小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Man With the Black Feather28章节 » CHAPTER X
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
It is necessary to mount to the floor above, to the flat occupied by Signor and Signora Petito, to the room in which Theophrastus, with never a thought of the imprudence he was committing, had asked for the needful information about the handwriting of the document. What imprudence indeed could there be in showing to an expert in handwriting a document so torn, stained, and obliterated1 that it was impossible, at a first glance, to discover any sense or meaning at all in it?
Yet by a truly strange chance it was that very document that Signor Petito and his wife were that night discussing.
The Signora Petito was saying: "I don't understand it at all; and the behaviour of M. Longuet at Saint-Germain throws no fresh light on it. The fact is, you do not remember the instructions—all the instructions. Go and take the air at the Chopinettes, look at the[Pg 125] Cock, look at the Gall2: it's all so vague. What can it mean?"
"The first thing it means is that the treasure is to be found on the outskirts3 of Paris, of the Paris of that epoch4. Go and take the air... My opinion is that we ought to search in the neighbourhood of Montrouge, or Montmartre, because of the Cock. There was a Château du Coq at Porkers village. Look at this plan of old Paris," said her husband.
They pored over the plan on the table.
"It's still very vague," said Signor Petito gloomily. "For my part, I think we ought to pay particular attention to the words 'The Gall.'"
"That's just the vaguest thing in the whole thing," said his wife.
"Still, I'm sure it's important," said her husband. "As I remember the document (and you know what a magnificent memory I have), there was a short space between the word 'the' and the word 'Gall,' and after 'Gall' a longer space. Reach me the dictionary."
The Signora Petito rose with the greatest precaution, she walked noiselessly and stealthily across the room (she was the conspirator5 to her finger-tips), and brought a small dictionary. They began to run down a column, writing[Pg 126] down all the words which began with the syllable6 gall: Gallantly7, Gallery, Galley8, and so forth9. Then the clock on the mantelpiece began to strike twelve.
The Signora Petito paled and rose to her feet; Signor Petito rose to his feet paler still.
"The hour has come!" said the Signora Petito. "You will find the information you want below." She pointed10 a rigid11 finger at the floor. "They cannot hear you in your list slippers12. Besides, there's no danger of it: they are at Esbly."
Two minutes later a dark figure glided13 down to M. Longuet's flat, slipped a key into the lock of his door, and entered his hall. The flat of Theophrastus was of exactly the same construction as that of Signor Petito, and he found his way into the dining-room without a pause. He acted with the greater coolness because he believed that the flat was empty. He opened the door of the study, and saw the violet cat on the bureau. Since it was evidently on the lock of the bureau in which he was interested, he took it up, and set it on the tea-table. Then he hurried noiselessly back through the dining-room into the hall, for he fancied he heard voices on the staircase.
He listened for a while at the door of the[Pg 127] flat and heard nothing; doubtless his ears had deceived him. Then he came back to the study. He found the violet cat on the bureau, purring.
In spite of their crinkliness, the hairs of Signor Petito stood stiffly upright on his head, the horror which filled him can only be compared to that other horror on the other side of the wall.
He stood motionless, panting, in the moonlight, even after the little violet cat had stopped purring. Then he braced14 himself, and with a timid hand picked up the violet cat. As soon as he had moved it, it began to purr; and he became acquainted with the fact that in its cardboard interior there was a small marble which, as it rolled to and fro, produced an ingenious imitation of a natural purr. Since he had been frightened to death, he called himself a perfect fool. It was all quite clear; had he not before slipping out of the study moved the cat? Instead of having set it on the tea-table, as he thought, he had put it back on the bureau. Of course, it was quite simple. He set it back, still purring, on the tea-table.
It must not be forgotten that this purring, which did not terrify Signor Petito, terrified Theophrastus and his wife afresh, while the second purring, which had taken the curl out[Pg 128] of Signor Petito's hair with terror, had not terrified them at all.
