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【英文原版】Bat Wing /(英)萨克斯·儒默 [复制链接]

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只看该作者 10楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter X. The Night Walker %<[{zd1C-  
If luncheon had seemed extravagant, dinner at Cray's Folly proved to be a veritable Roman banquet. To associate ideas of selfishness with Miss Beverley was hateful, but the more I learned of the luxurious life of this queer household hidden away in the Surrey Hills the less I wondered at any one's consenting to share such exile. I had hitherto counted an American freak dinner, organized by a lucky plunger and held at the Cafe de Paris, as the last word in extravagant feasting. But I learned now that what was caviare in Monte Carlo was ordinary fare at Cray's Folly. MSeg7/MF  
Colonel Menendez was an epicure with an endless purse. The excellence of one of the courses upon which I had commented led to a curious incident. >A-{/"p#  
"You approve of the efforts of my chef?" said the Colonel. XL.f `N.O  
"He is worthy of his employer," I replied. jwE=  
*m<[ sS  
Colonel Menendez bowed in his cavalierly fashion and Madame de Staemer positively beamed upon me. +CBN[/Z^i  
"You shall speak for him," said the Spaniard. "He was with me in Cuba, but has no reputation in London. There are hotels that would snap him up." Y3[KS;_fr9  
I looked at the speaker in surprise. 3)W_^6>bM  
"Surely he is not leaving you?" I asked. ,|yscp8  
The Colonel exhibited a momentary embarrassment. H?;+C/-K`_  
"No, no. No, no," he replied, waving his hand gracefully, "I was only thinking that he--" there was a scarcely perceptible pause--"might wish to better himself. You understand?" @/As|)  
I understood only too well; and recollecting the words spoken by Paul Harley that afternoon, respecting the Colonel's will to live, I became conscious of an uncomfortable sense of chill. It3@ Cd>  
If I had doubted that in so speaking he had been contemplating his own death, the behaviour of Madame de Staemer must have convinced me. Her complexion was slightly but cleverly made up, with all the exquisite art of the Parisienne, but even through the artificial bloom I saw her cheeks blanch. Her face grew haggard and her eyes burned unnaturally. She turned quickly aside to address Paul Harley, but I knew that the significance of this slight episode had not escaped him. E7SmiD@)  
#x6w M~  
He was by no means at ease. In the first place, he was badly puzzled; in the second place, he was angry. He felt it incumbent upon him to save this man from a menace which he, Paul Harley, evidently recognized to be real, although to me it appeared wildly chimerical, and the very person upon whose active cooeperation he naturally counted not only seemed resigned to his fate, but by deliberate omission of important data added to Harley's difficulties. ?|hYtV  
How much of this secret drama proceeding in Cray's Folly was appreciated by Val Beverley I could not determine. On this occasion, I remember, she was simply but perfectly dressed and, in my eyes, seemed the most sweetly desirable woman I had ever known. Realizing that I had already revealed my interest in the girl, I was oddly self-conscious, and a hundred times during the progress of dinner I glanced across at Harley, expecting to detect his quizzical smile. He was very stern, however, and seemed more reserved than usual. He was uncertain of his ground, I could see. He resented the understanding which evidently existed between Colonel Menendez and Madame de Staemer, and to which, although his aid had been sought, he was not admitted. )*BG-nM u  
It seemed to me, personally, that an almost palpable shadow lay upon the room. Although, save for this one lapse, our host throughout talked gaily and entertainingly, I was obsessed by a memory of the expression which I had detected upon his face that morning, the expression of a doomed man. WSx0o}  
What, in Heaven's name, I asked myself, did it all mean? If ever I saw the fighting spirit looking out of any man's eyes, it looked out of the eyes of Don Juan Sarmiento Menendez. Why, then, did he lie down to the menace of this mysterious Bat Wing, and if he counted opposition futile, why had he summoned Paul Harley to Cray's Folly? .vtV2lq  
With the passing of every moment I sympathized more fully with the perplexity of my friend, and no longer wondered that even his highly specialized faculties had failed to detect an explanation. - ~`)V`@  
Remembering Colin Camber as I had seen him at the Lavender Arms, it was simply impossible to suppose that such a man as Menendez could fear such a man as Camber. True, I had seen the latter at a disadvantage, and I knew well enough that many a genius has been also a drunkard. But although I was prepared to find that Colin Camber possessed genius, I found it hard to believe that this was of a criminal type. That such a character could be the representative of some remote negro society was an idea too grotesque to be entertained for a moment. ;><m[l6  
I was tempted to believe that his presence in the neighbourhood of this haunted Cuban was one of those strange coincidences which in criminal history have sometimes proved so tragic for their victims. DIx.a^LR  
Madame de Staemer, avoiding the Colonel's glances, which were pathetically apologetic, gradually recovered herself, and: C%H?vrR  
"My dear," she said to Val Beverley, "you look perfectly sweet to- night. Don't you think she looks perfectly sweet, Mr. Knox?" %<fs \J^k  
Ignoring a look of entreaty from the blue-gray eyes: 6\k~q.U@XI  
"Perfectly," I replied. J% n#uUs  
"Oh, Mr. Knox," cried the girl, "why do you encourage her? She says embarrassing things like that every time I put on a new dress." x2a ?ugQ  
Her reference to a new dress set me speculating again upon the apparent anomaly of her presence at Cray's Folly. That she was not a professional "companion" was clear enough. I assumed that her father had left her suitably provided for, since she wore such expensively simple gowns. She had a delightful trick of blushing when attention was focussed upon her, and said Madame de Staemer: .>}I/+n  
74:( -vS  
"To be able to blush like that I would give my string of pearls--no, half of it." v;G/8>GRy  
"My dear Marie," declared Colonel Menendez, "I have seen you blush perfectly." ws,?ImA  
"No, no," Madame disclaimed the suggestion with one of those Bernhardt gestures, "I blushed my last blush when my second husband introduced me to my first husband's wife." imwn)]LR  
"Madame!" exclaimed Val Beverley, "how can you say such things?" She turned to me. "Really, Mr. Knox, they are all fables." j9RpYz  
"In fables we renew our youth," said Madame. zCwb>v  
"Ah," sighed Colonel Menendez; "our youth, our youth." } /Iw]!lK2  
"Why sigh, Juan, why regret?" cried Madame, immediately. "Old age is only tragic to those who have never been young." rMUQh~a/  
tZY(r {  
She directed a glance toward him as she spoke those words, and as I had felt when I had seen his tragic face on the veranda that morning I felt again in detecting this look of Madame de Staemer's. The yearning yet selfless love which it expressed was not for my eyes to witness. %"RgW\s[R  
"Thank God, Marie," replied the Colonel, and gallantly kissed his hand to her, "we have both been young, gloriously young." Iih~rWJ  
When, at the termination of this truly historic dinner, the ladies left us: . \fzK  
"Remember, Juan," said Madame, raising her white, jewelled hand, and holding the fingers characteristically curled, "no excitement, no billiards, no cards." Vo"\nj  
Colonel Menendez bowed deeply, as the invalid wheeled herself from the room, followed by Miss Beverley. My heart was beating delightfully, for in the moment of departure the latter had favoured me with a significant glance, which seemed to say, "I am looking forward to a chat with you presently." /WB^h6qg  
5EIh5Y EU>  
"Ah," said Colonel Menendez, when we three men found ourselves alone, "truly I am blessed in the autumn of my life with such charming companionship. Beauty and wit, youth and discretion. Is he not a happy man who possesses all these?" &%}6&PW i  
 PW x9CT  
"He should be," said Harley, gravely. U6e 0{n  
The saturnine Pedro entered with some wonderful crusted port, and Colonel Menendez offered cigars. _GS_R%b  
_ p%=RIR  
"I believe you are a pipe-smoker," said our courteous host to Harley, "and if this is so, I know that you will prefer your favourite mixture to any cigar that ever was rolled." 'EzKu~*  
"Many thanks," said Harley, to whom no more delicate compliment could have been paid. xER-TT #S  
He was indeed an inveterate pipe-smoker, and only rarely did he truly enjoy a cigar, however choice its pedigree. With a sigh of content he began to fill his briar. His mood was more restful, and covertly I watched him studying our host. The night remained very warm and one of the two windows of the dining room, which was the most homely apartment in Cray's Folly, was wide open, offering a prospect of sweeping velvet lawns touched by the magic of the moonlight. W3+;1S$k  
A short silence fell, to be broken by the Colonel. &>n:7  
qXprD.; }  
"Gentlemen," he said, "I trust you do not regret your fishing excursion?" hwQrmVwvP  
"I could cheerfully pass the rest of my days in such ideal surroundings," replied Paul Harley. WOeG3jMz?  
I nodded in agreement. Q>xp 90&.n  
"But," continued my friend, speaking very deliberately, "I have to remember that I am here upon business, and that my professional reputation is perhaps at stake." [C3wjYi  
s ~i,R  
He stared very hard at Colonel Menendez. VjSA& R  
"I have spoken with your butler, known as Pedro, and with some of the other servants, and have learned all that there is to be learned about the person unknown who gained admittance to the house a month ago, and concerning the wing of a bat, found attached to the door more recently." ACH!Gw~  
"And to what conclusion have you come?" asked Colonel Menendez, eagerly. MXuiQ;./  
He bent forward, resting his elbows upon his knees, a pose which he frequently adopted. He was smoking a cigar, but his total absorption in the topic under discussion was revealed by the fact that from a pocket in his dinner jacket he had taken out a portion of tobacco, had laid it in a slip of rice paper, and was busily rolling one of his eternal cigarettes. 6'qC *r   
"I might be enabled to come to one," replied Harley, "if you would answer a very simple question." ? @Y'_f  
"What is this question?" jLRh/pbz4  
"It is this--Have you any idea who nailed the bat's wing to your door?" 1gwnG&  
Colonel Menendez's eyes opened very widely, and his face became more aquiline than ever. .$r=:k_d  
"You have heard my story, Mr. Harley," he replied, softly. "If I know the explanation, why do I come to you?" RZ(*%b<C  
Paul Harley puffed at his pipe. His expression did not alter in the slightest. ~[_u@8l!mN  
"I merely wondered if your suspicions tended in the direction of Mr. Colin Camber," he said. D6$*#D3U  
"Colin Camber!" 2q NA\-0i>  
As the Colonel spoke the name either I became victim of a strange delusion or his face was momentarily convulsed. If my senses served me aright then his pronouncing of the words "Colin Camber" occasioned him positive agony. He clutched the arms of his chair, striving, I thought, to retain composure, and in this he succeeded, for when he spoke again his voice was quite normal. *N |ak =  
"Have you any particular reason for your remark, Mr. Harley?" vqAEF^HYry  
"I have a reason," replied Paul Harley, "but don't misunderstand me. I suggest nothing against Mr. Camber. I should be glad, however, to know if you are acquainted with him?" n2~WUK  
3:G$Y: #P  
"We have never met." }]#z0'Aqsu  
U?d  I  
"You possibly know him by repute?" +Adk1N8  
`"[qb ?z  
"I have heard of him, Mr. Harley. But to be perfectly frank, I have little in common with citizens of the United States." ^+CWo@.  
A note of arrogance, which at times crept into his high, thin voice, became perceptible now, and the aristocratic, aquiline face looked very supercilious. _"B.V(  
How the conversation would have developed I know not, but at this moment Pedro entered and delivered a message in Spanish to the Colonel, whereupon the latter arose and with very profuse apologies begged permission to leave us for a few moments. cbyzZ#WRb  
MXcW & b  
When he had retired: lUs$I{2_  
N~O3KG q  
"I am going upstairs to write a letter, Knox," said Paul Harley. "Carry on with your old duties to-day, your new ones do not commence until to- morrow." Yao}Xo9}  
With that he laughed and walked out of the dining room, leaving me wondering whether to be grateful or annoyed. However, it did not take me long to find my way to the drawing room where the two ladies were seated side by side upon a settee, Madame's chair having been wheeled into a corner. 2H|:/y  
"Ah, Mr. Knox," exclaimed Madame as I entered, "have the others deserted, then?" 03 @a G  
"Scarcely deserted, I think. They are merely straggling." pi"H?EHk  
"Absent without leave," murmured Val Beverley. voa)V 1A/]  
I laughed, and drew up a chair. Madame de Staemer was smoking, but Miss Beverley was not. Accordingly, I offered her a cigarette, which she accepted, and as I was lighting it with elaborate care, every moment finding a new beauty in her charming face, Pedro again appeared and addressed some remark in Spanish to Madame. Ia2WBs =  
"My chair, Pedro," she said; "I will come at once." @nH3nn  
The Spanish butler wheeled the chair across to the settee, and lifting her with an ease which spoke of long practice, placed her amidst the cushions where she spent so many hours of her life. zC*FeqFL<  
"I know you will excuse me, dear," she said to Val Beverley, "because I feel sure that Mr. Knox will do his very best to make up for my absence. Presently, I shall be back." w&@tP^`  
"1|g eO|  
Pedro holding the door open, she went wheeling out, and I found myself alone with Val Beverley. $\/i t  
GX23c i  
At the time I was much too delighted to question the circumstances which had led to this tete-a-tete, but had I cared to give the matter any consideration, it must have presented rather curious features. The call first of host and then of hostess was inconsistent with the courtesy of the master of Cray's Folly, which, like the appointments of his home and his mode of life, was elaborate. But these ideas did not trouble me at the moment. %i7U+v(d  
Suddenly, however, indeed before I had time to speak, the girl started and laid her hand upon my arm. NHUJ:j@  
"Did you hear something?" she whispered, "a queer sort of sound?" 3H<%\SYp  
"No," I replied, "what kind of sound?" )w<Z4_!N4s  
"An odd sort of sound, almost like--the flapping of wings." g yV>k=B  
}wp/,\_ >  
I saw that she had turned pale, I saw the confirmation of something which I had only partly realised before: that her life at Cray's Folly was a constant fight against some haunting shadow. Her gaiety, her lightness, were but a mask. For now, in those wide-open eyes, I read absolute horror. (p12=EB<  
"Miss Beverley," I said, grasping her hand reassuringly, "you alarm me. What has made you so nervous to-night?" [(3s5)O  
}]mx Kz  
"To-night!" she echoed, "to-night? It is every night. If you had not come--" she corrected herself--"if someone had not come, I don't think I could have stayed. I am sure I could not have stayed." hF0,{v  
"Doubtless the attempted burglary alarmed you?" I suggested, intending to sooth her fears. s||" } l  
"Burglary?" She smiled unmirthfully. "It was no burglary." aZWj52  
"Why do you say so, Miss Beverley?" $eYL|?P50h  
"Do you think I don't know why Mr. Harley is here?" she challenged. "Oh, believe me, I know--I know. I, too, saw the bat's wing nailed to the door, Mr. Knox. You are surely not going to suggest that this was the work of a burglar?" Jka>Er  
I seated myself beside her on the settee. EoAr}fI  
"You have great courage," I said. "Believe me, I quite understand all that you have suffered." mTZ/C#ir(  
"Is my acting so poor?" she asked, with a pathetic smile. [D"6&  
"No, it is wonderful, but to a sympathetic observer only acting, nevertheless." 2F4<3k! &  
I noted that my presence reassured her, and was much comforted by this fact. #2]*qgA4  
mm>l:M TF  
"Would you like to tell me all about it," I continued; "or would this merely renew your fears?" g4+K"Q /M  
V7WL Gy.,  
"I should like to tell you," she replied in a low voice, glancing about her as if to make sure that we were alone. "Except for odd people, friends, I suppose, of the Colonel's, we have had so few visitors since we have been at Cray's Folly. Apart from all sorts of queer happenings which really"--she laughed nervously--"may have no significance whatever, the crowning mystery to my mind is why Colonel Menendez should have leased this huge house." n[>hJ6  
"He does not entertain very much, then?" q25p3  
"Scarcely at all. The 'County'--do you know what I mean by the 'County?'--began by receiving him with open arms and ended by sending him to Coventry. His lavish style of entertainment they labelled 'swank'--horrible word but very expressive! They concluded that they did not understand him, and of everything they don't understand they disapprove. So after the first month or so it became very lonely at Cray's Folly. Our foreign servants--there are five of them altogether-- got us a dreadfully bad name. Then, little by little, a sort of cloud seemed to settle on everything. The Colonel made two visits abroad, I don't know exactly where he went, but on his return from the first visit Madame de Staemer changed." P'iX?+*  
"Changed?--in what way?" ~i?Jg/qcxN  
<NDV 5P  
"I am afraid it would be hopeless to try to make you understand, Mr. Knox, but in some subtle way she changed. Underneath all her vivacity she is a tragic woman, and--oh, how can I explain?" Val Beverley made a little gesture of despair. 4]zn,g?&  
9JMf T]  
"Perhaps you mean," I suggested, "that she seemed to become even less happy than before?" ^755 LW  
"Yes," she replied, looking at me eagerly. "Has Colonel Menendez told you anything to account for it?" a*,V\l|6  
"Nothing," I said, "He has left us strangely in the dark. But you say he went abroad on a second and more recent occasion?" *z'Rl'j9[  
"Yes, not much more than a month ago. And after that, somehow or other, matters seemed to come to a head. I confess I became horribly frightened, but to have left would have seemed like desertion, and Madame de Staemer has been so good to me." ehX4[j6  
"Did you actually witness any of the episodes which took place about a month ago?" sCAWrbOe>  
Val Beverley shook her head. &B ^LaRg  
"I never saw anything really definite," she replied. Z(a,$__  
"Yet, evidently you either saw or heard something which alarmed you." 6~c:FsZ)  
"Yes, that is true, but it is so difficult to explain." S>V+IKW;(  
$* hqF1Q  
"Could you try to explain?" 9wbj}tN\z  
"I will try if you wish, for really I am longing to talk to someone about it. For instance, on several occasions I have heard footsteps in the corridor outside my room." /]oQqZHv  
"At night?" $*|M+ofQ  
"Yes, at night." G[1\5dK*uR  
"Strange footsteps?" R3;%eyu  
!~yBz H;K  
She nodded. hd u2?v@  
"That is the uncanny part of it. You know how familiar one grows with the footsteps of persons living in the same house? Well, these footsteps were quite unfamiliar to me." 8~]D!c8;a  
"And you say they passed your door?" 'J|)4OG:  
$zM shLT  
"Yes. My rooms are almost directly overhead. And right at the end of the corridor, that is on the southeast corner of the building, is Colonel Menendez's bedroom, and facing it a sort of little smoke-room. It was in this direction that the footsteps went." s[yWBew  
"To Colonel Menendez's room?" uJ !&T  
"Yes. They were light, furtive footsteps." oxwbq=a6yV  
D -}>28  
"This took place late at night?" #8$?# dT  
"Quite late, long after everyone had retired." ]vrZGX a+  
She paused, staring at me with a sort of embarrassment, and presently: GQ2GcX(E(  
"Were the footsteps those of a man or a woman?" I asked. SN6 QX!3  
"Of a woman. Someone, Mr. Knox," she bent forward, and that look of fear began to creep into her eyes again, "with whose footsteps I was quite unfamiliar." V&zeC/xSq  
g;l K34{  
"You mean a stranger to the house?" +|C@B`h  
"Yes. Oh, it was uncanny." She shuddered. "The first time I heard it I had been lying awake listening. I was nervous. Madame de Staemer had told me that morning that the Colonel had seen someone lurking about the lawns on the previous night. Then, as I lay awake listening for the slightest sound, I suddenly detected these footsteps; and they paused-- right outside my door." c{^1`(#?  
hq"n RH  
"Good heavens!" I exclaimed. "What did you do?" e@c8Ce|0  
"Frankly, I was too frightened to do anything. I just lay still with my heart beating horribly, and presently they passed on, and I heard them no more." Sj)?!  
