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

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只看该作者 30楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day {bq-: CZe  
Chapter XXX. The Singular Behaviour of Mr Holt 7.1E mJ  
  I was standing in the middle of the room, Sydney was between the door and me; Mr Holt was in the hall, just outside the doorway, in which he, so to speak, was framed. As Sydney advanced towards him he was seized with a kind of convulsion,--he had to lean against the side of the door to save himself from falling. Sydney paused, and watched. The spasm went as suddenly as it came,--Mr Holt became as motionless as he had just now been the other way. He stood in an attitude of febrile expectancy,--his chin raised, his head thrown back, his eyes glancing upwards,--with the dreadful fixed glare which had come into them ever since we had entered the house. He looked to me as if his every faculty was strained in the act of listening,--not a muscle in his body seemed to move; he was as rigid as a figure carved in stone. Presently the rigidity gave place to what, to an onlooker, seemed causeless agitation. v]Q_  
'I hear!' he exclaimed, in the most curious voice I had ever heard. 'I come!' z ex.0OT;  
It was as though he was speaking to someone who was far away. Turning, he walked down the passage to the front door. [|O6n"'  
'Hollo!' cried Sydney. 'Where are you off to?' =W^L8!BE'  
We both of us hastened to see. He was fumbling with the latch; before we could reach him, the door was open, and he was through it. Sydney, rushing after him, caught him on the step and held him by the arm. \H12~=p`B  
'What's the meaning of this little caper?--Where do you think you're going now?' 0<k!F3=  
Mr Holt did not condescend to turn and look at him. He said, in the same dreamy, faraway, unnatural tone of voice,--and he kept his unwavering gaze fixed on what was apparently some distant object which was visible only to himself. ^gImb`<6-  
'I am going to him. He calls me.' ^Ue>T 8  
'Who calls you?' \RJ428sxn  
'The Lord of the Beetle.' Y%2<}3P  
Whether Sydney released his arm or not I cannot say. As he spoke, he seemed to me to slip away from Sydney's grasp. Passing through the gateway, turning to the right, he commenced to retrace his steps in the direction we had come. Sydney stared after him in unequivocal amazement. Then he looked at me. F9N)UW:w  
'Well!--this is a pretty fix!--now what's to be done?' 6s@'z<Ct  
'What's the matter with him?' I inquired. 'Is he mad?' 2Ck'A0d  
'There's method in his madness if he is. He's in the same condition in which he was that night I saw him come out of the Apostle's window.' Sydney has a horrible habit of calling Paul 'the Apostle'; I have spoken to him about it over and over again, --but my words have not made much impression. 'He ought to be followed,--he may be sailing off to that mysterious friend of his this instant.--But, on the other hand, he mayn't, and it may be nothing but a trick of our friend the conjurer's to get us away from this elegant abode of his. He's done me twice already, I don't want to be done again,--and I distinctly do not want him to return and find me missing. He's quite capable of taking the hint, and removing himself into the Ewigkeit,--when the clue to as pretty a mystery as ever I came across will have vanished.' EFSln*|  
'I can stay,' I said. Ni bOtIZ  
'You?--Alone?' Y5rR  
He eyed me doubtingly,--evidently not altogether relishing the proposition. JYQ.Y!X1O  
'Why not? You might send the first person you meet,--policeman, cabman, or whoever it is--to keep me company. It seems a pity now that we dismissed that cab.' bC[TLsh7{2  
'Yes, it does seem a pity.' Sydney was biting his lip. 'Confound that fellow! how fast he moves.' f?-=&||f78  
Mr Holt was already nearing the end of the road. =cy;{2S'p  
'If you think it necessary, by all means follow to see where he goes,--you are sure to meet somebody whom you will be able to send before you have gone very far.' mY+.(N7m  
'I suppose I shall.--You won't mind being left alone?' l}>gG[q!  
'bP-p gc  
'Why should I?--I'm not a child.' C7%+1w'D8  
Mr Holt, reaching the corner, turned it, and vanished out of sight. Sydney gave an exclamation of impatience. V7u;"vD  
'If I don't make haste I shall lose him. I'll do as you suggest-- dispatch the first individual I come across to hold watch and ward with you.' I,D24W4l  
'That'll be all right.' UOH2I+@V  
m5 r65=E  
He started off at a run,--shouting to me as he went. /10 I}3D  
`=^;q 6f  
'It won't be five minutes before somebody comes!' JPW+(n|g  
I waved my hand to him. I watched him till he reached the end of the road. Turning, he waved his hand to me. Then he vanished, as Mr Holt had done. S*~v9+  
And I was alone. C=2"*>lTn  

只看该作者 31楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book III. The Terror by Night and the Terror by Day U~nW>WJ+.  
Chapter XXXI. The Terror by Day l` M7a9*U  
V+yyy- /  
  My first impulse, after Sydney's disappearance, was to laugh. Why should he display anxiety on my behalf merely because I was to be the sole occupant of an otherwise empty house for a few minutes more or less,--and in broad daylight too! To say the least, the anxiety seemed unwarranted. E5EAk6  
I lingered at the gate, for a moment or two, wondering what was at the bottom of Mr Holt's singular proceedings, and what Sydney really proposed to gain by acting as a spy upon his wanderings. Then I turned to re-enter the house. As I did so, another problem suggested itself to my mind,--what connection, of the slightest importance, could a man in Paul Lessingham's position have with the eccentric being who had established himself in such an unsatisfactory dwelling-place? Mr Holt's story I had only dimly understood,--it struck me that it would require a deal of understanding. It was more like a farrago of nonsense, an outcome of delirium, than a plain statement of solid facts. To tell the truth, Sydney had taken it more seriously than I expected. He seemed to see something in it which I emphatically did not. What was double Dutch to me, seemed clear as print to him. So far as I could judge, he actually had the presumption to imagine that Paul --my Paul!--Paul Lessingham!--the great Paul Lessingham!--was mixed up in the very mysterious adventures of poor, weak-minded, hysterical Mr Holt, in a manner which was hardly to his credit. }1)tALA  
vXP+*5d/ K  
Of course, any idea of the kind was purely and simply balderdash. Exactly what bee Sydney had got in his bonnet, I could not guess. But I did know Paul. Only let me find myself face to face with the fantastic author of Mr Holt's weird tribulations, and I, a woman, single-handed, would do my best to show him that whoever played pranks with Paul Lessingham trifled with edged tools. [IgB78_$  
I had returned to that historical front room which, according to Mr Holt, had been the scene of his most disastrous burglarious entry. Whoever had furnished it had had original notions of the resources of modern upholstery. There was not a table in the place,--no chair or couch, nothing to sit down upon except the bed. On the floor there was a marvellous carpet which was apparently of eastern manufacture. It was so thick, and so pliant to the tread, that moving over it was like walking on thousand- year-old turf. It was woven in gorgeous colours, and covered with-- =%\y E0#  
When I discovered what it actually was covered with, I was conscious of a disagreeable sense of surprise. ,dG2[<?o  
It was covered with beetles! ncGg@$E  
jlf.~ vt  
All over it, with only a few inches of space between each, were representations of some peculiar kind of beetle,--it was the same beetle, over, and over, and over. The artist had woven his undesirable subject into the warp and woof of the material with such cunning skill that, as one continued to gaze, one began to wonder if by any possibility the creatures could be alive. xXCSaBS~  
In spite of the softness of the texture, and the art--of a kind!-- which had been displayed in the workmanship, I rapidly arrived at the conclusion that it was the most uncomfortable carpet I had ever seen. I wagged my finger at the repeated portrayals of the-- to me!--unspeakable insect. deRnP$u0  
'If I had discovered that you were there before Sydney went, I think it just possible that I should have hesitated before I let him go.' jjT|@\-u  
Y &G]M  
Then there came a revulsion of feeling. I shook myself. eSC69mfD  
'You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Marjorie Lindon, to even think such nonsense. Are you all nerves and morbid imaginings,-- you who have prided yourself on being so strong-minded! A pretty sort you are to do battle for anyone.--Why, they're only make- believes!' kOQq+_Y  
Half involuntarily, I drew my foot over one of the creatures. Of course, it was nothing but imagination; but I seemed to feel it squelch beneath my shoe. It was disgusting. 5W(S~}  
'Come!' I cried. 'This won't do! As Sydney would phrase it,--am I going to make an idiot of myself?'  <0,szw  
I turned to the window,--looking at my watch. =Wl*.%1 b  
'It's more than five minutes ago since Sydney went. That companion of mine ought to be already on the way. I'll go and see if he is coming.' H& #Od?  
6zQ {Y"0  
I went to the gate. There was not a soul in sight. It was with such a distinct sense of disappointment that I perceived this was so, that I was in two minds what to do. To remain where I was, looking, with gaping eyes, for the policeman, or the cabman, or whoever it was Sydney was dispatching to act as my temporary associate, was tantamount to acknowledging myself a simpleton,-- while I was conscious of a most unmistakable reluctance to return within the house. 728}K^7:  
Common sense, or what I took for common sense, however, triumphed, and, after loitering for another five minutes, I did go in again. $+IE`(Ckf  
This time, ignoring, to the best of my ability, the beetles on the floor, I proceeded to expend my curiosity--and occupy my thoughts --in an examination of the bed. It only needed a very cursory examination, however, to show that the seeming bed was, in reality, none at all,--or if it was a bed after the manner of the Easterns it certainly was not after the fashion of the Britons. There was no framework,--nothing to represent the bedstead. It was simply a heap of rugs piled apparently indiscriminately upon the floor. A huge mass of them there seemed to be; of all sorts, and shapes, and sizes,--and materials too. UXvk5t1  
The top one was of white silk,--in quality, exquisite. It was of huge size, yet, with a little compression, one might almost have passed it through the proverbial wedding ring. So far as space admitted I spread it out in front of me. In the middle was a picture,--whether it was embroidered on the substance or woven in it, I could not quite make out. Nor, at first, could I gather what it was the artist had intended to depict,--there was a brilliancy about it which was rather dazzling. By degrees, I realised that the lurid hues were meant for flames,--and, when one had got so far, one perceived that they were by no means badly imitated either. Then the meaning of the thing dawned on me,--it was a representation of a human sacrifice. In its way, as ghastly a piece of realism as one could see. St&xe_:^<  
JwbC3 t):@  
On the right was the majestic seated figure of a goddess. Her hands were crossed upon her knees, and she was naked from her waist upwards. I fancied it was meant for Isis. On her brow was perched a gaily-apparelled beetle--that ubiquitous beetle!-- forming a bright spot of colour against her coppery skin,--it was an exact reproduction of the creatures which were imaged on the carpet. In front of the idol was an enormous fiery furnace. In the very heart of the flames was an altar. On the altar was a naked white woman being burned alive. There could be no doubt as to her being alive, for she was secured by chains in such a fashion that she was permitted a certain amount of freedom, of which she was availing herself to contort and twist her body into shapes which were horribly suggestive of the agony which she was enduring,--the artist, indeed, seemed to have exhausted his powers in his efforts to convey a vivid impression of the pains which were tormenting her. pt;E~_  
'A pretty picture, on my word! A pleasant taste in art the garnitures of this establishment suggest! The person who likes to live with this kind of thing, especially as a covering to his bed, must have his own notions as to what constitute agreeable surroundings.' -0PT(gx  
As I continued staring at the thing, all at once it seemed as if the woman on the altar moved. It was preposterous, but she appeared to gather her limbs together, and turn half over. ~T>_}Q[M2p  
*DObtS_ 6  
'What can be the matter with me? Am I going mad? She can't be moving!' A;m)/@  
> n Y<J  
If she wasn't, then certainly something was,--she was lifted right into the air. An idea occurred to me. I snatched the rug aside. B-ReBtN  
M 8a^yoZn  
The mystery was explained! QCQku\GLV  
_"_ W KlN  
A thin, yellow, wrinkled hand was protruding from amidst the heap of rugs,--it was its action which had caused the seeming movement of the figure on the altar. I stared, confounded. The hand was followed by an arm; the arm by a shoulder; the shoulder by a head,--and the most awful, hideous, wicked-looking face I had ever pictured even in my most dreadful dreams. A pair of baleful eyes were glaring up at mine. '#gd19#  
r2H \B,_  
I understood the position in a flash of startled amazement. XlIRedZ{  
Sydney, in following Mr Holt, had started on a wild goose chase after all. I was alone with the occupant of that mysterious house,--the chief actor in Mr Holt's astounding tale. He had been hidden in the heap of rugs all the while. wjh[}rTV*  
3Tze`Q 9  

只看该作者 32楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit jdEqa$CXG  
Chapter XXXII. A New Client Z: e|~#  
kpQXnDm 2  
  On the afternoon of Friday, June 2, 18--, I was entering in my case-book some memoranda having reference to the very curious matter of the Duchess of Datchet's Deed-box. It was about two o'clock. Andrews came in and laid a card upon my desk. On it was inscribed 'Mr Paul Lessingham.' Vw P+tM  
