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Chapter 45

TURNING from the Temple gate as soon as I had read the warning, I made the best of my way to Fleet-street, and there got a late hackney chariot and drove to the Hummums in Covent Garden. In those times a bed was always to be got there at any hour of the night, and the chamberlain, letting me in at his ready wicket, lighted the candle next in order on his shelf, and showed me straight into the bedroom next in order on his list. It was a sort of vault on the ground floor at the back, with a despotic monster of a four-post bedstead in it, straddling over the whole place, putting one of his arbitrary legs into the fire-place and another into the doorway, and squeezing the wretched little washing-stand in quite a Divinely Righteous manner.
As I had asked for a night-light, the chamberlain had brought me in, before he left me, the good old constitutional rush-light of those virtuous days - an object like the ghost of a walking-cane, which instantly broke its back if it were touched, which nothing could ever be lighted at, and which was placed in solitary confinement at the bottom of a high tin tower, perforated with round holes that made a staringly wide-awake pattern on the walls. When I had got into bed, and lay there footsore, weary, and wretched, I found that I could no more close my own eyes than I could close the eyes of this foolish Argus. And thus, in the gloom and death of the night, we stared at one another.

What a doleful night! How anxious, how dismal, how long!There was an inhospitable smell in the room, of cold soot and hot dust; and, as I looked up into the corners of the tester over my head, I thought what a number of blue-bottle flies from the butchers', and earwigs from the market, and grubs from the country, must be holding on up there, lying by for next summer. This led me to speculate whether any of them ever tumbled down, and then I fancied that I felt light falls on my face - disagreeable turn of thought, suggesting other and more objectionable approaches up my back. When I had lain awake a little while, those extraordinary voices with which silence teems, began to make themselves audible. The closet whispered, the fireplace sighed, the little washing-stand ticked, and one guitar-string played occasionally in the chest of drawers. At about the same time, the eyes on the wall acquired a new expression, and in every one of those staring rounds I saw written,DON'T GO HOME.

Whatever night-fancies and night-noises crowded on me, they never warded off thisDON'T GO HOME. It plaited itself into whatever I thought of, as a bodily pain would have done. Not long before, I had read in the newspapers, how a gentleman unknown had come to the Hummums in the night, and had gone to bed, and had destroyed himself, and had been found in the morning weltering in blood. It came into my head that he must have occupied this very vault of mine, and I got out of bed to assure myself that there were no red marks about; then opened the door to look out into the passages, and cheer myself with the companionship of a distant light, near which I knew the chamberlain to be dozing. But all this time, why I was not to go home, and what had happened at home, and when I should go home, and whether Provis was safe at home, were questions occupying my mind so busily, that one might have supposed there could be no more room in it for any other theme. Even when I thought of Estella, and how we had parted that day for ever, and when I recalled all the circumstances of our parting, and all her looks and tones, and the action of her fingers while she knitted - even then I was pursuing, here and there and everywhere, the caution Don't go home. When at last I dozed, in sheer exhaustion of mind and body, it became a vast shadowy verb which I had to conjugate. Imperative mood, present tense: Do not thou go home, let him not go home, let us not go home, do not ye or you go home, let not them go home. Then, potentially: I may not and I cannot go home; and I might not, could not, would not, and should not go home; until I felt that I was going distracted, and rolled over on the pillow, and looked at the staring rounds upon the wall again.

I had left directions that I was to be called at seven; for it was plain that I must see Wemmick before seeing any one else, and equally plain that this was a case in which his Walworth sentiments, only, could be taken. It was a relief to get out of the room where the night had been so miserable, and I needed no second knocking at the door to startle me from my uneasy bed.

The Castle battlements arose upon my view at eight o'clock. The little servant happening to be entering the fortress with two hot rolls, I passed through the postern and crossed the drawbridge, in her company, and so came without announcement into the presence of Wemmick as he was making tea for himself and the Aged. An open door afforded a perspective view of the Aged in bed.

`Halloa, Mr Pip!' said Wemmick. `You did come home, then?'

`Yes,' I returned; `but I didn't go home.'

`That's all right,' said he, rubbing his hands. `I left a note for you at each of the Temple gates, on the chance. Which gate did you come to?'

I told him.