"Was your door locked?" e`B!)Sr  
"No." She laughed nervously. "But it has been locked every night since then!" PTpfa*t  
"And these sounds were repeated on other nights?" ASS<XNP  
"Yes, I have often heard them, Mr. Knox. What makes it so strange is that all the servants sleep out in the west wing, as you know, and Pedro locks the communicating door every night before retiring." :dlG:=.W  
tY`%vI [  
"It is certainly strange," I muttered. DPWnvd  
"It is horrible," declared the girl, almost in a whisper. "For what can it mean except that there is someone in Cray's Folly who is never seen during the daytime?" ^4 ~ V/  
"But that is incredible." tQ(gB_  
<izn B8@  
"It is not so incredible in a big house like this. Besides, what other explanation can there be?" c>yqq'  
"There must be one," I said, reassuringly. "Have you spoken of this to Madame de Staemer?" FR? \H"'x  
"Yes." ^%jk.*  
Val Beverley's expression grew troubled. %8$ldNhV  
M" R= ;n  
"Had she any explanation to offer?" Nn='9s9F?}  
"None. Her attitude mystified me very much. Indeed, instead of reassuring me, she frightened me more than ever by her very silence. I grew to dread the coming of each night. Then--" she hesitated again, looking at me pathetically--"twice I have been awakened by a loud cry." <rxtdI"3  
"What kind of cry?" Ey=ymf.}  
"I could not tell you, Mr. Knox. You see I have always been asleep when it has come, but I have sat up trembling and dimly aware that what had awakened me was a cry of some kind." IhRdn1&  
"You have no idea from whence it proceeded?" 9J?lNq  
"None whatever. Of course, all these things may seem trivial to you, and possibly they can be explained in quite a simple way. But this feeling of something pending has grown almost unendurable. Then, I don't understand Madame and the Colonel at all." wZN_YFwQ  
She suddenly stopped speaking and flushed with embarrassment. S1I.l">P  
"If you mean that Madame de Staemer is in love with her cousin, I agree with you," I said, quietly. J (?qk  
]5c(:T F  
"Oh, is it so evident as that?" murmured Val Beverley. She laughed to cover her confusion. "I wish I could understand what it all means." :86:U 0^  
At this point our tete-a-tete was interrupted by the return of Madame de Staemer. P3&s<mh  
"Oh, la la!" she cried, "the Colonel must have allowed himself to become too animated this evening. He is threatened with one of his attacks and I have insisted upon his immediate retirement. He makes his apologies, but knows you will understand." a|7C6#iz$  
I expressed my concern, and: vhfjZ  
"I was unaware that Colonel Menendez's health was impaired," I said. ~Gu$E qQ  
?})A-$f ~  
"Ah," Madame shrugged characteristically. "Juan has travelled too much of the road of life on top speed, Mr. Knox." She snapped her white fingers and grimaced significantly. "Excitement is bad for him." #t ;`  
>d + }$dB  
She wheeled her chair up beside Val Beverley, and taking the girl's hand patted it affectionately. .#( vx;  
"You look pale to-night, my dear," she said. "All this bogey business is getting on your nerves, eh?" '`jGr+K,wU  
"Oh, not at all," declared the girl. "It is very mysterious and annoying, of course." "to!&@I| 4  
"But M. Paul Harley will presently tell us what it is all about," concluded Madame. "Yes, I trust so. We want no Cuban devils here at Cray's Folly." rNN>tpZ}  
I had hoped that she would speak further of the matter, but having thus apologized for our host's absence, she plunged into an amusing account of Parisian society, and of the changes which five years of war had brought about. Her comments, although brilliant, were superficial, the only point I recollect being her reference to a certain Baron Bergmann, a Swedish diplomat, who, according to Madame, had the longest nose and the shortest memory in Paris, so that in the cold weather, "he even sometimes forgot to blow his nose." x1:mT[[$  
9a_P 9s3w  
Her brightness I thought was almost feverish. She chattered and laughed and gesticulated, but on this occasion she was overacting. Underneath all her vivacity lay something cold and grim. bd /A0i?C  
&r[f ;|o  
Harley rejoined us in half an hour or so, but I could see that he was as conscious of the air of tension as I was. All Madame's high spirits could not enable her to conceal the fact that she was anxious to retire. But Harley's evident desire to do likewise surprised me very greatly; for from the point of view of the investigation the day had been an unsatisfactory one. I knew that there must be a hundred and one things which my friend desired to know, questions which Madame de Staemer could have answered. Nevertheless, at about ten o'clock we separated for the night, and although I was intensely anxious to talk to Harley, his reticent mood had descended upon him again, and: 1e\cJ{B  
"Sleep well, Knox," he said, as he paused at my door. "I may be awakening you early." o;c"-^>  
With which cryptic remark and not another word he passed on and entered his own room. ,i6U*  

只看该作者 11楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XI. The Shadow on the Blind Vjo[rUW  
   r%X M`;bQX  
Perhaps it was childish on my part, but I accepted this curt dismissal very ill-humouredly. That Harley, for some reason of his own, wished to be alone, was evident enough, but I resented being excluded from his confidence, even temporarily. It would seem that he had formed a theory in the prosecution of which my cooeperation was not needed. And what with profitless conjectures concerning its nature, and memories of Val Beverley's pathetic parting glance as we had bade one another good- night, sleep seemed to be out of the question, and I stood for a long time staring out of the open window. >JY\h1+ H  
The weather remained almost tropically hot, and the moon floated in a cloudless sky. I looked down upon the closely matted leaves of the box hedge, which rose to within a few feet of my window, and to the left I could obtain a view of the close-hemmed courtyard before the doors of Cray's Folly. On the right the yews began, obstructing my view of the Tudor garden, but the night air was fragrant, and the outlook one of peace. % a.T@E  
After a time, then, as no sound came from the adjoining room, I turned in, and despite all things was soon fast asleep. :&'jh/vRN  
Almost immediately, it seemed, I was awakened. In point of fact, nearly four hours had elapsed. A hand grasped my shoulder, and I sprang up in bed with a stifled cry, but: t0@AfO.'1  
` V [4  
"It's all right, Knox," came Harley's voice. "Don't make a noise." Z}\,rex  
"Harley!" I said. "Harley! what has happened?" <_eEpG}9  
4,X CbcC  
"Nothing, nothing. I am sorry to have to disturb your beauty sleep, but in the absence of Innes I am compelled to use you as a dictaphone, Knox. I like to record impressions while they are fresh, hence my having awakened you." 811QpYA  
"But what has happened?" I asked again, for my brain was not yet fully alert. ScVbo3{m*T  
"No, don't light up!" said Harley, grasping my wrist as I reached out toward the table-lamp.  fWs*u[S  
@g" vuaG}  
His figure showed as a black silhouette against the dim square of the window. EUV8H}d5  
C 'Y2kb  
"Why not?" %9S0!h\  
"Well, it's nearly two o'clock. The light might be observed." "VU/Ucb7  
Ud e?[6  
"Two o'clock?" I exclaimed. :Q@/F;Z?  
"Yes. I think we might smoke, though. Have you any cigarettes? I have left my pipe behind." hwJ>IQ1  
I managed to find my case, and in the dim light of the match which I presently struck I saw that Paul Harley's face was very fixed and grim. He seated himself on the edge of my bed, and: (=Kv1 HaD  
aK@ Y) Ju'  
"I have been guilty of a breach of hospitality, Knox," he began. "Not only have I secretly had my own car sent down here, but I have had something else sent, as well. I brought it in under my coat this evening." rlY0UA,  
"To what do you refer, Harley?" NOXP}M  
iv *$!\Cd  
"You remember the silken rope-ladder with bamboo rungs which I brought from Hongkong on one occasion?" znsQ/[  
"Yes--" GLtWo+g0  
"Well, I have it in my bag now." /(JG\Ut  
JI .=y5I  
"But, my dear fellow, what possible use can it be to you at Cray's Folly?" XZKlE F?  
"It has been of great use," he returned, shortly. *eoH"UFYQ#  
"It enabled me to descend from my window a couple of hours ago and to return again quite recently without disturbing the household. Don't reproach me, Knox. I know it is a breach of confidence, but so is the behaviour of Colonel Menendez." Sn*s@RE\s  
( 3B1X  
"You refer to his reticence on certain points?" !d()'N  
 d\ #yWY  
"I do. I have a reputation to lose, Knox, and if an ingenious piece of Chinese workmanship can save it, it shall be saved." $Zyuhji^  
"But, my dear Harley, why should you want to leave the house secretly at night?" WrwbLlE  
Paul Harley's cigarette glowed in the dark, then: tPiC?=4R  
"My original object," he replied, "was to endeavour to learn if any one were really watching the place. For instance, I wanted to see if all lights were out at the Guest House." BpFX e7  
"And were they?" I asked, eagerly. Jk<b#SZ[b  
"They were. Secondly," he continued, "I wanted to convince myself that there were no nocturnal prowlers from within or without." 2c9]Ja3:6  
"What do you mean by within or without?" WkY>--^  
"Listen, Knox." He bent toward me in the dark, grasping my shoulder firmly. "One window in Cray's Folly was lighted up." s@bo df&  
j"8|U E  
"At what hour?" IGd]!  
"The light is there yet." _fu?,  
That he was about to make some strange revelation I divined. I detected the fact, too, that he believed this revelation would be unpleasant to me; and in this I found an explanation of his earlier behaviour. He had seemed distraught and ill at ease when he had joined Madame de Staemer, Miss Beverley, and myself in the drawing room. I could only suppose that this and the abrupt parting with me outside my door had been due to his holding a theory which he had proposed to put to the test before confiding it to me. I remember that I spoke very slowly as I asked him the question: \s8j*  
"Whose is the lighted window, Harley?" N^\<y7x  
"Has Colonel Menendez taken you into a little snuggery or smoke-room which faces his bedroom in the southeast corner of the house?" }^!8I7J.  
"No, but Miss Beverley has mentioned the room." JWZG)I]r  
"Ah. Well, there is a light in that room, Knox." scc+r  
"Possibly the Colonel has not retired?" a S;z YD  
"According to Madame de Staemer he went to bed several hours ago, you may remember." V.e30u5  
"True," I murmured, fumbling for the significance of his words. 7*kTu0m  
"The next point is this," he resumed. "You saw Madame retire to her own room, which, as you know, is on the ground floor, and I have satisfied myself that the door communicating with the servants' wing is locked." +Mb}70^  
"I see. But to what is all this leading, Harley?" }%c0EY'  
"To a very curious fact, and the fact is this: The Colonel is not alone." wsj5;(f+  
I sat bolt upright. mnH1-}oL  
"What?" I cried. LiD-su D  
P C  
"Not so loud," warned Harley. g/m%A2M&aH  
"But, Harley--" K-*q3oh G  
"My dear fellow, we must face facts. I repeat, the Colonel is not alone." i XI:yE;  
"Why do you say so?" M"]~}*  
"K z=Z C  
"Twice I have seen a shadow on the blind of the smoke-room." 0EYK3<k9!  
"His own shadow, probably." k`r}Gb  
Again Paul Harley's cigarette glowed in the darkness. Y*3qH]  
"I am prepared to swear," he replied, "that it was the shadow of a woman." !~m)_Q5?~  
"Harley----" 0lF.!\9  
"Don't get excited, Knox. I am dealing with the strangest case of my career, and I am jumping to no conclusions. But just let us look at the circumstances judicially. The whole of the domestic staff we may dismiss, with the one exception of Mrs. Fisher, who, so far as I can make out, occupies the position of a sort of working housekeeper, and whose rooms are in the corner of the west wing immediately facing the kitchen garden. Possibly you have not met Mrs. Fisher, Knox, but I have made it my business to interview the whole of the staff and I may say that Mrs. Fisher is a short, stout old lady, a native of Kent, I believe, whose outline in no way corresponds to that which I saw upon the blind. Therefore, unless the door which communicates with the servants' quarters was unlocked again to-night--to what are we reduced in seeking to explain the presence of a woman in Colonel Menendez's room? Madame de Staemer, unassisted, could not possibly have mounted the stairs." ixw3Z D(>+  
"Stop, Harley!" I said, sternly. "Stop." TUIj-HSe  
He ceased speaking, and I watched the steady glow of his cigarette in the darkness. It lighted up his bronzed face and showed me the steely gleam of his eyes. %'a%ynFs  
"You are counting too much on the locking of the door by Pedro," I continued, speaking very deliberately. "He is a man I would trust no farther than I could see him, and if there is anything dark underlying this matter you depend that he is involved in it. But the most natural explanation, and also the most simple, is this--Colonel Menendez has been taken seriously ill, and someone is in his room in the capacity of a nurse." {STOWuY  
M #'br<]  
"Her behaviour was scarcely that of a nurse in a sick-room," murmured Harley. s7.2EkGl=  
1{+x >Pv:  
"For God's sake tell me the truth," I said. "Tell me all you saw." f0p+l -iEv  
x g=}MoX  
"I am quite prepared to do so, Knox. On three occasions, then, I saw the figure of a woman, who wore some kind of loose robe, quite clearly silhouetted upon the linen blind. Her gestures strongly resembled those of despair." ZeewGa^r  
"Of despair?" xml@]N*D#E  
"Exactly. I gathered that she was addressing someone, presumably Colonel Menendez, and I derived a strong impression that she was in a condition of abject despair." [vki^M5i|Z  
"Harley," I said, "on your word of honour did you recognize anything in the movements, or in the outline of the figure, by which you could identify the woman?" E/cA6*E[.<  
,oe e'  
"I did not," he replied, shortly. "It was a woman who wore some kind of loose robe, possibly a kimono. Beyond that I could swear to nothing, except that it was not Mrs. Fisher." J#*Uf>5NY  
We fell silent for a while. What Paul Harley's thoughts may have been I know not, but my own were strange and troubled. Presently I found my voice again, and: ,r5<v_  
"I think, Harley," I said, "that I should report to you something which Miss Beverley told me this evening." uW>AH@Pij  
"Yes?" said he, eagerly. "I am anxious to hear anything which may be of the slightest assistance. You are no doubt wondering why I retired so abruptly to-night. My reason was this: I could see that you were full of some story which you had learned from Miss Beverley, and I was anxious to perform my tour of inspection with a perfectly unprejudiced mind." Jr17pu(t  
"You mean that your suspicions rested upon an inmate of Cray's Folly?" D%^EG8i n.  
"Not upon any particular inmate, but I had early perceived a distinct possibility that these manifestations of which the Colonel complained might be due to the agency of someone inside the house. That this person might be no more than an accomplice of the prime mover I also recognized, of course. But what did you learn to-night, Knox?" Opjt? ]  
I repeated Val Beverley's story of the mysterious footsteps and of the cries which had twice awakened her in the night. }(hE{((o  
RuXK` y Sv  
"Hm," muttered Harley, when I had ceased speaking. "Assuming her account to be true----" SU#|&_wtr!  
"Why should you doubt it?" I interrupted, hotly. % idnm  
"My dear Knox, it is my business to doubt everything until I have indisputable evidence of its truth. I say, assuming her story to be true, we find ourselves face to face with the fantastic theory that some woman unknown is living secretly in Cray's Folly." iKK=A.g  
"Perhaps in one of the tower rooms," I suggested, eagerly. "Why, Harley, that would account for the Colonel's marked unwillingness to talk about this part of the house." f^]AyU;F:  
My sight was now becoming used to the dusk, and I saw Harley vigorously shake his head. 8iCI s=06  
"No, no," he replied; "I have seen all the tower rooms. I can swear that no one inhabits them. Besides, is it feasible?" $O>@(K  
"Then whose were the footsteps that Miss Beverley heard?" )r i3ds  
f ti|3c  
"Obviously those of the woman who, at this present moment, so far as I know, is in the smoking-room with Colonel Menendez." {\/nUbo[  
W+ '}O<  
I sighed wearily. {kl{mJ*  
"This is a strange business, Harley. I begin to think that the mystery is darker than I ever supposed." (d'j'U:C  
We fell silent again. The weird cry of a night hawk came from somewhere in the valley, but otherwise everything within and without the great house seemed strangely still. This stillness presently imposed its influence upon me, for when I spoke again, I spoke in a low voice. <p^*Ydx  
"Harley," I said, "my imagination is playing me tricks. I thought I heard the fluttering of wings at that moment." f@! fW&  
"Fortunately, my imagination remains under control," he replied, grimly; "therefore I am in a position to inform you that you did hear the fluttering of wings. An owl has just flown into one of the trees immediately outside the window." Vs_\ykO  
1YOg1 n+k  
"Oh," said I, and uttered a sigh of relief. _PK}rr?"7O  
"It is extremely fortunate that my imagination is so carefully trained," continued Harley; "otherwise, when the woman whose shadow I saw upon the blind to-night raised her arms in a peculiar fashion, I could not well have failed to attach undue importance to the shape of the shadow thus created." ~mtTsZc  
{S G*  
"What was the shape of the shadow, then?" :pRF*^eU  
"Remarkably like that of a bat." )>\4ULR83  
He spoke the words quietly, but in that still darkness, with dawn yet a long way off, they possessed the power which belongs to certain chords in music, and to certain lines in poetry. I was chilled unaccountably, and I peopled the empty corridors of Cray's Folly with I know not what uncanny creatures; nightmare fancies conjured up from memories of haunted manors. G(/DtY]  
Such was my mood, then, when suddenly Paul Harley stood up. My eyes were growing more and more used to the darkness, and from something strained in his attitude I detected the fact that he was listening intently. D."=k{r.  
