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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 30楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XXX. The Seventh Yew Tree ur K~]68  
Detective-Inspector Wessex arrived at about five o'clock; a quiet, resourceful man, highly competent, and having the appearance of an ex- soldier. His respect for the attainments of Paul Harley alone marked him a student of character. I knew Wessex well, and was delighted when Pedro showed him into the library. dwJnPJ=z  
"Thank God you are here, Wessex," said Harley, when we had exchanged greetings. "At last I can move. Have you seen the local officer in charge?" ~@mNR^W-W  
"No," replied the Inspector, "but I gather that I have been requisitioned over his head." K-[;w$np0  
"You have," said Harley, grimly, "and over the head of the Chief Constable, too. But I suppose it is unfair to condemn a man for the shortcoming with which nature endowed him, therefore we must endeavour to let Inspector Aylesbury down as lightly as possible. I have an idea that I heard him return a while ago." 5Q\ hd*+g  
He walked out into the hall to make enquiries, and a few moments later I heard Inspector Aylesbury's voice. G[6i\Et   
"Ah, there you are, Inspector Aylesbury," said Harley, cheerily. "Will you please step into the library for a moment?" pRzL}-[/v  
The Inspector entered, frowning heavily, followed by my friend. \XYidj  
"There is no earthly reason why we should get at loggerheads over this business," Harley continued; "but the fact of the matter is, Inspector Aylesbury, that there are depths in this case to which neither you nor I have yet succeeded in penetrating. You have a reputation to consider, and so have I. Therefore I am sure you will welcome the cooperation of Detective-Inspector Wessex of Scotland Yard, as I do." 4/k`gT4  
F_9 4k  
"What's this, what's this?" said Aylesbury. "I have made no application to London." cm_5,wB(w  
"Nevertheless, Inspector, it is quite in order," declared Wessex. "I have my instructions here, and I have reported to Market Hilton already. You see, the man you have detained is an American citizen."  6?*Do  
"What of that?"  %G\nl  
"Well, he seems to have communicated with his Embassy." Wessex glanced significantly at Paul Harley. "And the Embassy communicated with the Home Office. You mustn't regard my arrival as any reflection on your ability, Inspector Aylesbury. I am sure we can work together quite agreeably." iTq&h=(n  
"Oh," muttered the other, in evident bewilderment, "I see. Well, if that's the way of it, I suppose we must make the best of things." y7:f^4  
"Good," cried Wessex, heartily. "Now perhaps you would like to state your case against the detained man?" u;H^4} OQ  
-f ~1Id  
"A sound idea, Wessex," said Paul Harley. "But perhaps, Inspector Aylesbury, before you begin, you would be good enough to speak to the constable on duty at the entrance to the Tudor garden. I am anxious to take another look at the spot where the body was found." oXh t$Q  
x 2&5zp  
Inspector Aylesbury took out his handkerchief and blew his nose loudly, continuing throughout the operation to glare at Paul Harley, and finally: C :sgT6  
"You are wasting your time, Mr. Harley," he declared, "as Detective- Inspector Wessex will be the first to admit when I have given him the facts of my case. Nevertheless, if you want to examine the garden, do so by all means." .]4MtG  
aY .cx1"  
He turned without another word and stamped out of the library across the hall and into the courtyard. 6;s[dw5T  
"I will join you again in a few minutes, Wessex," said Paul Harley, following. W4k$m 2  
"Very good, Mr. Harley," Wessex answered. "I know you wouldn't have had me down if the case had been as simple as he seems to think it is." c[ 0`8s!  
| V{ Q  
I joined Harley, and we walked together up the gravelled path, meeting Inspector Aylesbury and the constable returning. pO:]3qv  
"Go ahead, Mr. Harley!" cried the Inspector. "If you can find any stronger evidence than the rifle, I shall be glad to take a look at it." .7b%7dQ<\  
~ *"iLf@,  
Harley nodded good-humouredly, and together we descended the steps to the sunken garden. I was intensely curious respecting the investigation which Harley had been so anxious to make here, for I recognized that it was associated with something which he had seen from the window of Camber's hut. +M_ _\7  
He walked along the moss-grown path to the sun-dial, and stood for a moment looking down at the spot where Menendez had lain. Then he stared up the hill toward the Guest House; and finally, directing his attention to the yews which lined the sloping bank: H2Wlgt  
"One, two, three, four," he counted, checking them with his fingers-- "five, six, seven." Kh$"5dy  
oHx :["F  
He mounted the bank and began to examine the trunk of one of the trees, whilst I watched him in growing astonishment. g-d{"ZXd J  
! s =$UC  
Presently he turned and looked down at me. 3O$l;|SX  
"Not a trace, Knox," he murmured; "not a trace. Let us try again." ek]JzD~w$  
He moved along to the yew adjoining that which he had already inspected, but presently shook his head and passed to the next. Then: ),N,!15j,  
"Ah!" he cried. "Come here, Knox!" eoww N>-2C  
(Nc~l ^a  
I joined him where he was kneeling, staring at what I took to be a large nail, or bolt, protruding from the bark of the tree. yC$m(Y12FN  
"You see!" he exclaimed, "you see!" 5FJLDT2Lg  
I stooped, in order to examine the thing more closely, and as I did so, I realized what it was. It was the bullet which had killed Colonel Menendez! l4i 51S"  
Harley stood upright, his face slightly flushed and his eyes very bright. 4|&/# Cz^Y  
5@1h^w v  
"We shall not attempt to remove it, Knox," he said. "The depth of penetration may have a tale to tell. The wood of the yew tree is one of the toughest British varieties." l opl  
"But, Harley," I said, blankly, as we descended to the path, "this is merely another point for the prosecution of Camber. Unless"--I turned to him in sudden excitement, "the bullet was of different--" bny@AP(CY+  
"No, no," he murmured, "nothing so easy as that, Knox. The bullet was fired from a Lee-Enfield beyond doubt." .w\4Th#  
I stared at him uncomprehendingly. R'K /\   
"Then I am utterly out of my depth, Harley. It, appears to me that the case against Camber is finally and fatally complete. Only the motive remains to be discovered, and I flatter myself that I have already detected this." iN`L*h  
"I am certainly inclined to think," admitted Harley, "that there is a good deal in your theory." WqU$cQD"  
N4 mQN90t  
"Then, Harley," I said in bewilderment, "you do believe that Camber committed the murder?" hQ8{ A7  
" 7 4L  
"On the contrary," he replied, "I am certain that he did not." +[7u>RJ  
I stood quite still. w$!n8A qs  
"You are certain?" I began. 2 ^aTW`>L  
aBnbu vp  
"I told you that the test of my theory, Knox, was to be looked for in the seventh yew from the northeast corner of the Tudor garden, did I not?" 8E+l; 2  
"You did. And it is there. A bullet fired from a Lee-Enfield rifle; beyond any possible shadow of doubt the bullet which killed Colonel Menendez." N sL"p2w~  
"Beyond any possible shadow of doubt, as you say, Knox, the bullet which killed Colonel Menendez." f*}E\,V"&  
J6D$ i+  
"Therefore Camber is guilty?" WV"QY/e3  
-01 1U!  
"On the contrary, therefore Camber is innocent!" rRrW   
hIo S#]  
"What!" \R>5F\ 0  
#[0\=B -  
"You are persistently overlooking one little point, Knox," said Harley, mounting the steps on to the gravel path. "I spoke of the seventh yew tree from the northeast corner of the garden." & kjwIg{  
"Well?" Z?~d']XD  
JwI`"$ > w  
"Well, my dear fellow, surely you observed that the bullet was embedded in the ninth?" 1~R$$P11[9  
@3 -,=x  
I was still groping for the significance of this point when, re- crossing the hall, we entered the library again, to find Inspector Aylesbury posed squarely before the mantelpiece stating his case to Wessex. Sg.+`xww3  
)YzHk ;(  
"You see," he was saying, in his most oratorical manner, as we entered, "every little detail fits perfectly into place. For instance, I find that a woman, called Mrs. Powis, who for the past two years had acted as housekeeper at the Guest House and never taken a holiday, was sent away recently to her married daughter in London. See what that means? Her room is at the back of the house, and her evidence would have been fatal. Ah Tsong, of course, is a liar. I made up my mind about that the moment I clapped eyes on him. Mrs. Camber is the only innocent party. She was asleep in the front of the house when the shot was fired, and I believe her when she says that she cannot swear to the matter of distance." dSOlD/c  
"A very interesting case, Inspector," said Wessex, glancing at Harley. "I have not examined the body yet, but I understand that it was a clean wound through the head." ]e^R@w  
"The bullet entered at the juncture of the nasal and frontal bones," explained Harley, rapidly, "and it came out between the base of the occipital and first cervical. Without going into unpleasant surgical details, the wound was a perfectly straight one. There was no ricochet." ^w>&?A'!  