`I'll go round to the others in the course of the day and destroy the notes,' said Wemmick; `it's a good rule never to leave documentary evidence of you can help it, because you don't know when it may be put in. I'm going to take a liberty with you. - Would you mind toasting this sausage for the Aged P.?'

I said I should be delighted to do it.

`Then you can go about your work, Mary Anne,' said Wemmick to the little servant; `which leaves us to ourselves, don't you see, Mr Pip?' he added, winking, as she disappeared.

I thanked him for his friendship and caution, and our discourse proceeded in a low tone, while I toasted the Aged's sausage and he buttered the crumb of the Aged's roll.

`Now, Mr Pip, you know,' said Wemmick, `you and I understand one another. We are in our private and personal capacities, and we have been engaged in a confidential transaction before today. Official sentiments are one thing. We are extra official.'

I cordially assented. I was so very nervous, that I had already lighted the Aged's sausage like a torch, and been obliged to blow it out.

`I accidentally heard, yesterday morning,' said Wemmick, `being in a certain place where I once took you - even between you and me, it's as well not to mention names when avoidable--'

`Much better not,' said I. `I understand you.'

`I heard there by chance, yesterday morning,' said Wemmick, `that a certain person not altogether of uncolonial pursuits, and not unpossessed of portable property - I don't know who it may really be - we won't name this person--'

`Not necessary,' said I.

` - had made some little stir in a certain part of the world where a good many people go, not always in gratification of their own inclinations, and not quite irrespective of the government expense--'

In watching his face, I made quite a firework of the Aged's sausage, and greatly discomposed both my own attention and Wemmick's; for which I apologized.

` - by disappearing from such place, and being no more heard of thereabouts. From which,' said Wemmick, `conjectures had been raised and theories formed. I also heard that you at your chambers in Garden-court, Temple, had been watched, and might be watched again.'

`By whom?' said I.

`I wouldn't go into that,' said Wemmick, evasively, `it might clash with official responsibilities. I heard it, as I have in my time heard other curious things in the same place. I don't tell it you on information received. I heard it.'

He took the toasting-fork and sausage from me as he spoke, and set forth the Aged's breakfast neatly on a little tray. Previous to placing it before him, he went into the Aged's room with a clean white cloth, and tied the same under the old gentleman's chin, and propped him up, and put his nightcap on one side, and gave him quite a rakish air. Then, he placed his breakfast before him with great care, and said, `All right, ain't you, Aged P.?' To which the cheerful Aged replied, `All right, John, my boy, all right!' As there seemed to be a tacit understanding that the Aged was not in a presentable state, and was therefore to be considered invisible, I made a pretence of being in complete ignorance of these proceedings.

`This watching of me at my chambers (which I have once had reason to suspect),' I said to Wemmick when he came back, `is inseparable from the person to whom you have adverted; is it?'

Wemmick looked very serious. `I couldn't undertake to say that, of my own knowledge. I mean, I couldn't undertake to say it was at first. But it either is, or it will be, or it's in great danger of being.'

As I saw that he was restrained by fealty to Little Britain from saying as much as he could, and as I knew with thankfulness to him how far out of his way he went to say what he did, I could not press him. But I told him, after a little meditation over the fire, that I would like to ask him a question, subject to his answering or not answering, as he deemed right, and sure that his course would be right. He paused in his breakfast, and crossing his arms, and pinching his shirt-sleeves (his notion of indoor comfort was to sit without any coat), he nodded to me once, to put my question.

`You have heard of a man of bad character, whose true name is Compeyson?'

He answered with one other nod.

`Is he living?'

One other nod.

`Is he in London?'

He gave me one other nod, compressed the post-office exceedingly, gave me one last nod, and went on with his breakfast.

`Now,' said Wemmick, `questioning being over;' which he emphasized and repeated for my guidance; `I come to what I did, after hearing what I heard. I went to Garden-court to find you; not finding you, I went to Clarriker's to find Mr Herbert.'

`And him you found?' said I, with great anxiety.

`And him I found. Without mentioning any names or going into any details, I gave him to understand that if he was aware of anybody - Tom, Jack, or Richard - being about the chambers, or about the immediate neighbourhood, he had better get Tom, Jack, or Richard, out of the way while you were out of the way.'

`He would be greatly puzzled what to do?'