p?# pT}1  
He placed his cigarette on the table beside the bed and quietly crossed the room. I knew from his silent tread that he wore shoes with rubber soles. Very quietly he turned the handle and opened the door. * F4UAQzYb  
"What is it, Harley?" I whispered. V3Z]DA  
Dimly I saw him raise his hand. Inch by inch he opened the door. My nerves in a state of tension, I sat there watching him, when without a sound he slipped out of the room and was gone. Thereupon I arose and followed as far as the doorway. Yr.sm!xA  
Harley was standing immediately outside in the corridor. Seeing me, he stepped back, and: "Don't move, Knox," he said, speaking very close to my ear. "There is someone downstairs in the hall. Wait for me here." y;w x?1)  
With that he moved stealthily off, and I stood there, my heart beating with unusual rapidity, listening--listening for a challenge, a cry, a scuffle--I knew not what to expect.  ]#7zk9  
Cavernous and dimly lighted, the corridor stretched away to my left. On the right it branched sharply in the direction of the gallery overlooking the hall. $)3%U?AP  
| WvUq  
The seconds passed, but no sound rewarded my alert listening--until, very faintly, but echoing in a muffled, church-like fashion around that peculiar building, came a slight, almost sibilant sound, which I took to be the gentle closing of a distant door. Pp )3(T:  
Whilst I was still wondering if I had really heard this sound or merely imagined it: St e=&^  
"Who goes there?" came sharply in Harley's voice. }2e? ?3  
I heard a faint click, and knew that he had shone the light of an electric torch down into the hall. 'nwx9]q  
I hesitated no longer, but ran along to join him. As I came to the head of the main staircase, however, I saw him crossing the hall below. He was making in the direction of the door which shut off the servants' quarters. Here he paused, and I saw him trying the handle. Evidently the door was locked, for he turned and swept the white ray all about the place. He tried several other doors, but found them all to be locked, for presently he came upstairs again, smiling grimly when he saw me there awaiting him. apu4DAy&8  
* iF]n2g:  
"Did you hear it, Knox?" he said. mD^ jd+  
"A sound like the closing of a door?" Y7*U:I+N  
}M H0L#Tu  
Paul Harley nodded. {;:/-0s  
!>zo _fP  
"It was the closing of a door," he replied; "but before that I had distinctly heard a stair creak. Someone crossed the hall then, Knox. Yet, as you perceive for yourself, it affords no hiding-place." LYaZ1*  
His glance met and challenged mine. a+!tT!g&I  
"The Colonel's visitor has left him," he murmured. "Unless something quite unforeseen occurs, I shall throw up the case to-morrow." dK2p7xo  

只看该作者 12楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XII. Morning Mists bm}+}CJ@#0  
The man known as Manoel awakened me in the morning. Although characteristically Spanish, he belonged to a more sanguine type than the butler and spoke much better English than Pedro. He placed upon the table beside me a tray containing a small pot of China tea, an apple, a peach, and three slices of toast. /p}{#DLB  
2R] XH 0   
"How soon would you like your bath, sir?" he enquired.  yIa[yJq  
QS5H >5M)  
"In about half an hour," I replied. (GnVwJ<v9V  
"Breakfast is served at 9.30 if you wish, sir," continued Manoel, "but the ladies rarely come down. Would you prefer to breakfast in your room?" 2rF?Q?$,B  
"What is Mr. Harley doing?" 6#-6Bh)>4  
"He tells me that he does not take breakfast, sir. Colonel Don Juan Menendez will be unable to ride with you this morning, but a groom will accompany you to the heath if you wish, which is the best place for a gallop. Breakfast on the south veranda is very pleasant, sir, if you are riding first." 1y},9ym  
4C l, Iw/;  
"Good," I replied, for indeed I felt strangely heavy; "it shall be the heath, then, and breakfast on the veranda." *Gg1h@&  
Having drunk a cup of tea and dressed I went into Harley's room, to find him propped up in bed reading the Daily Telegraph and smoking a cigarette. (t]lP/  
"I am off for a ride," I said. "Won't you join me?" p|bc=`TD  
He fixed his pillows more comfortably, and slowly shook his head. *O(/UVuD\  
"Not a bit of it, Knox," he replied, "I find exercise to be fatal to concentration." zgq_0w~X  
"I know you have weird theories on the subject, but this is a beautiful morning." 6XOpB^@  
"I grant you the beautiful morning, Knox, but here you will find me when you return." E? m#S  
I knew him too well to debate the point, and accordingly I left him to his newspaper and cigarette, and made my way downstairs. A housemaid was busy in the hall, and in the courtyard before the monastic porch a negro groom awaited me with two fine mounts. He touched his hat and grinned expansively as I appeared. A spirited young chestnut was saddled for my use, and the groom, who informed me that his name was Jim, rode a smaller, Spanish horse, a beautiful but rather wicked- looking creature. !DX/^b  
We proceeded down the drive. Pedro was standing at the door of the lodge, talking to his surly-looking daughter. He saluted me very ceremoniously as I passed. yE|} r  
gZ >orZL'  
Pursuing an easterly route for a quarter of a mile or so, we came to a narrow lane which branched off to the left in a tremendous declivity. Indeed it presented the appearance of the dry bed of a mountain torrent, and in wet weather a torrent this lane became, so I was informed by Jim. It was very rugged and dangerous, and here we dismounted, the groom leading the horses. E29gnYxu8  
Then we were upon a well-laid main road, and along this we trotted on to a tempting stretch of heath-land. There was a heavy mist, but the scent of the heather in the early morning was delightful, and there was something exhilarating in the dull thud of the hoofs upon the springy turf. The negro was a natural horseman, and he seemed to enjoy the ride every bit as much as I did. For my own part I was sorry to return. But the vapours of the night had been effectively cleared from my mind, and when presently we headed again for the hills, I could think more coolly of those problems which overnight had seemed well-nigh insoluble. +P)[|y +e  
! E#.WX  
We returned by a less direct route, but only at one point was the path so steep as that by which we had descended. This brought us out on a road above and about a mile to the south of Cray's Folly. At one point, through a gap in the trees, I found myself looking down at the gray stone building in its setting of velvet lawns and gaily patterned gardens. A faint mist hovered like smoke over the grass. YYr&r.6  
207oE O]  
Five minutes later we passed a queer old Jacobean house, so deeply hidden amidst trees that the early morning sun had not yet penetrated to it, except for one upstanding gable which was bathed in golden light. I should never have recognized the place from that aspect, but because of its situation I knew that this must be the Guest House. It seemed very gloomy and dark, and remembering how I was pledged to call upon Mr. Colin Camber that day, I apprehended that my reception might be a cold one. JJ=is}S|  
Presently we left the road and cantered across the valley meadows, in which I had walked on the previous day, reentering Cray's Folly on the south, although we had left it on the north. We dismounted in the stable-yard, and I noted two other saddle horses in the stalls, a pair of very clean-looking hunters, as well as two perfectly matched ponies, which, Jim informed me, Madame de Staemer sometimes drove in a chaise. (w B[ ]O$@  
Feeling vastly improved by the exercise, I walked around to the veranda, and through the drawing room to the hall. Manoel was standing there, and: 4aKy]zPoE  
"Your bath is ready, sir," he said. $, 42h  
I nodded and went upstairs. It seemed to me that life at Cray's Folly was quite agreeable, and such was my mood that the shadowy Bat Wing menace found no place in it save as the chimera of a sick man's imagination. One thing only troubled me: the identity of the woman who had been with Colonel Menendez on the previous night. g'E^@1{  
S)?B  I  
However, such unconscious sun worshippers are we all that in the glory of that summer morning I realized that life was good, and I resolutely put behind me the dark suspicions of the night. (?(ahtT4T  
I looked into Harley's room ere descending, and, as he had assured me would be the case, there he was, propped up in bed, the Daily Telegraph upon the floor beside him and the Times now open upon the coverlet. ~W4<M:R  
"I am ravenously hungry," I said, maliciously, "and am going down to eat a hearty breakfast." ^#%[  
"Good," he returned, treating me to one of his quizzical smiles. "It is delightful to know that someone is happy." o] = &  
Manoel had removed my unopened newspapers from the bedroom, placing them on the breakfast table on the south veranda; and I had propped the Mail up before me and had commenced to explore a juicy grapefruit when something, perhaps a faint breath of perfume, a slight rustle of draperies, or merely that indefinable aura which belongs to the presence of a woman, drew my glance upward and to the left. And there was Val Beverley smiling down at me. R# gip  
"Good morning, Mr. Knox," she said. "Oh, please don't interrupt your breakfast. May I sit down and talk to you?" UT+B*?,h  
"I should be most annoyed if you refused." )EcE{!H6+  
She was dressed in a simple summery frock which left her round, sun- browned arms bare above the elbow, and she laid a huge bunch of roses upon the table beside my tray. AtGk _tpVZ  
"I am the florist of the establishment," she explained. "These will delight your eyes at luncheon. Don't you think we are a lot of barbarians here, Mr. Knox?" %{Ez0XwGCn  
"Why?" m08:EX P  
"Well, if I had not taken pity upon you, here you would have bat over a lonely breakfast just as though you were staying at a hotel." Nb;xJSlox  
"Delightful," I replied, "now that you are here." qIEe7;DO  
"Ah," said she, and smiled roguishly, "that afterthought just saved you." % H"A%  
w h4WII  
"But honestly," I continued, "the hospitality of Colonel Menendez is true hospitality. To expect one's guests to perform their parlour tricks around a breakfast table in the morning is, on the other hand, true barbarism." D9OI ",h  
"I quite agree with you," she said, quietly. "There is a perfectly delightful freedom about the Colonel's way of living. Only some horrid old Victorian prude could possibly take exception to it. Did you enjoy your ride?" )"j)9RQ}  
8= jl]q$<  
"Immensely," I replied, watching her delightedly as she arranged the roses in carefully blended groups. y( M-   
Her fingers were very delicate and tactile, and such is the character which resides in the human hand, that whereas the gestures of Madame de Staemer were curiously stimulating, there was something in the movement of Val Beverley's pretty fingers amidst the blooms which I found most soothing. O[ O`4de9  
ra \Moy  
"I passed the Guest House on my return," I continued. "Do you know Mr. Camber?" EL+6u>\- k  
She looked at me in a startled way. |K?fVL  
"No," she replied, "I don't. Do you?" }h<\qvCcU  
"I met him by chance yesterday." b!SGQv(^M  
"Really? I thought he was quite unapproachable; a sort of ogre." n l Xg8t^G  
"On the contrary, he is a man of great charm." 7oA$aJQ  
"Oh," said Val Beverley, "well, since you have said so, I might as well admit that he has always seemed a charming man to me. I have never spoken to him, but he looks as though he could be very fascinating. Have you met his wife?" dMw7Lp&  
@cAv8i K  
"No. Is she also American?" vi4u `  
My companion shook her head. ?Bq"9*q  
! o:m*:  
"I have no idea," she replied. "I have seen her several times of course, and she is one of the daintiest creatures imaginable, but I know nothing about her nationality." H;k;%Zg;  
"She is young, then?" ?1xBhKq  
"Very young, I should say. She looks quite a child." iH9g5G`O  
"The reason of my interest," I replied, "is that Mr. Camber asked me to call upon him, and I propose to do so later this morning." DGC -`z  
"Really?" 6vX+- f  
Again I detected the startled expression upon Val Beverley's face. 3dcZ1Yrn  
"That is rather curious, since you are staying here." 6jCg7Su]  
"Why?" Ko/_w_  
V X211U.Q  
"Well," she looked about her nervously, "I don't know the reason, but the name of Mr. Camber is anathema in Cray's Folly." 1$".7}M4$  
"Colonel Menendez told me last night that he had never met Mr. Camber." ?.4.Ubc\  
Val Beverley shrugged her shoulders, a habit which it was easy to see she had acquired from Madame de Staemer. Kt`0vwkjvI  
nR ,j1IUF  
"Perhaps not," she replied, "but I am certain he hates him." 5HJ6[.HO  
Dj %jrtT  
"Hates Mr. Camber?"  LqU]&AAh  
"Yes." Her expression grew troubled. "It is another of those mysteries which seem to be part of Colonel Menendez's normal existence." w^P4_Yr  
"And is this dislike mutual?" =yvyd0|35  
"That I cannot say, since I have never met Mr. Camber." rEs,o3h?po  
"And Madame de Staemer, does she share it?" _U%!&_m6  
VQ{}S $jQ  
"Fully, I think. But don't ask me what it means, because I don't know." DNq=|?qn]  
.3 m^yo c/  
She dismissed the subject with a light gesture and poured me out a second cup of coffee. ?r"m*fY%  
b6 &`]O;%  
"I am going to leave you now," she said. "I have to justify my existence in my own eyes." vq B)PL5)  
"Must you really go?" ]xBQ7Xqf|  
"I must really." rIR~YMv!  
"Then tell me something before you go." RZi]0l_A'  
& F\HR  
She gathered up the bunches of roses and looked down at me with a wistful expression. i_8v >F  
"Yes, what is it?" sI>I  
"Did you detect those mysterious footsteps again last night?" r2dU>U*:4  
The look of wistfulness changed to another which I hated to see in her eyes, an expression of repressed fear. 'BUix!k0<  
"No," she replied in a very low voice, "but why do you ask the question?" EOj.Jrs~  
Doubt of her had been far enough from my mind, but that something in the tone of my voice had put her on her guard I could see. y 1I(^<qO=  
"I am naturally curious," I replied, gravely. ( L 8V)1N  
"No," she repeated, "I have not heard the sound for some time now. Perhaps, after all, my fears were imaginary." mKZ^FgG  
There was a constraint in her manner which was all too obvious, and when presently, laden with the spoil of the rose garden, she gave me a parting smile and hurried into the house, I sat there very still for a while, and something of the brightness had faded from the coming, nor did life seem so glad a business as I had thought it quite recently. zmp Q=%/H  

只看该作者 13楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XIII. At the Guest House E8iadf49  
I presented myself at the Guest House at half-past eleven. My mental state was troubled and indescribably complex. Perhaps my own uneasy, thoughts were responsible for the idea, but it seemed to me that the atmosphere of Cray's Folly had changed yet again. Never before had I experienced a sense of foreboding like that which had possessed me throughout the hours of this bright summer's morning. 9!O+Ryy?\  
,NaV [ "9$  
Colonel Menendez had appeared about nine o'clock. He exhibiting no traces of illness that were perceptible to me. But this subtle change which I had detected, or thought I had detected, was more marked in Madame Staemer than in any one. In her strange, still eyes I had read what I can only describe as a stricken look. It had none of the heroic resignation and acceptance of the inevitable which had so startled me in the face of the Colonel on the previous day. There was a bitterness in it, as of one who has made a great but unwilling sacrifice, and again I had found myself questing that faint but fugitive memory, conjured up by the eyes of Madame de Staemer. fw:7Q7 qo  
Never had the shadow lain so darkly upon the house as it lay this morning with the sun blazing gladly out of a serene sky. The birds, the flowers, and Mother Earth herself bespoke the joy of summer. But beneath the roof of Cray's Folly dwelt a spirit of unrest, of apprehension. I thought of that queer lull which comes before a tropical storm, and I thought I read a knowledge of pending evil even in the glances of the servants. ' D)1ka.  
G zJ9N`  
I had spoken to Harley of this fear. He had smiled and nodded grimly, saying: X;s 3y{ku  
"Evidently, Knox, you have forgotten that to-night is the night of the full moon." 4ggVj*{v  
It was in no easy state of mind, then, that I opened the gate and walked up to the porch of the Guest House. That the solution of the grand mystery of Cray's Folly would automatically resolve these lesser mysteries I felt assured, and I was supported by the idea that a clue might lie here. YH6snC$u  
The house, which from the roadway had an air of neglect, proved on close inspection to be well tended, but of an unprosperous aspect. The brass knocker, door knob, and letter box were brilliantly polished, whilst the windows and the window curtains were spotlessly clean. But the place cried aloud for the service of the decorator, and it did not need the deductive powers of a Paul Harley to determine that Mr. Colin Camber was in straitened circumstances. H!p!sn  
In response to my ringing the door was presently opened by Ah Tsong. His yellow face exhibited no trace of emotion whatever. He merely opened the door and stood there looking at me. &.hoC Po$  
"Is Mr. Camber at home?" I enquired. So?m?,!W  
"Master no got," crooned Ah Tsong. RFB(d=o5S  
He proceeded quietly to close the door again. F'rt>YvF  
*Er? C;  
"One moment," I said, "one moment. I wish, at any rate, to leave my card." b9DR%hO:  
Ah Tsong allowed the door to remain open, but: C38%H  
"No usee palaber so fashion," he said. "No feller comee here. Sabby?" e3g_At\  
"I savvy, right enough," said I, "but all the same you have got to take my card in to Mr. Camber." fGTOIi@#  
L {qJ-ln:  
I handed him a card as I spoke, and suddenly addressing him in "pidgin," of which, fortunately, I had a smattering: ?wCs&tM  
"Belong very quick, Ah Tsong," I said, sharply, "or plenty big trouble, savvy?" 4swKjN &  
"Sabby, sabby," he muttered, nodding his head; and leaving me standing in the porch he retired along the sparsely carpeted hall.  (YrR8  
This hall was very gloomily lighted, but I could see several pieces of massive old furniture and a number of bookcases, all looking incredibly untidy. >2Ca5C  
Rather less than a minute elapsed, I suppose, when from some place at the farther end of the hallway Mr. Camber appeared in person. He wore a threadbare dressing gown, the silken collar and cuffs of which were very badly frayed. His hair was dishevelled and palpably he had not shaved this morning. \gd6Yx^[  
He was smoking a corncob pipe, and he slowly approached, glancing from the card which he held in his hand in my direction, and then back again at the card, with a curious sort of hesitancy. In spite of his untidy appearance I could not fail to mark the dignity of his bearing, and the almost arrogant angle at which he held his head. hk.yR1Y|  
"Mr--er--Malcolm Knox?" he began, fixing his large eyes upon me with a look in which I could detect no sign of recognition. "I am advised that you desire to see me?" S QSA%B$<  
"That is so, Mr. Camber," I replied, cheerily. "I fear I have interrupted your work, but as no other opportunity may occur of renewing an acquaintance which for my part I found extremely pleasant--" ;!:F#gahv  
"Of renewing an acquaintance, you say, Mr. Knox?" 48;~bVr}  
O-?z' @5cI  
"Yes." a pKa4nI  
F fZ{%E  
"Quite." He looked me up and down critically. "To be sure, we have met before, I understand?" 'O!Z:-qE  
"We met yesterday, Mr. Camber, you may recall. Having chanced to come across a contribution of yours of the Occult Review, I have availed myself of your invitation to drop in for a chat." MR^umLM88  
His expression changed immediately and the sombre eyes lighted up. f4 Sw,A  
"Ah, of course," he cried, "you are a student of the transcendental. Forgive my seeming rudeness, Mr. Knox, but indeed my memory is of the poorest. Pray come in, sir; your visit is very welcome." a|] %/[G@  
He held the door wide open, and inclined his head in a gesture of curious old-world courtesy which was strange in so young a man. And congratulating myself upon the happy thought which had enabled me to win such instant favour, I presently found myself in a study which I despair of describing. 4LB9w 21  
In some respects it resembled the lumber room of an antiquary, whilst in many particulars it corresponded to the interior of one of those second-hand bookshops which abound in the neighbourhood of Charing Cross Road. The shelves with which it was lined literally bulged with books, and there were books on the floor, books on the mantelpiece, and books, some open and some shut, some handsomely bound, and some having the covers torn off, upon every table and nearly every chair in the place. ]rX?n  
Volume seven of Burton's monumental "Thousand Nights and a Night" lay upon a littered desk before which I presumed Mr. Camber had been seated at the time of my arrival. Some wet vessel, probably a cup of tea or coffee, had at some time been set down upon the page at which this volume was open, for it was marked with a dark brown ring. A volume of Fraser's "Golden Bough" had been used as an ash tray, apparently, since the binding was burned in several places where cigarettes had been laid upon it. l<MCmKuYp  
In this interesting, indeed unique apartment, East met West, unabashed by Kipling's dictum. Roman tear-vases and Egyptian tomb-offerings stood upon the same shelf as empty Bass bottles; and a hideous wooden idol from the South Sea Islands leered on eternally, unmoved by the presence upon his distorted head of a soft felt hat made, I believe, in Philadelphia. {ZYCnS&?CL  
Strange implements from early British barrows found themselves in the company of Thugee daggers There were carved mammals' tusks and snake emblems from Yucatan; against a Chinese ivory model of the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas rested a Coptic crucifix made from a twig of the Holy Rose Tree. Across an ancient Spanish coffer was thrown a Persian rug into which had been woven the monogram of Shah-Jehan and a text from the Koran. It was easy to see that Mr. Colin Camber's studies must have imposed a severe strain upon his purse. Q-%=ZW Z  
"Sit down, Mr. Knox, sit down," he said, sweeping a vellum-bound volume of Eliphas Levi from a chair, and pushing the chair forward. "The visit of a fellow-student is a rare pleasure for me. And you find me, sir," he seated himself in a curious, carved chair which stood before the desk, "you find me engaged upon enquiries, the result of which will constitute chapter forty-two of my present book. Pray glance at the contents of this little box." bL[W.O0  
TzXl ?N  
He placed in my hands a small box of dark wood, evidently of great age. It contained what looked like a number of shrivelled beans. RuuU}XQ  
FX 3[U+  
Having glanced at it curiously I returned it to him, shaking my head blankly. OR{"9)I  
w6 .HvH-@?  
