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Chapter 4 The Experiment
  In the last days of December,Dr Hall,the village priest, was working in his study when his servant entered the room,in great alarm.

'Oh,Dr Hall,sir,'she cried.'What do you think?The poor Squire's dead!'

'What?Squire Bowles?What are you saying,woman?'replied the priest.'I saw him only yesterday—'

'Yes,sir,I know,'said the servant,'but it's true.Mr Wickem,the clerk,has just brought the news on his way to ring the church bell. You'll hear it yourself in a moment.Listen!There it is.'And sure enough,the bell then began to ring,long and slow,telling the people of the village that someone had died.

Dr Hall stood up.'This is terrible,'he said.'I must go up to the Hall at once.The Squire was so much better yesterday. It seems so sudden.'

'Yes,sir,'agreed the servant.'Mr Wickem said that the poor Squire was taken ill very suddenly with a terrible pain. He died very quickly,and Wickem said they want him buried quickly too.'

'Yes,yes;well,I must ask Mrs Bowles herself of Mr Joseph,'said the priest.'Bring me my coat and hat,please. Oh,and tell Mr Wickem that I would like to see him when he has finished ringing the bell.'And he hurried off to the Hall.

When he returned an hour later,he found the clerk waiting for him.

'There's a lot of work for you to do,Wickem,'he said, and not much time to do it.'

'Yes,sir,'said Wickem.'You'll want the family tomb opened,of course…'

'No,no,not at all,'replied Dr Hall.'The poor Squire said before he died that he did not want to be buried in the family tomb.It is to be an earth grave in the churchyard.'

'Excuse me,sir,'said Wickem,very surprised.'Do I understand you right?No tomb,you say,and just an earth grave?The poor Squire was too ill to know what he was saying,surely?'

'Yes,Wickem,it seems strange to me too,'said the priest. 'But Mr Joseph tells me that his father,or I should say his stepfather,made his wishes very clear when he was in good health. Clean earth and open air.You know,of course,the Squire had some strange ideas,though he never told me of this one.And there's another thing,Wickem.No coffin.'

'Oh dear,oh dear!'said Wickem.'There'll be some talk about that.And I know that old Mr Wright has some lovely wood for the Squire's coffin—he's kept it for him for years.'ei

'Well,'said Dr Hall,'those are the Squire's wishes,so I'm told,so that's what we must do.You must get the grave dug and everything ready by ten o'clock tomorrow night.Tell Wright that we shall need some lights.'

'Very well,sir.If those are the orders,I must do my best,'said Wickem.'Shall I send the women from the village to prepare the body?'

'No,Wickem.That was not mentioned,'said the priest. 'No doubt Mr Joseph will send for them if he wants them. You have enough work to do without that.Good night,Wick- em.'He paused.'I was just writing out the year's burials in the church records.I didn't think that I'd have to add Squire Bowles'name to them.'

The Squire's burial took place as planned.All the villagers and a few neighbours were present,and the Squire's stepson Joseph walked behind the body as it was carried to the church- yard.In those days nobody expected the Squire's wife to come to the burial.The Squire had no family except his wife and stepson,and he had left everything to his wife.

But what was everything?The land,house,furniture,pictures,and sliver were all there,but no money was found. This was very strange.Squire Bowles was quite a rich man;he received plenty of money from his land every year,his lawyers were honest,but still there was no money.The Squire had not been mean with his money.His wife had all she needed,he sent Joseph to school and university,and he lived well.But still he earned more money than he spent.Where was it?

Mrs Bowles and her son searched the house and grounds several times but found no money.They could not understand it. They sat one evening in the library discussing the problem for the twentieth time.

'You've been through his papers again,Joseph,have you?' asked the mother.

'Yes,Mother,and I've found nothing.'

'What was he writing the day before he died,do you know? And why was he always writing to Mr Fowler in Gloucester?'

'You know he had some strange ideas about what happens to a person's soul when he dies.He was writing to Mr Fowler about it but he didn't finish the letter.Here,I'll read it to you.

He fetched some papers from the Squire's writing table and began to read.



My dear friend,

You will be interested to hear about my latest studies, though I am not sure how accurate they are.One writer says that for a time after death a man's soul stays close to the places he knew during life—so close,in fact,that he can be called to speak to the living.Indeed,he must come,if he is called with the right words.And these words are given in an experiment in Dr Moore's book,which I have copied out for you.But when the soul has come,and has opened its mouth to speak,the caller may see and hear more than he wishes, which is usually to know where the dead man has hidden his money.



Joseph stopped reading and there was silence for a moment.

Then his mother said,'There was no more than that?'

'No,Mother,nothing.'