`He was puzzled what to do; not the less, because I gave him my opinion that it was not safe to try to get Tom, Jack, or Richard, too far out of the way at present. Mr Pip, I'll tell you something. Under existing circumstances there is no place like a great city when you are once in it. Don't break cover too soon. Lie close. Wait till things slacken, before you try the open, even for foreign air.'

I thanked him for his valuable advice, and asked him what Herbert had done?

`Mr Herbert,' said Wemmick, `after being all of a heap for half an hour, struck out a plan. He mentioned to me as a secret, that he is courting a young lady who has, as no doubt you are aware, a bedridden Pa. Which Pa, having been in the Purser line of life, lies a-bed in a bow-window where he can see the ships sail up and down the river. You are acquainted with the young lady, most probably?'

`Not personally,' said I.

The truth was, that she had objected to me as an expensive companion who did Herbert no good, and that, when Herbert had first proposed to present me to her, she had received the proposal with such very moderate warmth, that Herbert had felt himself obliged to confide the state of the case to me, with a view to the lapse of a little time before I made her acquaintance. When I had begun to advance Herbert's prospects by Stealth, I had been able to bear this with cheerful philosophy; he and his affianced, for their part, had naturally not been very anxious to introduce a third person into their interviews; and thus, although I was assured that I had risen in Clara's esteem, and although the young lady and I had long regularly interchanged messages and remembrances by Herbert, I had never seen her. However, I did not trouble Wemmick with these particulars.

`The house with the bow-window,' said Wemmick, `being by the river-side, down the Pool there between Limehouse and Greenwich, and being kept, it seems, by a very respectable widow who has a furnished upper floor to let, Mr Herbert put it to me, what did I think of that as a temporary tenement for Tom, Jack, or Richard? Now, I thought very well of it, for three reasons I'll give you. That is to say. Firstly. It's altogether out of all your beats, and is well away from the usual heap of streets great and small. Secondly. Without going near it yourself, you could always hear of the safety of Tom, Jack, or Richard, through Mr Herbert. Thirdly. After a while and when it might be prudent, if you should want to slip Tom, Jack, or Richard, on board a foreign packet-boat, there he is - ready.'

Much comforted by these considerations, I thanked Wemmick again and again, and begged him to proceed.

`Well, sir! Mr Herbert threw himself into the business with a will, and by nine o'clock last night he housed Tom, Jack, or Richard - whichever it may be - you and I don't want to know - quite successfully. At the old lodgings it was understood that he was summoned to Dover, and in fact he was taken down the Dover road and cornered out of it. Now, another great advantage of all this, is, that it was done without you, and when, if any one was concerning himself about your movements, you must be known to be ever so many miles off and quite otherwise engaged. This diverts suspicion and confuses it; and for the same reason I recommended that even if you came back last night, you should not go home. It brings in more confusion, and you want confusion.'

Wemmick, having finished his breakfast, here looked at his watch, and began to get his coat on.

`And now, Mr Pip,' said he, with his hands still in the sleeves, `I have probably done the most I can do; but if I can ever do more - from a Walworth point of view, and in a strictly private and personal capacity - I shall be glad to do it. Here's the address. There can be no harm in your going here to-night and seeing for yourself that all is well with Tom, Jack, or Richard, before you go home - which is another reason for your not going home last night. But after you have gone home, don't go back here. You are very welcome, I am sure, Mr Pip;' his hands were now out of his sleeves, and I was shaking them; `and let me finally impress one important point upon you.' He laid his hands upon my shoulders, and added in a solemn whisper: `Avail yourself of this evening to lay hold of his portable property. You don't know what may happen to him. Don't let anything happen to the portable property.'

Quite despairing of making my mind clear to Wemmick on this point, I forbore to try.

`Time's up,' said Wemmick, `and I must be off. If you had nothing more pressing to do than to keep here till dark, that's what I should advise. You look very much worried, and it would do you good to have a perfectly quiet day with the Aged - he'll be up presently - and a little bit of - you remember the pig?'

`Of course,' said I.

`Well; and a little bit of him. That sausage you toasted was his, and he was in all respects a first-rater. Do try him, if it is only for old acquaintance sake. Good-bye, Aged Parent!' in a cheery shout.

`All right, John; all right, my boy!' piped the old man from within.

