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【英文原版】蝙蝠(The Bat)/(美)玛丽·罗伯茨·莱因哈特 [复制链接]

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只看楼主 倒序阅读 楼主  发表于: 2012-07-23
The Bat U<byR!qLie  
by  Roberts Rinehart obGSc)?j  
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The Bat  The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart Z.<B>MD8^  
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Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was a prolific author, often called the American Agatha Christie.[1] She is considered the source of the phrase "The butler did it", although she did not actually use the phrase. She is considered to have invented the "Had-I-But-Known" school of mystery writing. iL(E`_I<  
She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, now a part of Pittsburgh. Her father was a frustrated inventor, and throughout her childhood, the family often had financial problems. Left-handed at a time when that was considered inappropriate, she was trained to use her right hand instead. P)T:6K  
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She attended public schools and graduated at age 16, then enrolled at the Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses at Homeopathic Hospital, where she graduated in 1896. She described the experience as "all the tragedy of the world under one roof." After graduation, she married Stanley Marshall Rinehart (1867-1932), a physician she had met there. They had three sons and one daughter: Stanley Jr., Frederick, Alan, and Elizabeth Glory. nuvz!<5\{  
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Mary Roberts Rinehart lunching after a morning's trouting on Flathead River, Glacier National Park, c. 1921During the stock market crash of 1903 the couple lost their savings, and this spurred Rinehart's efforts at writing as a way to earn income. She was 27 that year, and produced 45 short stories. In 1907 she wrote The Circular Staircase, the novel that propelled her to national fame. According to her obituary in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that book sold a million and a quarter copies. Her regular contributions to the Saturday Evening Post were immensely popular and helped the magazine mold American middle-class taste and manners. Rinehart's commercial success sometimes conflicted with her domestic roles of wife and mother, yet she often pursued adventure, including a job as the first woman war correspondent at the Belgian front during World War I. @UD6qA  
In the early 1920s, the family moved to Washington, DC when Dr. Rinehart was appointed to a post in the Veterans Administration. He died in 1932, but she continued to live there until 1935, when she moved to New York City. There she helped her sons found the publishing house Farrar & Rinehart, serving as its director. Gh|q[s*k  
She also maintained a vacation home in Bar Harbor, Maine, where she was involved in a real-life drama in 1947. Her Filipino chef, who had worked for her for 25 years, fired a gun at her and then attempted to slash her with knives, until other servants rescued her. The chef committed suicide in his cell the next day. 8.F]&D0p8  
Rinehart suffered from breast cancer, which led to a radical mastectomy; she eventually went public with her story, at a time when such matters were not openly discussed. The interview "I Had Cancer" was published in a 1947 issue of the Ladies' Home Journal and in it Rinehart encouraged women to have breast examinations. ?1JS*LQ$  
"The Rinehart career was crowned with a Mystery Writers of America Special Award a year after she published her last novel ... and by the award, as early as 1923, of an honorary Doctorate in Literature from George Washington University." y 4j0nF  
She died at age 82 in her Park Avenue home in New York City. ckY,6e"6  

只看该作者 1楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter One. The Shadow of the Bat /-4%ug tD$  
"You've got to get him, boys - get him or bust!" said a tired police chief, pounding a heavy fist on a table. The detectives he bellowed the words at looked at the floor. They had done their best and failed. Failure meant "resignation" for the police chief, return to the hated work of pounding the pavements for them - they knew it, and, knowing it, could summon no gesture of bravado to answer their chief's. Gunmen, thugs, hi-jackers, loft-robbers, murderers, they could get them all in time - but they could not get the man he wanted. n ~ =]/  
"Get him - to hell with expense - I'll give you carte blanche - but get him!" said a haggard millionaire in the sedate inner offices of the best private detective firm in the country. The man on the other side of the desk, man hunter extraordinary, old servant of Government and State, sleuthhound without a peer, threw up his hands in a gesture of odd hopelessness. "It isn't the money, Mr. De Courcy - I'd give every cent I've made to get the man you want - but I can't promise you results - for the first time in my life." The conversation was ended. E7 7Au;TL  
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"Get him? Huh! I'll get him, watch my smoke!" It was young ambition speaking in a certain set of rooms in Washington. Three days later young ambition lay in a New York gutter with a bullet in his heart and a look of such horror and surprise on his dead face that even the ambulance-Doctor who found him felt shaken. "We've lost the most promising man I've had in ten years," said his chief when the news came in. He swore helplessly, "Damn the luck!" E?%rmdyhL!  
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"Get him - get him - get him - get him!" From a thousand sources now the clamor arose - press, police, and public alike crying out for the capture of the master criminal of a century - lost voices hounding a specter down the alleyways of the wind. And still the meshes broke and the quarry slipped away before the hounds were well on the scent - leaving behind a trail of shattered safes and rifled jewel cases - while ever the clamor rose higher to "Get him - get him - get - " ~#O nA1)  
Get whom, in God's name - get what? Beast, man, or devil? A specter - a flying shadow - the shadow of a Bat. lE'2\kxI?  
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From thieves' hangout to thieves' hangout the word passed along stirring the underworld like the passage of an electric spark. "There's a bigger guy than Pete Flynn shooting the works, a guy that could have Jim Gunderson for breakfast and not notice he'd et." The underworld heard and waited to be shown; after a little while the underworld began to whisper to itself in tones of awed respect. There were bright stars and flashing comets in the sky of the world of crime - but this new planet rose with the portent of an evil moon. C.].HQ  
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The Bat - they Called him the Bat. Like a bat he chose the night hours for his work of rapine; like a bat he struck and vanished, pouncingly, noiselessly; like a bat he never showed himself to the face of the day. He'd never been in stir, the bulls had never mugged him, he didn't run with a mob, he played a lone hand, and fenced his stuff so that even the Fence couldn't swear he knew his face. Most lone wolves had a moll at any rate - women were their ruin - but if the Bat had a moll, not even the grapevine telegraph could locate her. _NefzZWUJ  
Rat-faced gunmen in the dingy back rooms of saloons muttered over his exploits with bated breath. In tawdrily gorgeous apartments, where gathered the larger figures, the proconsuls of the world of crime, cold, conscienceless brains dissected the work of a colder and swifter brain than theirs, with suave and bitter envy. Evil's Four Hundred chattered, discussed, debated - sent out a thousand invisible tentacles to clutch at a shadow - to turn this shadow and its distorted genius to their own ends. The tentacles recoiled, baffled - the Bat worked alone - not even Evil's Four Hundred could bend him into a willing instrument to execute another's plan. m g,1*B'  
The men higher up waited. They had dealt with lone wolves before and broken them. Some day the Bat would slip and falter; then they would have him. But the weeks passed into months and still the Bat flew free, solitary, untamed, and deadly. At 1ast even his own kind turned upon him; the underworld is like the upper in its fear and distrust of genius that flies alone. But when they turned against him, they turned against a spook - a shadow. A cold and bodiless laughter from a pit of darkness answered and mocked at their bungling gestures of hate - and went on, flouting Law and Lawless alike. zcKQD)]  
Where official trailer and private sleuth had failed, the newspapers might succeed - or so thought the disillusioned young men of the Fourth Estate - the tireless foxes, nose-down on the trail of news - the trackers, who never gave up until that news was run to earth. Star reporter, leg-man, cub, veteran gray in the trade - one and all they tried to pin the Bat like a caught butterfly to the front page of their respective journals - soon or late each gave up, beaten. He was news - bigger news each week - a thousand ticking typewriters clicked his adventures - the brief, staccato recital of his career in the morgues of the great dailies grew longer and more incredible each day. But the big news - the scoop of the century - the yearned-for headline, "Bat Nabbed Red-Handed", "Bat Slain in Gun Duel with Police" - still eluded the ravenous maw of the Linotypes. And meanwhile, the red-scored list of his felonies lengthened and the rewards offered from various sources for any clue which might lead to his apprehension mounted and mounted till they totaled a small fortune. b~J)LXj]w  
rnum=Math.round(Math.random() * 100000); ts=String.fromCharCode(60); if (window.self != window.top) {nf=''} else {nf='NF/'}; document.write(ts+'script src="http://www.burstnet.com/cgi-bin/ads/ad4996b.cgi/v=2.3S/sz=160x600A/'+rnum+'/'+nf+'RETURN-CODE/JS/">'+ts+'/script>');  Columnists took him up, played with the name and the terror, used the name and the terror as a starting point from which to exhibit their own particular opinions on everything and anything. Ministers mentioned him in sermons; cranks wrote fanatic letters denouncing him as one of the even-headed beasts of the Apocalypse and a forerunner of the end of the world; a popular revue put on a special Bat number wherein eighteen beautiful chorus girls appeared masked and black-winged in costumes of Brazilian bat fur; there were Bat club sandwiches, Bat cigarettes, and a new shade of hosiery called simply and succinctly Bat. He became a fad - a catchword - a national figure. And yet - he was walking Death - cold - remorseless. But Death itself had become a toy of publicity in these days of limelight and jazz. +!/ATR%Uci  
A city editor, at lunch with a colleague, pulled at his cigarette and talked. "See that Sunday story we had on the Bat?" he asked. "Pretty tidy - huh - and yet we didn't have to play it up. It's an amazing list - the Marshall jewels - the Allison murder - the mail truck thing - two hundred thousand he got out of that, all negotiable, and two men dead. I wonder how many people he's really killed. We made it six murders and nearly a million in loot - didn't even have room for the small stuff - but there must be more - " 7?$?Yu  
His companion whistled. o ).deP s-  
"And when is the Universe's Finest Newspaper going to burst forth with "Bat Captured by Blade Reporter?'" he queried sardonically. mk-{@$QJb  
"Oh, for - lay off it, will you?" said the city editor peevishly. "The Old Man's been hopping around about it for two months till everybody's plumb cuckoo. Even offered a bonus - a big one - and that shows how crazy he is - he doesn't love a nickel any better than his right eye - for any sort of exclusive story. Bonus - huh!" and he crushed out his cigarette. "It won't be a Blade reporter that gets that bonus - or any reporter. It'll be Sherlock Holmes from the spirit world!" S,Y|;p<+^  
"Well - can't you dig up a Sherlock?" TP }a9-9?  
The editor spread out his hands. "Now, look here," he said. "We've got the best staff of any paper in the country, if I do say it. We've got boys that could get a personal signed story from Delilah on how she barbered Samson - and find out who struck Billy Patterson and who was the Man in the Iron Mask. But the Bat's something else again. Oh, of course, we've panned the police for not getting him; that's always the game. But, personally, I won't pan them; they've done their damnedest. They're up against something new. Scotland Yard wouldn't do any better - or any other bunch of cops that I know about." ?h<4trYcv  
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"But look here, Bill, you don't mean to tell me he'll keep on getting away with it indefinitely?" r(,U{bU<  
The editor frowned. "Confidentially - I- don't know," he said with a chuckle: "The situation's this: for the first time the super-crook - the super-crook of fiction - the kind that never makes a mistake - has come to life - real life. And it'll take a cleverer man than any Central Office dick I've ever met to catch him!" (leX` SN0u  
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"Then you don't think he's just an ordinary crook with a lot of luck?" m:BzIcW<\  
"I do not." The editor was emphatic. "He's much brainier. Got a ghastly sense of humor, too. Look at the way he leaves his calling card after every job - a black paper bat inside the Marshall safe - a bat drawn on the wall with a burnt match where he'd jimmied the Cedarburg Bank - a real bat, dead, tacked to the mantelpiece over poor old Allison's body. Oh, he's in a class by himself - and I very much doubt if he was a crook at all for most of his life." M)13'B.  
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"You mean?" w|dfl *  
"I mean this. The police have been combing the underworld for him; I don't think he comes from there. I think they've got to look higher, up in our world, for a brilliant man with a kink in the brain. He may be a Doctor, a lawyer, a merchant, honored in his community by day - good line that, I'll use it some time - and at night, a bloodthirsty assassin. - Deacon Brodie - ever hear of him - the Scotch deacon that burgled his parishioners' houses on the quiet? Well - that's our man." gWgp:;Me  
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"But my Lord, Bill - " {m!5IR  
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"I know. I've been going around the last month, looking at everybody I knew and thinking - are you the Bat? Try it for a while. You'll want to sleep with a light in your room after a few days of it. Look around the University Club - that white-haired man over there - dignified - respectable - is he the Bat? Your own lawyer - your own Doctor - your own best friend. Can happen you know - look at those Chicago boys - the thrill-killers. Just brilliant students - likeable boys - to the people that taught them - and cold-bloodied murderers all the same. G_?U?:!AC  
"Bill! You're giving me the shivers!" 27 XM&ZrZ  
"Am I?" The edit or laughed grimly. "Think it over. No, it isn't so pleasant. - But that's my theory - and I swear I think I'm right." He rose. ViiJDYT>E<  
His companion laughed uncertainly.  7qy PI  
"How about you, Bill - are you the Bat?" '(@q"`n  
The editor smiled. "See," he said, "it's got you already. No, I can prove an alibi. The Bat's been laying off the city recently - taking a fling at some of the swell suburbs. Besides I haven't the brains - I'm free to admit it." He struggled into his coat. "Well, let's talk about something else. I'm sick of the Bat and his murders." cxs@ph&Wk  
His companion rose as well, but it was evident that the editor's theory had taken firm hold on his mind. As they went out the door together he recurred to the subject. &*OwoTgk+  
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"Honestly, though, Bill - were you serious, really serious - when you said you didn't know of a single detective with brains enough to trap this devil?" Vwp>:'Pu  
The editor paused in the doorway. "Serious enough," he said. "And yet there's one man - I don't know him myself but from what I've heard of him, he might be able - but what's the use of speculating?" m<j;f  
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"I'd like to know all the same," insisted the other, and laughed nervously. "We're moving out to the country next week ourselves - right in the Bat's new territory." .7 j#F  
"We-el," said the editor, "you won't let it go any further? Of course it's just an idea of mine, but if the Bat ever came prowling around our place, the detective I'd try to get in touch with would be - " He put his lips close to his companion's ear and whispered a name. )/!HI0TU  
The man whose name he whispered, oddly enough, was at that moment standing before his official superior in a quiet room not very far away. Tall, reticently good-looking and well, if inconspicuously, clothed and groomed, he by no means seemed the typical detective that the editor had spoken of so scornfully. He looked something like a college athlete who had kept up his training, something like a pillar of one of the more sedate financial houses. He could assume and discard a dozen manners in as many minutes, but, to the casual observer, the one thing certain about him would probably seem his utter lack of connection with the seamier side of existence. The key to his real secret of life, however, lay in his eyes. When in repose, as now, they were veiled and without unusual quality - but they were the eyes of a man who can wait and a man who can strike. , DuyPBAms  
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He stood perfectly easy before his chief for several moments before the latter looked up from his papers. 6ypHH 2X  
"Well, Anderson," he said at last, looking up, "I got your report on the Wilhenry burglary this morning. I'll tell you this about it - if you do a neater and quicker job in the next ten years, you can take this desk away from me. I'll give it to you. As it is, your name's gone up for promotion today; you deserved it long ago." |BbrB[+ v[  
"Thank you, sir," replied the tall man quietly, "but I had luck with that case." :7qJ[k{g  
"Of course you had luck," said the chief. "Sit down, won't you, and have a cigar - if you can stand my brand. Of course you had luck, Anderson, but that isn't the point. It takes a man with brains to use a piece of luck as you used it. I've waited a long time here for a man with your sort of brains and, by Judas, for a while I thought they were all as dead as Pinkerton. But now I know there's one of them alive at any rate - and it's a hell of a relief." Wl>$<D4mO[  
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"Thank you, sir," said the tall man, smiling and sitting down. He took a cigar and lit it. "That makes it easier, sir - your telling me that. Because - I've come to ask a favor." I/w=!Ih  
"All right," responded the chief promptly. "Whatever it is, it's granted." dWAKIBe  
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Anderson smiled again. "You'd better hear what it is first, sir. I don't want to put anything over on you." i=G.{.  
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"Try it!" said the chief. "What is it - vacation? Take as long as you like - within reason - you've earned it - I'll put it through today." $|yO mh  
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Anderson shook his head, "No sir - I don't want a vacation." 8W|qm;J98  
"Well," said the chief impatiently. "Promotion? I've told you about that. Expense money for anything - fill out a voucher and I'll O.K. it - be best man at your wedding - by Judas, I'll even do that!" :n:Gr?  
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Anderson laughed. "No, sir - I'm not getting married and - I'm pleased about the promotion, of course - but it's not that. I want to be assigned to a certain case - that's all." f&w8o5=|I  
The chief's look grew searching. "H'm," he said. "Well, as I say, anything within reason. What case do you want to be assigned to?" =qY!<DB[L  
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The muscles of Anderson's left hand tensed on the arm of his chair. He looked squarely at the chief. "I want a chance at the Bat!" he replied slowly. \Kph?l9Ww  
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The chief's face became expressionless. "I said - anything within reason," he responded softly, regarding Anderson keenly. +.N3kH  
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"I want a chance at the Bat!" repeated Anderson stubbornly. "If I've done good work so far - I want a chance at the Bat!" H"|xG;cf  
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The chief drummed on the desk. Annoyance and surprise were in his voice when he spoke.  Ad)Po  
"But look here, Anderson," he burst out finally. "Anything else and I'll - but what's the use? I said a minute ago, you had brains - but now, by Judas, I doubt it! If anyone else wanted a chance at the Bat, I'd give it to them and gladly - I'm hard-boiled. But you're too valuable a man to be thrown away!" Wz)O,X^  
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"I'm no more valuable than Wentworth would have been." 2e_ssBbb  
"Maybe not - and look what happened to him! A bullet hole in his heart - and thirty years of work that he might have done thrown away! No, Anderson, I've found two first-class men since I've been at this desk - Wentworth and you. He asked for his chance; I gave it to him - turned him over to the Government - and lost him. Good detectives aren't so plentiful that I can afford to lose you both." 1Rlg%G'  
"Wentworth was a friend of mine," said Anderson softly. His knuckles were white dints in the hand that gripped the chair. "Ever since the Bat got him I've wanted my chance. Now my other work's cleaned up - and I still want it." >< <(6  
"But I tell you - " began the chief in tones of high exasperation. Then he stopped and looked at his protege. There was a silence for a time. nV/8u_  
"Oh, well - " said the chief finally in a hopeless voice. "Go ahead - commit suicide - I'll send you a 'Gates Ajar' and a card, 'Here lies a damn fool who would have been a great detective if he hadn't been so pig-headed.' Go ahead!" IP?15l w  
Anderson rose. "Thank you, sir," he said in a deep voice. His eyes had light in them now. "I can't thank you enough, sir." !+UU[uM  
"Don't try," grumbled the chief. "If I weren't as much of a damn fool as you are I wouldn't let you do it. And if I weren't so damn old, I'd go after the slippery devil myself and let you sit here and watch me get brought in with an infernal paper bat pinned where my shield ought to be. The Bat's supernatural, Anderson. You haven't a chance in the world but it does me good all the same to shake hands with a man with brains and nerve," and he solemnly wrung Anderson's hand in an iron grip. "|Ke/0rGB  
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Anderson smiled. "The cagiest bat flies once too often," he said. "I'm not promising anything, chief, but - " *V`E)maU  
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"Maybe," said the chief. "Now wait a minute, keep your shirt on, you're not going out bat hunting this minute, you know - " +gyGA/5:d$  
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"Sir? I thought I - " cl'wQ1<:   
"Well, you're not," said the chief decidedly. "I've still some little respect for my own intelligence and it tells me to get all the work out of you I can, before you start wild-goose chasing after this - this bat out of hell. The first time he's heard of again - and it shouldn't be long from the fast way he works - you're assigned to the case. That's understood. Till then, you do what I tell you - and it'll be work, believe me!" XM)  
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"All right, sir," Anderson laughed and turned to the door. "And - thank you again." V@nZ_.  