'And have you met this Mr Fowler?'

'Yes.He came to speak once or twice at Oxford.'

'Well,'said the mother,as he was a friend of the Squire, I think you should write to him and tell him what…what has happened.You will know what to say.And the letter is for him,after all.'

'You're right,Mother,'replied Joseph.'I'll write to him at once.'And he wrote that same evening.

In time a letter came back from Gloucester and with it a large packet;and there were more evening talks in the library at the Hall.At the end of one evening,the mother said:

'Well,if you are sure,do it tonight.Go round by the fields where no one will see you.Oh,and here's a cloth you can use.'

'What cloth is it,Mother?'asked Joseph.

'Just a cloth,'was the answer.

Joseph went out by the garden door,and his mother stood in the doorway,thinking,with her hand over her mouth. Then she said quietly,'It was the cloth to cover his face.Oh, I wish I had not been so hurried!'

The night was very dark and a strong wind blew loud over the black fields;loud enough to drown all sounds of calling or answering—if anyone did call or answer.

Next morning Joseph's mother hurried to his bedroom.

'Give me the cloth,'she said.'The servants must not find it. And tell me,tell me,quick!'

Her son,sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands,looked up at her with wild,red eyes.

'We have opened his mouth,'he said.'Why,oh why, Mother,did you leave his face uncovered?'

'You know how hurried I was that day,'she replied.'I had no time.But do you mean that you have seen it?'

Joseph hid his face in his hands.'Yes,Mother,and he said you would see it,too,'

His mother gave an awful cry and caught hold of the bedpost.

'He's angry,'Joseph went on.'He was waiting for me to call him,I'm sure.I had only just finished saying the words when I heard him—like a dog growling under the earth.'

He jumped to his feet and walked up and down the room.

'And now he's free!What can we do?I cannot meet him again.I cannot take the drink he drank and go where he is!And I'm afraid to lie here another night!Oh,why did you do it,Mother?We had enough as it was.'

'Be quiet!'said his mother through dry lips.'It was you as much as I.But why spend time talking?Listen to me.It's only six o'clock Yarmouth's not far,and we've enough money to cross the sea—things like him can't follow us over water.We'll take the night boat to Holland.You see to the horses while I pack our bags.'

Joseph stared at her.'What will people say here?'

'You must tell the priest that we've learnt of some of the Squire's money in Amsterdam and we must go to collect it. Go,go!Or if you're not brave enough to do that,lie here and wait for him again tonight.'

Joseph trembled and left the room.

That evening after dark a boatman entered an inn at Yarmouth,where a man and a woman were waiting,with their bags on the floor beside them.

'Are you ready,sir and madam?'he asked.'We sail in less than an hour.My other passenger is waiting by the boat.Is this all your luggage?'He picked up the bags.

'Yes,We are travelling light,'said Joseph.'Did you say you have other passengers for Holland?'

'Just one,'replied the boatman,'and he seems to travel even lighter than you.'

'Do you know him?'asked Mrs Bowles.She put her hand on her son's arm,and they both paused in the doorway.

'No,'said the boatman.'He keeps his face hidden,but I'd know him again by his voice—he's got a strange way of speaking,like a dog growling.But you'll find that he knows you.“Go and fetch them out,”he said to me,“and I'll wait for them here.”And sure enough,he's coming this way now.'

In those days women who poisoned their husbands were burnt to death.The records for a certain year at Norwich tell of a woman who was punished in this way,and whose son was hanged afterwards.No one had accused them of their crime, but they told the priest of their village what they had done. The name of the village must remain secret,because people say there is money still hidden there.

Dr Moore's book of experiments is now in the University Library at Cambridge,and on page 144 this is written:

This experiment has often proved true—to find out gold hid- den in the ground,robbery,murder,or any other thing.Go to the grave of a dead man,call his name three times,and say:'I call on you to leave the darkness and to come to me this night and tell me truly where the gold lies hidden.'Then take some earth from the dead man's grave and tie it in a clean cloth and sleep with it under your right ear.And wherever you lie or sleep,that night he will come and tell you truly,waking or sleeping.



实 验



12月末的一天,乡村牧师霍尔医生正在书房工作,突然仆人十分惊慌地进了屋。

“噢,霍尔医生,”她叫道,“你说怎么的,那可怜的乡绅死了!”

