords not always tied, or anything that comes handy, apparently for ornament. Now, when the husband feels moved to demonstrate his affection for his spouse by administering a beating, he is not obliged to fumble and grope among those straight folds for the awkward triangular little opening, quite unsuited to accommodate his fist. He can grasp her promptly by the neck of her chemise and this comfortable semicircle, and not force her to doubt his love by delay and hesitation in expression. I asked the pretty ...
— Russian Rambles • Isabel F. Hapgood

... guilty boy it seemed as if the deacon must have been waiting for ten minutes at the least, and in a great flurry he began to fumble for his handkerchief. What had he done with it? Oh, there it was at last, way down in the depths ...
— Good Cheer Stories Every Child Should Know • Various

... her drinkings, Miss Todd might have been taken as an example by all the ladies of Littlebath. Sir Lionel's personal appearance has been already described. Considering his age, he was very well preserved. He was still straight; did not fumble much in his walk; and had that decent look of military decorum which, since the days of Caesar and the duke, has been always held to accompany a hook-nose. He had considered much about his toilet; indeed, he did that habitually; but on this occasion he had come to the conclusion ...
— The Bertrams • Anthony Trollope

... sent me by post. Mother did not know that it had come. We can't be friends until you've owned yourself in the wrong. We've all joined a Compact to get our friend back again and to show that it wasn't he who did it. I've got it with me,' and Tricksy began to fumble in ...
— The Adventure League • Hilda T. Skae

... form of benevolence an agreeable sensation. I saw that I had done what the man wished and expected from me. But if I stopped the poor man, and sympathetically questioned him about his former and his present life, I felt that it was no longer possible to give three or twenty kopeks, and I began to fumble in my purse for money, in doubt as to how much I ought to give, and I always gave more; and I always noticed that the poor man left me dissatisfied. But if I entered into still closer intercourse with the poor ...
— The Moscow Census - From "What to do?" • Lyof N. Tolstoi

... the blood come back to his body again—on the twenty-five yard line there had been a fumble and the advance was checked. Twice again the battered end of the Kennedy was forced back for what seemed certain touchdowns, only to be saved by loose work on the Woodhull's part. It was getting dark and the half was ebbing fast—three minutes more ...
— The Varmint • Owen Johnson

... blind. In that little room, in the darkness, they seemed to be knocking about from side to side in search of light and an outlet, to be grasping out with powerful but blind hands; they seemed to fall upon the floor, and having fallen, to scrape and fumble with their feet. They hit against everything, groped about for everything, and flung it away, calm and composed, losing ...
— Mother • Maxim Gorky

... is. He p'omised to git me a job up hyeah, an' I got yo' lettah—" here Silas, who had set his bundle on the floor in coming into the Presence, began to fumble in his pockets for the letter. He searched long in vain, because his hands trembled, and he was nervous under the eyes of this great personage who stood unmoved and ...
— The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories • Paul Laurence Dunbar

... but when the Dame caught sight of Jan's slate, without minutely examining his work, she said, "Zo thee's been scraaling on thee slate, instead of writing thee figures," and at once began to fumble beneath her chair. ...
— Jan of the Windmill • Juliana Horatia Ewing

... marvellously. There is no sure way of comparison here. How words do their work in poetry, and how we appreciate the way they do it—this seems to involve the obscurest processes of the mind: analysis can but fumble at it. But we can compare inspiration—the nature of the inmost urgent motive of poetry. And it is not irrelevant to add (it seems to me mere fact), that Milton had the greatest motive that ...
— The Epic - An Essay • Lascelles Abercrombie

... with a touchdown in their favor, Colby thought to remain in the lead, they soon had this hope shattered. The Columbus Academy eleven played a fast and snappy second quarter, and, as a result, before it was half over they took the ball on a fumble and circled the ...
— The Rover Boys at Colby Hall - or The Struggles of the Young Cadets • Arthur M. Winfield

... Noiselessly the boy reached the hen-house, and when he peered around that he saw to his bewilderment that the thief was Steve. Once more Steve went into the barn, and this time when he come out he began to fumble about his forehead with both hands, and a moment later Jason saw him move toward the gate, masked and armed. A long shrill whistle came from the turnpike and he heard Steve start into a ...
— The Heart Of The Hills • John Fox, Jr.

... in the form of a Phoenix, I dare say the Board—' said the nice gentleman, as Robert began to fumble with ...
— The Phoenix and the Carpet • E. Nesbit



Words linked to "Fumble" :   baseball game, bungle, go through, bollocks up, fail, fumbler, flub, louse up, fluff, bollix up, foul-up, go across, bumble, look for, boner, muff, bollocks, go wrong, baseball, bobble, bloomer, bollix, palm, American football game, mishandle, seek



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