小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 双语小说 » 不平静的坟墓 An Unquiet Grave » Chapter 1 Casting the Runes
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Chapter 1 Casting the Runes
  15th April 1902

Dear Mr Karswell

I am turning your paper on'The Truth of Alchemy', which you have kindly offered to read at our next club meeting.Unfortunately,we do not feel able to accept your offer.

W.Gayton,Secretary

18th April 1902

Dear Mr Karswell

I am afraid that I am not able to arrange a meeting with you to discuss your offer to read a paper on alchemy.However, the club considered your offer most carefully,and we did not refuse it until we had asked for the opinion of an expert in these matters.

W.Gayton,Secretary

20th April 1902

The Secretary writes to inform Mr Karswell that it is impossible for him to give the name of any person or persons who were asked for an opinion on Mr Karswell's paper on alchemy.The Secretary also wishes to say that he cannot reply to any further letters on this matter.



'And who is Mr Karswell?'asked the Secretary's wife.She had called at his office and had just picked up and read the last of these letters.

'Well,my dear,'replied her husband,'just at present Mr Karswell is a very angry man.All I know abut him is that he's rich,lives at Lufford Abbey in Warwickshire,and considers himself to be an alchemist.And I don't want to meet him for the next week or two.Now,shall we go?'

'What have you been doing to make him angry?'asked the Secretary's wife.

'The usual thing,my dear.He sent us a paper which he wanted to read at our next meeting.We showed it to Edward Dunning—almost the only man in England who knows about these things—and he said it was no good,so we refused it. Now Karswell wants to see me about it and to find out whose opinion we asked for.Well,you've seen my reply to that.Of course,you mustn't say anything about it to anyone.'

'You know very well that I would never do a thing like that.Indeed,I hope he doesn't discover that it was poor Mr Dunning.'

'Why do you say“poor”Mr Dunning?'said the Secretary. 'He's a very happy man and quite rich,I believe.He has a comfortable home and plenty of time to spend on his hobbies.'

'I only meant that I would be sorry for him if Mr Karswell discovered his name and made trouble for him.'

'Oh yes!He would be poor Mr Dunning then,'agreed her husband.The Secretary and his wife were lunching with friends that day,a Mr and Mrs Bennett,who came from Warwickshire. Mrs Gayton decided to ask them if they knew Mr Karswell. However,before she could do so,Mrs Bennett said to her hus- band:

'I saw Mr Karswell this morning.He was coming out of the British Museum as I was driving past.'

'Did you really?'said her husband.'I wonder what brings him up to London.'

'Is he a friend of yours?'asked the Secretary,smiling at his wife.

'Oh no!'said Mr and Mrs Bennett together.

'He's one of our neighbours in Warwickshire,'explained Mrs Bennett,'but he's not at all popular.Nobody knows what he does with his time and they say he believes in all kinds of strange and unpleasant things.If he thinks you have been impolite to him,he never forgets it,and he never does anything kind for his neighbours.'

'But,my dear,'said her husband,'you're forgetting the Christmas party he gave for the children.'

'Oh no,I'm not,'replied his wife.'That's a good exam- ple of what I mean.'She turned to the Secretary and his wife.

'The first winter he was at Lufford this horrible man invited all the village children to a Christmas party at his house.He said that he had some of these new moving pictures to show them.Everyone was rather surprised because they thought hat he didn't like children;he used to be very angry if any of the village children came on to his land.However,the chil- dren all went and a friend of ours,Mr Farrer,went with them to see that everything was all right.'

'And was it?'asked the Secretary.

'Indeed it was not!'replied Mrs Bennett.'Our friend said it was obvious that Mr Karswell wanted to frighten the children to death,and he very nearly did so.The first film was “Red Riding Hood”,and the wolf was so terrible that several of the smaller children had to leave the room.The other films were more and more frightening.At the end Mr Karswell showed a film of a little boy in the park surrounding Lufford Abbey—every child in the room could recognize the place. There was a horrible creature in white following the little boy. At first you could see it hiding in the trees,then it became clearer and clearer and at last it caught the little boy and pulled him to pieces.Our friend said that it gave him some very bad dreams,so you can imagine how the children felt.Of course, this was too much and Mr Farrer told Karswell that he must stop it.All Mr Karswell said was:“Oh!The dear children want to go home to bed,do they?Very well,just one last picture. ”

'And then he showed a short film of horrible creatures with wings and lots of legs.They seemed to be crawling out of the picture to get among the children.Of course,the children were terribly frightened and they all started screaming and running out of the room.Some of them were quite badly hurt because they were all trying to get out of the room at the same time.There was the most awful trouble in the village after- wards.Several of the fathers wanted to go to Lufford Abbey and break all the windows,but the gates were locked when they got there.So you see why Mr Karswell is not one of our friends.'

'Yes,'agreed her husband.'I think Karswell is a very dangerous man.I feel sorry for anyone who makes an enemy of him.'

'Is he the man,'asked the Secretary,'who wrote a History of Witchcraft about ten years ago?'

'Yes,that's the man,'replied Mr Bennett.'Do you re- member what the newspaers said about it?'

'Yes,I do,'said the Secretary.'They all said that it was a really bad book.In fact,I knew the man who wrote the sharpest report of them all.So did you,of course.You re- member John Harrington?He was at Cambridge with us.'

'Oh,very well indeed.But I had heard nothing of him between the time we left university and the day I read about his accident in the newspaper.'

'What happened to him?'asked one of the ladies.

'It was very strange,'said Mr Bennett.'He fell out of a tree and broke his neck.The mystery was why he had climbed the tree in the first place.There he was,an ordinary man walking home along a country road late one evening,and suddenly he began to run as fast as he could.Finally he climbed up a tree beside the road;a dead branch broke,he fell and was killed.When they found him the next morning,he had a terrible expression of fear on his face.It was quite clear that he had been chased by something and people talked about mad dogs and so on,but no one ever found the answer.That was in 1889 and ever since then his brother,Henry,who was also at Cambridge with us,has been trying to find out the truth of what happened.He thinks that someone wanted to harm his brother but,of course,he has never been able to prove anything.'