7: cmBkXm  
'Show Mr Lessingham in.' <NVSF6`  
Andrews showed him in. I was, of course, familiar with Mr Lessingham's appearance, but it was the first time I had had with him any personal communication. He held out his hand to me. H;eGBVi  
'You are Mr Champnell?' Gl4(-e'b  
'I am.' DaA9fJ7a   
'I believe that I have not had the honour of meeting you before, Mr Champnell, but with your father, the Earl of Glenlivet, I have the pleasure of some acquaintance.' +b9gP\Hke  
I bowed. He looked at me, fixedly, as if he were trying to make out what sort of man I was. 'You are very young, Mr Champnell.' VV$$t;R/  
'I have been told that an eminent offender in that respect once asserted that youth is not of necessity a crime.' &nRbI:R  
'And you have chosen a singular profession,--one in which one hardly looks for juvenility.' V+Tu{fFF7E  
'You yourself, Mr Lessingham, are not old. In a statesman one expects grey hairs.--I trust that I am sufficiently ancient to be able to do you service.' XSv)=]{  
He smiled. @XSxoUF\  
'I think it possible. I have heard of you more than once, Mr Champnell, always to your advantage. My friend, Sir John Seymour, was telling me, only the other day, that you have recently conducted for him some business, of a very delicate nature, with much skill and tact; and he warmly advised me, if ever I found myself in a predicament, to come to you. I find myself in a predicament now.' HHMv%H]M  
$>M A  
Again I bowed. i( l'f#  
'A predicament, I fancy, of an altogether unparalleled sort. I take it that anything I may say to you will be as though it were said to a father confessor.' )&$Zt(  
'You may rest assured of that.' bLHj<AX#>|  
'Good.--Then, to make the matter clear to you I must begin by telling you a story,--if I may trespass on your patience to that extent. I will endeavour not to be more verbose than the occasion requires.' nVTCbV  
I offered him a chair, placing it in such a position that the light from the window would have shone full upon his face. With the calmest possible air, as if unconscious of my design, he carried the chair to the other side of my desk, twisting it right round before he sat on it,--so that now the light was at his back and on my face. Crossing his legs, clasping his hands about his knee, he sat in silence for some moments, as if turning something over in his mind. He glanced round the room. Y=oj0(Q*  
'I suppose, Mr Champnell, that some singular tales have been told in here.' gc:qqJi)X  
'Some very singular tales indeed. I am never appalled by singularity. It is my normal atmosphere.' (Al.hEs'  
'And yet I should be disposed to wager that you have never listened to so strange a story as that which I am about to tell you now. So astonishing, indeed, is the chapter in my life which I am about to open out to you, that I have more than once had to take myself to task, and fit the incidents together with mathematical accuracy in order to assure myself of its perfect truth.' y&\ J  
GmN} +(  
He paused. There was about his demeanour that suggestion of reluctance which I not uncommonly discover in individuals who are about to take the skeletons from their cupboards and parade them before my eyes. His next remark seemed to point to the fact that he perceived what was passing through my thoughts. DY?`Y%"  
'My position is not rendered easier by the circumstance that I am not of a communicative nature. I am not in sympathy with the spirit of the age which craves for personal advertisement. I hold that the private life even of a public man should be held inviolate. I resent, with peculiar bitterness, the attempts of prying eyes to peer into matters which, as it seems to me, concern myself alone. You must, therefore, bear with me, Mr Champnell, if I seem awkward in disclosing to you certain incidents in my career which I had hoped would continue locked in the secret depository of my own bosom, at any rate till I was carried to the grave. I am sure you will suffer me to stand excused if I frankly admit that it is only an irresistible chain of incidents which has constrained me to make of you a confidant.' BBnbXhxZ  
N%/Qc hu  
'My experience tells me, Mr Lessingham, that no one ever does come to me until they are compelled. In that respect I am regarded as something worse even than a medical man.' I5>HB;Q  
A wintry smile flitted across his features,--it was clear that he regarded me as a good deal worse than a medical man. Presently he began to tell me one of the most remarkable tales which even I had heard. As he proceeded I understood how strong, and how natural, had been his desire for reticence. On the mere score of credibility he must have greatly preferred to have kept his own counsel. For my part I own, unreservedly, that I should have deemed the tale incredible had it been told me by Tom, Dick, or Harry, instead of by Paul Lessingham. [zn`vT  
;S"^O AM  

只看该作者 33楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit =#Z+WD-E  
Chapter XXXIII. What Came of Looking Through a Lattice h}U>K4BJ  
  He began in accents which halted not a little. By degrees his voice grew firmer. Words came from him with greater fluency. bs_< UE  
'I am not yet forty. So when I tell you that twenty years ago I was a mere youth I am stating what is a sufficiently obvious truth. It is twenty years ago since the events of which I am going to speak transpired. q\/xx`L  
r2\ }_pIj  
'I lost both my parents when I was quite a lad, and by their death I was left in a position in which I was, to an unusual extent in one so young, my own master. I was ever of a rambling turn of mind, and when, at the mature age of eighteen, I left school, I decided that I should learn more from travel than from sojourn at a university. So, since there was no one to say me nay, instead of going either to Oxford or Cambridge, I went abroad. After a few months I found myself in Egypt,--I was down with fever at Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo. I had caught it by drinking polluted water during an excursion with some Bedouins to Palmyra. Pf~0JNnc  
'When the fever had left me I went out one night into the town in search of amusement. I went, unaccompanied, into the native quarter, not a wise thing to do, especially at night, but at eighteen one is not always wise, and I was weary of the monotony of the sick-room, and eager for something which had in it a spice of adventure, I found myself in a street which I have reason to believe is no longer existing. It had a French name, and was called the Rue de Rabagas,--I saw the name on the corner as I turned into it, and it has left an impress on the tablets of my memory which is never likely to be obliterated. b/4gs62{k  
'It was a narrow street, and, of course, a dirty one, ill-lit, and, apparently, at the moment of my appearance, deserted. I had gone, perhaps, half-way down its tortuous length, blundering more than once into the kennel, wondering what fantastic whim had brought me into such unsavoury quarters, and what would happen to me if, as seemed extremely possible, I lost my way. On a sudden my ears were saluted by sounds which proceeded from a house which I was passing,--sounds of music and of singing. P d(n|t3[8  
'I paused. I stood awhile to listen. 73M;-qnU  
t aOsC! Bp  
'There was an open window on my right, which was screened by latticed blinds. From the room which was behind these blinds the sounds were coming. Someone was singing, accompanied by an instrument resembling a guitar,--singing uncommonly well.' L G9#D  
Mr Lessingham stopped. A stream of recollection seemed to come flooding over him. A dreamy look came into his eyes. N,_ej@L8  
'I remember it all as clearly as if it were yesterday. How it all comes back,--the dirty street, the evil smells, the imperfect light, the girl's voice filling all at once the air. It was a girl's voice,--full, and round, and sweet; an organ seldom met with, especially in such a place as that. She sang a little chansonnette, which, just then, half Europe was humming,--it occurred in an opera which they were acting at one of the Boulevard theatres,--"La P'tite Voyageuse." The effect, coming so unexpectedly, was startling. I stood and heard her to an end. h?YjG^'9  
Pe wPl0  
'Inspired by I know not what impulse of curiosity, when the song was finished, I moved one of the lattice blinds a little aside, so as to enable me to get a glimpse of the singer. I found myself looking into what seemed to be a sort of cafe,--one of those places which are found all over the Continent, in which women sing in order to attract custom. There was a low platform at one end of the room, and on it were seated three women. One of them had evidently just been accompanying her own song,--she still had an instrument of music in her hands, and was striking a few idle notes. The other two had been acting as audience. They were attired in the fantastic apparel which the women who are found in such places generally wear. An old woman was sitting knitting in a corner, whom I took to be the inevitable patronne. With the exception of these four the place was empty. V!U[N.&$  
'They must have heard me touch the lattice, or seen it moving, for no sooner did I glance within than the three pairs of eyes on the platform were raised and fixed on mine. The old woman in the corner alone showed no consciousness of my neighbourhood. We eyed one another in silence for a second or two. Then the girl with the harp,--the instrument she was manipulating proved to be fashioned more like a harp than a guitar--called out to me, uU\iji\  
'"Entrez, monsieur!--Soye le bienvenu!" eBV{B70k  
'I was a little tired. Rather curious as to whereabouts I was,-- the place struck me, even at that first momentary glimpse, as hardly in the ordinary line of that kind of thing. And not unwilling to listen to a repetition of the former song, or to another sung by the same singer. dmy-}.pqN  
'"On condition," I replied, "that you sing me another song." 77d`N  
'"Ah, monsieur, with the greatest pleasure in the world I will sing you twenty." t} i97;  
'She was almost, if not quite, as good as her word. She entertained me with song after song. I may safely say that I have seldom if ever heard melody more enchanting. All languages seemed to be the same to her. She sang in French and Italian, German and English,--in tongues with which I was unfamiliar. It was in these Eastern harmonies that she was most successful. They were indescribably weird and thrilling, and she delivered them with a verve and sweetness which was amazing. I sat at one of the little tables with which the room was dotted, listening entranced. PT#eXS9_  
L> Oy7w)Y  
'Time passed more rapidly than I supposed. While she sang I sipped the liquor with which the old woman had supplied me. So enthralled was I by the display of the girl's astonishing gifts that I did not notice what it was I was drinking. Looking back I can only surmise that it was some poisonous concoction of the creature's own. That one small glass had on me the strangest effect. I was still weak from the fever which I had only just succeeded in shaking off, and that, no doubt, had something to do with the result. But, as I continued to sit, I was conscious that I was sinking into a lethargic condition, against which I was incapable of struggling. i=1 }lk q  
4", )zDk  
'After a while the original performer ceased her efforts, and, her companions taking her place, she came and joined me at the little table. Looking at my watch I was surprised to perceive the lateness of the hour. I rose to leave. She caught me by the wrist. i'!jx.  
'"Do not go," she said;--she spoke English of a sort, and with the queerest accent. "All is well with you. Rest awhile." 7szls71/=  
'You will smile,--I should smile, perhaps, were I the listener instead of you, but it is the simple truth that her touch had on me what I can only describe as a magnetic influence. As her fingers closed upon my wrist, I felt as powerless in her grasp as if she held me with bands of steel. What seemed an invitation was virtually a command. I had to stay whether I would or wouldn't. She called for more liquor, and at what again was really her command I drank of it. I do not think that after she touched my wrist I uttered a word. She did all the talking. And, while she talked, she kept her eyes fixed on my face. Those eyes of hers! They were a devil's. I can positively affirm that they had on me a diabolical effect. They robbed me of my consciousness, of my power of volition, of my capacity to think,--they made me as wax in her hands. My last recollection of that fatal night is of her sitting in front of me, bending over the table, stroking my wrist with her extended fingers, staring at me with her awful eyes. After that, a curtain seems to descend. There comes a period of oblivion.' R'G'&H{N  
Mr Lessingham ceased. His manner was calm and self-contained enough; but, in spite of that I could see that the mere recollection of the things which he told me moved his nature to its foundations. There was eloquence in the drawn lines about his mouth, and in the strained expression of his eyes. DeA@0HOxh  
So far his tale was sufficiently commonplace. Places such as the one which he described abound in the Cairo of to-day; and many are the Englishmen who have entered them to their exceeding bitter cost. With that keen intuition which has done him yeoman's service in the political arena, Mr Lessingham at once perceived the direction my thoughts were taking. E evw*;$x  
'You have heard this tale before?--No doubt. And often. The traps are many, and the fools and the unwary are not a few. The singularity of my experience is still to come. You must forgive me if I seem to stumble in the telling. I am anxious to present my case as baldly, and with as little appearance of exaggeration as possible. I say with as little appearance, for some appearance of exaggeration I fear is unavoidable. My case is so unique, and so out of the common run of our every-day experience, that the plainest possible statement must smack of the sensational. ly[lrD0Kn.  