“什么?乡绅鲍尔斯?你在说些什么呀?”牧师说,“我昨天还见到他了呢——”

“是啊,先生,我知道,”仆人说,“可这的确是真的。教堂执事威克姆先生刚刚在去教堂敲钟的路上送来的信儿,一会儿您就会亲耳听到钟声。听!钟声响了。”果真如此,这时钟声开始响起来,声音悠长而缓慢,告诉村里人有人去世了。

霍尔医生站起身来。“太糟糕了,”他说,“我必须马上到他府上去一趟。他昨天好多了。这事儿似乎挺突然的。”

“是的,先生,”仆人附和说,“威克姆先生说那可怜的乡绅突然发病,疼痛难忍,接着很快就死了。威克姆先生还说他们希望能很快把他葬了。”

“是啊,是啊。哦,我得去问问鲍尔斯太太本人或约瑟夫先生,”牧师说,“请把我的大衣和帽子拿来。对了,告诉威克姆先生敲完钟后我想见见他。”说完他便急匆匆地赶往乡绅府了。

一个小时后他回来了,执事正等着他呢。

“威克姆,你需要做的事情很多,”他说,“可是时间并不多。”

“是的,先生,”威克姆说,“当然,您是想找人挖开他家的坟……”

“不,不,不是的,”霍尔医生答道,“那可怜的乡绅死前说他不想葬在家族的坟里。他要葬身于教堂墓地里的土坟。”

“对不起,先生,”威克姆十分惊讶地问,“不知我理解得对不对,您是说,不要墓,只要个土坟?那可怜的乡绅一定是病得太重,不知自己在说些什么了吧?”

“是的,威克姆,我也觉得很奇怪,”牧师说,“可约瑟夫先生告诉我说他父亲,或者我该说是他继父,身体还好时就明确表达了自己的愿望:他要干净的泥土露天地。当然你也知道这位乡绅的一些想法很怪,虽然他从没告诉过我这个想法。对了还有,威克姆,他不要棺材。”

“天啊!天啊!”威克姆说,“人们会对此议论纷纷的。我知道老赖特先生为给乡绅做棺材准备了些很不错的木材,而且已经给他保存了好多年了。”

“唉,”霍尔医生说,“那都是乡绅的愿望,人家是这么告诉我的,我们就必须这么做。明天晚上10点以前你必须让人挖好坟并且把一切准备就绪,跟赖特说我们需要几盏灯。”

“好吧,先生,如果您吩咐我做,我一定尽力去做,”威克姆说,“用不用我从村里找几个女人来把尸体弄好准备下葬呀?”

“不用,威克姆,这事儿他们没提,”牧师说,“如果需要,约瑟夫先生肯定会派人去找她们。你要做的事情已经不少了。晚安,威克姆。”停了一下,他接着说:“我刚刚在写教堂记录中关于今年葬礼那部分。我没料到还得把乡绅鲍尔斯的名字加进去。”

乡绅的葬礼按计划进行了。全村的人和几个邻村的人都去了。尸体被抬到教堂墓地,乡绅的继子约瑟夫跟在后面。按当时风俗乡绅的妻子用不着来参加葬礼。除了妻子和继子,乡绅家中没有其他人,他把所有的东西都留给了妻子。

这所有的东西是什么呢?地产、房子、家具、绘画作品和银器都有,可就是找不到钱。这就怪了。乡绅鲍尔斯是很富有的,每年从地产上能收入许多钱,他的律师们也很老实,可就是找不到钱。这位乡绅花钱并不吝啬。妻子需要什么就有什么,他供约瑟夫上学,后来又上大学,他自己日子过得也不错。可他挣的钱还是花不了,可钱在哪儿呢?

鲍尔斯夫人和儿子把屋子和地面翻找了好几遍都没找到钱,他们感到不可理解。一天晚上俩人坐在书房里,第20次谈起这件事。

“约瑟夫,你是不是又翻了一遍他的各种材料?”母亲问道。

“是呀,妈妈,可什么也没找到。”

“你知道他死的前一天写了些什么吗?他为什么总给格洛斯特的福勒先生写信?”

“你知道他对人死后灵魂会如何看法很奇怪,他就这个问题给福勒先生写了封信,可是还没写完。来,我给你读一读。”

他从乡绅的写字台上拿起一些材料开始读起来。



我亲爱的朋友:

听听我最近的研究成果,你会感兴趣的。虽然我不敢肯定这些东西有多准确。一位作家说人死后一段时间,灵魂就在他生前熟悉的那些地方附近游荡——近得能把他唤来与活着的人说话。如果用合适的词语叫他,他一定会来的。穆尔博士书里的一个实验中列出了这些词语,我已经给你抄下来了。那灵魂来了就张嘴说话,叫他的人通常是想知道那死人生前把钱财藏在了什么地方,可他看到和听到的可能还不止这些。



约瑟夫不读了。俩人沉默了一会儿,他母亲问:“没有别的了?”