"I understand that a regulation rifle was used?" !}ilN 1>  
"Yes," said Inspector Aylesbury; "we have it." .U 39nd  
"And at what range did you say, Inspector?" !!WJn}  
"Roughly, a hundred yards." Vv4H:BK$  
B {aU;{1  
"Possibly less," murmured Harley. <*Ub2B[m  
"Hundred yards or less," said Wessex, musingly; "and the obstruction met with in the case of a man shot in that way would be--" He looked towards Paul Harley. b Us|t  
"Less than if the bullet had struck the skull higher up," was the reply. "It passed clean through." r7I B{}>-  
"Therefore," continued Wessex, "I am waiting to hear, Inspector, where you found the bullet lodged?" dWR1cvB(wY  
"Eh?" said the Inspector, and he slowly turned his prominent eyes in Harley's direction. "Oh, I see. That's why you wanted to examine the Tudor garden, is it?" rsF:4G"%  
"Exactly," replied Harley. y\[r(4h  
The face of Inspector Aylesbury grew very red. /77z\[CeYH  
"I had deferred looking for the bullet," he explained, "as the case was already as clear as daylight. Probably Mr. Harley has discovered it." Jz$ >k$!UD  
"I have," said Harley, shortly. Qa?aL  
[ &daG:  
"Is it the regulation bullet?" asked Wessex. 6 [ _ fD  
"It is. I found it embedded in one of the yew trees." 6Pijvx^0  
"There you are!" exclaimed Aylesbury. "There isn't the ghost of a doubt." F;W'  
Wessex looked at Harley in undisguised perplexity. G-ZhGbAI7  
"I must say, Mr. Harley," he admitted, "that I have never met with a clearer case." X&/(x  
@ }ZGY^  
"Neither have I," agreed Harley, cheerfully. "I am going to ask Inspector Aylesbury to return here after nightfall. There is a little experiment which I should like to make, and which would definitely establish my case." 58 kv#;j  
"Your case?" said Aylesbury. 9zmD6G!}t  
"My case, yes." %@M00~-  
"You are not going to tell me that you still persist in believing Camber to be innocent?" g=8|z#S  
"Not at all. I am merely going to ask you to return at nightfall to assist me in this minor investigation." fl5UY$a2-  
"If you ask my opinion," said the Inspector, "no further evidence is needed." XEgx#F ;F  
w ;s ]n  
"I don't agree with you," replied Harley, quietly. "Whatever your own ideas upon the subject may be, I, personally, have not yet discovered one single piece of convincing evidence for the prosecution of Camber." iuU3*yyn  
"What!" exclaimed Aylesbury, and even Detective-Inspector Wessex stared at the speaker incredulously. M\.T 0M_  
Eztz ~oFo  
"My dear Inspector Aylesbury," concluded Harley, "when you have witnessed the experiment which I propose to make this evening you will realize, as I have already realized that we are faced by a tremendous task." HfeflGme*  
"What tremendous task?" 7D~O/#dcc  
s riq(A  
"The task of discovering who shot Colonel Menendez." ST8/ ;S#c  

只看该作者 31楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XXXI. Ysola Camber's Confession |/q*Fg[f  
Paul Harley, with Wessex and Inspector Aylesbury, presently set out for Market Hilton, where Colin Camber and Ah Tsong were detained and where the body of Colonel Menendez had been conveyed for the purpose of the post-mortem. I had volunteered to remain at Cray's Folly, my motive being not wholly an unselfish one. [j&>dE  
"Refer reporters to me, Mr. Knox," said Inspector Wessex. "Don't let them trouble the ladies. And tell them as little as possible, yourself." M7UVL&_z%  
The drone of the engine having died away down the avenue, I presently found myself alone, but as I crossed the hall in the direction of the library, intending to walk out upon the southern lawns, I saw Val Beverley coming toward me from Madame de Staemer's room. ;IE|XR(  
#|xK> ;  
She remained rather pale, but smiled at me courageously. K9 :I8E<  
"Have they all gone, Mr. Knox?" she asked. "I have really been hiding. I suppose you knew?" t H`!?  
"I suspected it," I said, smiling. "Yes, they are all gone. How is Madame de Staemer, now?" |gxT-ZM  
"She is quite calm. Curiously, almost uncannily calm. She is writing. Tell me, please, what does Mr. Harley think of Inspector Aylesbury's preposterous ideas?" x;w&JS1 V  
"He thinks he is a fool," I replied, hotly, "as I do." c@iP^;D  
"But whatever will happen if he persists in dragging me into this horrible case?" j(JUOief  
bqB gq  
"He will not drag you into it," I said, quietly. "He has been superseded by a cleverer man, and the case is practically under Harley's direction now." JStT"*4j  
"Thank Heaven for that," she murmured. "I wonder----" She looked at me hesitatingly. cpV:y  
; *G[3kk  
"Yes?" I prompted. xBGSj[1`i  
"I have been thinking about poor Mrs. Camber all alone in that gloomy house, and wondering----" >VqMSe_v  
"Perhaps I know. You are going to visit her?" +XWXHt  
Val Beverley nodded, watching me. O0b8wpF f  
"Can you leave Madame de Staemer with safety?" y''?yr  
"Oh, yes, I think so. Nita can attend to her." 6oUT+^z#  
"And may I accompany you, Miss Beverley? For more reasons than one, I, too, should like to call upon Mrs. Camber." ^,`yt^^A  
Z4rK$ B  
"We might try," she said, hesitatingly. "I really only wanted to be kind. You won't begin to cross-examine her, will you?" GV%ibqOpQj  
"Certainly not," I answered; "although there are many things I should like her to tell us." [_CIN  
"Well, suppose we go," said the girl, "and let events take their own course." eY;XF.mF  
As a result, I presently found myself, Val Beverley by my side, walking across the meadow path. With the unpleasant hush of Cray's Folly left behind, the day seemed to grow brighter. I thought that the skylarks had never sung more sweetly. Yet in this same instant of sheerly physical enjoyment I experienced a pang of remorse, remembering the tragic woman we had left behind, and the poor little sorrowful girl we were going to visit. My emotions were very mingled, then, and I retain no recollection of our conversation up to the time that we came to the Guest House. ))66_bech  
c#( Hh{0  
We were admitted by a really charming old lady, who informed us that her name was Mrs. Powis and that she was but an hour returned from London, whither she had been summoned by telegram. @ <(4J   
She showed us into a quaint, small drawing room which owed its atmosphere quite clearly to Mrs. Camber, for whereas the study was indescribably untidy, this was a model of neatness without being formal or unhomely. Here, in a few moments, Mrs. Camber joined us, an appealing little figure of wistful, almost elfin, beauty. I was surprised and delighted to find that an instant bond of sympathy sprang up between the two girls. I diplomatically left them together for a while, going into Camber's room to smoke my pipe. And when I returned: >)F "lR:o  
"Oh, Mr. Knox," said Val Beverley, "Mrs. Camber has something to tell you which she thinks you ought to know." ~w a6S?  
"Concerning Colonel Menendez?" I asked, eagerly. ZUHRATT-  
Mrs. Camber nodded her golden head. [ QiG0D_'=  
Cf 2@x  
"Yes," she replied, but glancing at Val Beverley as if to gather confidence. "The truth can never hurt Colin. He has nothing to conceal. May I tell you?" D|N4X`T`  
"I am all anxiety to hear," I assured her. }LzBo\  
"Would you rather I went, Mrs. Camber?" asked Val Beverley. NAbVH{*\U  
Mrs. Camber reached across and took her hand. 2MkrVQQ9g  
dC11kq qj  
"Please, no," she replied. "Stay here with me. I am afraid it is rather a long story." m[hL GD'Fi  
"Never mind," I said. "It will be time well spent if it leads us any nearer to the truth." mHD_cgKN  
( ?FH`<  
"Yes?" she questioned, watching me anxiously, "you think so? I think so, too." @"w4R6l+*  
"N4^ ^~s  
She became silent, sitting looking straight before her, the pupils of her blue eyes widely dilated. Then, at first in a queer, far-away voice, she began to speak again. iTxWXij  
5D s[?  
"I must tell you," she commenced "that before--my marriage, my name was Isabella de Valera." rFzNdiY  
I started. ED0cnr\yG  
"Ysola was my baby way of saying it, and so I came to be called Ysola. My father was manager of one of Senor Don Juan's estates, in a small island near the coast of Cuba. My mother"--she raised her little hands eloquently--"was half-caste. Do you know? And she and my father--" y&(#C:N  
She looked pleadingly at Val Beverley. 1 b 7jNkQ  
gaN/ kp  
"I understand," whispered the latter with deep sympathy; "but you don't think it makes any difference, do you?" \^6[^\@[  
# bHkI~  
"No?" said Mrs. Camber with a quaint little gesture. "To you, perhaps not, but there, where I was born, oh! so much. Well, then, my mother died when I was very little. Ah Tsong was her servant. There are many Chinese in the West Indies, you see, and I can just remember he carried me in to see her. Of course I didn't understand. My father quarrelled bitterly with the priests because they would not bury her in holy ground. I think he no longer believed afterward. I loved him very much. He was good to me; and I was a queen in that little island. All the negroes loved me, because of my mother, I think, who was partly descended from slaves, as they were. But I had not begun to understand how hard it was all going to be when my father sent me to a convent in Cuba. 7d R?70Sz  
"I hated to go, but while I was there I learned all about myself. I knew that I was outcast. It was"--she raised her hand--"not possible to stay. I was only fifteen when I came home, but all the same I was a woman. I was no more a child, and happy no longer. After a while, perhaps, when I forgot what I had suffered at the convent, I became less miserable. My father did all in his power to make me happy, and I was glad the work-people loved me. But I was very lonely. Ah Tsong understood." C W#:'  
Her eyes filled with tears. )Xg5=zn$  
"Can you imagine," she asked, "that when my father was away in distant parts of the island at night, Ah Tsong slept outside my door? Some of them say, 'Do not trust the Chinese' I say, except my husband and my father, I have never known another one to trust but Ah Tsong. Now they have taken him away from me." LH2B*8=^2  
Tears glittered on her lashes, but she brushed them aside angrily, and continued: Fge%6hu  
"I was still less than twenty, and looked, they told me, only fourteen, when Senor Menendez came to inspect his estate. I had never seen him before. There had been a rising in the island, in the year after I was born, and he had only just escaped with his life. He was hated. People called him Devil Menendez. Especially, no woman was safe from him, and in the old days, when his power had been great, he had used it for wickedness. UxNn5(:sM@  
5 %\K  
"My father was afraid when he heard he was coming. He would have sent me away, but before it could be arranged Senor the Colonel arrived. He had in his company a French lady. I thought her very beautiful and elegant. It was Madame de Staemer. It is only four years ago, a little more, but her hair was dark brown. She was splendidly dressed and such a wonderful horsewoman. The first time I saw her I felt as they had made me feel at the convent. I wanted to hide from her. She was so grand a lady, and I came from slaves." P 2_!(FZ<l  
} 9zi5 o8  
She paused hesitatingly and stared down at her own tiny feet. &I-:=ir  
l7T?Yx j  
"Pardon me interrupting you, Mrs. Camber," I said, "but can you tell me in what way these two are related?" rYt|[Pk  
Z L0Vx6Ph  
She looked up with her naive smile. [H!do$[>  
"I can tell you, yes. A cousin of Senor Menendez married a sister of Madame de Staemer." "<egm^Yq  
ae3 Gn }tf  
"Good heavens!" I exclaimed, "a very remote kinship." ,Cm1~ExJ  
"It was in this way they met, in Paris, I think, and"--she raised her hands expressively--"she came with him to the West Indies, although it was during the great war. I think she loved him more than her soul, and me--me she hated. As Senor Menendez dismounted from his horse in front of the house he saw me." CC`#2j  
She sighed and ceased speaking again. Then: YMwL(m1  
"That very night," she continued, "he began. Do you know? I was trying to escape from him when Madame de Staemer found us. She called me a shameful name, and my father, who heard it, ordered her out of the house. Senor Menendez spoke sharply, and my father struck him." A$J?-  
^ G>/;mZ  
She paused once more, biting her lip agitatedly, but presently proceeded: |Z{ DU(?[b  
9|LV x3]  
"Do you know what they are like, the Spanish, when their blood is hot? Senor Menendez had a revolver, but my father knocked it from his grasp. Then they fought with their bare hands. I was too frightened even to cry out. It was all a horrible dream. What Madame de Staemer did, I do not know. I could see nothing but two figures twined together on the floor. At last one of them arose. I saw it was my father, and I remember no more." x[H9<&)D  
She was almost overcome by her tragic recollections, but presently, with a wonderful courage, which, together with her daintiness of form, spoke eloquently of good blood on one side at any rate, continued to speak: aI0}E O  
"My father found he must go to Cuba to make arrangements for the future. Of course, our life there was finished. Ah Tsong stayed with me. You have heard how it used to be in those islands in the old days, but now you think it is so different? I used to think it was different, too. On the first night my father was away, Ah Tsong, who had gone out, was so long returning I became afraid. Then a strange negro came with news that he had been taken ill with cholera, and was lying at a place not far from the house. I forgot my fears and hurried off with this man. Ah!" aZMMcd   
She laughed wildly. mqg[2VTRP  
"I did not know I should never return, and I did not know I should never see my father again. To you this must seem all wild and strange, because there is a law in England. There is a law in Cuba, too, but in some of those little islands the only law is the law of the strongest." Vn`-w  
She raised her hands to her face and there was silence for a while. Cz2OGM*mz?  