'As, I fancy, you have guessed, when understanding returned to me, I found myself in an apartment with which I was unfamiliar. I was lying, undressed, on a heap of rugs in a corner of a low-pitched room which was furnished in a fashion which, when I grasped the details, filled me with amazement. By my side knelt the Woman of the Songs. Leaning over, she wooed my mouth with kisses. I cannot describe to you the sense of horror and of loathing with which the contact of her lips oppressed me. There was about her something so unnatural, so inhuman, that I believe even then I could have destroyed her with as little sense of moral turpitude as if she had been some noxious insect. %7 /,m  
'"Where am I?" I exclaimed. p(?g-  
F 3s?&T)[G  
'"You are with the children of Isis," she replied. What she meant I did not know, and do not to this hour. "You are in the hands of the great goddess,--of the mother of men." t#~XLCE  
5k~\or 5_  
'"How did I come here?" Qt~B#R. V  
'"By the loving kindness of the great mother." l?<q YjI  
'I do not, of course, pretend to give you the exact text of her words, but they were to that effect. kfRJ\"`   
'Half raising myself on the heap of rugs, I gazed about me,--and was astounded at what I saw. j C9<hLt  
'The place in which I was, though the reverse of lofty, was of considerable size,--I could not conceive whereabouts it could be. The walls and roof were of bare stone,--as though the whole had been hewed out of the solid rock. It seemed to be some sort of temple, and was redolent with the most extraordinary odour. An altar stood about the centre, fashioned out of a single block of stone. On it a fire burned with a faint blue flame,--the fumes which rose from it were no doubt chiefly responsible for the prevailing perfumes. Behind it was a huge bronze figure, more than life size. It was in a sitting posture, and represented a woman. Although it resembled no portrayal of her I have seen either before or since, I came afterwards to understand that it was meant for Isis. On the idol's brow was poised a beetle. That the creature was alive seemed clear, for, as I looked at it, it opened and shut its wings. . rRc  
'If the one on the forehead of the goddess was the only live beetle which the place contained, it was not the only representation. It was modelled in the solid stone of the roof, and depicted in flaming colours on hangings which here and there were hung against the walls. Wherever the eye turned it rested on a scarab. The effect was bewildering. It was as though one saw things through the distorted glamour of a nightmare. I asked myself if I were not still dreaming; if my appearance of consciousness were not after all a mere delusion; if I had really regained my senses. x>'?IJZ  
'And, here, Mr Champnell, I wish to point out, and to emphasise the fact, that I am not prepared to positively affirm what portion of my adventures in that extraordinary, and horrible place, was actuality, and what the product of a feverish imagination. Had I been persuaded that all I thought I saw, I really did see, I should have opened my lips long ago, let the consequences to myself have been what they might. But there is the crux. The happenings were of such an incredible character, and my condition was such an abnormal one,--I was never really myself from the first moment to the last--that I have hesitated, and still do hesitate, to assert where, precisely, fiction ended and fact began. N.ItyV  
mg/C Ux  
'With some misty notion of testing my actual condition I endeavoured to get off the heap of rugs on which I reclined. As I did so the woman at my side laid her hand against my chest, lightly. But, had her gentle pressure been the equivalent of a ton of iron, it could not have been more effectual. I collapsed, sank back upon the rugs, and lay there, panting for breath, wondering if I had crossed the border line which divides madness from sanity. TZvBcNi   
'"Let me get up!--let me go!" I gasped. NUxAv= xl  
'"Nay," she murmured, "stay with me yet awhile, O my beloved." ^QHMN 7r/  
'And again she kissed me.' JD\-X(O  
=jd=Qs IL  
Once more Mr Lessingham paused. An involuntary shudder went all over him. In spite of the evidently great effort which he was making to retain his self-control his features were contorted by an anguished spasm. For some seconds he seemed at a loss to find words to enable him to continue. gS o(PW)  
 ,8 NEnB  
When he did go on, his voice was harsh and strained. ML"P"&~u6  
'I am altogether incapable of even hinting to you the nauseous nature of that woman's kisses. They filled me with an indescribable repulsion. I look back at them with a feeling of physical, mental, and moral horror, across an interval of twenty years. The most dreadful part of it was that I was wholly incapable of offering even the faintest resistance to her caresses. I lay there like a log. She did with me as she would, and in dumb agony I endured.' AFJY!ou~6  
He took his handkerchief from his pocket, and, although the day was cool, with it he wiped the perspiration from his brow. Z-!T(:E]  
'To dwell in detail on what occurred during my involuntary sojourn in that fearful place is beyond my power. I cannot even venture to attempt it. The attempt, were it made, would be futile, and, to me, painful beyond measure. I seem to have seen all that happened as in a glass darkly,--with about it all an element of unreality. As I have already remarked, the things which revealed themselves, dimly, to my perception, seemed too bizarre, too hideous, to be true.  p ivS8C  
'It was only afterwards, when I was in a position to compare dates, that I was enabled to determine what had been the length of my imprisonment. It appears that I was in that horrible den more than two months,--two unspeakable months. And the whole time there were comings and goings, a phantasmagoric array of eerie figures continually passed to and fro before my hazy eyes. What I judge to have been religious services took place; in which the altar, the bronze image, and the beetle on its brow, figure largely. Not only were they conducted with a bewildering confusion of mysterious rites, but, if my memory is in the least degree trustworthy, they were orgies of nameless horrors. I seem to have seen things take place at them at the mere thought of which the brain reels and trembles. gK#w$s50  
'Indeed it is in connection with the cult of the obscene deity to whom these wretched creatures paid their scandalous vows that my most awful memories seem to have been associated. It may have been--I hope it was, a mirage born of my half delirious state, but it seemed to me that they offered human sacrifices.' 3F1Z$d(  
-E7\ .K3  
When Mr Lessingham said this, I pricked up my ears. For reasons of my own, which will immediately transpire, I had been wondering if he would make any reference to a human sacrifice. He noted my display of interest,--but misapprehended the cause. ]!N5jbA@  
'I see you start, I do not wonder. But I repeat that unless I was the victim of some extraordinary species of double sight--in which case the whole business would resolve itself into the fabric of a dream, and I should indeed thank God!--I saw, on more than one occasion, a human sacrifice offered on that stone altar, presumably to the grim image which looked down on it. And, unless I err, in each case the sacrificial object was a woman, stripped to the skin, as white as you or I,--and before they burned her they subjected her to every variety of outrage of which even the minds of demons could conceive. More than once since then I have seemed to hear the shrieks of the victims ringing through the air, mingled with the triumphant cries of her frenzied murderers, and the music of their harps. R|suBF3  
'It was the cumulative horrors of such a scene which gave me the strength, or the courage, or the madness, I know not which it was, to burst the bonds which bound me, and which, even in the bursting, made of me, even to this hour, a haunted man. >b?,zWiw  
P ,i)A  
'There had been a sacrifice,--unless, as I have repeatedly observed, the whole was nothing but a dream. A woman--a young and lovely Englishwoman, if I could believe the evidence of my own eyes, had been outraged, and burnt alive, while I lay there helpless, looking on. The business was concluded. The ashes of the victim had been consumed by the participants. The worshippers had departed. I was left alone with the woman of the songs, who apparently acted as the guardian of that worse than slaughterhouse. She was, as usual after such an orgie, rather a devil than a human being, drunk with an insensate frenzy, delirious with inhuman longings. As she approached to offer to me her loathed caresses, I was on a sudden conscious of something which I had not felt before when in her company. It was as though something had slipped away from me,--some weight which had oppressed me, some bond by which I had been bound. I was aroused, all at once, to a sense of freedom; to a knowledge that the blood which coursed through my veins was after all my own, that I was master of my own honour. _ehU:3L`s  
'I can only suppose that through all those weeks she had kept me there in a state of mesmeric stupor. That, taking advantage of the weakness which the fever had left behind, by the exercise of her diabolical arts, she had not allowed me to pass out of a condition of hypnotic trance. Now, for some reason, the cord was loosed. Possibly her absorption in her religious duties had caused her to forget to tighten it. Anyhow, as she approached me, she approached a man, and one who, for the first time for many a day, was his own man. She herself seemed wholly unconscious of anything of the kind. As she drew nearer to me, and nearer, she appeared to be entirely oblivious of the fact that I was anything but the fibreless, emasculated creature which, up to that moment, she had made of me. I@hC$o  
'But she knew it when she touched me,--when she stooped to press her lips to mine. At that instant the accumulating rage which had been smouldering in my breast through all those leaden torturing hours, sprang into flame. Leaping off my couch of rugs, I flung my hands about her throat,--and then she knew I was awake. Then she strove to tighten the cord which she had suffered to become unduly loose. Her baleful eyes were fixed on mine. I knew that she was putting out her utmost force to trick me of my manhood. But I fought with her like one possessed, and I conquered--in a fashion. I compressed her throat with my two hands as with an iron vice. I knew that I was struggling for more than life, that the odds were all against me, that I was staking my all upon the casting of a die,--I stuck at nothing which could make me victor. C6Kz6_DQZ  
< *XC`Ii  
'Tighter and tighter my pressure grew,--I did not stay to think if I was killing her--till on a sudden--' C5eol &  
.fZv H  
Mr Lessingham stopped. He stared with fixed, glassy eyes, as if the whole was being re-enacted in front of him. His voice faltered. I thought he would break down. But, with an effort, he continued. hI?<F^b  
G"J6X e  
'On a sudden, I felt her slipping from between my fingers. Without the slightest warning, in an instant she had vanished, and where, not a moment before, she herself had been, I found myself confronting a monstrous beetle,--a huge, writhing creation of some wild nightmare. ]ImS@!Ajjx  
'At first the creature stood as high as I did. But, as I stared at it, in stupefied amazement,--as you may easily imagine,--the thing dwindled while I gazed. I did not stop to see how far the process of dwindling continued,--a stark raving madman for the nonce, I fled as if all the fiends in hell were at my heels.' u,&Z5S  

只看该作者 34楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit h; ?=:(  
Chapter XXXIV. After Twenty Years <Yif-9  
  'How I reached the open air I cannot tell you,--I do not know. I have a confused recollection of rushing through vaulted passages, through endless corridors, of trampling over people who tried to arrest my passage,--and the rest is blank. u By[x 0  
J" :R,w`  
'When I again came to myself I was lying in the house of an American missionary named Clements. I had been found, at early dawn, stark naked, in a Cairo street, and picked up for dead. Judging from appearances I must have wandered for miles, all through the night. Whence I had come, or whither I was going, none could tell,--I could not tell myself. For weeks I hovered between life and death. The kindness of Mr and Mrs Clements was not to be measured by words. I was brought to their house a penniless, helpless, battered stranger, and they gave me all they had to offer, without money and without price,--with no expectation of an earthly reward. Let no one pretend that there is no Christian charity under the sun. The debt I owed that man and woman I was never able to repay. Before I was properly myself again, and in a position to offer some adequate testimony of the gratitude I felt, Mrs Clements was dead, drowned during an excursion on the Nile' and her husband had departed on a missionary expedition into Central Africa, from which he never returned. l6kqP  
'Although, in a measure, my physical health returned, for months after I had left the roof of my hospitable hosts, I was in a state of semi-imbecility. I suffered from a species of aphasia. For days together I was speechless, and could remember nothing,--not even my own name. And, when that stage had passed, and I began to move more freely among my fellows, for years I was but a wreck of my former self. I was visited, at all hours of the day and night, by frightful--I know not whether to call them visions, they were real enough to me, but since they were visible to no one but myself, perhaps that is the word which best describes them. Their presence invariably plunged me into a state of abject terror, against which I was unable to even make a show of fighting. To such an extent did they embitter my existence, that I voluntarily placed myself under the treatment of an expert in mental pathology. For a considerable period of time I was under his constant supervision, but the visitations were as inexplicable to him as they were to me. hW~XE{<  
'By degrees, however, they became rarer and rarer, until at last I flattered myself that I had once more become as other men. After an interval, to make sure, I devoted myself to politics. Thenceforward I have lived, as they phrase it, in the public eye. Private life, in any peculiar sense of the term, I have had none.' Q)lN7oD  
Mr Lessingham ceased. His tale was not uninteresting, and, to say the least of it, was curious. But I still was at a loss to understand what it had to do with me, or what was the purport of his presence in my room. Since he remained silent, as if the matter, so far as he was concerned, was at an end, I told him so. nD5+&M0  
'I presume, Mr Lessingham, that all this is but a prelude to the play. At present I do not see where it is that I come in.' 7 ~9Lj  
Still for some seconds he was silent. When he spoke his voice was grave and sombre, as if he were burdened by a weight of woe. XbYST%| .  