The cat was still purring, when there was another noise outside the flat. It was Signora Petito sneezing in the draught15. Signor Petito hurried back into the hall and once more glued his ear to the door of the flat. When, reassured16, he returned to the study, the purring violet cat had gone back to the bureau.
He thought he was going to die of fright; he thought that a miraculous17 intervention18 was holding him back on the verge19 of a crime. He uttered a swift prayer in which he assured Heaven that he would not go on with it. However a quarter of an hour passed in the recovery of his scattered20 wits; and since he heard nothing more, he attributed these surprising happenings to the perturbation of spirit induced by his exceptional occupation. He took up the violet cat, which began to purr again.
But this time the door of the study was flung violently open; and Signor Petito fell swooning into the arms of M. Longuet, who expressed no surprise whatever.
M. Longuet contemptuously flung Signor Petito on the floor, dashed at the violet cat, caught it up, opened the window, tore his scarf[Pg 129]-pin out of its head, and threw it into the street.
"You beastly cat!" he cried with inexpressible fury. "You'll never stop our sleeping again!"
Signor Petito had dragged himself to his feet, entirely21 at a loss to know what face to put upon the matter, inasmuch as Madame Longuet, in her nightgown, was assiduously pointing at him a large, shining, nickel-plated revolver. He only found the phrase:
"I beg your pardon: I thought you were in the country."
But it was M. Longuet who came to him, took between his thumb and first finger one of Signor Petito's long ears, and said:
"And now, my dear Signor Petito, we are going to have a little talk!"
Marceline lowered the barrel of the revolver; and at the sight of his calm courage, gazed at her husband in an ecstasy22 of admiration23.
"You see, my dear Signor Petito, I am calm," said Theophrastus. "Just now, indeed, I was in a devil of a temper, but that was against that infernal cat which prevented us from sleeping. So I threw it out of the window. But cheer up, Signor Petito, I am not[Pg 130] going to throw you out of the window. Mine is a just nature. It wasn't you who prevented us from sleeping. You have taken the precaution of putting on list slippers. Many thanks for it. Why then, my dear Signor Petito, are you making that intolerable face? Of course, it must be your ear. I've good news for you then, news which will set you quite at your ease about your ear: You are not going to suffer from your ears any longer, my dear Signor Petito!"
Then he bade his wife put on a dressing-gown, and begged Signor Petito come into the kitchen.
"Don't be surprised at my receiving you in my kitchen," he said. "I am very careful of my carpets, and you will bleed like a pig."
He dragged a table of white wood from against the wall to the middle of the kitchen, and bade Marceline spread a piece of oil-cloth on it, and fetch him the big bowl, and the carving-knife from the drawer of the dining-room sideboard.
Marceline tried to ask for an explanation; but her husband gave her such a look that she could only shiver and obey. Signor Petito shivered too, and as he shivered, he made for the door of the kitchen, in which, he told him[Pg 131]self, there was nothing for him to do. M. Longuet, unfortunately, refused absolutely to let his neighbour go. He bade him sit down, and sat down himself.
"Signor Petito," he said in a tone of the most exquisite24 politeness, "I do not like your face. It is not your fault; but it is certainly not mine. There is no doubt that you are the most cowardly and contemptible25 of sneak-thieves. But what of that? It's no business of mine, but of some honest executioner of the King who will invite you next season to go harvesting at the ladder, where one fine day he will set you floating gently in the breeze to the end that, like a fine fellow, you may keep the sheep of the moon. Don't smile, Signor Petito." Signor Petito was not smiling. "You have absurd ears; and I am certain that with ears like those you never dare go near Guilleri Cross-roads."[2]
[2] At Guilleri Cross-roads there stood a pillory26. It was there that they used to cut off the ears of thieves.
Signor Petito clasped his hands and said with chattering27 teeth, "My wife's waiting for me."
"What are you doing, Marceline?" cried Theophrastus impatiently. "Can't you see that Signor Petito is in a hurry? His wife's[Pg 132] waiting for him! Have you got the carving-knife?"