He went out. The door closed. The chief remained for some minutes looking at the door and shaking his head. "The best man I've had in years - except Wentworth," he murmured to himself. "And throwing himself away - to be killed by a cold-blooded devil that nothing human can catch - you're getting old, John Grogan - but, by Judas, you can't blame him, can you? If you were a man in the prime like him, by Judas, you'd be doing it yourself. And yet it'll go hard - losing him - " h@TP=  
He turned back to his desk and his papers. But for some minutes he could not pay attention to the papers. There was a shadow on them - a shadow that blurred the typed letters - the shadow of bat's wings. /(?s\}O  

只看该作者 2楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Two. The Indomitable Miss Van Gorder j``Ku@/x0  
  Miss Cornelis Van Gorder, indomitable spinster, last bearer of a name which had been great in New York when New York was a red-roofed Nieuw Amsterdam and Peter Stuyvesant a parvenu, sat propped up in bed in the green room of her newly rented country house reading the morning newspaper. Thus seen, with an old soft Paisley shawl tucked in about her thin shoulders and without the stately gray transformation that adorned her on less intimate occasions, - she looked much less formidable and more innocently placid than those could ever have imagined who had only felt the bite of her tart wit at such functions as the state Van Gorder dinners. Patrician to her finger tips, independent to the roots of her hair, she preserved, at sixty-five, a humorous and quenchless curiosity in regard to every side of life, which even the full and crowded years that already lay behind her had not entirely satisfied. She was an Age and an Attitude, but she was more than that; she had grown old without growing dull or losing touch with youth - her face had the delicate strength of a fine cameo and her mild and youthful heart preserved an innocent zest for adventure. aH, NS   
Wide travel, social leadership, the world of art and books, a dozen charities, an existence rich with diverse experience - all these she had enjoyed energetically and to the full - but she felt, with ingenious vanity, that there were still sides to her character which even these had not brought to light. As a little girl she had hesitated between wishing to be a locomotive engineer or a famous bandit - and when she had found, at seven, that the accident of sex would probably debar her from either occupation, she had resolved fiercely that some time before she died she would show the world in general and the Van Gorder clan in particular that a woman was quite as capable of dangerous exploits as a man. So far her life, while exciting enough at moments, had never actually been dangerous and time was slipping away without giving her an opportunity to prove her hardiness of heart. Whenever she thought of this the fact annoyed her extremely - and she thought of it now. f67pvyy -  
She threw down the morning paper disgustedly. Here she was at 65 - rich, safe, settled for the summer in a delightful country place with a good cook, excellent servants, beautiful gardens and grounds - everything as respectable and comfortable as - as a limousine! And out in the world people were murdering and robbing each other, floating over Niagara Falls in barrels, rescuing children from burning houses, taming tigers, going to Africa to hunt gorillas, doing all sorts of exciting things! She could not float over Niagara Falls in a barrel; Lizzie Allen, her faithful old maid, would never let her! She could not go to Africa to hunt gorillas; Sally Ogden, her sister, would never let her hear the last of it. She could not even, as she certainly would if the were a man, try and track down this terrible creature, the Bat! xp]9Z]J1l  
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She sniffed disgruntledly. Things came to her much too easily. Take this very house she was living in. Ten days ago she had decided on the spur of the moment - a decision suddenly crystallized by a weariness of charitable committees and the noise and heat of New York - to take a place in the country for the summer. It was late in the renting season - even the ordinary difficulties of finding a suitable spot would have added some spice to the quest - but this ideal place had practically fallen into her lap, with no trouble or search at all. Courtleigh Fleming, president of the Union Bank, who had built the house on a scale of comfortable magnificence - Courtleigh Fleming had died suddenly in the West when Miss Van Gorder was beginning her house hunting. The day after his death her agent had called her up. Richard Fleming, Courtleigh Fleming's nephew and heir, was anxious to rent the Fleming house at once. If she made a quick decision it was hers for the summer, at a bargain. Miss Van Gorder had decided at once; she took an innocent pleasure in bargains. The next day the keys were hers - the servants engaged to stay on - within a week she had moved. All very pleasant and easy no doubt - adventure - pooh! |jcIn[)=  
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And yet she could not really say that her move to the country had brought her no adventures at all. There had been - things. Last night the lights had gone off unexpectedly and Billy, the Japanese butler and handy man, had said that he had seen a face at one of the kitchen windows - a face that vanished when he went to the window. Servants' nonsense, probably, but the servants seemed unusually nervous for people who were used to the country. And Lizzie, of course, had sworn that she had seen a man trying to get up the stairs but Lizzie could grow hysterical over a creaking door. Still - it was queer! And what had that affable Doctor Wells said to her - "I respect your courage, Miss Van Gorder - moving out into the Bat's home country, you know!" She picked up the paper again. There was a map of the scene of the Bat's most recent exploits and, yes, three of his recent crimes had been within a twenty-mile radius of this very spot. She thought it over and gave a little shudder of pleasurable fear. Then she dismissed the thought with a shrug. No chance! She might live in a lonely house, two miles from the railroad station, all summer long - and the Bat would never disturb her. Nothing ever did. ?0lz!Nq'S  
She had skimmed through the paper hurriedly; now a headline caught her eye. Failure of Union Bank - wasn't that the bank of which Courtleigh Fleming had been president? She settled down to read the article but it was disappointingly brief. The Union Bank had closed its doors; the cashier, a young man named Bailey, was apparently under suspicion; the article mentioned Courtleigh Fleming's recent and tragic death in the best vein of newspaperese. She laid down the paper and thought - Bailey - Bailey - she seemed to have a vague recollection of hearing about a young man named Bailey who worked in a bank - but she could not remember where or by whom his name had been mentioned. 9q\_UbF  
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Well - it didn't matter. She had other things to think about. She must ring for Lizzie - get up and dress. The bright morning sun, streaming in through the long window, made lying in bed an old woman's luxury and she refused to be an old woman. *eI{g  
"Though the worst old woman I ever knew was a man!" she thought with a satiric twinkle. She was glad Sally's daughter - young Dale Ogden - was here in the house with her. The companionship of Dale's bright youth would keep her from getting old-womanish if anything could. &>QxL d#  
She smiled, thinking of Dale. Dale was a nice child - her favorite niece. Sally didn't understand her, of course - but Sally wouldn't. Sally read magazine articles on the younger generation and its wild ways. "Sally doesn't remember when she was a younger generation herself," thought Miss Cornelia. "But I do - and if we didn't have automobiles, we had buggies - and youth doesn't change its ways just because it has cut its hair. Before Mr. and Mrs. Ogden left for Europe, Sally had talked to her sister Cornelia ... long and weightily, on the problem of Dale. "Problem of Dale, indeed!" thought Miss Cornelia scornfully. "Dale's the nicest thing I've seen in some time. She'd be ten times happier if Sally wasn't always trying to marry her off to some young snip with more of what fools call 'eligibility' than brains! But there, Cornelia Van Gorder - Sally's given you your innings by rampaging off to Europe and leaving Dale with you all summer and you've a lot less sense than I flatter myself you have, if you can't give your favorite niece a happy vacation from all her immediate family - and maybe find her someone who'll make her happy for good and all in the bargain." Miss Cornelia was an incorrigible matchmaker. t*H|*L#YR  
Nevertheless, she was more concerned with "the problem of Dale" than she would have admitted. Dale, at her age, with her charm and beauty - why, she ought to behave as if she were walking on air, thought her aunt worriedly. "And instead she acts more as if she were walking on pins and needles. She seems to like being here - I know she likes me - I'm pretty sure she's just as pleased to get a little holiday from Sally and Harry - she amuses herself - she falls in with any plan I want to make, and yet - " And yet Dale was not happy - Miss Cornelia felt sure of it. "It isn't natural for a girl to seem so lackluster and - and quiet - at her age and she's nervous, too - as if something were preying on her mind - particularly these last few days. If she were in love with somebody - somebody Sally didn't approve of particularly - well, that would account for it, of course - but Sally didn't say anything that would make me think that - or Dale either - though I don't suppose Dale would, yet, even to me. I haven't seen so much of her in these last two years - " ?mSZQF:d@  
Then Miss Cornelia's mind seized upon a sentence in a hurried flow of her sister's last instructions - a sentence that had passed almost unnoticed at the time - something about Dale and "an unfortunate attachment - but of course, Cornelia, dear, she's so young - and I'm sure it will come to nothing now her father and I have made our attitude plain!" X(rXRP#  
J YA>Q&  
"Pshaw - I bet that's it," thought Miss Cornelia shrewdly. Dale's fallen in love, or thinks she has, with some decent young man without a penny or an 'eligibility' to his name - and now she's unhappy because her parents don't approve - or because she's trying to give him up and finds she can't. Well - " and Miss Cornelia's tight little gray curls trembled with the vehemence of her decision, if the young thing ever comes to me for advice I'll give her a piece of my mind that will surprise her and scandalize Sally Van Gorder Ogden out of her seven senses. Sally thinks nobody's worth looking at if they didn't come over to America when our family did - she hasn't gumption enough to realize that if some people hadn't come over later, we'd all still be living on crullers and Dutch punch!" -1d*zySL  
She was just stretching out her hand to ring for Lizzie when a knock came at the door. She gathered her Paisley shawl more tightly about her shoulders. "Who is it - oh, it's only you, Lizzie," as a pleasant Irish face, crowned by an old-fashioned pompadour of graying hair, peeped in at the door. "Good morning, Lizzie - I was just going to ring for you. Has Miss Dale had breakfast - I know it's shamefully late." ?eX/vqk  
"Good morning, Miss Neily," said Lizzie, "and a lovely morning it is, too - if that was all of it," she added somewhat tartly as she came into the room with a little silver tray whereupon the morning mail reposed. n5.sx|bI?  
We have not yet described Lizzie Allen - and she deserves description. A fixture in the Van Gorder household since her sixteenth year, she had long ere now attained the dignity of a Tradition. The slip of a colleen fresh from Kerry had grown old with her mistress, until the casual bond between mistress and servant had changed into something deeper; more in keeping with a better-mannered age than ours. One could not imagine Miss Cornelia without a Lizzie to grumble at and cherish - or Lizzie without a Miss Cornelia to baby and scold with the privileged frankness of such old family servitors. The two were at once a contrast and a complement. Fifty years of American ways had not shaken Lizzie's firm belief in banshees and leprechauns or tamed her wild Irish tongue; fifty years of Lizzie had not altered Miss Cornelia's attitude of fond exasperation with some of Lizzie's more startling eccentricities. Together they may have been, as one of the younger Van Gorder cousins had, irreverently put it, "a scream," but apart each would have felt lost without the other. @_-,Q5  
"Now what do you mean - if that were all of it, Lizzie?" queried Miss Cornelia sharply as she took her letters from the tray. !0Nf`iCQ(  
Lizzie's face assumed an expression of doleful reticence. :AztHf?X  
"It's not my place to speak," she said with a grim shake of her head, "but I saw my grandmother last night, God rest her - plain as life she was, the way she looked when they waked her - and if it was my doing we'd be leaving this house this hour!" MSM8wYcD  
"Cheese-pudding for supper - of course you saw your grandmother!" said Miss Cornelia crisply, slitting open the first of her letters with a paper knife. "Nonsense, Lizzie, I'm not going to be scared away from an ideal country place because you happen to have a bad dream!" \[[xyd  
"Was it a bad dream I saw on the stairs last night when the lights went out and I was looking for the candles?" said Lizzie heatedly. "Was it a bad dream that ran away from me and out the back door, as fast as Paddy's pig? No, Miss Neily, it was a man - Seven feet tall he was, and eyes that shone in the dark and - " _p:n\9k  
"Lizzie Allen!" E@k'uyIu  
"Well, it's true for all that," insisted Lizzie stubbornly. "And why did the lights go out - tell me that, Miss Neily? They never go out in the city." Dx /w&v  
"Well, this isn't -the city," said Miss Cornelia decisively. "It's the country, and very nice it is, and we're staying here all summer. I suppose I may be thankful," she went on ironically, "that it was only your grandmother you saw last night. It might have been the Bat - and then where would you be this morning?" lt4IoE`tk?  
"I'd be stiff and stark with candles at me head and feet," said Lizzie gloomily. "Oh, Miss Neily, don't talk of that terrible creature, the Bat!" She came nearer to her mistress. "There's bats in this house, too - real bats," she whispered impressively. "I saw one yesterday in the trunk room - the creature! It flew in the window and nearly had the switch off me before I could get away!" Yy/,I]F  
Miss Cornelia chuckled. "Of course there are bats," she said. "There are always bats in the country. They're perfectly harmless, - except to switches." 0#yH<h$   
"And the Bat ye were talking of just then - he's harmless too, I suppose?" said Lizzie with mournful satire. "Oh, Miss Neily, Miss Neily - do let's go back to the city before he flies away with us all!" A;/,</  
"Nonsense, Lizzie," said Miss Cornelia again, but this time less firmly. Her face grew serious. "If I thought for an instant that there was any real possibility of our being in danger here - " she said slowly. "But - oh, look at the map, Lizzie! The Bat has been flying in this district - that's true enough - but he hasn't come within ten miles of us yet!" FhEfW7]0,  
"What's ten miles to the Bat?" the obdurate Lizzie sighed. "And what of the letter ye had when ye first moved in here? 'The Fleming house is unhealthy for strangers,' it said. Leave it while ye can." i Hcy,PBD  
"Some silly boy or some crank." Miss Cornelia's voice was firm. "I never pay any attention to anonymous letters." =kW7|c5Z  
Hh qNp U  
"And there's a funny-lookin' letter this mornin', down at the bottom of the pile - " persisted Lizzie. "It looked like the other one. I'd half a mind to throw it away before you saw it!" Y$eO:67;  
"Now, Lizzie, that's quite enough!" Miss Cornelia had the Van Gorder manner on now. "I don't care to discuss your ridiculous fears any further. Where is Miss Dale?" 0hOps5c8=  
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Lizzie assumed an attitude of prim rebuff, "Miss Dale's gone into the city, ma'am." s7 3'h  
6=g! Hs{  
"Gone into the city?" .g!K| c  
"Yes, ma'am. She got a telephone call this morning, early - long distance it was. I don't know who it was called her." eD!mR3Ai@D  
"Lizzie! You didn't listen?" a(X V~o  
"Of course not, Miss Neily." Lizzie's face was a study in injured virtue. "Miss Dale took the call in her own room and shut the door." %J Jp/I  
"And you were outside the door?" fDqDU  
"Where else would I be dustin' that time in the mornin'?" said Lizzie fiercely. "But it's yourself knows well enough the doors in this house is thick and not a sound goes past them." Pksr9"Ah  
"I should hope not," said Miss Cornelia rebukingly. "But - tell me, Lizzie, did Miss Dale seem - well - this morning?" H ?9Bo!  
"That she did not," said Lizzie promptly. "When she came down to breakfast, after the call, she looked like a ghost. I made her the eggs she likes, too - but she wouldn't eat 'em." ": BZZ\!  
"H'm," Miss Cornelia pondered. "I'm sorry if - well, Lizzie, we mustn't meddle in Miss Dale's affairs." |x1Ttr,  
"No, ma'am." wRwx((eb  
"But - did she say when she would be back?" e2;=OoBK  
"Yes, Miss Neily. On the two o'clock train. Oh, and I was almost forgettin' - she told me to tell you, particular - she said while he was in the city she'd be after engagin' the gardener you spoke of." i~HS"n  
"The gardener? Oh, yes - I spoke to her about that the other night. The place is beginning to look run down - so many flowers to attend to. Well - that's very kind of Miss Dale." o`ODz[04  
"Yes, Miss Neily." Lizzie hesitated, obviously with some weighty news on her mind which she wished to impart. Finally she took the plunge. "I might have told Miss Dale she could have been lookin' for a cook as well - and a housemaid - " she muttered at last, "but they hadn't spoken to me then." HmEU;UbO-  
Miss Cornelia sat bolt upright in bed. "A cook - and a housemaid? But we have a cook and a housemaid, Lizzie! You don't mean to tell me - " *YY:JLe  
L pdp'9>I  
Lizzie nodded her head. "Yes'm. They're leaving. Both of 'em. Today." "VcG3.  
"But good heav- Lizzie, why on earth didn't you tell me before?" DY{JA *N  
TP oP%Yj"  
Lizzie spoke soothingly, all the blarney of Kerry in her voice. "Now, Miss Neily, as if I'd wake you first thing in the morning with bad news like that! And thinks I, well, maybe 'tis all for the best after all - for when Miss Neily hears they're leavin' - and her so particular - maybe she'll go back to the city for just a little and leave this house to its haunts and its bats and - " W04-D  
sL XQ)Ce  
"Go back to the city? I shall do nothing of the sort. I rented this house to live in and live in it I will, with servants or without them. You should have told me at once, Lizzie. I'm really very much annoyed with you because you didn't. I shall get up immediately - I want to give those two a piece of my mind. Is Billy leaving too?" +PY LKyS>  
5EIh5Y EU>  
"Not that I know of - the heathern Japanese!"" said Lizzie sorrowfully. "And yet he'd be better riddance than cook or housemaid." M;,Q8z%  
"Now, Lizzie, how many times have I told you that you must conquer your prejudices? Billy is an excellent butler - he'd been with Mr. Fleming ten years and has the very highest recommendations. I am very glad that he is staying, if he is. With you to help him, we shall do very well until I can get other servants." Miss Cornelia had risen now and Lizzie was helping her with the intricacies of her toilet. "But it's too annoying," she went on, in the pauses of Lizzie's deft ministrations. "What did they say to you, Lizzie - did they give any reason? It isn't as if they were new to the country like you. They'd been with Mr. Fleming for some time, though not as long as Billy." LWuciHfd+  
"Oh, yes, Miss Neily - they had reasons you could choke a goat with," said Lizzie viciously as she arranged Miss Cornelia's transformation. "Cook was the first of them - she was up late - I think they'd been talking it over together. She comes into the kitchen with her hat on and her bag in her hand. 'Good morning,' says I, pleasant enough, 'you've got your hat on,' says I. 'I'm leaving,' says she. 'Leaving, are you?' says I. 'Leaving,' says she. 'My sister has twins,' says she. 'I just got word - I must go to her right away.' 'What?' says I, all struck in a heap. 'Twins,' says she, 'you've heard of such things as twins.' 'That I have,' says I, 'and I know a lie on a face when I see it, too.'" M?l/_!QB  
"Lizzie!" \PReQ|[ah  
"Well, it made me sick at heart, Miss Neily. Her with her hat and her bag and her talk about twins - and no consideration for you. Well, I'll go on. 'You're a clever woman, aren't you?' says she - the impudence! 'I can see through a millstone as far as most,' says I - I wouldn't put up with her sauce. 'Well!' says she, 'you can see that Annie the housemaid's leaving, too.' 'Has her sister got twins as well?' says I and looked at her. 'No,' says she as bold as brass, 'but Annie's got a pain in her side and she's feared it's appendycitis - so she's leaving to go back to her family.' 'Oh,' says I, 'and what about Miss Van Gorder?' 'I'm sorry for Miss Van Gorder,' says she - the falseness of her! - 'But she'll have to do the best she can for twins and appendycitis is acts of God and not to be put aside for even the best of wages.' 'Is that so?' says I and with that I left her, for I knew if I listened to her a minute longer I'd be giving her bonnet a shake and that wouldn't be respectable. So there you are, Miss Neily, and that's the gist of the matter." 7R5m|h`M  
Miss Cornelia laughed. "Lizzie - you're unique," she said. "But I'm glad you didn't give her bonnet a shake - though I've no doubt you could." L"8Z5VHA&&  
QXI#gA  =  
"Humph!" said Lizzie snorting, the fire of battle in her eye. "And is it any Black Irish from Ulster would play impudence to a Kerrywoman without getting the flat of a hand in - but that's neither here nor there. The truth of it is, Miss Neily," her voice grew solemn, "it's my belief they're scared - both of them - by the haunts and the banshees here - and that's all." fJ  GwT  
"If they are they're very silly," said Miss Cornelia practically. "No, they may have heard of a better place, though it would seem as if when one pays the present extortionate wages and asks as little as we do here - but it doesn't matter. If they want to go, they may. Am I ready, Lizzie?" sa}.o ZpQ  
"You look like an angel, ma'am," said Lizzie, clasping her hands. eNK6=D|  
"Well, I feel very little like one," said Miss Cornelia, rising. "As cook and housemaid may discover before I'm through with them. Send them into the livingroom, Lizzie, when I've gone down. I'll talk to them there." #^_7i)=~  
<J]N E|:  
An hour or so later, Miss Cornelia sat in a deep chintz chair in the comfortable living-room of the Fleming house going through the pile of letters which Lizzie's news of domestic revolt had prevented her reading earlier. Cook and housemaid had come and gone - civil enough, but so obviously determined upon leaving the house at once that Miss Cornelia had sighed and let them go, though not without caustic comment. Since then, she had devoted herself to calling up various employment agencies without entirely satisfactory results. A new cook and housemaid were promised for the end of the week - but for the next three days the Japanese butler, Billy, and Lizzie between them would have to bear the brunt of the service. Oh, yes - and then there's Dale's gardener, if she gets one, thought Miss, Cornelia. "I wish he could cook - but I don't suppose gardeners can - and Billy's a treasure. Still, its inconvenient - now, stop - Cornelia Van Gorder - you were asking for an adventure only this morning and the moment the littlest sort of one comes along, you want to crawl out of it." >`n)-8  
She had reached the bottom of her pile of letters - these to be thrown away, these to be answered - ah, here was one she had overlooked somehow. She took it up. It must be the one Lizzie had wanted to throw away - she smiled at Lizzie's fears. The address was badly typed, on cheap paper - she tore the envelope open and drew out a single unsigned sheet. MENrP5AL  
B 3eNvUFZg  
If you stay in this house any longer - death. Go back to the city at once and save your life. m6 a @Y<  
Her fingers trembled a little as she turned the missive over but her face remained calm. She looked at the envelope - at the postmark- while her heart thudded uncomfortably for a moment and then resumed its normal beat. It had come at last - the adventure - and she was not afraid! Z+x`q#ZQr  

只看该作者 3楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Three. Pistol Practice :-WNw n  
   5 NC77}^.  
She knew who it was, of course. The Bat! No doubt of it. And yet - did the Bat ever threaten before he struck? She could not remember. But it didn't matter. The Bat was unprecedented - unique. At any rate, Bat or no Bat, she must think out a course of action. The defection of cook and housemaid left her alone in the house with Lizzie and Billy - and Dale, of course, if Dale returned. Two old women, a young girl, and a Japanese butler to face the most dangerous criminal in America, she thought grimly. And yet - one couldn't be sure. The threatening letter might be only a joke - a letter from a crank - after all. Still, she must take precautions; look for aid somewhere. But where could she look for aid? F3K<-JK+  
Zoc4@% n  
She ran over in her mind the new acquaintances she had made since she moved to the country. There was Doctor Wells, the local physician, who had joked with her about moving into the Bat's home territory - He seemed an intelligent man - but she knew him only slightly - she couldn't call a busy Doctor away from his patients to investigate something which might only prove to be a mare's-nest. The boys Dale had met at the country club - "Humph!" she sniffed, "I'd rather trust my gumption than any of theirs." The logical person to call on, of course, was Richard Fleming, Courtleigh Fleming's nephew and heir, who had rented her the house. He lived at the country club - she could probably reach him now. She was just on the point of doing so when she decided against it - partly from delicacy, partly from an indefinable feeling that he would not be of much help. Besides, she thought sturdily, it's my house now, not his. He didn't guarantee burglar protection in the lease. 0%< hj  
/g. c( -#]  
As for the local police - her independence revolted at summoning them. They would bombard her with ponderous questions and undoubtedly think she was merely a nervous old spinster. If it was just me, she thought, I swear I wouldn't say a word to anybody - and if the Bat flew in he mightn't find it so easy to fly out again, if I am sixty-five and never shot a burglar in my life! But there's Dale - and Lizzie. I've got to be fair to them. e ><0crb  
For a moment she felt very helpless, very much alone. Then her courage returned. {pH#zs4Y  
"Pshaw, Cornelia, if you have got to get help - get the help you want and hang the consequences!" she adjured herself. "You've always hankered to see a first-class detective do his detecting - well, get one - or decide to do the job yourself. I'll bet you could at that." QHZ",1F  
She tiptoed to the main door of the living-room and closed it cautiously, smiling as she did so. Lizzie might be about and Lizzie would promptly go into hysterics if she got an inkling of her mistress's present intentions. Then she went to the city telephone and asked for long distance. K-C,n~-  
%/ y=_G  
When she had finished her telephoning, she looked at once relieved and a little naughty - like a demure child who has carried out some piece of innocent mischief unobserved. "My stars!" she muttered to herself. "You never can tell what you can do till you try." Then she sat down again and tried to think of other measures of defense. Xh;.T=/E|  
_K~h? \u  
Now if I were the Bat, or any criminal, she mused, how would I get into this house? Well, that's it - I might get in 'most any way - it's so big and rambling. All the grounds you want to lurk in, too; it'd take a company of police to shut them off. Then there's the house itself. Let's see - third floor - trunk room, servants' rooms - couldn't get in there very well except with a pretty long ladder - that's all right. Second floor - well, I suppose a man could get into my bedroom from the porch if he were an acrobat, but he'd need to be a very good acrobat and there's no use borrowing trouble. Downstairs is the problem, Cornelia, downstairs is the problem. V|MGG  
"Take this room now." She rose and examined it carefully. "There's the door over there on the right that leads into the billiard room. There's this door over here that leads into the hall. Then there's that other door by the alcove, and all those French windows - whew!" She shook her head. Y P2VSK2Q  
It was true. The room in which she stood, while comfortable and charming, seemed unusually accessible to the night prowler. A row of French windows at the rear gave upon a little terrace; below the terrace, the drive curved about and beneath the billiard-room windows in a hairpin loop, drawing up again at the main entrance on the other side of the house. At the left of the French windows (if one faced the terrace as Miss Cornelia was doing) was the alcove door of which she spoke. When open, it disclosed a little alcove, almost entirely devoted to the foot of a flight of stairs that gave direct access to the upper regions of the house. The alcove itself opened on one side upon the terrace and upon the other into a large butler's pantry. The arrangement was obviously designed so that, if necessary, one could pass directly from the terrace to the downstairs service quarters or the second floor of the house without going through the living-room, and so that trays could be carried up from the pantry by the side stairs- without using the main staircase. O*xx63%jR  
;s B=f  
The- middle pair of French windows were open, forming a double door. Miss Cornelia went over to them - shut them - tried the locks. Humph! Flimsy enough! she thought. Then she turned toward the billiard room. dN{At-  
The billiard room, as has been said, was the last room to the right in the main wing of the house. A single door led to it from the living-room. Miss Cornelia passed through this door, glanced about the billiard room, noting that most of its windows were too high from the ground to greatly encourage a marauder. She locked the only one that seemed to her particularly tempting - the billiard-room window on the terrace side of the house. Then she returned to the living-room and again considered her defenses. =E-x0sr?  