I soon fell asleep before Wemmick's fire, and the Aged and I enjoyed one another's society by falling asleep before it more or less all day. We had loin of pork for dinner, and greens grown on the estate, and I nodded at the Aged with a good intention whenever I failed to do it drowsily. When it was quite dark, I left the Aged preparing the fire for toast; and I inferred from the number of teacups, as well as from his glances at the two little doors in the wall, that Miss Skiffins was expected.

 

读完了这封警告的信,我立刻从寺区的门出来,匆忙选择了最佳路线直奔舰队街。在那里我乘上夜班出租马车,驶向沽文特国的黑蒙斯旅社。在那个年头,无论怎么晚,你都可以在这旅社找到床铺。旅社的账房先生把我从一个边门让进去,点亮了架子上最靠近的一支蜡烛,领我笔直走进牌子上标明的第一个房间。这是底楼的后房,就像一个地窖。那张床活像个专制魔鬼,四根柱子搭成的床架,四条腿占满了全部空间,一条蛮横的腿伸向壁炉,另一条腿伸到门口,那个神气简直威严无比、神圣不可侵犯,把小洗脸架挤在了一边,显得十分可怜。

我要账房先生给我拿个灯来,他拿来后便走了。在过去那种道德淳朴的时代,这灯具有独特的古风,十分雅致,蜡烛是用灯草芯制成的。这种东西活像一条手杖形式的幽灵,只要碰一下,它立刻便可变成两段。这根本是不能用来点灯的。这灯像一座高高的铁皮塔楼,中间的底座上插了一支孤零零的蜡烛,烛光从铁皮塔楼的小圆孔中射出,在墙上映上了一个鲜明得令人惊醒的影子。

我上了床,静躺在上面,两脚酸痛,全身疲倦,痛苦难挨。那个愚蠢的像百眼巨人一般的灯火不灭,我的双眼也难以合拢。在死寂般的黑夜与昏暗之中,我的双眼和那百眼巨人相互瞪着。

这是多么悲惨的黑夜!多么令人烦躁,多么令人心灰意冷,多么漫长的黑夜!房间里散发出一股混合着冷却的煤烟和火热的炉灰的味道,令人很不愉快;我的双眼搜寻着床顶上的角落,好像一队队从屠宰场飞来的绿头苍蝇,从市场上飞来的钻耳虫,从乡下爬来的蛆虫,都坚守在自己的岗位上,静等着下一个夏季的来到。这一切使我幻想突起,不知道什么东西会从上面滚落下来,忽然我就似乎觉得有东西竟轻轻地落到了我的脸上。这是很不愉快的念头,而且其他念头也接踵而至,仿佛又有什么东西爬上了我的背。我睁着双眼无眠地躺了一会儿,在寂静之中又出现了奇怪的响声,一切东西都在低语。壁橱轻轻说着话,壁炉发出叹息,小小的洗脸架也滴滴答答起来,抽屉里面似乎也偶然发出吉他琴弦的弹奏声。也就在同时,映照在墙上的百只巨眼也做出新的表情,每一只眼睛都瞪着,我仿佛从每一只眼睛里都看到五个大字:千万别回家。

不管什么夜间幻想,不管什么夜间幻听,无论它们怎样向我蜂拥而来,都不能把“千万别回家”的念头驱散。无论我在想什么,这几个字都会编织进我的思想中去,好像身体内在的隐病无法摆脱。不久之前,我在报纸上读到一则新闻,说有一位不知名姓的绅士,一天晚上在黑蒙斯旅社的床上结果了自己,直到第二天早晨才被发现躺在血泊之中。我的大脑又在思虑着,这个人一定就是住在我的这个房间,于是我从床上跳起,四面检查,都没有发现血迹,心里才安定下来;然后我又打开了房门,一直望到深深的过道,看到远处的灯尚在发出亮光,那位账房先生就在近处打瞌睡,这才使我放下心来。这时,我脑子里杂念四起,为什么我不能回家,家中究竟发生了什么事,什么时候我才能回家,普鲁威斯在家中是否安全,所有这些问题都忙碌地在我心中翻来覆去,任何其他的念头都无法在心中占上一席之地。甚至当我大脑中出现了埃斯苔娜的形象时,想起白天我俩相别,今后再不会相见,回忆起告别时的种种情形,她那栩栩如生的音容笑貌,她那编织绒衣时的十指动作,但我无论想到这里,想到那里,想通任何东西,“千万别回家”的警告都无法清除。最后我身心交瘁,眼睛自动闭上打起瞌睡来,然而又出现了一个巨大的动词阴影,我把它变成了现代时的命令句:你千万不能回家,不要让他回家,不要让我们回家,你们千万不能回家,不要让他们回家。接着,又隐隐地变成了不同语气的句子:我不可回家,我不能回家;我也许不可以、我也许不能、我不准备、我不该回家等等,一直弄得我心烦意乱,头在枕头上翻来转去,望着映照在墙上的那些百眼巨人睁得圆圆的百眼。

