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首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » II. QUESTIONS.
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 As I did so, I could catch the murmur1 of the crowd outside as it seethed2 forward at the first intimation of the door being opened; but my attention was not so distracted by it, loud as it sounded after the quiet of the shut-up house, that I failed to notice that the door had not been locked by the gentleman leaving the night before, and that, consequently, only the night latch3 was on. With a turn of the knob it opened, showing me the mob of shouting boys and the forms of two gentlemen awaiting admittance on the door-step. I frowned at the mob and smiled on the gentlemen, one of whom was portly and easy-going in appearance, and the other spare, with a touch of severity in his aspect. But for some reason these gentlemen did not seem to appreciate the honor I had done them, for they both gave me a displeased4 glance, which was so odd and unsympathetic in its character that I bridled5 a little, though I soon returned to my natural manner. Did they realize at the first glance that I was destined6 to prove a thorn in the sides of every one connected with this matter, for days to come?
"Are you the woman who called from the window?" asked the larger of the two, whose business here I found it difficult at first to determine.
"I am," was my perfectly7 self-possessed reply. "I live next door and my presence here is due to the anxious interest I always take in my neighbors. I had reason to think that all was not as it should be in this house, and I was right. Look in the parlor8, sirs."
They were already as far as the threshold of that room and needed no further encouragement to enter. The heavier man went first and the other followed, and you may be sure I was not far behind. The sight meeting our eyes was ghastly enough, as you know; but these men were evidently accustomed to ghastly sights, for they showed but little emotion.
"I thought this house was empty," observed the second gentleman, who was evidently a doctor.
"So it was till last night," I put in; and was about to tell my story, when I felt my skirts jerked.
Turning, I found that this warning had come from the cleaner who stood close beside me.
"What do you want?" I asked, not understanding her and having nothing to conceal10.
"I?" she faltered11, with a frightened air. "Nothing, ma'am, nothing."
"Then don't interrupt me," I harshly admonished12 her, annoyed at an interference that tended to throw suspicion upon my candor13. "This woman came here to scrub and clean," I now explained; "it was by means of the key she carried that we were enabled to get into the house. I never spoke14 to her till a half hour ago."
At which, with a display of subtlety15 I was far from expecting in one of her appearance, she let her emotions take a fresh direction, and pointing towards the dead woman, she impetuously cried:
"But the poor child there! Aint you going to take those things off of her? It's wicked to leave her under all that stuff. Suppose there was life in her!"
"Oh! there's no hope of that," muttered the doctor, lifting one of the hands, and letting it fall again.
"Still—" he cast a side look at his companion, who gave him a meaning nod—"it might be well enough to lift this cabinet sufficiently16 for me to lay my hand on her heart."
They accordingly did this; and the doctor, leaning down, placed his hand over the poor bruised17 breast.
"No life," he murmured. "She has been dead some hours. Do you think we had better release the head?" he went on, glancing up at the portly man at his side.
But the latter, who was rapidly growing serious, made a slight protest with his finger, and turning to me, inquired, with sudden authority:
"What did you mean when you said that the house had been empty till last night?"
"Just what I said, sir. It was empty till about midnight, when two persons——" Again I felt my dress twitched18, this time very cautiously. What did the woman want? Not daring to give her a look, for these men were only too ready to detect harm in everything I did, I gently drew my skirt away and took a step aside, going on as if no interruption had occurred. "Did I say persons? I should have said a man and a woman drove up to the house and entered. I saw them from my window."
"You did?" murmured my interlocutor, whom I had by this time decided19 to be a detective. "And this is the woman, I suppose?" he proceeded, pointing to the poor creature lying before us.
"Why, yes, of course. Who else can she be? I did not see the lady's face last night, but she was young and light on her feet, and ran up the stoop gaily20."
"And the man? Where is the man? I don't see him here."
"I am not surprised at that. He went very soon after he came, not ten minutes after, I should say. That is what alarmed me and caused me to have the house investigated. It did not seem natural or like any of the Van Burnams to leave a woman to spend the night in so large a house alone."
"You know the Van Burnams?"
"Not well. But that don't signify. I know what report says of them; they are gentlemen."
"But Mr. Van Burnam is in Europe."
"He has two sons."
"Living here?"
"No; the unmarried one spends his nights at Long Branch, and the other is with his wife somewhere in Connecticut."
"How did the young couple you saw get in last night? Was there any one here to admit them?"
"No; the gentleman had a key."
"Ah, he had a key."
The tone in which this was said recurred21 to me afterwards, but at the moment I was much more impressed by a peculiar22 sound I heard behind me, something between a gasp23 and a click in the throat, which came I knew from the scrub-woman, and which, odd and contradictory24 as it may appear, struck me as an expression of satisfaction, though what there was in my admission to give satisfaction to this poor creature I could not[Pg 18] conjecture25. Moving so as to get a glimpse of her face, I went on with the grim self-possession natural to my character:
"And when he came out he walked briskly away. The carriage had not waited for him."