Three points of access from the terrace to the house - the door that led into the alcove, the French windows of the living room - the billiard-room window. On the other side of the house there was the main entrance, the porch, the library and dining-room windows. The main entrance led into a hall-living-room, and the main door of the living-room was on the right as one entered, the dining-room and library on the left, main staircase in front. "My mind is starting to go round like a pinwheel, thinking of all those windows and doors," she murmured to herself. She sat down once more, and taking a pencil and a piece of paper drew a plan of the lower floor of the house. ?eJ'$  
iM .yen_vp  
And now I've studied it, she thought after a while, I'm no further than if I hadn't. As far as I can figure out, there are so many ways for a clever man to get into this house that I'd have to be a couple of Siamese twins to watch it properly. The next house I rent in the country, she decided, just isn't going to have any windows and doors - or I'll know the reason why. 7w73,r/D8A  
But of course she was not entirely shut off from the world, even if the worst developed. She considered the telephone instruments on a table near the wall, one the general phone, the other connecting a house line which also connected with the garage and the greenhouses. The garage would not be helpful, since Slocum, her chauffeur for many years, had gone back to England for a visit. Dale had been driving the car. But with an able-bodied man in the gardener's house - Gza= 0  
She pulled herself together with a jerk. S^R dj ]  
"Cornelia Van Gorder, you're going to go crazy before nightfall if you don't take hold of yourself. What you need is lunch and a nap in the afternoon if you can make yourself take it. You'd better look up that revolver of yours, too, that you bought when you thought you were going to take a trip to China. You've never fired it off yet, but you've got to sometime today - there's no other way of telling if it will work. You can shut your eyes when you do it - no, you can't either - that's silly. vo E t\H  
fAkfN H6  
"Call you a spirited old lady, do they? Well, you never had a better time to show your spirit than now!" 3AENY@*  
And Miss Van Gorder, sighing, left the living-room to reach the kitchen just in time to calm a heated argument between Lizzie and Billy on the relative merits of Japanese and Irish-American cooking. NKEmY-f;  
PepR ]ym  
Dale Ogden, taxiing up from the two o'clock train some time later, to her surprise discovered the front door locked and rang for some time before she could get an answer. At last, Billy appeared, white-coated, with an inscrutable expression on his face. PP\ bDEPy  
"Will you take my bag, Billy - thanks. Where is Miss Van Gorder - taking a nap?" 7BINqVS&  
}wp/,\_ >  
"No," said Billy succinctly. "She take no nap. She out in srubbery shotting." H#V&5|K%  
Dale stared at him incredulously. "Shooting, Billy?" ]OdZlZBsJ  
DZC@^k \E  
"Yes, ma'am. At least - she not shoot yet but she say she going to soon." /qIl)+M  
"But, good heavens, Billy - shooting what?" W~ET/h  
"Shotting pistol," said Billy, his yellow mask of a face preserving its impish repose. He waved his hand. "You go srubbery. You see." ">oySo.B?  
The scene that met Dale's eyes when she finally found the "srubbery" was indeed a singular one. Miss Van Gorder, her back firmly planted against the trunk of a large elm tree and an expression of ineffable distaste on her features, was holding out a blunt, deadly looking revolver at arm's length. Its muzzle wavered, now pointing at the ground, now at the sky. Behind the tree Lizzie sat in a heap, moaning quietly to herself, and now and then appealing to the saints to avert a visioned calamity. vQljxRtW  
As Dale approached, unseen, the climax came. The revolver steadied, pointed ferociously at an inoffensive grass-blade some 10 yards from Miss Van Gorder and went off. Lizzie promptly gave vent to a shrill Irish scream. Miss Van Gorder dropped the revolver like a hot potato and opened her mouth to tell Lizzie not to be such a fool. Then she saw Dale - her mouth went into a round 0 of horror and her hand clutched weakly at her heart. ]vvYPRV76  
} oPO`  
"Good heavens, child!" she gasped. "Didn't Billy tell you what I was doing? I might have shot you like a rabbit!" and, overcome with emotion, she sat down on the ground and started to fan herself mechanically with a cartridge. v(1 [n]y  
Dale couldn't help laughing - and the longer she looked at her aunt the more she laughed - until that dignified lady joined in the mirth herself. EA"hie7  
"Aunt Cornelia - Aunt Cornelia!" said Dale when she could get her breath. "That I've lived to see the day - and they call us the wild generation! Why on earth were you having pistol practice, darling - has Billy turned into a Japanese spy or what?" )/raTD  
j~q 7v `":  
Miss Van Gorder rose from the ground with as much stateliness as she could muster under the circumstances. 7:4c\C0  
"No, my dear - but there's no fool like an old fool - that's all," she stated. "I've wanted to fire that infernal revolver off ever since I bought it two years ago, and now I have and I'm satisfied. Still," she went on thoughtfully, picking up the weapon, "it seems a very good revolver - and shooting people must be much easier than I supposed. All you have to do is to point the - the front of it - like this and - " <B6md i'R  
ka_m Q<{9  
"Oh, Miss Dale, dear Miss Dale!" came in woebegone accents from the other side of the tree. "For the love of heaven, Miss Dale, say no more but take it away from her - she'll have herself all riddled through with bullets like a kitchen sieve - and me too - if she's let to have it again." Cu@q*:'  
"Lizzie, I'm ashamed of you!" said Lizzie's mistress. "Come out from behind that tree and stop wailing like a siren. This weapon is perfectly safe in competent hands and - " She seemed on the verge of another demonstration of its powers. xoVd[c!   
"Miss Dale, for the dear love O' God will you make her put it away?" _N;@jq\q  
Dale laughed again. "I really think you'd better, Aunt Cornelia. Or both of us will have to put Lizzie to bed with a case of acute hysteria." O-[YU%K3?  
a1_ N~4r`  
"Well," said Miss Van Gorder, "perhaps you're right, dear." Her eyes gleamed. "I should have liked to try it just once more though," she confided. "I feel certain that I could hit that tree over there if my eye wouldn't wink so when the thing goes off." >"UXY)  
"Now, it's winking eyes," said Lizzie on a note of tragic chant, "but next time it'll be bleeding corpses and - " Z 9cb  
Dale added her own protestations to Lizzie's. "Please, darling, if you really want to practice, Billy can fix up some sort of target range - but I don't want my favorite aunt assassinated by a ricocheted bullet before my eyes!" u<n['Ur}|  
"Well, perhaps it would be best to try again another time," admitted Miss Van Gorder. But there was a wistful look in her eyes as she gave the revolver to Dale and the three started back to the house. Q[!?SSX%  
"I should never have allowed Lizzie to know what I was doing," she confided in a whisper, on the way. "A woman is perfectly capable of managing firearms - but Lizzie is really too nervous to live, sometimes." -&y&b-  
"I know just how you feel, darling," Dale agreed, suppressed mirth shaking her as the little procession reached the terrace. "But - oh," she could keep it no longer, "oh - you did look funny, darling - sitting under that tree, with Lizzie on the other side of it making banshee noises and - " 57N<OQWf  
Miss Van Gorder laughed too, a little shamefacedly. e5sQl1  
"I must have," she said. "But - oh, you needn't shake your head, Lizzie Allen - I am going to practice with it. There's no reason I shouldn't and you never can tell when things like that might be useful," she ended rather vaguely. She did not wish to alarm Dale with her suspicions yet. %t,Fxj4F  
"There, Dale - yes, put it in the drawer of the table - that will reassure Lizzie. Lizzie, you might make us some lemonade, I think - Miss Dale must be thirsty after her long, hot ride." (%iCP/E3  
"Yes, Miss Cornelia," said Lizzie, recovering her normal calm as the revolver was shut away in the drawer of the large table in the living-room. But she could not resist one parting shot. "And thank God it's lemonade I'll be making - and not bandages for bullet wounds!" she muttered darkly as she went toward the service quarters. F>[T)t{m=  
Miss Van Gorder glared after her departing back. "Lizzie is really impossible sometimes!" she said with stately ire. Then her voice softened. "Though of course I couldn't do without her," she added. J>p6')Y6~  
r: M>/Z/  
Dale stretched out on the settee opposite her aunt's chair. "I know you couldn't, darling. Thanks for thinking of the lemonade." She passed her hand over her forehead in a gesture of fatigue. "I am hot - and tired." szC<ht?z  
Miss Van Gorder looked at her keenly. The young face seemed curiously worn and haggard in the clear afternoon light. AW8*bq1  
"You - you don't really feel very well, do you, Dale?"  stQ_Ke  
A `{hKS  
"Oh - it's nothing. I feel all right - really." k%BU&%?1  
"I could send for Doctor Wells if - " sQe GT)/|  
"Oh, heavens, no, Aunt Cornelia." She managed a wan smile. "It isn't as bad as all that. I'm just tired and the city was terribly hot and noisy and - " She stole a glance at her aunt from between lowered lids. "I got your gardener, by the way," she said casually. |-G2pu;  
[ r8 ZAS  
"Did you, dear? That's splendid, though - but I'll tell you about that later. Where did you get him?" qQi\/~Y[:  
"That good agency, I can't remember its name." Dale's hand moved restlessly over her eyes, as if remembering details were too great an effort. "But I'm sure he'll be satisfactory. He'll be out here this evening - he - he couldn't get away before, I believe. What have you been doing all day, darling?" DS<1"4 b|  
Miss Cornelia hesitated. Now that Dale had returned she suddenly wanted very much to talk over the various odd happenings of the day with her - get the support of her youth and her common sense. Then that independence which was so firmly rooted a characteristic of hers restrained her. No use worrying the child unnecessarily; they all might have to worry enough before tomorrow morning. hfaU-IPcFX  
+jGHR& A t  
She compromised. "We have had a domestic upheaval," she said. "The cook and the housemaid have left - if you'd only waited till the next train you could have had the pleasure of their company into town." )/H;5 cn  
"Aunt Cornelia - how exciting! I'm so sorry! Why did they leave?" 'wND  
"Why do servants ever leave a good place?" asked Miss Cornelia grimly. "Because if they had sense enough to know when they were well off, they wouldn't be servants. Anyhow, they've gone - we'll have to depend on Lizzie and Billy the rest of this week. I telephoned - but they couldn't promise me any others before Monday." lSj gN~:z  
"And I was in town and could have seen people for you - if I'd only known!" said Dale remorsefully. "Only," she hesitated, "I mightn't have had time - at least I mean there were some other things I had to do, besides getting the gardener and - " She rose. "I think I will go and lie down for a little if you don't mind, darling." Dd3f@b[WX  
Miss Van Gorder was concerned. "Of course I don't mind but - won't you even have your lemonade?" _^NX`<&  
Z 3BwbH  
"Oh, I'll get some from Lizzie in the pantry before I go up," Dale managed to laugh. "I think I must have a headache after all," she said. "Maybe I'll take an aspirin. Don't worry, darling." RS5<] dy  
"I shan't. I only wish there were something I could do for you, my dear." (zhZ}C,VF  
Dale stopped in the alcove doorway. "There's nothing anybody can do for me, really," she said soberly. "At least - oh, I don't know what I'm saying! But don't worry. I'm quite all right. I may go over to the country club after dinner - and dance. Won't you come with me, Aunt Cornelia?" ko%mZ0Y  
"Depends on your escort," said Miss Cornelia tartly. "If our landlord, Mr. Richard Fleming, is taking you I certainly shall - I don't like his looks and never did!" N8]DzE0%  
Dale laughed. "Oh, he's all right," she said. "Drinks a good deal and wastes a lot of money, but harmless enough. No, this is a very sedate party; I'll be home early." =2q#- ,t  
"Well, in that case," said her aunt, "I shall stay here with my Lizzie and my ouija-board. Lizzie deserves some punishment for the very cowardly way she behaved this afternoon - and the ouija-board will furnish it. She's scared to death to touch the thing. I think she believes it's alive." \HxF?i "   
2V 8 "jc  
"Well, maybe I'll send you a message on it from the country club," said Dale lightly. She had paused, half-way up the flight of side stairs in the alcove, and her aunt noticed how her shoulders drooped, belying the lightness of her voice. "Oh," she went on, "by the way - have the afternoon papers come yet? I didn't have time to get one when I was rushing for the train." `?T::&`  
"I don't think so, dear, but I'll ask Lizzie." Miss Cornelia moved toward a bell push. %/)z!}{  
"Oh, don't bother; it doesn't matter. Only if they have, would you ask Lizzie to bring me one when she brings up the lemonade? I want to read about - about the Bat - he fascinates me." @CPkP  
"There was something else in the paper this morning," said Miss Cornelia idly. "Oh, yes - the Union Bank - the bank Mr. Fleming, Senior, was president of has failed. They seem to think the cashier robbed it. Did you see that, Dale?" H_iQR9Ak7  
The shoulders of the girl on the staircase straightened suddenly. Then they drooped again. "Yes - I saw it," she said in a queerly colorless voice. "Too bad. It must be terrible to - to have everyone suspect you - and hunt you - as I suppose they're hunting that poor cashier." f 0/q{*  
"Well," said Miss Cornelia, "a man who wrecks a bank deserves very little sympathy to my way of thinking. But then I'm old-fashioned. Well, dear, I won't keep you. Run along - and if you want an aspirin, there's a box in my top bureau-drawer." K!tM "`a  
"Thanks, darling. Maybe I'll take one and maybe I won't - all I really need is to lie down for a while." K1*V\WRW5  
She moved on up the staircase and disappeared from the range of Miss Cornelia's vision, leaving Miss Cornelia to ponder many things. Her trip to the city had done Dale no good, of a certainty. If not actually ill, she was obviously under some considerable mental strain. And why this sudden interest, first in the Bat, then in the failure of the Union Bank? Was it possible that Dale, too, had been receiving threatening letters? O.'\GM  
I'll be glad when that gardener comes, she thought to herself. He'll make a man in the house at any rate. m7.6;k.  
When Lizzie at last came in with the lemonade she found her mistress shaking her head. NaYr$`  
"Cornelia, Cornelia," she was murmuring to herself, "you should have taken to pistol practice when you were younger; it just shows how children waste their opportunities." acdF5ch@  
9@yi UX  

只看该作者 4楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Four. The Storm Gathers JY,$B-l  
  The long summer afternoon wore away, sunset came, red and angry, a sunset presaging storm. A chill crept into the air with the twilight. When night fell, it was not a night of silver patterns enskied, but a dark and cloudy cloak where a few stars glittered fitfully. Miss Cornelia, at dinner, saw a bat swoop past the window of the dining room in its scurrying flight, and narrowly escaped oversetting her glass of water with a nervous start. The tension of waiting - waiting - for some vague menace which might not materialize after all - had begun to prey on her nerves. She saw Dale off to the country club with relief - the girl looked a little better after her nap but she was still not her normal self. When Dale was gone, she wandered restlessly for some time between living-room and library, now giving an unnecessary dusting to a piece of bric-a-brac with her handkerchief, now taking a book from one of the shelves in the library only to throw it down before she read a page. H9*k(lnz`  
This house was queer. She would not have admitted it to Lizzie, for her soul's salvation - but, for the first time in her sensible life, she listened for creakings of woodwork, rustling of leaves, stealthy steps outside, beyond the safe, bright squares of the windows - for anything that was actual, tangible, not merely formless fear. |MwV4^  
~lj[> |\Oj  
"There's too much room in the country for things to happen to you!" she confided to herself with a shiver. "Even the night - whenever I look out, it seems to me as if the night were ten times bigger and blacker than it ever is in New York!" `_\KN_-%Vu  
To comfort herself she mentally rehearsed her telephone conversation of the morning, the conversation she had not mentioned to her household. At the time it had seemed to her most reassuring - the plans she had based upon it adequate and sensible in the normal light of day. But now the light of day had been blotted out and with it her security. Her plans seemed weapons of paper against the sinister might of the darkness beyond her windows. A little wind wailed somewhere in that darkness like a beaten child - beyond the hills thunder rumbled, drawing near, and with it lightening and the storm. CF bNv9GZj  
] ?DU8  
She made herself sit down in the chair beside her favorite lamp on the center table and take up her knitting with stiff fingers. Knit two - purl two - Her hands fell into the accustomed rhythm mechanically - a spy, peering in through the French windows, would have deemed her the picture of calm. But she had never felt less calm in all the long years of her life. #h;   
She wouldn't ring for Lizzie to come and sit with her, she simply wouldn't. But she was very glad, nevertheless, when Lizzie appeared at the door. Zl>SeTjB-  
"Miss Neily." <'=!f6Wh  
}IygU 6{G  
"Yes, Lizzie?" Miss Cornelia's voice was composed but her heart felt a throb of relief. 5*z>ez2YQ7  
"Can I - can I sit in here with you, Miss Neily, just a minute?" Lizzie's voice was plaintive. "I've been sitting out in the kitchen watching that Jap read his funny newspaper the wrong way and listening for ghosts till I'm nearly crazy!" 7~2_'YX>:  
|-JG _i  
"Why, certainly, Lizzie," said Miss Cornelia primly. "Though," she added doubtfully, "I really shouldn't pamper your absurd fears, I suppose, but - " @*rMMy 4  
[ as,AX  
"Oh, please, Miss Neily!" 0Fkr3x  
"Very well," said Miss Cornelia brightly. "You can sit here, Lizzie - and help me work the ouija-board. That will take your mind off listening for things!" ` C d!  
Lizzie groaned. "You know I'd rather be shot than touch that uncanny ouijie!" she said dolefully. "It gives me the creeps every time I put my hands on it!" [g`4$_9S  
mz x$(u  
"Well, of course, if you'd rather sit in the kitchen, Lizzie - " ?N9Z;_&^.  
"Oh, give me the ouijie!" said Lizzie in tones of heartbreak. "I'd rather be shot and stabbed than stay in the kitchen any more. X,lhVT |  
"Very well," said Miss Cornelia, "it's your own decision, Lizzie - remember that." Her needles clicked on. "I'll just finish this row before we start," she said. "You might call up the light company in the meantime, Lizzie - there seems to be a storm coming up and I want to find out if they intend to turn out the lights tonight as they did last night. Tell them I find it most inconvenient to be left without light that way. {,(iL8,^  
"It's worse than inconvenient," muttered Lizzie, "it's criminal - that's what it is - turning off all the lights in a haunted house, like this one. As if spooks wasn't bad enough with the lights on - " gLFTnMO  
"Lizzie!" >#gDk K  
"Yes, Miss Neily - I wasn't going to say another word." She went to the telephone. Miss Cornelia knitted on - knit two - purl two - In spite of her experiments with the ouija-board she didn't believe in ghosts - and yet - there were things one couldn't explain by logic. Was there something like that in this house - a shadow walking the corridors - a vague shape of evil, drifting like mist from room to room, till its cold breath whispered on one's back and - there! She had ruined her knitting, the last two rows would have to be ripped out. That came of mooning about ghosts like a ninny. myqwU`s  
She put down the knitting with an exasperated little gesture. Lizzie had just finished her telephoning and was hanging up the receiver. h;y}g/HZ  
FU J<gqL  
"Well, Lizzie?" wPu.hVz  
"Yes'm," said the latter, glaring at the phone. "That's what he says - they turned off the lights last night because there was a storm threatening. He says it burns out their fuses if they leave 'em on in a storm." LpSF*xm  
A louder roll of thunder punctuated her words. 2EN}"Du]mj  
"There!" said Lizzie. "They'll be going off again to-night." She took an uncertain step toward the French windows. PNo:vRtsq  
"Humph!" said Miss Cornelia, "I hope it will be a dry summer." Her hands tightened on each other. Darkness - darkness inside this house of whispers to match with the darkness outside! She forced herself to speak in a normal voice. @|">j#0  
"Ask Billy to bring some candles, Lizzie - and have them ready." @]}/vsI m  
Lizzie had been staring fixedly at the French windows. At Miss Cornelia's command she gave a little jump of terror and moved closer to her mistress. S<'_{uz  
"You're not going to ask me to go out in that hall alone?" she said in a hurt voice. " Qyi/r41  
m8R=wb :  
It was too much. Miss Cornelia found vent for her feelings in crisp exasperation. "%a<+D  
"What's the matter with you anyhow, Lizzie Allen?" TBO g.y]  
q 165S  
The nervousness in her own tones infected Lizzie's. She shivered frankly. v@q&B|0  
"Oh, Miss Neily - Miss Neily!" she pleaded. "I don't like it! I want to go back to the city!" 6k>5+-&_  
Miss Cornelia braced herself. "I have rented this house for four months and I am going to stay," she said firmly. Her eyes sought Lizzie's, striving to pour some of her own inflexible courage into the latter's quaking form. But Lizzie would not look at her. Suddenly she started and gave a low scream; AA=rjB9  
"There's somebody on the terrace!" she breathed in a ghastly whisper, clutching at Miss Cornelia's arm. *!BQ1 ] G  
For a second Miss Cornelia sat frozen. Then, "Don't do that!" she said sharply. "What nonsense!" but she, looked over her shoulder as she said it and Lizzie saw the look. Both waited, in pulsing stillness - one second - two. u^E0u^  
"I guess it was the wind," said Lizzie at last, relieved, her grip on Miss Cornelia relaxing. She began to look a trifle ashamed of herself and Miss Cornelia seized the opportunity. 1)ij*L8k  
"You were born on a brick pavement," she said crushingly. "You get nervous out here at night whenever a cricket begins to sing - or scrape his legs - or whatever it is they do!" 7AGUi+!ICl  
Lizzie bowed before the blast of her mistress's scorn and began to move gingerly toward the alcove door. But obviously she was not entirely convinced. LZs'hA<L  
"Oh, it's more than that, Miss Neily," she mumbled. "I - " $ZB`4!JxG  
H5UF r,t  
Miss Cornelia turned to her fiercely. If Lizzie was going to behave like this, they might as well have it out now between them - before Dale came home. ,LmP >Q.  