"Of course it was a trap," she presently continued. "I was taken to an island called El Manas which belonged to Senor Menendez, and where he had a house. This he could do, but"--she threw back her head proudly-- "my spirit he could not break. Lots and lots of money would be mine, and estates of my own; but one thing about him I must tell: he never showed me violence. For one, two, three weeks I stayed a prisoner in his house. All the servants were faithful to him and I could not find a friend among them. Although quite innocent, I was ruined. Do you know?" o0Z(BTO  
She raised her eyes pathetically to Val Beverley. ;P9P2&c8c  
"I thought my heart was broken, for something told me my father was dead. This was true." ~]HeoQK  
"What!" I exclaimed. "You don't mean--" csg:# -gE  
(~F{c0 \C  
"I don't know, I don't know," she answered, brokenly. "He died on his way to Havana. They said it was an accident. Well--at last, Senor Menendez offered me marriage. I thought if I agreed it would give me my freedom, and I could run away and find Ah Tsong." rQ|^H Nj  
She paused, and a flush coloured her delicate face and faded again, leaving it very pale. b_= $W  
"We were married in the house, by a Spanish priest. Oh"--she raised her hands pathetically--"do you know what a woman is like? My spirit was not broken still, but crushed. I had now nothing but kindness and gifts. I might never have known, but Senor Menendez, who thought"--she smiled sadly--"I was beautiful, took me to Cuba, where he had a great house. Please remember, please," she pleaded, "before you judge of me, that I was so young and had never known love, except the love of my father. I did not even dream, then, his death was not an accident. Q 6djfEN>  
"I was proud of my jewels and fine dresses. But I began to notice that Juan did not present any of his friends to me. We went about, but to strange places, never to visit people of his own kind, and none came to visit us. Then one night I heard someone on the balcony of my room. I was so frightened I could not cry out. It was good I was like that, for the curtain was pulled open and Ah Tsong came in." ,&>LBdG`  
She clutched convulsively at the arms of her chair. Lhg4fuos@)  
"He told me!" she said in a very low voice. Ew`(x30E  
Then, looking up pitifully: Iax-~{B3AY  
"Do you know?" she asked in her quaint way. "It was a mock marriage. He had done it and thought no shame, because it was so with my mother. Oh!" R"wBDWs  
Her beautiful eyes flashed, and for the first time since I had met Ysola Camber I saw the real Spanish spirit of the woman leap to life. 4Wd H!z  
"He did not know me. Perhaps I did not know myself. That night, with no money, without a ring, a piece of lace, a peseta, anything that had belonged to him, I went with Ah Tsong. We made our way to a half-sister of my father's who lived in Puerto Principe, and at first--she would not have me. I was talked about, she said, in all the islands. She told me of my poor father. She told me I had dragged the name of de Valera in the dirt. At last I made her understand--that what everyone else had known, I had never even dreamed of." !b"2]Qv  
She looked up wistfully, as if thinking that we might doubt her. ?orLc,pU^  
"Do you know?" she whispered. =PjxMC._  
"I know--oh! I know!" said Val Beverley. I loved her for the sympathy in her voice and in her eyes. "It is very, very brave of you to tell us this, Mrs. Camber."  L+CPT  
"Yes? Do you think so?" asked the girl, simply. "What does it matter if it can help Colin? dsg-;*%  
"This aunt of mine," she presently continued, "was a poor woman, and it was while I was hiding in her house--because spies of Senor Menendez were searching for me--that I met--my husband. He was studying in Cuba the strange things he writes about, you see. And before I knew what had happened--I found I loved him more than all else in the world. It is so wonderful, that feeling," she said, looking across at Val Beverley. "Do you know?" l h6N3d  
The girl flushed deeply, and lowered her eyes, but made no reply. xZY7X&C4  
"Because you are a woman, too, you will perhaps understand," she resumed. "I did not tell him. I did not dare to tell him at first. I was so madly happy I had no courage to speak. But when"--her voice sank lower and lower--"he asked me to marry him, I told him. Nothing he could ever do would change my love for him now, because he forgave me and made me his wife." ZAn9A>5_  
)."dqq^ q  
I feared that at last she was going to break down, for her voice became very tremulous and tears leapt again into her eyes. She conquered her emotion, however, and went on: EWY'E;0@5  
"We crossed over to the States, and Colin's family who had heard of his marriage--some friend of Senor Menendez had told them--would not know us. It meant that Colin, who would have been a rich man, was very poor. It made no difference. He was splendid. And I was so happy it was all like a dream. He made me forget I was to blame for his troubles. Then we were in Washington--and I saw Senor Menendez in the hotel! B !wr}]  
"Oh, my heart stopped beating. For me it seemed like the end of everything. I knew, I knew, he was following me. But he had not seen me, and without telling Colin the reason, I made him leave Washington, He was glad to go. Wherever we went, in America, they seemed to find out about my mother. I got to hate them, hate them all. We came to England, and Colin heard about this house, and we took it. >"|t*k S  
"At last we were really happy. No one knew us. Because we were strange, and because of Ah Tsong, they looked at us very funny and kept away, but we did not care. Then Sir James Appleton sold Cray's Folly." r4fg!]J ;  
She looked up quickly. w^YXnLLJG  
"How can I tell you? It must have been by Ah Tsong that he traced me to Surrey. Some spy had told him there was a Chinaman living here. Oh, I don't know how he found out, but when I heard who was coming to Cray's Folly I thought I should die. ;X0uA?  
