• 30572阅读
  • 48回复

【英文原版】甲壳虫(The Beetle) / Richard Marsh [复制链接]

上一主题 下一主题

只看该作者 20楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book II. The Haunted Man Uy5IvG;O+  
Chapter XX. A Heavy Father ,=O`'l >K  
  Mr Lindon was excited,--there is no mistaking it when he is, because with him excitement means perspiration, and as soon as he was out of the cab he took off his hat and began to wipe the lining. SUINV_>7  
XAwo ~E  
'Atherton, I want to speak to you--most particularly--somewhere in private.' 59!yz'feF  
I took him into my laboratory. It is my rule to take no one there; it is a workshop, not a playroom,--the place is private; but, recently, my rules had become dead letters. Directly he was inside, Lindon began puffing and stewing, wiping his forehead, throwing out his chest, as if he were oppressed by a sense of his own importance. Then he started off talking at the top of his voice,--and it is not a low one either. E9z^#@s  
'Atherton, I--I've always looked on you as a--a kind of a son.' io :g ]g  
_G s*4:  
'That's very kind of you.' Z$ qFjWp  
5 o:VixZf  
'I've always regarded you as a--a level-headed fellow; a man from whom sound advice can be obtained when sound advice--is--is most to be desired.' kp3(/`xP  
'That also is very kind of you.' _'&N01  
^q6H =Dl  
'And therefore I make no apology for coming to you at--at what may be regarded as a--a strictly domestic crisis; at a moment in the history of the Lindons when delicacy and common sense are--are essentially required.' ];Whvdnv  
2'g< H-[  
This time I contented myself with nodding. Already I perceived what was coming; somehow, when I am with a man I feel so much more clear-headed than I do when I am with a woman,--realise so much better the nature of the ground on which I am standing. ^vm[`M  
'What do you know of this man Lessingham?' &ukNzV}VW  
I knew it was coming. ?]fBds=  
sbK 0OA  
'What all the world knows.' @TgCI`E   
'And what does all the world know of him?--I ask you that! A flashy, plausible, shallow-pated, carpet-bagger,--that is what all the world knows of him. The man's a political adventurer,--he snatches a precarious, and criminal, notoriety, by trading on the follies of his fellow-countrymen. He is devoid of decency, destitute of principle, and impervious to all the feelings of a gentleman. What do you know of him besides this?' +e ?ixvld  
'I am not prepared to admit that I do know that.' #e9B|Y?b  
I) Y$?"  
'Oh yes you do!--don't talk nonsense!--you choose to screen the fellow! I say what I mean,--I always have said, and I always shall say.--What do you know of him outside politics,--of his family--of his private life?' +m+HC(Z  
'Well,--not very much.' t*<c+Ixu  
K{iay g!k  
'Of course you don't!--nor does anybody else! The man's a mushroom,--or a toadstool, rather!--sprung up in the course of a single night, apparently out of some dirty ditch.--Why, sir, not only is he without ordinary intelligence, he is even without a Brummagen substitute for manners.' r'!l` gm,S  
He had worked himself into a state of heat in which his countenance presented a not too agreeable assortment of scarlets and purples. He flung himself into a chair, threw his coat wide open, and his arms too, and started off again. 0N}5sF  
:X!(^ a;]  
'The family of the Lindons is, at this moment, represented by a--a young woman,--by my daughter, sir. She represents me, and it's her duty to represent me adequately--adequately, sir! And what's more, between ourselves, sir, it's her duty to marry. My property's my own, and I wouldn't have it pass to either of my confounded brothers on any account. They're next door to fools, and--and they don't represent me in any possible sense of the word. My daughter, sir, can marry whom she pleases,--whom she pleases! There's no one in England, peer or commoner, who would not esteem it an honour to have her for his wife--I've told her so,--yes, sir, I've told her, though you--you'd think that she, of all people in the world, wouldn't require telling. Yet what do you think she does? She--she actually carries on what I--I can't help calling a--a compromising acquaintance with this man Lessingham!' A`r9"([-A  
WY,t> 1c  
'No!' L7g&]%  
'But I say yes!--and I wish to heaven I didn't. I--I've warned her against the scoundrel more than once; I--I've told her to cut him dead. And yet, as--as you saw yourself, last night, in--in the face of the assembled House of Commons, after that twaddling clap- trap speech of his, in which there was not one sound sentiment, nor an idea which--which would hold water, she positively went away with him, in--in the most ostentatious and--and disgraceful fashion, on--on his arm, and--and actually snubbed her father.--It is monstrous that a parent--a father!--should be subjected to such treatment by his child.' \?^wu  
The poor old boy polished his brow with his pocket-handkerchief. $-?5Q~  
'When I got home I--I told her what I thought of her, I promise you that,--and I told her what I thought of him,--I didn't mince my words with her. There are occasions when plain speaking is demanded,--and that was one. I positively forbade her to speak to the fellow again, or to recognise him if she met him in the street. I pointed out to her, with perfect candour, that the fellow was an infernal scoundrel,--that and nothing else!--and that he would bring disgrace on whoever came into contact with him, even with the end of a barge pole.--And what do you think she said?' &9_\E{o%]  
'She promised to obey you, I make no doubt.' 7vpN 6YP  
'Did she, sir!--By gad, did she!--That shows how much you know her!--She said, and, by gad, by her manner, and--and the way she went on, you'd--you'd have thought that she was the parent and I was the child--she said that I--I grieved her, that she was disappointed in me, that times have changed,--yes, sir, she said that times have changed!--that, nowadays, parents weren't Russian autocrats--no, sir, not Russian autocrats!--that--that she was sorry she couldn't oblige me,--yes, sir, that was how she put it, --she was sorry she couldn't oblige me, but it was altogether out of the question to suppose that she could put a period to a friendship which she valued, simply on account of-of my unreasonable prejudices,--and--and--and, in short, she--she told me to go the devil, sir!' ,_Qe}qFU  
'And did you--' pcI&  
I was on the point of asking him if he went,--but I checked myself in time. 9J~:m$.  
'Let us look at the matter as men of the world. What do you know against Lessingham, apart from his politics?' 0CPxIF&  
U z"sdi  
'That's just it,--I know nothing.' Yl $X3wi  
'In a sense, isn't that in his favour?' _3/ec]1  
'I don't see how you make that out. I--I don't mind telling you that I--I've had inquiries made. He's not been in the House six years--this is his second Parliament--he's jumped up like a Jack- in-the-box. His first constituency was Harwich--they've got him still, and much good may he do 'em!--but how he came to stand for the place,--or who, or what, or where he was before he stood for the place, no one seems to have the faintest notion.' Z, T#,  
'Hasn't he been a great traveller?' wfR&li{  
`)K y0&?  
'I never heard of it.' taWqSq!  
B&0; 4  
'Not in the East?' r! %;R?c  
'Has he told you so?' zAzP,1$?  
'No,--I was only wondering, Well, it seems to me that to find out that nothing is known against him is something in his favour!' Q_-_^J  
'My dear Sydney, don't talk nonsense. What it proves is simply,-- that he's a nothing and a nobody. Had he been anything or anyone, something would have been known about him, either for or against. I don't want my daughter to marry a man who--who--who's shot up through a trap, simply because nothing is known against him. Ha- hang me, if I wouldn't ten times sooner she should marry you.' 7S/G B  
When he said that, my heart leaped in my bosom. I had to turn away. $)3%U?AP  
'I am afraid that is out of the question.' Pp )3(T:  
;[fw]P n  
He stopped in his tramping, and looked at me askance. 9/nn)soC3  
'Why?' YGrg  
I felt that, if I was not careful, I should be done for,--and, probably, in his present mood, Marjorie too. N|6M P e  
MerFZd 1  
'My dear Lindon, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for your suggestion, but I can only repeat that--unfortunately, anything of the kind is out of the question.' Ac<Phy-J  
'I don't see why.' Jz2N  
'Perhaps not.' `Ch9~*p  
'You--you're a pretty lot, upon my word!' {ZI)nQ{  
'I'm afraid we are.' .7.b :Dn0  
'I--I want you to tell her that Lessingham is a damned scoundrel.' qIIv6''5@  
(r D_(%o  
'I see.--But I would suggest that if I am to use the influence with which you credit me to the best advantage, or to preserve a shred of it, I had hardly better state the fact quite so bluntly as that.' M#=] k  
(3 #Cl 1]f  
'I don't care how you state it,--state it as you like. Only--only I want you to soak her mind with a loathing of the fellow; I--I--I want you to paint him in his true colours; in--in--in fact, I--I want you to choke him off.' v(-{=*':  
k=B] &F  
While he still struggled with his words, and with the perspiration on his brow, Edwards entered. I turned to him. `}l JH i  
'What is it?' N^pJS6cJkl  
9(5Oe H6o?  
'Miss Lindon, sir, wishes to see you particularly, and at once.' -,+q#F  
?APe R,"V  
At that moment I found the announcement a trifle perplexing,--it delighted Lindon. He began to stutter and to stammer. m@Qt.4m%g  
{XW Z<OjG  
'T-the very thing!--c-couldn't have been belter!--show her in here! H--hide me somewhere,--I don't care where,--behind that screen! Y-you use your influence with her;--g-give her a good talking to;--t-tell her what I've told you; and at--at the critical moment I'll come in, and then--then if we can't manage her between us, it'll be a wonder.' <97d[/7i  
The proposition staggered me. .,i(2^  
'But, my dear Mr Lindon, I fear that I cannot--'  2T)sXBu  
He cut me short. j}+5vB|0  
'Here she comes!' kDB iBNdB  
Ere I could stop him he was behind the screen,--I had not seen him move with such agility before!--and before I could expostulate Marjorie was in the room. Something which was in her bearing, in her face, in her eyes, quickened the beating of my pulses,--she looked as if something had come into her life, and taken the joy clean out of it. %{STz  

只看该作者 21楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book II. The Haunted Man d,oOn.n&  
Chapter XXI. The Terror in the Night %B {D  
  'Sydney!' she cried, 'I'm so glad that I can see you!' !DX/^b  
She might be,--but, at that moment, I could scarcely assert that I was a sharer of her joy. z.9FDQLp  
'I told you that if trouble overtook me I should come to you, and --I'm in trouble now. Such strange trouble.' eKFc W5O  
So was I,--and in perplexity as well. An idea occurred to me,--I would outwit her eavesdropping father. nC{rs+P  
'Come with me into the house,--tell me all about it there.' TdIFZ[<7  
m`q> _*  
She refused to budge. Hf!4(\yN  
'No,--I will tell you all about it here.' She looked about her,-- as it struck me queerly. 'This is just the sort of place in which to unfold a tale like mine. It looks uncanny.' e`1s[ ^B  
'But--' 1V?)zp  
'"But me no buts!" Sydney, don't torture me,--let me stop here where I am,--don't you see I'm haunted?' DR8dJ#  
HjD= .Q  
She had seated herself. Now she stood up, holding her hands out in front of her in a state of extraordinary agitation, her manner as wild as her words. uRg^:  
'Why are you staring at me like that? Do you think I'm mad?--I wonder if I'm going mad.--Sydney, do people suddenly go mad? You're a bit of everything, you're a bit of a doctor too, feel my pulse,--there it is!--tell me if I'm ill!' IU/*YI%W  
I felt her pulse,--it did not need its swift beating to inform me that fever of some sort was in her veins. I gave her something in a glass. She held it up to the level of her eyes. u:k#1Nn!  
'What's this?' N$. ''D?7D  
'It's a decoction of my own. You might not think it, but my brain sometimes gets into a whirl. I use it as a sedative. It will do you good.' -~jM=f$  
She drained the glass. o XA*K.X<  
'It's done me good already,--I believe it has; that's being something like a doctor.--Well, Sydney, the storm has almost burst. Last night papa forbade me to speak to Paul Lessingham--by way of a prelude.' 3S ,D~L^  
'Exactly. Mr Lindon---' HI*xk  
'Yes, Mr Lindon,--that's papa. I fancy we almost quarrelled. I know papa said some surprising things,--but it's a way he has,-- he's apt to say surprising things. He's the best father in the world, but--it's not in his nature to like a really clever person; your good high dried old Tory never can;--I've always thought that that's why he's so fond of you.' I4.^I/c(  
4RTuy+ M  
'Thank you, I presume that is the reason, though it had not occurred to me before.' H}5zKv.T  
Since her entry, I had, to the best of my ability, been turning the position over in my mind. I came to the conclusion that, all things considered, her father had probably as much right to be a sharer of his daughter's confidence as I had, even from the vantage of the screen,--and that for him to hear a few home truths proceeding from her lips might serve to clear the air. From such a clearance the lady would not be likely to come off worst. I had not the faintest inkling of what was the actual purport of her visit. *[K\_F?^h  
49. @Uzo  
She started off, as it seemed to me, at a tangent. ;\~{79c  
'Did I tell you last night about what took place yesterday morning,--about the adventure of my finding the man?' N~I2~f  
'Not a word.' G/Ll4 :  
'I believe I meant to,--I'm half disposed to think he's brought me trouble. Isn't there some superstition about evil befalling whoever shelters a homeless stranger?' -b1VY4m-  
'We'll hope not, for humanity's sake.' ?sb Ob  
'I fancy there is,--I feel sure there is.--Anyhow, listen to my story. Yesterday morning, before breakfast,--to be accurate, between eight and nine, I looked out of the window, and I saw a crowd in the street. I sent Peter out to see what was the matter. He came back and said there was a man in a fit. I went out to look at the man in the fit. I found, lying on the ground, in the centre of the crowd, a man who, but for the tattered remnants of what had apparently once been a cloak, would have been stark naked. He was covered with dust, and dirt, and blood,--a dreadful sight. As you know, I have had my smattering of instruction in First Aid to the Injured, and that kind of thing, so, as no one else seemed to have any sense, and the man seemed as good as dead, I thought I would try my hand. Directly I knelt down beside him, what do you think he said?' y#\jc4F_a  
: `D[0  
'Thank you.' %mR roR6  
,: X+NQ  
'Nonsense.--He said, in such a queer, hollow, croaking voice, "Paul Lessingham." I was dreadfully startled. To hear a perfect stranger, a man in his condition, utter that name in such a fashion--to me, of all people in the world!--took me aback. The policeman who was holding his head remarked, "That's the first time he's opened his mouth. I thought he was dead." He opened his mouth a second time. A convulsive movement went all over him, and he exclaimed, with the strangest earnestness, and so loudly that you might have heard him at the other end of the street, "Be warned, Paul Lessingham, be warned!" It was very silly of me, perhaps, but I cannot tell you how his words, and his manner--the two together--affected me.--Well, the long and the short of it was, that I had him taken into the house, and washed, and put to bed,--and I had the doctor sent for. The doctor could make nothing of it at all. He reported that the man seemed to be suffering from some sort of cataleptic seizure,--I could see that he thought it likely to turn out almost as interesting a case as I did.' QF/A-[V  
'Did you acquaint your father with the addition to his household?' IVD1 mk  
jR7 , b5  
She looked at me, quizzically. ay6G1\0W  
'You see, when one has such a father as mine one cannot tell him everything, at once. There are occasions on which one requires time.' & Sy0Of  
I felt that this would be wholesome hearing for old Lindon. x3T)/'(  
'Last night, after papa and I had exchanged our little courtesies,--which, it is to be hoped, were to papa's satisfaction, since they were not to be mine--I went to see the patient. I was told that he had neither eaten nor drunk, moved nor spoken. But, so soon as I approached his bed, he showed signs of agitation. He half raised himself upon his pillow, and he called out, as if he had been addressing some large assembly--I can't describe to you the dreadful something which was in his voice, and on his face,--"Paul Lessingham!--Beware!--The Beetle!"' soW.  