'Unfortunately, as you put it, all this has been but a prelude to the play. Were it not so I should not now stand in such pressing want of the services of a confidential agent,--that is, of an experienced man of the world, who has been endowed by nature with phenomenal perceptive faculties, and in whose capacity and honour I can place the completest confidence.' {D`_q|  
n,*E s/\  
I smiled,--the compliment was a pointed one. VmP5`):?b  
'I hope your estimate of me is not too high.' O_^ uLp  
+{[E Ow  
'I hope not,--for my sake, as well as for your own. I have heard great things of you. If ever man stood in need of all that human skill and acumen can do for him, I certainly am he.' i$dF0.}Q  
His words aroused my curiosity. I was conscious of feeling more interested than heretofore. ^9 {r2d&c  
'I will do my best for you. Man can do no more. Only give my best a trial.' DY!mq91  
'I will. At once.' B#9T6|2  
He looked at me long and earnestly. Then, leaning forward, he said, lowering his voice perhaps unconsciously, o4g<[X)  
'The fact is, Mr Champnell, that quite recently events have happened which threaten to bridge the chasm of twenty years, and to place me face to face with that plague spot of the past. At this moment I stand in imminent peril of becoming again the wretched thing I was when I fled from that den of all the devils. It is to guard me against this that I have come to you. I want you to unravel the tangled thread which threatens to drag me to my doom,--and, when unravelled to sunder it--for ever, if God wills! --in twain.' 6!}tmdzR  
'Explain.' VT\o=3 _  
To be frank, for the moment I thought him mad. He went on. WIo^=?%  
'Three weeks ago, when I returned late one night from a sitting in the House of Commons, I found, on my study table, a sheet of paper on which there was a representation--marvellously like!--of the creature into which, as it seemed to me, the woman of the songs was transformed as I clutched her throat between my hands. The mere sight of it brought back one of those visitations of which I have told you, and which I thought I had done with for ever,--I was convulsed by an agony of fear, thrown into a state approximating to a paralysis both of mind and body.' $qy%Q]  
'But why?' %`HAg MgP  
'I cannot tell you. I only know that I have never dared to allow my thoughts to recur to that last dread scene, lest the mere recurrence should drive me mad.' zOCru2/  
65\'(99y U  
'What was this you found upon your study table,--merely a drawing?' g a? .7F  
'It was a representation, produced by what process I cannot say, which was so wonderfully, so diabolically, like the original, that for a moment I thought the thing itself was on my table.' casva;  
'Who put it there?' h+<vWo}H  
'That is precisely what I wish you to find out,--what I wish you to make it your instant business to ascertain. I have found the thing, under similar circumstances, on three separate occasions, on my study table,--and each time it has had on me the same hideous effect.' aO8n\'bv  
'Each time after you have returned from a late sitting in the House of Commons?'  PL"u^G`  
'Exactly.' IKo,P$ PE  
'Where are these--what shall I call them--delineations?' c)`=wDi  
'That, again, I cannot tell you.' e;8nujdG"  
'What do you mean?' G`r/ tesW  
'What I say. Each time, when I recovered, the thing had vanished.' (R]b'3,E$  
'Sheet of paper and all?' $O9,Gvnxx  
'Apparently,--though on that point I could not be positive. You will understand that my study table is apt to be littered with sheets of paper, and I could not absolutely determine that the thing had not stared at me from one of those. The delineation itself, to use your word, certainly had vanished.' 6tN!]  
x%%OgO +>  
I began to suspect that this was a case rather for a doctor than for a man of my profession. And hinted as much. et}%E9  
'Don't you think it is possible, Mr Lessingham, that you have been overworking yourself--that you have been driving your brain too hard, and that you have been the victim of an optical delusion?' i]}`e>fF  
'I thought so myself; I may say that I almost hoped so. But wait till I have finished. You will find that there is no loophole in that direction.' ?C(3TKH  
Z \>mAtm  
He appeared to be recalling events in their due order. His manner was studiously cold,--as if he were endeavouring, despite the strangeness of his story, to impress me with the literal accuracy of each syllable he uttered. 9y?)Ga  
'The night before last, on returning home, I found in my study a stranger.' 'a G`qPB  
'A stranger?' Qrw:Bva)  
UB w*}p  
'Yes.--In other words, a burglar.' %ZX3:2  
'A burglar?--I see.--Go on.'  CP Ju=  
He had paused. His demeanour was becoming odder and odder. Li9>RY+3  
'On my entry he was engaged in forcing an entry into my bureau. I need hardly say that I advanced to seize him. But--I could not.' S2EV[K8#  
FBa- gm<9  
'You could not?--How do you mean you could not?' {dlG3P='`f  
6n H'NNS:J  
'I mean simply what I say. You must understand that this was no ordinary felon. Of what nationality he was I cannot tell you. He only uttered two words, and they were certainly in English, but apart from that he was dumb. He wore no covering on his head or feet. Indeed, his only garment was a long dark flowing cloak which, as it fluttered about him, revealed that his limbs were bare.' KBA& s  
'An unique costume for a burglar.' g|j15&x  
W9S6 SO^\  
'The instant I saw him I realised that he was in some way connected with that adventure in the Rue de Rabagas. What he said and did, proved it to the hilt.' r-a0XNS*  
% zO>]f&  
'What did he say and do?' 7c8`D;A-K  
'As I approached to effect his capture, he pronounced aloud two words which recalled that awful scene the recollection of which always lingers in my brain, and of which I never dare to permit myself to think. Their very utterance threw me into a sort of convulsion.' V(Cxd.u   
w }8=sw  
'What were the words?' X|L_}Q7  
Mr Lessingham opened his mouth,--and shut it. A marked change took place in the expression of his countenance. His eyes became fixed and staring,--resembling the glassy orbs of the somnambulist. For a moment I feared that he was going to give me an object lesson in the 'visitations' of which I had heard so much. I rose, with a view of offering him assistance. He motioned me back. ~`5[Li:eP  
'Thank you.--It will pass away.' :4pO/I ~  
His voice was dry and husky,--unlike his usual silvern tones. After an uncomfortable interval he managed to continue. lPz5.(5'  
'You see for yourself, Mr Champnell, what a miserable weakling, when this subject is broached, I still remain. I cannot utter the words the stranger uttered, I cannot even write them down. For some inscrutable reason they have on me an effect similar to that which spells and incantations had on people in tales of witchcraft.' zrur-i$N+  
'I suppose, Mr Lessingham, that there is no doubt that this mysterious stranger was not himself an optical delusion?' {7o|*M  
'Scarcely. There is the evidence of my servants to prove the contrary.' X2p9KC  
bPtbU :G  
'Did your servants see him?' nzHsyL  
'Some of them,--yes. Then there is the evidence of the bureau. The fellow had smashed the top right in two. When I came to examine the contents I learned that a packet of letters was missing. They were letters which I had received from Miss Lindon, a lady whom I hope to make my wife. This, also, I state to you in confidence.' 'i|z>si[*  
%<q l  
'What use would he be likely to make of them?' qsUlfv9L6  
'If matters stand as I fear they do, he might make a very serious misuse of them. If the object of these wretches, after all these years, is a wild revenge, they would be capable, having discovered what she is to me, of working Miss Lindon a fatal mischief,--or, at the very least, of poisoning her mind.' g_}r)CgG|  
'I see.--How did the thief escape,--did he, like the delineation, vanish into air?' :cop0;X:Wm  
'He escaped by the much more prosaic method of dashing through the drawing-room window, and clambering down from the verandah into the street, where he ran right into someone's arms.' Y:]~~-f\~  
'Into whose arms,--a constable's?' {LbNKjn  
'No; into Mr Atherton's,--Sydney Atherton's.' C[gCwDwl  
'The inventor?' f%` =>l  
'The same.--Do you know him?' O $'# 8  
:f G5?])  
'I do. Sydney Atherton and I are friends of a good many years' standing.--But Atherton must have seen where he came from;--and, anyhow, if he was in the state of undress which you have described, why didn't he stop him?' X]8(_[Y  
'Mr Atherton's reasons were his own. He did not stop him, and, so far as I can learn, he did not attempt to stop him. Instead, he knocked at my hall door to inform me that he had seen a man climb out of my window.' Su?e\7aj  
'I happen to know that, at certain seasons, Atherton is a queer fish,--but that sounds very queer indeed.' `_aX>fw  
'The truth is, Mr Champnell, that, if it were not for Mr Atherton, I doubt if I should have troubled you even now. The accident of his being an acquaintance of yours makes my task easier.' R [ZY;g:p  
= N&5]Z  
He drew his chair closer to me with an air of briskness which had been foreign to him before. For some reason, which I was unable to fathom, the introduction of Atherton's name seemed to have enlivened him. However, I was not long to remain in darkness. In half a dozen sentences he threw more light on the real cause of his visit to me than he had done in all that had gone before. His bearing, too, was more businesslike and to the point. For the first time I had some glimmerings of the politician,--alert, keen, eager,--as he is known to all the world. 3Ccy %;  
F r!FV4  
'Mr Atherton, like myself, has been a postulant for Miss Lindon's hand. Because I have succeeded where he has failed, he has chosen to be angry. It seems that he has had dealings, either with my visitor of Tuesday night, or with some other his acquaintance, and he proposes to use what he has gleaned from him to the disadvantage of my character. I have just come from Mr Atherton. From hints he dropped I conclude that, probably during the last few hours, he has had an interview with someone who was connected in some way with that lurid patch in my career; that this person made so-called revelations, which were nothing but a series of monstrous lies; and these so-called revelations Mr Atherton has threatened, in so many words, to place before Miss Lindon, That is an eventuality which I wish to avoid. My own conviction is that there is at this moment in London an emissary from that den in the whilom Rue de Rabagas--for all I know it may be the Woman of the Songs herself. Whether the sole purport of this individual's presence is to do me injury, I am, as yet, in no position to say, but that it is proposed to work me mischief, at any rate, by the way, is plain. I believe that Mr Atherton knows more about this person's individuality and whereabouts than he has been willing, so far, to admit. I want you, therefore, to ascertain these things on my behalf; to find out what, and where, this person is, to drag her!--or him;--out into the light of day. In short, I want you to effectually protect me from the terrorism which threatens once more to overwhelm my mental and my physical powers,--which bids fair to destroy my intellect, my career, my life, my all.' fy]c=:EmD  
'What reason have you for suspecting that Mr Atherton has seen this individual of whom you speak,--has he told you so?' ufCpX>lNF  
'Practically,--yes.' hf]m'5pb  
'I know Atherton well. In his not infrequent moments of excitement he is apt to use strong language, but it goes no further. I believe him to be the last person in the world to do anyone an intentional injustice, under any circumstances whatever. If I go to him, armed with credentials from you, when he understands the real gravity of the situation,--which it will be my business to make him do, I believe that, spontaneously, of his own accord, he will tell me as much about this mysterious individual as he knows himself.' 71\53Qr#U  
'Then go to him at once.' @2/|rq  
'Good. I will. The result I will communicate to you.' b$ 7 ]cE  
I rose from my seat. As I did so, someone rushed into the outer office with a din and a clatter. Andrews' voice, and another, became distinctly audible,--Andrews' apparently raised in vigorous expostulation. Raised, seemingly, in vain, for presently the door of my own particular sanctum was thrown open with a crash, and Mr Sydney Atherton himself came dashing in,--evidently conspicuously under the influence of one of those not infrequent 'moments of excitement' of which I had just been speaking. V.P<>~W  