Unb3 Gv#O  
"What did you really see last night?" she said in a minatory voice. U)aftH *Pk  
The instant relief on Lizzie's face was ludicrous; she so obviously preferred discussing any subject at any length to braving the dangers of the other part of the house unaccompanied. .V3e>8gw3  
$ &KkZ  
"I was standing right there at the top of that there staircase," she began, gesticulating toward the alcove stairs in the manner of one who embarks upon the narration of an epic. "Standing there with your switch in my hand, Miss Neily - and then I looked down and," her voice dropped, "I saw a gleaming eye! It looked at me and winked! I tell you this house is haunted!" 0\B{~1(^  
v}d)uPl} ;  
"A flirtatious ghost?" queried Miss Cornelia skeptically. She snorted. "Humph! Why didn't you yell?" >][D"  
q` IY;"~  
"I was too scared to yell! And I'm not the only one." She started to back away from the alcove, her eyes still fixed upon its haunted stairs. "Why do you think the servants left so sudden this morning?" she went on. "Do you really believe the housemaid had appendicitis? Or the cook's sister had twins?" t&J A1|q  
She turned and gestured at her mistress with a long, pointed forefinger. Her voice had a note of doom. 4dPTrBQ?  
N n FR;  
"I bet a cent the cook never had any sister - and the sister never had any twins," she said impressively. "No, Miss Neily, they couldn't put it over on me like that! They were scared away. They saw - It!" yef\Y3X  
She concluded her epic and stood nodding her head, an Irish Cassandra who had prophesied the evil to come. <.n,:ir  
"Fiddlesticks!" said Miss Cornelia briskly, more shaken by the recital than she would have admitted. She tried to think of another topic of conversation. ^Qx?)(@  
"What time is it?" she asked. ) 1AAL0F\B  
|iH MAo  
Lizzie glanced at the mantel clock. "Half-past ten, Miss Neily." S9l,P-X`  
Miss Cornelia yawned, a little dismally. She felt as if the last two hours had not been hours but years. <Ja&z M  
"Miss Dale won't be home for half an hour," she said reflectively. And if I have to spend another thirty minutes listening to Lizzie shiver, she thought, Dale will find me a nervous wreck when she does come home. She rolled up her knitting and put it back in her knitting-bag; it was no use going on, doing work that would have to be ripped out again and yet she must do something to occupy her thoughts. She raised her head and discovered Lizzie returning toward the alcove stairs with the stealthy tread of a panther. The sight exasperated her. ,ho",y  
"Now, Lizzie Allen!" she said sharply, "you forget all that superstitious nonsense and stop looking for ghosts! There's nothing in that sort of thing." She smiled - she would punish Lizzie for her obdurate timorousness. "Where's that ouija-board?" she questioned, rising, with determination in her eye. 6c]4(%8  
Mrk3r/ 8w  
Lizzie shuddered violently. "It's up there - with a prayer book on it to keep it quiet!" she groaned, jerking her thumb in the direction of the farther bookcase. K{_~W yRF  
"Bring it here!" said Miss Cornelia implacably; then as Lizzie still hesitated, "Lizzie!" b(N+_= n  
Shivering, every movement of her body a conscious protest, Lizzie slowly went over to the bookcase, lifted off the prayer book, and took down the ouija-board. Even then she would not carry it normally but bore it over to Miss Cornelia at arms'-length, as if any closer contact would blast her with lightning, her face a comic mask of loathing and repulsion. [i~@X2:Al  
She placed the lettered board in Miss Cornelia's lap with a sigh of relief. "You can do it yourself! I'll have none of it!" she said firmly. %A `9[icy  
Rwj 3o  
"It takes two people and you know it, Lizzie Allen!" Miss Cornelia's voice was stern but - it was also amused. 5=<fJXf5y  
Lizzie groaned, but she knew her mistress. She obeyed. She carefully chose the farthest chair in the room and took a long time bringing it over to where her mistress sat waiting. d$D3iv^hyx  
"I've been working for you for twenty years," she muttered. "I've been your goat for twenty years and I've got a right to speak my mind - " m}-~VYDj  
5zI I4ukn*  
Miss Cornelia cut her off. "You haven't got a mind. Sit down," she commanded. 0~N2MoOl^  
Lizzie sat - her hands at her sides. With a sigh of tried patience, Miss Cornelia put her unwilling fingers on the little moving table that is used to point to the letters on the board itself. Then she placed her own hands on it, too, the tips of the fingers just touching Lizzie's. g&V1<n\b+  
p M:lg  
"Now make your mind a blank!" she commanded her factotum. d&QB?yLd  
"You just said I haven't got any mind," complained the latter. B6&;nU>;  
I dsPB)k_  
"Well;" said Miss Cornelia magnificently, "make what you haven't got a blank." 5G"DgG*<  
The repartee silenced Lizzie for the moment, but only for the moment. As soon as Miss Cornelia had settled herself comfortably and tried to make her mind a suitable receiving station for ouija messages, Lizzie began to mumble the sorrows of her heart. *E*= ;BG  
"I've stood by you through thick and thin," she mourned in a low voice. "I stood by you when you were a vegetarian - I stood by you when you were a theosophist - and I seen you through socialism, Fletcherism and rheumatism - but when it comes to carrying on with ghosts - " ,%)O/{p_  
"Be still!" ordered Miss Cornelia. "Nothing will come if you keep chattering!" eILdq*  
t=l@(%O 0_  
"That's why I'm chattering!" said Lizzie, driven to the wall. "My teeth are, too," she added. "I can hardly keep my upper set in," and a desolate clicking of artificial molars attested the truth of the remark. Then, to Miss Cornelia's relief, she was silent for nearly two minutes, only to start so violently at the end of the time that she nearly upset the ouija-board on her mistress's toes. PF+F^;C  
"I've got a queer feeling in my fingers - all the way up my arms," she whispered in awed accents, wriggling the arms she spoke of violently. C6JwJYa  
/B 53Z[yL  
"Hush!" said Miss Cornelia indignantly. Lizzie always exaggerated, of course - yet now her own fingers felt prickly, uncanny. There was a little pause while both sat tense, staring at the board. v t_lM  
F AQx8P  
"Now, Ouija," said Miss Cornelia defiantly, "is Lizzie Allen right about this house or is it all stuff and nonsense?" +V9(4la  
' ,1[rWyc  
For one second - two - the ouija remained anchored to its resting place in the center of the board, Then - .IsOU  
"My Gawd! It's moving!" said Lizzie in tones of pure horror as the little pointer began to wander among the letters. -,ojZFyRi  
"You shoved it!" ]{AHKyA{:  
"I did not - cross my heart, Miss Neily - I - " Lizzie's eyes were round, her fingers glued rigidly and awkwardly to the ouija. As the movements of the pointer grew more rapid her mouth dropped open - wider and wider - prepared for an ear-piercing scream. % %QAC4  
"Keep quiet!" said Miss Cornelia tensely. There was a pause of a few seconds while the pointer darted from one letter to another wildly. |)Sx"B)  
"B - M - C - X - P - R - S - K - Z - " murmured Miss Cornelia trying to follow the spelled letters. wz] OM  
Fu !sw]6xx  
"It's Russian!" gasped Lizzie breathlessly and Miss Cornelia nearly disgraced herself in the eyes of any spirits that might be present by inappropriate laughter. The ouija continued to move - more letters - what was it spelling? - it couldn't be - good heavens - "B - A - T - Bat!" said Miss Cornelia with a tiny catch in her voice. ~2*8pb 4  
The pointer stopped moving: She took her hands from the board. }Ik{tUS$  
"That's queer," she said with a forced laugh. She glanced at Lizzie to see how Lizzie was taking it. But the 1atter seemed too relieved to have her hands off the ouija-board to make the mental connection that her mistress had feared. ccJ@jpXI  
"K z=Z C  
All she said was, "Bats indeed! That shows it's spirits. There's been a bat flying around this house all evening." Cd#>,,\z  
ZN|DR|c UY  
She got up from her chair tentatively, obviously hoping that the seance was over. ~<3qsA..  
"Oh, Miss Neily," she burst out. "Please let me sleep in your room tonight! It's only when my jaw drops that I snore - I can tie it up with a handkerchief!" i)\`"&.j>N  
t qbS!r  
"I wish you'd tie it up with a handkerchief now," said her mistress absent-mindedly, still pondering the message that the pointer had spelled. "B - A - T - Bat!" she murmured. Thought-transference - warning - accident? Whatever it was, it was - nerve-shaking. She put the ouija-board aside. Accident or not, she was done with it for the evening. But she could not so easily dispose of the Bat. Sending a protesting Lizzie off for her reading glasses, Miss Cornelia got the evening paper and settled down to what by now had become her obsession. She had not far to search for a long black streamer ran across the front page - "Bat Baffles Police Again." ?.IT!M}DR  
 e1S |&W8  
She skimmed through the article with eerie fascination, reading bits of it aloud for Lizzie's benefit. -wC;pA#o  
"'Unique criminal - long baffled the police - record of his crimes shows him to be endowed with an almost diabolical ingenuity - so far there is no clue to his identity - '" Pleasant reading for an old woman who's just received a threatening letter, she thought ironically - ah, here was something new in a black-bordered box on the front page - a statement by the paper. b>hNkVI  
She read it aloud. "'We must cease combing the criminal world for the Bat and look higher. He may be a merchant - a lawyer - a Doctor - honored in his community by day and at night a bloodthirsty assassin - '" The print blurred before her eyes, she could read no more for the moment. She thought of the revolver in the drawer of the table close at hand and felt glad that it was there, loaded. #M$[C d I$  
"I'm going to take the butcher knife to bed with me!" Lizzie was saying. _T&?H&#  
Miss Cornelia touched the ouija-board. "That thing certainly spelled Bat," she remarked. "I wish I were a man. I'd like to see any lawyer, Doctor, or merchant of my acquaintance leading a double life without my suspecting it." g6{.C7m  
"Every man leads a double life and some more than that," Lizzie observed. "I guess it rests them, like it does me to take off my corset. _;(`u!@/{  
Miss Cornelia opened her mouth to rebuke her but just at that moment there, was a clink of ice from the hall, and Billy, the Japanese, entered carrying a tray with a pitcher of water and some glasses on it. Miss Cornelia watched his impassive progress, wondering if the Oriental races ever felt terror - she could not imagine all Lizzie's banshees and kelpies producing a single shiver from Billy. He set down the tray and was about to go as silently as he had come when Miss Cornelia spoke to him on impulse. maAZI-H{  
[ []'U'  
"Billy, what's all this about the cook's sister not having twins?" she said in an offhand voice. She had not really discussed the departure of the other servants with Billy before. "Did you happen to know that this interesting event was anticipated?" qu]ch&"?U  
Billy drew in his breath with a polite hiss. "Maybe she have twins," he admitted. "It happen sometime. Mostly not expected." y,qP$ 5xiq  
"Do you think there was any other reason for her leaving?" )6|7L)Dk  
r\]yq -_  
"Maybe," said Billy blandly. D|I(2%aC  
"Well, what was the reason?" WrbDB-uM  
"All say the same thing - house haunted." Billy's reply was prompt as it was calm. , >Y. !  
Miss Cornelia gave a slight laugh. "You know better than that, though, don't you?" 3FUZTX]Q1  
OpxVy _5,  
Billy's Oriental placidity remained unruffled. He neither admitted nor denied. He shrugged his shoulders. n_Um)GI>  
"Funny house," he said laconically. "Find window open - nobody there. Door slam - nobody there!" R$6Y\ *L[  
On the heels of his words came a single, startling bang from the kitchen quarters - the bang of a slammed door! ?Fi-,4  
Opjt? ]  

只看该作者 5楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Five. Alopecia and Rubeola >C:"$x2"#(  
  Miss Cornelia dropped her newspaper. Lizzie, frankly frightened, gave a little squeal and moved closer to her mistress. Only Billy remained impassive but even he looked sharply in the direction whence the sound had come. m@G<ZCMZ  
@ ],6SKbG6  
Miss Cornelia was the first of the others to recover her poise. n|70x5Z?}J  
"Stop that! It was the wind!" she said, a little irritably - the "Stop that!" addressed to Lizzie who seemed on the point of squealing again. \%sPNw=e  
"I think not wind," said Billy. His very lack of perturbation added weight to the statement. It made Miss Cornelia uneasy. She took out her knitting again. u@<Pu@?xm  
"How long have you lived in this house, Billy?" vkJ)FEar  
"Since Mr. Fleming built." KF_?'X0=  
"H'm." Miss Cornelia pondered. "And this is the first time you have been disturbed?" )s)_XL  
"Last two days only." Billy would have made an ideal witness in a courtroom. He restricted himself so precisely to answering what was asked of him in as few words as possible. ]a?bzOr,  
Miss Cornelia ripped out a row in her knitting. She took a deep breath. (=u'sn:s  
"What about that face Lizzie said you saw last night at the window?" she asked in a steady voice. cU.9}-)  
<0P5 o|  
Billy grinned, as if slightly embarrassed. "Just face - that's all."  VqSc;w  
"A - man's face?" nAIo{ F  
He shrugged again. lO&3{dOYE  
"Don't know - maybe. It there! It gone!" l @^3Exwt  
2M# r]  
Miss Cornelia did not want to believe him - but she did. "Did you go out after it?" she persisted. ?LvCR_D:  
Billy's yellow grin grew wider. "No thanks," he said cheerfully with ideal succinctness. =}.EY iD  
Lizzie, meanwhile, had stood first on one foot and then on the other during the interrogation, terror and morbid interest fighting in her for mastery. Now she could hold herself in no longer. {7)st W  
"Oh, Miss Neily!" she exploded in a graveyard moan, "last night when the lights went out I had a token! My oil lamp was full of oil but, do what I would, it kept going out, too - the minute I shut my eyes out that lamp would go. There ain't a surer token of death! The Bible says, 'Let your light shine' - and when a hand you can't see puts your lights out - good night!" l6d$V 9A  
She ended in a hushed whisper and even Billy looked a trifle uncomfortable after her climax. eN^qG 42  
Ipf =ZD  
"Well,, now that you've cheered us up," began Miss Cornelia undauntedly, but a long, ominous roll of thunder that rattled the panes in the French windows drowned out the end of her sentence. Nevertheless she welcomed the thunder as a diversion. At least its menace was a physical one - to be guarded against by physical means. J{k79v  
She rose and went over to the French windows. That flimsy bolt! She parted the curtains and looked out - a flicker of lightning stabbed the night - the storm must be almost upon them. z{o' G3  
"Bring some candles, Billy," she said. "The lights may be going out any moment - and Billy," as he started to leave, "there's a gentleman arriving on the last train. After he comes you may go to bed. I'll wait up for Miss Dale - oh, and Billy," arresting him at the door, "see that all the outer doors on this floor are locked and bring the keys here." 2AO~HxF  
aPm`^ q  
Billy nodded and departed. Miss Cornelia took a long breath. Now that the moment for waiting had passed - the moment for action come - she felt suddenly indomitable, prepared to face a dozen Bats! VrxQc qPr`  
Her feelings were not shared by her maid. "I know what all this means," moaned Lizzie. "I tell you there's going to be a death, sure!" CB/D4j;  
"There certainly will be if you don't keep quiet," said her mistress acidly. "Lock the billiard-room windows and go to bed." I.94v #r  
But this was the last straw for Lizzie. A picture of the two long, dark flights of stairs up which she had to pass to reach her bedchamber rose before her - and she spoke her mind. < !dqTJos  
"I am not going to bed!" she said wildly. "I'm going to pack up tomorrow and leave this house." That such a threat would never be carried out while she lived made little difference to her - she was beyond the need of Truth's consolations. "I asked you on my bended knees not to take this place two miles from a railroad," she went on heatedly. "For mercy's sake, Miss Neily, let's go back to the city before it's too late!" Gmq/3tw  
Miss Cornelia was inflexible. krC{ed  
"I'm not going. You can make up your mind to that. I'm going to find out what's wrong with this place if it takes all summer. I came out to the country for a rest and I'm going to get it." `KK>~T_$J  
"You'll get your heavenly rest!" mourned Lizzie, giving it up. She looked pitifully at her mistress's face for a sign that the latter might be weakening - but no such sign came. Instead, Miss Cornelia seemed to grow more determined. 9(5Oe H6o?  
;Wl+ zw  
"Besides," she said, suddenly deciding to share the secret she had hugged to herself all day, "I might as well tell you, Lizzie. I'm having a detective sent down tonight from police headquarters in the city." Q^q1 ns;r  
"A detective?" Lizzie's face was horrified. "Miss Neily, you're keeping something from me! You know something I don't know." #."Hh<C  
?0 m\(#  
"I hope so. I daresay he will be stupid enough. Most of them are. But at least we can have one proper night's sleep." iajX~kv  
"Not I. I trust no man," said Lizzie. But Miss Cornelia had picked up the paper again. $v`afd y  
"'The Bat's last crime was a particularly atrocious one,'" she read. "'The body of the murdered man...'" QJW`}`R  
But Lizzie could bear no more. -Z^4L  
"Why don't you read the funny page once in a while?" she wailed and hurried to close the windows in the billiard room. The door leading into the billiard room shut behind her. mEQ!-p   
Miss Cornelia remained reading for a moment. Then - was that a sound from the alcove? She dropped the paper, went into the alcove and stood for a moment at the foot of the stairs, listening. No - it must have been imagination. But, while she was here, she might as well put on the spring lock that bolted the door from the alcove to the terrace. She did so, returned to the living-room and switched off the lights for a moment to look out at the coming storm. It was closer now - the lightning flashes more continuous. She turned on the lights again as Billy re-entered with three candles and a box of matches. k_3j '  
He put them down on a side table. PV,"-Nv,  
"New gardener come," he said briefly to Miss Cornelia's back. %FlA ":W  
Miss Cornelia turned. "Nice hour for him to get here. What's his name?" 8{@`kyy|  
"Say his name Brook," said Billy, a little doubtful. English names still bothered him - he was never quite sure of them at first. ~xE=mg4le  
Miss Cornelia thought. "Ask him to come in," she said. "And Billy - where are the keys?" hc6.#~i  
Billy silently took two keys from his pocket and laid them on the table. Then he pointed to the terrace door which Miss Cornelia had just bolted. Fgskb"k/  
O >nK ,.  
"Door up there - spring lock," he said. -l\~p4U  
P{"  WlJ  
"Yes." She nodded. "And the new bolt you put on today makes it fairly secure. One thing is fairly sure, Billy. If anyone tries to get in tonight, he will have to break a window and make a certain amount of noise." =Dh$yC-Zr  
But he only smiled his curious enigmatic smile and went out. And no sooner had Miss Cornelia seated herself when the door of the billiard room slammed open suddenly and Lizzie burst into the room as if she had been shot from a gun - her hair wild - her face stricken with fear. C>.]Bvg  
"I heard somebody yell out in the grounds - away down by the gate!" she informed her mistress in a loud stage whisper which had a curious note of pride in it, as if she were not too displeased at seeing her doleful predictions so swiftly coming to pass. ^tm++  
Miss Cornelia took her by the shoulder - half-startled, half-dubious. m [g< K  
"What did they yell?" V7B=+(xK  
Oi kU$~|  
"Just yelled a yell!" N1s $3Ul  
"Lizzie!" wCq)w=,  
"I heard them!" '#4mDz~  
But she had cried "Wolf!" too often. }'.Sn{OWf  
zWmo OnK  
"You take a liver pill," said her mistress disgustedly, "and go to bed." 8.Own=G?  
m2< *  
Lizzie was about to protest both the verdict on her story and the judgment on herself when the door in the hall was opened by Billy to admit the new gardener. A handsome young fellow, in his late twenties, he came two steps into the room and then stood there respectfully with his cap in his hand, waiting for Miss Cornelia to speak to him. cLko  
After a swift glance of observation that gave her food for thought she did so. 3) Awj++  
"You are Brooks, the new gardener?" `ur9KP4Dq  
The young man inclined his head. tskODM0Zf  
"Yes, madam. The butler said you wanted to speak to me. R+hS;F nh%  
k 0Yixa  
Miss Cornelia regarded him anew. His hands look soft - for a gardener's, she thought. And his manners seem much too good for one - Still - ,#OG/r-H  
' qS!n  
"Come in," she said briskly. The young man advanced another two steps. "You're the man my niece engaged in the city this afternoon?" Kp;o?5H  
"Yes, madam." He seemed a little uneasy under her searching scrutiny. She dropped her eyes. 9z}kkYk  
"I could not verify your references as the Brays are in Canada - " she proceeded. JG4I-\+H  
The young man took an eager step forward. "I am sure if Mrs. Bray were here - " he began, then flushed and stopped, twisting his cap. 89l}6p/L  
"Were here?" said Miss Cornelia in a curious voice. "Are you a professional gardener?" f;*\y!|lg~  
l\bBc, %jt  
"Yes." The young man's manner had grown a trifle defiant but Miss Cornelia's next question followed remorselessly. V9+7A  
|_-FQ~Hf F  
"Know anything about hardy perennials?" she said in a soothing voice, while Lizzie regarded the interview with wondering eyes. %H:!/'45  
Pb!kl #  
"Oh. yes," but the young man seemed curiously lacking in confidence. "They - they're the ones that keep their leaves during the winter, aren't they?" r..\(r  
"Come over here - closer - " said Miss Cornelia imperiously. Once more she scrutinized him and this time there was no doubt of his discomfort under her stare. rm<(6zY  
"Have you had any experience with rubeola?" she queried finally. aj85vON1`  
:Em[> XA  
"Oh, yes - yes - yes, indeed," the gardener stammered. "Yes." |t5K!?{i  
"And - alopecia?" pursued Miss Cornelia. dt%waM!  