昨天晚上睡觉前我曾留下话,要他们在第二天早晨七时叫我,其道理是十分明白的,在和任何人打交道之前我必须先见到温米克;同样十分明白的是,我必得到伍尔华斯去体验他伍尔华斯的情感。次日一早,用不着账房先生敲第二下门,我就从不舒适的床上一跃而起,然后离开了这间使我一夜辗转不得安心的房间,心里感到轻松不少。

八时,我赶到了伍尔华斯,眼前出现了城堡雉谍。正巧遇到他家的小女仆手中拿着两个热气腾腾的面包圈走进这个要塞,我便和她一起从后门进去,通过了吊桥,用不着通报便来到温米克的面前,他这时正忙着为他自己和老人家煮茶。从开着的一扇门望去,老人家仍然睡在床上。

“喂,皮普先生!”温米克说道,“那么你回来了?”

“我回来了,”我答道,“但我没有回家。”

“那就好,”他拄着双手,说道,“我在寺区的每道栅门都留下一封信给你,以防万一。你是从哪道门进去的?”

我告诉他是哪道门。

“今天我还要抽空到寺区的各道栅门去走一趟,把那些信都销毁掉。”温米克说道,“这是个很好的原则,只要可能,尽量不让你的字据落在别人手上,因为你不知道哪一天会因此受到别人的利用。我想冒昧地请你做一件事,给老人家烤点腊肠,你不会介意吧。”

我说我很高兴为他效劳。

温米克对他的小女仆说道:“玛丽·安妮,你可以去做你的事了。”等她走了出去后,他对我眨眨眼,说道:“皮普先生,你明白了吗?现在就剩我们两人了。”

我因为他的友谊和细心关照而感谢他。我们低低地交谈着,同时我在给老人家烤腊肠,而他则为老人家的面包围上涂黄油。

“皮普先生,你知道,”温米克说道,“你我二人是相互理解的,我们是以私人和个人的身份交谈,在今天以前我们已经进行过一次秘密交易了。在办公室进行交易是一回事,而我们现在是在办公室以外。”

我打心底里同意他说的话。由于我过度的紧张,所以在火上把老人家的腊肠点着了,像个火把似的我不得不把它连忙吹熄。

“昨天早晨,我在一个地方偶然听到,”温米克说道,“这个地方我曾经带你去过,不过,即使在你我之间,能够避开不提地名,宁可不提为最好——”

“不提最好,”我说道,“我完全理解你的意思。”

“昨天早晨,我偶然在那个地方听说,”温米克说道,“有一个人和海外殖民地生意上有些往来,手边带了一些财产。我不能确切知道这个人是谁,我们还是不必提他的名姓——”

“没有必要提。”我说道。

“此人在海外的某个地方出了些小小的麻烦,这个地方许多人不是为满足个人的愿望而去的,而是非去不可,而是政府对此不能不管,开销也是政府的——”

由于我只顾盯住他的面孔,结果把老人家的腊肠烤得像放花炮一样劈劈啪啪地炸开了,弄得两人都心慌意乱,我既听不成,温米克也讲不成;我只得连忙道歉。

“——此人在那个地方突然不见了,以后再也没有他的消息。”温米克说道,“对他的失踪有各种各样的猜测,而且形成了几种说法。我听说你住的寺区花园里的几间屋子已经受到监视,并且还要监视下去。”

“被谁监视?”我说道。

“这我就没有深追下去,”温米克推诿地说道,“若要深追就和我的办事职责不相称了。我只是听说,因为在老地方我时常会听到一些奇怪的事情。我告诉你这些都不是什么可靠的情报,我只是听来的。”