j \d)#+;  
"Something I must tell you now. When I had told my story to Colin, one thing I had not told him, because I was afraid what he might do. I had not told him the name of the man who had caused me to suffer so much. On the day I first saw Senor Menendez walking in the garden of Cray's Folly I knew I must tell my husband what he had so often asked me to tell him--the name of the man. I told him--and at first I thought he would go mad. He began to drink--do you know? It is a failing in his family. But because I knew--because I knew--I forgave him, and hoped, always hoped, that he would stop. He promised to do so. He had given up going out each day to drink, and was working again like he used to work--too hard, too hard, but it was better than the other way." bJR\d0Z  
She stopped speaking, and suddenly, before I could divine her intention, dropped upon her knees, and raised her clasped hands to me. 2_?VR~mA#  
"He did not, he did not kill him!" she cried, passionately. "He did not! O God! I who love him tell you he did not! You think he did. You do--you do! I can see it in your eyes!" q9InO]s&~=  
"Believe me, Mrs. Camber," I answered, deeply moved, "I don't doubt your word for a moment." UKB/>:R  
She continued to look at me for a while, and then turned to Val Beverley. Ak O-PL  
"You don't think he did," she sobbed, "do you?" #N y+6XM  
2 B_+5  
She looked such a child, such a pretty, helpless child, as she knelt there on the carpet, that I felt a lump rising in my throat. #210 Yp#  
e_1L J  
Val Beverley dropped down impulsively beside her and put her arms around the slender shoulders. J d,9<m $  
?0 7}\N0~  
"Of course I don't," she exclaimed, indignantly. "Of course I don't. It's quite unthinkable." 9N6 \Ou~  
"I know it is," moaned the other, raising her tearful face. "I love him and know his great soul. But what do these others know, and they will never believe me." "h8fTB\7S\  
Mu6DT p~k  
"Have courage," I said. "It has never failed you yet. Mr. Paul Harley has promised to clear him by to-night." A,3qjd,$ c  
"He has promised?" she whispered, still kneeling and clutching Val Beverley tightly. She looked up at me with hope reborn in her beautiful eyes. "He has promised? Oh, I thank him. May God bless him. I know he will succeed." ?TI]0)  
I turned aside, and walked out across the hall and into the empty study. IreY8.FND  

只看该作者 32楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Yn [ F:Z  
Chapter XXXII. Paul Harley's Experiment =C,DR4xh  
I recognize that whosoever may have taken the trouble to follow my chronicle thus far will be little disposed to suffer any intrusion of my personal affairs at such a point. Therefore I shall pass lightly over the walk back to Cray's Folly, during which I contrived to learn much about Val Beverley's personal history but little to advance the investigation which I was there to assist. Ww8U{f  
As I had surmised, Miss Beverley had been amply provided for by her father, and was bound to Madame de Staemer by no other ties than those of friendship and esteem. Very reluctantly I released her, on our returning to the house; for she, perforce, hurried off to Madame's room, leaving me looking after her in a state of delightful bewilderment, the significance of which I could not disguise from myself. The absurd suspicions of Inspector Aylesbury were forgotten; so was the shadow upon the blind of Colonel Menendez's study. I only knew that love had come to me, an unbidden guest, to stay for ever. ^pe/~ :a  
Manoel informed me that a number of pressmen, not to be denied, had taken photographs of the Tudor garden and of the spot where Colonel Menendez had been found, but Pedro, following my instructions, had referred them all to Market Hilton. R$}Hv  
E 8W*^^z(  
I was standing in the doorway talking to the man when I heard the drone of Harley's motor in the avenue, and a moment later he and Wessex stepped out in front of the porch and joined me. I thought that Wessex looked stern and rather confused, but Harley was quite his old self, his keen eyes gleaming humorously, and an expression of geniality upon his tanned features. [=. iJ5,{2  
"Hullo, Knox!" he cried, "any developments?" <dS I"C<  
WT 5 2  
"Yes," I said. "Suppose we go up to your room and talk." (c3O> *M  
]>+ teG:4  
"Good enough." P>] *pD  
Inspector Wessex nodded without speaking, and the three of us mounted the staircase and entered Paul Harley's room. Harley seated himself upon the bed and began to load his pipe, whilst Wessex, who seemed very restless, stood staring out of the window. I sat down in the armchair, and: N*}g+ IS  
`+T"^{ Z  
"I have had an interesting interview with Mrs. Camber," I said. m+dJ3   
:sJQ r._L  
"What?" exclaimed Harley. "Good. Tell us all about it." 7toDk$jJRg  
Wessex turned, hands clasped behind him, and listened in silence to an account which I gave of my visit to the Guest House. When I had finished: ?=V;5H.  
"It seems to me," said the Inspector, slowly, "that the only doubtful point in the case against Camber is cleared up; namely, his motive." 40HhMTZ0-  
"It certainly looks like it," agreed Harley. "But how strangely Mrs. Camber's story differs from that of Menendez although there are points of contact. I regret, however, that you were unable to settle the most important matter of all." lESv  
"You mean whether or not she had visited Cray's Folly?" Zxh<pd25Y  
"Exactly." F)4I70vG  
"Then you still consider my theory to be correct?" I asked eagerly. $@O?  
+~ Hb}0ry  
"Up to a point it has been proved to be," he returned. "I must congratulate you upon a piece of really brilliant reasoning, Knox. But respecting the most crucial moment of all, we are still without information, unfortunately. However, whilst the presence or otherwise, of Mrs. Camber in Cray's Folly on the night preceding the tragedy may prove to bear intimately upon the case, an experiment which I propose to make presently will give the matter an entirely different significance." %@)R  
'wtb"0 }  
"Hm," said Wessex, doubtfully, "I am looking forward to this experiment of yours, Mr. Harley, with great interest. To be perfectly honest, I have no more idea than the man in the moon how you hope to clear Camber." [[]y Q "  
"No," replied Harley, musingly, "the weight of evidence against him is crushing. But you are a man of great experience, Wessex, in criminal investigations. Tell me honestly, have you ever known a murder case in which there was such conclusive material for the prosecution?" \)wVO*9*0  
1 oKY7i$  
"Never," replied the Inspector, promptly. "In this respect, as in others, the case is unique." #K@!jh)y^  
"You have seen Camber," continued Harley, "and have been enabled to form some sort of judgment respecting his character. You will admit that he is a clever man, brilliantly clever. Keep this fact in mind. Remember his studies, and he does not deny that they have included Voodoo. Remember his enquiries into the significance of Bat Wing. Remember, as we now learn definitely from Mrs. Camber's evidence, that he was in Cuba at the same time as the late Colonel Menendez, and once, at least, actually in the same hotel in the United States. Consider the rifle found under the floor of the hut; and, having weighed all these points judicially, Wessex, tell me frankly, if in the whole course of your experience, you have ever met with a more perfect frame-up?" q[vO mes  
"What!" shouted Wessex, in sudden excitement. "What!" jL4"FTcE]3  
jl]p e7-  
"I said a frame-up," repeated Harley, quietly. "An American term, but one which will be familiar to you." ND 8;1+3  
kwt;pxp i  
"Good God!" muttered the detective, "you have turned all my ideas upside down." zfml^N  
"What may be termed the physical evidence," continued Harley, "is complete, I admit: too complete. There lies the weak spot. But what I will call the psychological evidence points in a totally different direction. A man clever enough to have planned this crime, and Camber undoubtedly is such a man, could not--it is humanly impossible--have been fool enough, deliberately to lay such a train of damning facts. It's a frame-up, Wessex! I had begun to suspect this even before I met Camber. Having met him, I knew that I was right. Then came an inspiration. I saw where there must be a flaw in the plan. It was geographically impossible that this could be otherwise." X@B,w_b  
AyZBH &}RZ  
"Geographically impossible?" I said, in a hushed voice, for Harley had truly astounded me. $;+`sVG  
"Geographical is the term, Knox. I admit that the discovery of the rifle beneath the floor of the hut appalled me." R|AG N*.  
"I could see that it did." N LC}XL  
Ydu=J g5u7  
"It was the crowning piece of evidence, Knox, evidence of such fiendish cleverness on the part of those who had plotted Menendez's death that I began to wonder whether after all it would be possible to defeat them. I realized that Camber's life hung upon a hair. For the production of that rifle before a jury of twelve moderately stupid men and true could not fail to carry enormous weight. Whereas the delicate point upon which my counter case rested might be more difficult to demonstrate in court. To-night, however, we shall put it to the test, and there are means, no doubt, which will occur to me later, of making its significance evident to one not acquainted with the locality. The press photographs, which I understand have been taken, may possibly help us in this." /W/ =OPe  
Bewildered by my friend's revolutionary ideas, which explained the hitherto mysterious nature of his enquiries, I scarcely knew what to say; but: Yyby 1  
"If it's a frame-up, Mr. Harley," said Wessex, "and the more I think about it the more it has that look to me, practically speaking, we have not yet started on the search for the murderer." ^N _kiSr  
"We have not," replied Harley, grimly. "But I have a dawning idea of a method by which we shall be enabled to narrow down this enquiry." [nB[]j<R*  
It must be unnecessary for me to speak of the state of suppressed excitement in which we passed the remainder of that afternoon and evening. Dr. Rolleston called again to see Madame de Staemer, and reported that she was quite calm. In fact, he almost echoed Val Beverley's words spoken earlier in the day. w{l}(:xPp  
"She is unnaturally calm, Mr. Knox," he said in confidence. "I understand that the dead man was a cousin, but I almost suspect that she was madly in love with him." E><$sN6  
<@:RS$" i  
I nodded shortly, admiring his acute intelligence. dfy]w4ETB  
"I think you are right, doctor," I replied, "and if it is so, her amazing fortitude is all the more admirable." +{~ cX] |  
h 8<s(WR  
"Admirable?" he echoed. "As I said before, she has the courage of ten men." Z-j?N{3&  
A formal dinner was out of the question, of course; indeed, no one attempted to dress. Val Beverley excused herself, saying that she would dine in Madame's room, and Harley, Wessex, and I, partook of wine and sandwiches in the library. =}" P;4:  
Inspector Aylesbury arrived about eight o'clock in a mood of repressed irritation. Pedro showed him in to where the three of us were seated, and: 29nMm>P.e  
"Good evening, gentlemen," said he, "here I am, as arranged, but as I am up to my eyes in work on the case, I will ask you, Mr. Harley, to carry out this experiment of yours as quickly as possible." gk}.L E  
"No time shall be lost," replied my friend, quietly. "May I request you to accompany Detective-Inspector Wessex and Mr. Knox to the Guest House by the high road? Do not needlessly alarm Mrs. Camber. Indeed, I think you might confine your attention to Mrs. Powis. Merely request permission to walk down the garden to the hut, and be good enough to wait there until I join you, which will be in a few minutes after your arrival." AY]rQ:I  