When she said that, I was startled. ^~-i>gTD  
'Are you sure those were the words he used?' [|d:QFx  
'Quite sure. Do you think I could mistake them,--especially after what has happened since? I hear them singing in my ears,--they haunt me all the time.' cn v4!c0  
'$ ~.x|  
She put her hands up to her face, as if to veil something from her eyes. I was becoming more and more convinced that there was something about the Apostle's connection with his Oriental friend which needed probing to the bottom. 1HskY| X  
'What sort of a man is he to look at, this patient of yours?' @b=tjQO_  
I had my doubts as to the gentleman's identity,--which her words dissolved; only, however, to increase my mystification in another direction. n>Y3hY  
'He seems to be between thirty and forty. He has light hair, and straggling sandy whiskers. He is so thin as to be nothing but skin and bone,--the doctor says it's a case of starvation.' `-D6:- ,w  
Ve2z= 6(  
'You say he has light hair, and sandy whiskers. Are you sure the whiskers are real?' C@buewk  
She opened her eyes. ? Q.Y  
'Of course they're real. Why shouldn't they be real?' Bpo~x2p  
'Does he strike you as being a--foreigner?' ZJy D/9y  
KC}B\~ +  
'Certainly not. He looks like an Englishman, and he speaks like one, and not, I should say, of the lowest class. It is true that there is a very curious, a weird, quality in his voice, what I have heard of it, but it is not un-English. If it is catalepsy he is suffering from, then it is a kind of catalepsy I never heard of. Have you ever seen a clairvoyant?' I nodded. 'He seems to me to be in a state of clairvoyance. Of course the doctor laughed when I told him so, but we know what doctors are, and I still believe that he is in some condition of the kind. When he said that last night he struck me as being under what those sort of people call 'influence,' and that whoever had him under influence was forcing him to speak against his will, for the words came from his lips as if they had been wrung from him in agony.' vaTXu*   
Knowing what I did know, that struck me as being rather a remarkable conclusion for her to have reached, by the exercise of her own unaided powers of intuition,--but I did not choose to let her know I thought so. @XmMD6{<  
'My dear Marjorie!--you who pride yourself on having your imagination so strictly under control!--on suffering it to take no errant flights!' 7J 0!v q  
'Is not the fact that I do so pride myself proof that I am not likely to make assertions wildly,--proof, at any rate, to you? Listen to me. When I left that unfortunate creature's room,--I had had a nurse sent for, I left him in her charge--and reached my own bedroom, I was possessed by a profound conviction that some appalling, intangible, but very real danger, was at that moment threatening Paul.' y~W6DL}  
'Remember,--you had had an exciting evening; and a discussion with your father. Your patient's words came as a climax.' Z*kg= hs^  
'That is what I told myself,--or, rather, that was what I tried to tell myself; because, in some extraordinary fashion, I had lost the command of my powers of reflection.' 8[xb+_  
t0Ec` +)  
'Precisely.' ;^t<LhN:  
'It was not precisely,--or, at least, it was not precisely in the sense you mean. You may laugh at me, Sydney, but I had an altogether indescribable feeling, a feeling which amounted to knowledge, that I was in the presence of the supernatural.' uRwIxT2  
'Nonsense!' 9<}d98  
'It was not nonsense,--I wish it had been nonsense. As I have said, I was conscious, completely conscious, that some frightful peril was assailing Paul. I did not know what it was, but I did know that it was something altogether awful, of which merely to think was to shudder. I wanted to go to his assistance, I tried to, more than once; but I couldn't, and I knew that I couldn't,--I knew that I couldn't move as much as a finger to help him.--Stop, --let me finish!--I told myself that it was absurd, but it wouldn't do; absurd or not, there was the terror with me in the room. I knelt down, and I prayed, but the words wouldn't come. I tried to ask God to remove this burden from my brain, but my longings wouldn't shape themselves into words, and my tongue was palsied. I don't know how long I struggled, but, at last, I came to understand that, for some cause, God had chosen to leave me to fight the fight alone. So I got up, and undressed, and went to bed,--and that was the worst of all. I had sent my maid away in the first rush of my terror, afraid, and, I think, ashamed, to let her see my fear. Now I would have given anything to summon her back again, but I couldn't do it, I couldn't even ring the bell. So, as I say, I got into bed.' wJ/k\  
She paused, as if to collect her thoughts. To listen to her words, and to think of the suffering which they meant to her, was almost more than I could endure. I would have thrown away the world to have been able to take her in my arms, and soothe her fears. I knew her to be, in general, the least hysterical of young women; little wont to become the prey of mere delusions; and, incredible though it sounded, I had an innate conviction that, even in its wildest periods, her story had some sort of basis in solid fact. What that basis amounted to, it would be my business, at any and every cost, quickly to determine. 9\0  
'You know how you have always laughed at me because of my objection to--cockroaches, and how, in spring, the neighbourhood of May-bugs has always made me uneasy. As soon as I got into bed I felt that something of the kind was in the room.' 6=3}gd5  
Ev|2bk \  
'Something of what kind?' *`YR-+0  
MQ9 9fD$  
'Some kind of--beetle. I could hear the whirring of its wings; I could hear its droning in the air; I knew that it was hovering above my head; that it was coming lower and lower, nearer and nearer. I hid myself; I covered myself all over with the clothes, --then I felt it bumping against the coverlet. And, Sydney!' She drew closer. Her blanched cheeks and frightened eyes made my heart bleed. Her voice became but an echo of itself. 'It followed me.' Q9=X|  
pwU l&hwte  
'Marjorie!' %/NB263Db  
'It got into the bed.' ;G_{$)P.o  
*9Eep~ 6  
'You imagined it.' 3Wv -olv  
'I didn't imagine it. I heard it crawl along the sheets, till it found a way between them, and then it crawled towards me. And I felt it--against my face.--And it's there now.' QlxzWd3=q  
z?Hi u6c-  
'Where?' }Mv$Up  
She raised the forefinger of her left hand. U,g)N[|  
'There!--Can't you hear it droning?' Rq[VP#  
She listened, intently. I listened too. Oddly enough, at that instant the droning of an insect did become audible. ZK?:w^Z  
'It's only a bee, child, which has found its way through the open window.' }< m@82\  
'I wish it were only a bee, I wish it were.--Sydney, don't you feel as if you were in the presence of evil? Don't you want to get away from it, back into the presence of God?' >6cENe_@t  
'Marjorie!' fMFlY%@t  
'Pray, Sydney, pray!--I can't!--I don't know why, but I can't! E4'D4@\W  
She flung her arms about my neck, and pressed herself against me in paroxysmal agitation. The violence of her emotion bade fair to unman me too. It was so unlike Marjorie,--and I would have given my life to save her from a toothache. She kept repeating her own words,--as if she could not help it. /d >fp  
'Pray, Sydney, pray!' z<<` 1wqg  
At last I did as she wished me. At least, there is no harm in praying,--I never heard of its bringing hurt to anyone. I repeated aloud the Lord's Prayer,---the first time for I know not how long. As the divine sentences came from my lips, hesitatingly enough, I make no doubt, her tremors ceased. She became calmer. Until, as I reached the last great petition, 'Deliver us from evil,' she loosed her arms from about my neck, and dropped upon her knees, close to my feet. And she joined me in the closing words, as a sort of chorus. Tz*5;y%4  
'For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.' X&lkA (  
When the prayer was ended, we both of us were still. She with her head bowed, and her hands clasped; and I with something tugging at my heart-strings which I had not felt there for many and many a year, almost as if it had been my mother's hand;--I daresay that sometimes she does stretch out her hand, from her place among the angels, to touch my heart-strings, and I know nothing of it all the while. ?eO|s5r  
As the silence still continued, I chanced to glance up, and there was old Lindon peeping at us from his hiding-place behind the screen. The look of amazed perplexity which was on his big red face struck me with such a keen sense of the incongruous that it was all I could do to keep from laughter Apparently the sight of us did nothing to lighten the fog which was in his brain, for he stammered out, in what was possibly intended for a whisper, Gs6 #aL}]R  
'Is--is she m-mad?' |$t0cd  
The whisper,--if it was meant for a whisper--was more than sufficiently audible to catch his daughter's ears. She started-- raised her head--sprang to her feet--turned--and saw her father. /aqN`  
v8Zg og)V  
'Papa!' Ye2];(M  
ok s=|'&  
Immediately her sire was seized with an access of stuttering. ^HFU@/  
'W-w-what the d-devil's the--the m-m-meaning of this?' 'RV\}gqZ  
$qlqW y-s  
Her utterance was clear enough,--I fancy her parent found it almost painfully clear. `! ,\kc1  
'Rather it is for me to ask, what is the meaning of this! Is it possible, that, all the time, you have actually been concealed behind that--screen?' P,$ [|)[E  
Unless I am mistaken the old gentleman cowered before the directness of his daughter's gaze,--and endeavoured to conceal the fact by an explosion of passion. .*RB~c t  
Do-don't you s-speak to me li-like that, you un-undutiful girl! I--I'm your father!' 26\HV  
5z9r S<  
'You certainly are my father; though I was unaware until now that my father was capable of playing the part of eavesdropper.' S2koXg(  
Rage rendered him speechless,--or, at any rate, he chose to let us believe that that was the determining cause of his continuing silent. So Marjorie turned to me,--and, on the whole, I had rather she had not. Her manner was very different from what it had been just now,--it was more than civil, it was freezing. D"`%|`O  
s ;48v  
'Am I to understand, Mr Atherton, that this has been done with your cognisance? That while you suffered me to pour out my heart to you unchecked, you were aware, all the time, that there was a listener behind the screen?' CKJAZ2  
I became keenly aware, on a sudden, that I had borne my share in playing her a very shabby trick,--I should have liked to throw old Lindon through the window. $,!hD\a  
dZF8 R  
'The thing was not of my contriving. Had I had the opportunity I would have compelled Mr Lindon to face you when you came in. But your distress caused me to lose my balance. And you will do me the justice to remember that I endeavoured to induce you to come with me into another room.' /GyEVCc  
'But I do not seem to remember your hinting at there being any particular reason why I should have gone.' PaNeu1cO  
'You never gave me a chance.' G8noQ_-  
'Sydney!--I had not thought you would have played me such a trick!' JdO)YlM-  
When she said that--in such a tone!--the woman whom I loved!--I could have hammered my head against the wall. The hound I was to have treated her so scurvily! Mc:b U  
Perceiving I was crushed she turned again to face her father, cool, calm, stately;--she was, on a sudden, once more, the Marjorie with whom I was familiar. The demeanour of parent and child was in striking contrast. If appearances went for aught, the odds were heavy that in any encounter which might be coming the senior would suffer. g|4w8ry  
'I hope, papa, that you are going to tell me that there has been some curious mistake, and that nothing was farther from your intention than to listen at a keyhole. What would you have thought--and said--if I had attempted to play the spy on you? And I have always understood that men were so particular on points of honour.' L/ fRF"V  
Old Lindon was still hardly fit to do much else than splutter,-- certainly not qualified to chop phrases with this sharp-tongued maiden. FUqt)YHi  
'D-don't talk to me li-like that, girl!--I--I believe you're s- stark mad!' He turned to me. 'W-what was that tomfoolery she was talking to you about?' oyW00]ka  
'To what do you allude?' ?l 9=$'  
'About a rub-rubbishing b-beetle, and g-goodness alone knows what,--d-diseased and m-morbid imagination,--r-reared on the literature of the gutter!--I never thought that a child of mine could have s-sunk to such a depth!--Now, Atherton, I ask you to t- tell me frankly,--what do you think of a child who behaves as she has done? who t-takes a nameless vagabond into the house and con- conceals his presence from her father? And m-mark the sequel! even the vagabond warns her against the r-rascal Lessingham!--Now, Atherton, tell me what you think of a girl who behaves like that?' I shrugged my shoulders. 'I--I know very well what you d-do think of her,--don't be afraid to say it out because she's present.' DB~MYOX~  
5& *zY)UL  
'No; Sydney, don't be afraid.' Wxs>osq  
I saw that her eyes were dancing,--in a manner of speaking, her looks brightened under the sunshine of her father's displeasure. -~} tq]  
'Let's hear what you think of her as a--as a m-man of the world!' cPJ7E  
'Pray, Sydney, do!'  J(^ >?d'  
~ J%m  
'What you feel for her in your--your heart of hearts!' O-?z' @5cI  
\l>q Y(gu  
'Yes, Sydney, what do you feel for me in your heart of hearts?' XryQ)x(  
The baggage beamed with heartless sweetness,--she was making a mock of me. Her father turned as if he would have rent her. 4`?sE*P@`  
'D-don't you speak until you're spoken to! Atherton, I--I hope I'm not deceived in you; I--I hope you're the man I--I took you for; that you're willing and--and ready to play the part of a-a-an honest friend to this mis-misguided simpleton. T-this is not the time for mincing words, it--it's the time for candid speech. Tell this--this weak minded young woman, right out, whether this man Lessingham is, or is not, a damned scoundrel.' |SSf G~r  
J pCZq #  
'Papa!--Do you really think that Sydney's opinion, or your opinion, is likely to alter facts?' utFcFd X  
*x# &[>  
'Do you hear, Atherton, tell this wretched girl the truth!' 9L)&n.t1  
'My dear Mr Lindon, I have already told you that I know nothing either for or against Mr Lessingham except what is known to all the world.' 65`'Upu  
'Exactly,--and all the world knows him to be a miserable adventurer who is scheming to entrap my daughter.' d`q)^  
'I am bound to say, since you press me, that your language appears to me to be unnecessarily strong.' J<$'^AR9"q  
'Atherton, I--I'm ashamed of you!' \Nn%*?f  
'You see, Sydney, even papa is ashamed of you; now you are outside the pale.--My dear papa, if you will allow me to speak, I will tell you what I know to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.--That Mr Lessingham is a man with great gifts goes without saying,--permit me, papa! He is a man of genius. He is a man of honour. He is a man of the loftiest ambitions, of the highest aims. He has dedicated his whole life to the improvement of the conditions amidst which the less fortunate of his fellow countrymen are at present compelled to exist. That seems to me to be an object well worth having. He has asked me to share his life- work, and I have told him that I will; when, and where, and how, he wants me to. And I will. I do not suppose his life has been free from peccadilloes. I have no delusion on the point. What man's life has? Who among men can claim to be without sin? Even the members of our highest families sometimes hide behind screens. But I know that he is, at least, as good a man as I ever met, I am persuaded that I shall never meet a better; and I thank God that I have found favour in his eyes.--Good-bye, Sydney.--I suppose I shall see you again, papa.' ]b$,.t5  
d> AmM!J  
With the merest inclination of her head to both of us she straightway left the room. Lindon would have stopped her. 1mM52q.R4  
M 4?3l  
'S-stay, y-y-y-you--' he stuttered. ~?r6Ax-R  
But I caught him by the arm. tWuQKN`_  
'If you will be advised by me, you will let her go. No good purpose will be served by a multiplication of words.' #<{MtK_  
|d$aIS O`  
'Atherton, I--I'm disappointed in you. You--you haven't behaved as I expected. I--I haven't received from you the assistance which I looked for.' p\ASf  
F~ :5/-zs  
'My dear Lindon, it seems to me that your method of diverting the young lady from the path which she has set herself to tread is calculated to send her furiously along it.' (HEjmQjE  
?VJ Fp^Ra  
'C-confound the women! c-confound the women! I don't mind telling you, in c-confidence, that at--at times, her mother was the devil, and I'll be--I'll be hanged if her daughter isn't worse.--What was the tomfoolery she was talking to you about? Is she mad?' n9#@ e}r  
:/u EPki  
'No,--I don't think she's mad.' T8v>J4@t  
h]I ^%7  
'I never heard such stuff, it made my blood run cold to hear her. What's the matter with the girl?' wD4Kil=v  
'Well,--you must excuse my saying that I don't fancy you quite understand women.' (} ?")$.  
'I--I don't,--and I--I--I don't want to either.' ,v,#f .  
I hesitated; then resolved on a taradiddle,--in Marjorie's interest. '-X[T}  
'Marjorie is high-strung,--extremely sensitive. Her imagination is quickly aflame. Perhaps, last night, you drove her as far as was safe. You heard for yourself how, in consequence, she suffered. You don't want people to say you have driven her into a lunatic asylum.' zt;aB>jz#  
$+|. @ss  
'I--good heavens, no! I--I'll send for the doctor directly I get home,--I--I'll have the best opinion in town.' K;7ea47m N  
c+{ ar^)*  
'You'll do nothing of the kind,--you'll only make her worse. What you have to do is to be patient with her, and let her have peace. --As for this affair of Lessingham's, I have a suspicion that it may not be all such plain sailing as she supposes.' JmC2buO  
m2HO .ljc  
'What do you mean?' dt0(04  
: )y3 &I  
'I mean nothing. I only wish you to understand that until you hear from me again you had better let matters slide. Give the girl her head.' %_G '#Bn<  
'Give the girl her head! H-haven't I--I g-given the g-girl her h- head all her l-life!' He looked at his watch. 'Why, the day's half gone!' He began scurrying towards the front door, I following at his heels. 'I've got a committee meeting on at the club,--m-most important! For weeks they've been giving us the worst food you ever tasted in your life,--p-played havoc with my digestion, and I--I'm going to tell them if--things aren't changed, they--they'll have to pay my doctor's bills.--As for that man, Lessingham--' Bat@  
As he spoke, he himself opened the hall door, and there, standing on the step was 'that man Lessingham' himself. Lindon was a picture. The Apostle was as cool as a cucumber. He held out his hand. ?T,a(m<i {  
'Good morning, Mr Lindon. What delightful weather we are having.' #KuBEHr  
Lindon put his hand behind his back,--and behaved as stupidly as he very well could have done. q9\(<<f|  
'You will understand, Mr Lessingham, that, in future, I don't know you, and that I shall decline to recognise you anywhere; and that what I say applies equally to any member of my family.' \=(U tro  
n ,@ ge  
With his hat very much on the back of his head he went down the steps like an inflated turkeycock. ^>s{o5H&  

只看该作者 22楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book II. The Haunted Man QhG-1P3#  
Chapter XXII. The Haunted Man YT5>pM-%  
  To have received the cut discourteous from his future father-in- law might have been the most commonplace of incidents,--Lessingham evinced not a trace of discomposure. So far as I could judge, he took no notice of the episode whatever, behaving exactly as if nothing had happened. He merely waited till Mr Lindon was well off the steps; then, turning to me, he placidly observed, IPO[J^#Me  
'Interrupting you again, you see.--May I?' A'( 7VJ  
)@qup _M@  
The sight of him had set up such a turmoil in my veins, that, for the moment, I could not trust myself to speak. I felt, acutely, that an explanation with him was, of all things, the thing most to be desired,--and that quickly. Providence could not have thrown him more opportunely in the way. If, before he went away, we did not understand each other a good deal more clearly, upon certain points, the fault should not be mine. Without a responsive word, turning on my heels, I led the way into the laboratory. Yu^H*b  
Whether he noticed anything peculiar in my demeanour, I could not tell. Within he looked about him with that purely facial smile, the sight of which had always engendered in me a certain distrust of him. sS2_-X[_  
'Do you always receive visitors in here?' TMJ9~"IO  
l'U1 01M>F  
'By no means.' *z0K%@M  
'What is this?' 0Uw ^FcW  
Stooping down, he picked up something from the floor. It was a lady's purse,--a gorgeous affair, of crimson leather and gleaming gold. Whether it was Marjorie's or Miss Grayling's I could not tell. He watched me as I examined it. :)IV!_>'d  
'Is it yours?' U O<:.6"  
'No. It is not mine.' #=,imsW)  
Placing his hat and umbrella on one chair, he placed himself upon another,--very leisurely. Crossing his legs, laying his folded hands upon his knees, he sat and looked at me. I was quite conscious of his observation; but endured it in silence, being a little wishful that he should begin. uJU*")\V  
Presently he had, as I suppose, enough of looking at me, and spoke. .="bzgC3A  
'Atherton, what is the matter with you?--Have I done something to offend you too?' uA t V".  