"You are puzzled?" he said, with a kind of boyish triumph, which lighted up his face, which rejuvenated him and gave me a glimpse of another man. "These, sir," he touched the shrivelled objects with a long, delicate forefinger "are seeds of the sacred lotus of Ancient Egypt. They were found in the tomb of a priest." ?`$4ZDM  
"And in what way do they bear upon the enquiry to which you referred, Mr. Camber?" Cpl)byb  
"In this way," he replied, drawing toward him a piece of newspaper upon which rested a mound of coarse shag. "I maintain that the vital principle survives within them. Now, I propose to cultivate these seeds, Mr. Knox. Do you grasp the significance, of this experiment?" A<&9   
He knocked out the corn-cob upon the heel of his slipper and began to refill the hot bowl with shag from the newspaper at his elbow. N4Ym[l  
"From a physical point of view, yes," I replied, slowly. "But I should not have supposed such an experiment to come within the scope of your own particular activities, Mr. Camber."  d00r&Mc  
"Ah," he returned, triumphantly, at the same time stuffing tobacco into the bowl of the corn-cob, "it is for this very reason that chapter forty-two of my book must prove to be the hub of the whole, and the whole, Mr. Knox, I am egotist enough to believe, shall establish a new focus for thought, an intellectual Rome bestriding and uniting the Seven Hills of Unbelief." c+q4sNnE  
He lighted his pipe and stared at me complacently. W<\KRF$S;  
Whilst I had greatly revised my first estimate of the man, my revisions had been all in his favour. Respecting his genius my first impression was confirmed. That he was ahead of his generation, perhaps a new Galileo, I was prepared to believe. He had a pride of bearing which I think was partly racial, but which in part, too, was the insignia of intellectual superiority. He stood above the commonplace, caring little for the views of those around and beneath him. From vanity he was utterly free. His was strangely like the egotism of true genius. ApR>b%  
"Now, sir," he continued, puffing furiously at his corn-cob, "I observed you glancing a moment ago at this volume of the 'Golden Bough.'" He pointed to the scarred book which I have already mentioned. "It is a work of profound scholarship. But having perused its hundreds of pages, what has the student learned? Does he know why the twenty- sixth chapter of the 'Book of the dead' was written upon lapis-lazuli, the twenty-seventh upon green felspar, the twenty-ninth upon cornelian, and the thirtieth upon serpentine? He does not. Having studied Part Four, has he learned the secret of why Osiris was a black god, although he typified the Sun? Has he learned why modern Christianity is losing its hold upon the nations, whilst Buddhism, so called, counts its disciples by millions? He has not. This is because the scholar is rarely the seer." NH~\kV  
t>Lq "]1  
"I quite agree with you," I said, thinking that I detected the drift of his argument. 17la/7l<  
"Very well," said he. "I am an American citizen, Mr. Knox, which is tantamount to stating that I belong to the greatest community of traders which has appeared since the Phoenicians overran the then known world. America has not produced the mystic, yet Judaea produced the founder of Christianity, and Gautama Buddha, born of a royal line, established the creed of human equity. In what way did these magicians, for a miracle-worker is nothing but a magician, differ from ordinary men? In one respect only: They had learned to control that force which we have to-day termed Will." Q%r KKOX8  
As he spoke those words Colin Camber directed upon me a glance from his luminous eyes which frankly thrilled me. The bemused figure of the Lavender Arms was forgotten. I perceived before me a man of power, a man of extraordinary knowledge and intellectual daring. His voice, which was very beautiful, together with his glance, held me enthralled. muAgsH$/  
^P|Zze zwU  
"What we call Will," he continued, "is what the Ancient Egyptians called Khu. It is not mental: it is a property of the soul. At this point, Mr. Knox, I depart from the laws generally accepted by my contemporaries. I shall presently propose to you that the eye of the Divine Architect literally watches every creature upon the earth." ioBYxbY`  
"Literally?" @=OX7zq\h-  
x \I uM  
"Literally, Mr. Knox. We need no images, no idols, no paintings. All power, all light comes from one source. That source is the sun! The sun controls Will, and the Will is the soul. If there were a cavern in the earth so deep that the sun could never reach it, and if it were possible for a child to be born in that cavern, do you know what that child would be?" w4FYd  
s )Xz}QPK.  
"Almost certainly blind," I replied; "beyond which my imagination fails me." `<#O8,7`  
"Then I will inform you, Mr. Knox. It would be a demon." 4hYK$!"r  
"What!" I cried, and was momentarily touched with the fear that this was a brilliant madman. of >  
G @]n(\7Y  
"Listen," he said, and pointed with the stem of his pipe. "Why, in all ancient creeds, is Hades depicted as below? For the simple reason that could such a spot exist and be inhabited, it must be sunless, when it could only be inhabited by devils; and what are devils but creatures without souls?" b/tc D r  
LaL{ ^wP  
"You mean that a child born beyond reach of the sun's influence would have no soul?" ?\<Kb|Q  
d7Z$/ $  
"Such is my meaning, Mr. Knox. Do you begin to see the importance of my experiment with the lotus seeds?" iE]^ 6i  
I shook my head slowly. Whereupon, laying his corn-cob upon the desk, Colin Camber burst into a fit of boyish laughter, which seemed to rejuvenate him again, which wiped out the image of the magus completely, and only left before me a very human student of strange subjects, and withal a fascinating companion. j$k/oQ  
"I fear, sir," he said, presently, "that my steps have led me farther into the wilderness than it has been your fate to penetrate. The whole secret of the universe is contained in the words Day and Night, Darkness and Light. I have studied both the light and the darkness, deliberately and without fear. A new age is about to dawn, sir, and a new age requires new beliefs, new truths. Were you ever in the country of the Hill Dyaks?" ^!K 8nW{*  
This abrupt question rather startled me, but: o6S`7uwJ*/  
"You refer to the Borneo hill-country?" .n)0@X!  
"Precisely." .t9zF-jk  
"No, I was never there." H0i\#)Xs  
"Then this little magical implement will be new to you," said he. 3 e9fziQ~  
Standing up, he crossed to a cabinet littered untidily with all sorts of strange-looking objects, carved bones, queer little inlaid boxes, images, untidy manuscripts, and what-not. s"?&`S  
;.h5; `&  
He took up what looked like a very ungainly tobacco-pipe, made of some rich brown wood, and, handing it to me: 9=I(AYG{m  
"Examine this, Mr. Knox," he said, the boyish smile of triumph returning again to his face. !,\9,lc  
(DK pJCx  
I did as he requested and made no discovery of note. The thing clearly was not intended for a pipe. The stem was soiled and, moreover, there was carving inside the bowl. So that presently I returned it to him, shaking my head. nNilT J   
"Unless one should be informed of the properties of this little instrument," he declared, "discovery by experiment is improbable. Now, note." b$Uwj<v  
He struck the hollow of the bowl upon the palm of his hand, and it delivered a high, bell-like note which lingered curiously. Then: NI^Y%N  
"Note again." 7GIv3Dc  
He made a short striking motion with the thing, similar to that which one would employ who had designed to jerk something out of the bowl. And at the very spot on the floor where any object contained in the bowl would have fallen, came a reprise of the bell note! Clearly, from almost at my feet, it sounded, a high, metallic ring. &Bp\kv  
He struck upward, and the bell-note sounded on the ceiling; to the right, and it came from the window; in my direction, and the tiny bell seemed to ring beside my ear! I will honestly admit that I was startled, but: -/-6Td1JY>  
mU=6"A0 U  
"Dyak magic," said Colin Camber; "one of nature's secrets not yet discovered by conventional Western science. It was known to the Egyptian priesthood, of course; hence the Vocal Memnon. It was known to Madame Blavatsky, who employed an 'astral bell'; and it is known to me." '%EZoc/U  
He returned the little instrument to its place upon the cabinet. OF&h=1De,  
"I wonder if the fact will strike you as significant," said he, "that the note which you have just heard can only be produced between sunrise and sunset?" ole|J  
%l} Q?Z  
Without giving me time to reply: dC` tN5  
"The most notable survival of black magic--that is, the scientific employment of darkness against light--is to be met with in Haiti and other islands of the West Indies." MO[kr2T  
"You are referring to Voodooism?" I said, slowly. |olNA*4  
Gn59 yG!4  
He nodded, replacing his pipe between his teeth. y"vX~LR  
*| YU]b;W  
"A subject, Mr. Knox, which I investigated exhaustively some years ago." ZenPw1-  
I was watching him closely as he spoke, and a shadow, a strange shadow, crept over his face, a look almost of exaltation--of mingled sorrow and gladness which I find myself quite unable to describe. U O<:.6"  
P)6 lu8zQ  
"In the West Indies, Mr. Knox," he continued, in a strangely altered voice, "I lost all and found all. Have you ever realized, sir, that sorrow is the price we must pay for joy?" `tEo]p  
I did not understand his question, and was still wondering about it when I heard a gentle knock, the door opened, and a woman came in. X~9j$3lUBR  

只看该作者 14楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XIV. Ysola Camber _B2V "p  
   *p ? e.%nd  
I find it difficult, now, to recapture my first impression of that meeting. About the woman, hesitating before me, there was something unexpected, something wholly unfamiliar. She belonged to a type with which I was not acquainted. Nor was it wonderful that she should strike me in this fashion, since my wanderings, although fairly extensive, had never included the West Indies, nor had I been to Spain; and this girl --I could have sworn that she was under twenty--was one of those rare beauties, a golden Spaniard.  'k&?DZ!  
2^exL h  
That she was not purely Spanish I learned later. #`GbHxd  
She was small, and girlishly slight, with slender ankles and exquisite little feet; indeed I think she had the tiniest feet of any woman I had ever met. She wore a sort of white pinafore over her dress, and her arms, which were bare because of the short sleeves of her frock, were of a child-like roundness, whilst her creamy skin was touched with a faint tinge of bronze, as though, I remember thinking, it had absorbed and retained something of the Southern sunshine. She had the swaying carriage which usually belongs to a tall woman, and her head and neck were Grecian in poise. cV$lobqO  
!y vJpdsof  
Her hair, which was of a curious dull gold colour, presented a mass of thick, tight curls, and her beauty was of that unusual character which makes a Cleopatra a subject of deathless debate. What I mean to say is this: whilst no man could have denied, for instance, that Val Beverley was a charmingly pretty woman, nine critics out of ten must have failed to classify this golden Spaniard correctly or justly. Her complexion was peach-like in the Oriental sense, that strange hint of gold underlying the delicate skin, and her dark blue eyes were shaded by really wonderful silken lashes. z}5<$K_U  
Emotion had the effect of enlarging the pupils, a phenomenon rarely met with, so that now as she entered the room and found a stranger present they seemed to be rather black than blue. S8*>kM'  
;Vo mFp L  
Her embarrassment was acute, and I think she would have retired without speaking, but: x:C@)CAr  
"Ysola," said Colin Camber, regarding her with a look curiously compounded of sorrow and pride, "allow me to present Mr. Malcolm Knox, who has honoured us with a visit." th9 0O|;  
$ JuLAqq  
He turned to me. o` 2 5  
"Mr. Knox," he said, "it gives me great pleasure that you should meet my wife." PZ~`O  
`e4o1 *  
Perhaps I had expected this, indeed, subconsciously, I think I had. Nevertheless, at the words "my wife" I felt that I started. The analogy with Edgar Allan Poe was complete. +qE,<c}}  
As Mrs. Camber extended her hand with a sort of appealing timidity, it appeared to me that she felt herself to be intruding. The expression in her beautiful eyes when she glanced at her husband could only be described as one of adoration; and whilst it was impossible to doubt his love for her, I wondered if his colossal egotism were capable of stooping to affection. I wondered if he knew how to tend and protect this delicate Southern girl wife of his. 7-g]A2N  
Remembering the episode of the Lavender Arms, I felt justified in doubting her happiness, and in this I saw an explanation of the mingled sorrow and pride with which Colin Camber regarded her. It might betoken recognition of his own shortcomings as a husband. (1saof *p%  
"How nice of you to come and see us. Mr. Knox," she said. ".*a)  
She spoke in a faintly husky manner which was curiously attractive, although lacking the deep, vibrant tones of Madame de Staemer's memorable voice. Her English was imperfect, but her accent good. ] fwTi(4y  
"Your husband has been carrying me to enchanted lands, Mrs. Camber," I replied. "I have never known a morning to pass so quickly." NGb! 7Mu9  
"Oh," she replied, and laughed with a childish glee which I was glad to witness. "Did he tell you all about the book which is going to make the world good? Did he tell you it will make us rich as well?" +EB,7<5<  
"Rich?" said Camber, frowning slightly. "Nature's riches are health and love. If we hold these the rest will come. Now that you have joined us, Ysola, I shall beg Mr. Knox, in honour of this occasion, to drink a glass of wine and break a biscuit as a pledge of future meetings." ws(}K+y_  
I watched him as he spoke, a lean, unkempt figure invested with a curious dignity, and I found it almost impossible to believe that this was the same man who had sat in the bar of the Lavender Arms, sipping whisky and water. The resemblance to the portrait in Harley's office became more marked than ever. There was an air of high breeding about the delicate features which, curiously enough, was accentuated by the unshaven chin. I recognized that refusal would be regarded as a rebuff, and therefore: Fu$Gl$qV?%  
"You are very kind," I said. @{GxQzo  
Colin Camber inclined his head gravely and courteously. p%_ :(  
t O;W?g  
"We are very glad to have you with us, Mr. Knox," he replied. .?]_yX  
He clapped his hands, and, silent as a shadow, Ah Tsong appeared. I noted that although it was Camber who had summoned him, it was to Mrs. Camber that the Chinaman turned for orders. I had thought his yellow face incapable of expression, but as his oblique eyes turned in the direction of the girl I read in them a sort of dumb worship, such as one sees in the eyes of a dog. )5x?Qn(B  
H:6$) #  
She spoke to him rapidly in Chinese. 5Bo)j_Qo  
"Hoi, hoi," he muttered, "hoi, hoi," nodded his head, and went out. 2Fi*)\{  
"RLb wm~  
I saw that Colin Camber had detected my interest, for: uc_ X;M;  
"Ah Tsong is really my wife's servant," he explained. \cG'3\GI  
"Oh," she said in a low voice, and looked at me earnestly, "Ah Tsong nursed me when I was a little baby so high." She held her hand about four feet from the floor and laughed gleefully. "Can you imagine what a funny little thing I was?" %9j]N$.V  
}sFHb[I &  
"You must have been a wonder-child, Mrs. Camber," I replied with sincerity; "and Ah Tsong has remained with you ever since?" COap*  
"Ever since," she echoed, shaking her head in a vaguely pathetic way. "He will never leave me, do you think, Colin?" bFcI\Q{4  
"Never," replied her husband; "you are all he loves in the world. A case, Mr. Knox," he turned to me, "of deathless fidelity rarely met with nowadays and only possible, perhaps, in its true form in an Oriental." Uo# Pe@ieQ  
Mrs. Camber having seated herself upon one of the few chairs which was not piled with books, her husband had resumed his place by the writing desk, and I sought in vain to interpret the glances which passed between them. =nG g k}Z  
The fact that these two were lovers none could have mistaken. But here again, as at Cray's Folly, I detected a shadow. I felt that something had struck at the very root of their happiness, in fact, I wondered if they had been parted, and were but newly reunited for there was a sort of constraint between them, the more marked on the woman's side than on the man's. I wondered how long they had been married, but felt that it would have been indiscreet to ask. }]<0!q &xB  
4( $p8J  
Even as the idea occurred to me, however, an opportunity arose of learning what I wished to know. I heard a bell ring, and: ox*1F+Xri  
t W+"/<U  
"There is someone at the door, Colin," said Mrs. Camber. 9 ,:#Q<UM  
"I will go," he replied. "Ah Tsong has enough to do." jYi,oE  
Without another word he stood up and walked out of the room. 9Q=VRH:  
"You see," said Mrs. Camber, smiling in her naive way, "we only have one servant, except Ah Tsong, her name is Mrs. Powis. She is visiting her daughter who is married. We made the poor old lady take a holiday." y6nP=g|')>  
"It is difficult to imagine you burdened with household responsibilities, Mrs. Camber," I replied. "Please forgive me but I cannot help wondering how long you have been married?" `gX|q3K\s  
"For nearly four years." QQrldc(I  
"Really?" I exclaimed. "You must have been married very young?" /6 ')B !&  
(Ceruo S  
"I was twenty. Do I look so young?" c8&3IzZ  
I gazed at her in amazement. D"4*l5l  
"You astonish me," I declared, which was quite true and no mere compliment. "I had guessed your age to be eighteen." >,,`7%Rv  
"Oh," she laughed, and resting her hands upon the settee leaned forward with sparkling eyes, "how funny. Sometimes I wish I looked older. It is dreadful in this place, although we have been so happy here. At all the shops they look at me so funny, so I always send Mrs. Powis now." j3&q?1  
"You are really quite wonderful," I said. "You are Spanish, are you not, Mrs. Camber?" A3.I|/  
` Ft-1eE  
She slightly shook her head, and I saw the pupils begin to dilate. VMF?qT3Nd  
"Not really Spanish," she replied, haltingly. "I was born in Cuba." A`M-N<T  
"In Cuba?" 4a& 8G  
She nodded. JW><&hY$"  
"Then it was in Cuba that you met Mr. Camber?" @$5~`?  