After a pause Mr Bennett asked the Secretary,'Did you ever read Karswell's History of Witchcraft?'

'Yes,I did,'said the Secretary.

'And was it as bad as Harrington said?'

'Oh yes.It was badly written but what it said was very bad too,although Karswell seemed to believe every word of what he was saying.'

'I didn't read the book but I remember what Harrington wrote about it,'said Mr Bennett.'If anyone wrote like that about one of my books,I would never write another,I'm sure.'

'I don't think Karswell feels the same way,'replied the Secretary.'But it's half past three;we must go.Thank you for an excellent lunch.'

On the way home Mrs Gayton said,'I hope that horrible man Karswell doesn't discover that it was Mr Dunning who said his paper was no good.'

'I don't think he's likely to do that,'replied her husband.'Dunning won't tell him and neither shall I.The only way Karswell might find out is by asking the people at the British Museum Library for the name of anyone who studies all their old books about alchemy.Let's hope he won't think of that.'

But Mr Karswell was a very clever man.

One evening,later in the same week,Mr Edward Dunning was returning from the British Museum Library,where he had been working all day,to his comfortable home.He lived alone there,except for the two women who cooked and cleaned for him.A train took him most of the way home,then he caught a bus for the last mile or two.He had finished reading his newspaper by the time he got on the bus so he amused himself by reading the different notices on the windows opposite him. He already knew most of them quite well,but there seemed to be a new one in the corner that he had not seen before.It was yellow with blue letters,and all he could read was the name 'John Harrington'.Soon the bus was nearly empty and he changed his seat so that he could read the rest of it.It said:

REMEMBER JOHN HARRINGTON OF THE LAURELS,ASHBROOKE, WARWICKSHIRE,WHO DIED 18TH SEPTEMBER 1889.HE WAS AL- LOWED THREE MONTHS.

Mr Dunning stared at this notice for a long time.He was the only passenger on the bus when it reached his stop,and as he was getting off,he said to the driver,'I was looking at that new notice on the window,the blue and yellow one.It's rather strange,isn't it?'

'Which one is that,sir?asked the driver.'I don't think I know it.'

'why,this one here,'said Mr Dunning,turning to point to it.Then he suddenly stopped—the window was now quite clear.The blue and yellow notice,with its strange message, had completely disappeared.

'But I'm sure…'Mr Dunning began,staring at the window.Then he turned back to the driver.'I'm sorry.Perhaps I imagined it,'he said.

He hurried off the bus and walked home,feeling rather worried.The notice had been there on the window;he was sure of it.But what possible explanation could there be for its disappearing like that?

The following afternoon Mr Dunning was walking from the British Museum to the station when he saw,some way ahead of him,a man holding some leaflets,ready to give to people as they passed.However,Mr Dunning did not see him give any- one a leaflet until he himself reached the place.One was pushed into his hand as he passed.The man's hand touched his,and gave Mr Dunning an unpleasant surprise.The hand seemed unnaturally rough and hot.As Mr Dunning walked on,he looked quickly at the leaflet and noticed the name Harrington.He stopped in alarm,and felt in his pocket for his glasses,but in that second someone took the leaflet out of his hand.He turned quickly—but whoever it was had disappeared,and so had the man with the leaflets.

The next day in the British Museum he was arranging his papers on the desk when he thought he heard his own name whispered behind him.He turned round hurriedly,knocking some of his papers on to the floor,but saw no one he recognized.He picked up his papers and was beginning to work when a large man at the table behind him,who was just getting up to leave,touched him on the shoulder.

'May I give you these?'he said,holding out a number of papers.'I think they must be yours.'

'Yes,they are mine.Thank you,'said Mr Dunning.A moment later the man had left the room.

Later,Mr Dunning asked the librarian if he knew the large man's name.

'Oh yes.that's Mr Karswell,'said the librarian.'In fact, he asked me the other day who were the experts on alchemy, so I told him that you were the only one in the country.I'll introduce you if you like;I'm sure he'd like to meet you.'

'No,no,please don't,'said Dunning.'He is someone I would very much prefer to avoid.'

On the way home from the museum Mr Dunning felt strangely unwell.Usually he looked forward to an evening spent alone with his books,but now he wanted to be with other people.Unfortunately,the train and the bus were unusually empty.When he reached his house,he was surprised to find the doctor waiting for him.

'I'm sorry,Dunning,'said the doctor.'I'm afraid I've had to send both your servants to hospital.'

'Oh dear!'said Mr Dunning.'What's the matter with them?'

'They told me they'd bought some fish for their lunch from a man who came to the door,and it has made them quite ill.'

'I'm very sorry to hear that,'said Mr Dunning.

'It's strange,'said the doctor.'I've spoken to the neighbours and no one else has seen anyone selling fish.Now,don't worry.They're not seriously ill,but I'm afraid they won't be home for two or three days.Why don't you come and have dinner with me this evening?Eight o'clock.You know where I live.'

Mr Dunning enjoyed his evening with the doctor and re- turned to his lonely house at half past eleven.He had got into bed and was almost asleep when he heard quite clearly the sound of his study door opening downstairs.Alarmed,he got out of bed,went to the top of the stairs,and listened.There were no sounds of movements or footsteps,but he suddenly felt warm,even hot,air round his legs.He went back and decided to lock himself into his room,and then suddenly,the electric lights all went out.He put out his hand to find the matches on the table beside the bed—and touched a mouth, with teeth and with hair around it,and not,he said later,the mouth of a human being.In less than a second he was in an- other room and had locked the door.And there he spent a miserable night,in the dark,expecting every moment to hear something trying to open the door.But nothing came.

When it grew light,he went nervously back into his bed- room and searched it.Everything was in its usual place.He searched the whole house,but found nothing.

It was a miserable day for Mr Dunning.He did not want to go to the British Museum in case he met Karswell,and he did not feel comfortable in the empty house.He spent half an hour at the hospital where he found that the two women were feeling much better.Then he decided to go to the Club for lunch. There,he was very glad to find his friend the Secretary and they had lunch together.He told Gayton that his servants were in hospital,but he was unwilling to speak of his other problems.