'Why do you ask?' zLs|tJOVp  
'Your manner seems a little singular.' 0iULCK  
'You think so?' Fk(JSiU  
'I do.'  8q1wHZ  
'What have you come to see me about?' CgzD$`~  
'Just now, nothing.--I like to know where I stand.' U35AX9/  
.'a&3 3J  
His manner was courteous, easy, even graceful. I was outmanoeuvred. I understood the man sufficiently well to be aware that when once he was on the defensive, the first blow would have to come from me. So I struck it. GJqE!I,.  
Q]o C47(  
'I, also, like to know where I stand.--Lessingham, I am aware, and you know that I am aware, that you have made certain overtures to Miss Lindon. That is a fact in which I am keenly interested.' F]O$(7*  
'As--how?' "n:{ !1VGw  
'The Lindons and the Athertons are not the acquaintances of one generation only. Marjorie Lindon and I have been friends since childhood. She looks upon me as a brother--' rwIe qV{:  
'As a brother?' (eCFWmO  
ea=83 Zj  
'As a brother.' V@=V5bZLs  
'Yes.' #:3r4J%+~  
'Mr Lindon regains me as a son. He has given me his confidence; as I believe you are aware, Marjorie has given me hers; and now I want you to give me yours.' 1czG55 |  
'What do you want to know?' hYvNcOSks  
'I wish to explain my position before I say what I have to say, because I want you to understand me clearly.--I believe, honestly, that the thing I most desire in this world is to see Marjorie Lindon happy. If I thought she would be happy with you, I should say, God speed you both! and I should congratulate you with all my heart, because I think that you would have won the best girl in the whole world to be your wife.' :VFTVmr  
/| f[us-w  
'I think so too.' YE_6OLW  
'But, before I did that, I should have to see, at least, some reasonable probability that she would be happy with you.' }Oh5Nm)  
'Why should she not?' R,XD6'Q  
'Will you answer a question?' O#A8t<f|M  
'What is the question?' = E##},N"  
'What is the story in your life of which you stand in such hideous terror?' we6+2  
There was a perceptible pause before he answered. TsFV ;Sl3  
'Explain yourself.' f//j{P[  
'No explanation is needed,--you know perfectly well what I mean.' nfd?@34"A2  
'You credit me with miraculous acumen.' >FMT#x t  
X m:gD6;9  
'Don't juggle, Lessingham,--be frank!' yOCcp+`T}  
'The frankness should not be all on one side.--There is that in your frankness, although you may be unconscious of it, which some men might not unreasonably resent.' .$s|T  
yD id` ym  
'Do you resent it?' bIl0rx[`  
'That depends. If you are arrogating to yourself the right to place yourself between Miss Lindon and me, I do resent it, strongly.' 3$f5][+U  
'Answer my question!' `;GGuJb \  
o:*iT =l  
'I answer no question which is addressed to me in such a tone.' _ @76eZd  
NDG Bvb  
He was as calm as you please. I recognised that already I was in peril of losing my temper,--which was not at all what I desired. I eyed him intently, he returning me look for look. His countenance betrayed no sign of a guilty conscience; I had not seen him more completely at his ease. He smiled,--facially, and also, as it seemed to me, a little derisively. I am bound to admit that his bearing showed not the faintest shadow of resentment, and that in his eyes there was a gentleness, a softness, which I had not observed in them before,--I could almost have suspected him of being sympathetic. H:6$) #  
{ VO4""m  
'In this matter, you must know, I stand in the place of Mr Lindon.' #J_i 5KmXJ  
'Well?' t=AR>M!w~  
LxT] -  
'Surely you must understand that before anyone is allowed to think of marriage with Marjorie Lindon he will have to show that his past, as the advertisements have it, will bear the fullest investigation.' U,'n}]=4A3  
P]n ' q  
'Is that so?--Will your past bear the fullest investigation?' b{&@ Lm0Tn  
I winced. .FeEK(  
'At any rate, it is known to all the world.' i9d.Ls  
'Is it?--Forgive me if I say, I doubt it. I doubt if, of any wise man, that can be said with truth. In all our lives there are episodes which we keep to ourselves.' Gx!Y 4Q}-  
I felt that that was so true that, for the instant, I hardly knew what to say. /C}u,dBf  
'But there are episodes and episodes, and when it comes to a man being haunted one draws the line.' =bgWUu\F  
'Haunted?' zX lcu_rc  
'As you are.' %cLS*=MO  
He got up. &EqLF  
'Atherton, I think that I understand you, but I fear that you do not understand me.' He went to where a self-acting mercurial air- pump was standing on a shelf. 'What is this curious arrangement of glass tubes and bulbs?' xIGq+yd(  
'I do not think that you do understand me, or you would know that I am in no mood to be trifled with.' ^.6[vmmq  
{y9G "  
'Is it some kind of an exhauster?' '^UHY[mX8  
'My dear Lessingham, I am entirely at your service. I intend to have an answer to my question before you leave this room, but, in the meanwhile, your convenience is mine. There are some very interesting things here which you might care to see.' 7kLu rv  
@Tu`0 =8  
'Marvellous, is it not, how the human intellect progresses,--from conquest unto conquest' =Zj 7dn;EN  
'Among the ancients the progression had proceeded farther than with us.' :q/s%`ob  
'In what respect?' .c>6}:ye  
;HCK iHC  
'For instance, in the affair of the Apotheosis of the Beetle;--I saw it take place last night.' z4 =OR@ h  
'Where?' Ae=JG8Ht~  
W{J e)N  
'Here,--within a few feet of where you are standing.' A",}Ikh='`  
i `f!)1  
'Are you serious?' 4~A$u^scn  
'Perfectly.' o:cTc:l)  
'What did you see?' 6Hb a@Q1`  
V D7^wd9  
'I saw the legendary Apotheosis of the Beetle performed, last night, before my eyes, with a gaudy magnificence at which the legends never hinted.' gn/]1NNfR  
'That is odd. I once thought that I saw something of the kind myself.'  )$f?v22  
'So I understand.' zSsBbu:  
.':17 $c`H  
'From whom?' *Y53b Z  
'From a friend of yours.' @1pfH\m  
'From a friend of mine?--Are you sure it was from a friend of mine?' AQ"rk9Z  
!i{5mc \  
The man's attempt at coolness did him credit,--but it did not deceive me. That he thought I was endeavouring to bluff him out of his secret I perceived quite clearly; that it was a secret which he would only render with his life I was beginning to suspect. Had it not been for Marjorie, I should have cared nothing,--his affairs were his affairs; though I realised perfectly well that there was something about the man which, from the scientific explorer's point of view, might be well worth finding out. Still, as I say, if it had not been for Marjorie, I should have let it go; but, since she was so intimately concerned in it, I wondered more and more what it could be. (. $e@k=  
My attitude towards what is called the supernatural is an open one. That all things are possible I unhesitatingly believe,--I have, even in my short time, seen so many so-called impossibilities proved possible. That we know everything, I doubt;--that our great-great-great-great-grandsires, our forebears of thousands of years ago, of the extinct civilisations, knew more on some subjects than we do, I think is, at least, probable. All the legends can hardly be false. cN: ek|r  
Because men claimed to be able to do things in those days which we cannot do, and which we do not know how they did we profess to think that their claims are finally dismissed by exclaiming--lies! But it is not so sure. 1lHBg  
M_#^zo "x  
For my part, what I had seen I had seen. I had seen some devil's trick played before my very eyes. Some trick of the same sort seemed to have been played upon my Marjorie,--I repeat that I write 'my Marjorie' because, to me, she will always be 'my' Marjorie! It had driven her half out of her senses. As I looked at Lessingham, I seemed to see her at his side, as I had seen her not long ago, with her white, drawn face, and staring eyes, dumb with an agony of fear. Her life was bidding fair to be knit with his,-- what Upas tree of horror was rooted in his very bones? The thought that her sweet purity was likely to be engulfed in a devil's slough in which he was swallowing was not to be endured. As I realised that the man was more than my match at the game which I was playing--in which such vital interests were at stake!--my hands itched to clutch him by the throat, and try another way. NAEAvXj  
Doubtless my face revealed my feelings, because, presently, he said, OA8iTn  
'Are you aware how strangely you are looking at me, Atherton? Were my countenance a mirror I think you would be surprised to see in it your own.' W)m\q}]FYz  
I drew back from him,--I daresay, sullenly. &WAJ;7f  
H_<hZ UB  
'Not so surprised as, yesterday morning, you would have been to have seen yours,--at the mere sight of a pictured scarab.' VQ((c:+!  
'How easily you quarrel.' cXY;Tw45  
F}Kkhs {  
'I do not quarrel.' 5RysN=czA  
'Then perhaps it's I. If that is so, then, at once, the quarrel's ended,--pouf! it's done. Mr Lindon, I fear, because, politically, we differ, regards me as anathema. Has he put some of his spirit into you?--You are a wiser man.' <V~B8C!)  
'I am aware that you are an adept with words. But this is a case in which words only will not serve.' VPh0{(O^=  
'Then what will serve?' wqnHaWd*  
'I am myself beginning to wonder.' \GD\N=?~  
'And I.' %#<MCiaK  
=z!^O T6eb  
'As you so courteously suggest, I believe I am wiser than Lindon. I do not care for your politics, or for what you call your politics, one fig. I do not care if you are as other men are, as I am,--not unspotted from the world! But I do care if you are leprous. And I believe you are.' a*&(cn  
'Atherton!' BwkY;Ur/AL  
\Si p  
'Ever since I have known you I have been conscious of there being something about you which I found it difficult to diagnose;--in an unwholesome sense, something out of the common, non-natural; an atmosphere of your own. Events, so far as you are concerned, have, during the last few days moved quickly. They have thrown an uncomfortably lurid light on that peculiarity of yours which I have noticed. Unless you can explain them to my satisfaction, you will withdraw your pretensions to Miss Lindon's hand, or I shall place certain facts before that lady, and, if necessary, publish them to the world.' q^:VF()d_z  
r ^\(M {  
He grew visibly paler but he smiled--facially. 0k{\W  
'You have your own way of conducting a conversation, Mr Atherton. --What are the events to whose rapid transit you are alluding?' F_(~b  
'Who was the individual, practically stark naked, who came out of your house, in such singular fashion, at dead of night?' >jsY'Bm  
'Is that one of the facts with which you propose to tickle the public ear?' C P}fxDW  
'Is that the only explanation which you have to offer?' }ssV"5M  
'Proceed, for the present, with your indictment.' <gF]9%2E  
'I am not so unobservant as you appear to imagine. There were features about the episode which struck me forcibly at the time, and which have struck me more forcibly since. To suggest, as you did yesterday morning, that it was an ordinary case of burglary, or that the man was a lunatic, is an absurdity. `WayR^9  
'Pardon me,--I did nothing of the kind.' K7RAmX  
? "I %K%  
'Then what do you suggest?' .iy4 (P4  
'I suggested, and do suggest, nothing. All the suggestions come from you.' YmC}q20;  
'You went very much out of your way to beg me to keep the matter quiet. There is an appearance of suggestion about that.' +@rFbsyJ.  
d ~ M;  
'You take a jaundiced view of all my actions, Mr Atherton. Nothing, to me, could seem more natural.--However,--proceed.' PlB3"{}0Q  
He had his hands behind his back, and rested them on the edge of the table against which he was leaning. He was undoubtedly ill at ease; but so far I had not made the impression on him, either mentally or morally, which I desired. gOg7:VPG  
'Who is your Oriental friend?' 4 6v C/  
y3j$?o M  
'I do not follow you.' eLT3b6'"?  
;PVE= z+y  
'Are you sure?' @/aJi6d"^E  
s4 , `  
'I am certain. Repeat your question.' 5a6d3u/  
`j2|aX %Z*  
'Who is your Oriental friend?' rJ4A9d3:  
% y` tDR  
'I was not aware that I had one.' ]|Iczg-  
J.,7d ,  
'Do you swear that?' 2)R*d  
He laughed, a strange laugh. Qj',&b  
vSG$ 2g=  
'Do you seek to catch me tripping? You conduct your case with too much animus. You must allow me to grasp the exact purport of your inquiry before I can undertake to reply to it on oath.' "YePd * W  
'Are you not aware that at present there is in London an individual who claims to have had a very close, and a very curious, acquaintance with you in the East?' 1^_V8dm)  
'I am not.' rVF7!|&  
'That you swear?' AaX][2y8  
'That I do swear.' %]1.)j  
'That is singular.' rJKac"{  
/hp [ +K  
'Why is it singular?' Jt(RF*i  
'Because I fancy that that individual haunts you.' t03T1.:(Mg  
G * =>  
'Haunts me?' \3T[Cy|5|  
'Haunts you.' O-!Q~;3][  
'You jest.' +Jm[IN  
tJ .Ln  
'You think so?--You remember that picture of the scarabaeus which, yesterday morning, frightened you into a state of semi-idiocy.' +U4';[LG1C  
I@IE0+ [n  
'You use strong language.--I know what you allude to.' ryqu2>(   
'Do you mean to say that you don't know that you were indebted for that to your Oriental friend?' EhW"s%Q  
'I don't understand you.' iOSt=-p  
'Are you sure?' jT< I`K*  
pL} F{G.  
'Certainly I am sure.--It occurs to me, Mr Atherton, that an explanation is demanded from you rather than from me. Are you aware that the purport of my presence here is to ask you how that picture found its way into your room?' nTGZ2C)c<'  
'It was projected by the Lord of the Beetle.' >5Lp;  
The words were chance ones,--but they struck a mark. %,z;W-#gnY  
'The Lord--' He faltered,--and stopped. He showed signs of discomposure. 'I will be frank with you,--since frankness is what you ask.' His smile, that time, was obviously forced. 'Recently I have been the victim of delusions;' there was a pause before the word, 'of a singular kind. I have feared that they were the result of mental overstrain. Is it possible that you can enlighten me as to their source?' w|S b`eR  
I was silent. He was putting a great strain upon himself, but the twitching of his lips betrayed him. A little more, and I should reach the other side of Mr Lessingham,--the side which he kept hidden from the world. `|Di?4+6%  
'Who is this--individual whom you speak of as my--Oriental friend?' GeY!f/yQ<  
'Being your friend, you should know better than I do.' \ Xh C  
'What sort of man is he to look at?' ?b(wZ-/  
U%@C<o "  
'I did not say it was a man.' Ue;Z)}  
G!C }ULq  
'But I presume it is a man.' 5"b1: w@  
'I did not say so.' Qof%j@  
He seemed, for a moment, to hold his breath,--and he looked at me with eyes which were not friendly. Then, with a display of self- command which did him credit, he drew himself upright, with an air of dignity which well became him. !RwhVaSh  
'Atherton, consciously, or unconsciously, you are doing me a serious injustice. I do not know what conception it is which you have formed of me, or on what the conception is founded, but I protest that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, I am as reputable, as honest, and as clean a man as you are.' ~d\V>  
'But you're haunted.' t7V7TL!5'  
'Haunted?' He held himself erect, looking me straight in the face. Then a shiver went all over him; the muscles of his mouth twitched; and, in an instant, he was livid. He staggered against the table. 'Yes, God knows it's true,--I'm haunted.' U:c 0s  
BTG_c_ ?]e  
'So either you're mad, and therefore unfit to marry; or else you've done something which places you outside the tolerably generous boundaries of civilised society, and are therefore still more unfit to marry. You're on the horns of a dilemma.' W5:fY>7  
'I--I'm the victim of a delusion.' a1%}Ee  
'What is the nature of the delusion? Does it take the shape of a-- beetle?' H=g%>W%3  
Z2H bAI8  
'Atherton!' DG0I- "s  
Without the slightest warning, he collapsed,--was transformed; I can describe the change which took place in him in no other way. He sank in a heap on the floor; he held up his hands above his head; and he gibbered,--like some frenzied animal. A more uncomfortable spectacle than he presented it would be difficult to find. I have seen it matched in the padded rooms of lunatic asylums, but nowhere else. The sight of him set every nerve of my body on edge. UntFkoO  
'In Heaven's name, what is the matter with you, man? Are you stark, staring mad? Here,--drink this!' jQ%1lQ#R)  
Filling a tumbler with brandy, I forced it between his quivering fingers. Then it was some moments before I could get him to understand what it was I wanted him to do. When he did get the glass to his lips, he swallowed its contents as if they were so much water. By degrees his senses returned to him. He stood up. He looked about him, with a smile which was positively ghastly. % R25,  V  
'It's--it's a delusion.' |mn} wNUN]  
'It's a very queer kind of a delusion, if it is.' 3T]cDVQ_  
} #e=*8F7  
I eyed him, curiously. He was evidently making the most strenuous efforts to regain his self-control,--all the while with that horrible smile about his lips. lc5(^ ~  
'Atherton, you--you take me at an advantage.' I was still. 'Who-- who's your Oriental friend?' Kzq^f=p  
'My Oriental friend?--you mean yours. I supposed, at first, that the individual in question was a man; but it appears that she's a woman.' dVLrA`'P*  
'A woman?--Oh.--How do you mean?' #] Do_Z  
'Well, the face is a man's--of an uncommonly disagreeable type, of which the powers forbid that there are many!--and the voice is a man's,--also of a kind!--but the body, as, last night, I chanced to discover, is a woman's.' 4>Q] \\Lc  
'That sounds very odd.' He closed his eyes. I could see that his cheeks were clammy. 'Do you--do you believe in witchcraft?' fl_a@QdB#  
'That depends.' %Si3LQf  
'Have you heard of Obi?' @v}M\$N?  