She nodded again, watching me intently. $ e L-fg  
"It is strange that a Virginian should settle in Surrey." Yyd}>+|<,  
"Yes?" she murmured, "you think so? But really it is not strange at all. Colin's people are so proud, so proud. Do you know what they are like, those Virginians? Oh! I hate them." x2I|iA=  
"You hate them?" *Y53b Z  
"No, I cannot hate them, for he is one. But he will never go back." LG("<CU  
"Why should he never go back, Mrs. Camber?" FB~IO#E8W  
"Because of me." ,nniSG((3  
> mP([]  
"You mean that you do not wish to settle in America?" '81WogH:  
T FK#ign  
"I could not--not where he comes from. They would not have me." D{]9s  
Her eyes grew misty, and she quickly lowered her lashes. @t,Y< )U  
"Would not have you?" I exclaimed. "I don't understand." -jL10~/  
tJZ3P@ L  
"No?" she said, and smiled up at me very gravely. "It is simple. I am a Cuban, one, as they say, of an inferior race--and of mixed blood." jL9to6 Hmr  
She shook her golden head as if to dismiss the subject, and stood up, as Camber entered, followed by Ah Tsong bearing a tray of refreshments. )6 [d'2  
Of the ensuing conversation I remember nothing. My mind was focussed upon the one vital fact that Mrs. Camber was a Cuban Creole. Dimly I felt that here was the missing link for which Paul Harley was groping. For it was in Cuba that Colin Camber had met his wife, it was from Cuba that the menace of Bat Wing came. -P7JaH/Q  
T.kQ] h2ZG  
What could it mean? Surely it was more than a coincidence that these two families, both associated with the West Indies, should reside within sight of one another in the Surrey Hills. Yet, if it were the result of design, the design must be on the part of Colonel Menendez, since the Cambers had occupied the Guest House before he had leased Cray's Folly. <qpDAz4k  
I know not if I betrayed my absentmindedness during the time that I was struggling vainly with these maddening problems, but presently, Mrs. Camber having departed about her household duties, I found myself walking down the garden with her husband. 50l! f7  
"This is the summer house of which I was speaking, Mr. Knox," he said, and I regret to state that I retained no impression of his having previously mentioned the subject. "During the time that Sir James Appleton resided at Cray's Folly, I worked here regularly in the summer months. It was Sir James, of course, who laid out the greater part of the gardens and who rescued the property from the state of decay into which it had fallen." i 6@c@n  
t(R Jc  
I aroused myself from the profitless reverie in which I had become lost. We were standing before a sort of arbour which marked the end of the grounds of the Guest House. It overhung the edge of a miniature ravine, in which, over a pebbly course, a little stream pursued its way down the valley to feed the lake in the grounds of Cray's Folly. Q^H8gsv  
5(+PI KCjC  
From this point of vantage I could see the greater part of Colonel Menendez's residence. I had an unobstructed view of the tower and of the Tudor garden. J dK' ~-L  
"I abandoned my work-shop," pursued Colin Camber, "when the--er--the new tenant took up his residence. I work now in the room in which you found me this morning." z]%c6ty  
He sighed, and turning abruptly, led the way back to the house, holding himself very erect, and presenting a queer figure in his threadbare dressing gown. (k^o[HF  
FPE%h =sw  
It was now a perfect summer's day, and I commented upon the beauty of the old garden, which in places was bordered by a crumbling wall. f}t8V% ^E  
82M` sk3.  
"Yes, a quaint old spot," said Camber. "I thought at one time, because of the name of the house, that it might have been part of a monastery or convent. This was not the case, however. It derives its name from a certain Sir Jaspar Guest, who flourished, I believe, under King Charles of merry memory." P-/"sD  
3 "iBcsLn  
"Nevertheless," I added, "the Guest House is a charming survival of more spacious days." )8!*,e=4  
"True," returned Colin Camber, gravely. "Here it is possible to lead one's own life, away from the noisy world," he sighed again wearily. "Yes, I shall regret leaving the Guest House." Q:|W/RD~  
"What! You are leaving?" y|)VNnWM  
"I am leaving as soon as I can find another residence, suited both to my requirements and to my slender purse. But these domestic affairs can be of no possible interest to you. I take it, Mr. Knox, that you will grant my wife and myself the pleasure of your company at lunch?" y]0O"X-G  
:Y\ ~[Y  
"Many thanks," I replied, "but really I must return to Cray's Folly." Yr/$92(  
ud  r\\5  
As I spoke the words I had moved a little ahead at a point where the path was overgrown by a rose bush, for the garden was somewhat neglected. q$:7j5E  
"You will quite understand," I said, and turned. T]De{nHu  
{ LvD\4h"  
Never can I forget the spectacle which I beheld. y0d=  
Colin Camber's peculiarly pale complexion had assumed a truly ghastly pallor, and he stood with tightly clenched hands, glaring at me almost insanely. \V>5)R n  
4#IT" i  
"Mr. Camber," I cried, with concern, "are you unwell?" B7f<XBU6>  
He moistened his dry lips, and: ({E,}x  
"You are returning--to Cray's Folly?" he said, speaking, it seemed, with difficulty. O!"K'Bm  
={B C0,  
"I am, sir. I am staying with Colonel Menendez." 5X^\AW  
"Ah!" ~;oXLCL0})  
He clutched the collar of his pyjama jacket and wrenched so strongly that the button was torn off. His passion was incredible, insane. The power of speech had almost left him. "L5w]6C4  
"You are a guest of--of Devil Menendez," he whispered, and the speaking of the name seemed almost to choke him. "Of--Devil Menendez. You--you-- are a spy. You have stolen my hospitality--you have obtained access to my house under false pretences. God! if I had known!" I!F&8B+|  
"Mr. Camber," I said, sternly, and realized that I, too, had clenched my fists, for the man's language was grossly insulting, "you forget yourself." QBmARQ  
O&CY9 2)Lk  
"Perhaps I do," he muttered, thickly; "and therefore"--he raised a quivering forefinger--"go! If you have any spark of compassion in your breast, go! Leave my house." 6X2w)cO  
Nostrils dilated, he stood with that quivering finger outstretched, and now having become as speechless as he, I turned and walked rapidly up to the house. x;&iLQZh  
UN6nh T  
"Ah Tsong! Ah Tsong!" came a cry from behind me in tones which I can only describe as hysterical--"Mr. Knox's hat and stick. Quickly." DoEN`K\U  
As I walked in past the study door the Chinaman came to meet me, holding my hat and cane. I took them from him without a word, and, the door being held open by Ah Tsong, walked out on to the road. WaDdZIz4  
sG k'G573  
My heart was beating rapidly. I did not know what to think nor what to do. This ignominious dismissal afforded an experience new to me. I was humiliated, mortified, but above all, wildly angry. Jbqm?Fy4X  
CUZ ;<Pn  
How far I had gone on my homeward journey I cannot say, when the sound of quickly pattering footsteps intruded upon my wild reverie. I stopped, turned, and there was Ah Tsong almost at my heels. -}Q^A_xK  
`KUl XS(  
"Blinga chit flom lilly missee," he said, and held the note toward me. o!>h Q#h  
I hesitated, glaring at him in a way that must have been very unpleasant; but recovering myself I tore open the envelope, and read the following note, written in pencil and very shakily: rwSmdJ~  
MR. KNOX. Please forgive him. If you knew what we have suffered from Senor Don Juan Menendez, I know you would forgive him. Please, for my sake. YSOLA CAMBER. a15kFun  
The Chinaman was watching me, that strangely pathetic expression in his eyes, and: E@%9u#  
dJ&f +  
"Tell your mistress that I quite understand and will write to her," I said. PPMAj@B}V  
"Hoi, hoi." %yPjPUHy  
Ah Tsong turned, and ran swiftly off, as I pursued my way back to Cray's Folly in a mood which I shall not attempt to describe. ^@HWw@GA  

只看该作者 15楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XV. Unrest #;^UW  
   Y %bb-|\W  
I sat in Paul Harley's room. Luncheon was over, and although, as on the previous day, it had been a perfect repast, perfectly served, the sense of tension which I had experienced throughout the meal had made me horribly ill at ease. s6!&4=ZA  
That shadow of which I have spoken elsewhere seemed to have become almost palpable. In vain I had ascribed it to a morbid imagination: persistently it lingered. LFi* O&  
Madame de Staemer's gaiety rang more false than ever. She twirled the rings upon her slender fingers and shot little enquiring glances all around the table. This spirit of unrest, from wherever it arose, had communicated itself to everybody. Madame's several bon mots one and all were failures. She delivered them without conviction like an amateur repeating lines learned by heart. The Colonel was unusually silent, eating little but drinking much. There was something unreal, almost ghastly, about the whole affair; and when at last Madame de Staemer retired, bearing Val Beverley with her, I felt certain that the Colonel would make some communication to us. If ever knowledge of portentous evil were written upon a man's face it was written upon his, as he sat there at the head of the table, staring straightly before him. However: 9QHj$)?k,  
"Gentlemen," he said, "if your enquiries here have led to no result of, shall I say, a tangible character, at least I feel sure that you must have realized one thing." 9\Ff z&  
oKz! Xu%Hl  
Harley stared at him sternly. c}S<<LR  
"I have realized, Colonel Menendez," he replied, "that something is pending." L|(U%$  
"Ah!" murmured the Colonel, and he clutched the edge of the table with his strong brown hands. sHPeAa22  
"But," continued my friend, "I have realized something more. You have asked for my aid, and I am here. Now you have deliberately tied my hands." O<@L~S]  
"What do you mean, sir?" asked the other, softly. J 48$l(l3  
"I will speak plainly. I mean that you know more about the nature of this danger than you have ever communicated to me. Allow me to proceed, if you please, Colonel Menendez. For your delightful hospitality I thank you. As your guest I could be happy, but as a professional investigator whose services have been called upon under most unusual circumstances, I cannot be happy and I do not thank you." 5U]@ Y?  
L8 NZU*"  
Their glances met. Both were angry, wilful, and self-confident. Following a few moments of silence: Odhr=Hs  
p T z]8[^  
"Perhaps, Mr. Harley," said the Colonel, "you have something further to say?" gOah5*Lj  
"I have this to say," was the answer: "I esteem your friendship, but I fear I must return to town without delay." Ry xu#]s  
~kSO YvK$'  
The Colonel's jaws were clenched so tightly that I could see the muscles protruding. He was fighting an inward battle; then: 2k^rZ^^"  
2/uZ2N |S  
"What!" he said, "you would desert me?" YZSQOLN{  
"I never deserted any man who sought my aid." Dr V[1Z  
"I have sought your aid." _B erHoQd  
"Then accept it!" cried Harley. "This, or allow me to retire from the case. You ask me to find an enemy who threatens you, and you withhold every clue which could aid me in my search." OhCdBO  
"What clue have I withheld?"  gvo98Id  
leNX5 sX  
Paul Harley stood up. kn>qX{W  
"It is useless to discuss the matter further, Colonel Menendez," he said, coldly. !0zcS7&P  
r 56~s5A  
The Colonel rose also, and: V[WZ#u-p  
"Mr. Harley," he replied, and his high voice was ill-controlled, "if I give you my word of honour that I dare not tell you more, and if, having done so, I beg of you to remain at least another night, can you refuse me?" wt@TR~a  
Harley stood at the end of the table watching him. ~pI`_3  
"Colonel Menendez," he said, "this would appear to be a game in which my handicap rests on the fact that I do not know against whom I am pitted. Very well. You leave me no alternative but to reply that I will stay." P6v@ Sn  
"I thank you, Mr. Harley. As I fear I am far from well, dare I hope to be excused if I retire to my room for an hour's rest?" p1z^i(  
Harley and I bowed, and the Colonel, returning our salutations, walked slowly out, his bearing one of grace and dignity. So that memorable luncheon terminated, and now we found ourselves alone and faced with a problem which, from whatever point one viewed it, offered no single opening whereby one might hope to penetrate to the truth. B8V85R  
Paul Harley was pacing up and down the room in a state of such nervous irritability as I never remembered to have witnessed in him before. O@KAh5EB  
I had just finished an account of my visit to the Guest House and of the indignity which had been put upon me, and: V 8J!8=2  
"Conundrums! conundrums!" my friend exclaimed. "This quest of Bat Wing is like the quest of heaven, Knox. A hundred open doors invite us, each one promising to lead to the light, and if we enter where do they lead?--to mystification. For instance, Colonel Menendez has broadly hinted that he looks upon Colin Camber as an enemy. Judging from your reception at the Guest House to-day, such an enmity, and a deadly enmity, actually exists. But whereas Camber has resided here for three years, the Colonel is a newcomer. We are, therefore, offered the spectacle of a trembling victim seeking the sacrifice. Bah! it is preposterous." +}0/ %5 =1  
"If you had seen Colin Camber's face to-day, you might not have thought it so preposterous." 4r'f/s8"#  
"But I should, Knox! I should! It is impossible to suppose that Colonel Menendez was unaware when he leased Cray's Folly that Camber occupied the Guest House." 2Po e-=  
Rh:edQ #  
"And Mrs. Camber is a Cuban," I murmured. ppjS|l*`  
"Don't, Knox!" my friend implored. "This case is driving me mad. I have a conviction that it is going to prove my Waterloo." D\}A{I92F4  
"My dear fellow," I said, "this mood is new to you." yMdE[/+3  
"Why don't you advise me to remember Auguste Dupin?" asked Harley, bitterly. "That great man, preserving his philosophical calm, doubtless by this time would have pieced together these disjointed clues, and have produced an elegant pattern ready to be framed and exhibited to the admiring public." N- !>\n  
{5%u G2g  
He dropped down upon the bed, and taking his briar from his pocket, began to load it in a manner which was almost vicious. I stood watching him and offered no remark, until, having lighted the pipe, he began to smoke. I knew that these "Indian moods" were of short duration, and, sure enough, presently: %5?Zjp+9  
"God bless us all, Knox," he said, breaking into an amused smile, "how we bristle when someone tries to prove that we are not infallible! How human we are, Knox, but how fortunate that we can laugh at ourselves." sz"N,-<Ig  
I sighed with relief, for Harley at these times imposed a severe strain even upon my easy-going disposition. d,5,OJY2f  
)` ^/Dj;  
"Let us go down to the billiard room," he continued. "I will play you a hundred up. I have arrived at a point where my ideas persistently work in circles. The best cure is golf; failing golf, billiards." Y(/y,bJ?jp  
) >H11o{&  
The billiard room was immediately beneath us, adjoining the last apartment in the east wing, and there we made our way. Harley played keenly, deliberately, concentrating upon the game. I was less successful, for I found myself alternately glancing toward the door and the open window, in the hope that Val Beverley would join us. I was disappointed, however. We saw no more of the ladies until tea-time, and if a spirit of constraint had prevailed throughout luncheon, a veritable demon of unrest presided upon the terrace during tea. 2~ y<l  
Madame de Staemer made apologies on behalf of the Colonel. He was prolonging his siesta, but he hoped to join us at dinner. ?hOv Y)  
"Is the Colonel's heart affected?" Harley asked. X8 x:/]/0  
Madame de Staemer shrugged her shoulders and shook her head, blankly. !UX7R\qu|  
"It is mysterious, the state of his health," she replied. "An old trouble, which began years and years ago in Cuba." 'Q4V(.   
Harley nodded sympathetically, but I could see that he was not satisfied. Yet, although he might doubt her explanation, he had noted, and so had I, that Madame de Staemer's concern was very real. Her slender hands were strangely unsteady; indeed her condition bordered on one of distraction. ]x`I@vSf7R  
Harley concealed his thoughts, whatever they may have been, beneath that mask of reserve which I knew so well, whilst I endeavoured in vain to draw Val Beverley into conversation with me. K/+w6d  
I gathered that Madame de Staemer had been to visit the invalid, and that she was all anxiety to return was a fact she was wholly unable to conceal. There was a tired look in her still eyes, as though she had undertaken a task beyond her powers to perform, and, so unnatural a quartette were we, that when presently she withdrew I was glad, although she took Val Beverley with her. drZ1D s  
Paul Harley resumed his seat, staring at me with unseeing eyes. A sound reached us through the drawing room which told us that Madame de Staemer's chair was being taken upstairs, a task always performed when Madame desired to visit the upper floors by Manoel and Pedro's daughter, Nita, who acted as Madame's maid. These sounds died away, and I thought how silent everything had become. Even the birds were still, and presently, my eye being attracted to a black speck in the sky above, I learned why the feathered choir was mute. A hawk was hovering loftily overhead. ? <.U,  
A S#D9o  
Noting my upward glance, Paul Harley also raised his eyes. AF qut  
"Ah," he murmured, "a hawk. All the birds are cowering in their nests. Nature is a cruel mistress, Knox." aQ ~  

只看该作者 16楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XVI. Red Eve E9pKR+P  
Over the remainder of that afternoon I will pass in silence. Indeed, looking backward now, I cannot recollect that it afforded one incident worthy of record. But because great things overshadow small, so it may be that whereas my recollections of quite trivial episodes are sharp enough up to a point, my memories from this point onward to the horrible and tragic happening which I have set myself to relate are hazy and indistinct. I was troubled by the continued absence of Val Beverley. I thought that she was avoiding me by design, and in Harley's gloomy reticence I could find no shadow of comfort. vb/*ILS  
W> .O"Ri  
We wandered aimlessly about the grounds, Harley staring up in a vague fashion at the windows of Cray's Folly; and presently, when I stopped to inspect a very perfect rose bush, he left me without a word, and I found myself alone. Y<3s_  
yd "|HHx  
Later, as I sauntered toward the Tudor garden, where I had hoped to encounter Miss Beverley, I heard the clicking of billiard balls; and there was Harley at the table, practising fancy shots. efMv1>{  
He glanced up at me as I paused by the open window, stopped to relight his pipe, and then bent over the table again. W~W^$A  
"Leave me alone, Knox," he muttered; "I am not fit for human society." Tj0eW(<!s  
Understanding his moods as well as I did, I merely laughed and withdrew. 2vWkAC;   
I strolled around into the library and inspected scores of books without forming any definite impression of the contents of any of them. Manoel came in whilst I was there and I was strongly tempted to send a message to Miss Beverley, but common sense overcame the inclination. |23 }~c,  
When at last my watch told me that the hour for dressing was arrived, I heaved a sigh of relief. I cannot say that I was bored, my ill-temper sprang from a deeper source than this. The mysterious disappearance of the inmates of Cray's Folly, and a sort of brooding stillness which lay over the great house, had utterly oppressed me. u8W*_;%:  
As I passed along the terrace I paused to admire the spectacle afforded by the setting sun. The horizon was on fire from north to south and the countryside was stained with that mystic radiance which is sometimes called the Blood of Apollo. Turning, I saw the disk of the moon coldly rising in the heavens. I thought of the silent birds and the hovering hawk, and I began my preparations for dinner mechanically, dressing as an automaton might dress. b%_QL3 m6  
-w2g a1  
Paul Harley's personality was never more marked than in his evil moods. His power to fascinate was only equalled by his power to repel. Thus, although there was a light in his room and I could hear Lim moving about, I did not join him when I had finished dressing, but lighting a cigarette walked downstairs. )N6R#   
The beauty of the night called to me, although as I stepped out upon the terrace I realized with a sort of shock that the gathering dusk held a menace, so that I found myself questioning the shadows and doubting the rustle of every leaf. Something invisible, intangible yet potent, brooded over Cray's Folly. I began to think more kindly of the disappearance of Val Beverley during the afternoon. Doubtless she, too, had been touched by this spirit of unrest and in solitude had sought to dispel it. b mm@oi  
So thinking. I walked on in the direction of the Tudor garden. The place was bathed in a sort of purple half-light, lending it a fairy air of unreality, as though banished sun and rising moon yet disputed for mastery over earth. This idea set me thinking of Colin Camber, of Osiris, whom he had described as a black god, and of Isis, whose silver disk now held undisputed sovereignty of the evening sky. D+)=bPMe  
Resentment of the treatment which I had received at the Guest House still burned hotly within me, but the mystery of it all had taken the keen edge off my wrath, and I think a sort of melancholy was the keynote of my reflections as, descending the steps to the sunken garden, I saw Val Beverley, in a delicate blue gown, coming toward me. She was the spirit of my dreams, and the embodiment of my mood. When she lowered her eyes at my approach, I knew by virtue of a sort of inspiration that she had been avoiding me. {&#~t4  
-?nT mzRc  
"Miss Beverley," I said, "I have been looking for you all the afternoon." X^D9)kel  
"Have you? I have been in my room writing letters." >4/L-y+  
I paced slowly along beside her. )@]6=*%  
"I wish you would be very frank with me," I said. *jM_wwG  
4_PCq Ep)  
She glanced up swiftly, and as swiftly lowered her lashes again. bIgh@= 2  
"Do you think I am not frank?" U-i.(UyZ  
"I do think so. I understand why." 8S]".  