'You poor man,'said the Secretary.'We can't leave you alone with no one to cook your meals.You must come and stay with us.My wife and I will be delighted to have you.Go home after lunch and bring your things to my house this after- noon.No,I won't let you refuse.'

In fact,Mr Dunning was very happy to accept his friend's invitation.The idea of spending another night alone in his house was alarming him more and more.

At dinner that evening Mr Dunning looked so unwell that the Gaytons felt sorry for him and tried to make him forget his troubles.But later,when the two men were alone,Dunning became very quiet again.Suddenly he said:

'Gayton,I think that man Karswell knows that I was the person who advised you to refuse his paper.'

Gayton looked surprised.'What makes you think that?'he asked.

So Dunning explained.'I don't really mind,'he continued, 'but I believe that he's not a very nice person and it could be difficult if we met.'

After this Dunning sat in silence,looking more and more miserable.At last Gayton asked him if some serious trouble was worrying him.

'Oh!I'm so glad you asked,'said Dunning.'I feel I really must talk to someone about it.Do you know anything about a man named John Harrington?'

Very surprised,Gayton could only ask why he wanted to know.Then Dunning told him the whole story of the notice in the bus,the man with the leaflets,and what had happened in his own house.He ended by asking again if Gayton knew any- thing about John Harrington.

Now it was the Secretary who was worried and did not quite know how to answer.His friend was clearly in a very nervous condition,and the story of Harrington's death was alarming for anyone to hear.Was it possible that Karswell was involved with both men?In the end Gayton said only that he had known Harrington at Cambridge and believed that he had died suddenly in 1889.He added a few details about the man and his books.

Later,when they were alone,the Secretary discussed the matter with his wife.Mrs Gayton said immediately that Karswell must be the link between the two men,and she won- dered if Harrington's brother,Henry,could perhaps help Mr Dunning.She would ask the Bennetts where Henry Harrington lived,and then bring the two men together.

When they met,the first thing Dunning told Henry Harrington was of the strange ways in which he had learnt his brother's name.He described his other recent experiences and asked Harrington what he remembered about his brother be- fore he died.

John was in a very strange condition for some time before his death,it's true,replied Henry Harrington.Among other things,he felt that someone was following him all the time. I'm sure that someone was trying to harm him,and your story reminds me very much of the things he experienced.Could there be any link between you and my brother,do you think?'

'Well,'replied Dunning,there is just one thing.I'm told that your brother wrote some very hard things about a book not long before he died and,as it happens,I too have done something to annoy the man who wrote that book.'

'Don't tell me his name is Karswell,'said Harrington.

'Why yes,it is,'replied Dunning.

Henry Harrington looked very serious.

'Well,that is the final proof I needed,'he said.'Let me explain.I believe that my brother John was sure that this man Karswell was trying to harm him.Now,John was very fond of music.He often went to concerts in London,and always kept the concert programmes afterwards.About three months before he died,he came back from a concert and showed me the programme.

'“I nearly missed this one,”he said.“I couldn't find mine at the end of the concert and was looking everywhere for it. Then my neighbour offered me his,saying that he didn't need it any more.I don't know who he was—he was a very large man.”

'Soon after this my brother told me that he felt very uncomfortable at night.Then,one evening,he was looking through all his concert programmes when he found something strange in the programme that his large neighbour had given him.It was a thin piece of paper with some writing on it—not normal writing.It looked to me more like Runic letters in red and black.Well,we were looking at this and wondering how to give it back to its owner when the door opened and the wind blew the paper into the fire.It was burnt in a moment.'

Mr Dunning sat silent as Harrington paused.

'Now,'he continued,'I don't know if you ever read that book of Karswell's,The History of Witchcraft,which my brother said was so badly written.'

Dunning shook his head.

'Well,'Harrington went on,'after my brother died I read some of it.The book was indeed badly written and a lot of it was rubbish,but one bit caught my eye.It was about “Casting the Runes”on people in order to harm them,and I'm sure that Karswell was writing from personal experience.I won't tell you all the details,but I'm certain that the large man at the concert was Karswell,and that the paper he gave my brother caused his death.Now,I must ask you if anything similar has happened to you.'

Dunning told him what had happened in the British Museum.

'So Karswell did actually pass you some papers?'said Harrington.'Have you checked them? No?Well,I think we should do so at once,if you agree.'

They went round to Dunning's empty house where his papers were lying on the table.As he picked them up,a thin piece of paper fell to the ground.A sudden wind blew it to- wards the open window,but Harrington closed the window just in time to stop the paper escaping.He caught the paper in his hand.

'I thought so,'he said.'It looks just like the one my brother was given.I think you're in great danger,Dunning.'

The two men discussed the problem for a long time.The paper was covered in Runic letters which they could not under- stand,but both men felt certain that the message,whatever it was,could bring unknown horrors to its owner.They agreed that the paper must be returned to Karswell,and that the only safe and sure way was to give it to him in person and see that he accepted it.This would be difficult since Karswell knew what Dunning looked like.

'I can grow a beard,'said Dunning,'so that he won't recognize me.But who knows when the end will come?'

'I think I know,'said Harrington.'The concert where my brother was given the paper was on June 18th,and he died on September 18th,three months later.'

'Perhaps it will be the same for me,'Dunning said miserably.He looked in his diary.'Yes,April 23rd was the day in the Museum—that brings me to July 23rd.Now,Harrington, I would very much like to know anything you can tell me about your brother's trouble.'

'The thing that worried him most,'said Harrington,'was the feeling that whenever he was alone,someone was watching him.After a time I began to sleep in his room,and he felt better because of that. But he talked a lot in his sleep.'

'What about?'asked Dunning.

'I think it would be better not to go into details about that,'replied Harrington But I remember that he received a packet by post,which contained a little diary.My brother didn't look at it,but after his death I did,and found that all the pages after September 18th had been cut out.Perhaps you wonder why he went out alone on the evening he died?The strange thing is that during the last week of his life all his worries seemed to disappear,and he no longer felt that someone was watching or following him.'