"I can't find the fork," replied the trembling voice of Marceline.
The fact is, Marceline did not know what she was saying. She thought that her husband had gone quite mad; and between Signor Petito burglar, and Theophrastus mad, she was not in the mood for joking. She had instinctively28 hidden herself behind a cupboard door; and such was her agitation29 that in turning a little clumsily, at the moment at which Theophrastus was bellowing30 a volley of abuse at her, she upset the dessert service, and the Sarreguemines vase which was its chief ornament31. The result was a loud crash and the utmost confusion. Theophrastus appealed once more to the throttle32 of Madame Phalaris and called Marceline to him in such a furious roar that in spite of herself she ran into the kitchen. A dreadful sight awaited her.
The eyes of Signor Petito seemed to be starting from their sockets33. Was it from fear? Fear had something to do with it, but also the suffocation34 produced by the handkerchief which Theophrastus had thrust into his mouth. Signor Petito himself lay at full length on the table. Theophrastus had had the time and[Pg 133] strength to bind35 his wrists and ankles with string. The Signor's head projected a little beyond the table's edge; and under his head was a bowl which M. Longuet had placed there not to make a mess. Theophrastus himself with twitching36 nostrils37 (that was what Marceline chiefly noticed in the terrifying face of her husband) had hold of Signor Petito's right ear with the fingers of his left hand, and his right hand gripped a kitchen knife. He ground his teeth and said:
"Strike the flag!"
With these words he sliced neatly38 off Signor Petito's left ear.
He dropped the ear into a little basin which he had ready, caught hold of the right ear, sliced off that, then carried the little basin to the sink, and turned on the tap.
He returned to the kitchen; and while he waited for Signor Petito's ears to stop bleeding, hummed an old and forgotten French air, with the most cheerful face in the world. When the bleeding ceased, he fastened a dish-cloth round Signor Petito's head, withdrew the handkerchief from his mouth, cut the string which bound him, and bade him get out of his flat at once if he did not wish to be arrested for burglary.
[Pg 134]As the groaning39 expert in handwriting was leaving the kitchen, Theophrastus bethought himself, rushed to the sink, took the ears out of the basin, and slipped them into their owner's waistcoat pocket.
"You go about forgetting everything!" he said indignantly. "What would the Signora Petito think, if you came home without your ears?"


1 obliterated 5b21c854b61847047948152f774a0c94     
v.除去( obliterate的过去式和过去分词 );涂去;擦掉;彻底破坏或毁灭
  • The building was completely obliterated by the bomb. 炸弹把那座建筑物彻底摧毁了。
  • He began to drink, drank himself to intoxication, till he slept obliterated. 他一直喝,喝到他快要迷糊地睡着了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
2 gall jhXxC     
  • It galled him to have to ask for a loan.必须向人借钱使他感到难堪。
  • No gall,no glory.没有磨难,何来荣耀。
3 outskirts gmDz7W     
  • Our car broke down on the outskirts of the city.我们的汽车在市郊出了故障。
  • They mostly live on the outskirts of a town.他们大多住在近郊。
4 epoch riTzw     
  • The epoch of revolution creates great figures.革命时代造就伟大的人物。
  • We're at the end of the historical epoch,and at the dawn of another.我们正处在一个历史时代的末期,另一个历史时代的开端。