“没有了,妈妈,没有别的了。”

“你见过这位福勒先生吗?”

“见过,他来牛津讲过一两次课。”

“好吧,”母亲说,“既然他俩是朋友,我想你应该给他写封信,告诉他……出了什么事情。你知道该说些什么。不管怎么说信是写给他的。”

“你说得对,妈妈,”约瑟夫答道,“我马上给他写。”那天晚上他便写了。

过了一段时间,格洛斯特那个人发来了回信,还有个大包裹。乡绅府书房里夜晚的谈话更多了。一天晚上,母亲说:

“好了,如果你觉得没问题,今天晚上就干吧,绕过那片旷野,那里不会有人看见你的。噢,你可以用这块布。”

“这是什么布呀,妈妈?”约瑟夫问。

“就是一块布。”母亲回答。

约瑟夫从花园的门出来,他母亲站在门口,手捂着嘴想着事儿。接着她小声说:“用这块布盖住他的脸。噢,我当时不那么慌张多好呀!”

那天晚上天很黑,大风刮过黑暗的旷野,声音大得能把所有的喊叫和回答声淹没——假如真有人喊叫或回答的话。

次日早晨,约瑟夫母亲急进他的卧室。“把布给我,”她说,“千万别让仆人们发现。告诉我,快告诉我情况怎么样!”

儿子双手托着头坐在床边,红着眼睛激动地望着她。

“我们使他开了口,”他说,“为什么,噢,妈妈,你为什么没把他的脸盖上?”

“你知道那天我是多么手忙脚乱,”她回答,“我当时没有时间呀。你是说你看见他的脸没盖上?”

约瑟夫双手掩面说:“是的,妈妈,他说你也会看见的。”

他母亲发出一声可怕的叫声,一把抓住了床柱。

“他生气了,”约瑟夫接着说,“我确信他在等着我叫他。我刚说完那些话,就听见他的声音,就像一条狗在地下嗥叫。”

他突然站起身,在屋里踱起步来。

“现在他自由了!可我们怎么办呢?我不能再去见他了。我不能喝他喝的那种东西,到他去的地方去!我太怕在这里再躺上一夜了!噢,妈妈,你为什么要这样做呢?我们得到的已经够多了。”

“别说了!”他母亲的嘴唇都干了,“这不仅是我的罪过也是你的罪过。还说什么呢?听我的。现在才6点。雅茅斯离这儿不算远,我们的钱足够过海的——他是不能跟着我们过水域的。我们坐夜班船去荷兰。你去准备好马匹,我把包打好。”

约瑟夫盯着她问:“这儿的人会怎么说呢?”

“你一定要跟牧师说我们听说乡绅在阿姆斯特丹有些钱,得去收回来。走吧,走吧!如果你不敢这么做,今天晚上就躺在这儿再等着他吧。”

约瑟夫浑身哆嗦着离开了房间。

那天晚上天黑后,一个船夫走进了雅茅斯的一家小旅馆,那里一男一女正在等着,身边地上放着他们的提包。

“准备好了吗,先生和夫人?”他问。“我们一小时之内就开船。另一位旅客已经在船旁等着呢。这是你们所有的行李吗?”他提起了包。

“是的,我们轻装旅行,”约瑟夫说,“你是说还有其他旅客要去荷兰?”

“只有一位,”船夫回答,“他似乎比你们更轻装。”

“你认识他吗?”鲍尔斯夫人问。她把手放在儿子胳膊上,俩人都在门口停下了。

“不认识,”船夫说,“他掩着脸,可我能听出他的声音——他说话声音很怪,像狗叫。不过你们会发现他认识你们。'去把他们带出来,'他对我说,'我在这儿等着他们。'他现在正往这边走过来呢。”

那时候毒死丈夫的女人是要被烧死的。据载,有一年在诺里奇一个女人受到了这样的惩罚,后来她的儿子被绞死了。没人告发他们的罪行,可他们跟村里的牧师交代了自己干的事。那个村的名字还必须保密,因为人们说那儿还藏着钱呢。

穆尔博士关于实验的那本书现在存放在剑桥大学的图书馆里,书中第144页上写着:

这个实验通常被证明是可靠的——用它能找到藏在地下的黄金,并能发现抢劫、谋杀或其他一些行为。到死人的坟前,叫三声他的名字,并说:“我请你离开黑暗的坟墓,今晚来找我,告诉我金子到底藏在哪里。”然后从他坟上取些土包在一块干净布里,睡觉时把它放在右耳朵下面。不管你在哪儿躺着还是睡觉,也不管你是醒我还是睡着,那天晚上他一定会来对你以实相告的。


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