只看该作者 35楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit Sr?2~R0&  
Chapter XXXV. A Bringer of Tidings rsgTd\b  
14 Toi  
  Atherton did not wait to see who might or might not be present, but, without even pausing to take breath, he broke into full cry on the instant,--as is occasionally his wont. E6Uiw]3  
'Champnell!--Thank goodness I've found you in!--I want you!--At once!--Don't stop to talk, but stick your hat on, and put your best foot forward,--I'll tell you all about it in the cab.' %;MM+xVVX  
I endeavoured to call his attention to Mr Lessingham's presence,-- but without success. 'D&[Y)f^  
'My dear fellow--' NnTAKd8  
When I had got as far as that he cut me short. 4zhg#  
'Don't "dear fellow" me!--None of your jabber! And none of your excuses either! I don't care if you've got an engagement with the Queen, you'll have to chuck it. Where's that dashed hat of yours, --or are you going without it? Don't I tell you that every second cut to waste may mean the difference between life and death?--Do you want me to drag you down to the cab by the hair of your head?' 6<Txkk  
'I will try not to constrain you to quite so drastic a resource,-- and I was coming to you at once in any case. I only want to call your attention to the fact that I am not alone.--Here is Mr Lessingham.' 1otE:bi  
In his harum-scarum haste Mr Lessingham had gone unnoticed. Now that his observation was particularly directed to him, Atherton started, turned, and glared at my latest client in a fashion which was scarcely flattering. ?*:BgaR_  
'Oh!--It's you, is it?--What the deuce are you doing here?' \RmU6(;IQ  
EO\- J-nM  
Before Lessingham could reply to this most unceremonious query, Atherton, rushing forward, gripped him by the arm. KNSMx<GP  
'Have you seen her?' _^p\ u  
Lessingham, not unnaturally nonplussed by the other's curious conduct, stared at him in unmistakable amazement. j!K{1s[.y  
'Have I seen whom?' |],ocAN{  
'Marjorie Lindon!' 6Wc.iomx8  
'Marjorie Lindon?' p-B |Gr|  
Lessingham paused. He was evidently asking himself what the inquiry meant. Mt%=z9OLq9  
'I have not seen Miss Lindon since last night. Why do you ask?' x aW9Sj0ZM  
'Then Heaven help us!--As I'm a living man I believe he, she, or it has got her!' -VkPy<)  
His words were incomprehensible enough to stand in copious need of explanation,--as Mr Lessingham plainly thought. 22FHD4  
'What is it that you mean, sir?' 2+cpNk$  
'What I say,--I believe that that Oriental friend of yours has got her in her clutches,--if it is a "her;" goodness alone knows what the infernal conjurer's real sex may be.' JasA w7  
'Atherton!--Explain yourself!' gUY~ l= c  
On a sudden Lessingham's tones rang out like a trumpet call. 1!NrndJI  
'If damage comes to her I shall be fit to cut my throat,--and yours!' )FNn  
Mr Lessingham's next proceeding surprised me,--I imagine it surprised Atherton still more. Springing at Sydney like a tiger, he caught him by the throat. k%X $@NP  
'You--you hound! Of what wretched folly have you been guilty? If so much as a hair of her head is injured you shall repay it me ten thousandfold!--You mischief-making, intermeddling, jealous fool!' g'b|[ q  
He shook Sydney as if he had been a rat,--then flung him from him headlong on to the floor. It reminded me of nothing so much as Othello's treatment of Iago. Never had I seen a man so transformed by rage. Lessingham seemed to have positively increased in stature. As he stood glowering down at the prostrate Sydney, he might have stood for a materialistic conception of human retribution. eA86~M?<o  
4NW!{Vw ,  
Sydney, I take it, was rather surprised than hurt. For a moment or two he lay quite still. Then, lifting his head, he looked up his assailant. Then, raising himself to his feet, he shook himself,-- as if with a view of learning if all his bones were whole. Putting his hands up to his neck, he rubbed it, gently. And he grinned. $QwpoVp`~  
'By God, Lessingham, there's more in you than I thought. After all, you are a man. There's some holding power in those wrists of yours,--they've nearly broken my neck. When this business is finished, I should like to put on the gloves with you, and fight it out. You're clean wasted upon politics,--Damn it, man, give me your hand!' b(GV4%  
Mr Lessingham did not give him his hand. Atherton took it,--and gave it a hearty shake with both of his. sh_;98^  
If the first paroxysm of his passion had passed, Lessingham was still sufficiently stern. Pz2 b  
'Be so good as not to trifle, Mr Atherton. If what you say is correct, and the wretch to whom you allude really has Miss Lindon at her mercy, then the woman I love--and whom you also pretend to love!--stands in imminent peril not only of a ghastly death, but of what is infinitely worse than death.' TWpw/osW  
'The deuce she does!' Atherton wheeled round towards me. 'Champnell, haven't you got that dashed hat of yours yet? Don't stand there like a tailor's dummy, keeping me on tenter-hooks,-- move yourself! I'll tell you all about it in the cab.--And, Lessingham, if you'll come with us I'll tell you too.' z{W C w  
D -tRy~}  

只看该作者 36楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit &SZAe/3+  
Chapter XXXVI. What the Tidings Were fB; o3!y  
#eI` l`}  
  Three in a hansom cab is not, under all circumstances, the most comfortable method of conveyance,--when one of the trio happens to be Sydney Atherton in one of his 'moments of excitement' it is distinctly the opposite; as, on that occasion, Mr Lessingham and I both quickly found. Sometimes he sat on my knees, sometimes on Lessingham's, and frequently, when he unexpectedly stood up, and all but precipitated himself on to the horse's back, on nobody's. In the eagerness of his gesticulations, first he knocked off my hat, then he knocked off Lessingham's, then his own, then all three together,--once, his own hat rolling into the mud, he sprang into the road, without previously going through the empty form of advising the driver of his intention, to pick it up. When he turned to speak to Lessingham, he thrust his elbow into my eye; and when he turned to speak to me, he thrust it into Lessingham's. Never, for one solitary instant, was he at rest, or either of us at ease. The wonder is that the gymnastics in which he incessantly indulged did not sufficiently attract public notice to induce a policeman to put at least a momentary period to our progress. Had speed not been of primary importance I should have insisted on the transference of the expedition to the somewhat wider limits of a four-wheeler. 97 !VH> MX  
His elucidation of the causes of his agitation was apparently more comprehensible to Lessingham than it was to me. I had to piece this and that together under considerable difficulties. By degrees I did arrive at something like a clear notion of what had actually taken place. !}uev  
He commenced by addressing Lessingham,--and thrusting his elbow into my eye. u kKp,1xz  
'Did Marjorie tell you about the fellow she found in the street?' Up went his arm to force the trap-door open overhead,--and off went my hat. 'Now then, William Henry!--let her go!--if you kill the horse I'll buy you another!' UI 7JMeV  
We were already going much faster than, legally, we ought to have done,--but that, seemingly to him was not a matter of the slightest consequence. Lessingham replied to his inquiry. xXu/CGzG  
'She did not.' 2`l$uEI3oJ  
l9q ygh  
'You know the fellow I saw coming out of your drawing-room window?' r 06}@7  
'Yes.' +:~&"U^ z&  
'Well, Marjorie found him the morning after in front of her breakfast-room window--in the middle of the street. Seems he had been wandering about all night, unclothed,--in the rain and the mud, and all the rest of it,--in a condition of hypnotic trance.' -d %bc?  
mv SNKS  
'Who is the----gentleman you are alluding to?' =NF},j"  
'Says his name's Holt, Robert Holt.' 9!_`HE+(XJ  
'Holt?--Is he an Englishman?' BNQ~O^R0  
'Very much so,--City quill-driver out of a shop,--stony broke absolutely! Got the chuck from the casual ward,--wouldn't let him in,--house full, and that sort of thing,--poor devil! Pretty passes you politicians bring men to!' ] RN&s  
'Are you sure?' 58DkVQ6  
'Of what?' -*~ = 4m<  
9^6E> S{=  
'Are you sure that this man, Robert Holt, is the same person whom, as you put it, you saw coming out of my drawing-room window?' I@Pp[AyG  
7ss Y*1b  
'Sure!--Of course I'm sure!--Think I didn't recognise him?-- Besides, there was the man's own tale,--owned to it himself,-- besides all the rest, which sent one rushing Fulham way.' rPhx^ QKH2  
'You must remember, Mr Atherton, that I am wholly in the dark as to what has happened. What has the man, Holt, to do with the errand on which we are bound?' (rKyX:Vsy  
'Am I not coming to it? If you would let me tell the tale in my own way I should get there in less than no time, but you will keep on cutting in,--how the deuce do you suppose Champnell is to make head or tail of the business if you will persist in interrupting? --Marjorie took the beggar in,--he told his tale to her,--she sent for me--that was just now; caught me on the steps after I had been lunching with Dora Grayling. Holt re-dished his yarn--I smelt a rat--saw that a connection possibly existed between the thief who'd been playing confounded conjuring tricks off on to me and this interesting party down Fulham way--' 9Lus,l\  
'What party down Fulham way?' zRU9Q 2Y  
'This friend of Holt's--am I not telling you? There you are, you see,--won't let me finish! When Holt slipped through the window-- which is the most sensible thing he seems to have done; if I'd been in his shoes I'd have slipped through forty windows!--dusky coloured charmer caught him on the hop,--doctored him--sent him out to commit burglary by deputy. I said to Holt, "Show us this agreeable little crib, young man." Holt was game--then Marjorie chipped in--she wanted to go and see it too. I said, "You'll be sorry if you do,"--that settled it! After that she'd have gone if she'd died,--I never did have a persuasive way with women. So off we toddled, Marjorie, Holt, and I, in a growler,--spotted the crib in less than no time,--invited ourselves in by the kitchen window --house seemed empty. Presently Holt became hypnotised before my eyes,--the best established case of hypnotism by suggestion I ever yet encountered--started off on a pilgrimage of one. Like an idiot I followed, leaving Marjorie to wait for me--' Z2U6<4?1%  
i zYC0T9  
'Alone?' q;lR|NOh  
'Alone!--Am I not telling you?--Great Scott, Lessingham, in the House of Commons they must be hazy to think you smart! I said, "I'll send the first sane soul I meet to keep you company." As luck would have it, I never met one,--only kids, and a baker, who wouldn't leave his cart, or take it with him either. I'd covered pretty nearly two miles before I came across a peeler,--and when I did the man was cracked--and he thought me mad, or drunk, or both. By the time I'd got myself within nodding distance of being run in for obstructing the police in the execution of their duty, without inducing him to move a single one of his twenty-four-inch feet, Holt was out of sight. So, since all my pains in his direction were clean thrown away, there was nothing left for me but to scurry back to Marjorie,--so I scurried, and I found the house empty, no one there, and Marjorie gone.' ,J '_Vi  
'But, I don't quite follow--' : 5['V#(o  
Atherton impetuously declined to allow Mr Lessingham to conclude. q*4U2_^.  
'Of course you don't quite follow, and you'll follow still less if you will keep getting in front. I went upstairs and downstairs, inside and out--shouted myself hoarse as a crow--nothing was to be seen of Marjorie,--or heard; until, as I was coming down the stairs for about the five-and-fiftieth time, I stepped on something hard which was lying in the passage. I picked it up,--it was a ring; this ring. Its shape is not just what it was,--I'm not as light as gossamer, especially when I come jumping downstairs six at a time,--but what's left of it is here.' AoOA.t6RVo  
Sydney held something in front of him. Mr Lessingham wriggled to one side to enable him to see. Then he made a snatch at it. xlJWCA*>  
'It's mine!' h2f8-}fsq  
G Ixs>E'X  
Sydney dodged it out of his reach. SK'h!Ye5Z  
'What do you mean, it's yours?' 'l.tV7  
'It's the ring I gave Marjorie for an engagement ring. Give it me, you hound!--unless you wish me to do you violence in the cab.' 1z6aMd6.  