}Ot2; T  
'I have.' XE*#5u8t  
'I have been told that an Obeah man can put a spell upon a person which compels a person to see whatever he--the Obeah man--may please. Do you think that's possible?' d+Jj4OnP  
'It is not a question to which I should be disposed to answer either yes or no.' -5t .1/  
He looked at me out of his half-closed eyes. It struck me that he was making conversation,--saying anything for the sake of gaining time. -_RMiGM?T  
kF lq@['U  
'I remember reading a book entitled "Obscure Diseases of the Brain." It contained some interesting data on the subject of hallucinations.'  1 U|IN=  
'Possibly.' tCFXb6Cz  
'Now, candidly, would you recommend me to place myself in the hands of a mental pathologist?' HzcI2 P`|  
~C|. .Z  
'I don't think that you're insane, if that's what you mean.' T1\LS*~!  
'No?--That is good hearing. Of all diseases insanity is the most to be dreaded.--Well, Atherton, I'm keeping you. The truth is that, insane or not, I am very far from well. I think I must give myself a holiday.' [&Yrnkgr  
He moved towards his hat and umbrella. iE6?Px9]  
'There is something else which you must do.' ]jB`"to*}  
'What is that?' .3 S9=d?  
X 2Zp @q(  
'You must resign your pretensions to Miss Lindon's hand. ?58*#'r  
WxJV zHtR  
'My dear Atherton, if my health is really failing me, I shall resign everything,--everything!' zxrbEE Q  
He repeated his own word with a little movement of his hands which was pathetic. XSktb k  
'Understand me, Lessingham. What else you do is no affair of mine. I am concerned only with Miss Lindon. You must give me your definite promise, before you leave this room, to terminate your engagement with her before to-night.' F=V_ACU  
His back was towards me. $6yr:2Xvt  
'There will come a time when your conscience will prick you because of your treatment of me; when you will realise that I am the most unfortunate of men.' Vv5#{+eT;  
'I realise that now. It is because I realise it that I am so desirous that the shadow of your evil fortune shall not fall upon an innocent girl.' (>gAnebN L  
He turned. umD[4aP~;  
'Atherton, what is your actual position with reference to Marjorie Lindon?' gZs UX^%  
'She regards me as a brother.' N2"4dVV;  
}xl @:Qo  
'And do you regard her as a sister? Are your sentiments towards her purely fraternal?' /:a~;i  
- v9V/LJ  
'You know that I love her.' 35yhe:$nf  
'And do you suppose that my removal will clear the path for you?' >k^=+  
'I suppose nothing of the kind. You may believe me or not, but my one desire is for her happiness, and surely, if you love her, that is your desire too.' =g/K>B  
'That is so.' He paused. An expression of sadness stole over his face of which I had not thought it capable. 'That is so to an extent of which you do not dream. No man likes to have his hand forced, especially by one whom he regards--may I say it?--as a possible rival But I will tell you this much. If the blight which has fallen on my life is likely to continue, I would not wish,-- God forbid that I should wish to join her fate with mine,--not for all that the world could offer me.' tB}&-U|t[~  
He stopped. And I was still. Presently he continued. 7DKbuUK  
'When I was younger I was subject to a--similar delusion. But it vanished,--I saw no trace of it for years,--I thought that I had done with it for good. Recently, however, it has returned,--as you have witnessed. I shall institute inquiries into the cause of its reappearance; if it seems likely to be irremovable, or even if it bids fair to be prolonged, I shall not only, as you phrase it, withdraw my pretensions to Miss Linden's hand, but to all my other ambitions. In the interim, as regards Miss Lindon I shall be careful to hold myself on the footing of a mere acquaintance.' M@E*_U!U  
'You promise me?' g>1yQ  
O={4 >>F  
'I do.--And on your side, Atherton, in the meantime, deal with me more gently. Judgment in my case has still to be given. You will find that I am not the guilty wretch you apparently imagine. And there are few things more disagreeable to one's self-esteem than to learn, too late, that one has persisted in judging another man too harshly. Think of all that the world has, at this moment, to offer me, and what it will mean if I have to turn my back on it,-- owing to a mischievous twist of fortune's wheel.' Kyt.[" p  
He turned, is if to go. Then stopped, and looked round, in an attitude of listening. G~1#kg  
'What's that?' *vc=>AEc  
There was a sound of droning,--I recalled what Marjorie had said of her experiences of the night before, it was like the droning of a beetle. The instant the Apostle heard it, the fashion of his countenance began to change,--it was pitiable to witness. I rushed to him. }^Be^a<ub  
'Lessingham!--don't be a fool!--play the man!' vzK*1R5  
r \H+=2E'  
He gripped my left arm with his right hand till it felt as if it were being compressed in a vice. _F>1b16:/P  
'Then--I shall have to have some more brandy.' W"Hjn/xSS  
Fortunately the bottle was within reach from where I stood, otherwise I doubt if he would have released my arm to let me get at it. I gave him the decanter and the glass. He helped himself to a copious libation. By the time that he had swallowed it the droning sound had gone. He put down the empty tumbler. ^% BD  
'When a man has to resort to alcohol to keep his nerves up to concert pitch, things are in a bad way with him, you may be sure of that,--but then you have never known what it is to stand in momentary expectation of a tete-a-tete with the devil.' a<tUpI$  
Again he turned to leave the room,--and this time he actually went. I let him go alone. I heard his footsteps passing along the passage, and the hall-door close. Then I sat in an arm-chair, stretched my legs out in front of me, thrust my hands in my trouser pockets, and--I wondered. meR%);\  
I had been there, perhaps, four or five minutes, when there was a slight noise at my side. Glancing round, I saw a sheet of paper come fluttering through the open window. It fell almost at my feet. I picked it up. It was a picture of a beetle,--a facsimile of the one which had had such an extraordinary effect on Mr Lessingham the day before. TuIeaH%x  
'If this was intended for St Paul, it's a trifle late;--unless--' DVTzN(gO*~  
I could hear that someone was approaching along the corridor. I looked up, expecting to see the Apostle reappear;--in which expectation I was agreeably disappointed. The newcomer was feminine. It was Miss Grayling. As she stood in the open doorway, I saw that her cheeks were red as roses. (4g; -*N  
'I hope I am not interrupting you again, but--I left my purse here.' She stopped; then added, as if it were an afterthought, 'And--I want you to come and lunch with me.' C*gSx3OG  
I locked the picture of the beetle in the drawer,--and I lunched with Dora Grayling. oVhw2pKpM  
i ;tA<-$-  

只看该作者 23楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day B9R(&<4  
Chapter XXIII. The Way He Told Her ({r*=wAP  
  I am the happiest woman in the world! I wonder how many women have said that of themselves in their time,--but I am. Paul has told me that he loves me. How long I have made inward confession of my love for him, I should be ashamed to say. It sounds prosaic, but I believe it is a fact that the first stirring of my pulses was caused by the report of a speech of his which I read in the Times. It was on the Eight Hours' Bill. Papa was most unflattering. He said that he was an oily spouter, an ignorant agitator, an irresponsible firebrand, and a good deal more to the same effect. I remember very well how papa fidgeted with the paper, declaring that it read even worse than it had sounded, and goodness knew that it had sounded bad enough. He was so very emphatic that when he had gone I thought I would see what all the pother was about, and read the speech for myself. So I read it. It affected me quite differently. The speaker's words showed such knowledge, charity, and sympathy that they went straight to my heart. dr)YzOvba  
After that I read everything of Paul Lessingham's which I came across. And the more I read the more I was impressed. But it was some time before we met. Considering what papa's opinions were, it was not likely that he would go out of his way to facilitate a meeting. To him, the mere mention of the name was like a red rag to a bull. But at last we did meet. And then I knew that he was stronger, greater, better even than his words. It is so often the other way; one finds that men, and women too, are so apt to put their best, as it were, into their shop windows, that the discovery was as novel as it was delightful. :0Z^uuk`gq  
!9 fz(9  
When the ice was once broken, we often met. I do not know how it was. We did not plan our meetings,--at first, at any rate. Yet we seemed always meeting. Seldom a day passed on which we did not meet,--sometimes twice or thrice. It was odd how we were always coming across each other in the most unlikely places. I believe we did not notice it at the time, but looking back I can see that we must have managed our engagements so that somewhere, somehow, we should be certain to have an opportunity of exchanging half a dozen words. Those constant encounters could not have all been chance ones. >0Q|nCx  
Y@PI {;!  
But I never supposed he loved me,--never. I am not even sure that, for some time, I was aware that I loved him. We were great on friendship, both of us.--I was quite aware that I was his friend, --that he regarded me as his friend; he told me so more than once. CbN!1E6).  
'I tell you this,' he would say, referring to this, that, or the other, 'because I know that, in speaking to you, I am speaking to a friend.' - M,7N}z@;  
g (#f:"  
With him those were not empty words. All kinds of people talk to one like that,--especially men; it is a kind of formula which they use with every woman who shows herself disposed to listen. But Paul is not like that. He is chary of speech; not by any means a woman's man. I tell him that is his weakest point. If legend does not lie more even than is common, few politicians have achieved prosperity without the aid of women. He replies that he is not a politician; that he never means to be a politician. He simply wishes to work for his country; if his country does not need his services--well, let it be. Papa's political friends have always so many axes of their own to grind, that, at first, to hear a member of Parliament talk like that was almost disquieting. I had dreamed of men like that; but I never encountered one till I met Paul Lessingham. N~F RM& x  
Our friendship was a pleasant one. It became pleasanter and pleasanter. Until there came a time when he told me everything; the dreams he dreamed; the plans which he had planned; the great purposes which, if health and strength were given him, he intended to carry to a great fulfilment. And, at last, he told me something else. ;m2<eS`o'  
It was after a meeting at a Working Women's Club in Westminster. He had spoken, and I had spoken too. I don't know what papa would have said, if he had known, but I had. A formal resolution had been proposed, and I had seconded it,--in perhaps a couple of hundred words; but that would have been quite enough for papa to have regarded me as an Abandoned Wretch,--papa always puts those sort of words into capitals. Papa regards a speechifying woman as a thing of horror,--I have known him look askance at a Primrose Dame. C^ )*Dsp  
[2|kl l  
The night was fine. Paul proposed that I should walk with him down the Westminster Bridge Road, until we reached the House, and then he would see me into a cab. I did as he suggested. It was still early, not yet ten, and the streets were alive with people. Our conversation, as we went, was entirely political. The Agricultural Amendment Act was then before the Commons, and Paul felt very strongly that it was one of those measures which give with one hand, while taking with the other. The committee stage was at hand, and already several amendments were threatened, the effect of which would be to strengthen the landlord at the expense of the tenant. More than one of these, and they not the most moderate, were to be proposed by papa. Paul was pointing out how it would be his duty to oppose these tooth and nail, when, all at once, he stopped. q:<{% U$  
'I sometimes wonder how you really feel upon this matter' "6a8s;  
'What matter?' 1&:@  
'On the difference of opinion, in political matters, which exists between your father and myself. I am conscious that Mr Lindon regards my action as a personal question, and resents it so keenly, that I am sometimes moved to wonder if at least a portion of his resentment is not shared by you.' 'lZ.j&  
'I have explained; I consider papa the politician as one person, and papa the father as quite another.' hY<{t.ws  
'You are his daughter.' rn.\tDeA  
'Certainly I am;--but would you, on that account, wish me to share his political opinions, even though I believe them to be wrong?' qg,Nb  
'You love him.' Di??Q_$ak  
'Of course I do,--he is the best of fathers.' 2lz {_9  
'Your defection will be a grievous disappointment.' T:#S86m  
I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. I wondered what was passing through his mind. The subject of my relations with papa was one which, without saying anything at all about it, we had consented to taboo. AI R{s7N  
'I am not so sure. I am permeated with a suspicion that papa has no politics.' &h\CS8nT%  
#>" }q3RO  
'Miss Lindon!--I fancy that I can adduce proof to the contrary.' 8.[&wy U  
'I believe that if papa were to marry again, say, a Home Ruler, within three weeks his wife's politics would be his own.' RzpC1nd  
Paul thought before he spoke; then he smiled. giaD9$C  
'I suppose that men sometimes do change their coats to please their wives,--even their political ones.' NdM}xh  
UeMnc 5y  
'Papa's opinions are the opinions of those with whom he mixes. The reason why he consorts with Tories of the crusted school is because he fears that if he associated with anybody else--with Radicals, say,--before he knew it, he would be a Radical too. With him, association is synonymus with logic.' ph Wc 8[Q  
0!3!?E <  
Paul laughed outright. By this time we had reached Westminster Bridge. Standing, we looked down upon the river. A long line of lanterns was gliding mysteriously over the waters; it was a tug towing a string of barges. For some moments neither spoke. Then Paul recurred to what I had just been saying. NTpz)R  
hq|j C  
'And you,--do you think marriage would colour your convictions?' ,b2O^tJF#  
'Would it yours?' =t>`< T|(  
|'l* $  
'That depends.' He was silent. Then he said, in that tone which I had learned to look for when he was most in earnest, 'It depends on whether you would marry me.' e\bF_ N2VA  
I was still. His words were so unexpected that they took my breath away. I knew not what to make of them. My head was in a whirl. Then he addressed to me a monosyllabic interrogation. oz5lt4  
'Well?' ViC76aJ  
'I found my voice,--or a part of it. &]A1 _dy  
'Well?--to what?' 0L-g'^nn  
He came a little closer. O\{_)L  
'Will you be my wife?' )f|6=x4  
=2 5 "q Jr  
The part of my voice which I had found, was lost again. Tears came into my eyes. I shivered. I had not thought that I could be so absurd. Just then the moon came from behind a cloud; the rippling waters were tipped with silver. He spoke again, so gently that his words just reached my ears. Qmn5-yiw1d  
bv0 %{u&  
'You know that I love you.' E'}$'n?:  
Then I knew that I loved him too. That what I had fancied was a feeling of friendship was something very different. It was as if somebody, in tearing a veil from before my eyes, had revealed a spectacle which dazzled me. I was speechless. He misconstrued my silence. ,~!lNyL  
'Have I offended you?' ? DPL7  
Vrnx# j-U  
'No.' {AZW."?  
I fancy that he noted the tremor which was in my voice, and read it rightly. For he too was still. Presently his hand stole along the parapet, and fastened upon mine, and held it tight. uoF9&j5E@Z  
GR/ p%Y(  
And that was how it came about. Other things were said; but they were hardly of the first importance. Though I believe we took some time in saying them. Of myself I can say with truth, that my heart was too full for copious speech; I was dumb with a great happiness. And, I believe, I can say the same of Paul He told me as much when we were parting. @zE_fL  
It seemed that we had only just come there when Paul started. Turning, he stared up at Big Ben. )/UPDdO  
'Midnight!--The House up!--Impossible!' gM '_1zs U  
c R*D)'/tl  
But it was more than possible, it was fact. We had actually been on the Bridge two hours, and it had not seemed ten minutes. Never had I supposed that the flight of time could have been so entirely unnoticed. Paul was considerably taken aback. His legislative conscience pricked him. He excused himself--in his own fashion. |7LhE+E  
'Fortunately, for once in a way, my business in the House was not so important as my business out of it.' +i HZ*  
He had his arm through mine. We were standing face to face. qV]p\/a.  
