a nigger in the fence

a nigger in the fence
(a nigger in the fence (или in the woodpile))
скрытый изъян; подозрительное обстоятельство; помеха, препятствие; необнаруженный виновник (чего-л.) [первонач. амер.]

He wants to be the next Senator and I've promised him our support. Between ourselves, I gained the impression that he'd just as soon be our next mayor, but apparently there's a nigger in the woodpile in the form of the gracious Mrs. Collins. That good lady is fired of being gracious on a local scale: she wants to be gracious in Washington. And so frank will run for the Senate next year. (E. O'Connor, ‘The Last Hurrah’, part I, ch. III) — Фрэнк Коллинз хочет быть сенатором от нашего штата. Я обещал ему поддержку. Между нами говоря, у меня создалось впечатление, что он скорее хотел бы стать нашим мэром, но для этого, как видно, имеется препятствие в лице достопочтенной миссис Коллинз. Этой даме надоело блистать в провинции, она хочет блистать в Вашингтоне, и поэтому Фрэнк в будущем году будет баллотироваться в сенат.

But as soon as we get to New York I'll fly down to Texas to give the outfit the once-over and you bet I'll keep my eyes peeled for a nigger in the woodpile before I cough up any of Isabel's dough. (W. S. Maugham, ‘The Razor's Edge’, ch. VII) — Сейчас же по приезде в Нью-Йорк я вылечу в Техас и, не мешкая, ознакомлюсь с предприятием; будьте уверены, от моих глаз не укроется ничего подозрительного. Деньгами Изабел я рисковать не намерен.

there's another Englishman coming up from 'Frisco... Ef [= if] he ain't scooped up by Jenny Bradley he'll guess there's a nigger in the fence somewhere. (F. Bret Harte, ‘A Phyllis of the Sierras’, ch. III) — Еще один англичанин приезжает из Сан-Франциско... Если его не отвлечет Дженни Брэдли, он может догадаться, что у нас не все ладно.


Большой англо-русский фразеологический словарь. - М.: «Русский язык-Медиа».. 2006.

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