Finally,the two men made a plan.Harrington had a friend who lived near Lufford Abbey;he would stay with him and watch Karswell.If he thought they had a chance to arrange an accidental meeting,he would send a telegram to Dunning. Meanwhile,Dunning had to be ready to move at any moment and had to keep the paper safe.

Harrington went off to his friend in Warwickshire and Dunning was left alone.He found waiting very hard,and was unable to work or to take any interest in anything.He felt that he was living in a black cloud that cut him off from the world. He became more and more worried as May,June,and the first half of July passed with no word from Harrington.But all this time Karswell remained at Lufford Abbey.

At last,less than a week before July 23rd,Dunning received a telegram from his friend:

Karswell is leaving London for France on the boat train on Thursday night.Be ready.I will come to you tonight.Harrington.

When he arrived,the two men made their final plan.The boat train from London stopped only once before Dover,at Croydon West.Harrington would get on the train in London and find where Karswell was sitting.Dunning would wait for the train at Croydon West where Harrington would look out for him.Dunning would make sure that his name was not on his luggage and,most importantly,must have the paper with him.

On Thursday night Dunning waited impatiently for the train at Croydon West.He now had a thick beard and was wearing glasses,and felt sure that Karswell would not recognize him. He noticed that he no longer felt himself to be in danger,but this only made him worry more,because he remembered what Harrington had said about his brother's last week.

At last the boat train arrived and he saw his friend at one of the windows.It was important not to show that they knew each other,so Dunning got on further down the train and slowly made his way to the right compartment.

Harrington and Karswell were alone in the compartment, and Dunning entered and sat in the corner furthest from Karswell.Karswell's heavy travelling coat and bag were on the seat opposite him,and next to where Dunning was now sitting.Dunning thought of hiding the paper in the coat but realized that this would not do;he would have to give it to Karswell and see that Karswell accepted it.Could he hide Karswell's bag in some way,put the paper in it,and then give the bag to him as he got off the train?This was the only plan he could think of.He wished desperately that he could ask Harrington's advice.

Karswell himself seemed very restless.Twice he stood up to look out of the window.Dunning was just going to try to make his bag fall off the seat when he saw a warning expression in Harrington's eye—Karswell was watching them in the window.

Then Karswell stood up a third time,opened the window and put his head outside.As he stood up,something fell silently to the floor and Dunning saw that it was a thin wallet containing Karswell's tickets.In a moment Dunning had pushed the paper into the pocket at the back of the wallet.Just then the train began to lose speed as it came into Dover station,and Karswell closed the window and turned round.

'May I give you this,sir?I think it must be yours,'said Dunning,holding out the wallet.

'Oh,thank you,sir,'replied Karswell,checking that they were his tickets.Then he put the wallet into his pocket.

Suddenly the compartment seemed to grow dark and very hot,but already Harrington and Dunning were opening the door and getting off the train.

Dunning,unable to stand up,sat on a seat on the platform breathing deeply,while Harrington followed Karswell the little way to the boat.He saw Karswell show his ticket to the ticket collector and pass on to the boat.As he did so,the official called after him:

'Excuse me,sir.Has your friend got a ticket?'

'What d'you mean,my friend?'shouted Karswell angrily.

'Sorry,sir,I thought there was someone with you,'apolo gized the ticket collector.He turned to another official beside him,'Did he have a dog with him or something?I was sure there were two of them.'

Five minutes later there was nothing except the disappearing lights of the boat,the night wind,and the moon.

That night the two friends sat up late in their room in the hotel.Although the danger was past,a worry remained.

'Harrington,'Dunning said,'I'm afraid we have sent a man to his death.'

'He murdered my brother,'replied Harrington,'and he tried to murder you.It is right that he should die.'

'Don't you think we should warn him?'asked Dunning.

'How can we?'replied his friend.'We don't know where he's going.'

'He's going to Abbeville,'said Dunning.'I saw it on his ticket.Today is the 21st.We could send a telegram in the morning to all the main hotels in Abbeville saying:Check your ticket wallet.Dunning.Then he would have a whole day.'

After a pause Harrington agreed.'I see it would make you feel happier,'he said,'so we'll warn him.'

The telegrams were sent first thing in the morning but no one knows if Karswell received any of them.All that is known is that on July 23rd a man was looking at the front of a church in Abbeville when a large piece of stone fell from the roof and hit him on the head,killing him immediately.The police re- ported that nobody was on the roof at the time.From papers found on the body they discovered that the dead man was an Englishman,named Karswell.

Some months later Dunning reminded Harrington that he had never told him what his brother had talked about in his sleep.But Harrington had only said a few words when Dun- ning begged him to stop.



运用如尼魔文



1902年4月15日

亲爱的卡斯韦尔先生:

这里将您有关“炼金术的真实性”的文章退还给您,您提议在我们俱乐部下次开会时宣读该文,很对不起,我们不能接受。

秘书 W.盖伊顿

1902年4月18日

亲爱的卡斯韦尔先生:

我恐怕不能安排时间与您商谈您要宣读炼金术方面文章的提议。不过,我们俱乐部是进行了十分认真的考虑,并且是在征询了这方面专家的意见后,才对您的提议予以拒绝的。

秘书 W.盖伊顿

1902年4月20日

秘书现写信通知卡斯韦尔先生不可能告诉他有关他那篇炼金术方面的文章他们征询了哪个或哪些人的意见。而且秘书还想说他不会再为此事回信了。



“卡斯韦尔先生是谁呀?”秘书夫人问遭。她来到丈夫的办公室里,拿起刚才那几封信看了最后一封。

“噢,亲爱的,”她丈夫回答,”现在卡斯韦尔先生很恼火。我只知道他很富有,住在沃里克郡的勒夫德大教堂,他认为自己是个炼金术士,最近一两周我不想见他。好了,咱们走吧。”