[l# 8}dy  
'So you call this business!' A$ 2AYQ  
r,cz yE/  
He laughed. "5wer5? t  
He not only saw me into a cab, but he saw me home in it. And in the cab he kissed me. I fancy I was a little out of sorts that night. My nervous system was, perhaps, demoralised. Because, when he kissed me, I did a thing which I never do,--I have my own standard of behaviour, and that sort of thing is quite outside of it; I behaved like a sentimental chit. I cried. And it took him all the way to my father's door to comfort me. ?mi1PNps#  
I can only hope that, perceiving the singularity of the occasion, he consented to excuse me. #I9hKS{  
vPce6 Cl*  

只看该作者 24楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day jHFjd'  
Chapter XXIV. A Woman's View C-YYG   
K *@?BE  
  Sydney Atherton has asked me to be his wife. It is not only annoying; worse, it is absurd. y" =?l  
^tTM 7  
This is the result of Paul's wish that our engagement should not be announced. He is afraid of papa;--not really, but for the moment. The atmosphere of the House is charged with electricity. Party feeling runs high. They are at each other, hammer and tongs, about this Agricultural Amendment Act. The strain on Paul is tremendous. I am beginning to feel positively concerned. Little things which I have noticed about him lately convince me that he is being overwrought. I suspect him of having sleepless nights. The amount of work which he has been getting through lately has been too much for any single human being, I care not who he is. He himself admits that he shall be glad when the session is at an end. So shall I. u&*[   
In the meantime, it is his desire that nothing shall be said about our engagement until the House rises. It is reasonable enough. Papa is sure to be violent,--lately, the barest allusion to Paul's name has been enough to make him explode. When the discovery does come, he will be unmanageable,--I foresee it clearly. From little incidents which have happened recently I predict the worst. He will be capable of making a scene within the precincts of the House. And, as Paul says, there is some truth in the saying that the last straw breaks the camel's back. He will be better able to face papa's wild wrath when the House has risen. LTf)`SN %'  
So the news is to bide a wee. Of course Paul is right. And what he wishes I wish too. Still, it is not all such plain sailing for me as he perhaps thinks. The domestic atmosphere is almost as electrical as that in the House. Papa is like the terrier who scents a rat,--he is always sniffing the air. He has not actually forbidden me to speak to Paul,--his courage is not quite at the sticking point; but he is constantly making uncomfortable allusions to persons who number among their acquaintance 'political adventurers,' 'grasping carpet-baggers,' 'Radical riff- raff,' and that kind of thing. Sometimes I venture to call my soul my own; but such a tempest invariably follows that I become discreet again as soon as I possibly can. So, as a rule, I suffer in silence. IPTFx )]G  
GfSD% "  
Still, I would with all my heart that the concealment were at an end. No one need imagine that I am ashamed of being about to marry Paul,--papa least of all. On the contrary, I am as proud of it as a woman can be. Sometimes, when he has said or done something unusually wonderful, I fear that my pride will out,--I do feel it so strong within me. I should be delighted to have a trial of strength with papa; anywhere, at any time,--I should not be so rude to him as he would be to me. At the bottom of his heart papa knows that I am the more sensible of the two; after a pitched battle or so he would understand it better still. I know papa! I have not been his daughter for all these years in vain. I feel like hot-blooded soldiers must feel, who, burning to attack the enemy in the open field, are ordered to skulk behind hedges, and be shot at. !ni 1 qM  
One result is that Sydney has actually made a proposal of marriage,--he of all people! It is too comical. The best of it was that he took himself quite seriously. I do not know how many times he has confided to me the sufferings which he has endured for love of other women--some of them, I am sorry to say, decent married women too; but this is the first occasion on which the theme has been a personal one. He was so frantic, as he is wont to be, that, to calm him, I told him about Paul,--which, under the circumstances, to him I felt myself at liberty to do. In return, he was melodramatic; hinting darkly at I know not what, I was almost cross with him. ,cS_687o  
_ iDVd2X"H  
He is a curious person, Sydney Atherton. I suppose it is because I have known him all my life, and have always looked upon him, in cases of necessity, as a capital substitute for a brother, that I criticise him with so much frankness. In some respects, he is a genius; in others--I will not write fool, for that he never is, though he has often done some extremely foolish things. The fame of his inventions is in the mouths of all men; though the half of them has never been told. He is the most extraordinary mixture. The things which most people would like to have proclaimed in the street, he keeps tightly locked in his own bosom; while those which the same persons would be only too glad to conceal, he shouts from the roofs. A very famous man once told me that if Mr Atherton chose to become a specialist, to take up one branch of inquiry, and devote his life to it, his fame, before he died, would bridge the spheres. But sticking to one thing is not in Sydney's line at all. He prefers, like the bee, to roam from flower to flower. ;/pI@C k  
UU[z\^w| E  
As for his being in love with me; it is ridiculous. He is as much in love with the moon. I cannot think what has put the idea into his head. Some girl must have been ill-using him, or he imagines that she has. The girl whom he ought to marry, and whom he ultimately will marry, is Dora Grayling. She is young, charming, immensely rich, and over head and ears in love with him;--if she were not, then he would be over head and ears in love with her. I believe he is very near it as it is,--sometimes he is so very rude to her. It is a characteristic of Sydney's, that he is apt to be rude to a girl whom he really likes. As for Dora, I suspect she dreams of him. He is tall, straight, very handsome, with a big moustache, and the most extraordinary eyes;--I fancy that those eyes of his have as much to do with Dora's state as anything. I have heard it said that he possesses the hypnotic power to an unusual degree, and that, if he chose to exercise it, he might become a danger to society. I believe he has hypnotised Dora. RP+)sCh  
He makes an excellent brother. I have gone to him, many and many a time, for help,--and some excellent advice I have received. I daresay I shall consult him still. There are matters of which one would hardly dare to talk to Paul. In all things he is the great man. He could hardly condescend to chiffons. Now Sydney can and does. When he is in the mood, on the vital subject of trimmings a woman could not appeal to a sounder authority. I tell him, if he had been a dressmaker, he would have been magnificent. I am sure he would. '6>*J  

只看该作者 25楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day O7.V>7Y9H  
Chapter XXV. The Man in the Street 8 Ku9;VEk  
  This morning I had an adventure. }0 ~$^J  
I was in the breakfast-room. Papa, as usual, was late for breakfast, and I was wondering whether I should begin without him, when, chancing to look round, something caught my eye in the street. I went to the window to see what it was. A small crowd of people was in the middle of the road, and they were all staring at something which, apparently, was lying on the ground. What it was I could not see. Zl_sbIY  
The butler happened to be in the room. I spoke to him. H:b"Vd"x9  
!yg &zzP*  
'Peter, what is the matter in the street? Go and see.' DN8I[5O  
He went and saw; and, presently, he returned. Peter is an excellent servant; but the fashion of his speech, even when conveying the most trivial information, is slightly sesquipedalian. He would have made a capital cabinet minister at question time,--he wraps up the smallest petitions of meaning in the largest possible words. AED 9vDE  
'An unfortunate individual appears to have been the victim of a catastrophe. I am informed that he is dead. The constable asserts that he is drunk.' [o'}R`5)  
* 8D(Lp1  
'Drunk?--dead? Do you mean that he is dead drunk?--at this hour!' )&elr,b /y  
5h(] S[Zf3  
'He is either one or the other. I did not behold the individual myself. I derived my information from a bystander.' )6mv 7M{  
0)qLW& w  
That was not sufficiently explicit for me. I gave way to a, seemingly, quite causeless impulse of curiosity, I went out into the street, just as I was, to see for myself. It was, perhaps, not the most sensible thing I could have done, and papa would have been shocked; but I am always shocking papa. It had been raining in the night, and the shoes which I had on were not so well suited as they might have been for an encounter with the mud. }g _#.>D+  
) f'cy@b   
I made my way to the point of interest. Fu m1w  
'What's the matter?' I asked. 1/w['d4l!  
A workman, with a bag of tools over his shoulder, answered me. ]eP&r?B  
'There's something wrong with someone. Policeman says he's drunk, but he looks to me as if he was something worse.' =R?NOWrDY  
.0cm mpUNq  
'Will you let me pass, please?' s==gjA e:  
When they saw I was a woman, they permitted me to reach the centre of the crowd. N9r02c  
|g}! F-  
A man was lying on his back, in the grease and dirt of the road. He was so plastered with mud, that it was difficult, at first, to be sure that he really was a man. His head and feet were bare. His body was partially covered by a long ragged cloak. It was obvious that that one wretched, dirt-stained, sopping wet rag was all the clothing he had on. A huge constable was holding his shoulders in his hands, and was regarding him as if he could not make him out at all. He seemed uncertain as to whether it was or was not a case of shamming. l[.*X  
Is` S  
He spoke to him as if he had been some refractory child. #m1e_[   
'Come, my lad, this won't do!--Wake up!--What's the matter?' )/PvaL  
But he neither woke up, nor explained what was the matter. I took hold of his hand. It was icy cold. Apparently the wrist was pulseless. Clearly this was no ordinary case of drunkenness. +2O('}t  
y GT"k,a  
'There is something seriously wrong, officer. Medical assistance ought to be had at once.' SKuZik_  
'Do you think he's in a fit, miss?' WGN[`D"  
'That a doctor should be able to tell you better than I can. There seems to be no pulse. I should not be surprised to find that he was--' b;]'Bo0K  
The word 'dead' was actually on my lips, when the stranger saved me from making a glaring exposure of my ignorance by snatching his wrist away from me, and sitting up in the mud. He held out his hands in front of him, opened his eyes, and exclaimed, in a loud, but painfully raucous tone of voice, as if he was suffering from a very bad cold, 9Lk.\.  
'Paul Lessingham!' &HFMF)NA  
I was so surprised that I all but sat down in the mud. To hear Paul--my Paul!--apostrophised by an individual of his appearance, in that fashion, was something which I had not expected. Directly the words were uttered, he closed his eyes again, sank backward, and seemingly relapsed into unconsciousness,--the constable gripping him by the shoulder just in time to prevent him banging the back of his head against the road. JFYeOmR+l  
The officer shook him,--scarcely gently. yD(/y"P,9  
'Now, my lad, it's plain that you're not dead!--What's the meaning of this?--Move yourself!' dX+DE(y  
:+[q `  
Looking round I found that Peter was close behind. Apparently he had been struck by the singularity of his mistress' behaviour, and had followed to see that it did not meet with the reward which it deserved. I spoke to him. lIOLR-:4j  
'Peter, let someone go at once for Dr Cotes!' se(_`a/4Q  
c t,p?[Q  
Dr Cotes lives just round the corner, and since it was evident that the man's lapse into consciousness had made the policeman sceptical as to his case being so serious as it seemed, I thought it might be advisable that a competent opinion should be obtained without delay. WKmGw^  
Ok O;V6`  
Peter was starting, when again the stranger returned to consciousness,--that is, if it really was consciousness, as to which I was more than a little in doubt. He repeated his previous pantomime; sat up in the mud, stretched out his arms, opened his eyes unnaturally wide,--and yet they appeared unseeing!--a sort of convulsion went all over him, and he shrieked--it really amounted to shrieking--as a man might shriek who was in mortal terror. tQ] R@i  
'Be warned, Paul Lessingham--be warned!' ){R_o5  
For my part, that settled it. There was a mystery here which needed to be unravelled. Twice had he called upon Paul's name,-- and in the strangest fashion! It was for me to learn the why and the wherefore; to ascertain what connection there was between this lifeless creature and Paul Lessingham. Providence might have cast him there before my door. I might be entertaining an angel unawares. My mind was made up on the instant. duV|'ntr  
'Peter, hasten for Dr Cotes.' Peter passed the word, and immediately a footman started running as fast as his legs would carry him. 'Officer, I will have this man taken into my father's house.--Will some of you men help to carry him?' 9"_qa q  
There were volunteers enough, and to spare. I spoke to Peter in the hall. ;wJLH\/  
'Is papa down yet?' q+WOnTS  
'Mr Lindon has sent down to say that you will please not wait for him for breakfast. He has issued instructions to have his breakfast conveyed to him upstairs.' - Kj$A@~x  
'That's all right.' I nodded towards the poor wretch who was being carried through the hall. 'You will say nothing to him about this unless he particularly asks. You understand?' wH{lp/  
Peter bowed. He is discretion itself. He knows I have my vagaries, and it is not his fault if the savour of them travels to papa. Co[  rhs  
M=`F $  
The doctor was in the house almost as soon as the stranger. 5?kF'yksR  
g5; W6QX  
'Wants washing,' he remarked, directly he saw him. P%ev8]2  
And that certainly was true,--I never saw a man who stood more obviously in need of the good offices of soap and water. Then he went through the usual medical formula, I watching all the while. So far as I could see the man showed not the slightest sign of life. )^|zuYzN  
'Is he dead?' &y;('w  
'He will be soon, if he doesn't have something to eat. The fellow's starving.' Du k v[/60  
The doctor asked the policeman what he knew of him 6}ct{Q  
O>9+ tQ  
That sagacious officer's reply was vague. A boy had run up to him crying that a man was lying dead in the street. He had straightway followed the boy, and discovered the stranger. That was all he knew. [}Vne;V  
'What is the matter with the man?' I inquired of the doctor, when the constable had gone. =w&JDj  
'Don't know.--It may be catalepsy, and it mayn't.--When I do know, you may ask again.' \Eqxmo  
dG5p`N %  
Dr Cotes' manner was a trifle brusque,--particularly, I believe, to me. I remember that once he threatened to box my ears. When I was a small child I used to think nothing of boxing his. 0|mF /  
Realising that no satisfaction was to be got out of a speechless man--particularly as regards his mysterious references to Paul--I went upstairs. I found that papa was under the impression that he was suffering from a severe attack of gout. But as he was eating a capital breakfast, and apparently enjoying it,--while I was still fasting--I ventured to hope that the matter was not so serious as he feared. /HlLfW  
I mentioned nothing to him about the person whom I had found in the street,--lest it should aggravate his gout. When he is like that, the slightest thing does. WAd5,RZ?  

只看该作者 26楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day \?bp^BrI  
Chapter XXVI. A Father's No 7kBULeBn|  
  Paul has stormed the House of Commons with one of the greatest speeches which even he has delivered, and I have quarrelled with papa. And, also, I have very nearly quarrelled with Sydney. "+js7U-  
Sydney's little affair is nothing. He actually still persists in thinking himself in love with me,--as if, since last night, when he what he calls 'proposed' to me, he has not time to fall out of love, and in again, half a dozen times; and, on the strength of it, he seems to consider himself entitled to make himself as disagreeable as he can. That I should not mind,--for Sydney disagreeable is about as nice as Sydney any other way; but when it comes to his shooting poisoned shafts at Paul, I object. If he imagines that anything he can say, or hint, will lessen my estimation of Paul Lessingham by one hair's breadth, he has less wisdom even than I gave him credit for. By the way, Percy Woodville asked me to be his wife tonight,--which, also, is nothing; he has been trying to do it for the last three years,-- though, under the circumstances, it is a little trying; but he would not spit venom merely because I preferred another man,--and he, I believe, does care for me. r"OVu~ND  
Papa's affair is serious. It is the first clashing of the foils,-- and this time, I imagine, the buttons are really off. This morning he said a few words, not so much to, as at me. He informed me that Paul was expected to speak to-night,--as if I did not know it!-- and availed himself of the opening to load him with the abuse which, in his case, he thinks is not unbecoming to a gentleman. I don't know--or, rather, I do know what he would think, if he heard another man use, in the presence of a woman, the kind of language which he habitually employs. However, I said nothing. I had a motive for allowing the chaff to fly before the wind. 9u/"bj  
But, to-night, issue was joined. x|G# oG)_  
I, of course, went to hear Paul speak,--as I have done over and over again before. Afterwards, Paul came and fetched me from the cage. He had to leave me for a moment, while he gave somebody a message; and in the lobby, there was Sydney,--all sneers! I could have pinched him. Just as I was coming to the conclusion that I should have to stick a pin into his arm, Paul returned,--and, positively, Sydney was rude to him. I was ashamed, if Mr Atherton was not. As if it was not enough that he should be insulted by a mere popinjay, at the very moment when he had been adding another stone to the fabric of his country's glory,--papa came up. He actually wanted to take me away from Paul. I should have liked to see him do it. Of course I went down with Paul to the carriage, leaving papa to follow if he chose. He did not choose,--but, none the less, he managed to be home within three minutes after I had myself returned. ?as)vYP  
Then the battle began. sF^3KJ|  
J Sz'oA5  
It is impossible for me to give an idea of papa in a rage. There may be men who look well when they lose their temper, but, if there are, papa is certainly not one. He is always talking about the magnificence, and the high breeding of the Lindons, but anything less high-bred than the head of the Lindons, in his moments of wrath, it would be hard to conceive. His language I will not attempt to portray,--but his observations consisted, mainly, of abuse of Paul, glorification of the Lindons, and orders to me. ^^QW<  
'I forbid you--I forbid you--' when papa wishes to be impressive he repeats his own words three or four times over; I don't know if he imagines that they are improved by repetition; if he does, he is wrong--'I forbid you ever again to speak to that--that--that--' A,D67G<v`  
un0t zz  
Here followed language. oZ95)'L,  
I was silent. U I|L;5  
My cue was to keep cool. I believe that, with the exception, perhaps, of being a little white, and exceedingly sorry that papa should so forget himself, I was about the same as I generally am. 9oS\{[x.  