Inspector Aylesbury uttered an inarticulate, grunting sound, but I, who knew Harley so well, could see that he felt himself to be upon the eve of a signal triumph. What he proposed to do, I had no idea, save that it was designed to clear Colin Camber. I prayed that it might also clear his pathetic girl-wife; and in a sort of gloomy silence I set out with Wessex and Aylesbury, down the drive, past the lodge, which seemed to be deserted to-night, and along the tree-lined high road, cool and sweet in the dusk of evening. v8THJf  
EkP(] F  
Aylesbury was very morose, and Wessex, who had lighted his pipe, did not seem to be in a talkative mood either. He had the utmost faith in Paul Harley, but it was evident enough that he was oppressed by the weight of evidence against Camber. I divined the fact that he was turning over in his mind the idea of the frame-up, and endeavouring to re-adjust the established facts in accordance with this new point of view. G]I^zd&P  
We were admitted to the Guest House by Mrs. Powis, a cheery old soul; one of those born optimists whose special task in life seems to be that of a friend in need. }MV=t7x9+  
ZIM 5$JdCv  
As she opened the door, she smiled, shook her head, and raised her finger to her lips. ~!W{C_*N  
"Be as quiet as you can, sir," she said. "I have got her to sleep." WD7IF+v  
She spoke of Mrs. Camber as one refers to a child, and, quite understanding her anxiety: $R2iSu{kO  
"There will be no occasion to disturb her, Mrs. Powis," I replied. "We merely wish to walk down to the bottom of the garden to make a few enquiries." vjcG F'-  
"Yes, gentlemen," she whispered, quietly closing the door as we all entered the hall. {{G`0i2KV  
She led us through the rear portion of the house, and past the quarters of Ah Tsong into that neglected garden which I remembered so well. S>-x<'Os  
"There you are, sir, and may Heaven help you to find the truth." F9ys.Bc  
)8cb @N  
"Rest assured that the truth will be found, Mrs. Powis," I answered. XIGz_g;#'w  
Inspector Aylesbury cleared his throat, but Wessex, puffing at his pipe, made no remark whatever until we were all come to the hut overhanging the little ravine. #n7F7X  
"This is where I found the rifle, Detective-Inspector," explained Aylesbury. uq2C|=M-x\  
Wessex nodded absently. l>?f+70  
va:<W H  
It was another perfect night, with only a faint tracery of cloud to be seen like lingering smoke over on the western horizon. Everything seemed very still, so that although we were several miles from the railway line, when presently a train sped on its way one might have supposed, from the apparent nearness of the sound, that the track was no farther off than the grounds of Cray's Folly. N4z[=b>  
Toward those grounds, automatically, our glances were drawn; and we stood there staring down at the ghostly map of the gardens, and all wondering, no doubt, what Harley was doing and when he would be joining us. 3AglvGK7{  
Very faintly I could hear the water of the little stream bubbling beneath us. Then, just as this awkward silence was becoming intolerable, there came a scraping and scratching from the shadows of the gully, and: w;{Q)_A  
"Give me a hand, Knox!" cried the voice of Harley from below. "I want to avoid the barbed wire if possible." 'tw ]jMD  
He had come across country, and as I scrambled down the slope to meet him I could not help wondering with what object he had sent us ahead by the high road. Presently, when he came clambering up into the garden, this in a measure was explained, for: Cs[ d:T  
"You are all wondering," he began, rapidly, "what I am up to, no doubt. Let me endeavour to make it clear. In order that my test should be conclusive, and in no way influenced by pre-knowledge of certain arrangements which I had made, I sent you on ahead of me. Not wishing to waste time, I followed by the shorter route. And now, gentlemen, let us begin." "}qs +  
C$6FI `J  
"Good," muttered Inspector Aylesbury. |} b+$J  
"But first of all," continued Harley, "I wish each one of you in turn to look out of the window of the hut, and down into the Tudor garden of Cray's Folly. Will you begin, Wessex?" \s5Uvws  
Wessex, taking his pipe out of his mouth, and staring hard at the speaker, nodded, entered the hut, and kneeling on the wooden seat, looked out of the window. J;0;oXwJ<  
'c s(gc 0  
"Open the panes," said Harley, "so that you have a perfectly clear view." Zo3!Hs ZA  
Wessex slid the panes open and stared intently down into the valley. ,MY7h 8V/  
"Do you see anything unusual in the garden?" 4 2Z:J 0  
"Nothing," he reported. `G\ qGllX  
"And now, Inspector Aylesbury." @nH3nn  
Au2^ T1F  
Inspector Aylesbury stamped noisily across the little hut, and peered out, briefly. +Xg:*b9So  
"I can see the garden," he said. xWLZlUHEu  
"Can you see the sun-dial?" e&ti(Q=  
w[a(I} x  
"Quite clearly." ]@y%j'e  
8@ f!,!Wn  
"Good. And now you, Knox." kE6/d,  
I followed, filled with astonishment. MrUjqv6a[  
"Do you see the sun-dial?" asked Harley, again. X}]A_G  
"Quite clearly." .Mb0++% W  
"And beyond it?" H"UJBO>$  
"Yes, I can see beyond it. I can even see its shadow lying like a black band on the path." "|1iz2L  
"And you can see the yew trees?" Rb0I7~Z%'d  
"Of course." {JP q. A  
"But nothing else? Nothing unusual?" c;$ 4}U4  
"Nothing." B{nwQC b  
"Very well," said Harley, tersely. "And now, gentlemen, we take to the rough ground, proceeding due east. Will you be good enough to follow?" .^Sgl o  
Walking around the hut he found an opening in the hedge, and scrambled down into the place where rank grass grew and through which he and I on a previous occasion had made our way to the high road. To-night, however, he did not turn toward the high road, but proceeded along the crest of the hill. *~vB6V|1  
my (@~'  
I followed him, excited by the novelty of the proceedings. Wessex, very silent, came behind me, and Inspector Aylesbury, swearing under his breath, waded through the long grass at the rear. ,aP6ct  
"Will you all turn your attention to the garden again, please?" cried Harley. B2;P%B  
ha :l-<a  
We all paused, looking to the right. &g :(I  
"Anything unusual?" ZF>:m>  
We were agreed that there was not. -r *|N.5c  
"Very well," said my friend. "You will kindly note that from this point onward the formation of the ground prevents our obtaining any other view of Cray's Folly or its gardens until we reach the path to the valley, or turn on to the high road. From a point on the latter the tower may be seen but that is all. The first part of my experiment is concluded, gentlemen. We will now return." DOyO`TJi  
Q m*z  
Giving us no opportunity for comment, he plunged on in the direction of the stream, and at a point which I regarded as unnecessarily difficult, crossed it, to the great discomfiture of the heavy Inspector Aylesbury. A few minutes later we found ourselves once more in the grounds of Cray's Folly. ~ AD>@;8fG  
Harley, evidently with a definite objective in view, led the way up the terraces, through the rhododendrons, and round the base of the tower. He crossed to the sunken garden, and at the top of the steps paused. #}fvjJ{  
"Be good enough to regard the sun-dial from this point," he directed. \1-lda  
Even as he spoke, I caught my breath, and I heard Aylesbury utter a sort of gasping sound. ^4JK4+!Zfq  
Beyond the sun-dial and slightly to the left of it, viewed from where we stood, a faint, elfin light flickered, at a point apparently some four or five feet above the ground! pi;fu  
"What's this?" muttered Wessex. +Z9ua%,3%  
:K \IS`  
"Follow again, gentlemen," said Harley quietly. t/]za4w/  
He led the way down to the garden and along the path to the sun-dial. This he passed, pausing immediately in front of the yew tree in which I knew the bullet to be embedded. _ =(v? 2:?  
He did not speak, but, extending his finger, pointed. qP[jtRIN  
A piece of candle, some four inches long, was attached by means of a nail to the bark of the tree, so that its flame burned immediately in front of the bullet embedded there! mp>Ne6\Tu  
Jm*wlN [>  
For perhaps ten seconds no one spoke; indeed I think no one moved. Then: {3*Zx"e![  
"Good God!" murmured Wessex. "You have done some clever things to my knowledge, Mr. Harley, but this crowns them all." >K-S&Y  
M A  
"Clever things!" said Inspector Aylesbury. "I think it's a lot of damned tomfoolery." kBg8:bo~  
"Do you, Inspector?" asked the Scotland Yard man, quietly. "I don't. I think it has saved the life of an innocent man." 'M!M$<j  
"What's that? What's that?" cried Aylesbury. %X|u({(zb  
@;\0cE n>  
"This candle was burning here on the yew tree," explained Harley, "at the time that you looked out of the window of the hut. You could not see it. You could not see it from the crest adjoining the Guest House-- the only other spot in the neighbourhood from which this garden is visible. Now, since the course of a bullet is more or less straight, and since the nature of the murdered man's wound proves that it was not deflected in any way, I submit that the one embedded in the yew tree before you could not possibly have been fired from the Guest House! The second part of my experiment, gentlemen, will be designed to prove from whence it was fired." ;y_]w6|n  

只看该作者 33楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XXXIII. Paul Harley's Experiment Concluded Cbbdq%ySI  
   _i =*0Q  
Up to the very moment that Paul Harley, who had withdrawn, rejoined us in the garden, Inspector Aylesbury had not grasped the significance of that candle burning upon the yew tree. He continued to stare at it as if hypnotized, and when my friend re-appeared, carrying a long ash staff and a sheet of cardboard, I could have laughed to witness the expression upon the Inspector's face, had I not been too deeply impressed with that which underlay this strange business. ZCCCuB  
Wessex, on the other hand, was watching my friend eagerly, as an earnest student in the class-room might watch a demonstration by some celebrated lecturer. s}zR@ !`  
2j f!o  
"You will notice," said Paul Harley, "that I have had a number of boards laid down upon the ground yonder, near the sun-dial. They cover a spot where the turf has worn very thin. Now, this garden, because of its sunken position, is naturally damp. Perhaps, Wessex, you would take up these planks for me." ?0)K[Kd'Y  
Inspector Wessex obeyed, and Harley, laying the ash stick and cardboard upon the ground, directed the ray of an electric torch upon the spot uncovered.  x,: k/]  
"The footprints of Colonel Menendez!" he explained. "Here he turned from the tiled path. He advanced three paces in the direction of the sun-dial, you observe, then stood still, facing we may suppose, since this is the indication of the prints, in a southerly direction." 5X8 i=M;  
"Straight toward the Guest House," muttered Inspector Aylesbury. @@a#DjE%/  
+-x+c: IxA  
"Roughly," corrected Harley. "He was fronting in that direction, certainly, but his head may have been turned either to the right or to the left. You observe from the great depth of the toe-marks that on this spot he actually fell. Then, here"--he moved the light--"is the impression of his knee, and here again--" (w_b  
He shone the white ray upon a discoloured patch of grass, and then returned the lamp to his pocket. .<K9Zyi  
"I am going to make a hole in the turf," he continued, "directly between these two footprints, which seem to indicate that the Colonel was standing in the military position of attention at the moment that he met his death." o3'Za'N.  