"Do you really understand?" ehNzDr\s  
"I think I do. Your woman's intuition has told you that there is something wrong." #KxbM-1=  
"In what way?" C%d_@*82  
"You are afraid of your thoughts. You can see that Madame de Staemer and Colonel Menendez are deliberately concealing something from Paul Harley, and you don't know where your duty lies. Am I right?" Xq'cA9v=$J  
She met my glance for a moment in a startled way, then: "Yes," she said, softly; "you are quite right. How have you guessed?" 74!oe u.>  
"I have tried very hard to understand you," I replied, "and so perhaps up to a point I have succeeded." qzb<J=FAU  
2t $j  
"Oh, Mr. Knox." She suddenly laid her hand upon my arm. "I am oppressed with such a dreadful foreboding, yet I don't know how to explain it to you." 7Pa@1']  
"I understand. I, too, have felt it." 1Z,[|wJ  
"You have?" She paused, and looked at me eagerly. "Then it is not just morbid imagination on my part. If only I knew what to do, what to believe. Really, I am bewildered. I have just left Madame de Staemer--" U"50_O  
*cO sv  
"Yes?" I said, for she had paused in evident doubt. J "FC%\|  
"Well, she has utterly broken down." !*`-iQo&  
"Broken down?" smm]6  
"She came to my room and sobbed hysterically for nearly an hour this afternoon." $#|gLVOQ  
"But what was the cause of her grief?" LJVG~Yeo  
"I simply cannot understand." h O emt  
"Is it possible that Colonel Menendez is dangerously ill?" ~:_0CKa!  
"It may be so, Mr. Knox, but in that event why have they not sent for a physician?" +pqM ^3t|y  
! d9AG|  
"True," I murmured; "and no one has been sent for?" C>|@& o1  
sM\&. <B  
"No one." Nh)[r x  
"Have you seen Colonel Menendez?" =l|>.\-  
"Not since lunch-time." -931'W[s,  
"Have you ever known him to suffer in this way before?" 4f jC  
"Never. It is utterly unaccountable. Certainly during the last few months he has given up riding practically altogether, and in other ways has changed his former habits, but I have never known him to exhibit traces of any real illness." }Qb';-+;d  
"Has any medical man attended him?" PaxK^*  
%N>\:8 5?  
"Not that I know of. Oh, there is something uncanny about it all. Whatever should I do if you were not here?" 2YE7 23H=Z  
She had spoken on impulse, and seeing her swift embarrassment: sS-W~u|C  
"Miss Beverley," I said, "I am delighted to know that my company cheers you." v$[ @]`  
Truth to tell my heart was beating rapidly, and, so selfish is the nature of man, I was more glad to learn that my company was acceptable to Val Beverley than I should have been to have had the riddle of Cray's Folly laid bare before me. )o05Vda  
Those sweetly indiscreet words, however, had raised a momentary barrier between us, and we walked on silently to the house, and entered the brightly lighted hall. N%|^;4}k  
The silver peal of a Chinese tubular gong rang out just when we reached the veranda, and as Val Beverley and I walked in from the garden, Madame de Staemer came wheeling through the doorway, closely followed by Paul Harley. In her the art of the toilette amounted almost to genius, and she had so successfully concealed all traces of her recent grief that I wondered if this could have been real. TzD:bKE&  
44/ 0}v]  
"My dear Mr. Knox," she cried, "I seem to be fated always to apologize for other people. The Colonel is truly desolate, but he cannot join us for dinner. I have already explained to Mr. Harley." % @^VrhS  
Harley inclined his head sympathetically, and assisted to arrange Madame in her place. _UbR8  
"The Colonel requests us to smoke a cigar with him after dinner, Knox," he said, glancing across to me. "It would seem that troubles never come singly." 0"D?.E"$r  
"Ah," Madame shrugged her shoulders, which her low gown left daringly bare, "they come in flocks, or not at all. But I suppose we should feel lonely in the world without a few little sorrows, eh, Mr. Harley?" w `9GygS  
I loved her unquenchable spirit, and I have wondered often enough what I should have thought of her if I had known the truth. France has bred some wonderful women, both good and bad, but none I think more wonderful than Marie de Staemer. q\b9e&2Y  
If such a thing were possible, we dined more extravagantly than on the previous night. Madame's wit was at its keenest; she was truly brilliant. Pedro, from the big bouffet at the end of the room, supervised this feast of Lucullus, and except for odd moments of silence in which Madame seemed to be listening for some distant sound, there was nothing, I think, which could have told a casual observer that a black cloud rested upon the house. 6 v#sq  
Once, interrupting a tete-a-tete between Val Beverley and Paul Harley: n_ gB#L$  
"Do not encourage her, Mr. Harley," said Madame, "she is a desperate flirt." EnAw8Gm*  
"Oh, Madame," cried Val Beverley and blushed deeply. S}yb~uc,  
8=VX` X  
"You know you are, my dear, and you are very wise. Flirt all your life, but never fall in love. It is fatal, don't you think so, Mr. Knox?"-- turning to me in her rapid manner. efm<bJB2  
I looked into her still eyes, which concealed so much. 9yPB)&"EF  
"Say, rather, that it is Fate," I murmured. _rv_-n]"o  
wFD .3!  
"Yes, that is more pretty, but not so true. If I could live my life again, M. Knox," she said, for she sometimes used the French and sometimes the English mode of address, "I should build a stone wall around my heart. It could peep over, but no one could ever reach it." AG?oA328  
Oddly enough, then, as it seems to me now, the spirit of unrest seemed almost to depart for awhile, and in the company of the vivacious Frenchwoman time passed very quickly up to the moment when Harley and I walked slowly upstairs to join the Colonel. B>R6j}rh'k  
During the latter part of dinner an idea had presented itself to me which I was anxious to mention to Harley, and: [u<1DR  
"Harley," I said, "an explanation of the Colonel's absence has occurred to me." ,<%],-Lt[  
"Really!" he replied; "possibly the same one that has occurred to me." H"m^u6Cmy-  
*joM[ML` 6  
"What is that?" 1: XT r  
Paul Harley paused on the stairs, turning to me. b[%sKl  
"You are thinking that he has taken cover from the danger which he believes particularly to threaten him to-night?" )"`(+Ku&c  
"Exactly." ?y_W%og W  
v% a)nv  
"You may be right," he murmured, proceeding upstairs. X?'ShXI  
He led the way to a little smoke-room which hitherto I had never visited, and in response to his knock: k65V5lb  
1 sJtkge:  
"Come in," cried the high voice of Colonel Menendez. ~SzHIVj:6  
We entered to find ourselves in a small and very cosy room. There was a handsome oak bureau against one wall, which was littered with papers of various kinds, and there was also a large bookcase occupied almost exclusively by French novels. It occurred to me that the Colonel spent a greater part of his time in this little snuggery than in the more formal study below. At the moment of our arrival he was stretched upon a settee near which stood a little table; and on this table I observed the remains of what appeared to me to have been a fairly substantial repast. For some reason which I did not pause to analyze at the moment I noted with disfavour the presence of a bowl of roses upon the silver tray. O~*`YsL9  
Colonel Menendez was smoking a cigarette, and Manoel was in the act of removing the tray. BM>'w,$KL  
"Gentlemen," said the Colonel, "I have no words in which to express my sorrow. Manoel, pull up those armchairs. Help yourself to port, Mr. Harley, and fill Mr. Knox's glass. I can recommend the cigars in the long box." 5Z_7Sc  
As we seated ourselves: C8W4~~1S  
> e"vP W*[  
"I am extremely sorry to find you indisposed, sir," said Harley. oM(8'{S=  
He was watching the dark face keenly, and probably thinking, as I was thinking, that it exhibited no trace of illness. ckYT69U  
Colonel Menendez waved his cigarette gracefully, settling himself amid the cushions. l b;P&V  
"An old trouble, Mr. Harley," he replied, lightly; "a legacy from ancestors who drank too deep of the wine of life." .TCDv4?  
B$n1 k 45  
"You are surely taking medical advice?" uaz!ze+  
Inn{mmz 1  
Colonel Menendez shrugged slightly. X6",Xr! {  
p[(I5p: L  
"There is no doctor in England who would understand the case," he replied. "Besides, there is nothing for it but rest and avoidance of excitement." BMy3tyO  
"In that event, Colonel," said Harley, "we will not disturb you for long. Indeed, I should not have consented to disturb you at all, if I had not thought that you might have some request to make upon this important night." RqtBz3v  
"Ah!" Colonel Menendez shot a swift glance in his direction. "You have remembered about to-night?"  X0VS a{  
"Naturally." VJ~D.ec  
"Your interest comforts me very greatly, gentlemen, and I am only sorry that my uncertain health has made me so poor a host. Nothing has occurred since your arrival to help you, I am aware. Not that I am anxious for any new activity on the part of my enemies. But almost anything which should end this deathly suspense would be welcome." T}&A-V$  
U,W OP7z  
He spoke the final words with a peculiar intonation. I saw Harley watching him closely. | .jWz.c  
=[n !3M+X  
"However," he continued, "everything is in the hands of Fate, and if your visit should prove futile, I can only apologize for having interrupted your original plans. Respecting to-night"--he shrugged-- "what can I say?" _{o 3y"DZ  
"Nothing has occurred," asked Harley, slowly, "nothing fresh, I mean, to indicate that the danger which you apprehend may really culminate to-night?" e\}@w1  
"Nothing fresh, Mr. Harley, unless you yourself have observed anything." #y&5pP:@  
"Ah," murmured Paul Harley, "let us hope that the threat will never be fulfilled." x ;SY80D  
Colonel Menendez inclined his head gravely. Qe!3ae`Z  
"Let us hope so," he said. p(="73  
\ qq  
On the whole, he was curiously subdued. He was most solicitous for our comfort and his exquisite courtesy had never been more marked. I often think of him now--his big but graceful figure reclining upon the settee, whilst he skilfully rolled his eternal cigarettes and chatted in that peculiar, light voice. Before the memory of Colonel Don Juan Sarmiento Menendez I sometimes stand appalled. If his Maker had but endowed him with other qualities of mind and heart equal to his magnificent courage, then truly he had been a great man. 0y/31hp  

只看该作者 17楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XVII. Night of the Full Moon 4^_6~YP7  
I stood at Harley's open window--looking down in the Tudor garden. The moon, like a silver mirror, hung in a cloudless sky. Over an hour had elapsed since I had heard Pedro making his nightly rounds. Nothing whatever of an unusual nature had occurred, and although Harley and I had listened for any sound of nocturnal footsteps, our vigilance had passed unrewarded. Harley, unrolling the Chinese ladder, had set out upon a secret tour of the grounds, warning me that it must be a long business, since the brilliance of the moonlight rendered it necessary that he should make a wide detour, in order to avoid possible observation from the windows. I had wished to join him, but: gt4GN`-k  
"I count it most important that one of us should remain in the house," he had replied. 6:_~-xG  
As a result, here was I at the open window, questioning the shadows to right and left of me, and every moment expecting to see Harley reappear. I wondered what discoveries he would make. It would not have surprised me to learn that there were lights in many windows of Cray's Folly to-night. +:A `e+\  
Although, when we had rejoined the ladies for half an hour, after leaving Colonel Menendez's room, there had been no overt reference to the menace overhanging the house, yet, as we separated for the night, I had detected again in Val Beverley's eyes that look of repressed fear. Indeed, she was palpably disinclined to retire, but was carried off by the masterful Madame, who declared that she looked tired. Eu |/pH=:  
~U+<JC Z  
I wondered now, as I gazed down into the moon-bathed gardens, if Harley and I were the only wakeful members of the household at that hour. I should have been prepared to wager that there were others. I thought of the strange footsteps which so often passed Miss Beverley's room, and I discovered this thought to be an uncomfortable one. '4{@F~fu  
Normally, I was sceptical enough, but on this night of the full moon as I stood there at the window, the horrors which Colonel Menendez had related to us grew very real in my eyes, and I thought that the mysteries of Voodoo might conceal strange and ghastly truths, "The scientific employment of darkness against light." Colin Camber's words leapt unbidden to my mind; and, such is the magic of moonlight, they became invested with a new and a deeper significance. Strange, that theories which one rejects whilst the sun is shining should assume a spectral shape in the light of the moon. 7<kr|-  
Such were my musings, when suddenly I heard a faint sound as of footsteps crunching upon gravel. I leaned farther out of the window, listening intently. I could not believe that Harley would be guilty of such an indiscretion as this, yet who else could be walking upon the path below? i(u zb<  
As I watched, craning from the window, a tall figure appeared, and, slowly crossing the gravel path, descended the moss-grown steps to the Tudor garden. =c[mch%E  
It was Colonel Menendez! 5al44[  
He was bare-headed, but fully dressed as I had seen him in the smoking- room; and not yet grasping the portent of his appearance at that hour, but merely wondering why he had not yet retired, I continued to watch him. As I did so, something in his gait, something unnatural in his movements, caught hold of my mind with a sudden great conviction. He had reached the path which led to the sun-dial, and with short, queer, ataxic steps was proceeding in its direction, a striking figure in the brilliant moonlight which touched his gray hair with a silvery sheen. My'6 yQL  
m; LeaD}0  
His unnatural, automatic movements told their own story. He was walking in his sleep! Could it be in obedience to the call of M'kombo? 1<qq69x  
Kc\0-3 Z  
My throat grew dry and I knew not how to act. Unwillingly it seemed, with ever-halting steps, the figure moved onward. I could see that his fists were tightly clenched and that he held his head rigidly upright. All horrors, real and imaginary, which I had ever experienced, culminated in the moment when I saw this man of inflexible character, I could have sworn of indomitable will, moving like a puppet under the influence of some unnameable force. (F7!&]8%  
He was almost come to the sun-dial when I determined to cry out. Then, remembering the shock experienced by a suddenly awakened somnambulist, and remembering that the Chinese ladder hung from the window at my feet, I changed my mind. Checking the cry upon my lips, I got astride of the window ledge, and began to grope for the bamboo rungs beneath me. I had found the first of these, and, turning, had begun to descend, when: }kXF*cVg  
"Knox! Knox!" came softly from the opening in the box hedge, "what the devil are you about?" 4"wuqr|o  
It was Paul Harley returned from his tour of the building. !>;p^^e  
"Harley!" I whispered, descending, "quick! the Colonel has just gone into the Tudor garden!" Iz!Blk  
"What!" There was a note of absolute horror in the exclamation. "You should have stopped him, Knox, you should have stopped him!" cried Harley, and with that he ran off in the same direction. | ?~-k[|  
Disentangling my foot from the rungs of the ladder which lay upon the ground, I was about to follow, when it happened--that strange and ghastly thing toward which, secretly, darkly, events had been tending. l&dHH_m3  
The crack of a rifle sounded sharply in the stillness, echoing and re- echoing from wing to wing of Cray's Folly and then, more dimly, up the wooded slopes beyond! Somewhere ahead of me I heard Harley cry out: c BQ|m A  
"My God, I am too late! They have got him!" [-f0s;F1%  
Then, hotfoot, I was making for the entrance to the garden. Just as I came to it and raced down the steps I heard another sound the memory of which haunts me to this day. 8X][TJG$  
Where it came from I had no idea. Perhaps I was too confused to judge accurately. It might have come from the house, or from the slopes beyond the house, But it was a sort of shrill, choking laugh, and it set the ultimate touch of horror upon a scene macabre which, even as I write of it, seems unreal to me. .21%~"dxJ  
I ran up the path to where Harley was kneeling beside the sun-dial. Analysis of my emotions at this moment were futile; I can only say that I had come to a state of stupefaction. Face downward on the grass, arms outstretched and fists clenched, lay Colonel Menendez. I think I saw him move convulsively, but as I gained his side Harley looked up at me, and beneath the tan which he never lost his face had grown pale. He spoke through clenched teeth. s0H_Y'  
"Merciful God," he said, "he is shot through the head." r(yJE1Wz  
One glance I gave at the ghastly wound in the base of the Colonel's skull, and then swayed backward in a sort of nausea. To see a man die in the heat of battle, a man one has known and called friend, is strange and terrible. Here in this moon-bathed Tudor garden it was a horror almost beyond my powers to endure. M~I M;my  
lk \|EG  
Paul Harley, without touching the prone figure, stood up. Indeed no examination of the victim was necessary. A rifle bullet had pierced his brain, and he lay there dead with his head toward the hills. 3Aaj+=]W  
3, ,Z  
I clutched at Harley's shoulder, but he stood rigidly, staring up the slope past the angle of the tower, to where a gable of the Guest House jutted out from the trees. t1Hd-]28V  
ji A$6dZU  
"Did you hear--that cry?" I whispered, "immediately after the shot?" Bq R;d  
"I heard it." !m_'<=)B4~  
Xj !0jF33  
A moment longer he stood fixedly watching, and then: Q8\Ks|u]  
"Not a wisp of smoke," he said. "You note the direction in which he was facing when he fell?" *d,SI[c%e  
He spoke in a stern and unnatural voice. _jnH!Mw  
"I do. He must have turned half right when he came to the sun-dial." |yQ3H)qB#  
"Where were you when the shot was fired?" SRj|XCd  
"Running in this direction." Gl}=Q7  
"You saw no flash?" ]?mWnEi!z  
"None." C6CX{IA]  
]n\WCU ]0  
"Neither did I," groaned Harley; "neither did I. And short of throwing a cordon round the hills what can be done? How can I move?" 1S0Hc5vw  
He had somewhat relaxed, but now as I continued to clutch his arm, I felt the muscles grow rigid again. (RWZ [-;)  
xm/v :hl=  
"Look, Knox!" he whispered--"look!" +g7Iu! cA  
I followed the direction of his fixed stare, and through the trees on the hillside a dim light shone out. Someone had lighted a lamp in the Guest House. q<,?:g$k  
A faint, sibilant sound drew my glance upward, and there overhead a bat circled--circled--dipped--and flew off toward the distant woods. So still was the night that I could distinguish the babble of the little stream which ran down into the lake. Then, suddenly, came a loud flapping of wings. The swans had been awakened by the sound of the shot. Others had been awakened, too, for now distant voices became audible, and then a muffled scream from somewhere within Cray's Folly. )nQpO"+M  
"Back to the house, Knox," said Harley, hoarsely. "For God's sake keep the women away. Get Pedro, and send Manoel for the nearest doctor. It's useless but usual. Let no one deface his footprints. My worst anticipations have come true. The local police must be informed."  p&:R SO  
Throughout the time that he spoke he continued to search the moon- bathed landscape with feverish eagerness, but except for a faint movement of birds in the trees, for they, like the swans on the lake, had been alarmed by the shot, nothing stirred. ?`,Xb.NA$K  
"It came from the hillside," he muttered. "Off you go, Knox." vd9l1"S  
And even as I started on my unpleasant errand, he had set out running toward the gate in the southern corner of the garden. p*-o33Ve  
For my part I scrambled unceremoniously up the bank, and emerged where the yews stood sentinel beside the path. I ran through the gap in the box hedge just as the main doors were thrown open by Pedro.  =SRp  
He started back as he saw me. b%2+g<UKh  
: P>Wd3m  
"Pedro! Pedro!" I cried, "have the ladies been awakened?" aze}ko NE  
"Yes, yes! there is terrible trouble, sir. What has happened? What has happened?" {x{e?c!  