“你做了什么使他恼火的事儿了?”秘书夫人问道。

“亲爱的,只是件很平常的事情。他给我们寄来了一篇文章,想要我们下次开会时宣读。我们把文章给爱德华·邓宁看了——他可差不多是英国这方面唯一的专家了——他说这篇文章没什么价值,于是我们便拒绝了他的提议。现在卡斯韦尔想见我,并想知道我们到底征询了谁的意见。这不,你也看见我的答复了。当然你可千万别把这事儿告诉任何人。”

“你很清楚我决不会这么做。我真希望他不会知道你们找的是可怜的邓宁先生。”

“你为什么说'可怜的'邓宁先生呢?”秘书说,“我觉得他生活得既幸福又富有。他有个很舒适的家而且有足够的时间花在自己的爱好上。”

“我只是说,如果卡斯韦尔先生知道他的名字后找他的麻烦,我会很同情他的。”

“是呀!那他可真要成了可怜的邓宁先生了。”她丈夫也同意她的说法。

那天秘书和夫人与他们的朋友,沃里克郡的贝内特夫妇,共进午餐。盖伊顿夫人决定问问他们是否认识卡斯韦尔先生。可还没等她开口,就听贝内特夫人对丈夫说:

“今天早上我见到卡斯韦尔先生了。我开车路过大英博物馆时见他正从里边出来。”

“真的吗?”她丈夫说,“真不知道他到伦敦干什么来了。”

“他是你们的朋友吗?”秘书微笑着看着妻子问道。

“噢,不!”贝内特夫妇异口同声地说。

“他是我们在沃里克郡的一个邻居,”贝内特夫人解释道,“可他一点儿都不招人喜欢。大家都不知道他在干些什么,听说他相信各种各样稀奇古怪而且使人不快的东西。如果他觉得你对他不恭敬,就永远不会忘掉,而且这人从来没为邻居们做过什么善事。”

“不过,亲爱的,”她丈夫插话道,“你忘了他给孩子们办的圣诞晚会了。”

“噢,没有,”贝内特夫人回答,“这件事正能说明我的意思。”她转向秘书和夫人接着说,“这个讨厌的家伙搬到勒夫德的头一年冬天,邀请村里所有的孩子到他家去参加圣诞晚会。他说他有些新电影要放给他们看。大家对此都很吃惊,因为人们都觉得他不喜欢孩子;过去如果村里的哪个孩子到了他的地盘上,他会很恼火的。不过,孩子们还是都去了,我们的一位叫法勒的朋友为确保他们平安无事也跟着去了。”

“孩子们都平安无事吗?”秘书问道。

“当然不是了!”贝内特夫人回答说,“我们的朋友说卡斯韦尔先生显然是想把孩子们吓死,而且他差不多真把他们吓死了。他放的第一部电影是《红色骑士兜帽》,里面的那只狼很可怕,几个小一点儿的孩子吓得不得不离开了屋。其他几部片子越来越吓人。最后卡斯韦尔先生放了部一个小男孩在勒夫德大教堂周围公园里的影片——屋里的每个孩子都能认出电影里的那个地方。一个身着白衣的怪物跟着那男孩。一开始那怪物藏在树丛里,后来就能看得越来越清楚,最后它抓住了那小男孩并把他撕成了碎片。我们的朋友说他看了这部电影都做了恶梦,所以你们可以想像孩子们的感觉怎么样。这样做当然太过分了,于是法勒先生告诉卡斯韦尔必须停下来。卡斯韦尔先生只是说:“噢!亲爱的孩子们想回家睡觉了是吗?好吧,再放最后一部。”

“接着他放了一部短片,是有关一些长着翅膀和许多条腿的可怕怪物的。这些怪物似乎正从电影里爬出,到孩子们中来。孩子们当然十分害怕,于是都开始尖叫着从房间里跑出来。因为他们都想同时跑出来,所以有几个孩子受伤很厉害。后来村里出了最大的乱子。几个孩子的父亲想去勒夫德大教堂把所有的窗户都砸碎,可他们到那儿发现门都锁着呢。这回你明白卡斯韦尔先生为什么不是我们的朋友了吧。”

“是这样的,”他丈夫也附和着说,“我觉得卡斯韦尔是个极其危险的人物。谁与他为敌恐怕都不会有好结果的。”

“他是不是那个大约十年前写《巫术的历史》那本书的人呀?”秘书问道。

“是的,就是他,”贝内特先生回答,“你还记得报界是怎么评价这本书的吗?”

“记得,”秘书说,“报界都说这本书确实很糟糕。而且我认识其中那篇最尖刻的评论的作者。当然你们也认识了。你们记得约翰·哈林顿吗?他和我们一起在剑桥大学呆过。”

“噢,当然记得。可从我们离开剑桥大学到在报上读到他出事的消息就一直没有他的消息。”

“他出了什么事?”其中一位夫人问道。

“事情非常奇怪,”贝内特先生说,“他从树上掉下来摔断脖颈而死。首先他为什么会爬到树上去就是个谜。他一个平平常常的人夜晚沿着一条乡间小路往家走着,突然就开始拼命跑起来,最后爬上了路边的一棵树,一根枯枝折了,于是他掉下来摔死了。第二天早上人们发现他时,他脸上带着一种极度恐惧的表情。很明显后面有什么追他,人们说是疯狗什么的,可没人知道到底是什么。这是1889年的事,从那以后他弟弟亨利,当时也和我们一起在剑桥大学的那位,就一直在努力想了解事情的真相。他觉得有人想害他哥哥,当然还从来没能找到任何证据。”

停了一下,贝内特先生问秘书:“你读过卡斯韦尔的《巫术的历史》吗?”

“读过。”秘书回答。

“果真像哈林顿说的那么糟吗?”