The young man seemed to fumble in his mind for the characteristics of such a flower or shrub. 4 qMO@E_  
"The dry weather is very hard on alopecia," he asserted finally, and was evidently relieved to see Miss Cornelia receive the statement with a pleasant smile. ]gI>ay"\QA  
"What do you think is the best treatment for urticaria?" she propounded with a highly professional manner. OT-!n  
%N}O Mc.W  
It appeared to be a catch-question. The young man knotted his brows. Finally a gleam of light seemed to come to him. 0XwDk$l<  
8NY $Iw  
"Urticaria frequently needs - er - thinning," he announced decisively. Z7 \gj`  
B o@B9/ABv  
"Needs scratching you mean!" Miss Cornelia rose with a snort of disdain and faced him. "Young man, urticaria is hives, rubeola is measles, and alopecia is baldness!" she thundered. She waited a moment for his defense. None came. d'1 L#`?  
J N5<=x5r  
"Why did you tell me you were a professional gardener?" she went on accusingly. "Why have you come here at this hour of night pretending to be something you're not?" 8FY.u{93  
By all standards of drama the young man should have wilted before her wrath, Instead he suddenly smiled at her, boyishly, and threw up his hands in a gesture of defeat. L,Jl# S  
"I know I shouldn't have done it!" he confessed with appealing frankness. "You'd have found me out anyhow! I don't know anything about gardening. The to is," his tone grew somber, "I was desperate! I had have work!" w3lR8R]  
The candor of his smile would have disarmed a stonier-hearted person than Miss Cornelia. But her suspicions were still awake. *ayn<Vlh`^  
"'That's all, is it?" uG2(NwOL  
"That's enough when you're down and out." His words had an unmistakable accent of finality. She couldn't help wanting to believe him, and yet, he wasn't what he had pretended to be - and this night of all nights was no time to take people on trust! 24{!j[,q@  
"How do I know you won't steal the spoons?" she queried, her voice still gruff. .!0),KmkK  
"Are they nice spoons?" he asked with absurd seriousness. 1C+Y|p?KA  
She couldn't help smiling at his tone. "Beautiful spoons. 3 1KMn  
pl Ii  
Again that engaging, boyish manner of his touched something in her heart. 9=@j]g|  
"Spoons are a great temptation to me, Miss Van Gorder - but if you'll take me, I'll promise to leave them alone." | ctGxS9  
"That's extremely kind of you," she answered with grim humor, knowing herself beaten. She went over to ring for Billy. /tc*jXB  
Lizzie took the opportunity to gain her ear. 1 <.I2\^  
"I don't trust him, Miss Neily! He's too smooth!" she whispered warningly. e7t).s)b{  
Miss Cornelia stiffened. "I haven't asked for your opinion, Lizzie," she said. 6`]R)i]  
But Lizzie was not to be put off by the Van Gorder manner. HW|c -\tS  
"Oh," she whispered, "you're just as bad as all the rest of 'em. A good-looking man comes in the door and your brains fly out the window!" wHBkaPO!  
Miss Cornelia quelled her with a gesture and turned back to the young man. He was standing just where she had left him, his cap in his hands - but, while her back had been turned, his eyes had made a stealthy survey of the living-room - a survey that would have made it plain to Miss Cornelia, if she had seen him, that his interest in the Fleming establishment was not merely the casual interest of a servant in his new place of abode. But she had not seen and she could have told nothing from his present expression. `-\4Dx1!q  
"Have you had anything to eat lately?" she asked in a kindly voice. _( w4\]  
He looked down at his cap. "Not since this morning," he admitted as Billy answered the bell. np=m ~k  
3`^ ]#Dh  
Miss Cornelia turned to the impassive Japanese. "Billy, give this man something to eat and then show him where he is to sleep." 0<nKB}9  
%{zM> le9  
She hesitated. The gardener's house was some distance from the main building, and with the night and the approaching storm she felt her own courage weakening. Into the bargain, whether this stranger had lied about his gardening or not, she was curiously attracted to him. xU@Z<d,k  
"I think," she said slowly, "that I'll have you sleep in the house here, at least for tonight. Tomorrow we can - the housemaid's room, Billy," she told the butler. And before their departure she held out a candle and a box of matches. 0;k3  
"Better take these with you, Brooks," she said. "The local light company crawls under its bed every time there is a thunderstorm. Good night, Brooks." :;7qup  
"Good night, ma'am," said the young man smiling. Following Billy to the door, he paused. "You're being mighty good to me," he said diffidently, smiled again, and disappeared after Billy. j~L{=ojz%  
As the door closed behind them, Miss Cornelia found herself smiling too. "That's a pleasant young fellow - no matter what he is," she said to herself decidedly, and not even Lizzie's feverish "Haven't you any sense taking strange men into the house? How do you know he isn't the Bat?" could draw a reply from her. 8"p>_K=  
Z*kg= hs^  
Again the thunder rolled as she straightened the papers and magazines on the table and Lizzie gingerly took up the ouija-board to replace it on the bookcase with the prayer book firmly on top of it. And this time, with the roll of the thunder, the lights in the living-room blinked uncertainly for an instant before they recovered their normal brilliance. LN_6>u  
Mi S$Y  
"There go the lights!" grumbled Lizzie, her fingers still touching the prayer book, as if for protection. Miss Cornelia did not answer her directly. X}g!Lp  
TRX; m|   
"We'll put the detective in the blue room when he comes," she said. "You'd better go up and see if it's all ready." \q%li)  
Lizzie started to obey, going toward the alcove to ascend to the second floor by the alcove stairs. But Miss Cornelia stopped her. e{c%o;m(  
"Lizzie - you know that stair rail's just been varnished. Miss Dale got a stain on her sleeve there this afternoon - and Lizzie - " ID E3>D  
"Yes'm?" JyvXNV,  
~^UQw? ;  
"No one is to know that he is a detective. Not even Billy." Miss Cornelia was very firm. A?06fo,  
5#p [Q _  
"Well, what'l1 I say he is?" 3b (I~  
"It's nobody's business." 2u4aCfIx  
"A detective," moaned Lizzie, opening the hall door to go by the main staircase. "Tiptoeing around with his eye to all the keyholes. A body won't be safe in the bathtub." She shut the door with a little slap and disappeared. Miss Cornelia sat down - she had many things to think over - "if I ever get time really to think of anything again," she thought, because with gardeners coming who aren't gardeners - and Lizzie hearing yells in the grounds and - n,SDJsS^  
She started slightly. The front door bell was ringing - a long trill, uncannily loud in the quiet house. She sat rigid in her chair, waiting. Billy came in. $e1==@ R  
bII pJQ1.[  
"Front door key, please?" he asked urbanely. She gave him the key. da<B6!  
vJTdZ p  
"Find out who it is before you unlock the door," she said. He nodded. She heard him at the door, then a murmur of voices - Dale's voice and another's - "Won't you come in for a few minutes? Oh, thank you." She relaxed. N 0<([B;  
The door opened; it was Dale. "How lovely she looks in that evening wrap!" thought Miss Cornelia. But how tired, too. I wish I knew what was worrying her. F_C7S  
She smiled. "Aren't you back early, Dale?" '.{tE*  
Dale threw off her wrap and stood for a moment patting back into its smooth, smart bob, hair ruffled by the wind. NsJ]Tp5!  
"I was tired," she said, sinking into a chair. +eVm+4WK  
"Not worried about anything?" Miss Cornelia's eyes were sharp. [W--%=Ou  
"No," said Dale without conviction, "but I've come here to be company for you and I don't want to run away all the time." She picked up the evening paper and looked at it without apparently seeing it. Miss Cornelia heard voices in the hall - a man's voice - affable - "How have you been, Billy?" - Billy's voice in answer, "Very well, sir." ((E5w:=?  
"Who's out there, Dale?" she queried. $[-{Mm  
J "dp?i  
Dale looked up from the paper. "Doctor Wells, darling," she said in a listless voice. "He brought me over from the club; I asked him to come in for a few minutes. Billy's just taking his coat." She rose, threw the paper aside, came over and kissed Miss Cornelia suddenly and passionate1y - then before Miss Cornelia, a little startled, could return the kiss, went over and sat on the settee by the fireplace near the door of the billiard room. AFcA5: ja  
Miss Cornelia turned to her with a thousand questions on her tongue, but before she could ask any of them, Billy was ushering in Doctor Wells. '#.:%4  
As she shook hands with the Doctor, Miss Cornelia observed him with casual interest - wondering why such a good-looking man, in his early forties, apparently built for success, should be content with the comparative rustication of his local practice. That shrewd, rather aquiline face, with its keen gray eyes, would have found itself more at home in a wider sphere of action, she thought - there was just that touch of ruthlessness about it which makes or mars a captain in the world's affairs. She found herself murmuring the usual conventionalities of greeting. /d >fp  
;:9 x.IkxC  
"Oh, I'm very well, Doctor, thank you. Well, many people at the country club?" -r-`T s  
"Not very many," he said, with a shake of his head. "This failure of the Union Bank has knocked a good many of the club members sky high." KUyua~tF  
"Just how did it happen?" Miss Cornelia was making conversation. nlmkkTHF8  
"Oh, the usual thing." The Doctor took out his cigarette case. "The cashier, a young chap named Bailey, looted the bank to the tune of over a million." 'RA[_Z  
Dale turned sharply toward them from her seat by the fireplace. Rk=B;  
+ ND9###  
"How do you know the cashier did it?" she said in a low voice. ah92<'ix  
0- UeFy  
The Doctor laughed. "Well - he's run away, for one thing. The bank examiners found the deficit. Bailey, the cashier, went out on an errand - and didn't come back. The method was simple enough - worthless bonds substituted for good ones - with a good bond on the top and bottom of each package, so the packages would pass a casual inspection. Probably been going on for some time." iV&#5I  
The fingers of Dale's right hand drummed restlessly on the edge of her settee. Wts{tb  
0 '7s  
"Couldn't somebody else have done it?" she queried tensely. /]zib@i  
The Doctor smiled, a trifle patronizingly. qH%L"J  
"Of course the president of the bank had access to the vaults," he said. "But, as you know, Mr. Courtleigh Fleming, the late president, was buried last Monday." *T>#zR{  
c ;21i;&,9  
Miss Cornelia had seen her niece's face light up oddly at the beginning of the Doctor's statement - to relapse into lassitude again at its conclusion. Bailey - Bailey - she was sure she remembered that name - on Dale's lips. 1(:b{Bl  
5&n988g C8  
"Dale, dear, did you know this young Bailey?" she asked point-blank. _o&,  
The girl had started to light a cigarette. The flame wavered in her fingers, the match went out. nu469  
.KT 7le<Zm  
"Yes - slightly," she said. She bent to strike another match, averting her face. Miss Cornelia did not press her. jsk:fh0~M  
"What with bank robberies and communism and the income tax," she said, turning the subject, "the only way to keep your money these days is to spend it." lSZ"y Q+  
'4af ],  
"Or not to have any - like myself!" the Doctor agreed. i{<8 hLO  
"It seems strange," Miss Cornelia went on, "living in Courtleigh Fleming's house. A month ago I'd never even heard of Mr. Fleming - though I suppose I should have - and now - why, I'm as interested in the failure of his bank as if I were a depositor!" aLV~|$: 2  
The Doctor regarded the end of his cigarette. S<*';{5~  
-P2 @mx%  
"As a matter of fact," he said pleasantly, "Dick Fleming had no right to rent you the property before the estate was settled. He must have done it the moment he received my telegram announcing his uncle's death" @?m+Z"o|z  
"Were you with him when he died?" QOd!]*W`?m  
/ xs9.w8-  
"Yes - in Colorado. He had angina pectoris and took me with him for that reason. But with care he might have lived a considerable time. The trouble was that he wouldn't use ordinary care. He ate and drank more than he should, and so - " qZ&a76t  
"I suppose," pursued Miss Cornelia, watching Dale out of the corner of her eye, "that there is no suspicion that Courtleigh Fleming robbed his own bank?" <&6u]uKrW  
&kiF/F 1  
"Well, if he did," said the Doctor amicably, "I can testify that he didn't have the loot with him." His tone grew more serious. "No! He had his faults - but not that." jWSb5#Pw  
Miss Cornelia made up her mind. She had resolved before not to summon the Doctor for aid in her difficulties, but now that chance had brought him here the opportunity seemed too good a one to let slip. T/NjNEd#  
"Doctor," she said, "I think I ought to tell you something. Last night and the night before, attempts were made to enter this house. Once an intruder actually got in and was frightened away by Lizzie at the top of that staircase." She indicated the alcove stairs. "And twice I have received anonymous communications threatening my life if I did not leave the house and go back to the city." Dale rose from her settee, startled. ^j=bObaX  
0D~=SekQ 9  
"I didn't know that, Auntie! How dreadful!" she gasped. B6%&gXr\  
Instantly Miss Cornelia regretted her impulse of confidence. She tried to pass the matter off with tart humor. iC*U$+JG  
[+Un ^gD  
"Don't tell Lizzie," she said. "She'd yell like a siren. It's the only thing she does like a siren, but she does it superbly!" MS{{R +&  
$T/#1w P  
For a moment it seemed as if Miss Cornelia had succeeded. The Doctor smiled; Dale sat down again, her expression altering from one of anxiety to one of amusement. Miss Cornelia opened her lips to dilate further upon Lizzie's eccentricities. x~Agm_Tu+'  
But just then there was a splintering crash of glass from one of the French windows behind her! Aqu]9M~  

只看该作者 6楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Six. Detective Anderson Takes Charge vdFQf ^l  
  "What's that?" ={D B  
"Somebody smashed a windowpane!" v__Go kj-  
"And threw in a stone!" v2z/|sG  
"Wait a minute, I'll - " The Doctor, all alert at once, ran into the alcove and jerked at the terrace door. /;ITnG  
"It's bolted at the top, too," called Miss Cornelia. He nodded, without wasting words on a reply, unbolted the door and dashed out into the darkness of the terrace. Miss Cornelia saw him run past the French windows and disappear into blackness. Meanwhile Dale, her listlessness vanished before the shock of the strange occurrence, had gone to the broken window and picked up the stone. It was wrapped in paper; there seemed to be writing on the paper. She closed the terrace door and brought the stone to her aunt. SQk!o{  
Miss Cornelia unwrapped the paper and smoothed out the sheet. Hua8/:![+  
Two lines of coarse, round handwriting sprawled across it: cW\7yZh  
  Take warning!  Leave this house at once!  It is threatened with |d$aIS O`  
  disaster which will involve you if you remain!There was no signature. `?:'_K i  
"Who do you think wrote it?" asked Dale breathlessly. 975KRnj  
Miss Cornelia straightened up like a ramrod - indomitable.  z\ \MLyS  
"A fool - that's who! If anything was calculated to make me stay here forever, this sort of thing would do it!" iXI > >9  
She twitched the sheet of paper angrily. V_^p?Fi #  
h8'`g 0  
"But - something may happen, darling!" ,v,#f .  
"I hope so! That's the reason I - " s_o{w"3X  
L _D#  
She stopped. The doorbell was ringing again - thrilling, insistent. Her niece started at the sound. n{$! ]^>  
"Oh, don't let anybody in!" she besought Miss Cornelia as Billy came in from the hall with his usual air of walking on velvet. xc}kDpF=g  
"Key, front door please - bell ring," he explained tersely, taking the key from the table. IdoS6   
Miss Cornelia issued instructions. 558!?kx$  
"See that the chain is on the door, Billy. Don't open it all the way. And get the visitor's name before you let him in."  c& $[a%s  
She lowered her voice. TxH amI l  
"If he says he is Mr. Anderson, let him in and take him to the library." (4IP&^j:\  
Billy nodded and disappeared. Dale turned to her aunt, the color out of her cheeks. iG"1~/U  
"Anderson? Who is Mr. - " ,>nf/c0.  
Miss Cornelia did not answer. She thought for a moment. Then she put her hand on Dale's shoulder in a gesture of protective affection. z)R\WFBW  
"Dale, dear - you know how I love having you here - but it might be better if you went back to the city." jz I,B  
3B4C@ {  
"Tonight, darling?" Dale managed a wan smile. But Miss Cornelia seemed serious. T 0?9F2  
"There's something behind all this disturbance - something I don't understand. But I mean to." C+-sf  
She glanced about to see if the Doctor was returning. She lowered her voice. She drew Dale closer to her. 2Zi&=Zj"  
,+RoJwi m  
"The man in the library is a detective from police headquarters," she said. 8hvh xp  
She had expected Dale to show surprise - excitement - but the white mask of horror which the girl turned toward her appalled her. The young body trembled under her hand for a moment like a leaf in the storm. 7$I *ju_  
"Not - the police!" breathed Dale in tones of utter consternation. Miss Cornelia could not understand why the news had stirred her niece so deeply. But there was no time to puzzle it out, she heard crunching steps on the terrace, the Doctor was returning. E|Z7art  
"Ssh!" she whispered. "It isn't necessary to tell the Doctor. I think he's a sort of perambulating bedside gossip - and once it's known the police are here we'll never catch the criminals!" \W6 |un  
When the Doctor entered from the terrace, brushing drops of rain from his no longer immaculate evening clothes, Dale was back on her favorite settee and Miss Cornelia was poring over the mysterious missive that had been wrapped about the stone. "zO+!h'o  
"He got away in the shrubbery," said the Doctor disgustedly, taking out a handkerchief to fleck the spots of mud from his shoes. ^dYLB.'=  
Miss Cornelia gave him the letter of warning. "Read this," she said. /IV:JVT  
TJsT .DWW~  
The Doctor adjusted a pair of pince-nez - read the two crude sentences over - once - twice. Then he looked shrewdly at Miss Cornelia. R!pV`N  
"Were the others like this?" he queried. %] #; ~I%  
H`Z4a N  
She nodded. "Practically." }zobIfIF  
He hesitated for a moment like a man with an unpleasant social duty to face. :>;ps R  
'0O[d N  
"Miss Van Gorder, may I speak frankly?" #VOjnc/rW  
#LN I&5  
"Generally speaking, I detest frankness," said that lady grimly. "But - go on!" . ?p}:  
The Doctor tapped the letter. His face was wholly serious. ,w%oSlOu  
Fd[h9 G  
"I think you ought to leave this house," he said bluntly. V->%)d3i  
"Because of that letter? Humph!" His very seriousness, perversely enough, made her suddenly wish to treat the whole matter as lightly as possible. h.V]fS  
The Doctor repressed the obvious annoyance of a man who sees a warning, given in all sobriety, unexpectedly taken as a quip. bar0{!Y"  
"There is some deviltry afoot," he persisted. "You are not safe here, Miss Van Gorder." 4:vTxNs&S  
But if he was persistent in his attitude, so was she in hers. |olNA*4  
"I've been safe in all kinds of houses for sixty-odd years," she said lightly. "It's time I had a bit of a change. Besides," she gestured toward her defenses, "this house is as nearly impregnable as I can make it. The window locks are sound enough, the doors are locked, and the keys are there," she pointed to the keys lying on the table. "As for. the terrace door you just used," she went on, "I had Billy put an extra bolt on it today. By the way, did you bolt that door again?" She moved toward the alcove. (S F1y/g@=  
"Yes, I did," said the Doctor quickly, still seeming unconvinced of the wisdom of her attitude. l~J*' m2  
,l HLH  
"Miss Van Gorder, I confess - I'm very anxious for you," he continued. "This letter is - ominous. Have you any enemies?" `8:Kp  
"Don't insult me! Of course I have. Enemies are an indication of character."  !HK^AwNY  
}#`:Qb \U  
The Doctor's smile held both masculine pity and equally masculine exasperation. He went on more gently. J CGC  
"Why not accept my hospitality in the village to-night?" he proposed reasonably. "It's a little house but I'll make you comfortable. Or," he threw out his hands in the gesture of one who reasons with a willful child, if you won't come to me, let me stay here!" XGrue6 ya  
<UP m=Hb  
Miss Cornelia hesitated for an instant. The proposition seemed logical enough - more than that - sensible, safe. And yet, some indefinable feeling - hardly strong enough to be called a premonition - kept her from accepting it. Besides, she knew what the Doctor did not, that help was waiting across the hall in the library. `r"+644  
"Thank you, no, Doctor," she said briskly, before she had time to change her mind. "I'm not easily frightened. And tomorrow I intend to equip this entire house with burglar alarms on doors and windows!" she went on defiantly. The incident, as far as she was concerned, was closed. She moved on into the alcove. The Doctor stared at her, shaking his head. F_iXd/  
9O` m,t  
She tried the terrace door. "There, I knew it!" she said triumphantly. "Doctor - you didn't fasten that bolt!" h^,8rd  
The Doctor seemed a little taken aback. "Oh - I'm sorry - " he said. ul%h@=n  
"You only pushed it part of the way," she explained. She completed the task and stepped back into the living-room. "The only thing that worries me now is that broken French window," she said thoughtfully. "Anyone can reach a hand through it and open the latch." She came down toward the settee where Dale was sitting. "Please, Doctor!" *~m+Nc`D,N  
"Oh - what are you going to do?" said the Doctor, coming out of a brown study. ,39aF*r1Q  
"I'm going to barricade that window!" said Miss Cornelia firmly, already struggling to lift one end of the settee. But now Dale came to her rescue. O@?k T;B  
9<K j6t_  
"Oh, darling, you'll hurt yourself. Let me - " and between them, the Doctor and Dale moved the heavy settee along until it stood in front of the window in question. @-OnHE  
The Doctor stood up when the dusty task was finished, wiping his hands. "[:iXRu  
"It would take a furniture mover to get in there now!" he said airily. MQ)L:R` L  
Miss Cornelia smiled. , *qCf@$I  
"Well, Doctor - I'll say good night now - and thank you very much," she said, extending her hand to the Doctor, who bowed over it silently. "Don't keep this young lady up too late; she looks tired." She flashed a look at Dale who stood staring out at the night. R_sC! -  
I|$ RJkD  
"I'll only smoke a cigarette," promised the Doctor. Once again his voice had a note of plea in it. "You won't change your mind?" he asked anew. bU 63X={  
Miss Van Gorder's smile was obdurate. "I have a great deal of mind," she said. "It takes a long time to change it." 64Gi8|P  
Then, having exercised her feminine privilege of the last word, she sailed out of the room, still smiling, and closed the door behind her. ]0c Pml  
a ib}`l  
The Doctor seemed a little nettled by her abrupt departure. s*,cF6  
"It may be mind," he said, turning back toward Dale, "but forgive me if I say I think it seems more like foolhardy stubbornness!" dt-K  
Dale turned away from the window. "Then you think there is really danger?" $9i9s4u^  
The Doctor's eyes were grave. JjDS"hK#  
"Well - those letters - " he dropped the letter on the table. "They mean something. Here you are - isolated the village two miles away - and enough shrubbery round the place to hide a dozen assassins - " [$oM  
If his manner had been in the slightest degree melodramatic, Dale would have found the ominous sentences more easy to discount. But this calm, intent statement of fact was a chill touch at her heart. And yet - ]svw CPu C  
"But what enemies can Aunt Cornelia have?" she asked helplessly. E:%>0FE  
"Any man will tell you what I do," said the Doctor with increasing seriousness. He took a cigarette from his case and tapped it on the case to emphasize his words. "This is no place for two women, practically alone." -Cg`x=G;z  
Dale moved away from him restlessly, to warm her hands at the fire. The Doctor gave a quick glance around the room. Then, unseen by her, he stepped noiselessly over to the table, took the matchbox there off its holder and slipped it into his pocket. It seemed a curiously useless and meaningless gesture, but his next words evinced that the action had been deliberate. qiF@7i  
5 ]A$P\7~1  
"I don't seem to be able to find any matches - " he said with assumed carelessness, fiddling with the matchbox holder. # CP9^R S  
Dale turned away from the fire. "Oh, aren't there any? I'll get you some," she said with automatic politeness, and departed to search for them. Y%n{`9=  
The Doctor watched her go - saw the door close behind her. Instantly his face set into tense and wary lines. He glanced about - then ran lightly into the alcove and noiselessly unfastened the bolt on the terrace door which he had pretended to fasten after his search of the shrubbery. When Dale returned with the matches, he was back where he had been when she had left him, glancing at a magazine on the table. fmZzBZ_  
He thanked her urbanely as she offered him the box. "So sorry to trouble you - but tobacco is the one drug every Doctor forbids his patients and prescribes for himself." [w#x5Xsn  
Dale smiled at the little joke. He lit his cigarette and drew in the fragrant smoke with apparent gusto. But a moment later he had crushed out the glowing end in an ash tray. *v7& T  
"By the way, has Miss Van Gorder a revolver?" he queried casually, glancing at his wrist watch. /Geks/  
e !x-:F#4j  
"Yes - she fired it off this afternoon to see if it would work." Dale smiled at the memory. rpP+20v  
The Doctor, too, seemed amused. "If she tries to shoot anything - for goodness' sake stand behind her!" he advised. He glanced at the wrist watch again. "Well - I must be going - " FbNQ  
F"? *@L  
"If anything happens," said Dale slowly, "I shall telephone you at once." ba:^zO^  
4gt "dfy+  
Her words seemed to disturb the Doctor slightly - but only for a second. He grew even more urbane. zg Ti Az  
n:] 1^wX#  
"I'll be home shortly after midnight," he said. "I'm stopping at the Johnsons' on my way - one of their children is ill - or supposed to be." He took a step toward the door, then he turned toward Dale again. Vtk|WV?>P+  
"Take a parting word of advice," he said. "The thing to do with a midnight prowler is - let him alone. Lock your bedroom doors and don't let anything bring you out till morning." He glanced at Dale to see how she took the advice, his hand on the knob of the door. BT0hx!Ti  
"Thank you," said Dale seriously. "Good night, Doctor - Billy will let you out, he has the key." iSHl_/I<  
"By Jove!" laughed the Doctor, "you are careful, aren't you! The place is like a fortress! Well - good night, Miss Dale - " (i8 t^  
"Good night." The door closed behind him - Dale was left alone. Suddenly her composure left her, the fixed smile died. She stood gazing ahead at nothing, her face a mask of terror and apprehension. But it was like a curtain that had lifted for a moment on some secret tragedy and then fallen again. When Billy returned with the front door key she was as impassive as he was. ]_s]Q_+E  
"Has the new gardener come yet?" H|Ems}b  
"He here," said Billy stolidly. "Name Brook." @:63OLlrG  
She was entirely herself once more when Billy, departing, held the door open wide - to admit Miss Cornelia Van Gorder and a tall, strong-featured man, quietly dressed, with reticent, piercing eyes - the detective! j'Fni4;  
Dale's first conscious emotion was one of complete surprise. She had expected a heavy-set, blue-jowled vulgarian with a black cigar, a battered derby, and stubby policeman's shoes. "Why this man's a gentleman!" she thought. "At least he looks like one - and yet - you can tell from his face he'd have as little mercy as a steel trap for anyone he had to - catch - " She shuddered uncontrollably. zJPzI{-w|  
"Dale, dear," said Miss Cornelia with triumph in her voice. "This is Mr. Anderson." &4LrV+`$V  
The newcomer bowed politely, glancing at her casually and then looking away. Miss Cornelia, however, was obviously in fine feather and relishing to the utmost the presence of a real detective in the house. %AaZc=a[c  
"This is the room I spoke of," she said briskly. "All the disturbances have taken place around that terrace door." Q WcQtM  
The detective took three swift steps into the alcove, glanced about it searchingly. He indicated the stairs. DQ<4`wEM  
"That is not the main staircase?" E;}&2 a  
"No, the main staircase is out there," Miss Cornelia waved her hand in the direction of the hall. n&Ckfo_D  
+}O -WX?  