'Do you hear me?--do you hear what I say?--do you hear me, miss?' mn\e(WoX  
'Yes, papa; I hear you.' m\U@L+L  
'Then--then--then promise me!--promise that you will do as I tell you!--mark my words, my girl, you shall promise before you leave this room!' ?F*gFW_k  
]5x N^7_!j  
'My dear papa!--do you intend me to spend the remainder of my life in the drawing-room?' NJs )2  
'Don't you be impertinent!--do-do-don't you speak to me like that!--I--I--I won't have it!' d#vq+wR  
'I tell you what it is, papa, if you don't take care you'll have another attack of gout.' i 0L)hkV  
'Damn gout.' -Z-|49I/mN  
That was the most sensible thing he said; if such a tormentor as gout can be consigned to the nether regions by the mere utterance of a word, by all means let the word be uttered. Off he went again. Z]@my,+Z;  
'The man's a ruffianly, rascally,--' and so on. 'There's not such a villainous vagabond--' and all the rest of it. 'And I order you,--I'm a Lindon, and I order you! I'm your father, and I order you!--I order you never to speak to such a--such a'--various vain repetitions--'again, and--and--and I order you never to look at him!' s!:'3[7+  
'Listen to me, papa. I will promise you never to speak to Paul Lessingham again, if you will promise me never to speak to Lord Cantilever again,--or to recognise him if you meet him in the street.' `yJ3"{uO  
\GYrP f$  
'You should have seen how papa glared. Lord Cantilever is the head of his party. Its august, and, I presume, reverenced leader. He is papa's particular fetish. I am not sure that he does regard him as being any lower than the angels, but if he does it is certainly something in decimals. My suggestion seemed as outrageous to him as his suggestion seemed to me. But it is papa's misfortune that he can only see one side of a question,--and that's his own.' MTXh-9DA  
'You--you dare to compare Lord Cantilever to--to that--that--that--!' (^pIB~.z  
y0f:N U  
'I am not comparing them. I am not aware of there being anything in particular against Lord Cantilever,--that is against his character. But, of course, I should not dream of comparing a man of his calibre, with one of real ability, like Paul Lessingham. It would be to treat his lordship with too much severity.' GXaPfC0-y  
I could not help it,--but that did it. The rest of papa's conversation was a jumble of explosions. It was all so sad. 4a0Ud !Qcs  
Papa poured all the vials of his wrath upon Paul,--to his own sore disfigurement. He threatened me with all the pains and penalties of the inquisition if I did not immediately promise to hold no further communication with Mr Lessingham,--of course I did nothing of the kind. He cursed me, in default, by bell, book, and candle, --and by ever so many other things beside. He called me the most dreadful names,--me! his only child. He warned me that I should find myself in prison before I had done,--I am not sure that he did not hint darkly at the gallows. Finally, he drove me from the room in a whirlwind of anathemas. j,Mbl"P  

只看该作者 27楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day  Tx'anP  
Chapter XXVII. The Terror by Night iBKH\em/  
  When I left papa,--or, rather, when papa had driven me from him--I went straight to the man whom I had found in the street. It was late, and I was feeling both tired and worried, so that I only thought of seeing for myself how he was. In some way, he seemed to be a link between Paul and myself, and as, at that moment, links of that kind were precious, I could not have gone to bed without learning something of his condition. ]r\!Z <<(  
The nurse received me at the door. C4 -y%W"P  
'Well, nurse, how's the patient?' X(Z(cY(  
Nurse was a plump, motherly woman, who had attended more than one odd protege of mine, and whom I kept pretty constantly at my beck and call. She held out her hands. 'lOQb)  
'It's hard to tell. He hasn't moved since I came.' MPYYTQ1FB  
'Not moved?--Is he still insensible?' ZVit] 3hd  
'He seems to me to be in some sort of trance. He does not appear to breathe, and I can detect no pulsation, but the doctor says he's still alive,--it's the queerest case I ever saw.' i?)bF!J  
I went farther into the room. Directly I did so the man in the bed gave signs of life which were sufficiently unmistakable. Nurse hastened to him. 'OMl9}M  
'Why,' she exclaimed, 'he's moving!--he might have heard you enter!' 2J` LZS  
He not only might have done, but it seemed possible that that was what he actually had done. As I approached the bed, he raised himself to a sitting posture, as, in the morning, he had done in the street, and he exclaimed, as if he addressed himself to someone whom he saw in front of him,--I cannot describe the almost more than human agony which was in his voice, ay=f1<a  
'Paul Lessingham!--Beware!--The Beetle!' ;{g>Z|  
What he meant I had not the slightest notion. Probably that was why what seemed more like a pronouncement of delirium than anything else had such an extraordinary effect upon my nerves. No sooner had he spoken than a sort of blank horror seemed to settle down upon my mind. I actually found myself trembling at the knees. I felt, all at once, as if I was standing in the immediate presence of something awful yet unseen. &4Y@-;REt  
@!Q\| <  
As for the speaker, no sooner were the words out of his lips, than, as was the case in the morning, he relapsed into a condition of trance. Nurse, bending over him, announced the fact. e/V8lo  
'He's gone off again!--What an extraordinary thing!--I suppose it is real.' It was clear, from the tone of her voice, that she shared the doubt which had troubled the policeman, 'There's not a trace of a pulse. From the look of things he might be dead. Of one thing I'm sure, that there's something unnatural about the man. No natural illness I ever heard of, takes hold of a man like this.' ^ G(GjW8  
Glancing up, she saw that there was something unusual in my face; an appearance which startled her. G&/RJLX|w  
c`(]j w  
'Why, Miss Marjorie, what's the matter!--You look quite ill!' g6kVHxh-  
IZV D.1  
I felt ill, and worse than ill; but, at the same time, I was quite incapable of describing what I felt to nurse, For some inscrutable reason I had even lost the control of my tongue,--I stammered. &xlz80%  
'I--I--I'm not feeling very well, nurse; I--I--I think I'll be better in bed.' 51Yq>'8  
As I spoke, I staggered towards the door, conscious, all the while, that nurse was staring at me with eyes wide open, When I got out of the room, it seemed, in some incomprehensible fashion, as if something had left it with me, and that It and I were alone together in the corridor. So overcome was I by the consciousness of its immediate propinquity, that, all at once, I found myself cowering against the wall,--as if I expected something or someone to strike me. PSX-b)wb  
w) o^?9T  
How I reached my bedroom I do not know. I found Fanchette awaiting me. For the moment her presence was a positive comfort,--until I realised the amazement with which she was regarding me. 9s\;,!b  
'Mademoiselle is not well?' z mvF#o  
'Thank you, Fanchette, I--I am rather tired. I will undress myself to-night--you can go to bed.' o.-rdP0P>  
'But if mademoiselle is so tired, will she not permit me to assist her?' 0mj^Tms  
8jyg1NN D  
The suggestion was reasonable enough,--and kindly too; for, to say the least of it, she had as much cause for fatigue as I had. I hesitated. I should have liked to throw my arms about her neck, and beg her not to leave me; but, the plain truth is, I was ashamed. In my inner consciousness I was persuaded that the sense of terror which had suddenly come over me was so absolutely causeless, that I could not bear the notion of playing the craven in my maid's eyes. While I hesitated, something seemed to sweep past me through the air, and to brush against my cheek in passing. I caught at Fanchette's arm. UR;F W`  
+ D ,Nd=/  
'Fanchette!--Is there something with us in the room?' X.)caF^j  
'Something with us in the room?--Mademoiselle?--What does mademoiselle mean?' }cDw9;~D  
She looked disturbed,--which was, on the whole, excusable. Fanchette is not exactly a strong-minded person, and not likely to be much of a support when a support was most required. If I was going to play the fool, I would be my own audience. So I sent her off. >fCz,.L  
'Did you not hear me tell you that I will undress myself?--you are to go to bed.' KW&5&~)2  
She went to bed,--with quite sufficient willingness. '"# W!p  
The instant that she was out of the room I wished that she was back again. Such a paroxysm of fear came over me, that I was incapable of stirring from the spot on which I stood, and it was all I could do to prevent myself from collapsing in heap on the floor. I had never, till then, had reason to suppose that I was a coward. Nor to suspect myself of being the possessor of 'nerves.' I was as little likely as anyone to be frightened by shadows. I told myself that the whole thing was sheer absurdity, and that I should be thoroughly ashamed of my own conduct when the morning came. 'If you don't want to be self-branded as a contemptible idiot, Marjorie Lindon, you will call up your courage, and these foolish fears will fly.' But it would not do. Instead of flying, they grew worse. I became convinced,--and the process of conviction was terrible beyond words!--that there actually was something with me in the room, some invisible horror,--which, at any moment, might become visible. I seemed to understand--with a sense of agony which nothing can describe!--that this thing which was with me was with Paul. That we were linked together by the bond of a common, and a dreadful terror. That, at that moment, that same awful peril which was threatening me, was threatening him, and that I was powerless to move a finger in his aid. As with a sort of second sight, I saw out of the room in which I was, into another, in which Paul was crouching on the floor, covering his face with his hands, and shrieking. The vision came again and again with a degree of vividness of which I cannot give the least conception. At last the horror, and the reality of it, goaded me to frenzy. 'Paul! Paul!' I screamed. As soon as I found my voice, the vision faded. Once more I understood that, as a matter of simple fact, I was standing in my own bedroom; that the lights were burning brightly; that I had not yet commenced to remove a particle of dress. 'Am I going mad?' I wondered. I had heard of insanity taking extraordinary forms, but what could have caused softening of the brain in me I had not the faintest notion. Surely that sort of thing does not come on one--in such a wholly unmitigated form!--without the slightest notice,--and that my mental faculties were sound enough a few minutes back I was certain. The first premonition of anything of the kind had come upon me with the melodramatic utterance of the man I had found in the street. WH@CH4WM  
>= G{.H  
'Paul Lessingham!--Beware!--The Beetle!' ?1+JBl~/d  
The words were ringing in my ears.-What was that?--. There was a buzzing sound behind me. I turned to see what it was. It moved as I moved, so that it was still at my back. I swung, swiftly, right round on my heels. It still eluded me,--it was still behind. 0n'~wz"wB  
I stood and listened,--what was it that hovered so persistently at my back? |L@9qwF  
The buzzing was distinctly audible. It was like the humming of a bee. Or--could it be a beetle? rm-6Az V  
UF g N@  
My whole life long I have had an antipathy to beetles,--of any sort or kind. I have objected neither to rats nor mice, nor cows, nor bulls, nor snakes, nor spiders, nor toads, nor lizards, nor any of the thousand and one other creatures, animate or otherwise, to which so many people have a rooted, and, apparently, illogical dislike. My pet--and only--horror has been beetles. The mere suspicion of a harmless, and, I am told, necessary cockroach, being within several feet has always made me seriously uneasy. The thought that a great, winged beetle--to me, a flying beetle is the horror of horrors!--was with me in my bedroom,--goodness alone knew how it had got there!--was unendurable. Anyone who had beheld me during the next few moments would certainly have supposed I was deranged. I turned and twisted, sprang from side to side, screwed myself into impossible positions, in order to obtain a glimpse of the detested visitant,--but in vain. I could hear it all the time; but see it--never! The buzzing sound was continually behind. `OY_v=}  
The terror returned,--I began to think that my brain must be softening. I dashed to the bed. Flinging myself on my knees, I tried to pray. But I was speechless,--words would not come; my thoughts would not take shape. I all at once became conscious, as I struggled to ask help of God, that I was wrestling with something evil,--that if I only could ask kelp of Him, evil would flee. But I could not. I was helpless,--overmastered. I hid my face in the bedclothes, cramming my fingers into my ears. But the buzzing was behind me all the time. va(ZGGS]N  
@K 8sNPK  
I sprang up, striking out, blindly, wildly, right and left, hitting nothing,--the buzzing always came from a point at which, at the moment, I was not aiming. @v1f)(N  
( }DCy23  
I tore off my clothes. I had on a lovely frock which I had worn for the first time that night; I had had it specially made for the occasion of the Duchess' ball, and--more especially--in honour of Paul's great speech. I had said to myself, when I saw my image in a mirror, that it was the most exquisite gown I had ever had, that it suited me to perfection, and that it should continue in my wardrobe for many a day, if only as a souvenir of a memorable night. Now, in the madness of my terror, all reflections of that sort were forgotten. My only desire was to away with it. I tore it off anyhow, letting it fall in rags on the floor at my feet. All else that I had on I flung in the same way after it; it was a veritable holocaust of dainty garments,--I acting as relentless executioner who am, as a rule, so tender with my things. I leaped upon the bed, switched off the electric light, hurried into bed, burying myself, over head and all, deep down between the sheets. )v!>U<eprD  
'-F }(9M  
I had hoped that by shutting out the light, I might regain my senses. That in the darkness I might have opportunity for sane reflection. But I had made a grievous error. I had exchanged bad for worse. The darkness lent added terrors. The light had not been out five seconds before I would have given all that I was worth to be able to switch it on again. !BHIp7p  
As I cowered beneath the bedclothes I heard the buzzing sound above my head,--the sudden silence of the darkness had rendered it more audible than it had been before. The thing, whatever it was, was hovering above the bed. It came nearer and nearer; it grew clearer and clearer. I felt it alight upon the coverlet;--shall I ever forget the sensations with which I did feel it? It weighed upon me like a ton of lead. How much of the seeming weight was real, and how much imaginary, I cannot pretend to say; but that it was much heavier than any beetle I have ever seen or heard of, I am sure. Pm]6E[zC  
For a time it was still,--and during that time I doubt if I even drew my breath. Then I felt it begin to move, in wobbling fashion, with awkward, ungainly gait, stopping every now and then, as if for rest. I was conscious that it was progressing, slowly, yet surely, towards the head of the bed. The emotion of horror with which I realised what this progression might mean, will be, I fear, with me to the end of my life,--not only in dreams, but too often, also, in my waking hours. My heart, as the Psalmist has it, melted like wax within me, I was incapable of movement,--dominated by something as hideous as, and infinitely more powerful than, the fascination of the serpent. EAq/Yw2$  
93:s[b mx  
When it reached the head of the bed, what I feared--with what a fear!--would happen, did happen. It began to find its way inside, --to creep between the sheets; the wonder is I did not die! I felt it coming nearer and nearer, inch by inch; I knew that it was upon me, that escape there was none; I felt something touch my hair. !8ub3oj)  
z (rQ6  
And then oblivion did come to my aid. For the first time in my life I swooned. g+p?J.+  
I :%(nKBK  

只看该作者 28楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day I)V=$r{  
Chapter XXVIII. The Strange Story of the Man in the Street ^T!Zz"/:  
gLX<> |)*  
  I have been anticipating for some weeks past, that things would become exciting,--and they have. But hardly in the way which I foresaw. It is the old story of the unexpected happening. Suddenly events of the most extraordinary nature have come crowding on me from the most unlooked-for quarters.  9!jPZn  
Let me try to take them in something like their proper order. L(TM& ps\-  
To begin with, Sydney has behaved very badly. So badly that it seems likely that I shall have to re-cast my whole conception of his character. It was nearly nine o'clock this morning when I,--I cannot say woke up, because I do not believe that I had really been asleep--but when I returned to consciousness. I found myself sitting up in bed, trembling like some frightened child. What had actually happened to me I did not know,--could not guess. I was conscious of an overwhelming sense of nausea, and, generally, I was feeling very far from well. I endeavoured to arrange my thoughts, and to decide upon some plan of action. Finally, I decided to go for advice and help where I had so often gone before,--to Sydney Atherton. !rUP&DA  
I went to him. I told him the whole gruesome story. He saw, he could not help but see what a deep impress the events of the night had made on me. He heard me to the end with every appearance of sympathy,--and then all at once I discovered that all the time papa had been concealed behind a large screen which was in the room, listening to every word I had been uttering. That I was dumfoundered, goes without saying. It was bad enough in papa, but in Sydney it seemed, and it was, such treachery. He and I have told each other secrets all our lives; it has never entered my imagination, as he very well knows, to play him false, in one jot or tittle; and I have always understood that, in this sort of matter, men pride themselves on their sense of honour being so much keener than women's. I told them some plain truths; and I fancy that I left them both feeling heartily ashamed of themselves. *cb|9elF^  
One result the experience had on me,--it wound me up. It had on me the revivifying effect of a cold douche. I realised that mine was a situation in which I should have to help myself. O=o}uB-*6  
When I returned home I learned that the man whom I had found in the street was himself again, and was as conscious as he was ever likely to be. Burning with curiosity to learn the nature of the connection which existed between Paul and him, and what was the meaning of his oracular apostrophes, I merely paused to remove my hat before hastening into his apartment. mE<_oRM)  
When he saw me, and heard who I was, the expressions of his gratitude were painful in their intensity. The tears streamed down his cheeks. He looked to me like a man who had very little life left in him. He looked weak, and white, and worn to a shadow. Probably he never had been robust, and it was only too plain that privation had robbed him of what little strength he had ever had. He was nothing else but skin and bone. Physical and mental debility was written large all over him. MXSD8]je  
He was not bad-looking,--in a milk and watery sort of way. He had pale blue eyes and very fair hair, and, I daresay, at one time, had been a spruce enough clerk. It was difficult to guess his age, one ages so rapidly under the stress of misfortune, but I should have set him down as being about forty. His voice, though faint enough at first, was that of an educated man, and as he went on, and gathered courage, and became more and more in earnest, he spoke with a simple directness which was close akin to eloquence. It was a curious story which he had to tell. s`x2Go  
So curious, so astounding indeed, that, by the time it was finished, I was in such a state of mind, that I could perceive no alternative but to forgive Sydney, and, in spite of his recent, and scandalous misbehaviour, again appeal to him for assistance. It seemed, if the story told by the man whom I had found in the street was true,--and incredible though it sounded, he spoke like a truthful man!--that Paul was threatened by some dreadful, and, to me, wholly incomprehensible danger; that it was a case in which even moments were precious; and I felt that, with the best will in the world, it was a position in which I could not move alone. The shadow of the terror of the night was with me still, and with that fresh in my recollection how could I hope, single-handed, to act effectually against the mysterious being of whom this amazing tale was told? No! I believed that Sydney did care for me, in his own peculiar way; I knew that he was quick, and cool, and fertile in resource, and that he showed to most advantage in a difficult situation; it was possible that he had a conscience, of a sort, and that, this time, I might not appeal to it in vain. +Vg(2Xt  
eZ) |m  
So I sent a servant off to fetch him, helter skelter. KXTk.\c  
As luck would have it, the servant returned with him within five minutes. It appeared that he had been lunching with Dora Grayling, who lives just at the end of the street, and the footman had met him coming down the steps. I had him shown into my own room. YbVZK4  
'I want you to go to the man whom I found in the street, and listen to what he has to say.' K0^+2lx  
'With pleasure.' 0Z[8d0  
'Can I trust you?' G_x<2E"d  
'To listen to what he has to say?--I believe so.'  + >oA@z  
'Can I trust you to respect my confidence?' @<tkwu  
k ckWBL  
He was not at all abashed,--I never saw Sydney Atherton when he was abashed. Whatever the offence of which he has been guilty, he always seems completely at his ease. His eyes twinkled. `Pv[A  
'You can,--I will not breathe a syllable even to papa.' 1H{M0e  
'In that case, come! But, you understand, I am going to put to the test the affirmations which you have made during all these years, and to prove if you have any of the feeling for me which you pretend.' pBV_'A}ioh  
Directly we were in the stranger's room, Sydney marched straight up to the bed, stared at the man who was lying in it, crammed his hands into his trouser pockets, and whistled. I was amazed. 8zv=@`4@G  
'So!' he exclaimed. 'It's you!' ~ KNdV  
'Do you know this man?' I asked. f@@2@# 5B  
'I am hardly prepared to go so far as to say that I know him, but, I chance to have a memory for faces, and it happens that I have met this gentleman on at least one previous occasion. Perhaps he remembers me.--Do you?' 7Gb(&'n  
% I]?xe6  
The stranger seemed uneasy,--as if he found Sidney's tone and manner disconcerting. ,j~ R ^j  
x>Ah4a d  
'I do. You are the man in the street.' '3uj6Wq2  
'Precisely. I am that--individual. And you are the man who came through the window. And in a much more comfortable condition you appear to be than when first I saw you.' Sydney turned to me. 'It is just possible, Miss Lindon, that I may have a few remarks to make to this gentleman which would be better made in private,--if you don't mind.' t Zj6=#  
'But I do mind,--I mind very much. What do you suppose I sent for you here for?' D4'? V Iz  
Sydney smiled that absurd, provoking smile of his,--as if the occasion were not sufficiently serious. MVt#n\_BZV  
'To show that you still repose in me a vestige of your confidence.' w|L~+   
'Don't talk nonsense. This man has told me a most extraordinary story, and I have sent for you--as you may believe, not too willingly'--Sydney bowed--'in order that he may repeat it in your presence, and in mine.' ?ft_  
'Is that so?--Well!-Permit me to offer you a chair,--this tale may turn out to be a trifle long.' c|.:J]  
IY19G U9  
To humour him I accepted the chair he offered, though I should have preferred to stand;--he seated himself on the side of the bed, fixing on the stranger those keen, quizzical, not too merciful, eyes of his. G 6, 8Xwk  
'Well, sir, we are at your service,--if you will be so good as to favour us with a second edition of that pleasant yarn you have been spinning. But--let us begin at the right end!--what's your name?' )1vojp 4Za  
'My name is Robert Holt.' r?!xL\C\  
'That so?--Then, Mr Robert Holt,--let her go!' &fW=5'  
Thus encouraged, Mr Holt repeated the tale which he had told me, only in more connected fashion than before. I fancy that Sydney's glances exercised on him a sort of hypnotic effect, and this kept him to the point,--he scarcely needed a word of prompting from the first syllable to the last. GR ?u?-  
He told how, tired, wet, hungry, desperate, despairing, he had been refused admittance to the casual ward,--that unfailing resource, as one would have supposed, of those who had abandoned even hope. How he had come upon an open window in an apparently empty house, and, thinking of nothing but shelter from the inclement night, he had clambered through it. How he had found himself in the presence of an extraordinary being, who, in his debilitated and nervous state, had seemed to him to be only half human. How this dreadful creature had given utterance to wild sentiments of hatred towards Paul Lessingham,--my Paul! How he had taken advantage of Holt's enfeebled state to gain over him the most complete, horrible, and, indeed, almost incredible ascendency. How he actually had sent Holt, practically naked, into the storm-driven streets, to commit burglary at Paul's house,--and how he,--Holt,--had actually gone without being able to offer even a shadow of opposition. How Paul, suddenly returning home, had come upon Holt engaged in the very act of committing burglary, and how, on his hearing Holt make a cabalistic reference to some mysterious beetle, the manhood had gone out of him, and he had suffered the intruder to make good his escape without an effort to detain him. sIRrEea  
\ ~LU 'j  
The story had seemed sufficiently astonishing the first time, it seemed still more astonishing the second,--but, as I watched Sydney listening, what struck me chiefly was the conviction that he had heard it all before. I charged him with it directly Holt had finished. Y!a+#N!  