“噢,是的,写得很糟,而且内容也很糟,虽然卡斯韦尔似乎对自己的每一句话都深信不疑。”

“我没读那本书,可我记得哈林顿的评论,”贝内特先生说,“如果有人那样评论我的某本书,我肯定不会再写书了。”

“我觉得卡斯韦尔没有这种感觉,”秘书回答说。“都3点半了,我们得走了。谢谢你们这顿极其丰盛的午餐。”

回家的路上盖伊顿夫人说:“我希望那可怕的家伙卡斯韦尔不会发现是邓宁先生说他的文章很糟糕。”

“我想他不大可能知道,”她丈夫说,“邓宁不会告诉他,我也不会。卡斯韦尔知道邓宁名字的唯一办法就是问大英博物馆图书馆的人谁在研究他们那些炼金术方面的古旧书籍。真希望他不会想到这个办法。”

可卡斯韦尔先生是个极其聪明的人。

同一个星期后几天的一个傍晚,爱德华·邓宁先生从大英博物馆图书馆出来,回他那舒适的家,他在馆里用功了一整天,除了两个给他做饭和打扫卫生的女人,只有他一个人住。他回家的大部分路程是坐火车,最后一两里路再坐公共汽车。上公共汽车时他已经看完了报纸,于是便看着对面车窗上各种各样的布告来打发时光。其中大部分他已相当熟悉,可有个角落似乎有一张新的,他以前从来没见过。这张布告是黄底蓝字,他只看到一个人名“约翰·哈林顿”。一会儿汽车上便没有什么人了,于是他换了个座位,这样就能看清布告上还写了些什么。上面写着:

记住沃里克郡阿什布鲁克享有殊荣的约翰·哈林顿,他死于1889年9月18日。只让他活了三个月。

邓宁先生盯着那布告看了很长一段时间。到站时车上只剩了他一个乘客。下车时他对司机说:“我刚才在看窗子上新贴的那张布告,那张蓝字黄底的,是不是挺怪的?”

“先生,你说的是哪张呀?”司机问道,“我不知道有那么一张。”

“噢,这儿这张呀,”邓宁先生说着转身指向那张布告。这时他突然停住了——窗子上很干净。那张蓝字黄底的布告,连同上面奇怪的内容都彻底不见了。

“可是我明明……”邓宁先生盯着那车窗看着,接着转过身对司机说:“对不起,可能是我胡思乱想了。”

他匆匆下了汽车往家走,心里感觉很不安。那布告原本就在车窗上,他敢肯定,可后来不见了,这又怎么解释呢?

第二天下午,邓宁先生从大英博物馆出来往火车站走,这时他看见前面有个人手拿一些传单要发给过路的人们。可直到他走到那儿,不见那人发给任何一个人。他经过时那人往他手里塞了一张,那人的手碰到他的手,他感到又不舒服又诧异。那只手似乎粗糙而且热得出奇。邓宁先生往前走着,他扫了一眼那张传单,又看到了哈林顿的名字。他惊恐地停下脚步,在口袋里翻找着眼镜,就在这时有人从他手中拿走了传单。他迅速转过身——可人不见了,就连那拿传单的人也不见了。

第二天他在大英博物馆整理着桌子上的材料时,觉得身后有人低声叫他的名字,他急忙转过身,把一些材料碰掉在地上,可没见有自己认识的人。他捡起材料又要开始工作,这时坐在他后面那张桌旁的一个身材高大的人刚好起身要走,那人碰了一下他的肩膀。

“给您。”他伸着手拿着几份材料说,“我想这些东西一定是您的。”

“是的,是我的,谢谢您。”邓宁先生回答。一会儿那人便走了。

此后,邓宁先生问图书馆员知不知道那大个子的名字。

“知道。他是卡斯韦尔先生,”馆员说,“其实有一天他还问过我哪些人是炼金术方面的专家,我告诉他您是国内唯一的一位。如果您愿意我可以把您介绍给他,我想他肯定会很愿意见您的。”

“不,不,请不要这样做,”邓宁说,“他是我很不愿意见的人。”

从博物馆回家的路上,邓宁先生有种怪异的不适感。通常他很盼望读着书独自过一个晚上,可现在却很愿意有人和他在一起。不巧,火车和汽车上的人都少得出奇。到家时,他惊奇地发现医生在等着他呢。

“对不起,邓宁,”医生说,“没办法,我把你的两个仆人都送进医院了。”

“天啊!”邓宁先生说,“她们怎么了?”

“她们告诉我,她们从一个到门前来的人那儿买了鱼当午饭吃。吃了以后她们很难受。”

“真糟糕。”邓宁先生说。

“很奇怪,”医生接着说,“我和邻居们谈过,没人看见有人卖鱼。不过不用担心,她们病得不重,不过两三天中恐怕回不了家。你今天晚上来跟我吃饭吧,8点钟,你知道我的住处。”

邓宁先生和医生过了一个不错的晚上,11点半他回到了自己空落落的家里。他上了床快要睡着时,突然很清楚地听到楼下他书房的开门声。他很惊恐地下床到楼梯顶部倾听着。听不到任何动静或脚步声。这时他突然感到双腿被一股暖烘烘甚至是热乎乎的空气包围着。他回到房间打算把自己锁在里面,突然灯全灭了,他抻手去摸床边桌子上的火柴——却触到了一张嘴,上面长着牙齿,周围还有毛发。后来他说,那不是一张人嘴。接着他迅速进了另外一间屋子并且锁上了门。黑暗中他度过了一个很不舒服的夜晚,随时想着会听到有东西要开门的声音,却一直没有动静。

天一亮,他便心情紧张地回到卧室搜寻。所有的东西都放在原来的位置。他找遍了整个屋子也没发现什么异常的东西。

邓宁先生那一天过得很难受。他怕遇到卡斯韦尔,所以不想去大英博物馆,在空荡荡的屋子里呆着又觉得不舒服。他在医院里呆了半个小时,发现两个女仆好多了。接着他决定到俱乐部去吃午饭。他很高兴在那儿遇到了他的朋友秘书先生,他们共进了午餐。他告诉盖伊顿他的仆人们住院了,却不愿把自己的其他麻烦事儿说出来。

“你这可怜的家伙,”秘书说,“不能让你孤孤单单的没人给你做饭呀。一定要到我家来,我和夫人很愿意你来。吃完饭回家,今天下午把你的东西拿到我家来。我不许你不答应呀。”

其实,邓宁先生很愿意接受朋友的邀请,独自一人在那套房子里再过上一夜的想法越来越使他惊恐不安。

那晚吃饭时,邓宁先生看起来很不舒服。盖伊顿夫妇同情他,于是就努力使他忘掉烦恼。后来只有他们两个男人在一起时,邓宁变得很平静起来。他突然说:

“盖伊顿,我想那个卡斯韦尔知道你是听了我的建议才拒绝接受他的文章的。”

盖伊顿很吃惊,“你怎么会这么想呢?”他问道。

于是邓宁解释了一番,“我倒不介意,”他接着说,“可我觉得他不是个和善的人,如果我们见面的话会很不愉快的。”

接着邓宁便一语不发地坐在那儿,表情越来越痛苦。最后盖伊顿问他是不是有什么特别麻烦的事使他心烦。

“噢!很高兴你问起,”邓宁说,“我觉得是得跟人谈谈这事了。你知道一个叫约翰·哈林顿的人的情况吗?”