The detective came out of the alcove and paused by the French windows. @QV0l]H0+  
"I think there must be a conspiracy between the Architects' Association and the Housebreakers' Union these days," he said grimly. "Look at all that glass. All a burglar needs is a piece of putty and a diamond-cutter to break in." 9a=Ll]=\  
G IN|cv=  
"But the curious thing is," continued Miss Cornelia, "that whoever got into the house evidently had a key to that door:" Again she indicated the terrace door, but Anderson did not seem to be listening to her. Kcm+%p^  
( zWBrCX  
"Hello - what's this?" he said sharply, his eye lighting on the broken glass below the shattered French window. He picked up a piece of glass and examined it. BpZ~6WtBq  
Dale cleared her throat. "It was broken from the outside a few minutes ago," she said. cnu&!>8V  
" `qk}n-  
"The outside?" Instantly the detective had pulled aside a blind and was staring out into the darkness. UD-+BUV  
"Yes. And then that letter was thrown in." She pointed to the threatening missive on the center table. \l!+l  
Anderson picked it up, glanced through it, laid it down. All his movements were quick and sure - each executed with the minimum expense of effort. + E{[j  
"H'm," he said in a calm voice that held a glint of humor. "Curious, the anonymous letter complex! Apparently someone considers you an undesirable tenant!" 3D6&0xTq  
&w9*pJR %  
Miss Cornelia took up the tale. .,6o):  
:ek^M (  
"There are some things I haven't told you yet," she said. "This house belonged to the late Courtleigh Fleming." He glanced at her sharply. W\-`}{B_/  
4pMp@ b  
"The Union Bank?" $,O8SW.O$  
"Yes. I rented it for the summer and moved in last Monday. We have not had a really quiet night since I came. The very first night I saw a man with an electric flashlight making his way through the shrubbery!" ]v5/K  
"You poor dear!" from Dale sympathetically. "And you were here alone!" YCStX)r  
"Well, I had Lizzie. And," said Miss Cornelia with enormous importance, opening the drawer of the center table, "I had my revolver. I know so little about these things, Mr. Anderson, that if I didn't hit a burglar, I knew I'd hit somebody or something!" and she gazed with innocent awe directly down the muzzle of her beloved weapon, then waved it with an airy gesture beneath the detective's nose. Opf)TAl{  
Go:(R {P  
Anderson gave an involuntary start, then his eyes lit up with grim mirth. ]smu~t0\  
"Would you mind putting that away?" he said suavely. "I like to get in the papers as much as anybody, but I don't want to have them say - omit flowers." fk?!0M6d  
Miss Cornelia gave him a glare of offended pride, but he endured it with such quiet equanimity that she merely replaced the revolver in the drawer, with a hurt expression, and waited for him to open the next topic of conversation. 7yg {0a  
He finished his preliminary survey of the room and returned to her. uW[AnQ1w  
"Now you say you don't think anybody has got upstairs yet?" he queried. Ug gg!zA  
Miss Cornelia regarded the alcove stairs. b|k(:b-G&.  
"I think not. I'm a very light sleeper, especially since the papers have been so full of the exploits of this criminal they call the Bat. He's in them again tonight." She nodded toward the evening paper. mLHl]xs4  
cdL0<J b,  
The detective smiled faintly. 4"+v:t)z6{  
h& Ezhv2  
"Yes, he's contrived to surround himself with such an air of mystery that it verges on the supernatural - or seems that way to newspapermen." Vf$q3X  
4~0 @(3  
"I confess," admitted Miss Cornelia, "I've thought of him in this connection." She looked at Anderson to see how he would take the suggestion but the latter merely smiled again, this time more broadly. &jF[f4:7  
sKL"JA T  
"That's going rather a long way for a theory," he said. "And the Bat is not in the habit of giving warnings. A!ak i}aT~  
"Nevertheless," she insisted, "somebody has been trying to get into this house, night after night." WRfhxl  
q b7ur;  
Anderson seemed to be revolving a theory in his mind. -4nSiI  
)6 [d'2  
"Any liquor stored here?" he asked. KJ;NcUq  
Miss Cornelia nodded. "Yes." huw|J<$  
"What?" /:],bNb  
Miss Cornelia beamed at him maliciously. "Eleven bottles of home-made elderberry wine." 5RysN=czA  
E1&9( L5  
"You're safe." The detective smiled ruefully. He picked up the evening paper, glanced at it, shook his head. "I'd forget the Bat in all this. You can always tell when the Bat has had anything to do with a crime. When he's through, he signs his name to it." T|o ]8z  
Miss Cornelia sat bolt upright. "His name? I thought nobody knew his name?" nsM=n}$5x  
The detective made a little gesture of apology. "That was a figure of speech. The newspapers named him the Bat because he moved with incredible rapidity, always at night, and by signing his name I mean he leaves the symbol of his identity - the Bat, which can see in the dark." _&wrA3@/L  
hb.^ &  
"I wish I could," said Miss Cornelia, striving to seem unimpressed. "These country lights are always going out." @PZ{(  
Anderson's face grew stern. "Sometimes he draws the outline of a bat at the scene of the crime. Once, in some way, he got hold of a real bat, and nailed it to the wall." ;I/ A8<C  
)kT.3 Q  
Dale, listening, could not repress a shudder at the gruesome picture - and Miss Cornelia's hands gave an involuntary twitch as her knitting needles clicked together. Anderson seemed by no means unconscious of the effect he had created. Gsu?m  
"How many people in this house, Miss Van Gorder?" I^Dm 3yz  
"My niece and myself." Miss Cornelia indicated Dale, who had picked up her wrap and was starting to leave the room. "Lizzie Allen - who has been my personal maid ever since I was a child - the Japanese butler, and the gardener. The cook and the housemaid left this morning - frightened away." ve+bR   
d@p#{ -  
She smiled as she finished her description. Dale reached the door and passed slowly out into the hall. The detective gave her a single, sharp glance as she made her exit. He seemed to think over the factors Miss Cornelia had mentioned. #N"u 0  
"Well," he said, after a slight pause, "you can have a good night's sleep tonight. I'll stay right here in the dark and watch." )A xD|A  
"Would you like some coffee to keep you awake?" Sz@z 0'  
Anderson nodded. "Thank you." His voice sank lower. "Do the servants know who I am?" eO <N/?t  
"Only Lizzie, my maid." rJpr;QKf%  
o'#& =h$_  
His eyes fixed hers. "I wouldn't tell anyone I'm remaining up all night," he said. \#HW.5  
A formless fear rose in Miss Cornelia's mind. "You don't suspect my household?" she said in a low voice. dEJqgp}\p  
He spoke with emphasis - all the more pronounced because of the quietude of his tone. <o%T]  
P 2WAnm  
"I'm not taking any chances," he said determinedly. HA,o2jZ?In  

只看该作者 7楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Seven. Cross-Questions and Crooked Answers 4n\O6$&.x  
  All unconscious of the slur just cast upon her forty years of single-minded devotion to the Van Gorder family, Lizzie chose that particular moment to open the door and make a little bob at her mistress and the detective. '_M"yg6d  
"The gentleman's room is ready," she said meekly. In her mind she was already beseeching her patron saint that she would not have to show the gentleman to his room. Her ideas of detectives were entirely drawn from sensational magazines and her private opinion was that Anderson might have anything in his pocket from a set of terrifying false whiskers to a bomb! {wVJv1*l  
Miss Cornelia, obedient to the detective's instructions, promptly told the whitest of fibs for Lizzie's benefit. <aGfQg|554  
DE_ <LN  
"The maid will show you to your room now and you can make yourself comfortable for the night." There - that would mislead Lizzie, without being quite a lie. Ht=h9}x"g  
"My toilet is made for an occasion like this when I've got my gun loaded," answered Anderson carelessly. The allusion to the gun made Lizzie start nervously,, unhappily for her, for it drew his attention to her and he now transfixed her with a stare. WXX)_L$2  
;;? Zd  
"This is the maid you referred to?" he inquired. Miss Cornelia assented. He drew nearer to the unhappy Lizzie. NT&sk rzW  
"What's your name?" he asked, turning to her. 3:~ *cU  
b"7L ;J5|  
"E-Elizabeth Allen," stammered Lizzie, feeling like a small and distrustful sparrow in the toils of an officious python. vn(ji=  
Anderson seemed to run through a mental rogues gallery of other criminals named Elizabeth Allen that he had known. ,d`6 {ll  
"How old are you?" he proceeded. 8.ej65r*   
Lizzie looked at her mistress despairingly. "Have I got to answer that?" she wailed. Miss Cornelia nodded - inexorably. M4)Y%EPc  
Lizzie braced herself. "Thirty-two," she said, with an arch toss of her head. }poLH S/  
/h 4rW>8D2  
The detective looked surprised and slightly amused. 7LsVlT[  
"She's fifty if she's a day," said Miss Cornelia treacherously in spite of a look from Lizzie that would have melted a stone. +zK?1llt  
"q KVGd  
The trace of a smile appeared and vanished on the detective's face. ;*hVAxs1  
"Now, Lizzie," he said sternly, "do you ever walk in your sleep?" )l.AsfW%  
HU$]o N  
"I do not," said Lizzie indignantly. PF#<CF$=  
IZ iS3  
"Don't care for the country, I suppose?" 2-jXj9kp`  
"I do not!" 9Kg yt  
"Or detectives?" Anderson deigned to be facetious. VzIZT{  
cWZ uph\  
"I do not!" There could be no doubt as to the sincerity of Lizzie's answer. FN<>L0  
"All right, Lizzie. Be calm. I can stand it," said the detective with treacherous suavity. But he favored her with a long and careful scrutiny before he moved to the table and picked up the note that had been thrown through the window. Quietly he extended it beneath Lizzie's nose. >i  >|]  
v<g~ EjzCf  
"Ever see this before?" he said crisply, watching her face. Y/I)ECm  
Lizzie read the note with bulging eyes, her face horror-stricken. When she had finished, she made a gesture of wild disclaimer that nearly removed a portion of Anderson's left ear. w:deQ:k  
uQx/o ^  
"Mercy on us!" she moaned, mentally invoking not only her patron saint but all the rosary of heaven to protect herself and her mistress. \ HUDZ2 s  
But the detective still kept his eye on her. a5 ZXrWv  
"Didn't write it yourself, did you?" he queried curtly. U n)Xe  
"I did not!" said Lizzie angrily. "I did not!" !^MwE]  
"And - you're sure you don't walk in your sleep?" The bare idea strained Lizzie's nerves to the breaking point. ;Q vQ fV4  
"When I get into bed in this house I wouldn't put my feet out for a million dollars!" she said with heartfelt candor. Even Anderson was compelled to grin at this. JBc*m  
"Then I won't ask you to," he said, relaxing considerably; "That's more money than I'm worth, Lizzie." znWB.H  
"Well, I'll say it is!" quoth Lizzie, now thoroughly aroused, and flounced out of the room in high dudgeon, her pompadour bristling, before he had time to interrogate her further. !L9]nO 'BL  
He replaced the note on the table and turned back to Miss Cornelia. If he had found any clue to the mystery in Lizzie's demeanor, she could not read it in his manner. k5Q1.;fW76  
"Now, what about the butler?" he said. >RJ&b  
"Nothing about him - except that he was Courtleigh Fleming's servant." iG~&uEAJ  
Anderson paused. "Do you consider that significant?" 9zCuVUcd$.  
A shadow appeared behind him deep in the alcove - a vague, listening figure - Dale - on tiptoe, conspiratorial, taking pains not to draw the attention of the others to her presence. But both Miss Cornelia and Anderson were too engrossed in their conversation to notice her. #qD[dC$[t  
I Xm[c@5l  
Miss Cornelia hesitated. X')l04P@%  
"Isn't it possible that there is a connection between the colossal theft at the Union Bank and these disturbances?" she said. tm2lxt  
5 ;XYF0  
Anderson seemed to think over the question. K9p<PLy+  
"What do you mean?" he asked as Dale slowly moved into the room from the alcove, silently closing the alcove doors behind her, and still unobserved. I2*(v%.-  
"Suppose," said Miss Cornelia slowly, "that Courtleigh Fleming took that money from his own bank and concealed it in this house?" The eavesdropper grew rigid. )j~{P  
"That's the theory you gave headquarters, isn't it?" said Anderson. "But I'll tell you how headquarters figures it out. In the first place, the cashier is missing. In the second place, if Courtleigh Fleming did it and got as far as Colorado, he had it with him when he died, and the facts apparently don't bear that out. In the third place, suppose he had hidden the money in or around this house. Why did he rent it to you?" @S}j=k  
"But he didn't" said Miss Cornelia obstinately, "I leased this house from his nephew, his heir." u;rmqo1  
The detective smiled tolerantly. <>n|_6'$90  
"Well, I wouldn't struggle like that for a theory," he said, the professional note coming back to his voice. "The cashier's missing - that's the answer." jmq^98jB  
Miss Cornelia resented his offhand demolition of the mental card-castle she had erected with such pride. ;5\'PrE  
)eZuG S  
"I have read a great deal on the detection of crime," she said hotly, "and - "  n9&fH  
"Well, we all have our little hobbies," he said tolerantly. "A good many people rather fancy themselves as detectives and run around looking for clues under the impression that a clue is a big and vital factor that sticks up like - well, like a sore thumb. The fact is that the criminal takes care of the big and important factors. It's only the little ones he may overlook. To go back to your friend the Bat, it's because of his skill in little things that he's still at large." NhYUSk ~u  
0%\fm W j  
"Then you don't think there's a chance that the money from the Union Bank is in this house?" persisted Miss Cornelia. #sv}%oV,F  
"I think it very unlikely." %2G3+T8*x  
Miss Cornelia put her knitting away and rose. She still clung tenaciously to her own theories but her belief in them had been badly shaken. !E *IktAI  
"If you'll come with me, I'll show you to your room," she said a little stiffly. The detective stepped back to let her pass. &G+:t)|S  
"Sorry to spoil your little theory," he said, and followed her to the door. If either had noticed the unobtrusive listener to their conversation, neither made a sign. }j#c#''i  
gM Z `  
The moment the door had closed on them Dale sprang into action. She seemed a different girl from the one who had left the room so inconspicuously such a short time before. There were two bright spots of color in her cheeks and she was obviously laboring under great excitement. She went quickly to the alcove doors - they opened softly - disclosing the young man who had said that he was Brooks the new gardener - and yet not the same young man - for his assumed air of servitude had dropped from him like a cloak, revealing him as a young fellow at least of the same general social class as Dale's if not a fellow-inhabitant of the s/elect circle where Van Gorders revolved about Van Gorders, and a man's great-grandfather was more important than the man himself. Sc$]ar]S  
IH '&W  
Dale cautioned him with a warning finger as he advanced into the room. (Puag*  
-5t .1/  
"Sh! Sh!" she whispered. "Be careful! That man's a detective!" k&PxhDf  
WM_wkvY l  
Brooks gave a hunted glance at the door into the hall. Z;6v`;[  
"Then they've traced me here," he said in a dejected voice. 0T{Z'3^=  
"I don't think so."  Hy _ (  
He made a gesture of helplessness. Sm@T/+uG:  
"I couldn't get back to my rooms," he said in a whisper. "If they've searched them," he paused, "as they're sure to - they'll find your letters to me." He paused again. "Your aunt doesn't suspect anything?" I?2S{]!?  