@ +>>TGC  
With the end of the ash stick, which was pointed, he proceeded to do this. e1H2w? s  
"Colonel Menendez," he went on, "stood rather over six feet in his shoes. The stick which now stands upright in the turf measures six feet, from the chalk mark up to which I have buried it to the slot which I have cut in the top. Into this slot I now wedge my sheet of cardboard." R@[1a+}5  
As he placed the sheet of cardboard in the slot which he had indicated, I saw that a round hole was cut in it some six inches in diameter. We watched these proceedings in silence, then: g:[yA{Eh  
"If you will allow me to adjust the candle, gentlemen," said Harley, "which has burned a little too low for my purpose, I shall proceed to the second part of this experiment." (-hGb:  
He walked up to the yew tree, and by means of bending the nail upward he raised the flame of the candle level with the base of the embedded bullet. H+F>#  
y6N }R  
"By heavens!" cried Wessex, suddenly divining the object of these proceedings, "Mr. Harley, this is genius!" Y>To k|PV  
"Thank you, Wessex," Harley replied, quietly, but nevertheless he was unable to hide his gratification. "You see my point?" Z,}c)  
"Certainly." Z+g9!@'a  
"In ten minutes we shall know the truth." M2pFXU?]  
$8WWN} OC  
"Oh, I see," muttered Inspector Aylesbury; "we shall know the truth, eh? If you ask me the truth, it's this, that we are a set of lunatics." FxmHy{JG  
"My dear Inspector Aylesbury," said Harley, good humouredly, "surely you have grasped the lesson of experiment number one?" lffw "  
"Well," admitted the other, "it's funny, certainly. I mean, it wants a lot of explaining, but I can't say I'm convinced." S+"Bq:u"  
p8 Ao{  
"That's a pity," murmured Wessex, "because I am." PfyJJAQ[  
"You see, Inspector," Harley continued, patiently, "the body of Colonel Menendez as it lay formed a straight line between the sun-dial and the hut in the garden of the Guest House. That is to say: a line drawn from the window of the hut to the sun-dial must have passed through the body. Very well. Such an imaginary line, if continued beyond the sun-dial, would have terminated near the base of the seventh yew tree. Accordingly, I naturally looked for the bullet there. It was not there. But I found it, as you know, in the ninth tree. Therefore, the shot could not possibly have been fired from the Guest House, because the spot in the ninth yew where the bullet had lodged is not visible from the Guest House." .izq}q*P   
Inspector Aylesbury removed his cap and scratched his head vigorously. \0d'y#Gp*  
Wz s=BNm9  
"In order that we may avoid waste of valuable time," said Harley, finally, "let us take a hasty observation from here. As a matter of fact, I have done so already, as nearly as was possible, without employing this rough apparatus." @)uV Fw"\  
He knelt down beside the yew tree, lowering his head so that the candlelight shone upon the brown, eager face, and looked upward, over the top of the sun-dial and through the hole in the cardboard. qPq]%G*{  
"Yes," he muttered, a note of rising excitement in his voice. "As I thought, as I thought. Come, gentlemen, let us hurry." Fc5.?X-  
He walked rapidly out of the garden, and up the steps, whilst we followed dumb with wonder--or such at any rate was the cause of my own silence. Ln h =y2  
In the hall Pedro was standing, a bunch of keys in his hand, and evidently expecting Harley. l f>/  
"Will you take us by the shortest way to the tower stairs?" my friend directed. 'PF>#X''  
"Yes, sir." ~gI%lORqN  
Doubting, wondering, scarcely knowing whether to be fearful or jubilant, I followed, along a carpeted corridor, and thence, a heavy, oaken door being unlocked, across a dusty and deserted apartment apparently intended for a drawing room. From this, through a second doorway we were led into a small, square, unfurnished room, which I knew must be situated in the base of the tower. Yet a third door was unlocked, and: B!RfPk1B<*  
"Here is the stair, sir," said Pedro. YmljHQP  
>iT mILA  
In Indian file we mounted to the first floor, to find ourselves in a second, identical room, also stripped of furniture and decorations. Harley barely glanced out of the northern window, shook his head, and: >LPb>t5%p  
"Next floor, Pedro," he directed. nWK8.&{.  
Up we went, our footsteps arousing a cloud of dust from the uncarpeted stairs, and the sound of our movements echoing in hollow fashion around the deserted rooms. wXQu%F3  
{ {?-& yA  
Gaining the next floor, Harley, unable any longer to conceal his excitement, ran to the north window, looked out, and: @Yt394gA%\  
"Gentlemen," he said, "my experiment is complete!" 0(o2<d7  
u~,hT Y(%  
He turned, his back to the window, and faced us in the dusk of the room. KCpq<A%  
"Assuming the ash stick to represent the upright body of Colonel Menendez," he continued, "and the sheet of cardboard to represent his head, the hole which I have cut in it corresponds fairly nearly to the position of his forehead. Further assuming the bullet to have illustrated Euclid's definition of a straight line, such a line, followed back from the yew tree to the spot where the rifle rested, would pass through the hole in the cardboard! In other words, there is only one place from which it is possible to see the flame of the candle through the hole in the cardboard: the place where the rifle rested! Stand here in the left-hand angle of the window and stoop down! Will you come first, Knox?" Bx)!I]gi_  
w`< {   
I stepped across the room, bent down, and stared out of the window, across the Tudor garden. Plainly I could see the sun-dial with the ash stick planted before it. I could see the piece of cardboard which surmounted it--and, through the hole cut in the cardboard, I could see the feeble flame of the candle nailed to the ninth yew tree! M @G\b^"  
ugj I$u  
I stood upright, knowing that I had grown pale, and conscious of a moist sensation upon my forehead. (7&b)"y  
"Merciful God!" I said in a hollow voice. "It was from this window that the shot was fired which killed him!" mQSn*;9\T3  

只看该作者 34楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XXXIV. The Creeping Sickness ^EkxZ4*g  
   Q 3^h  
From the ensuing consultation in the library we did not rise until close upon midnight. To the turbid intelligence of Inspector Aylesbury the fact by this time had penetrated that Colin Camber was innocent, that he was the victim of a frame-up, and that Colonel Juan Menendez had been shot from a window of his own house. c?. i;4yh  
By a process of lucid reasoning which must have convinced a junior schoolboy, Paul Harley, there in the big library, with its garish bookcases and its Moorish ornaments, had eliminated every member of the household from the list of suspects. His concluding words, I remember, were as follows: D& o\q68W  
"Of the known occupants of Cray's Folly on the night of the tragedy we now find ourselves reduced to four, any one of whom, from the point of view of an impartial critic uninfluenced by personal character, question, or motive, or any consideration other than that of physical possibility, might have shot Colonel Menendez. They are, firstly: Myself. g}R Cjl4  
quaRVD>s +  
"In order to believe me guilty, it would be necessary to discount the evidence of Knox, who saw me on the gravel path below at the time that the shot was fired from the tower window. 8J$1N*J|  
"Secondly: Knox; whose guilt, equally, could only be assumed by means of eliminating my evidence, since I saw him at the window of my room at the time that the shot was fired. piIz ff  
"Thirdly: Madame de Staemer. Regarding this suspect, in the first place she could not have gained access to the tower room without assistance, and in the second place she was so passionately devoted to the late Colonel Menendez that Dr. Rolleston is of opinion that her reason may remain permanently impaired by the shock of his death. Fourthly and lastly: Miss Val Beverley." r^rk@W;[  
Over my own feelings, as he had uttered the girl's name, I must pass in silence. 2Y[n  
u =~`5vA  
"Miss Val Beverley is the only one of the four suspects who is not in a position to establish a sound alibi so far as I can see at the moment; but in this case entire absence of motive renders the suspicion absurd. Having dealt with the known occupants, I shall not touch upon the possibility that some stranger had gained access to the house. This opens up a province of speculation which we must explore at greater leisure, for it would be profitless to attempt such an exploration now." ;tA$ x!5]  
Thus the gathering had broken up, Inspector Aylesbury returning to Market Hilton to make his report and to release Colin Camber and Ah Tsong, and Wessex to seek his quarters at the Lavender Arms. sP% b? 6  
I remember that having seen them off, Harley and I stood in the hall, staring at one another in a very odd way, and so we stood when Val Beverley came quietly from Madame de Staemer's room and spoke to us. n)35-?R/M  
"Pedro has told me what you have done, Mr. Harley," she said in a low voice. "Oh, thank God you have cleared him. But what, in Heaven's name, does your new discovery mean?" =]"I0G-s!  
"You may well ask," Harley answered, grimly. "If my first task was a hard one, that which remains before me looks more nearly hopeless than anything I have ever been called upon to attempt." G|8>Q3D  
"It is horrible, it is horrible," said the girl, shudderingly. "Oh, Mr. Knox," she turned to me, "I have felt all along that there was some stranger in the house----" aJA(UN45  
"You have told me so." k,k>w#&  
"Conundrums! Conundrums!" muttered Harley, irritably. "Where am I to begin, upon what am I to erect any feasible theory?" He turned abruptly to Val Beverley. "Does Madame de Staemer know?" 2b^Fz0 w4  
"Yes," she answered, nodding her head; "and hearing the others depart, she asked me to tell you that sleep is impossible until you have personally given her the details of your discovery." It&CM,=t  
"She wishes to see me?" asked Harley, eagerly. =N\; ?eF(  
"She insists upon seeing you," replied the girl, "and also requests Mr. Knox to visit her." She paused, biting her lip. "Madame's manner is very, very odd. Dr. Rolleston cannot understand her at all. I expect he has told you? She has been sitting there for hours and hours, writing." WK`o3ayH-  
Jq &Hz$L|  
"Writing?" exclaimed Harley. "Letters?" KSchgon0V  
"I don't know what she has been writing," confessed Val Beverley. "She declines to tell me, or to show me what she has written. But there is quite a little stack of manuscript upon the table beside her bed. Won't you come in?" "Wg,]$IvU  
.b]s Q'  
I could see that she was more troubled than she cared to confess, and I wondered if Dr. Rolleston's unpleasant suspicions might have solid foundation, and if the loss of her cousin had affected Madame de Staemer's brain. lZ-U/$od  
Presently, then, ushered by Val Beverley, I found myself once more in the violet and silver room in which on that great bed of state Madame reclined amid silken pillows. Her art never deserted her, not even in moments of ultimate stress, and that she had prepared herself for this interview was evident enough. 32 i6j  
I had thought previously that one night of horror had added five years to her apparent age. I thought now that she looked radiantly beautiful. That expression in her eyes, which I knew I must forevermore associate with the memory of the dying tigress, had faded entirely. They remained still, as of old, but to-night they were velvety soft. The lips were relaxed in a smile of tenderness. I observed, with surprise, that she wore much jewelery, and upon her white bosom gleamed the famous rope of pearls which I knew her to treasure above almost anything in her possession. O z0-cM8t  
Again the fear touched me coldly that much sorrow had made her mad. But at her very first word of greeting I was immediately reassured. t[q2 W"#.  