盖伊顿感到很奇怪,他只能问他为什么想知道这个人的情况。接着邓宁把汽车里的布告,发传单的人和他自己家里发生的事情全告诉了他。最后他又问盖伊顿是不是知道约翰·哈林顿的情况。

这回秘书先生不安了,他真不知道应该如何回答这个问题。他的朋友显然处在一种提心吊胆的状态,哈林顿之死谁听了都会惊恐不安的。卡斯韦尔是不是可能与这两个人都有瓜葛?最后盖伊顿只说他在剑桥大学时就认识哈林顿,并且相信他突然死于1889年。他还说了几句有关这个人和他写的书的一些情况。

后来秘书与夫人单独在一起时谈起了此事。盖伊勒夫人马上说卡斯韦尔一定与这两个人都有关联,她说不知道哈林顿的弟弟亨利是不是能帮助邓宁先生。她要去问问贝内特夫妇亨利住在哪儿,然后把这两个人召集到一起。

两人一见面,邓宁首先告诉亨利·哈林顿他是以什么奇怪的方式知道了他哥哥的名字,并且描述了自己近来的一些其他经历,然后问起哈林顿他能记得的哥哥死前的一些情况。

“确实,约翰死前一段时间一直处于一种很奇怪的状态,”亨利·哈林顿说,“其中有一点就是他觉得一直有人跟着他。我确信有人想害他,发生在你身上的事情使我想起了他的一些经历。你觉得你和我哥哥之间有什么关联吗?”

“噢,”邓宁回答道,“只有一件事,我听说你哥哥死前不久对一本书进行了十分尖刻的评论,事有凑巧,我也做了件惹恼这本书作者的事情。”

“这个人不是叫卡斯韦尔吧。”哈林顿说。

“噢,就是他。”邓宁回答。

亨利·哈林顿的神情变得很严肃。

“哦,这就是我需要的最后证据,”他说,“我来解释一下吧。我相信我哥哥约翰很清楚这个叫卡斯韦尔的人想害他。对了,约翰喜欢音乐,他经常去伦敦听音乐会,之后总是把音乐会的节目单保留下来。大约在他死前三个月,他听完音乐会回来给我看了那张节目单。

'这张节目单我差点儿没拿到,'他说,'音乐会结束时,我的那张找不到了,我就到处找,这时我的邻座把他的这张给了我,还说他不要了。我不认识这个人——是个身材很高大的人。'

“这之后不久,我哥哥便告诉我他夜里感到很不舒服。后来,一天晚上他在从头到尾浏览他的那些音乐会节目单时,发现他那位身材高大的邻座给他的那张有点儿奇怪:那张节目单是一张薄纸,上面写了些字——不是些平常的字。我看更像红黑相间的如尼字母。我们正看着那张单子想着怎么才能把它还给它的主人,突然门开了,一阵风把它刮进了火里,很快被烧掉了。”

哈林顿停了一下,邓宁先生一言不发地坐在那儿。

“噢,”他接着说,“我不知道你是否读过卡斯韦尔的《巫术的历史》,就是我哥哥说写得很糟糕的那本书。”

邓宁摇摇头。

“哦,”哈林顿接着说,“我哥哥死后,我看了其中一部分。那书确实写得很糟糕,许多内容都是胡说八道,可有一点引起了我的注意,也就是把“如尼魔文”“甩”给别人让他们受害,我敢肯定卡斯韦尔是凭着亲身经验写出来的。我就不跟你说那些细节了,可我确信音乐会上那个身材高大的人就是卡斯韦尔,他给我哥哥的那张纸使他丢了性命。哦,我必须问一下在你身上是不是也发生了类似的事情。”

邓宁把大英博物馆里发生的事情告诉了他。

“这么说卡斯韦尔真给了你一些什么材料?”哈林顿说:“你看了吗?没有?噢,如果你同意的活,我想我们应该马上看一看。”

他们到了邓宁空落落的家,他的材料就放在桌子上。他拿起来,这时一张薄纸掉在地上。突然一阵风把它刮向开着的窗户,这时哈林顿及时关上窗户使那张纸没有跑掉。他一把把它抓在手里。

“如我所料,”他说,“这张纸很像我哥哥收到的那张。邓宁,我觉得你的处境很危险。”

两个人就此事商谈了很长时间。那张纸满篇都是他们看不懂的如尼字母,可两个人很明白,不管是什么内容,它都会给其主人带来不知什么样的可怕事情。他们俩都觉得一定得把这张纸还给卡斯韦尔,唯一安全保险的办法就是亲自把它交给他,让他确实接受下来。因为卡斯韦尔知道邓宁的长相,所以这样做是很困难的。

“我可以蓄胡须,”邓宁说,“这样他就不会认出我来了,可谁知道我的末日什么时候来临呢?”