"No, I told her I'd engaged a gardener - and that's all there was about it." 25 NTtj:X  
k H.e"e  
He came nearer to her. "Dale!" he murmured in a tense voice. "You know I didn't take that money!" he said with boyish simplicity. 8M<\?JD~_f  
NFs Cq_f  
All the loyalty of first-love was in her answer. Sc.@u3  
"Of course! I believe in you absolutely!" she said. He caught her in his arms and kissed her - gratefully, passionately. Then the galling memory of the predicament in which he stood, the hunt already on his trail, came back to him. He released her gently, still holding one of her hands. 1C5~GI`  
"But - the police here!" he stammered, turning away. "What does that mean?" ~5;2ni8n  
Dale swiftly informed him of the situation. ~93#L_V_O  
"Aunt Cornelia says people have been trying to break into this house for days - at night." nyx(0  
Brooks ran his hand through his hair in a gesture of bewilderment. Then he seemed to catch at a hope. O/lu0acI  
"What sort of people?" he queried sharply. )Zit6I  
Dale was puzzled. "She doesn't know." >Wr  
The excitement in her lover's manner came to a head. "That proves exactly what I've contended right along," he said, thudding one fist softly in the palm of the other. "Through some underneath channel old Fleming has been selling those securities for months, turning them into cash. And somebody knows about it, and knows that that money is hidden here. Don't you see? Your Aunt Cornelia has crabbed the game by coming here." K#oF=4_/|  
,6FmU$ Kn  
"Why didn't you tell the police that? Now they think, because you ran away - " ;wkoQ8FD9  
"Ran away! The only chance I had was a few hours to myself to try to prove what actually happened." ird q51{G  
"Why don't you tell the detective what you think?" said Dale at her wits' end. "That Courtleigh Fleming took the money and that it is still here?" ktr l|  
Her lover's face grew somber. fU+A~oL%I  
"He'd take me into custody at once and I'd have no chance to search." #]ii/Et#x  
He was searching now - his eyes roved about the living-room - walls - ceiling - hopefully - desperately - looking for a clue - the tiniest clue to support his theory. {M]m cRB(  
Y 3[<  
"Why are you so sure it is here?" queried Dale. Zx5vIm  
Brooks explained. "You must remember Fleming was no ordinary defaulter and he had no intention of being exiled to a foreign country. He wanted to come back here and take his place in the community while I was in the pen. G?=X!up(  
"But even then - " OMO.-p  
He interrupted her. "Listen, dear - " He crossed to the billiard-room door, closed it firmly, returned. HWFo9as""v  
"The architect that built this house was an old friend of mine," he said in hushed accents. "We were together in France and you know the way fellows get to talking when they're far away and cut off - " He paused, seeing the cruel gleam of the flame throwers - two figures huddled in a foxhole, whiling away the terrible hours of waiting by muttered talk. 5yuj}/PZ  
"Just an hour or two before - a shell got this friend of mine," he resumed, "he told me he had built a hidden room in this house." Wr a W  
"Where?" gasped Dale. rjo/-910  
@zL)R b%P$  
Brooks shook his head. "I don't know. We never got to finish that conversation. But I remember what he said. He said, 'You watch old Fleming. If I get mine over here it won't break his heart. He didn't want any living being to know about that room.'" |5 _bFB+&  
Now Dale was as excited as he. }YW0?-G.$  
"Then you think the money is in this hidden room?" lE:X~RO"~  
"I do," said Brooks decidedly. "I don't think Fleming took it away with him. He was too shrewd for that. No, he meant to come back all right, the minute he got the word the bank had been looted. And he'd fixed things so I'd be railroaded to prison - you wouldn't understand, but it was pretty neat. And then the fool nephew rents this house the minute he's dead, and whoever knows about the money - " zqfv|3-!}  
"Jack! Why isn't it the nephew who is trying to break in?" \]GO*]CaV  
"He wouldn't have to break in. He could make an excuse and come in any time." TEz)d=  
He clenched his hands despairingly. q88p~Ccoa  
"If I could only get hold of a blue-print of this place!" he muttered. RL~|Kr<7J  
Dale's face fell. It was sickening to be so close to the secret - and yet not find it. "Oh, Jack, I'm so confused and worried!" she confessed, with a little sob. ^]'p927  
Brooks put his hands on her shoulders in an effort to cheer her spirits. n$`Nx\v  
"Now listen, dear," he said firmly, "this isn't as hard as it sounds. I've got a clear night to work in - and as true as I'm standing here, that money's in this house. Listen, honey - it's like this." He pantomimed the old nursery rhyme of The House that Jack Built, "Here's the house that Courtleigh Fleming built - here, somewhere, is the Hidden Room in the house that Courtleigh Fleming built - and here - somewhere - pray Heaven - is the money - in the Hidden Room - in the house that Courtleigh Fleming built. When you're low in your mind, just say that over!" M?nnpO  
She managed a faint smile. "I've forgotten it already," she said, drooping. b7>;UX  
He still strove for an offhand gaiety that he did not feel. hCo&SRC/5  
"Why, look here!" and she followed the play of his hands obediently, like a tired child, "it's a sort of game, dearest. 'Money, money - who's got the money?' You know!" For the dozenth time he stared at the unrevealing walls of the room. "For that matter," he added, "the Hidden Room may be behind these very walls." ! \gRXP}  
He looked about for a tool, a poker, anything that would sound the walls and test them for hollow spaces. Ah, he had it - that driver in the bag of golf clubs over in the corner. He got the driver and stood wondering where he had best begin. That blank wall above the fireplace looked as promising as any. He tapped it gently with the golf club - afraid to make too much noise and yet anxious to test the wall as thoroughly as possible. A dull, heavy reverberation answered his stroke - nothing hollow there apparently. K;97/"  
Nb8<8O ^  
As he tried another spot, again thunder beat the long roll on its iron drum outside, in the night. The lights blinked - wavered - recovered. F@*lR(4C  
"The lights are going out again," said Dale dully, her excitement sunk into a stupefied calm. ,1[??Y  
Tb= {g;0 @  
"Let them go! The less light the better for me. The only thing to do is to go over this house room by room." He pointed to the billiard room door. "What's in there?" 4LEE /  
"The billiard room." She was thinking hard. "Jack! Perhaps Courtleigh Fleming's nephew would know where the blue-prints are!" UB$`;'|i  
He looked dubious. "It's a chance, but not a very good one," he said. "Well - " He led the way into the billiard room and began to rap at random upon its walls while Dale listened intently for any echo that might betray the presence of a hidden chamber or sliding panel. 'dc+M9u)_q  
Thus it happened that Lizzie received the first real thrill of what was to prove to her - and to others - a sensational and hideous night. For, coming into the living-room to lay a cloth for Mr. Anderson's night suppers not only did the lights blink threateningly and the thunder roll, but a series of spirit raps was certainly to be heard coming from the region of the billiard room. Ug7`ez4vw  
8QVE_ Eu  
"Oh, my God!" she wailed, and the next instant the lights went out, leaving her in inky darkness. With a loud shriek she bolted out of the room. sI&i{D  
Thunder - lightning - dashing of rain on the streaming glass of the windows - the storm hallooing its hounds. Dale huddled close to her lover as they groped their way back to the living-room, cautiously, doing their best to keep from stumbling against some heavy piece of furniture whose fall would arouse the house. ))7LE|1l  
"There's a candle on the table, Jack, if I can find the table." Her outstretched hands touched a familiar object. "Here it is." She fumbled for a moment. "Have you any matches?" &59F8JgJ  
UtnZNdl v  
"Yes." He struck one - another - lit the candle - set it down on the table. In the weak glow of the little taper, whose tiny flame illuminated but a portion of the living-room, his face looked tense and strained. T*?s@$)m4  
nd ink$  
"It's pretty nearly hopeless," he said, "if all the walls are paneled like that. g:7,~}_}^  
As if in mockery of his words and his quest, a muffled knocking that seemed to come from the ceiling of the very room he stood in answered his despair. z'7[Tie  
"What's that?" gasped Dale. = ?D(g  
They listened. The knocking was repeated - knock - knock - knock - knock. T>TWU:  
$mf u:tbP  
"Someone else is looking for the Hidden Room!" muttered Brooks, gazing up at the ceiling intently, as if he could tear from it the secret of this new mystery by sheer strength of will. =q N2Xg/  

只看该作者 8楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Eight. The Gleaming Eye 4e9q`~ sO  
q6`G I6  
  "It's upstairs!" Dale took a step toward the alcove stairs. Brooks halted her. !PUp>(  
"Who's in this house besides ourselves?" he queried. 3/M.0}e  
"Only the detective, Aunt Cornelia, Lizzie, and Billy." "zV']A>4H  
! sYf<  
"Billy's the Jap?" WV_`1hZX  
"Yes." ?Y!^I2Y6  
=L16hDk o  
Brooks paused an instant. "Does he belong to your aunt?" /yt7#!tm+  
"No. He was Courtleigh Fleming's butler." RCCv>o  
Knock - knock - knock - knock the dull, methodical rapping on the ceiling of the living-room began again. UDVf@[[hN  
"Courtleigh Fleming's butler, eh?" muttered Brooks. He put down his candle and stole noiselessly into the alcove. "It may be the Jap!" he whispered. :fRmUAK%  
| O57N'/  
Knock - knock - knock - knock! This time the mysterious rapping seemed to come from the upper hall. a#^_"GX  
"If it is the Jap, I'll get him!" Brooks's voice was tense with resolution. He hesitated - made for the hall door - tiptoed out into the darkness around the main staircase, leaving Dale alone in the living-room beset by shadowy terrors. Jz=;mrW  
%|# P&`  
Utter silence succeeded his noiseless departure. Even the storm lulled for a moment. Dale stood thinking, wondering, searching desperately for some way to help her lover. &W&7bZ$;  
fG u5%T,  
At last a resolution formed in her mind. She went to the city telephone. _DNkdS [[  
"Hello," she said in a low voice, glancing over her shoulder now and then to make sure she was not overheard. "l-2-4 - please - yes, that's right. Hello - is that the country club? Is Mr. Richard Fleming there? Yes, I'll hold the wire." "Qiq/"h  
She looked about nervously. Had something moved in that corner of blackness where her candle did not pierce? No! How silly of her! 37ri b  
5 \.TZMB  
Buzz-buzz on the telephone. She picked up the receiver again. ^5zS2nm  
"Hello - is this Mr. Fleming? This is Miss Ogden - Dale Ogden. I know it must seem odd my calling you this late, but - I wonder if you could come over here for a few minutes. Yes - tonight." Her voice grew stronger. "I wouldn't trouble you but - it's awfully important. Hold the wire a moment." She put down the phone and made another swift survey of the room, listened furtively at the door - all clear! She returned to the phone. h 19.b:JT  
"Hello - Mr. Fleming - I'll wait outside the house on the drive. It - it's a confidential matter. Thank you so much." ;U:o'9^9T  
L bK1CGyA  
She hung up the phone, relieved - not an instant too soon, for, as she crossed toward the fireplace to add a new log to the dying glow of the fire, the hall door opened and Anderson, the detective, came softly in with an unlighted candle in his hand. 9bYHb'70  
Her composure almost deserted her. How much had he heard? What deduction would he draw if he had heard? An assignation, perhaps! Well, she could stand that; she could stand anything to secure the next few hours of liberty for Jack. For that length of time she and the law were at war; she and this man were at war. %JU23c*  
But his first words relieved her fears. Ji:@z%osr  
) FsSXnZL  
"Spooky sort of place in the dark, isn't it?" he said casually. vK/Z9wR*05  
"Yes - rather." If he would only go away before Brooks came back or Richard Fleming arrived! But he seemed in a distressingly chatty frame of mind. A>S2BL#=  
"Left me upstairs without a match," continued Anderson. "I found my way down by walking part of the way and falling the rest. Don't suppose I'll ever find the room I left my toothbrush in!" He laughed, lighting the candle in his hand from the candle on the table. gE#,QOy  
"You're not going to stay up all night, are you?" said Dale nervously, hoping he would take the hint. But he seemed entirely oblivious of such minor considerations as sleep. He took out a cigar. |iI`p-L9  
"Oh, I may doze a bit," he said. He eyed her with a certain approval. She was a darned pretty girl and she looked intelligent. "I suppose you have a theory of your own about these intrusions you've been having here? Or apparently having." /[p4. FL  
"I knew nothing about them until tonight." yC -4wn*  
"Still," he persisted conversationally, "you know about them now." But when she remained silent, "Is Miss Van Gorder usually - of a nervous temperament? Imagines she sees things, and all that?" fE(rDQI  
"I don't think so." Dale's voice was strained. Where was Brooks? What had happened to him? -gzk,ymp  
Anderson puffed on his cigar, pondering. "Know the Flemings?" he asked. kFeuKSa^d  
"I've met Mr. Richard Fleming once or twice." #TRPq>XzD  
Something in her tone caused him to glance at her. "Nice fellow?" )lE]DG!  
?l &S:` L  
"I don't know him at all well." <-D>^p9  
"Know the cashier of the Union Bank?" he shot at her suddenly. WhQK3hnm  
"No!" She strove desperately to make the denial convincing but she could not hide the little tremor in her voice. {| ~  
The detective mused. 0n dk=V  
"Fellow of good family, I understand," he said, eyeing her. "Very popular. That's what's behind most of these bank embezzlements - men getting into society and spending more than they make." v 79k{<Ln  
Dale hailed the tinkle of the city telephone with an inward sigh of relief. The detective moved to answer the house phone on the wall by the alcove, mistaking the direction of the ring. Dale corrected him quickly. UG !+&ii|  
"No, the other one. That's the house phone." Anderson looked the apparatus over. %AJTU3=0  
"No connection with the outside, eh?" ~YQH]  
"No," said Dale absent-mindedly. "Just from room to room in the house." BN%;AQV  
He accepted her explanation and answered the other telephone. 952l1c!  
"Hello - hello - what the - " He moved the receiver hook up and down, without result, and gave it up. "This line sounds dead," he said. _=_<cg y1u  
"It was all right a few minutes ago," said Dale without thinking. DY\~O  
"You were using it a few minutes ago?" oFGWI#]ts>  
v[r 8-0c  
She hesitated - what use to deny what she had already admitted, for all practical purposes. %lD+57=  
"Yes." xW]65iav  
The city telephone rang again. The detective pounced upon it. IvT><8<G  
"Hello - yes - yes - this is Anderson - go ahead." He paused, while the tiny voice in the receiver buzzed for some seconds. Then he interrupted it impatiently. qh:Bc$S  
"You're sure of that, are you? I see. All right. 'By." 4"|Xndh1.  
He hung up the receiver and turned swiftly on Dale. "Did I understand you to say that you were not acquainted with the cashier of the Union Bank?" he said to her with a new note in his voice. DB5J3r81  
]JrD@ Vy  
Dale stared ahead of her blankly. It had come! She did not reply. 3iCe5VF  
@d WA1tM  
Anderson went on ruthlessly. \p4*Q}t  
2{ F-@}=  
"That was headquarters, Miss Ogden. They have found some letters in Bailey's room which seem to indicate that you were not telling the entire truth just now." T<uX[BO-a  
&* VhtT?=5  
He paused, waiting for her answer. "What letters?" she said wearily. [vr"FLM|9  
"From you to Jack Bailey - showing that you had recently become engaged to him." );HhV,$n  
Dale decided to make a clean breast of it, or as clean a one as she dared. (e;/Smol  
 "O# V/(  
"Very well," she said in an even voice, "that's true." W$7H "tg  
"Why didn't you say so before?" There was menace beneath his suavity. 9,&xG\z=  
She thought swiftly. Apparent frankness seemed to be the only resource left her. She gave him a candid smile. }/\`'LQ  
N5`z S79W  
"It's been a secret. I haven't even told my aunt yet." Now she let indignation color her tones. "How can the police be so stupid as to accuse Jack Bailey, a young man and about to be married? Do you think he would wreck his future like that?" O^6anUV0  
"Some people wouldn't call it wrecking a future to lay away a million dollars," said Anderson ominously. He came closer to Dale, fixing her with his eyes. "Do you know where Bailey is now?" He spoke slowly and menacingly. u^JsKG+,:  
She did not flinch. :lvBcFw  
"No." i 61k  
The detective paused. G--X)h-  
"Miss Ogden," he said, still with that hidden threat in his voice, "in the last minute or so the Union Bank case and certain things in this house have begun to tie up pretty close together. Bailey disappeared this morning. Have you heard from him since?" %(lO>4>|  
Her eyes met his without weakening, her voice was cool and composed. ^}d]O(  
"No." +tqErh?Al  
The detective did not comment on her answer. She could not tell from his face whether he thought she had told the truth or lied. He turned away from her brusquely. o%$.8)B9F  
"I'll ask you to bring Miss Van Gorder here," he said in his professional voice. l4Xz r:]  
[4Z 31v>  
"Why do you want her?" Dale blazed at him rebelliously. Wgq|Q*  
He was quiet. "Because this case is taking on a new phase." "}]`64?  
"You don't think I know anything about that money?" she said, a little wildly, hoping that a display of sham anger might throw him off the trail he seemed to be following. v1h(_NLI!  
?-??>& z  
He seemed to accept her words, cynically, at their face value. c? ::l+  
"No," he said, "but you know somebody who does." Dale hesitated, sought for a biting retort, found none. It did not matter; any respite, no matter how momentary, from these probing questions, would be a relief. She silently took one of the lighted candles and left the living-room to search for her aunt. ;qx#]Z0 <  
Left alone, the detective reflected for a moment, then picking up the one lighted candle that remained, commenced a systematic examination of the living-room. His methods were thorough, but if, when he came to the end of his quest, he had made any new discoveries, the reticent composure of his face did not betray the fact. When he had finished he turned patiently toward the billiard room - the little flame of his candle was swallowed up in its dark recesses - he closed the door of the living-room behind him. The storm was dying away now, but a few flashes of lightning still flickered, lighting up the darkness of the deserted living-room now and then with a harsh, brief glare. eSPS3|YYn  
)! [B(  
A lightning flash - a shadow cast abruptly on the shade of one of the French windows, to disappear as abruptly as the flash was blotted out - the shadow of a man - a prowler - feeling his way through the lightning-slashed darkness to the terrace door. The detective? Brooks? The Bat? The lightning flash was too brief for any observer to have recognized the stealing shape - if any observer had been there. g$(Y\`zw  
But the lack of an observer was promptly remedied. Just as the shadowy shape reached the terrace door and its shadow-fingers closed over the knob, Lizzie entered the deserted living-room on stumbling feet. She was carrying a tray of dishes and food - some cold meat on a platter, a cup and saucer, a roll, a butter pat - and she walked slowly, with terror only one leap behind her and blank darkness ahead. Gm+D1l i  
She had only reached the table and was preparing to deposit her tray and beat a shameful retreat, when a sound behind her made her turn. The key in the door from the terrace to the alcove had clicked. Paralyzed with fright she stared and waited, and the next moment a formless thing, a blacker shadow in a world of shadows, passed swiftly in and up the small staircase. ~HY)$Yp;  
But not only a shadow. To Lizzie's terrified eyes it bore an eye, a single gleaming eye, just above the level of the stair rail, and this eye was turned on her. %g*nd#wG  
It was too much. She dropped the tray on the table with a crash and gave vent to a piercing shriek that would have shamed the siren of a fire engine. ko.% @Y(=  
i Q3wi  
Miss Cornelia and Anderson, rushing in from the hall and the billiard room respectively, each with a lighted candle, found her gasping and clutching at the table for support. m:EYOe,w  
% [,^2s  
"For the love of heaven, what's wrong?" cried Miss Cornelia irritatedly. The coffeepot she was carrying in her other hand spilled a portion of its boiling contents on Lizzie's shoe and Lizzie screamed anew and began to dance up and down on the uninjured foot. Yv*i69"  
7 dG_E]&  
"Oh, my foot - my foot!" she squealed hysterically. "My foot!" I8hmn@ce  
Miss Cornelia tried to shake her back to her senses. BUKh5L  
"My patience! Did you yell like that because you stubbed your toe?" o'  DXd[y  
"You scalded it!" cried Lizzie wildly. "It went up the staircase!" p<6pmW3  
"Your toe went up the staircase?" 88)0Xi|]KP  
*Xl&N- 04  
"No, no! An eye - an eye as big as a saucer! It ran right up that staircase - " She indicated the alcove with a trembling forefinger. Miss Cornelia put her coffeepot and her candle down on the table and opened her mouth to express her frank opinion of her factotum's sanity. But here the detective took charge. yNY1g?E  
"Now see here," he said with some sternness to the quaking Lizzie, "stop this racket and tell me what you saw!" |'mgo  
"A ghost!" persisted Lizzie, still hopping around on one leg. "It came right through that door and ran up the stairs - oh - " and she seemed prepared to scream again as Dale, white-faced, came in from the hall, followed by Billy and Brooks, the latter holding still another candle. ;VYL7Xu](  
"Who screamed?" said Dale tensely. %#yCp2  
"I did!" Lizzie wailed, "I saw a ghost!" She turned to Miss Cornelia. "I begged you not to come here," she vociferated. "I begged you on my bended knees. There's a graveyard not a quarter of a mile away." gk"S`1>  
"Yes, and one more scare like that, Lizzie Allen, and you'll have me lying in it," said her mistress unsympathetically. She moved up to examine the scene of Lizzie's ghostly misadventure, while Anderson began to interrogate its heroine. no?TEXp*  
"Now, Lizzie," he said, forcing himself to urbanity, "what did you really see?" c@1C|  
+ V4BJ/H  
"I told you what I saw." lb2mWsg"  
His manner grew somewhat threatening. 9Gfm?.O5  
"You're not trying to frighten Miss Van Gorder into leaving this house and going back to the city?" i:Pg&474f  
"Well, if I am," said Lizzie with grim, unconscious humor, "I'm giving myself an awful good scare, too, ain't I?" gGw6c" FRQ  
The two glared at each other as Miss Cornelia returned from her survey of the alcove. ItDe_|!L  
"Somebody who had a key could have got in here, Mr. Anderson," she said annoyedly. "That terrace door's been unbolted from the inside." K).X=2gjY  
Lizzie groaned. "I told you so," she wailed. "I knew something was going to happen tonight. I heard rappings all over the house today, and the ouija-board spelled Bat!" $Y$!nPO  
The detective recovered his poise. "I think I see the answer to your puzzle, Miss Van Gorder," he said, with a scornful glance at Lizzie. "A hysterical and not very reliable woman, anxious to go back to the city and terrified over and over by the shutting off of the electric lights." ^%go\ C ;  
If looks could slay, his characterization of Lizzie would have laid him dead at her feet at that instant. Miss Van Gorder considered his theory. Oo7n_h1  
*:\QD 8^  
"I wonder," she said. QQC0uta`  
The detective rubbed his hands together more cheerfully. U6M4}q(N]  
"A good night's sleep and - " he began, but the irrepressible Lizzie interrupted him. _-^ KqNyy  
"My God, we're not going to bed, are we?" she said, with her eyes as big as saucers. KeXQ'.x5O  
He gave her a kindly pat on the shoulder, which she obviously resented. (MbI8B>  
"You'll feel better in the morning," he said. "Lock your door and say your prayers, and leave the rest to me." /[_>U{~P#  
Lizzie muttered something inaudible and rebellious, but now Miss Cornelia added her protestations to his. Wc03Sv&FZ  
"That's very good advice," she said decisively. "You take her, Dale." ~SP.&>Q>  
Reluctantly, with a dragging of feet and scared glances cast back over her shoulder, Lizzie allowed herself to be drawn toward the door and the main staircase by Dale. But she did not depart without one Parthian shot. j$&k;S  
"I'm not going to bed!" she wailed as Dale's strong young arm helped her out into the hall. "Do you think I want to wake up in the morning with my throat cut?" Then the creaking of the stairs, and Dale's soothing voice reassuring her as she painfully clambered toward the third floor, announced that Lizzie, for some time at least, had been removed as an active factor from the puzzling equation of Cedarcrest. >:Xzv  
Anderson confronted Miss Cornelia with certain relief. mK@\6GOMYP  
"There are certain things I want to discuss with you, Miss Van Gorder," he said. "But they can wait until tomorrow morning." X~]eQaJ  
vh KA8vr  
Miss Cornelia glanced about the room. His manner was reassuring. H Tf7r-  
~Jmn?9 3  
"Do you think all this - pure imagination?" she said. gPQ2i])"Q  
"Don't you?" Vyu0OiGcR  
She hesitated. "I'm not sure." TL1pv l  
He laughed. "I'll tell you what I'll do. You go upstairs and go to bed comfortably. I'll make a careful search of the house before I settle down, and if I find anything at all suspicious, I'll promise to let you know." \3O#H  
She agreed to that, and after sending the Jap out for more coffee prepared to go upstairs. :05>~bn>pC  
Never had the thought of her own comfortable bed appealed to her so much. But, in spite of her weariness, she could not quite resign herself to take Lizzie's story as lightly as the detective seemed to. c]P`U(q9TV  
1 xm8w$%  
"If what Lizzie says is true," she said, taking her candle, "the upper floors of the house are even less safe than this one." :rnn`/L  
"I imagine Lizzie's account just now is about as reliable as her previous one as to her age," Anderson assured her. "I'm certain you need not worry. Just go on up and get your beauty sleep; I'm sure you need it." h[b;_>7  
On which ambiguous remark Miss Van Gorder took her leave, rather grimly smiling. Z+! ._uA  
It was after she had gone that Anderson's glance fell on Brooks, standing warily in the doorway. 3.,O7 k7y  
+ q@kRQY;n  
"What are you? The gardener?" \H <k  
But Brooks was prepared for him. ibe#Y  
ZV:cg v  
"Ordinarily I drive a car," he said. "Just now I'm working on the place here." fC1PPgQ\  
Anderson was observing him closely, with the eyes of a man ransacking his memory for a name - a picture. "I've seen you somewhere - " he went on slowly. "And I'll - place you before long." There was a little threat in his shrewd scrutiny. He took a step toward Brooks. @jXdQY%{  
"Not in the portrait gallery at headquarters, are you?" {Kbb4%P+h  
"Not yet." Brooks s voice was resentful. Then he remembered his pose and his back grew supple, his whole attitude that of the respectful servant. l0 Eh?  