With complete disregard of the limitations of space,--or of my comfort,--Lessingham thrust him vigorously aside. Then gripping Sydney by the wrist, he seized the gaud,--Sydney yielding it just in time to save himself from being precipitated into the street. Ravished of his treasure, Sydney turned and surveyed the ravisher with something like a glance of admiration. ]2@(^x'=  
'Hang me, Lessingham, if I don't believe there is some warm blood in those fishlike veins of yours. Please the piper, I'll live to fight you after all,--with the bare ones, sir, as a gentleman should do.' UmVn:a  
Lessingham seemed to pay no attention to him whatever. He was surveying the ring, which Sydney had trampled out of shape, with looks of the deepest concern. jj&G[-"bv  
;*qXjv& K  
'Marjorie's ring!--The one I gave her! Something serious must have happened to her before she would have dropped my ring, and left it lying where it fell.' X#axCDM-  
Atherton went on. >}.~Y#Ge  
'That's it!--What has happened to her!--I'll be dashed if I know! --When it was clear that there she wasn't, I tore off to find out where she was. Came across old Lindon,--he knew nothing;--I rather fancy I startled him in the middle of Pall Mall, when I left he stared after me like one possessed, and his hat was lying in the gutter. Went home,--she wasn't there. Asked Dora Grayling,--she'd seen nothing of her. No one had seen anything of her,--she had vanished into air. Then I said to myself, "You're a first-class idiot, on my honour! While you're looking for her, like a lost sheep, the betting is that the girl's in Holt's friend's house the whole jolly time. When you were there, the chances are that she'd just stepped out for a stroll, and that now she's back again, and wondering where on earth you've gone!" So I made up my mind that I'd fly back and see,--because the idea of her standing on the front doorstep looking for me, while I was going off my nut looking for her, commended itself to what I call my sense of humour; and on my way it struck me that it would be the part of wisdom to pick up Champnell, because if there is a man who can be backed to find a needle in any amount of hay-stacks it is the great Augustus.--That horse has moved itself after all, because here we are. Now, cabman, don't go driving further on,--you'll have to put a girdle round the earth if you do; because you'll have to reach this point again before you get your fare.--This is the magician's house!' ]mJ9CP8P1c  

只看该作者 37楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit Aj#CB.y  
Chapter XXXVII. What Was Hidden Under the Floor l Ot3^`  
  The cab pulled up in front of a tumbledown cheap 'villa' in an unfinished cheap neighbourhood,--the whole place a living monument of the defeat of the speculative builder. $@"o BCc  
Atherton leaped out on to the grass-grown rubble which was meant for a footpath. y|f`sBMM  
'I don't see Marjorie looking for me on the doorstep.' 7OY<*ny  
Nor did I,--I saw nothing but what appeared to be an unoccupied ramshackle brick abomination. Suddenly Sydney gave an exclamation. 4a3Xz,[(a  
'Hullo!--The front door's closed!' P|}~=2J  
I was hard at his heels. ?^iX%   
'What do you mean?' x7$U  
'Why, when I went I left the front door open. It looks as if I've made an idiot of myself after all, and Marjorie's returned,--let's hope to goodness that I have.' s]Z/0:`  
) ^PY-~o[  
He knocked. While we waited for a response I questioned him. /Kb7#uq  
'Why did you leave the door open when you went?' X<ZIeZBn  
T=: &W3  
'I hardly know,--I imagine that it was with some dim idea of Marjorie's being able to get in if she returned while I was absent,--but the truth is I was in such a condition of helter skelter that I am not prepared to swear that I had any reasonable reason.' UZMo(rG.]{  
'I suppose there is no doubt that you did leave it open?' g$kK)z  
'Absolutely none,--on that I'll stake my life.' (' /S~  
'Was it open when you returned from your pursuit of Holt?' .sAcnf"  
'Wide open,--I walked straight in expecting to find her waiting for me in the front room,--I was struck all of a heap when I found she wasn't there.' .(VxeF(v_k  
'Were there any signs of a struggle?'  %3KWc-  
'None,--there were no signs of anything. Everything was just as I had left it, with the exception of the ring which I trod on in the passage, and which Lessingham has.' Cl\Vk  
I> =7|G  
'If Miss Lindon has returned, it does not look as if she were in the house at present.' hs2f3;)  
{h&*H[Z z  
It did not,--unless silence had such meaning. Atherton had knocked loudly three times without succeeding in attracting the slightest notice from within. x\3 ` W  
'It strikes me that this is another case of seeking admission through that hospitable window at the back.' Arir=q^2  
Atherton led the way to the rear. Lessingham and I followed. There was not even an apology for a yard, still less a garden,--there was not even a fence of any sort, to serve as an enclosure, and to shut off the house from the wilderness of waste land. The kitchen window was open. I asked Sydney if he had left it so. kul&m|  
'I don't know,--I dare say we did; I don't fancy that either of us stood on the order of his coming.' {(ey!O  
While he spoke, he scrambled over the sill. We followed. When he was in, he shouted at the top of his voice, /~J#c=  
'Marjorie! Marjorie! Speak to me, Marjorie,--it is I,--Sydney!' 4\Y=*X  
The words echoed through the house. Only silence answered. He led the way to the front room. Suddenly he stopped. //H+S q66  
'Hollo!' he cried. 'The blind's down!' I had noticed, when we were outside, that the blind was down at the front room window. 'It was up when I went, that I'll swear. That someone has been here is pretty plain,--let's hope it's Marjorie.' UT[KwM{y  
He had only taken a step forward into the room when he again stopped short to exclaim. fFSW\4JD=  
^IQC:2 1  
'My stars!--here's a sudden clearance!--Why, the place is empty,-- everything's clean gone!' u\=Nu4)Z F  
'What do you mean?--was it furnished when you left?' 8 wC3}U  
The room was empty enough then. MdEZ839J  
'Furnished?--I don't know that it was exactly what you'd call furnished,--the party who ran this establishment had a taste in upholstery which was all his own,--but there was a carpet, and a bed, and--and lots of things,--for the most part, I should have said, distinctly Eastern curiosities. They seem to have evaporated into smoke,--which may be a way which is common enough among Eastern curiosities, though it's queer to me.' OL=IUg"  
Atherton was staring about him as if he found it difficult to credit the evidence of his own eyes. HHg=:>L z  
~#) DJ  
'How long ago is it since you left?' U'Vz   
He referred to his watch. *|hICTWL  
'Something over an hour,--possibly an hour and a half; I couldn't swear to the exact moment, but it certainly isn't more.' x{RTI#a.  
'Did you notice any signs of packing up?' kZF\V7k  
'Not a sign.' Going to the window he drew up the blind,--speaking as he did so. 'The queer thing about this business is that when we first got in this blind wouldn't draw up a little bit, so, since it wouldn't go up I pulled it down, roller and all, now it draws up as easily and smoothly as if it had always been the best blind that ever lived.' n>Zkx+jLj<  
!.3 MtXr  
Standing at Sydney's back I saw that the cabman on his box was signalling to us with his outstretched hand. Sydney perceived him too. He threw up the sash. YMqL,& Q{1  
'What's the matter with you?' rV2}> k  
=E |[8 U)  
'Excuse me, sir, but who's the old gent?' nz>A\H  
'What old gent?' gHox{*hb[  
'Why the old gent peeping through the window of the room upstairs?' FE_n+^|k<  
The words were hardly out of the driver's mouth when Sydney was through the door and flying up the staircase. I followed rather more soberly,--his methods were a little too flighty for me. When I reached the landing, dashing out of the front room he rushed into the one at the back,--then through a door at the side. He came out shouting. @A yC0}  
'What's the idiot mean!--with his old gent! I'd old gent him if I got him!--There's not a creature about the place!' H,\c"  
He returned into the front room,--I at his heels. That certainly was empty,--and not only empty, but it showed no traces of recent occupation. The dust lay thick upon the floor,--there was that mouldy, earthy smell which is so frequently found in apartments which have been long untenanted. C \}m_`MR  
'Are you sure, Atherton, that there is no one at the back?' @^`f~0#:  
'Of course I'm sure,--you can go and see for yourself if you like; do you think I'm blind? Jehu's drunk.' Throwing up the sash he addressed the driver. 'What do you mean with your old gent at the window?--what window?' &Vl,x/  
'That window, sir.' Sw(%j1uL  
'Go to!--you're dreaming, man!--there's no one here.' sCnZ\C@u  
8zpK; +  
'Begging your pardon, sir, but there was someone there not a minute ago.' zu;Yw=cM)  
'Imagination, cabman,--the slant of the light on the glass,--or your eyesight's defective.' pkM32v-  
'Excuse me, sir, but it's not my imagination, and my eyesight's as good as any man's in England,--and as for the slant of the light on the glass, there ain't much glass for the light to slant on. I saw him peeping through that bottom broken pane on your left hand as plainly as I see you. He must be somewhere about,--he can't have got away,--he's at the back. Ain't there a cupboard nor nothing where he could hide?' ;N,7#l|wi  
The cabman's manner was so extremely earnest that I went myself to see. There was a cupboard on the landing, but the door of that stood wide open, and that obviously was bare. The room behind was small, and, despite the splintered glass in the window frame, stuffy. Fragments of glass kept company with the dust on the floor, together with a choice collection of stones, brickbats, and other missiles,--which not improbably were the cause of their being there. In the corner stood a cupboard,--but a momentary examination showed that that was as bare as the other. The door at the side, which Sydney had left wide open, opened on to a closet, and that was empty. I glanced up,--there was no trap door which led to the roof. No practicable nook or cranny, in which a living being could lie concealed, was anywhere at hand. ~7Jc;y&  
I returned to Sydney's shoulder to tell the cabman so. c8u&ev.U  
'There is no place in which anyone could hide, and there is no one in either of the rooms,--you must have been mistaken, driver.' uEk$Y=p7!  
The man waxed wroth. O.!|;)HQ  
1?Wk qQ  
'Don't tell me! How could I come to think I saw something when I didn't?' 3 /oVl 6  
p^MV< }kk  
'One's eyes are apt to play us tricks;--how could you see what wasn't there?' 9jBP|I{xI  
CD]"Q1 t}  
'That's what I want to know. As I drove up, before you told me to stop, I saw him looking through the window,--the one at which you are. He'd got his nose glued to the broken pane, and was staring as hard as he could stare. When I pulled up, off he started,--I saw him get up off his knees, and go to the back of the room. When the gentleman took to knocking, back he came,--to the same old spot, and flopped down on his knees. I didn't know what caper you was up to,--you might be bum bailiffs for all I knew!--and I supposed that he wasn't so anxious to let you in as you might be to get inside, and that was why he didn't take no notice of your knocking, while all the while he kept a eye on what was going on. When you goes round to the back, up he gets again, and I reckoned that he was going to meet yer, and perhaps give yer a bit of his mind, and that presently I should hear a shindy, or that something would happen. But when you pulls up the blind downstairs, to my surprise back he come once more. He shoves his old nose right through the smash in the pane, and wags his old head at me like a chattering magpie. That didn't seem to me quite the civil thing to do,--I hadn't done no harm to him; so I gives you the office, and lets you know that he was there. But for you to say that he wasn't there, and never had been,--blimey! that cops the biscuit. If he wasn't there, all I can say is I ain't here, and my 'orse ain't here, and my cab ain't neither,--damn it!--the house ain't here, and nothing ain't!' 8A'oK8Q  
He settled himself on his perch with an air of the most extreme ill usage,--he had been standing up to tell his tale. That the man was serious was unmistakable. As he himself suggested, what inducement could he have had to tell a lie like that? That he believed himself to have seen what he declared he saw was plain. But, on the other hand, what could have become--in the space of fifty seconds!--of his 'old gent'? g A+p^`;[  
Atherton put a question. ~~r7TPq  
'What did he look like,--this old gent of yours?' Vd;N T$S$  
eGW h]%  
'Well, that I shouldn't hardly like to say. It wasn't much of his face I could see, only his face and his eyes,--and they wasn't pretty. He kept a thing over his head all the time, as if he didn't want too much to be seen.' 1RauI0d*  
'What sort of a thing?' D1V^DbUm_  
'Why,--one of them cloak sort of things, like them Arab blokes used to wear what used to be at Earl's Court Exhibition,--you know!' ?:7.3{|Aq  
This piece of information seemed to interest my companions more than anything he had said before. vl5r~F  
'A burnoose do you mean?' ysQ8==`38i  
'How am I to know what the thing's called? I ain't up in foreign languages,--'tain't likely! All I know that them Arab blokes what was at Earl's Court used to walk about in them all over the place,--sometimes they wore them over their heads, and sometimes they didn't. In fact if you'd asked me, instead of trying to make out as I sees double, or things what was only inside my own noddle, or something or other, I should have said this here old gent what I've been telling you about was a Arab bloke,--when he gets off his knees to sneak away from the window, I could see that he had his cloak thing, what was over his head, wrapped all round him.' Y7 `i~K;  
Mr Lessingham turned to me, all quivering with excitement. f*^)0Po  
-5 YvtL  
'I believe that what he says is true!' 6KD  
{yy ^DlHb  
'Then where can this mysterious old gentleman have got to,--can you suggest an explanation? It is strange, to say the least of it, that the cabman should be the only person to see or hear anything of him.' 9T4x1{mO  
'Some devil's trick has been played,--I know it, I feel it!--my instinct tells me so!' nBGFa  
I stared. In such a matter one hardly expects a man of Paul Lessingham's stamp to talk of 'instinct.' Atherton stared too. Then, on a sudden, he burst out, -cCujDM#T  
'By the Lord, I believe the Apostle's right,--the whole place reeks to me of hankey-pankey,--it did as soon as I put my nose inside. In matters of prestidigitation, Champnell, we Westerns are among the rudiments,--we've everything to learn,--Orientals leave us at the post. If their civilisation's what we're pleased to call extinct, their conjuring--when you get to know it!--is all alive oh!' v' 7,(.E  
He moved towards the door. As he went he slipped, or seemed to, all but stumbling on to his knees. -;cZW.<  
'Something tripped me up,--what's this?' He was stamping on the floor with his foot. 'Here's a board loose. Come and lend me a hand, one of you fellows, to get it up. Who knows what mystery's beneath?' z[X>>P3<n  
I went to his aid. As he said, a board in the floor was loose. His stepping on it unawares had caused his stumble. Together we prised it out of its place,--Lessingham standing by and watching us the while. Having removed it, we peered into the cavity it disclosed. t=o2:p6&  
F!.Z@y P  
There was something there. +l'l*<  
'Why,' cried Atherton 'it's a woman's clothing!' Vx'82CIC  

只看该作者 38楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit nL=+`aq_  
Chapter XXXVIII. The Rest of the Find fub04x)  
. KLEx]f.  
  It was a woman's clothing, beyond a doubt, all thrown in anyhow,-- as if the person who had placed it there had been in a desperate hurry. An entire outfit was there, shoes, stockings, body linen, corsets, and all,--even to hat, gloves, and hairpins;--these latter were mixed up with the rest of the garments in strange confusion. It seemed plain that whoever had worn those clothes had been stripped to the skin. * rlV E  
Lessingham and Sydney stared at me in silence as I dragged them out and laid them on the floor. The dress was at the bottom,--it was an alpaca, of a pretty shade in blue, bedecked with lace and ribbons, as is the fashion of the hour, and lined with sea-green silk. It had perhaps been a 'charming confection' once--and that a very recent one!--but now it was all soiled and creased and torn and tumbled. The two spectators made a simultaneous pounce at it as I brought it to the light. *tj(,:!  