“我想我知道,”哈林顿说,“在音乐会上我哥哥拿到那张纸的日子是6月18日,而他死在9月18日,相隔三个月。”

“可能我也会如此的,”邓宁痛苦地说。他看了看日记接着说:

“是的,在博物馆那天是4月23日——那就是说我能活到7月23日。哈林顿,我很希望你把你哥哥当时遇到的麻烦都告诉我。”

“当时最使他不安的,”哈林顿说,“是每当独自一人时,便觉得有人在盯着他。后来我开始睡在他的房间里,这样他感觉好了一点儿,可他睡觉总说梦话。”

“说些什么呢?”邓宁问。

“我想最好还是不要细谈这事了。”哈林顿回答,“我记得他收过一个邮包,内有一小本日记。我哥哥没看过,他死后我看了,发现9月18日后的那些页全被剪掉了。或许你不明白为什么他在死的那天晚上一个人出去吧?奇怪的是死前最后一周他所有的烦恼都烟消云散了,而且不再觉得有人在盯着或在跟踪他了。”

最后两人制定了计划。哈林顿有位朋友住在勒夫德大教堂附近,他要到他那儿去盯着卡斯韦尔。如果他觉得有机会在邓宁与卡斯韦尔间安排一次偶然相遇,他就给邓宁打电报。与此同时,邓宁得随时准备动身并且妥善保存好那张纸。

哈林顿动身到沃克郡的那位朋友那儿去了,只剩下邓宁孤孤单单一个人。他发现等待是件很难熬的事情,干不了事情,而且对什么都没有兴趣。他感觉自己生活在一块与世隔绝的黑云里。5月、6月、7月的前半个月都过去了,一直没有哈林顿的音讯,他越来越担心起来。这段时间卡斯韦尔一直呆在勤夫德教堂。

终于就在7月23日前不到一周,邓宁收到了他朋友的电报:

卡斯韦尔将于周四晚乘坐按时与船衔接的列车从伦敦动身去法国。准备好,今天晚上我去找你。哈林顿。

他一到,两人便制定了最后的方案。从伦敦发车的火车在到达多佛尔前只停一次,是在克罗伊登西站。哈林顿将在伦敦上车并且找到卡斯韦尔坐的位置。邓宁将在克罗伊登西站等车,到了那儿哈林顿会留心他在哪儿等着的。邓宁的行李上一定不要写名字,最重要的是他一定要带上那张纸。

星期四晚上,邓宁在克罗伊登西站急躁不安地等着火车。他蓄着浓密的胡子戴着眼镜,很有把握卡斯韦尔不会认出他来的。他察觉到自己不再有处于危险境地的感觉,这点使他愈发担心起来,因为他记得哈林顿谈到过他哥哥死前一周的情况。

火车终于来了,他在一个窗口发现了他的朋友。不能让人看出他们相识,这一点是很重要的,于是邓宁从列车稍后一段上了车,慢慢地朝哈林顿所处的那个隔间走去。

隔间里只有哈林顿和卡斯韦尔两个人,邓宁进来坐在离卡斯韦尔最远的一角。卡斯韦尔沉重的旅行外衣和旅行包放在他对面的座位上,邓宁的座位旁边。邓宁想把那张纸藏进他的大衣里,但他意识到这样做不行,他得把它交给卡斯韦尔而且得保证卡斯韦尔收下。能不能用什么办法把卡斯韦尔的包藏起来,把那张纸放进去,然后他下车时再把包交给他呢?他只能想到这个办法了。他实在太希望能征求一下哈林顿的意见。

卡斯韦尔本人似乎也很不安。他两次站起身来朝窗外望着。邓宁试图把他的包从座位上碰掉,这时他看到了哈林顿目光中对他的警告——卡斯韦尔正从窗户里看着他们呢。

这时卡斯韦尔第三次站起身来,打开窗户把头伸到窗外。随着他站起身,有样东西轻轻地掉在了地板上,邓宁一看是个装着卡斯韦尔各种票据的薄薄的钱包。他迅速把那张纸塞进了钱包后部的口袋里。这时火车进了多佛尔站开始减速,卡斯韦尔关上窗户转过身来。

“先生,把这个给您,我想这东西一定是您的。”邓宁说着把那钱包递了过去。

“噢,谢谢你。先生。”卡斯韦尔边回答边看了一下他的票据,接着把钱包放进了口袋。

突然隔间里似乎变得又黑又热,这时哈林顿和邓宁已经在开门下车了。

邓宁坐在月台的座位上喘着粗气,都站不起来了。这时哈林顿跟着卡斯韦尔走了几步到了船前。他看见卡斯韦尔给检票员看了票便上了船。这时,那位检票员在他身后喊道:

“对不起,先生,您的朋友有票吗?”

“什么意思?我的朋友?”卡斯韦尔生气地大声喊道。

“对不起,先生,我以为有人跟您一起呢。”那位检票员道着歉。他转向身旁的另一位检票员说:“他是不是带了条狗什么的?我敢肯定还有一个什么东西。”

5分钟后,这里便只剩下了船上渐渐远去的灯光、夜风和月光了。

那天晚上在一家旅馆里两位朋友夜很深了还没睡。虽然已经没有什么危险了,可他们还是有点儿担心。

“哈林顿,”邓宁说,“恐怕我们把一个人送上死路了。”

“他害死了我哥哥,”哈林顿说,“又想害死你,他也该死。”

“你说我们是不是应该提醒他一下呀?”邓宁问。

“怎么提醒?”他的朋友问,“我们也不知道他要去哪儿。”

“他要去阿比维尔,”邓宁说,“我看见他的票上写着呢。今天是21号。我们早晨可以给阿比维尔主要的旅馆都发封电报,写上:检查一下你的票夹。邓宁。这样他还有一整天的时间。”

停了一会儿,哈林顿同意了,他说:“我知道这样做会使你心里更舒服。那我们就提醒他一下吧。”

第二天早上他们首先把那些电报发了出去,可谁也不知道卡斯韦尔收到了没有。人们只知道7月23日那天,一个人正在阿比维尔一所教堂前面看着,突然一块大石头从屋顶落下砸在他头上,他当即被砸死。警方报告说当时屋顶上没有人。他们从死者身上发现的证件得知他是个英国人,叫卡斯韦尔。

几个月后,邓宁提醒哈林顿说他还从没把他哥哥睡梦中说了些什么告诉自己。可哈林顿刚说了几个字,邓宁就求他不要说下去了。


欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号