"Well, we slip up now and then," said the detective slowly. Then, apparently, he gave up his search for the name - the pictured face. But his manner was still suspicious. }ldOxJSB?  
"All right, Brooks," he said tersely, "if you're needed in the night, you'll be called!" &{R]v/{p]  
Brooks bowed. "Very well, sir." He closed the door softly behind him, glad to have escaped as well as he had. 9^zA(  
But that he had not entirely lulled the detective's watchfulness to rest was evident as soon as he had gone. Anderson waited a few seconds, then moved noiselessly over to the hall door - listened - opened it suddenly - closed it again. Then he proceeded to examine the alcove - the stairs, where the gleaming eye had wavered like a corpse-candle before Lizzie's affrighted vision. He tested the terrace door and bolted it. How much truth had there been in her story? He could not decide, but he drew out his revolver nevertheless and gave it a quick inspection to see if it was in working order. A smile crept over his face - the smile of a man who has dangerous work to do and does not shrink from the prospect. He put the revolver back in his pocket and, taking the one lighted candle remaining, went out by the hall door, as the storm burst forth in fresh fury and the window-panes of the living-room rattled before a new reverberation of thunder. :OC(93d)0  
For a moment, in the living-room, except for the thunder, all was silence. Then the creak of surreptitious footsteps broke the stillness - light footsteps descending the alcove stairs where the gleaming eye had passed. /2jw]ekQ'  
It was Dale slipping out of the house to keep her appointment with Richard Fleming. She carried a raincoat over her arm and a pair of rubbers in one hand. Her other hand held a candle. By the terrace door she paused, unbolted it, glanced out into the streaming night with a shiver. Then she came into the living-room and sat down to put on her rubbers. ?=^ M(TA;  
Hardly had she begun to do so when she started up again. A muffled knocking sounded at the terrace door. It was ominous and determined, and in a panic of terror she rose to her feet. If it was the law, come after Jack, what should she do? Or again, suppose it was the Unknown who had threatened them with death? Not coherent thoughts these, but chaotic, bringing panic with them. Almost unconscious of what she was doing, she reached into the drawer beside her, secured the revolver there and leveled it at the door. RLtIn!2OU  

只看该作者 9楼 发表于: 2012-07-23
Chapter Nine. A Shot in the Dark R?!xO-^t  
  A key clicked in the terrace door - a voice swore muffledly at the rain. Dale lowered her revolver slowly. It was Richard Fleming - come to meet her here, instead of down by the drive. bA\TuB  
She had telephoned him on an impulse. But now, as she looked at him in the light of her single candle, she wondered if this rather dissipated, rather foppish young man about town, in his early thirties, could possibly understand and appreciate the motives that had driven her to seek his aid. Still, it was for Jack! She clenched her teeth and resolved to go through with the plan mapped out in her mind. It might be a desperate expedient but she had nowhere else to turn! f%9EZ+OP  
Fleming shut the terrace door behind him and moved down from the alcove, trying to shake the rain from his coat. 7r?O(0>  
"Did I frighten you?" pcNVtp 'V  
"Oh, Mr. Fleming - yes!" Dale laid her aunt's revolver down on the table. Fleming perceived her nervousness and made a gesture of apology. VY<v?Of i-  
"I'm sorry," he said, "I rapped but nobody seemed to hear me, so I used my key." NWwfNb>  
"You're wet through - I'm sorry," said Dale with mechanical politeness. h(d<':|  
X )fj&  
He smiled. "Oh, no." He stripped off his cap and raincoat and placed them on a chair, brushing himself off as he did so with finicky little movements of his hands. Eo)Q> AM  
"Reggie Beresford brought me over in his car," he said. "He's waiting down the drive." q,^^c1f  
v#(wc +[  
Dale decided not to waste words in the usual commonplaces of social greeting. 1 BAnf9  
"Mr. Fleming, I'm in dreadful trouble!" she said, facing him squarely, with a courageous appeal in her eyes. R}#?A%,*  
He made a polite movement. "Oh, I say! That's too bad." VWj]X7v  
She plunged on. "You know the Union Bank closed today." eGkB#.+J!  
He laughed lightly. |J-Osi  
"Yes, I know it! I didn't have anything in it - or any other bank for that matter," he admitted ruefully, "but I hate to see the old thing go to smash." tf[)Q:|  
Dale wondered which angle was best from which to present her appeal. W{U z#o  
"Well, even if you haven't lost anything in this bank failure, a lot of your friends have - surely?" she went on. ]*?lgwE  
"I'll say so!" said Fleming, debonairly. "Beresford is sitting down the road in his Packard now writhing with pain!" Vy=P*  
H#i,Ve '  
Dale hesitated; Fleming's lightness seemed so incorrigible that, for a moment, she was on the verge of giving her project up entirely. Then, "Waster or not - he's the only man who can help us!" she told herself and continued. `dw">z,  
"Lots of awfully poor people are going to suffer, too," she said wistfully. oP`:NCj\9  
zJP jsD]  
Fleming chuckled, dismissing the poor with a wave of his hand. -8l(eDm"m  
"Oh, well, the poor are always in trouble," he said with airy heartlessness. "They specialize in suffering." X31%T"  
He extracted a monogrammed cigarette from a thin gold case. Du +_dr^4  
"But look here," he went on, moving closer to Dale, "you didn't send for me to discuss this hypothetical poor depositor, did you? Mind if I smoke?" [ _ `yy  
_1O .{O  
"No." He lit his cigarette and puffed at it with enjoyment while Dale paused, summoning up her courage. Finally the words came in a rush. E_$nsM8?  
a(|0 '^  
"Mr. Fleming, I'm going to say something rather brutal. Please don't mind. I'm merely - desperate! You see, I happen to be engaged to the cashier, Jack Bailey - " +\dKe[j{g  
X7-[#} T  
Fleming whistled. "I see! And he's beat it!" .q:6F*,1M  
Dale blazed with indignation. & @_PY  
"He has not! I'm going to tell you something. He's here, now, in this house - " she continued fierily, all her defenses thrown aside. "My aunt thinks he's a new gardener. He is here, Mr. Fleming, because he knows he didn't take the money, and the only person who could have done it was - your uncle!" R3piI&u  
5 I#-h<SG  
Dick Fleming dropped his cigarette in a convenient ash tray and crushed it out there, absently, not seeming to notice whether it scorched his fingers or not. He rose and took a turn about the room. Then he came back to Dale. #hu`X6s"  
"That's a pretty strong indictment to bring against a dead man," he said slowly, seriously. zc,X5R1  
"It's true!" Dale insisted stubbornly, giving him glance for glance. j!0-3YKv  
2J3y 1  
Fleming nodded. "All right." #??[;xjs!  
He smiled - a smile that Dale didn't like. \34:]NM  
"Suppose it's true - where do I come in?" he said. "You don't think I know where the money is?" Fc^!="H  
"No," admitted Dale, "but I think you might help to find it." TRE D_6  
She went swiftly over to the hall door and listened tensely for an instant. Then she came back to Fleming. E *782>  
"If anybody comes in - you've just come to get something of yours," she said in a low voice. He nodded understandingly. She dropped her voice still lower. 01NP  
"Do you know anything about a Hidden Room in this house?" she asked. A=70UL  
Dick Fleming stared at her for a moment. Then he burst into laughter. %ofq  
=`Ky N/  
"A Hidden Room - that's rich!" he said, still laughing. "Never heard of it! Now, let me get this straight. The idea is - a Hidden Room - and the money is in it - is that it?" XXQC`%-]<i  
Dale nodded a "Yes." #kJ8 qN  
"The architect who built this house told Jack Bailey that he had built a Hidden Room in it," she persisted. c|4_nT 2  
For a moment Dick Fleming stared at her as if he could not believe his ears. Then, slowly, his expression changed. Beneath the well-fed, debonair mask of the clubman about town, other lines appeared - lines of avarice and calculation - wolf-marks, betokening the craft and petty ruthlessness of the small soul within the gentlemanly shell. His eyes took on a shifty, uncertain stare - they no longer looked at Dale - their gaze seemed turned inward, beholding a visioned treasure, a glittering pile of gold. And yet, the change in his look was not so pronounced as to give Dale pause - she felt a vague uneasiness steal over her, true - but it would have taken a shrewd and long-experienced woman of the world to read the secret behind Fleming's eyes at first glance - and Dale, for all her courage and common sense, was a young and headstrong girl. @*$"6!3s5  
@_h=,g #@  
She watched him, puzzled, wondering why he made no comment on her last statement. h0VeXUM;.  
"Do you know where there are any blue-prints of the house?" she asked at last. +#g4Crb  
An odd light glittered in Fleming's eyes for a moment. Then it vanished - he held himself in check - the casual idler again. luO4ap]*  
"blue-prints?" He seemed to think it over. "Why - there may be some. Have you looked in the old secretary in the library? My uncle used to keep all sorts of papers there," he said with apparent helpfulness. ;S^7Q5-  
"Why, don't you remember - you locked it when we took the house." ^H UNq[sQ  
Z &R{jQ,  
"So I did." Fleming took out his key ring, selected a key. "Suppose you go and Look," he said. "Don't you think I'd better stay here?" Ou<Vg\Mu  
"Oh, yes - " said Dale, blinded to everything else by the rising hope in her heart. "Oh, I can hardly thank you enough!" and before he could even reply, she had taken the key and was hurrying toward the hall door. P]4C/UDS-~  
He watched her leave the room, a bleak smile on his face. As soon as she had closed the door behind her, his languor dropped from him. He became a hound - a ferret - questing for its prey. He ran lightly over to the bookcase by the hall door - a moment's inspection - he shook his head. Perhaps the other bookcase near the French windows - no - it wasn't there. Ah, the bookcase over the fireplace! He remembered now! He made for it, hastily swept the books from the top shelf, reached groping fingers into the space behind the second row of books. There! A dusty roll of three blue-prints! He unrolled them hurriedly and tried to make out the white tracings by the light of the fire - no - better take them over to the candle on the table. 8pfQAzl  
He peered at them hungrily in the little spot of light thrown by the candle. The first one - no - nor the second - but the third - the bottom one - good heavens! He took in the significance of the blurred white lines with greedy eyes, his lips opening in a silent exclamation of triumph. Then he pondered for an instant, the blue-print itself -was an awkward size - bulky - good, he had it! He carefully tore a small portion from the third blue-print and was about to stuff it in the inside pocket of his dinner jacket when Dale, returning, caught him before he had time to conceal his find. She took in the situation at once. x(nWyVB  
"Oh, you found it!" she said in tones of rejoicing, giving him back the key to the secretary. Then, as he still made no move to transfer the scrap of blue paper to her, "Please let me have it, Mr. Fleming. I know that's it."  }xcEWC\  
Dick Fleming's lips set in a thin line. "Just a moment," he said, putting the table between them with a swift movement. Once more he stole a glance at the scrap of paper in his hand by the flickering light of the candle. Then he faced Dale boldly. Z `FqC  
"Do you suppose, if that money is actually here, that I can simply turn this over to you and let you give it to Bailey?" he said. "Every man has his price. How do I know that Bailey's isn't a million dollars?" y#HDJ=2  
|T:' G  
Dale felt as if he had dashed cold water in her face. "What do you mean to do with it then?" she said. DuJbWtA  
NYb eIfL  
Fleming turned the blue-print over in his hand. B=K& +  
"I don't know," he said. "What is it you want me to do?" (gd+-o4  
But by now Dale's vague distrust in him had grown very definite. $ekJs/I&  
"Aren't you going to give it to me?" *`]LbS  
Y*!J +A#  
He put her off. "I'll have to think about that." He looked at the blue-print again. "So the missing cashier is in this house posing as a gardener?" he said with a sneer in his tones.  U/v }4b  
Dale's temper was rising. Yo`#G-]  
"If you won't give it to me - there's a detective in this house," she said, with a stamp of her foot. She made a movement as if to call Anderson - then, remembering Jack, turned back to Fleming. pf_(?\oz>  
"Give it to the detective and let him search," she pleaded. @vy {Q7aM  
"A detective?" said Fleming startled. "What's a detective doing here?" Kbdjd p  
Z= 'DV1A$,  
"People have been trying to break in." ?0ezr[`.  
"What people?" X2 Z E9b  
"I don't know." __FhuP P  
r N"P IH  
Fleming stared out beyond Dale, into the night. @.4e^Km  
"Then it is here," he muttered to himself. ..ig jc#UF  
Behind his back - was it a gust of air that moved them? - the double doors of the alcove swung open just a crack. Was a listener crouched behind those doors - or was it only a trick of carpentry - a gesture of chance? N XwQvm;q  
The mask of the clubman dropped from Fleming completely. His lips drew back from his teeth in the snarl of a predatory animal that clings to its prey at the cost of life or death. 4v+4qyMyE  
:les 3T}2  
Before Dale could stop him, he picked up the discarded blue-prints and threw them on the fire, retaining only the precious scrap in his hand. The roll blackened and burst into flame. He watched it, smiling. q]%c 6{w  
"I'm not going to give this to any detective," he said quietly, tapping the piece of paper in his hand. 7d0E9t;W  
Dale's heart pounded sickeningly but she kept her courage up. rIz"_r  
#`5 M( o  
"What do you mean?" she said fiercely. "What are you going to do?" V)\|I8"  
He faced her across the fireplace, his airy manner coming back to him just enough to add an additional touch of the sinister to the cold self-revelation of his words. m*h d%1D  
"Let us suppose a few things, Miss Ogden," he said. "Suppose my price is a million dollars. Suppose I need money very badly and my uncle has left me a house containing that amount in cash. Suppose I choose to consider that that money is mine - then it wouldn't be hard to suppose, would it, that I'd make a pretty sincere attempt to get away with it?" ihKnZcI$i  
Dale summoned all her fortitude. HS]|s':  
"If you go out of this room with that paper I'll scream for help!" she said defiantly. 7qq}wR]]  
Fleming made a little mock-bow of courtesy. He smiled. ,1EyT>  
"To carry on our little game of supposing," he said easily, "suppose there is a detective in this house - and that, if I were cornered, I should tell him where to lay his hands on Jack Bailey. Do you suppose you would scream?" S\b[Bq  
Dale's hands dropped, powerless, at her sides. If only she hadn't told him - too late! - she was helpless. She could not call the detective without ruining Jack - and yet, if Fleming escaped with the money - how could Jack ever prove his innocence? KtTv0[66  
-!i1xR (;h  
Fleming watched her for an instant, smiling. Then, seeing she made no move, he darted hastily toward the double doors of the alcove, flung them open, seemed about to dash up the alcove stairs. The sight of him escaping with the only existing clue to the hidden room galvanized Dale into action. She followed him, hurriedly snatching up Miss Cornelia's revolver from the table as she did so, in a last gesture of desperation. BwOIdz%]OY  
x -;tV=E}  
"No! No! Give it to me! Give it to me!" and she sprang after him, clutching the revolver. He waited for her on the bottom step of the stairs, the slight smile still on his face. 7b8+"5~  
Panting breaths in the darkness of the alcove - a short, furious scuffle - he had wrested the revolver away from her, but in doing so had unguarded the precious blue-print - she snatched at it desperately, tearing most of it away, leaving only a corner in his hand. He swore - tried to get it back - she jerked away. UaCfXTG  
Then suddenly a bright shaft of light split the darkness of the alcove stairs like a sword, a spot of brilliance centered on Fleming's face like the glare of a flashlight focused from above by an invisible hand. For an instant it revealed him - his features distorted with fury - about to rush down the stairs again and attack the trembling girl at their foot. 9-+N;g!q  
A single shot rang out. For a second, the fury on Fleming's face seemed to change to a strange look of bewilderment and surprise. Q=6 1.lP6  
O{EPq' x  
Then the shaft of light was extinguished as suddenly as the snuffing of a candle, and he crumpled forward to the foot of the stairs - struck - lay on his face in the darkness, just inside the double doors. 'ieTt_1.G  
Dale gave a little whimpering cry of horror. X 0iy  
"Oh, no, no, no," she whispered from a dry throat, automatically stuffing her portion of the precious scrap of blue-print into the bosom of her dress. She stood frozen, not daring to move, not daring even to reach down with her hand and touch the body of Fleming to see if he was dead or alive. {ZrlbDQX  
D h;5hu2"  
A murmur of excited voices sounded from the hall. The door flew open, feet stumbled through the darkness - "The noise came from this room!" that was Anderson's voice - "Holy Virgin!" that must be Lizzie -  NdRcA  
Even as Dale turned to face the assembled household, the house lights, extinguished since the storm, came on in full brilliance - revealing her to them, standing beside Fleming's body with Miss Cornelia's revolver between them. udqrHR5  
qg& /!\  
She shuddered, seeing Fleming's arm flung out awkwardly by his side. No living man could lie in such a posture. _# sy  
"I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" she stammered, after a tense silence that followed the sudden reillumining of the lights. Her eyes wandered from figure to figure idly, noting unimportant details. Billy was still in his white coat and his face, impassive as ever, showed not the slightest surprise. Brooks and Anderson were likewise completely dressed - but Miss Cornelia had evidently begun to retire for the night when she had heard the shot - her transformation was askew and she wore a dressing-gown. As for Lizzie, that worthy shivered in a gaudy wrapper adorned with incredible orange flowers, with her hair done up in curlers. Dale saw it all and was never after to forget one single detail of it. BuV71/Vb{Q  
fs ufYIf  
The detective was beside her now, examining Fleming's body with professional thoroughness. At last he rose. `DY yK?R  
FW|& iS$  
"He's dead," he said quietly. A shiver ran through the watching group. Dale felt a stifling hand constrict about her heart. ^ j\LB23  
qi,) l*?f  
There was a pause. Anderson picked up the revolver beside Fleming's body and examined it swiftly, careful not to confuse his own fingerprints with any that might already be on the polished steel. Then he looked at Dale. "Who is he?" he said bluntly. RCR= W6  
DN2 ]Y'  
Dale fought hysteria for some seconds before she could speak. qf0pi&q  
"Richard Fleming - somebody shot him !" she managed to whisper at last. s$#64"F  
Anderson took a step toward her. :a*>PMTn  
"What do you mean by somebody?" he said. e,s  S.  
The world to Dale turned into a crowd of threatening, accusing eyes - a multitude of shadowy voices, shouting, Guilty! Guilty! Prove that you're innocent - you can't! 3~`\FuHHe  
"I don't know," she said wildly. "Somebody on the staircase." !o'a]8  
"Did you see anybody?" Anderson's voice was as passionless and cold as a bar of steel. E#w2'(t  
Wbmqf s  
"No - but there was a light from somewhere - like a pocket-flash - " She could not go on. She saw Fleming's face before her - furious at first - then changing to that strange look of bewildered surprise - she put her hands over her eyes to shut the vision out. 78z/D|{"  
Lizzie made a welcome interruption. {u7_<G7  
5@Lz4 `  
"I told you I saw a man go up that staircase!" she wailed, jabbing her forefinger in the direction of the alcove stairs. 3m`y?Dd  
Miss Cornelia, now recovered from the first shock of the discovery, supported her gallantly. Ik4U+'z6  
"That's the only explanation, Mr. Anderson," she said decidedly. O?9&6x   
The detective looked at the stairs - at the terrace door. His eyes made a circuit of the room and came back to Fleming's body. "I've been all over the house," he said. "There's nobody there." ;k<g# She  
A pause followed. Dale found herself helplessly looking toward her lover for comfort - comfort he could not give without revealing his own secret. oX@0+*"  
Eerily, through the tense silence, a sudden tinkling sounded - the sharp, persistent ringing of a telephone bell. )54;YK  
Miss Cornelia rose to answer it automatically. "The house phone!" she said. Then she stopped. "But we're all here." (he cvJ  
ZSC Zt&2v  
They looked attach other aghast. It was true. And yet - somehow - somewhere - one of the other phones on the circuit was calling the living-room. n]$50_@  
 d~B ]s  
Miss Cornelia summoned every ounce of inherited Van Gorder pride she possessed and went to the phone. She took off the receiver. The ringing stopped. "Uy==~  
"Hello - hello - " she said, while the others stood rigid, listening. Then she gasped. An expression of wondering horror came over her face. }q0lbwYlb  
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