5 conspirator OZayz     
  • We started abusing him,one conspirator after another adding his bitter words.我们这几个预谋者一个接一个地咒骂他,恶狠狠地骂个不停。
  • A conspirator is not of the stuff to bear surprises.谋反者是经不起惊吓的。
6 syllable QHezJ     
  • You put too much emphasis on the last syllable.你把最后一个音节读得太重。
  • The stress on the last syllable is light.最后一个音节是轻音节。
7 gallantly gallantly     
adv. 漂亮地,勇敢地,献殷勤地
  • He gallantly offered to carry her cases to the car. 他殷勤地要帮她把箱子拎到车子里去。
  • The new fighters behave gallantly under fire. 新战士在炮火下表现得很勇敢。
8 galley rhwxE     
  • The stewardess will get you some water from the galley.空姐会从厨房给你拿些水来。
  • Visitors can also go through the large galley where crew members got their meals.游客还可以穿过船员们用餐的厨房。
9 forth Hzdz2     
  • The wind moved the trees gently back and forth.风吹得树轻轻地来回摇晃。
  • He gave forth a series of works in rapid succession.他很快连续发表了一系列的作品。
10 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
11 rigid jDPyf     
  • She became as rigid as adamant.她变得如顽石般的固执。
  • The examination was so rigid that nearly all aspirants were ruled out.考试很严,几乎所有的考生都被淘汰了。
12 slippers oiPzHV     
n. 拖鞋
  • a pair of slippers 一双拖鞋
  • He kicked his slippers off and dropped on to the bed. 他踢掉了拖鞋,倒在床上。
13 glided dc24e51e27cfc17f7f45752acf858ed1     
v.滑动( glide的过去式和过去分词 );掠过;(鸟或飞机 ) 滑翔
  • The President's motorcade glided by. 总统的车队一溜烟开了过去。
  • They glided along the wall until they were out of sight. 他们沿着墙壁溜得无影无踪。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 braced 4e05e688cf12c64dbb7ab31b49f741c5     
adj.拉牢的v.支住( brace的过去式和过去分词 );撑牢;使自己站稳;振作起来
  • They braced up the old house with balks of timber. 他们用梁木加固旧房子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The house has a wooden frame which is braced with brick. 这幢房子是木结构的砖瓦房。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 draught 7uyzIH     
  • He emptied his glass at one draught.他将杯中物一饮而尽。
  • It's a pity the room has no north window and you don't get a draught.可惜这房间没北窗,没有过堂风。
16 reassured ff7466d942d18e727fb4d5473e62a235     
adj.使消除疑虑的;使放心的v.再保证,恢复信心( reassure的过去式和过去分词)
  • The captain's confidence during the storm reassured the passengers. 在风暴中船长的信念使旅客们恢复了信心。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • The doctor reassured the old lady. 医生叫那位老妇人放心。 来自《简明英汉词典》
17 miraculous DDdxA     
  • The wounded man made a miraculous recovery.伤员奇迹般地痊愈了。
  • They won a miraculous victory over much stronger enemy.他们战胜了远比自己强大的敌人,赢得了非凡的胜利。
18 intervention e5sxZ     
  • The government's intervention in this dispute will not help.政府对这场争论的干预不会起作用。
  • Many people felt he would be hostile to the idea of foreign intervention.许多人觉得他会反对外来干预。
19 verge gUtzQ     
  • The country's economy is on the verge of collapse.国家的经济已到了崩溃的边缘。
  • She was on the verge of bursting into tears.她快要哭出来了。
20 scattered 7jgzKF     
  • Gathering up his scattered papers,he pushed them into his case.他把散乱的文件收拾起来,塞进文件夹里。
21 entirely entirely     
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
22 ecstasy 9kJzY     
  • He listened to the music with ecstasy.他听音乐听得入了神。
  • Speechless with ecstasy,the little boys gazed at the toys.小孩注视着那些玩具,高兴得说不出话来。
23 admiration afpyA     
  • He was lost in admiration of the beauty of the scene.他对风景之美赞不绝口。
  • We have a great admiration for the gold medalists.我们对金牌获得者极为敬佩。
24 exquisite zhez1     