"A tragedy," I said, shortly. "Pull yourself together. Where is Madame de Staemer?" &~Qi+b0!  
Pedro uttered some exclamation in Spanish and stood, pale-faced, swaying before me, a dishevelled figure in a dressing gown. And now in the background Mrs. Fisher appeared. One frightened glance she cast in my direction, and would have hurried across the hall but I intercepted her. !;EG<ji,gj  
it?l! ~  
"Where are you going, Mrs. Fisher?" I demanded. "What has happened here?" %C}TdG(C  
yc ize2>q  
"To Madame, to Madame," she sobbed, pointing toward the corridor which communicated with Madame de Staemer's bedchamber. ^Yu<fFn  
I heard a frightened cry proceeding from that direction, and recognized the voice of Nita, the girl who acted as Madame's maid. Then I heard Val Beverley. Atdr|2  
"Go and fetch Mrs. Fisher, Nita, at once--and try to behave yourself. I have trouble enough." 0Yh Mwg?  
I entered the corridor and pulled up short. Val Beverley, fully dressed, was kneeling beside Madame de Staemer, who wore a kimono over her night-robe, and who lay huddled on the floor immediately outside the door of her room! [UP-BX(  
"Oh, Mr. Knox!" cried the girl, pitifully, and raised frightened eyes to me. "For God's sake, what has happened?" e$vvmbK.  
Nita, the Spanish girl, who was sobbing hysterically, ran along to join Mrs. Fisher. ~zd+M/8  
"I will tell you in a moment," I said, quietly, rendered cool, as one always is, by the need of others. "But first tell me--how did Madame de Staemer get here?" \'>8 (i~  
"I don't know, I don't know! I was startled by the shot. It has awakened everybody. And just as I opened my door to listen, I heard Madame cry out in the hall below. I ran down, turned on the light, and found her lying here. She, too, had been awakened, I suppose, and was endeavouring to drag herself from her room when her strength failed her and she swooned. She is too heavy for me to lift," added the girl, pathetically, "and Pedro is out of his senses, and Nita, who was the first of the servants to come, is simply hysterical, as you can see." D&]dlY@*  
I nodded reassuringly, and stooping, lifted the swooning woman. She was much heavier than I should have supposed, but, Val Beverley leading the way, I carried her into her apartment and placed her upon the bed. f{j.jfl\x  
"I will leave her to you," I said. "You have courage, and so I will tell you what has happened." !-<PV  
%Tvy|L ,  
"Yes, tell me, oh, tell me!" /:o (Ghc?  
She laid her hands upon my shoulders appealingly, and looked up into my eyes in a way that made me long to take her in my arms and comfort her, an insane longing which I only crushed with difficulty. -g`3;1EV^  
"Someone has shot Colonel Menendez," I said, in a low voice, for Mrs. Fisher had just entered. !o k6*m  
"You mean--" $)fybn Y  
I nodded. $YyN-C  
V0Z\e _I  
"Oh!" =DhzV D  
Val Beverley opened and closed her eyes, clutching at me dizzily for a moment, then: #K3A{ jb,  
"I think," she whispered, "she must have known, and that was why she swooned. Oh, my God! how horrible." $vS`w4Y  
I made her sit down in an armchair, and watched her anxiously, but although every speck of colour had faded from her cheeks, she was splendidly courageous, and almost immediately she smiled up at me, very wanly, but confidently. A L#"j62  
"I will look after her," she said. "Mr. Harley will need your assistance." Pe w-6u"  
LuS] D%  
When I returned to the hall I found it already filled with a number of servants incongruously attired. Carter the chauffeur, who lived at the lodge, was just coming in at the door, and:  :\1:n  
"Carter," I said, "get a car out quickly, and bring the nearest doctor. If there is another man who can drive, send him for the police. Your master has been shot." u1O?`  
@ 'rk[S}A  

只看该作者 18楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XVIII. Inspector Aylesbury of Market Hilton Eii)zo8Xd  
"Now, gentlemen," said Inspector Aylesbury, "I will take evidence." C?fd.2#U  
6 6(|3DX  
Dawn was creeping grayly over the hills, and the view from the library windows resembled a study by Bastien-Lepage. The lamps burned yellowly, and the exotic appointments of the library viewed in that cold light for some reason reminded me of a stage set seen in daylight. The Velasquez portrait mentally translated me to the billiard room where something lay upon the settee with a white sheet drawn over it; and I wondered if my own face looked as wan and comfortless as did the faces of my companions, that is, of two of them, for I must except Inspector Aylesbury. iH<:wLY&J  
Squarely before the oaken mantel he stood, a large, pompous man, but in this hour I could find no humour in Paul Harley's description of him as resembling a walrus. He had a large auburn moustache tinged with gray, and prominent brown eyes, but the lower part of his face, which terminated in a big double chin, was ill-balanced by his small forehead. He was bulkily built, and I had conceived an unreasonable distaste for his puffy hands. His official air and oratorical manner were provoking. C$WUg<kcK'  
o|`[X '  
Harley sat in the chair which he had occupied during our last interview with Colonel Menendez in the library, and I had realized--a realization which had made me uncomfortable--that I was seated upon the couch on which the Colonel had reclined. Only one other was present, Dr. Rolleston of Mid-Hatton, a slight, fair man with a brisk, military manner, acquired perhaps during six years of war service. He was standing beside me smoking a cigarette. R&.mNji*  
"I have taken all the necessary particulars concerning the position of the body," continued the Inspector, "the nature of the wound, contents of pockets, etc., and I now turn to you, Mr. Harley, as the first person to discover the murdered man." +[vI ocu  
~+ kfb^<-  
Paul Harley lay back in the armchair watching the speaker. :6MV@{;PJ  
Q.?(h! )9  
"Before we come to what happened here to-night I should like to be quite clear about your own position in the matter, Mr. Harley. Now"-- Inspector Aylesbury raised one finger in forensic manner--"now, you visited me yesterday afternoon, Mr. Harley, and asked for certain information regarding the neighbourhood." m%0_fNSJ  
Llkh kq_  
"I did," said Harley, shortly. +oh|r'~  
"The questions which you asked me were," continued the Inspector, slowly and impressively, "did I know of any negro or coloured people living in, or about, Mid-Hatton, and could I give you a list of the residents within a two-mile radius of Cray's Folly. I gave you the information which you required, and now it is your turn to give me some. Why did you ask those questions?" hP8w3gl_  
"For this reason," was the reply--"I had been requested by Colonel Menendez to visit Cray's Folly, accompanied by my friend, Mr. Knox, in order that I might investigate certain occurrences which had taken place here." @54$IhhT~  
"Oh," said the Inspector, raising his eyebrows, "I see. You were here to make investigations?" eaNfCXHDN  
"Yes." [O'aka Q  
"And these occurrences, will you tell me what they were?" As5l36  
"Simple enough in themselves," replied Harley. "Someone broke into the house one night." P0_Ymn=&  
"Broke into the house?" Hi$N"16A5z  
"Undoubtedly." L})*ck  
"But this was never reported to us." dN:^RCFzS  
YD9vWk \/  
"Possibly not, but someone broke in, nevertheless. Secondly, Colonel Menendez had detected someone lurking about the lawns, and thirdly, the wing of a bat was nailed to the main door." Q[H4l({E  
Inspector Aylesbury lowered his eyebrows and concentrated a frowning glance upon the speaker. ]z=dRq  
"Of course, sir," he said, "I don't want to jump to conclusions, but you are not by any chance trying to be funny at a time like this?" *lheF>^  
"My sense of humour has failed me entirely," replied Harley. "I am merely stating bald facts in reply to your questions." c2Y\bKeN  
"Oh, I see." lpbcpB  
y (%y'xBP  
The Inspector cleared his throat. hN\Q&F!  
"Someone broke into Cray's Folly, then, a fact which was not reported to me, a suspicious loiterer was seen in the grounds, again not reported, and someone played a silly practical joke by nailing the wing of a bat, you say, to the door. Might I ask, Mr. Harley, why you mention this matter? The other things are serious, but why you should mention the trick of some mischievous boy at a time like this I can't imagine." }V 4u`=  
"No," said Harley, wearily, "it does sound absurd, Inspector; I quite appreciate the fact. But, you see, Colonel Menendez regarded it as the most significant episode of them all." ^E".`~R  
"What! The bat wing nailed on the door?" VH vL:z  
"The bat wing, decidedly. He believed it to be the token of a negro secret society which had determined upon his death, hence my enquiries regarding coloured men in the neighbourhood. Do you understand, Inspector?" dJlK'zK  
Inspector Aylesbury took a large handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose. Replacing the handkerchief he cleared his throat, and: q ;_?e_  
9NZq k  
"Am I to understand," he enquired, "that the late Colonel Menendez had expected to be attacked?" u;b6uE  
"You may understand that," replied Harley. "It explains my presence in the house." R/2L9Lcv  
"Oh," said the Inspector, "I see. It looks as though he might have done better if he had applied to me." 9AD0|,g  
Paul Harley glanced across in my direction and smiled grimly. WkoYkkuzj  
"As I had predicted, Knox," he murmured, "my Waterloo." S's I[?\x  
"What's that you say about Waterloo, Mr. Harley?" demanded the Inspector. 7L!q{%}  
"Nothing germane to the case," replied Harley. "It was a reference to a battle, not to a railway station." +*$@ K'VL  
Inspector Aylesbury stared at him dully. ;=?KQq f  
"You quite understand that you are giving evidence?" he said. MUU9IMFJ  
"It were impossible not to appreciate the fact." { f@k2^  
"Very well, then. The late Colonel Menendez thought he was in danger from negroes. Why did he think that?" x\m !3  
"He was a retired West Indian planter," replied Harley, patiently, "and he was under the impression that he had offended a powerful native society, and that for many years their vengeance had pursued him. Attempts to assassinate him had already taken place in Cuba and in the United States." ugtb`d{ Sl  
c[4  H  
"What sort of attempts?" L=u>}?!,Fj  
"He was shot at, several times, and once, in Washington, was attacked by a man with a knife. He maintained in my presence and in the presence of my friend, Mr. Knox, here, that these various attempts were due to members of a sect or religion known as Voodoo." uUXvBA?l  
"Voodoo?" tSK{Abw1B  
"Voodoo, Inspector, also known as Obeah, a cult which has spread from the West Coast of Africa throughout the West Indies and to parts of the United States. The bat wing is said to be a sign used by these people." (Hqy^EOZ  
cx?t C#t  
Inspector Aylesbury scratched his chin. #w3cImgp2  
"Now let me get this thing clear," said he: "Colonel Menendez believed that people called Voodoos wanted to kill him? Before we go any farther, why?" Y Gb&mD  
"Twenty years ago in the West Indies he had shot an important member of this sect." Z~O1$,Z  
^F @z +q  
"Twenty years ago?" 8P8@i+[]W  
8 /3`rEW  
"According to a statement which he made to me, yes." M~ =Bln5  
"I see. Then for twenty years these Voodoos have been trying to kill him? Then he comes and settles here in Surrey and someone nails a bat wing to his door? Did you see this bat wing?" 7GN>o@t  
)2 E7>SQc~  
"I did. I have it upstairs in my bag if you would care to examine it." eC+S'Jgf  
"Oh," said the Inspector, "I see. And thinking he had been followed to England he came to you to see if you could save him?" Q]9g  
Paul Harley nodded grimly. GqYE=Q  
"Why did he go to you in preference to the local police, the proper authorities?" demanded the Inspector. KF'DOXBw>  
"He was advised to do so by the Spanish ambassador, or so he informed me." (W=J3 ?hn  
"Is that so? Well, I suppose it had to be. Coming from foreign parts. I expect he didn't know what our police are for." He cleared his throat. "Very well, I understand now what you were doing here, Mr. Harley. The next thing is, what were you doing tonight, as I see that both you and Mr. Knox are still in evening dress?" W(C\lSE0  
X2 Z E9b  
"We were keeping watch," I replied. SP&Y|I$:  
Inspector Aylesbury turned to me ponderously, raising a fat hand. "One moment, Mr. Knox, one moment," he protested. "The evidence of one witness at a time." dHcGe{T^(  
l c<&f  
"We were keeping watch," said Harley, deliberately echoing my words. `7;I*|  
"Why?" t=`bXBX1  
"More or less we were here for that purpose. You see, on the night of the full moon, according to Colonel Menendez, Obeah people become particularly active." p^G:h6|+|  
"Why on the night of the full moon?" mQQ5>0^m  
"This I cannot tell you." ;;E "+.  
"Oh, I see. You were keeping watch. Where were you keeping watch?" DXAA[hUjF  
"In my room." <Tr_,Ya{9  
o >{+vwK  
"In which part of the house is your room?" KLlo^1.<  
"Northeast. It overlooks the Tudor garden." S|Wv1H>  
"At what time did you retire?" o6  
HE. `  
"About half-past ten." 2#ND(  
"Did you leave the Colonel well?" yNi/JM  
"No, he had been unwell all day. He had remained in his room." XdjM/hB{fD  
"Had he asked you to sit up?" `,a6su (?  
"Not at all; our vigil was quite voluntary." :Y wb  
"Very well, then, you were in your room when the shot was fired?" V[DiN~H  
"On the contrary, I was on the path in front of the house." wn-1fz <d  
"Oh, I see. The front door was open, then?" baoyU#X9  
"Not at all. Pedro had locked up for the night." .07"I7  
O{EPq' x  
"And locked you out?" {P_i5V?  
"No; I descended from my window by means of a ladder which I had brought with me for the purpose." G pI4QzR  
"With a ladder? That's rather extraordinary, Mr Harley." &9^4- 5]  
r :$tvT*  
"It is extraordinary. I have strange habits." >#$SaG!  
0: a2ER|J  
Inspector Aylesbury cleared his throat again and looked frowningly across at my friend. #0r~/gW  
"What part of the grounds were you in when the shot was fired?" he demanded. E`oA(x7l  
"Halfway along the north side." hN2A%ds*(j  
"What were you doing?" N_c44[z 1  
"I was running." x0<;Rm [u=  
"Running?" jR/Gd01)  
"You see, Inspector, I regarded it as my duty to patrol the grounds of the house at nightfall, since, for all I knew to the contrary, some of the servants might be responsible for the attempts of which the Colonel complained. I had descended from the window of my room, had passed entirely around the house east to west, and had returned to my starting-point when Mr. Knox, who was looking out of the window, observed Colonel Menendez entering the Tudor garden." &ivU4rEG  
"Oh. Colonel Menendez was not visible to you?" k[x-O?$O@  
"Not from my position below, but being informed by my friend, who was hurriedly descending the ladder, that the Colonel had entered the garden, I set off running to intercept him." Ft>B% -;  
"Why?" `6rLd>=R  
"He had acquired a habit of walking in his sleep, and I presumed that he was doing so on this occasion." dZ|bw0~_!  