他一面说着,一面从我手中接过烤叉和腊肠,把老人家的这份早餐齐齐整整地放在一只小盘子中。他没有把早餐端给老人家,而是先走进老人家的房间里,取出一块干净洁白的餐巾,把餐巾系在老先生的下巴上,又把他扶得坐好,再把他头上戴的睡帽取下放在一边,这一来老人显得精神起来。然后,他才把这份早餐端到老人面前,非常小心地放好,说道:“老爸爸,你一切都好吗?”老人家精神愉快地答道:“很好,约翰,我的儿子,很好!”这时无须言谈我明白老人家还没有穿好,本来还不能见客,所以我就装得没有看见,反正对这一切我都装得完全不知道。

“你说我住的房子受到监视这件事(其实我也曾经有过怀疑),”我等到温米克回来对他说,“是和你已经提到过的那个人有关系,是不是?”

温米克的表情这时很严肃。“根据我所知道的,我并不能担保就是说的那样,我是说,我不能担保一开始就是那样,不过有可能是那样或者将会是那样,或者,可以说大有那样的危险。”

我很清楚他必须对小不列颠街保守信义,所以在讲的时候也有所节制。其实他对我已是格外恩典地超出了范围,告诉我本来不可以讲的事情,我只有对他感激,而不能再逼他讲得更多。我面对火炉思考了片刻,然后对他说,我想问他一个问题,如果可以回答便回答,如果不可以回答便不回答,因为如果他认为对那就是对了,我相信他。他停下了早餐,两臂交叉一起,又把衬衫的袖子紧了一下。他有个看法,待在家里不穿外衣显得更舒适。他又向我点点头,意思是我不妨把问题提出来。

“有一个坏家伙康佩生,你听到过这个名字吗?”

他又点起头来,并用点头来作答。

“他活着吗?”

他又点了一下头。

“他在伦敦?”

他又对我点了一下头,把他那邮筒似的嘴抿得紧紧的,然后又点了点头,才继续吃他的早餐。

温米克说道:“现在你的问题提完了,”他加重语气地说着,而且又重复了一遍,以引起我的注意,“昨天我听到了那些话之后,我就想到我该做的事。我先到花园里去找你,没有找到你;我又到克拉利柯公司去找赫伯特先生。”

“你找到他了吗?”我心情十分焦急地问他。

“我找到了他。不过我没有提到什么名字,也没有谈什么细节。我只是让他知道,只要他晓得在你住的房子里或者在你住处附近住着这个人或那个人,他就得要注意,最好乘你在外面还没有回来的时候,把这个人或那个人搬到外面去住。”

“他一定惶恐不安、不知所措吧?”

“他确实惶恐不安、不知所措。我又告诉了他我个人的看法,现在要把这个人或那个人搬得太远也同样不安全。他一听就更不知所措了。皮普先生,我必须告诉你,照现在的形势看,住进了大城市有大城市的好处,的确没有别的地方比大城市更安全。千万不要很快地从隐蔽的地方飞出,先躲在一处再说,等事情缓和一些,总之不能出去透风,不能露面,即使海外的空气也得避一避。”

我感谢他的这一颇有价值的忠告,问他赫伯特已经采取了哪些措施。

温米克答道:“赫伯特先生嘛,先是吓成一团,大约过了半个小时,他想出了一个计划。他告诉我一个内心的秘密,说他正在向一位年轻的女士求婚,你自然是知道的,她有一位病在床上的爸爸。她的这位爸爸原来是航班上的事务长吧,现在躺在一扇罗汉肚窗前的病床上,可以看到河上来来往往的船只。你大概对这位年轻女士很熟悉吧?”