  • I was admiring the exquisite workmanship in the mosaic.我当时正在欣赏镶嵌画的精致做工。
  • I still remember the exquisite pleasure I experienced in Bali.我依然记得在巴厘岛所经历的那种剧烈的快感。
25 contemptible DpRzO     
  • His personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.他气貌不扬,言语粗俗。
  • That was a contemptible trick to play on a friend.那是对朋友玩弄的一出可鄙的把戏。
26 pillory J2xze     
  • A man has been forced to resign as a result of being pilloried by some of the press.一人因为受到一些媒体的抨击已被迫辞职。
  • He was pilloried,but she escaped without blemish.他受到公众的批评,她却名声未损地得以逃脱。
27 chattering chattering     
n. (机器振动发出的)咔嗒声,(鸟等)鸣,啁啾 adj. 喋喋不休的,啾啾声的 动词chatter的现在分词形式
  • The teacher told the children to stop chattering in class. 老师叫孩子们在课堂上不要叽叽喳喳讲话。
  • I was so cold that my teeth were chattering. 我冷得牙齿直打战。
28 instinctively 2qezD2     
  • As he leaned towards her she instinctively recoiled. 他向她靠近,她本能地往后缩。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He knew instinctively where he would find her. 他本能地知道在哪儿能找到她。 来自《简明英汉词典》
29 agitation TN0zi     
  • Small shopkeepers carried on a long agitation against the big department stores.小店主们长期以来一直在煽动人们反对大型百货商店。
  • These materials require constant agitation to keep them in suspension.这些药剂要经常搅动以保持悬浮状态。
30 bellowing daf35d531c41de75017204c30dff5cac     
v.发出吼叫声,咆哮(尤指因痛苦)( bellow的现在分词 );(愤怒地)说出(某事),大叫
  • We could hear he was bellowing commands to his troops. 我们听见他正向他的兵士大声发布命令。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He disguised these feelings under an enormous bellowing and hurraying. 他用大声吼叫和喝采掩饰着这些感情。 来自辞典例句
31 ornament u4czn     
  • The flowers were put on the table for ornament.花放在桌子上做装饰用。
  • She wears a crystal ornament on her chest.她的前胸戴了一个水晶饰品。
32 throttle aIKzW     
  • These government restrictions are going to throttle our trade.这些政府的限制将要扼杀我们的贸易。
  • High tariffs throttle trade between countries.高的关税抑制了国与国之间的贸易。
33 sockets ffe33a3f6e35505faba01d17fd07d641     
n.套接字,使应用程序能够读写与收发通讯协定(protocol)与资料的程序( Socket的名词复数 );孔( socket的名词复数 );(电器上的)插口;托座;凹穴
  • All new PCs now have USB sockets. 新的个人计算机现在都有通用串行总线插孔。
  • Make sure the sockets in your house are fingerproof. 确保你房中的插座是防触电的。 来自超越目标英语 第4册
34 suffocation b834eadeaf680f6ffcb13068245a1fed     
  • The greatest dangers of pyroclastic avalanches are probably heat and suffocation. 火成碎屑崩落的最大危害可能是炽热和窒息作用。 来自辞典例句
  • The room was hot to suffocation. 房间热得闷人。 来自辞典例句
35 bind Vt8zi     
  • I will let the waiter bind up the parcel for you.我让服务生帮你把包裹包起来。
  • He wants a shirt that does not bind him.他要一件不使他觉得过紧的衬衫。
36 twitching 97f99ba519862a2bc691c280cee4d4cf     
  • The child in a spasm kept twitching his arms and legs. 那个害痉挛的孩子四肢不断地抽搐。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • My eyelids keep twitching all the time. 我眼皮老是跳。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
37 nostrils 23a65b62ec4d8a35d85125cdb1b4410e     
鼻孔( nostril的名词复数 )
  • Her nostrils flared with anger. 她气得两个鼻孔都鼓了起来。
  • The horse dilated its nostrils. 马张大鼻孔。
38 neatly ynZzBp     
  • Sailors know how to wind up a long rope neatly.水手们知道怎样把一条大绳利落地缠好。
  • The child's dress is neatly gathered at the neck.那孩子的衣服在领口处打着整齐的皱褶。
39 groaning groaning     
adj. 呜咽的, 呻吟的 动词groan的现在分词形式
  • She's always groaning on about how much she has to do. 她总抱怨自己干很多活儿。
  • The wounded man lay there groaning, with no one to help him. 受伤者躺在那里呻吟着,无人救助。


©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