T>| +cg  
"Oh, I see. So being told by the gentleman at the window that Colonel Menendez was in the garden, you started to run toward him. While you were running you heard a shot?" :qXREF@h  
"I did." ld~*w  
"Where do you think it came from?" 5PHAd4=bJ  
"Nothing is more difficult to judge, Inspector, especially when one is near to a large building surrounded by trees." v?1xYG@1  
C@ z^{Z+  
"Nevertheless," said the Inspector, again raising his finger and frowning at Harley, "you cannot tell me that you formed no impression on the point. For instance, was it near, or a long way off?" -i?-Xj#%  
"It was fairly near." !7-dqw%l  
1^zpO~@ S  
"Ten yards, twenty yards, a hundred yards, a mile?" [s4lSGh  
"Within a hundred yards. I cannot be more exact."  `k/hC  
#`rvL6W q}  
"Within a hundred yards, and you have no idea from which direction the shot was fired?" TOp|Qtn  
"From the sound I could form none." ,b2YUb]U  
"Oh, I see. And what did you do?" v o vc,4}  
"I ran on and down into the sunken garden. I saw Colonel Menendez lying upon his face near the sun-dial. He was moving convulsively. Running up to him, I that he had been shot through the head." |DAe2RK  
"What steps did you take?" 4Y>v+N^  
"My friend, Mr. Knox, had joined me, and I sent him for assistance." v@OyB7}  
"But what steps did you take to apprehend the murderer?" f3h&K}x  
Paul Harley looked at him quietly. \~xOdqF/  
"What steps should you have taken?" he asked. @18@[ :d"  
Inspector Aylesbury cleared his throat again, and: &F\J%#{  
"I don't think I should have let my man slip through my fingers like that," he replied. "Why! by now he may be out of the county." Hh;w\)/%j  
"Your theory is quite feasible," said Harley, tonelessly. %\~;I73  
"You were actually on the spot when the shot was fired, you admit that it was fired within a hundred yards, yet you did nothing to apprehend the murderer." =\XAD+  
nZ bg  
"No," replied Harley, "I was ridiculously inactive. You see, I am a mere amateur, Inspector. For my future guidance I should be glad to know what the correct procedure would have been." > T-O3/KN  
Inspector Aylesbury blew his nose. RdDcMZ  
BE+Y qT  
"I know my job," he said. "If I had been called in there might have been a different tale to tell. But he was a foreigner, and he paid for his ignorance, poor fellow." e)xWQ=,C  
(J4utw Z  
Paul Harley took out his pipe and began to load it in a deliberate and lazy manner. 7&3URglsL"  
Inspector Aylesbury turned his prominent eyes in my direction. L:M9|/  
pK9^W T@  

只看该作者 19楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XIX. Complications <AoXEu D  
"I am afraid of this man Aylesbury," said Paul Harley. We sat in the deserted dining room. I had contributed my account of the evening's happenings, Dr. Rolleston had made his report, and Inspector Aylesbury was now examining the servants in the library. Harley and I had obtained his official permission to withdraw, and the physician was visiting Madame de Staemer, who lay in a state of utter prostration. aM3gRp51cj  
muON> ^MbC  
"What do you mean, Harley?"  XRN+`J  
"I mean that he will presently make some tragic blunder. Good God, Knox, to think that this man had sought my aid, and that I stood by idly whilst he walked out to his death. I shall never forgive myself." He banged the table with his fist. "Even now that these unknown fiends have achieved their object, I am helpless, helpless. There was not a wisp of smoke to guide me, Knox, and one man cannot search a county." ZzGahtx)Y  
I sighed wearily. 4BYE1fUzd  
"Do you know, Harley," I said, "I am thinking of a verse of Kipling's." 93qwH%  
"I know!" he interrupted, almost savagely. K3uG2g(>2  
  "A Snider squibbed in the jungle. 6Ao%>;e*  
  Somebody laughed and fled--""Oh, I know, Knox. I heard that damnable laughter, too." "fg](Cp[z  
"My God," I whispered, "who was it? What was it? Where did it come from?" nR4y`oP+  
s >0Nr  
"As well ask where the shot came from, Knox. Out amongst all those trees, with a house that might have been built for a sounding-board, who could presume to say where either came from? One thing we know, that the shot came from the south." `h}q Eo`  
He leaned upon a corner of the table, staring at me intently. '8Phxx|  
"From the south?" I echoed. jkiTj~WE-  
Harley glanced in the direction of the open door. HaA1z}?n  
"Presently," he said, "we shall have to tell Aylesbury everything that we know. After all, he represents the law; but unless we can get Inspector Wessex down from Scotland Yard, I foresee a miscarriage of justice. Colonel Menendez lay on his face, and the line made by his recumbent body pointed almost directly toward--" /8@m<CW2Y  
QD{:vG g  
I nodded, watching him. ^SEdA=!  
"I know, Harley--toward the Guest House." %@& a7JOL  
Paul Harley inclined his head, grimly. u'9gVU B  
m Pt)pn!rA  
"The first light which we saw," he continued, "was in a window of the Guest House. It may have had no significance. Awakened by the sound of a rifle-shot near by, any one would naturally get up." Y^lQX~I2{  
[!+D <Y  
"And having decided to come downstairs and investigate," I continued, "would naturally light a lamp." zeOb Aw1O  
"Quite so." He stared at me very hard. "Yet," he said, "unless Mr. Colin Camber can produce an alibi I foresee a very stormy time for him." m+$/DD^-zl  
2VMX:&3 5J  
"So do I, Harley. A deadly hatred existed between these two men, and probably this horrible deed was done on the spur of the moment. It is of his poor little girl-wife that I am thinking. As though her troubles were not heavy enough already." 5F03y`@ u  
"Yes," he agreed. "I am almost tempted to hold my tongue, Knox, until I have personally interviewed these people. But of course if our blundering friend directly questions me, I shall have no alternative. I shall have to answer him. His talent for examination, however, scarcely amounts to genius, so that we may not be called upon for further details at the moment. I wonder how I can induce him to requisition Scotland Yard?" w0\4Wa  
vN' VDvVM  
He rested his chin in his hand and stared down reflectively at the carpet. I thought that he looked very haggard, as he sat there in the early morning light, dressed as for dinner. There was something pathetic in the pose of his bowed head. rn[$x(G  
Leaning across, I placed my hand on his shoulder. ce 7Yr*ZB  
"Don't get despondent, old chap," I said. "You have not failed yet." 6R$ F =MB  
"Oh, but I have, Knox!" he cried, fiercely, "I have! He came to me for protection. Now he lies dead in his own house. Failed? I have failed utterly, miserably." pXpLL_  
I turned aside as the door opened and Dr. Rolleston came in. *tbpFk4/  
YP .%CD(K  
"Ah, gentlemen," he said, "I wanted to see you before leaving. I have just been to visit Madame de Staemer again." a?U%l9F  
"Yes," said Harley, eagerly; "how is she?" 1 [~|  
hc p'+:  
Dr. Rolleston lighted a cigarette, frowning perplexedly the while. ?;.+A4  
"To be honest," he replied, "her condition puzzles me." RV@(&eM  
He walked across to the fireplace and dropped the match, staring at Harley with a curious expression. L$07u{Q  
"Has any one told her the truth?" he asked. |&*rSp2iH  
;Awzm )Q  
"You mean that Colonel Menendez is dead?" \3UdC{~  
"Yes," replied Dr. Rolleston. "I understood that no one had told her?" l0,O4k2'  
"No one has done so to my knowledge," said Harley. p*,mwKN:  
"Then the sympathy between them must have been very acute," murmured the physician, "for she certainly knows!" ShP V!$0  
vbU{Et\ ^  
"Do you really think she knows?" I asked. XR(kR{yo  
"I am certain of it. She must have had knowledge of a danger to be apprehended, and being awakened by the sound of the rifle shot, have realized by a sort of intuition that the expected tragedy had happened. I should say, from the presence of a small bruise which I found upon her forehead, that she had actually walked out into the corridor." /$E1!9J  
"Walked?" I cried. bR.T94-8y  
"Yes," said the physician. "She is a shell-shock case, of course, and we sometimes find that a second shock counteracts the effect of the first. This, temporarily at any rate, seems to have happened to-night. She is now in a very curious state: a form of hysteria, no doubt, but very curious all the same." <w[)T`4N  
"Miss Beverley is with her?" I asked. !s5 _JO  
Dr. Rolleston nodded affirmatively. A(ql}cr  
"Yes, a very capable nurse. I am glad to know that Madame de Staemer is in such good hands. I am calling again early in the morning, and I have told Mrs. Fisher to see that nothing is said within hearing of the room which could enable Madame de Staemer to obtain confirmation of the idea, which she evidently entertains, that Colonel Menendez is dead." 7a\at)q/y  
"Does she actually assert that he is dead?" asked Harley. @? e+;Sx  
"My dear sir," replied Dr. Rolleston, "she asserts nothing. She sits there like Niobe changed to stone, staring straight before her. She seems to be unaware of the presence of everyone except Miss Beverley. The only words she has spoken since recovering consciousness have been, 'Don't leave me!'"  9q[ d?1  
"Hm," muttered Harley. "You have not attended Madame de Staemer before, doctor?" 'r'+$D7  
"M}3T?0 O  
"No," was the reply, "this is the first time I have entered Cray's Folly since it was occupied by Sir James Appleton." 1VA%xOURh  
x-T7 tr&(  
He was about to take his departure when the door opened and Inspector Aylesbury walked in. _N"c,P0  
F~l:W QAj  
"Ah," said he, "I have two more witnesses to interview: Madame de Staemer and Miss Beverley. From these witnesses I hope to get particulars of the dead man's life which may throw some light upon the identity of his murderer." gcF V$  
"It is impossible to see either of them at present," replied Dr. Rolleston briskly. *Vp$#Rb  
"What's that, doctor?" asked the Inspector. "Are they hysterical, or something?" -Q P&A >]7  
"As a result of the shock, Madame de Staemer is dangerously ill," replied the physician, "and Miss Beverley is remaining with her." 9 ulr6  
"Oh, I see. But Miss Beverley could come out for a few minutes?" {1 94u %'  
"She could," admitted the physician, sharply, "but I don't wish her to do so." hoihdVjv  
"Oh, but the law must be served, doctor." *<U&DOYV:  
G"TPu _g  
"Quite so, but not at the expense of my patient's reason." XU9=@y+|v  
He was a resolute man, this country practitioner, and I saw Harley smiling in grim approval. NNl/'ge <\  
"I have expressed my opinion," he said, finally, walking out of the room; "I shall leave the responsibility to you, Inspector Aylesbury. Good morning, gentlemen." f <w*l<@  
Inspector Aylesbury scratched his chin. .u*].As=  
"That's awkward," he muttered. "The evidence of this woman is highly important." ziycyf.d  
u-9t s  
He turned toward us, doubtingly, whereupon Harley stood up, yawning. 9(F?|bfk  
"If I can be of any further assistance to you, Inspector," said my friend, "command me. Otherwise, I feel sure you will appreciate the fact that both Mr. Knox and myself are extremely tired, and have passed through a very trying ordeal." J8v:a`bX&  
"Yes," replied Inspector Aylesbury, "that's all very well, but I find myself at a deadlock." Rf(x^J{  
"You surprise me," declared Harley. [%iUg\'7d  
"I can see nothing to be surprised about," cried the Inspector. "When I was called in it was already too late." FU (}=5n  
"Most unfortunate," murmured Harley, disagreeably. "Come along, Knox, you look tired to death." _>gXNS r4u  
"One moment, gentlemen," the Inspector insisted, as I stood up. "One moment. There is a little point which you may be able to clear up."  _DPB?)!x  
Harley paused, his hand on the door knob, and turned. CCbkxHMf|!  
DJm oW  
"The point is this," continued the Inspector, frowning portentously and lowering his chin so that it almost disappeared into the folds of his neck, "I have now interviewed all the inmates of Cray's Folly except the ladies. It appears to me that four people had not gone to bed. There are you two gentlemen, who have explained why I found you in evening dress, Colonel Menendez, who can never explain, and there is one other." cqeR<len  
He paused, looking from Harley to myself. 8O;Vl  
It had come, the question which I had dreaded, the question which I had been asking myself ever since I had seen Val Beverley kneeling in the corridor, dressed as she had been when we had parted for the night. wy''tqg6  
"I refer to Miss Val Beverley," the police-court voice proceeded. "This lady had evidently not retired, and neither, it would appear, had the Colonel." @rO4y`  
aX^+ O,  
"Neither had I," murmured Harley, "and neither had Mr. Knox." -(>qu.[8=  
"Your reason I understand," said the Inspector, "or at least your explanation is a possible one. But if the party broke up, as you say it did, somewhere about half-past ten o'clock, and if Madame de Staemer had gone to bed, why should Miss Beverley have remained up?" He paused significantly. "As well as Colonel Menendez?" he added. M3pjXc<O  
"Look here, Inspector Aylesbury," I interrupted, I speaking in a very quiet tone, I remember, "your insinuations annoy me." :reTJQwr  
`v nJ4*  
"Oh," said he, turning his prominent eyes in my direction, "I see. They annoy you? If they annoy you, sir, perhaps you can explain this point which is puzzling me?" P7GRSjG  
\pY^^ l*  
"I cannot explain it, but doubtless Miss Beverley can do so when you ask her." \m/xV /  
"I should like to have asked her now, and I can't make out why she refuses to see me." --k:a$Nt  
"She has not refused to see you," replied Harley, smoothly. "She is probably unaware of the fact that you wish to see her." ,Ww  
"I don't know so much," muttered the Inspector. "In my opinion I am being deliberately baffled on all sides. You can throw no light on this matter, then?" 's%q  
"None," I answered, shortly, and Paul Harley shook his head. Fdt}..H%  
( $d4:Ww  
"But you must remember, Inspector," he explained, "that the entire household was in a state of unrest." ! D1zXXq  
"In other words, everybody was waiting for this very thing to happen?" /hci\-8N~  
"Consciously, or subconsciously, everybody was." #pa\ 2d|  
?>TbT fmR  
"What do you mean by consciously or subconsciously?" 9BurjG1k?  
"I mean that those of us who were aware of the previous attempts on the life of the Colonel apprehended this danger. And I believe that something of this apprehension had extended even to the servants." uRs9}dzv  
"Oh, to the servants? Now, I have seen all the servants, except the chef, who lives at a house on the outskirts of Mid-Hatton, as you may know. Can you give me any information about this man?"  |UABar b  
"I have seen him," replied Harley, "and have congratulated him upon his culinary art. His name, I believe, is Deronne. He is a Spaniard, and a little fat man. Quite an amiable creature," he added. e_;%F`  
"Hm." The Inspector cleared his throat noisily. [rD+8,zVm  
g&5pfrC [  
"If that is all," said Harley, "I should welcome an opportunity of a few hours' sleep." H/ B^N,oi  
"Oh," said the Inspector. "Well, I suppose that is quite natural, but I shall probably have a lot more questions to ask you later." 6nhfI\q3wY  
"Quite," muttered Harley, "quite. Come on, Knox. Good-night, Inspector Aylesbury." V,* 0<7h  
"Good-night." ]Pl6:FB8%@  
Harley walked out of the dining room and across the deserted hall. He slowly mounted the stairs and I followed him into his room. It was now quite light, and as my friend dropped down upon the bed I thought that he looked very tired and haggard. [tw<TV"\  
"Knox," he said, "shut the door." dM$G)9N)K  
I closed the door and turned to him. c324@o^V  
1/BMs0 =  
"You heard that question about Miss Beverley?" I began. z Pc;[uHT  
"I heard it, and I am wondering what her answer will be when the Inspector puts it to her personally." U:e9Vq'N m  
"Surely it is obvious?" I cried. "A cloud of apprehension had settled on the house last night, Harley, which was like the darkness of Egypt. The poor girl was afraid to go to bed. She was probably sitting up reading." jw[`\h}8  
"Hm," said Harley, drumming his feet upon the carpet. "Of course you realize that there is one person in Cray's Folly who holds the clue to the heart of the mystery?" 9P$'ON'"  
"Madame de Staemer?" r/e&}!  
He nodded grimly. a AuQw  
"When the rifle cracked out, Knox, she knew! Remember, no one had told her the truth. Yet can you doubt that she knows?" /sai}r 1  
"I don't doubt it." UY+~xzm  
"Neither do I." He clenched his teeth tightly and beat his fists upon the coverlet. "I was dreading that our friend the Inspector would ask a question which to my mind was very obvious." 8(A:XQN"h  
"You mean?--" 936t6K&  
"Well, what investigator whose skull contained anything more useful than bubbles would have failed to ask if Colonel Menendez had an enemy in the neighbourhood?" ?-VN+ d7  
"No one," I admitted; "but I fear the poor man is sadly out of his depth." 9f @)EKBK  
Gl:AS PZ6  
"He is wading hopelessly, Knox, but even he cannot fail to learn about Camber to-morrow." VX%+!6+fS  
He stared at me in a curiously significant manner. |#wz)=mD  
"Do you mean, Harley," I began, "that you really think----" gL`SZr9  
"My dear Knox," he interrupted, "forgetting, if you like, all that preceded the tragedy, with what facts are we left? That Colonel Menendez, at the moment when the bullet entered his brain, must have been standing facing directly toward the Guest House. Now, you have seen the direction of the wound?" OWsYE?  
BtChG] N|  
"He was shot squarely between the eyes. A piece of wonderful marksmanship." 3:lp"C51  
"Quite," Harley nodded his head. "But the bullet came out just at the vertex of the spine." O&iYGREO  
He paused, as if waiting for some comment, and: y{Y+2}Dv/  
"You mean that the shot came from above?" I said, slowly. `Ivw`}L  
iPY vePQ  
"Obviously it came from above, Knox. Keep these two points in your mind, and then consider the fact that someone lighted a lamp in the Guest House only a few moments after the shot had been fired." UC+7-y,  
pqH( Tbjq  
"I remember. I saw it." 4j. |Y  
"So did I," said Harley, grimly, "and I saw something else." qeQC&U y;  
"What was that?" tSEA999  
"When you went off to summon assistance I ran across the lawn, scrambled through the bushes, and succeeded in climbing down into the little gully in which the stream runs, and up on the other side. I had proceeded practically in a straight line from the sun-dial, and do you know where I found myself?" E/:+@'(k  
G{ F6  
"I can guess," I replied. {VBR/M(q  
/^d. &@*  
"Of course you can. You have visited the place. I came out immediately beside a little hut, Knox, which stands at the end of the garden of the Guest House. Ahead of me, visible through a tangle of bushes in the neglected garden, a lamp was burning. I crept cautiously forward, and presently obtained a view of the interior of a kitchen. Just as I arrived at this point of vantage the lamp was extinguished, but not before I had had a glimpse of the only occupant of the room--the man who had extinguished the lamp." 5xhM0 (  
"Who was it?" I asked, in a low voice. b)d^ `J  
k; ;viT  
"It was a Chinaman." 4oV {=~V  
"Ah Tsong!" I cried. iy}xICt  
"Doubtless." <h@]Ri  
"Good heavens, Harley, do you think--" vBoO'l9'M  
"I don't know what to think, Knox. A possible explanation is that the household had been aroused by the sound of the shot, and that Ah Tsong had been directed to go out and see if he could learn what had happened. At any rate, I waited no longer, but returned by the same route. If our portly friend from Market Hilton had possessed the eyes of an Auguste Dupin, he could not have failed to note that my dress boots were caked with light yellow clay; which also, by the way, besmears my trousers." H1&RI4XC  
A ~&+F>Z  
He stooped and examined the garments as he spoke. D^?_"wjW  
"A number of thorns are also present," he continued. "In short, from the point of view of an investigation, I am a most provoking object." @O/,a7Tt  
He sighed wearily, and stared out of the window in the direction of the Tudor garden. There was a slight chilliness in the air, which, or perhaps a sudden memory of that which lay in the billiard room beneath us, may have accounted for the fact that I shivered violently. * nCx[  
Harley glanced up with a rather sad smile. OX3Xy7  
"The morning after Waterloo," he said. "Sleep well, Knox." +XQP jg  
ArX]L$ D  
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