“我还没见过呢。”我答道。

我所以没见过她,是因为她反对赫伯特有我这么一个会花钱的朋友,认为我对赫伯特没有好处。在赫伯特第一次建议让我认识她时,她勉强得很,没有很大的热情和愿望,所以赫伯特不得不向我说明真相,建议再等一个时期,然后再和她相识。以后我开始秘密地帮助赫伯特建立他的事业,我怀着心甘情愿的思想等待着。在他和他未婚妻那方面,自然处在这时候是没有必要让第三者进入他们的圈子的。虽然我心中很清楚,我在克拉娜的心里所受到尊敬的地位已大有提高,这位年轻女士和我之间通过赫伯特经常交换问候,不过我们至今尚未见过面。当然,有关这方面的详细情况我无须向温米克一一细说。

温米克说道:“那个罗汉肚窗子的房屋位于泰晤士河岸,属于蒲耳地区,在贫民区和格林威治之间。屋主是一位非常受人们尊敬的寡妇。她屋子的楼上连同家具在内正想一起出租,赫伯特先生问我,把这一套房子租下来暂时让这个人或那个人住会怎么样。我想这倒很不错。我说不错有三个理由,也就是说,第一,这根本不是你常去的地方,又和伦敦热热闹闹的大街小巷距离很远;第二,你自己用不着到那里去,通过赫伯特先生,你完全可以知道这个人或那个人安全的消息;第三,等一个阶段,当一切考虑成熟,如果你把这个人或那个人送上一条外国邮轮,从那里就近上船是很方便的。”

温米克考虑得如此具体周到,我一次又一次地感谢他,请他再继续讲下去。

“好吧,先生!赫伯特先生便诚心诚意地包下了这件事。就在昨天晚上九时,他把这个人或那个人转移到了新居,至于这个或那个人究竟是谁,看来你我都不需要知道。这次他干得十分成功。至于原来的房子那里,只告诉房东因为受人邀请他要住到多维尔去了,其实他是被领着经过多维尔路,从拐角转进去就到了新居。这样做还有一个很大的优点,因为整个行动过程你都不在场,万一真有什么人在关怀着你的一言一行,你也不用操心,因为当时你远在数英里之外,而且正忙着别的事情。这就把一切都搞得蒙头转向,无法对你起疑。正因为这个理由,我才想出办法,如果你昨夜回家,我要你先不回家。这只会把事情弄得更加离奇,而你需要的正是这离奇,离奇对你有益。”

这时温米克吃完了早餐,看了一下他的表便开始穿外套。

“还有,皮普先生,”温米克的两只手还没有从袖子里伸出来时就说道,“我或许已经尽了我的最大能力来处理这件事:如果还要我帮忙的话,我也很高兴为你服务,当然这是从伍尔华斯的情感立场上说的,也就是从绝对的私人和个人的身份上我才这样做的。这是他的新地址,你拿着。今天晚上你在回家之前可以到这地方去,亲自看一看这个人或那个人究竟怎么样,这次去对你是无害的。对于你昨晚没有回家来说,这又是一条理由。不过,你回家之后就再不要去了。皮普先生,欢迎你再来。”这时他的两只手已经从袖管里伸了出来,我握住他的手。“最后我还要让你知道一个重要的看法,”他把两只手按在我的双肩上,严肃地低低对我说, “你要趁今天晚上这个机会把他带的财产拿到手,因为你不知道他什么时候会出问题。千万不要让这笔动产出意外。”

至于这一点,要让温米克了解我的心情是十分不可能的,我只得不说话。

温米克说道:“时间到了,我非走不可了。你如果没有什么急事要办,不妨待在这里到天黑再走,这是我的建议。你看上去忧愁不安,我看你还是留在这里和老人家一起安安静静地度过这一天。他马上就起床,就吃点——你没有忘记那头猪吧?”

“当然记得。”我说道。

“那就好了;你吃点这猪的肉。你刚才在火上烤的腊肠就是这猪的肉,无论从哪里看这猪都是第一流的。为了老相识的缘故,你得尝一下。再见,老爸爸!”他高兴地对老人家叫道。

“对极了,约翰;好极了,我的儿子!”老人家在里面房间尖声尖气地说着。

在温米克的壁炉边一会儿我便睡着了。老人家和我整天都守在壁炉的前面,一方面两人做伴,一方面就这样迷迷糊糊地似睡非睡地待在那里。我们中餐就吃这猪的里脊肉,蔬菜也是在他自己的园子里种的。我总是对老人家点着头,不是怀着善意地向他点头,就是打着瞌睡不自觉地点起头来。直到天完全变黑,我才起身告辞,让老人家自己添火烤面包片。根据他拿出来的茶怀数量,和他不时向墙上的两个小门张望的眼光,我推断,司琪芬小姐马上就要来了。



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