KX9IC 5pR  
'My God!' cried Sydney, 'it's Marjorie's!--she was wearing it when I saw her last!' Z(|$[GZP[  
-&7? !<f  
'It's Marjorie's!' gasped Lessingham,--he was clutching at the ruined costume, staring at it like a man who has just received sentence of death. 'She wore it when she was with me yesterday,--I told her how it suited her, and how pretty it was!' .Xp,|T  
aMe &4Q  
There was silence,--it was an eloquent find; it spoke for itself. The two men gazed at the heap of feminine glories,--it might have been the most wonderful sight they ever had seen. Lessingham was the first to speak,--his face had all at once grown grey and haggard. UeCi{ W  
'What has happened to her?' HkRvcX 5  
lv] U)p  
I replied to his question with another. E5S(1Z}]p{  
|a[" ^ 2  
'Are you sure this is Miss Linden's dress?' (F;*@Z*R  
'I am sure,--and were proof needed, here it is.' 9*"K+t:  
jt @2S  
He had found the pocket, and was turning out the contents. There was a purse, which contained money and some visiting cards on which were her name and address; a small bunch of keys, with her nameplate attached; a handkerchief, with her initials in a corner. The question of ownership was placed beyond a doubt. $Ixd;`l*  
'You see,' said Lessingham, exhibiting the money which was in the purse, 'it is not robbery which has been attempted. Here are two ten-pound notes, and one for five, besides gold and silver,--over thirty pounds in all.' 52 DSKL  
Atherton, who had been turning over the accumulation of rubbish between the joists, proclaimed another find. 7.v{=UP  
Jb z>j\  
'Here are her rings, and watch, and a bracelet,--no, it certainly does not look as if theft had been an object.' [$GQ]Y  
Lessingham was glowering at him with knitted brows. 84dej<   
'I have to thank you for this.' "]`QQT-{0  
Sydney was unwontedly meek. {ersXQ:  
95wV+ q*  
'You are hard on me, Lessingham, harder than I deserve,--I had rather have thrown away my own life than have suffered misadventure to have come to her.' i]$7w! r&  
?n@PZL= ]  
'Yours are idle words. Had you not meddled this would not have happened. A fool works more mischief with his folly than of malice prepense. If hurt has befallen Marjorie Lindon you shall account for it to me with your life's blood.' Io"=X! k  
'Let it be so,' said Sydney. 'I am content. If hurt has come to Marjorie, God knows that I am willing enough that death should come to me.' k?8W2fC  
While they wrangled, I continued to search. A little to one side, under the flooring which was still intact, I saw something gleam. By stretching out my hand, I could just manage to reach it,--it was a long plait of woman's hair. It had been cut off at the roots,--so close to the head in one place that the scalp itself had been cut, so that the hair was clotted with blood. UKBMGzu2:  
They were so occupied with each other that they took no notice of me. I had to call their attention to my discovery. D5b _m|7%  
G0> Wk#or  
'Gentlemen, I fear that I have here something which will distress you,--is not this Miss Lindon's hair?' gVJ#LJ  
They recognised it on the instant. Lessingham, snatching it from my hands, pressed it to his lips. I*S`I|{J  
)c >B23D  
'This is mine,--I shall at least have something.' He spoke with a grimness which was a little startling. He held the silken tresses at arm's length. 'This points to murder,--foul, cruel, causeless murder. As I live, I will devote my all,--money, time, reputation!--to gaining vengeance on the wretch who did this deed.' 71"JL",  
Atherton chimed in. _0W;)v  
'To that I say, Amen!' He lifted his hand. 'God is my witness!' k%l_N)38  
'It seems to me, gentlemen, that we move too fast,--to my mind it does not by any means of necessity point to murder. On the contrary, I doubt if murder has been done. Indeed, I don't mind owning that I have a theory of my own which points all the other way.' 0iJ!K;A2%  
E dn[cH7  
Lessingham caught me by the sleeve. %MJL5  
'Mr Champnell, tell me your theory.' ~>V-*NT8  
'I will, a little later. Of course it may be altogether wrong;-- though I fancy it is not; I will explain my reasons when we come to talk of it. But, at present, there are things which must be done.' @mf({Q>  
I&Jt> O4  
'I vote for tearing up every board in the house!' cried Sydney. 'And for pulling the whole infernal place to pieces. It's a conjurer's den.--I shouldn't be surprised if cabby's old gent is staring at us all the while from some peephole of his own.' !Xj#@e  
We examined the entire house, methodically, so far as we were able, inch by inch. Not another board proved loose,--to lift those which were nailed down required tools, and those we were without. We sounded all the walls,--with the exception of the party walls they were the usual lath and plaster constructions, and showed no signs of having been tampered with. The ceilings were intact; if anything was concealed in them it must have been there some time, --the cement was old and dirty. We took the closet to pieces; examined the chimneys; peered into the kitchen oven and the copper;--in short, we pried into everything which, with the limited means at our disposal, could be pried into,--without result. At the end we found ourselves dusty, dirty, and discomfited. The cabman's 'old gent' remained as much a mystery as ever, and no further trace had been discovered of Miss Lindon. "Y;}G lE  
Atherton made no effort to disguise his chagrin. oDn|2Sdqd  
'Now what's to be done? There seems to be just nothing in the place at all, and yet that there is, and that it's the key to the whole confounded business I should be disposed to swear.' ,m_WR7!$E  
2*w0t:Yx e  
'In that case I would suggest that you should stay and look for it. The cabman can go and look for the requisite tools, or a workman to assist you, if you like. For my part it appears to me that evidence of another sort is, for the moment, of paramount importance; and I propose to commence my search for it by making a call at the house which is over the way.'  ]^'@ [<  
Xs: 3'ua  
I had observed, on our arrival, that the road only contained two houses which were in anything like a finished state,--that which we were in, and another, some fifty or sixty yards further down, on the opposite side. It was to this I referred. The twain immediately proffered their companionship. }gJ(DbnV  
` ,SiA-3*  
'I will come with you,' said Mr Lessingham. h*-Pr8  
H '  
'And I,' echoed Sydney. 'We'll leave this sweet homestead in charge of the cabman,--I'll pull it to pieces afterwards.' He went out and spoke to the driver. 'Cabby, we're going to pay a visit to the little crib over there,--you keep an eye on this one. And if you see a sign of anyone being about the place,--living, or dead, or anyhow--you give me a yell. I shall be on the lookout, and I'll be with you before you can say Jack Robinson.' Fvbh\m ~  
'You bet I'll yell,--I'll raise the hair right off you.' The fellow grinned. 'But I don't know if you gents are hiring me by the day,--I want to change my horse; he ought to have been in his stable a couple of hours ago.' q1d}{DU  
m8d!< h  
'Never mind your horse,--let him rest a couple of hours extra to- morrow to make up for those he has lost to-day. I'll take care you don't lose anything by this little job,--or your horse either.--By the way, look here,--this will be better than yelling.' \Je0CD=e`  
Taking a revolver out of his trousers' pocket he handed it up to the grinning driver. E7j(QO f  
'If that old gent of yours does appear, you have a pop at him,--I shall hear that easier than a yell. You can put a bullet through him if you like,--I give you my word it won't be murder.' N)uSG&S:  
3 oF45`3FV  
'I don't care if it is,' declared the cabman, handling the weapon like one who was familiar with arms of precision. 'I used to fancy my revolver shooting when I was with the colours, and if I do get a chance I'll put a shot through the old hunks, if only to prove to you that I'm no liar.' PS)4 I&;U  
Whether the man was in earnest or not I could not tell,--nor whether Atherton meant what he said in answer. )Kc<j!8-[  
'If you shoot him I'll give you fifty pounds.' OV1_|##LC  
'All right!' The driver laughed. 'I'll do my best to earn that fifty!' 0CZ :Bo[3  

只看该作者 39楼 发表于: 2012-07-12
Book IV. In Pursuit E-I-0h2  
Chapter XXXIX. Miss Louisa Coleman Yc,7tUz#  
  That the house over the way was tenanted was plain to all the world,--at least one occupant sat gazing through the window of the first floor front room. An old woman in a cap,--one of those large old-fashioned caps which our grandmothers used to wear, tied with strings under the chin. It was a bow window, and as she was seated in the bay looking right in our direction she could hardly have failed to see us as we advanced,--indeed she continued to stare at us all the while with placid calmness. Yet I knocked once, twice, and yet again without the slightest notice being taken of my summons. ap{2$k ,  
Sydney gave expression to his impatience in his own peculiar vein. :OW ;?{ ~j  
'Knockers in this part of the world seem intended for ornament only,--nobody seems to pay any attention to them when they're used. The old lady upstairs must be either deaf or dotty.' He went out into the road to see if she still was there. 'She's looking at me as calmly as you please,--what does she think we're doing here, I wonder; playing a tune on her front door by way of a little amusement?--Madam!' He took off his hat and waved it to her. 'Madam! might I observe that if you won't condescend to notice that we're here your front door will run the risk of being severely injured!--She don't care for me any more than if I was nothing at all,--sound another tattoo upon that knocker. Perhaps she's so deaf that nothing short of a cataclysmal uproar will reach her auditory nerves.' !o>H1#2l  
She immediately proved, however, that she was nothing of the sort. Hardly had the sounds of my further knocking died away than, throwing up the window, she thrust out her head and addressed me in a fashion which, under the circumstances, was as unexpected as it was uncalled for. 8`b`QtGf  
'Now, young man, you needn't be in such a hurry!' }P3tn  
j$da8] !  
Sydney explained. Gq#~vr  
qP!P +'B  
'Pardon me, madam, it's not so much a hurry we're in as pressed for time,--this is a matter of life and death.' he+#Q 6  
lz | 64J  
She turned her attention to Sydney,--speaking with a frankness for which, I imagine, he was unprepared. (3,.3)%`  
'I don't want none of your imperence, young man. I've seen you before,--you've been hanging about here the whole day long!--and I don't like the looks of you, and so I'll let you know. That's my front door, and that's my knocker,--I'll come down and open when I like, but I'm not going to be hurried, and if the knocker's so much as touched again, I won't come down at all.' sJr5t?  
She closed the window with a bang. Sydney seemed divided between mirth and indignation. ,a(O`##Bn  
ua& @GXvZ  
'That's a nice old lady, on my honour,--one of the good old crusty sort. Agreeable characters this neighbourhood seems to grow,--a sojourn hereabouts should do one good. Unfortunately I don't feel disposed just now to stand and kick my heels in the road.' Again saluting the old dame by raising his hat he shouted to her at the top of his voice. 'Madam, I beg ten thousand pardons for troubling you, but this is a matter in which every second is of vital importance,--would you allow me to ask you one or two questions?' D!l8l49hLu  
Up went the window; out came the old lady's head. h ]}`@M"  
'Now, young man, you needn't put yourself out to holler at me,--I won't be hollered at! I'll come down and open that door in five minutes by the clock on my mantelpiece, and not a moment before.' /fC\K_<N  
Avd *~  
The fiat delivered, down came the window. Sydney looked rueful,-- he consulted his watch. @oA0{&G{  
'I don't know what you think, Champnell, but I really doubt if this comfortable creature can tell us anything worth waiting another five minutes to hear. We mustn't let the grass grow under our feet, and time is getting on.' p ^](3Vi(  
I was of a different opinion,--and said so. "Jf4N  
'I'm afraid, Atherton, that I can't agree with you. She seems to have noticed you hanging about all day; and it is at least possible that she has noticed a good deal which would be well worth our hearing. What more promising witness are we likely to find?--her house is the only one which overlooks the one we have just quitted. I am of opinion that it may not only prove well worth our while to wait five minutes, but also that it would be as well, if possible, not to offend her by the way. She's not likely to afford us the information we require if you do.' $_ST:h&C  
'Good. If that's what you think I'm sure I'm willing to wait,-- only it's to be hoped that that clock upon her mantelpiece moves quicker than its mistress.' gEcnn .(S  
' lQ  
Presently, when about a minute had gone, he called to the cabman. N|j;=y!  
'Seen a sign of anything?' D:RBq\8  
The cabman shouted back. 6yl;o_6:  
'Ne'er a sign,--you'll hear a sound of popguns when I do.' "aCb;2Rs  
Those five minutes did seem long ones. But at last Sydney, from his post of vantage in the road, informed us that the old lady was moving. tj^:SW.0  
'She's getting up;--she's leaving the window;--let's hope to goodness she's coming down to open the door. That's been the longest five minutes I've known.' 73z|'0.  