"Ah, my friend," she said, as I entered, a caressing note in her deep, vibrant voice, "you have great news, they tell me? Mr. Harley, I was afraid that you had deserted me, sir. If you had done so I should have been very angry with you. Set the two armchairs here on my right, Val, dear, and sit close beside me." 0 8L;u7u  
Then, as we seated ourselves: 8#$HKWUK  
"You are not smoking, my friends," she continued, "and I know that you are both so fond of a smoke." ^Vth;!o  
Paul Harley excused himself but I accepted a cigarette which Val Beverley offered me from a silver box on the table, and presently: FFwu$S6e  
<!W9E M  
"I am here, like a prisoner of the Bastille," declared Madame, shrugging her shoulders, "where only echoes reach me. Now, Mr. Harley, tell me of this wonderful discovery of yours." OpOR!  
Harley inclined his head gravely, and in that succinct fashion which he had at command acquainted Madame with the result of his two experiments. As he completed the account: >va9*pdJ  
"Ah," she sighed, and lay back upon her pillows, "so to-night he is again a free man, the poor Colin Camber. And his wife is happy once more?" /I#SP/M&l  
"Thank God," I murmured. "Her sorrow was pathetic." 9/S-=VOe.t  
"Only the pure in heart can thank God," said Madame, strangely, "but I, too, am glad. I have written, here"--she pointed to a little heap of violet note-paper upon a table placed at the opposite side of the bed-- "how glad I am." eu|cQ^>  
Harley and I stared vaguely across at the table. I saw Val Beverley glancing uneasily in the same direction. Save for the writing materials and little heap of manuscript, it held only a cup and saucer, a few sandwiches, and a medicine bottle containing the prescription which Dr. Rolleston had made up for the invalid. Wo@0yF@  
"I am curious to know what you have written, Madame," declared Harley. fG107{!g=  
r wtU@xsD  
"Yes, you are curious?" she said. "Very well, then, I will tell you, and afterward you may read if you wish." She turned to me. "You, my friend," she whispered, and reaching over she laid her jewelled hand upon my arm, "you have spoken with Ysola de Valera this afternoon, they tell me?" bhqBFiuhH  
"With Mrs. Camber?" I asked, startled. "Yes, that is true." SvZ~xTit  
"Ah, Mrs. Camber," murmured Madame. "I knew her as Ysola de Valera. She is beautiful, in her golden doll way. You think so?" Then, ere I had time to reply: "She told you, I suppose, eh?" ]Sj<1tx7f  
8 5 L<  
"She told me," I replied with a certain embarrassment, "that she had met you some years ago in Cuba." 6 zyxGJ(  
"Ah, yes, although I told the fat Inspector it was not so. How we lie, we women! And of course she told you in what relation I stood to Juan Menendez?" K#%@4]jO3  
"She did not, Madame de Staemer." Gh5 3 Pne  
Eo`'6 3  
"No-no? Well, it was nice of her. No matter. I will tell you. I was his mistress." E{'Y>g B6  
*&z !y/  
She spoke without bravado, but quite without shame, seeming to glory in the statement. ?@^gpVK{  
"I met him in Paris," she continued, half closing her eyes. "I was staying at the house of my sister, and my sister, you understand, was married to Juan's cousin. That is how we met. I was married. Yes, it is true. But in France our parents find our husbands and our lovers find our hearts. Yet sometimes these marriages are happy. To me this good thing had not happened, and in the moment when Juan's hand touched mine a living fire entered into my heart and it has been burning ever since; burning-burning, always till I die. [M#(su0fv  
"Very well, I am a shameless woman, yes. But I have lived, and I have loved, and I am content. I went with him to Cuba, and from Cuba to another island where he had estates, and the name of which I shall not pronounce, because it hurts me so, even yet. There he set eyes upon Ysola de Valera, the daughter of his manager, and, pouf!" u63Q<P<  
She shrugged and snapped her fingers. ||;a#FZ^  
"He was like that, you understand? I knew it well. They did not call him Devil Menendez for nothing. There was a scene, a dreadful scene, and after that another, and yet a third. I have pride. If I had seemed to forget it, still it was there. I left him, and went back to France. I tried to forget. I entered upon works of charity for the soldiers at a time when others were becoming tired. I spent a great part of my fortune upon establishing a hospital, and this child"--she threw her arm around Val Beverley--"worked with me night and day. I think I wanted to die. Often I tried to die. Did I not, dear?" NmV][0(BS  
"#`c\JuR ]  
"You did, Madame," said the girl in a very low voice. 1H,hw  
"Twice I was arrested in the French lines, where I had crept dressed like a poilu, from where I shot down many a Prussian. Is it not so?" ;/-#oW@gQ  
T5di#%: s  
"It is true," answered the girl, nodding her head. p#dpDjh  
"They caught me and arrested me," said Madame, with a sort of triumph. "If it had been the British"--she raised her hand in that Bernhardt gesture--"with me it would have gone hard. But in France a woman's smile goes farther than in England. I had had my fun. They called me 'good comrade!' Perhaps I paid with a kiss. What does it matter? But they heard of me, those Prussian dogs. They knew and could not forgive. How often did they come over to bomb us, Val, dear?" X|7Y|0o  
[a*m9F\ ,  
"Oh, many, many times," said the girl, shudderingly. Vet7a_  
"And at last they succeeded," added Madame, bitterly. "God! the black villains! Let me not think of it." AyKaazm]9  
She clenched her hands and closed her eyes entirely, but presently resumed again: gy _86y@  
"If they had killed me I should have been glad, but they only made of me a cripple. M. de Staemer had been killed a few weeks before this. I am sorry I forgot to mention it. I was a widow. And when after this catastrophe I could be moved, I went to a little villa belonging to my husband at Nice, to gain strength, and this child came with me, like a ray of sunshine. AShJt xxa  
"Here, to wake the fire in my heart, came Juan, deserted, broken, wounded in soul, but most of all in pride, in that evil pride which belongs to his race, which is so different from the pride of France, but for which all the same I could never hate him. ]o_Z3xXUa  
"Ysola de Valera had run away from his great house in Cuba. Yes! A woman had dared to leave him, the man who had left so many women. To me it was pathetic. I was sorry for him. He had been searching the world for her. He loved this little golden-haired girl as he had never loved me. But to me he came with his broken heart, and I"--her voice trembled--"I took him back. He still cared for me, you understand. Ah!" She laughed. "I am not a woman who is lightly forgotten. But the great passion that burned in his Spanish soul was revenge. #!OCEiT_  
"He was a broken man not only in mind, but in body. Let me tell you. In that island which I have not named there is a horrible disease called by the natives the Creeping Sickness. It is supposed to come from a poisonous place named the Black Belt, and a part of this Black Belt is near, too near, to the hacienda in which Juan sometimes lived." _~&6Kb^*  
@H= d8$  
Paul Harley started and glanced at me significantly. a*$to/^r  
6v (}<2~  
"They think, those simple negroes, that it is witchcraft, Voodoo, the work of the Obeah man. It is of two kinds, rapid and slow. Those who suffer from the first kind just decline and decline and die in great agony. Others recover, or seem to do so. It is, I suppose, a matter of constitution. Juan had had this sickness and had recovered, or so the doctors said, but, ah!" >A5R  
She lay back, shaking her finger characteristically. |x@)%QeC  
"In one year, in two, three, a swift pain comes, like a needle, you understand? Perhaps in the foot, in the hand, in the arm. It is exquisite, deathly, while it lasts, but it only lasts for a few moments. It is agony. And then it goes, leaving nothing to show what has caused it. But, my friends, it is a death warning! JLUG=x(dA  
"If it comes here"--she raised one delicate white hand--"you may have five years to live; if in the foot, ten, or more. But"--she sank her voice dramatically--"the nearer it is to the heart, the less are the days that remain to you of life." (t&]u7Atr  
"You mean that it recurs?" asked Harley. )aoB -Lu  
"Perhaps in a week, perhaps not for another year, it comes again, that quick agony. This time in the shoulder, in the knee. It is the second warning. Three times it may come, four times, but at last"--she laid her hand upon her breast--"it comes here, in the heart, and all is finished." p:M#F:  
She paused as if exhausted, closing her eyes again, whilst we three who listened looked at one another in an awestricken silence, until the vibrant voice resumed: t}-[^|)7  
"There is only one man in Europe who understands this thing, this Creeping Sickness. He is a Frenchman who lives in Paris. To him Juan had been, and he had told him, this clever man, 'If you are very quiet and do not exert yourself, and only take as much exercise as is necessary for your general health, you have one year to live--'" .lu:S;JSnS  
"My God!" groaned Harley. hM E|=\  
"Yes, such was the verdict. And there is no cure. The poor sufferer must wait and wait, always wait, for that sudden pang, not knowing if it will come in his heart and be the finish. Yes. This living death, then, and revenge, were the things ruling Juan's life at the time of which I tell you. He had traced Ysola de Valera to England. A chance remark in a London hotel had told him that a Chinaman had been seen in a Surrey village and of course had caused much silly chatter. He enquired at once, and he found out that Colin Camber, the man who had taken Ysola from him, was living with her at the Guest House, here, on the hill. How shall I tell you the rest?" xmKa8']x  
"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Harley, his glance set upon her, with a sort of horror in his gray eyes, "I think I can guess." HKOJkbVZ2^  
She turned to him rapidly. PNc200`v4_  
"M. Harley," she said, "you are a clever man. I believe you are a genius. And I have the strength to tell you because I am happy to- night. Because of his great wealth Juan succeeded in buying Cray's Folly from Sir James Appleton to whom it belonged. He told everybody he leased it, but really he bought it. He paid him more than twice its value, and so obtained possession. I5x/N.  