'This is not the first time you have been told this tale.' 7#Uz*G\iZ  
'Pardon me,--but it is. Do you suppose I live in an atmosphere of fairy tales?' }[>RxHd  
Something in his manner made me feel sure he was deceiving me. _7Xd|\Zc  
'Sydney!--Don't tell me a story!--Paul has told you!' #$LH2?)  
'I am not telling you a story,--at least, on this occasion; and Mr Lessingham has not told me. Suppose we postpone these details to a little later. And perhaps, in the interim, you will permit me to put a question or two to Mr Holt.'  BY3bpR  
I let him have his way,--though I knew he was concealing something from me; that he had a more intimate acquaintance with Mr Holt's strange tale than he chose to confess. And, for some cause, his reticence annoyed me. \]I  
T^]7R4 Fg  
He looked at Mr Holt in silence for a second or two. F;P5D<  
Then he said, with the quizzical little air of bland impertinence which is peculiarly his own, q@l(Qol  
'I presume, Mr Holt, you have been entertaining us with a novelty in fables, and that we are not expected to believe this pleasant little yarn of yours.' Td hTQ  
'I expect nothing. But I have told you the truth. And you know it.' [6tSYUZs  
This seemed to take Sydney aback. YY5!_k  
PnYBy| yl  
'I protest that, like Miss Lindon, you credit me with a more extensive knowledge than I possess. However, we will let that pass.--I take it that you paid particular attention to this mysterious habitant of this mysterious dwelling.' /j2H A^GT  
IH *s8tPc  
I saw that Mr Holt shuddered. >r@.F%  
'I am not likely ever to forget him.' 5wao1sd#  
'Then, in that case, you will be able to describe him to us.' =p^He!  
e~ aqaY~}  
'To do so adequately would be beyond my powers. But I will do my best.' (Rk_-9_E.  
ZKQ hbNT  
If the original was more remarkable than the description which he gave of him, then he must have been remarkable indeed. The impression conveyed to my mind was rather of a monster than a human being. I watched Sydney attentively as he followed Mr Holt's somewhat lurid language, and there was something in his demeanour which made me more and more persuaded that he was more behind the scenes in this strange business than he pretended, or than the speaker suspected. He put a question which seemed uncalled for by anything which Mr Holt had said. -/_L*oYli  
'You are sure this thing of beauty was a man?' |Iu npZV  
K1V#cB WO  
'No, sir, that is exactly what I am not sure.' a[lY S{  
There was a note in Sydney's voice which suggested that he had received precisely the answer which he had expected. y2O4I'/5<  
'Did you think it was a woman?' PX|=(:(k  
7^} Ll@  
'I did think so, more than once. Though I can hardly explain what made me think so. There was certainly nothing womanly about the face.' He paused, as if to reflect. Then added, 'I suppose it was a question of instinct.' `ovtHl3Q  
,? E&V_5  
'I see.--Just so.--It occurs to me, Mr Holt, that you are rather strong on questions of instinct.' Sydney got off the bed. He stretched himself, as if fatigued,--which is a way he has. 'I will not do you the injustice to hint that I do not believe a word of your charming, and simple, narrative. On the contrary, I will demonstrate my perfect credence by remarking that I have not the slightest doubt that you will be able to point out to me, for my particular satisfaction, the delightful residence on which the whole is founded.' IB.yU,v  
Mr Holt coloured,--Sydney's tone could scarcely have been more significant. L{ gE'jCC  
'You must remember, sir, that it was a dark night, that I had never been in that neighbourhood before, and that I was not in a condition to pay much attention to locality.' }|8*sk#[  
'All of which is granted, but--how far was it from Hammersmith Workhouse?' euRss#;  
'Possibly under half a mile.' 4 eh=f!(+  
'Then, in that case, surely you can remember which turning you took on leaving Hammersmith Workhouse,--I suppose there are not many turnings you could have taken.' *,jqE9:O  
jeFN*r _  
'I think I could remember.' -d_ 7*>m$  
'Then you shall have an opportunity to try. It isn't a very far cry to Hammersmith,--don't you think you are well enough to drive there now, just you and I together in a cab?'  3:"AFV  
'I should say so. I wished to get up this morning. It is by the doctor's orders I have stayed in bed.' tvK rc  
'Then, for once in a while, the doctor's orders shall be ignored, --I prescribe fresh air.' Sydney turned to me. 'Since Mr Holt's wardrobe seems rather to seek, don't you think a suit of one of the men might fit him,--if Mr Holt wouldn't mind making shift for the moment?--Then, by the time you've finished dressing, Mr Holt, I shall be ready.' SxnIX/]J  
Ty g$`\#   
While they were ascertaining which suit of clothes would be best adapted to his figure, I went with Sydney to my room. So soon as we were in, I let him know that this was not a matter in which I intended to be trifled with. } IIK~d,  
'Of course you understand, Sydney, that I am coming with you.' qK 9L+i  
He pretended not to know what I meant. " kE:T.,  
'Coming with me?--I am delighted to hear it,--but where?' u #=kb5}{  
'To the house of which Mr Holt has been speaking.' (Aov}I+  
'Nothing could give me greater pleasure, but--might I point out?-- Mr Holt has to find it yet?' ywsz"/=@  
'I will come to help you to help him find it.' PQ!?gj  
Sydney laughed,--but I could see he did not altogether relish the suggestion. =|t1eSzc  
 [ ^ \)  
'Three in a hansom?' |"&4"nwa  
'There is such a thing as a four-wheeled cab,--or I could order a carriage if you'd like one.' Xc<9[@  
Sydney looked at me out of the corners of his eyes; then began to walk up and down the room, with his hands in his trouser pockets. Presently he began to talk nonsense. U%olH >1K  
'I need not say with what a sensation of joy I should anticipate the delights of a drive with you,--even in a four-wheeled cab; but, were I in your place, I fancy that I should allow Holt and your humble servant to go hunting out this house of his alone. It may prove a more tedious business than you imagine. I promise that, after the hunt is over, I will describe the proceedings to you with the most literal accuracy.' ]y$C6iUY*  
'I daresay.--Do you think I don't know you've been deceiving me all the time?' 8'$n|<1X  
'Deceiving you?--I!' b%6 _LK[  
'Yes,--you! Do you think I'm quite an idiot?' U}NNb GQj  
'My dear Marjorie!' mR@iGl\\  
!5pp A  
'Do you think I can't see that you know all about what Mr Holt has been telling us,--perhaps more about it than he knows himself?' 'M&`l%dIPf  
'On my word!--With what an amount of knowledge you do credit me.' Ymx/N+Jl  
]v$VZ '  
'Yes, I do,--or discredit you, rather. If I were to trust you, you would tell me just as much as you chose,--which would be nothing. I'm coming with you,--so there's an end.' &i$p5  
'Very well.--Do you happen to know if there are any revolvers in the house?' 0w<vc}{t  
'Revolvers?--whatever for?' U'*~Ju  
<~z@G MQCf  
'Because I should like to borrow one. I will not conceal from you --since you press me--that this is a case in which a revolver is quite likely to be required.' tf IUH'Ez>  
'You are trying to frighten me.' L'HO"EZFj  
'I am doing nothing of the kind, only, under the circumstances, I am bound to point out to you what it is you may expect.' .Fx-$Yqy  
'Oh, you think that you're bound to point that out, do you,--then now your bounden duty's done. As for there being any revolvers in the house, papa has a perfect arsenal,--would you like to take them all?' K 5AArI  
'Thanks, but I daresay I shall be able to manage with one,--unless you would like one too. You may find yourself in need of it.' *Edr\P  
'I am obliged to you, but, on this occasion, I don't think I'll trouble. I'll run the risk.--Oh, Sydney, what a hypocrite you are!' }$1Aw%p^  
'It's for your sake, if I seem to be. I tell you most seriously, that I earnestly advise you to allow Mr Holt and I to manage this affair alone. I don't mind going so far as to say that this is a matter with which, in days to come, you will wish that you had not allowed yourself to be associated.' Eb=;D1)y]  
'What do you mean by that? Do you dare to insinuate anything against--Paul?' zorTZ #5  
'I insinuate nothing. What I mean, I say right out; and, my dear Marjorie, what I actually do mean is this,--that if, in spite of my urgent solicitations, you will persist in accompanying us, the expedition, so far as I am concerned, will be postponed.' ?WX&,ew~  
K`FgU 7g{  
'That it what you do mean, is it? Then that's settled.' I rang the bell. The servant came. 'Order a four-wheeled cab at once. And let me know the moment Mr Holt is ready.' The servant went. I turned to Sydney. 'If you will excuse me, I will go and put my hat on. You are, of course, at liberty to please yourself as to whether you will or will not go, but, if you don't, then I shall go with Mr Holt alone.' xIrpGLPSh  
=,[46 ;q  
I moved to the door. He stopped me. @mJN  
D?\K~U* >  
'My dear Marjorie, why will you persist in treating me with such injustice? Believe me, you have no idea what sort of adventure this is which you are setting out upon,--or you would hear reason. I assure you that you are gratuitously proposing to thrust yourself into imminent peril.' GmL|76  
'What sort of peril? Why do you beat about the bush,--why don't you speak right out?' 7 YK+TGmU^  
'I can't speak right out, there are circumstances which render it practically impossible--and that's the plain truth,--but the danger is none the less real on that account. I am not jesting,--I am in earnest; won't you take my word for it?' $1?X%8V  
_Y|kX2l S@  
'It is not a question of taking your word only,--it is a question of something else beside. I have not forgotten my adventures of last night,--and Mr Holt's story is mysterious enough in itself; but there is something more mysterious still at the back of it,-- something which you appear to suggest points unpleasantly at Paul. My duty is clear, and nothing you can say will turn me from it. Paul, as you are very well aware, is already over-weighted with affairs of state, pretty nearly borne down by them,--or I would take the tale to him, and he would talk to you after a fashion of his own. Things being as they are, I propose to show you that, although I am not yet Paul's wife, I can make his interests my own as completely as though I were. I can, therefore, only repeat that it is for you to decide what you intend to do; but, if you prefer to stay, I shall go with Mr Holt,--alone.' 2SJh6U  
'Understand that, when the time for regret comes--as it will come!--you are not to blame me for having done what I advised you not to do.' Gr@{p"./z  
D Ok^ON  
'My dear Mr Atherton, I will undertake to do my utmost to guard your spotless reputation; I should be sorry that anyone should hold you responsible for anything I either said or did.' `/JR}g{O  
a H|OA\<  
'Very well!--Your blood be on your own head!' 9MtJo.A  
!Ir1qt8 T  
'My blood?' yrE,,N%I  
'Yes,--your blood. I shouldn't be surprised if it comes to blood before we're through.--Perhaps you'll oblige me with the loan of one of that arsenal of revolvers of which you spoke.' KMxNH,5  
I let him have his old revolver,--or, rather, I let him have one of papa's new ones. He put it in the hip pocket in his trousers. And the expedition started,--in a four-wheeled car. *'UhlFed  

只看该作者 29楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day T.Zz;2I  
Chapter XXIX. The House on the Road From the Workhouse QJXdb]Y^;  
  Mr Holt looked as if he was in somebody else's garments. He 2OCdG  
was so thin, and worn, and wasted, that the suit of clothes which one of the men had lent him hung upon him as on a scarecrow. I was almost ashamed of myself for having incurred a share of the responsibility of taking him out of bed. He seemed so weak and bloodless that I should not have been surprised if he had fainted on the road. I had taken care that he should eat as much as he could eat before we started--the suggestion of starvation which he had conveyed to one's mind was dreadful!--and I had brought a flask of brandy in case of accidents, but, in spite of everything, I could not conceal from myself that he would be more at home in a sick-bed than in a jolting cab. 0O; Z  
It was not a cheerful drive. There was in Sydney's manner towards me an air of protection which I instinctively resented,--he appeared to be regarding me as a careful, and anxious, nurse might regard a wrong-headed and disobedient child. Conversation distinctly languished. Since Sydney seemed disposed to patronise me, I was bent on snubbing him. The result was, that the majority of the remarks which were uttered were addressed to Mr Holt. rr4 _8Rf  
lDH_ Y]bM  
The cab stopped,--after what had appeared to me to be an interminable journey. I was rejoiced at the prospect of its being at an end. Sydney put his head out of the window. A short parley with the driver ensued. ~.!?5(AH8z  
'This is 'Ammersmith Workhouse, it's a large place, sir,--which part of it might you be wanting?' oR4fK td  
Sydney appealed to Mr Holt. He put his head out of the window in his turn,--he did not seem to recognise our surroundings at all. 'Y,+D`&i)  
'We have come a different way,--this is not the way I went; I went through Hammersmith,--and to the casual ward; I don't see that here.' uv_P{%TK  
EeF n{_  
Sydney spoke to the cabman. d/-0B<ts  
'Driver, where's the casual ward?' p Z|nn  
l Ib>t  
'That's the other end, sir.' CIs1*:Q9  
'Then take us there.' -tdON  
He took us there. Then Sydney appealed again to Mr Holt. tg`!svL!  