I could hear uncertain footsteps descending the stairs. They came along the passage. The door was opened--'on the chain.' The old lady peered at us through an aperture of about six inches. jzA8f+:q  
'I don't know what you young men think you're after, but have all three of you in my house I won't. I'll have him and you'--a skinny finger was pointed to Lessingham and me; then it was directed towards Atherton--'but have him I won't. So if it's anything particular you want to say to me, you'll just tell him to go away.' <a[8;YQC  
On hearing this Sydney's humility was abject. His hat was in his hand,--he bent himself double. mM{v>Em2K#  
'Suffer me to make you a million apologies, madam, if I have in any way offended you; nothing, I assure you, could have been farther from my intention, or from my thoughts.' Yb{t!KL  
'I don't want none of your apologies, and I don't want none of you neither; I don't like the looks of you, and so I tell you. Before I let anybody into my house you'll have to sling your hook.' hj,x~^cS  
The door was banged in our faces. I turned to Sydney. )zo ;r!eP  
'The sooner you go the better it will be for us. You can wait for us over the way.' 9OUhV [D  
He shrugged his shoulders, and groaned,--half in jest, half in earnest. S[M$>  
'If I must I suppose I must,--it's the first time I've been refused admittance to a lady's house in all my life! What have I done to deserve this thing?--If you keep me waiting long I'll tear that infernal den to pieces!' Wxjpe4  
He sauntered across the road, viciously kicking the stones as he went. The door reopened. ~34$D],D  
'Has that other young man gone?' 56fcifXz@  
'He has.' =V(I  
'Then now I'll let you in. Have him inside my house I won't.' ;8H m#p7,  
The chain was removed. Lessingham and I entered. Then the door was refastened and the chain replaced. Our hostess showed us into the front room on the ground floor; it was sparsely furnished and not too clean,--but there were chairs enough for us to sit upon; which she insisted on our occupying. ,dP-sD;<  
'Sit down, do,--I can't abide to see folks standing; it gives me the fidgets.' TCWy^8LA  
So soon as we were seated, without any overture on our parts she plunged in medias res. B8_)I.  
'I know what it is you've come about,--I know! You want me to tell you who it is as lives in the house over the road. Well, I can tell you,--and I dare bet a shilling that I'm about the only one who can.' FVY$A =G  
I inclined my head. q!fdiv`  
'Indeed. Is that so, madam?' "J.7@\^ h/  
O,D/& 0  
She was huffed at once. 1s"/R  
'Don't madam me,--I can't bear none of your lip service. I'm a plain-spoken woman, that's what I am, and I like other people's tongues to be as plain as mine. My name's Miss Louisa Coleman; but I'm generally called Miss Coleman,--I'm only called Louisa by my relatives.' :enmMB#%  
H}f} Y8J{  
Since she was apparently between seventy and eighty--and looked every year of her apparent age--I deemed that possible. Miss Coleman was evidently a character. If one was desirous of getting information out of her it would be necessary to allow her to impart it in her own manner,--to endeavour to induce her to impart it in anybody else's would be time clean wasted. We had Sydney's fate before our eyes. R>CIEL  
She started with a sort of roundabout preamble. 6_vhBYLf  
}r _d{nhi  
'This property is mine; it was left me by my uncle, the late George Henry Jobson,--he's buried in Hammersmith Cemetery just over the way,--he left me the whole of it. It's one of the finest building sites near London, and it increases in value every year, and I'm not going to let it for another twenty, by which time the value will have more than trebled,--so if that is what you've come about, as heaps of people do, you might have saved yourselves the trouble. I keep the boards standing, just to let people know that the ground is to let,--though, as I say, it won't be for another twenty years, when it'll be for the erection of high-class mansions only, same as there is in Grosvenor Square,--no shops or public houses, and none of your shanties. I live in this place just to keep an eye upon the property,--and as for the house over the way, I've never tried to let it, and it never has been let, not until a month ago, when, one morning, I had this letter. You can see it if you like.' YZllfw$9  
She handed me a greasy envelope which she ferreted out of a capacious pocket which was suspended from her waist, and which she had to lift up her skirt to reach. The envelope was addressed, in unformed characters, 'Miss Louisa Coleman, The Rhododendrons, Convolvulus Avenue, High Oaks Park, West Kensington.'--I felt, if the writer had not been of a humorous turn of mind, and drawn on his imagination, and this really was the lady's correct address, then there must be something in a name. \-eDNwJ:#@  
Bq 9 Eu1  
The letter within was written in the same straggling, characterless caligraphy,--I should have said, had I been asked offhand, that the whole thing was the composition of a servant girl. The composition was about on a par with the writing. W2-1oS~ma  
G j9WUv[P  
'The undersigned would be oblidged if Miss Coleman would let her emptey house. I do not know the rent but send fifty pounds. If more will send. Please address, Mohamed el Kheir, Post Office, Sligo Street, London.' }US^GEs(  
!\RBOdw C  
It struck me as being as singular an application for a tenancy as I remembered to have encountered. When I passed it on to Lessingham, he seemed to think so too. ~E J+<[/  
'This is a curious letter, Miss Coleman.' d \[cFe1d  
'So I thought,--and still more so when I found the fifty pounds inside. There were five ten-pound notes, all loose, and the letter not even registered. If I had been asked what was the rent of the house, I should have said, at the most, not more than twenty pounds,--because, between you and me, it wants a good bit of doing up, and is hardly fit to live in as it stands.' 2wKW17wj,  
={GYJ. *Ah  
I had had sufficient evidence of the truth of this altogether apart from the landlady's frank admission. e?"XMY  
'Why, for all he could have done to help himself I might have kept the money, and only sent him a receipt for a quarter. And some folks would have done,--but I'm not one of that sort myself, and shouldn't care to be. So I sent this here party,--I never could pronounce his name, and never shall--a receipt for a year.' iHp@R-g  
Miss Coleman paused to smooth her apron, and consider. h7EKb-@  
'Well, the receipt should have reached this here party on the Thursday morning, as it were,--I posted it on the Wednesday night, and on the Thursday, after breakfast, I thought I'd go over the way to see if there was any little thing I could do,--because there wasn't hardly a whole pane of glass in the place,--when I all but went all of a heap. When I looked across the road, blessed it the party wasn't in already,--at least as much as he ever was in, which, so far as I can make out, never has been anything particular,--though how he had got in, unless it was through a window in the middle of the night, is more than I should care to say,--there was nobody in the house when I went to bed, that I could pretty nearly take my Bible oath,--yet there was the blind up at the parlour, and, what's more, it was down, and it's been down pretty nearly ever since. n.[0#Ur&}  
'"Well," I says to myself, "for right down imperence this beats anything,--why he's in the place before he knows if I'll let him have it. Perhaps he thinks I haven't got a word to say in the matter,--fifty pounds or no fifty pounds, I'll soon show him." So I slips on my bonnet, and I walks over the road, and I hammers at the door. O7#ECUH  
H61 ,pr>  
'Well, I have seen people hammering since then, many a one, and how they've kept it up has puzzled me,--for an hour, some of them,--but I was the first one as begun it. I hammers, and I hammers, and I kept on hammering, but it wasn't no more use than if I'd been hammering at a tombstone. So I starts rapping at the window, but that wasn't no use neither. So I goes round behind, and I hammers at the back door,--but there, I couldn't make anyone hear nohow. So I says to myself, "Perhaps the party as is in, ain't in, in a manner of speaking; but I'll keep an eye on the house, and when he is in I'll take care that he ain't out again before I've had a word to say." <RmI)g>'_^  
'So I come back home, and as I said I would, I kept an eye on the house the whole of that livelong day, but never a soul went either out or in. But the next day, which it was a Friday, I got out of bed about five o'clock, to see if it was raining, through my having an idea of taking a little excursion if the weather was fine, when I see a party coming down the road. He had on one of them dirty-coloured bed-cover sort of things, and it was wrapped all over his head and round his body, like, as I have been told, them there Arabs wear,--and, indeed, I've seen them in them myself at West Brompton, when they was in the exhibition there. It was quite fine, and broad day, and I see him as plainly as I see you, --he comes skimming along at a tear of a pace, pulls up at the house over the way, opens the front door, and lets himself in. UY*3b<F}  
'"So," I says to myself, "there you are. Well, Mr Arab, or whatever, or whoever, you may be, I'll take good care that you don't go out again before you've had a word from me. I'll show you that landladies have their rights, like other Christians, in this country, however it may be in yours." So I kept an eye on the house, to see that he didn't go out again, and nobody never didn't, and between seven and eight I goes and I knocks at the door,--because I thought to myself that the earlier I was the better it might be. VfOm#Ue0 q  
'If you'll believe me, no more notice was taken of me than if I was one of the dead. I hammers, and I hammers, till my wrist was aching, I daresay I hammered twenty times,--and then I went round to the back door, and I hammers at that,--but it wasn't the least good in the world. I was that provoked to think I should be treated as if I was nothing and nobody, by a dirty foreigner, who went about in a bed-gown through the public streets, that it was all I could do to hold myself. S%zn {1F  
'I comes round to the front again, and I starts hammering at the window, with every knuckle on my hands, and I calls out, "I'm Miss Louisa Coleman, and I'm the owner of this house, and you can't deceive me,--I saw you come in, and you're in now, and if you don't come and speak to me this moment I'll have the police." 3Au3>q,  
%0 cFs'  
'All of a sudden, when I was least expecting it, and was hammering my very hardest at the pane, up goes the blind, and up goes the window too, and the most awful-looking creature ever I heard of, not to mention seeing, puts his head right into my face,--he was more like a hideous baboon than anything else, let alone a man. I was struck all of a heap, and plumps down on the little wall, and all but tumbles head over heels backwards, And he starts shrieking, in a sort of a kind of English, and in such a voice as I'd never heard the like,--it was like a rusty steam engine. FfEP@$  
05 56#U&>  
'"Go away! go away! I don't want you! I will not have you,--never! You have your fifty pounds,--you have your money,--that is the whole of you,--that is all you want! You come to me no more!-- never!--never no more!--or you be sorry!--Go away!" -!Ov{GHr0  
'I did go away, and that as fast as ever my legs would carry me,-- what with his looks, and what with his voice, and what with the way that he went on, I was nothing but a mass of trembling. As for answering him back, or giving him a piece of my mind, as I had meant to, I wouldn't have done it not for a thousand pounds. I don't mind confessing, between you and me, that I had to swallow four cups of tea, right straight away, before my nerves was steady. Ns2<wl-  
'"Well," I says to myself, when I did feel, as it might be, a little more easy, "you never have let that house before, and now you've let it with a vengeance,--so you have. If that there new tenant of yours isn't the greatest villain that ever went unhung it must be because he's got near relations what's as bad as himself,--because two families like his I'm sure there can't be. A nice sort of Arab party to have sleeping over the road he is!" Of gmJ(%  
'But after a time I cools down, as it were,--because I'm one of them sort as likes to see on both sides of a question. "After all," I says to myself, "he has paid his rent, and fifty pounds is fifty pounds,--I doubt if the whole house is worth much more, and he can't do much damage to it whatever he does." 2]'cj  
'I shouldn't have minded, so far as that went, if he'd set fire to the place, for, between ourselves, it's insured for a good bit over its value. So I decided that I'd let things be as they were, and see how they went on. But from that hour to this I've never spoken to the man, and never wanted to, and wouldn't, not of my own free will, not for a shilling a time,--that face of his will haunt me if I live till Noah, as the saying is. I've seen him going in and out at all hours of the day and night,--that Arab party's a mystery if ever there was one,--he always goes tearing along as if he's flying for his life. Lots of people have come to the house, all sorts and kinds, men and women--they've been mostly women, and even little children. I've seen them hammer and hammer at that front door, but never a one have I seen let in,--or yet seen taken any notice of, and I think I may say, and yet tell no lie, that I've scarcely took my eye off the house since he's been inside it, over and over again in the middle of the night have I got up to have a look, so that I've not missed much that has took place. ,tl(\4n  
'What's puzzled me is the noises that's come from the house. Sometimes for days together there's not been a sound, it might have been a house of the dead; and then, all through the night, there've been yells and screeches, squawks and screams,--I never heard nothing like it. I have thought, and more than once, that the devil himself must be in that front room, let alone all the rest of his demons. And as for cats!--where they've come from I can't think. I didn't use to notice hardly a cat in the neighbourhood till that there Arab party came,--there isn't much to attract them; but since he came there's been regiments. Sometimes at night there's been troops about the place, screeching like mad,--I've wished them farther, I can tell you. That Arab party must be fond of 'em. I've seen them inside the house, at the windows, upstairs and downstairs, as it seemed to me, a dozen at a time. 5 NN`tv  
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