gVG :z_6  
"But the plan was not yet complete, although it had taken form in that clever, wicked brain of his. Oh! I could tell you stories of the Menendez, and of the things they have done for love and revenge, which even you, who know much of life, would doubt, I think. Yes, you would not believe. But to continue. Shall I tell you upon what terms he had returned to me, eh? I will. Once more he would suffer that pang of death in life, for he had courage, ah! such great courage, and then, when the waiting for the next grew more than even his fearless heart could bear, I, who also had courage, and who loved him, should----" She paused, "Do you understand?" 'kh%^_FH7  
Harley nodded dumbly, and suddenly I found Val Beverley's little fingers twined about mine. R#T6I i  
2XXEg> CU  
"I agreed," continued the deep voice. "It was a boon which I, too, would have asked from one who loved me. But to die, knowing another cherished the woman who had been torn from him, was an impossibility for Juan Menendez. What he had schemed to do at first I never knew. But presently, because of our situation here, and because of that which he had asked of me, it came, the great plan. RV($G8U  
"On the night he told me, a night I shall never forget, I drew back in horror from him--I, Marie de Staemer, who thought I knew the blackest that was in him. I shrank. And because of that scene it came to him again in the early morning--the moment of agony, the needle pain, here, low down in his left breast. h]=chz  
IR>K ka(B  
"He pleaded with me to do the wicked thing that he had planned, and because I dared not refuse, knowing he might die at my feet, I consented. But, my friends, I had my own plan, too, of which he knew nothing. On the next day he went to Paris, and was told he had two months to live, with great, such great care, but perhaps only a week, a day, if he should permit his hot passions to inflame that threatened heart. Very well. 4R0_%x6vG  
"I said yes, yes, to all that he suggested, and he began to lay the trail--the trail to lead to his enemy. It was his hobby, this vengeance. He was like a big, cruel boy. It was he, himself, Juan Menendez, who broke into Cray's Folly. It was he who nailed the bat wing to the door. It was he who bought two rifles of a kind of which so many millions were made during the war that anybody might possess one. And it was he who concealed the first of these, one cartridge discharged, under the floor of the hut in the garden of the Guest House. The other, which was to be used, he placed--" i~.[iZf|  
lfA  BF  
"In the shutter-case of one of the tower rooms," continued Paul Harley. "I know! I found it there to-night." ^Pf&C0xXv  
K8 Y/XEK  
"What?" I asked, "you found it, Harley?" EVL;"   
"I returned to look for it," he said. "At the present moment it is upstairs in my room." c.Y8CD.tqL  
"Ah, M. Harley," exclaimed Madame, smiling at him radiantly, "I love your genius. Then it was," she continued, "that he thought himself ready, ready for revenge and ready for death. He summoned you, M. Harley, to be an expert witness. He placed with you evidence which could not fail to lead to the arrest of M. Camber. Very well. I allowed him to do all this. His courage, mon Dieu, how I worshipped his courage! K=?F3tX^  
"At night, when everyone slept, and he could drop the mask, I have seen what he suffered. I have begged him, begged him upon my knees, to allow me to end it then and there; to forget his dream of revenge, to die without this last stain upon his soul. But he, expecting at any hour, at any minute, to know again the agony which cannot be described, which is unlike any other suffered by the flesh--refused, refused! And I"-- she raised her eyes ecstatically--"I have worshipped this courage of his, although it was evil--bad. XH:gQ9FD  
-V u/TT0  
"The full moon gives the best light, and so he planned it for the night of the full moon. But on the night before, because of some scene which he had with you, M. Harley, nearly I thought his plans would come to nothing. Nearly I thought the last act of love which he asked of me would never be performed. He sat there, up in the little room which he liked best, the coldness upon him which always came before the pang, waiting, waiting, a deathly dew on his forehead, for the end; and I, I who loved him better than life, watched him. And, so Fate willed it, the pang never came." W-!Bl&jF[  
"You watched him?" I whispered. jom} _  
Harley turned to me slowly. 0i8[=  
UF&0 & `@  
"Don't you understand, Knox?" he said, in a voice curiously unlike his own. 2d-TU_JqX  
"Ah, my friend," Madame de Staemer laid her hand upon my arm with that caressing gesture which I knew, "you do understand, don't you? The power to use my limbs returned to me during the last week that I lived in Nice." EkN_8(w  
She bent forward and raised her face, in an almost agonized appeal to Val Beverley. yH*hL0mO  
"My dear, my dear," she said, "forgive me, forgive me! But I loved him so. One day, I think"--her glance sought my face--"you will know. Then you will forgive." k}GjD2m  
"Oh, Madame, Madame," whispered the girl, and began to sob silently. ~h! 13!  
"Is it enough?" asked Madame de Staemer, raising her head, and looking defiantly at Paul Harley. "Last night, you, M. Harley, who have genius, nearly brought it all to nothing. You passed the door in the shrubbery just when Juan was preparing to go out. I was watching from the window above. Then, when you had gone, he came out--smoking his last cigarette. G>w+#{(  
"I went to my place, entering the tower room by the door from that corridor. I opened the window. It had been carefully oiled. It was soundless. I was cold as one already dead, but love made me strong. I had seen him suffer. I took the rifle from its hiding-place, the heavy rifle which so few women could use. It was no heavier than some which I had used before, and to good purpose." <jA105U"m>  
Again she paused, and I saw her lips trembling. Before my mind's eye the picture arose which I had seen from Harley's window, the picture of Colonel Juan Menendez walking in the moonlight along the path to the sun-dial, with halting steps, with clenched fists, but upright as a soldier on parade. Walking on, dauntlessly, to his execution. Out of a sort of haze, which seemed to obscure both sight and hearing, I heard Madame speaking again. 5(m(xo6  
"He turned his head toward me. He threw me a kiss--and I fired. Did you think a woman lived who could perform such a deed, eh? If you did not think so, it is because you have never looked into the eyes of one who loved with her body, her mind, and with her soul. I think, yes, I think I went mad. The rifle I remember I replaced. But I remember no more. Ah!" !69&Ld  
She sighed in a resigned, weary way, untwining her arm from about Val Beverley, and falling back upon her pillows. #DU26nCL  
"It is all written here," she said; "every word of it, my friends, and signed at the bottom. I am a murderess, but it was a merciful deed. You see, I had a plan of which Juan knew nothing. This was my plan." She pointed to the heap of manuscript. "I would give him relief from his agonies, yes. For although he was an evil man, I loved him better than life. I would let him die happy, thinking his revenge complete. But others to suffer? No, no! a thousand times no! Ah, I am so tired." 00v&lQBW  
L pR''`2BT  
She took up the little medicine bottle, poured its contents into the glass, and emptied it at a draught. | N0Z-|  
Paul Harley, as though galvanized, sprang to his feet. "My God!" he cried, huskily, "Stop her, stop her!" Val Beverley, now desperately white, clutched at me with quivering fingers, her agonized glance set upon the smiling face of Madame de Staemer. B}PIRk@a1  
"No fuss, dear friends," said Madame, gently, "no trouble, no nasty stomach-pumps; for it is useless. I shall just fall asleep in a few moments now, and when I wake Juan will be with me." E9;|'Vy<E  
Her face was radiant. It became lighted up magically. I knew in that grim hour what a beautiful woman Madame de Staemer must have been. She rested her hand upon Val Beverley's head, and looked at me with her strange, still eyes.  ]C) 4  
"Be good to her, my friend," she whispered. "She is English, but not cold like some. She, too, can love." <N%7|t*eT  
kOed ]>H  
She closed her eyes and dropped back upon her pillows for the last time. W' s  

只看该作者 35楼 发表于: 2012-07-20
Chapter XXXV. An Afterword HS.^y x  
This shall be a brief afterword, for I have little else to say. As Madame had predicted, all antidotes and restoratives were of no avail. She had taken enough of some drug which she had evidently had in her possession for this very purpose to ensure that there should be no awakening, and although Dr. Rolleston was on the spot within half an hour, Madame de Staemer was already past human aid. T`9u!#mT=  
There are perhaps one or two details which may be of interest. For instance, as a result of the post-mortem examination of Colonel Menendez, no trace of disease was discovered in any of the organs, but from information supplied by his solicitors, Harley succeeded in tracing the Paris specialist to whom Madame de Staemer had referred; and he confirmed her statement in every particular. The disease, to which he gave some name which I have forgotten, was untraceable, he declared, by any means thus far known to science. oP2fX_v1x  
{ K _kPgKS  
As we had anticipated, the bulk of Colonel Don Juan's wealth he had bequeathed to Madame de Staemer, and she in turn had provided that all of which she might die possessed should be divided between certain charities and Val Beverley. T?p`)  
I thus found myself at the time when all these legal processes terminated engaged to marry a girl as wealthy as she was beautiful. Therefore, except for the many grim memories which it had left with me, nothing but personal good fortune resulted from my sojourn at Cray's Folly, beneath the shadow of that Bat Wing which had had no existence outside the cunning imagination of Colonel Juan Menendez. fIocq  
THE END 3|rn] yZ  
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