'Shall I dismiss the cabman,--or don't you feel equal to walking?' c<x6_H6[8  
^( VB5p  
'Thank you, I feel quite equal to walking,--I think the exercise will do me good.' )5OU!c  
C^tC} n1D(  
So the cabman was dismissed,--a step which we--and I, in particular--had subsequent cause to regret. Mr Holt took his bearings. He pointed to a door which was just in front of us. E9hWn0 e  
'That's the entrance to the casual ward, and that, over it, is the window through which the other man threw a stone. I went to the right,--back the way I had come.' We went to the right. 'I reached this corner.' We had reached a corner. Mr Holt looked about him, endeavouring to recall the way he had gone. A good many roads appeared to converge at that point, so that he might have wandered in either of several directions. ~s_$a8  
Presently he arrived at something like a decision. d\f 5\Y  
'I think this is the way I went,--I am nearly sure it is.' h4#5j'RO  
He led the way, with something of an air of dubitation, and we followed. The road he had chosen seemed to lead to nothing and nowhere. We had not gone many yards from the workhouse gates before we were confronted by something like chaos. In front and on either side of us were large spaces of waste land. At some more or less remote period attempts appeared to have been made at brick- making,--there were untidy stacks of bilious-looking bricks in evidence. Here and there enormous weather-stained boards announced that 'This Desirable Land was to be Let for Building Purposes.' The road itself was unfinished. There was no pavement, and we had the bare uneven ground for sidewalk. It seemed, so far as I could judge, to lose itself in space, and to be swallowed up by the wilderness of 'Desirable Land' which lay beyond. In the near distance there were houses enough, and to spare--of a kind. But they were in other roads. In the one in which we actually were, on the right, at the end, there was a row of unfurnished carcases, but only two buildings which were in anything like a fit state for occupation. One stood on either side, not facing each other,-- there was a distance between them of perhaps fifty yards. The sight of them had a more exciting effect on Mr Holt than it had on me. He moved rapidly forward,--coming to a standstill in front of the one upon our left, which was the nearer of the pair. =pNkS1ey  
'This is the house!' he exclaimed. )fa  
He seemed almost exhilarated,--I confess that I was depressed. A more dismal-looking habitation one could hardly imagine. It was one of those dreadful jerry-built houses which, while they are still new, look old. It had quite possibly only been built a year or two, and yet, owing to neglect, or to poverty of construction, or to a combination of the two, it was already threatening to tumble down. It was a small place, a couple of storeys high, and would have been dear--I should think!--at thirty pounds a year. The windows had surely never been washed since the house was built,--those on the upper floor seemed all either cracked or broken. The only sign of occupancy consisted in the fact that a blind was down behind the window of the room on the ground floor. Curtains there were none. A low wall ran in front, which had apparently at one time been surmounted by something in the shape of an iron railing,--a rusty piece of metal still remained on one end; but, since there was only about a foot between it and the building, which was practically built upon the road,--whether the wall was intended to ensure privacy, or was merely for ornament, was not clear. n33SWE(  
"mOoGy, (  
'This is the house!' repeated Mr Holt, showing more signs of life than I had hitherto seen in him. ?G{fF H  
Sydney looked it up and down,--it apparently appealed to his aesthetic sense as little as it did to mine. CV6H~t'1  
'Are you sure?' `Ctj]t  
'I am certain.' Px8E~X<@  
_=MWt_A '3  
'It seems empty.' J 0 P  
'It seemed empty to me that night,--that is why I got into it in search of shelter.' H<;j&\$q  
H[ q{R  
'Which is the window which served you as a door?' DlI5} Jh  
'This one.' Mr Holt pointed to the window on the ground floor,-- the one which was screened by a blind. 'There was no sign of a blind when I first saw it, and the sash was up,--it was that which caught my eye.' Xkom@F~]  
Once more Sydney surveyed the place, in comprehensive fashion, from roof to basement,--then he scrutinisingly regarded Mr Holt. e-3pg?M  
3H#/u! W  
'You are quite sure this is the house? It might be awkward if you proved mistaken. I am going to knock at the door, and if it turns out that that mysterious acquaintance of yours does not, and never has lived here, we might find an explanation difficult.' .L5*E(<K0  
'I am sure it is the house,--certain! I know it,--I feel it here, --and here.' /z)3gsF  
Mr Holt touched his breast, and his forehead. His manner was distinctly odd. He was trembling, and a fevered expression had come into his eyes. Sydney glanced at him, for a moment, in silence. Then he bestowed his attention upon me. BsK|:MM]  
'May I ask if I may rely upon your preserving your presence of mind?' 4/HY[FT  
The mere question ruffled my plumes. Z7/vrME6  
'What do you mean?' I6K7!+;2  
'What I say. I am going to knock at that door, and I am going to get through it, somehow. It is quite within the range of possibility that, when I am through, there will be some strange happenings,--as you have heard from Mr Holt. The house is commonplace enough without; you may not find it so commonplace within. You may find yourself in a position in which it will be in the highest degree essential that you should keep your wits about you.' ~J%R-{U9  
'I am not likely to let them stray.' MO[c0n%  
P_Z M'[  
'Then that's all right.--Do I understand that you propose to come in with me?' J l\'V  
'Of course I do,--what do you suppose I've come for? What nonsense you are talking. ubi~%  
'I hope that you will still continue to consider it nonsense by the time this little adventure's done.' &8n?  
Q ?^4\_  
That I resented his impertinence goes without saying--to be talked to in such a strain by Sydney Atherton, whom I had kept in subjection ever since he was in knickerbockers, was a little trying,--but I am forced to admit that I was more impressed by his manner, or his words, or by Mr Holt's manner, or something, than I should have cared to own. I had not the least notion what was going to happen, or what horrors that woebegone-looking dwelling contained. But Mr Holt's story had been of the most astonishing sort, my experiences of the previous night were still fresh, and, altogether, now that I was in such close neighbourhood with the Unknown--with a capital U!--although it was broad daylight, it loomed before me in a shape for which,--candidly!--I was not prepared. toIYE*ocv=  
A more disreputable-looking front door I have not seen,--it was in perfect harmony with the remainder of the establishment. The paint was off; the woodwork was scratched and dented; the knocker was red with rust. When Sydney took it in his hand I was conscious of quite a little thrill. As he brought it down with a sharp rat-tat, I half expected to see the door fly open, and disclose some gruesome object glaring out at us. Nothing of the kind took place; the door did not budge,--nothing happened. Sydney waited a second or two, then knocked again; another second or two, then another knock. There was still no sign of any notice being taken of our presence. Sydney turned to Mr Holt. S3y246|4  
'Seems as if the place was empty.' f^e&hyC   
Mr Holt was in the most singular condition of agitation,--it made me uncomfortable to look at him. 0( //D;j  
; k}H(QI  
'You do not know,--you cannot tell; there may be someone there who hears and pays no heed.' ea~i-7  
'I'll give them another chance.' 6LM9e0oxy  
Sydney brought down the knocker with thundering reverberations. The din must have been audible half a mile away. But from within the house there was still no sign that any heard. Sydney came down the step. hr~.Lj5^W  
'I'll try another way,--I may have better fortune at the back.' A^L?_\e6  
He led the way round to the rear, Mr Holt and I following in single file. There the place seemed in worse case even than in the front. There were two empty rooms on the ground floor at the back,--there was no mistake about their being empty, without the slightest difficulty we could see right into them. One was apparently intended for a kitchen and wash-house combined, the other for a sitting-room. There was not a stick of furniture in either, nor the slightest sign of human habitation. Sydney commented on the fact. c dDY]"k  
'Not only is it plain that no one lives in these charming apartments, but it looks to me uncommonly as if no one ever had lived in them.' !"`Jqs  
To my thinking Mr Holt's agitation was increasing every moment. For some reason of his own, Sydney took no notice of it whatever, --possibly because he judged that to do so would only tend to make it worse. An odd change had even taken place in Mr Holt's voice,-- he spoke in a sort of tremulous falsetto. p?}f|mQS)  
'It was only the front room which I saw.' UP}feN  
'Very good; then, before very long, you shall see that front room again.' NKRaQ r  
Sydney rapped with his knuckles on the glass panels of the back door. He tried the handle; when it refused to yield he gave it a vigorous shaking. He saluted the dirty windows,--so far as succeeding in attracting attention was concerned, entirely in vain. Then he turned again to Mr Holt,--half mockingly. (J6" ;  
'I call you to witness that I have used every lawful means to gain the favourable notice of your mysterious friend. I must therefore beg to stand excused if I try something slightly unlawful for a change. It is true that you found the window already open; but, in my case, it soon will be.' utYnaeQcn  
He took a knife out of his pocket, and, with the open blade, forced back the catch,--as I am told that burglars do. Then he lifted the sash. mQwk!* U  
'Behold!' he exclaimed. 'What did I tell you?--Now, my dear Marjorie, if I get in first and Mr Holt gets in after me, we shall be in a position to open the door for you.' Q{J"`d2  
I immediately saw through his design. %8Z|/LGg  
~# hE&nq  
'No, Mr Atherton; you will get in first, and I will get in after you, through the window,--before Mr Holt. I don't intend to wait for you to open the door.' tKs4}vW  
By"^ Z`EP4  
Sydney raised his hands and opened his eyes, as if grieved at my want of confidence. But I did not mean to be left in the lurch, to wait their pleasure, while on pretence of opening the door, they searched the house. So Sydney climbed in first, and I second,--it was not a difficult operation, since the window-sill was under three feet from the ground--and Mr Holt last. Directly we were in, Sydney put his hand up to his mouth, and shouted. <750-d!  
W"}*Q -8W  
'Is there anybody in this house? If so, will he kindly step this way, as there is someone wishes to see him.' 2)I'5 ?I  
His words went echoing through the empty rooms in a way which was almost uncanny. I suddenly realised that if, after all, there did happen to be somebody in the house, and he was at all disagreeable, our presence on his premises might prove rather difficult to explain. However, no one answered. While I was waiting for Sydney to make the next move, he diverted my attention to Mr Holt. hk$nlc|$  
'Hollo, Holt, what's the matter with you? Man, don't play the fool like that!' ZT-45_  
Something was the matter with Mr Holt. He was trembling all over as if attacked by a shaking palsy. Every muscle in his body seemed twitching at once. A strained look had come on his face, which was not nice to see. He spoke as with an effort. b6$A@b  
:< 3;7R'5  
'I'm all right.--It's nothing.' 4~MUc!  
'Oh, is it nothing? Then perhaps you'll drop it. Where's that brandy?' I handed Sydney the flask. 'Here, swallow this.' %R"nm  
Mr Holt swallowed the cupful of neat spirit which Sydney offered without an attempt at parley. Beyond bringing some remnants of colour to his ashen cheeks it seemed to have no effect on him whatever. Sydney eyed him with a meaning in his glance which I was at a loss to understand. sTYl' Ieg  
'Listen to me, my lad. Don't think you can deceive me by playing any of your fool tricks, and don't delude yourself into supposing that I shall treat you as anything but dangerous if you do. I've got this.' He showed the revolver of papa's which I had lent him. 'Don't imagine that Miss Lindon's presence will deter me from using it.' }=)"uv  
Why he addressed Mr Holt in such a strain surpassed my comprehension. Mr Holt, however, evinced not the faintest symptoms of resentment,--he had become, on a sudden, more like an automaton than a man. Sydney continued to gaze at him as if he would have liked his glance to penetrate to his inmost soul. %-.GyG$i  
'Keep in front of me, if you please, Mr Holt, and lead the way to this mysterious apartment in which you claim to have had such a remarkable experience.' rXMv&]Ag  
Of me he asked in a whisper, Kj7Osqu2bE  
;4 &~i  
'Did you bring a revolver?' biJU r^n  
I was startled. W] lFwj  
'A revolver?--The idea!--How absurd you are!' A5z`3T;1  
Sydney said something which was so rude--and so uncalled for!-- that it was worthy of papa in his most violent moments. Q|;8\5  
'I'd sooner be absurd than a fool in petticoats.' I was so angry that I did not know what to say,--and before I could say it he went on. 'Keep your eyes and ears well open; be surprised at nothing you see or hear. Stick close to me. And for goodness sake remain mistress of as many of your senses as you conveniently can.' /JJU-A(  
3 l QGU  
I had not the least idea what was the meaning of it all. To me there seemed nothing to make such a pother about. And yet I was conscious of a fluttering of the heart as if there soon might be something, I knew Sydney sufficiently well to be aware that he was one of the last men in the world to make a fuss without reason,-- and that he was as little likely to suppose that there was a reason when as a matter of fact there was none. cl/}PmYIZ  
Mr Holt led the way, as Sydney desired--or, rather, commanded, to the door of the room which was in front of the house. The door was closed. Sydney tapped on a panel. All was silence. He tapped again. Te_%r9P|2  
'Anyone in there?' he demanded. ePLpGT  
As there was still no answer, he tried the handle. The door was locked. Nl$b;~ u  
'The first sign of the presence of a human being we have had,-- doors don't lock themselves. It's just possible that there may have been someone or something about the place, at some time or other, after all.' P1G;JK  
Grasping the handle firmly, he shook it with all his might,--as he had done with the door at the back. So flimsily was the place constructed that he made even the walls to tremble. |%$mN{  
'Within there!--if anyone is in there!--if you don't open this door, I shall.' `VXC*A   
There was no response. @R s3i;"W  
So be it!--I'm going to pursue my wild career of defiance of established law and order, and gain admission in one way, if I can't in another.' ofHe8a8  
Putting his right shoulder against the door, he pushed with his whole force. Sydney is a big man, and very strong, and the door was weak. Shortly, the lock yielded before the continuous pressure, and the door flew open. Sydney whistled. Gk2R:\/Y  
'So!--It begins to occur to me, Mr Holt, that that story of yours may not have been such pure romance as it seemed.' YMfjTt@Q  
l-G] jXu  
It was plain enough that, at any rate, this room had been occupied, and that recently,--and, if his taste in furniture could be taken as a test, by an eccentric occupant to boot. My own first impression was that there was someone, or something, living in it still,--an uncomfortable odour greeted our nostrils, which was suggestive of some evil-smelling animal. Sydney seemed to share my thought. ~qj09  
'A pretty perfume, on my word! Let's shed a little more light on the subject, and see what causes it. Marjorie, stop where you are until I tell you.' . vJlTg  
I had noticed nothing, from without, peculiar about the appearance of the blind which screened the window, but it must have been made of some unusually thick material, for, within, the room was strangely dark. Sydney entered, with the intention of drawing up the blind, but he had scarcely taken a couple of steps when he stopped. 5zf bI  
'What's that?' FMNT0  
'It's it,' said Mr Holt, in a voice which was so unlike his own that it was scarcely recognisable. 5I>a|I!j  
'It?--What do you mean by it?' qoAJcr2uN  
'The Beetle!' o@qI!?p&  
Judging from the sound of his voice Sydney was all at once in a state of odd excitement. ee*E:Ltz\  
$jN,] N~  
'Oh, is it!--Then, if this time I don't find out the how and the why and the wherefore of that charming conjuring trick, I'll give you leave to write me down an ass,--with a great, big A.'  `AxhA.&V  
He rushed farther into the room,--apparently his efforts to lighten it did not meet with the immediate success which he desired. O;~d ao  
'What's the matter with this confounded blind? There's no cord! How do you pull it up?--What the--' ESt@%7.F  
In the middle of his sentence Sydney ceased speaking. Suddenly Mr Holt, who was standing by my side on the threshold of the door, was seized with such a fit of trembling, that, fearing he was going to fall, I caught him by the arm. A most extraordinary look was on his face. His eyes were distended to their fullest width, as if with horror at what they saw in front of them. Great beads of perspiration were on his forehead. <|MF\D'  
'It's coming!' he screamed. GF=rGn@,)`  
Exactly what happened I do not know. But, as he spoke, I heard, proceeding from the room, the sound of the buzzing of wings. Instantly it recalled my experiences of the night before,--as it did so I was conscious of a most unpleasant qualm. Sydney swore a great oath, as if he were beside himself with rage. n,_q6/!  
'If you won't go up, you shall come down.' >2t.7UhDI  
I suppose, failing to find a cord, he seized the blind from below, and dragged it down,--it came, roller and all, clattering to the floor. The room was all in light. I hurried in. Sydney was standing by the window, with a look of perplexity upon his face which, under any other circumstances, would have been comical. He was holding papa's revolver in his hand, and was glaring round and round the room, as if wholly at a loss to understand how it was he did not see what he was looking for. f OasX!=  
{vq| 0t\-  
'Marjorie!' he exclaimed. 'Did you hear anything?' AP1&TQ,&  
'Of course I did. It was that which I heard last night,--which so frightened me.' WfD fj  
'Oh, was it? Then, by--' in his excitement he must have been completely oblivious of my presence, for he used the most terrible language, 'when I find it there'll be a small discussion. It can't have got out of the room,--I know the creature's here; I not only heard it, I felt it brush against my face.--Holt, come inside and shut that door.' >MGWN  
K Ax=C}9  
Mr Holt raised his arms, as if he were exerting himself to make a forward movement,--but he remained rooted to the spot on which he stood. "bIb?e2h9G  
'I can't!' he cried. 3uocAmY  
'You can't.'--Why?' 1'qXT{f/~  
'It won't let me.' \6|y~5Hw{r  
'What won't let you?' }ppApJT  
'The Beetle!' |KJGM1]G  
Sydney moved till he was close in front of him. He surveyed him with eager eyes. I was just at his back. I heard him murmur,-- possibly to me. c*owP  
'By George!--It's just as I thought!--The beggar's hypnotised!' eLH=PDdO  
#.FhN x  
Then he said aloud, =BD |uIR  
'Can you see it now?' 6/0bis H  
'Yes.' eV9,G8  
$b )k  
'Where?' A4)TJY 3g  
'Behind you.' >UXNR`?  
As Mr Holt spoke, I again heard, quite close to me, that buzzing sound. Sydney seemed to hear it too,--it caused him to swing round so quickly that he all but whirled me off my feet. 5p~hUP]tT  
'I beg your pardon, Marjorie, but this is of the nature of an unparalleled experience,--didn't you hear something then?' f'TEua_`  
Y} 6@ w  
'I did,--distinctly; it was close to me,--within an inch or two of my face.' HEw&'  
We stared about us, then back at each other,--there was nothing else to be seen. Sydney laughed, doubtfully. r-.>3J  
*"OUwEl a  
'It's uncommonly queer. I don't want to suggest that there are visions about, or I might suspect myself of softening of the brain. But--it's queer. There's a trick about it somewhere, I am convinced; and no doubt it's simple enough when you know how it's done,--but the difficulty is to find that out.--Do you think our friend over there is acting?' EC 1|$Co  
'He looks to me as if he were ill.' -0x Q'1I  
'He does look ill. He also looks as if he were hypnotised. If he is, it must be by suggestion,--and that's what makes me doubtful, because it will be the first plainly established case of hypnotism by suggestion I've encountered.--Holt!' oV0T   
T \uIXL?3  
'Yes.' uBx\xeI  
'That,' said Sydney in my ear, 'is the voice and that is the manner of a hypnotised man, but, on the other hand, a person under influence generally responds only to the hypnotist,--which is another feature about our peculiar friend which arouses my suspicions.' Then, aloud, 'Don't stand there like an idiot,--come inside.' DJ,LQj  
OB(o OPH  
Again Mr Holt made an apparently futile effort to do as he was bid. It was painful to look at him,--he was like a feeble, frightened, tottering child, who would come on, but cannot. H`CID*Ji  
'I can't.' pZnp!!G  
'No nonsense, my man! Do you think that this is a performance in a booth, and that I am to be taken in by all the humbug of the professional mesmerist? Do as I tell you,--come into the room.' oW3"J6,S  
There was a repetition, on Mr Holt's part, of his previous pitiful struggle; this time it was longer sustained than before,--but the result was the same. 76nH)^%l<  
'I can't!' he wailed. 8Y($ F2  
3c<aI =$^  
'Then I say you can,--and shall! If I pick you up, and carry you, perhaps you will not find yourself so helpless as you wish me to suppose.' 6!<I'M'[e  
9CD ei~  
Sydney moved forward to put his threat into execution. As he did so, a strange alteration took place in Mr Holt's demeanour. #:)'D?,  
限100 字节
各位家人朋友:如遇上传附件不成功,请更换使用 IE 浏览器!
上一个 下一个