"Ah!" again muttered the gentleman, picking up one of the broken pieces of china which lay haphazard26 about the floor, while I studied the cleaner's face, which, to my amazement27, gave evidences of a confusion of emotions most unaccountable to me.
Mr. Gryce may have noticed this too, for he immediately addressed her, though he continued to look at the broken piece of china in his hand.
"And how come you to be cleaning the house?" he asked. "Is the family coming home?"
"They are, sir," she answered, hiding her emotion with great skill the moment she perceived attention directed to herself, and speaking with a sudden volubility that made us all stare. "They are expected any day. I didn't know it till yesterday—was it yesterday? No, the day before—when young Mr. Franklin—he is the oldest son, sir, and a very nice man, a very nice man—sent me word by letter that I was to get the house ready. It isn't the first time I have done it for them, sir, and as soon as I could get the basement key from the agent, I came here, and worked all day yesterday, washing up the floors and dusting. I should have been at them again this morning if my husband hadn't been sick. But I had to go to the infirmary for medicine, and it was noon when I got here, and then I found this lady standing9 outside with a policeman, a very nice lady, a very nice lady indeed, sir, I pay my respects to her"—and she actually dropped me a curtsey like a peasant woman in a play—"and they took my key from me, and the policeman opens the door, and he and me go upstairs and into all the rooms, and when we come to this one——"
She was getting so excited as to be hardly intelligible28. Stopping herself with a jerk, she fumbled29 nervously30 with her apron31, while I asked myself how she could have been at work in this house the day before without my knowing it. Suddenly I remembered that I was ill in the morning and busy in the afternoon at the Orphan32 Asylum33, and somewhat relieved at finding so excellent an excuse for my ignorance, I looked up to see if the detective had noticed anything odd in this woman's behavior. Presumably he had, but having more experience than myself with the susceptibility of ignorant persons in the presence of danger and distress34, he attached less importance to it than I did, for which I was secretly glad, without exactly knowing my reasons for being so.
"You will be wanted as a witness by the Coroner's jury," he now remarked to her, looking as if he were addressing the piece of china he was turning over in his hand. "Now, no nonsense!" he protested, as she commenced to tremble and plead. "You were the first one to see this dead woman, and you must be on hand to say so. As I cannot tell you when the inquest will be held, you had better stay around till the Coroner comes. He'll be here soon. You, and this other woman too."
By other woman he meant me, Miss Butterworth, of Colonial ancestry35 and no inconsiderable importance in the social world. But though I did not relish36 this careless association of myself with this poor scrub-woman, I was careful to show no displeasure, for I reasoned that as witnesses we were equal before the law, and that it was solely37 in this light he regarded us.
There was something in the manner of both these gentlemen which convinced me that while my presence was considered desirable in the house, it was not especially wanted in the room. I was therefore moving reluctantly away, when I felt a slight but peremptory38 touch on the arm, and turning, saw the detective at my side, still studying his piece of china.
He was, as I have said, of portly build and benevolent39 aspect; a fatherly-looking man, and not at all the person one would be likely to associate with the police. Yet he could take the lead very naturally, and when he spoke, I felt bound to answer him.
"Will you be so good, madam, as to relate over again, what you saw from your window last night? I am likely to have charge of this matter, and would be pleased to hear all you may have to say concerning it."
"My name is Butterworth," I politely intimated.
"And my name is Gryce."
"A detective?"
"The same."
"You must think this matter very serious," I ventured.
"Death by violence is always serious."
"You must regard this death as something more than an accident, I mean."
His smile seemed to say: "You will not know to-day how I regard it."
"And you will not know to-day what I think of it either," was my inward rejoinder, but I said nothing aloud, for the man was seventy-five if he was a day, and I have been taught respect for age, and have practised the same for fifty years and more.
I must have shown what was passing in my mind, and he must have seen it reflected on the polished surface of the porcelain40 he was contemplating41, for his lips showed the shadow of a smile sufficiently sarcastic42 for me to see that he was far from being as easy-natured as his countenance43 indicated.
"Come, come," said he, "there is the Coroner now. Say what you have to say, like the straightforward44, honest woman you appear."
"I don't like compliments," I snapped out. Indeed, they have always been obnoxious45 to me. As if there was any merit in being honest and straightforward, or any distinction in being told so!
"I am Miss Butterworth, and not in the habit of being spoken to as if I were a simple countrywoman," I objected. "But I will repeat what I saw last night, as it is no secret, and the telling of it won't hurt me and may help you."
Accordingly I went over the whole story, and was much more loquacious46 than I had intended to be, his manner was so insinuating47 and his inquiries48 so pertinent49. But one topic we both failed to broach50, and that was the peculiar manner of the scrub-woman. Perhaps it had not struck him as peculiar and perhaps it should not have struck me so, but in the silence which was preserved on the subject I felt I had acquired an advantage over him, which might lead to consequences of no small importance. Would I have felt thus or congratulated myself quite so much upon my fancied superiority, if I had known he was the man who managed the Leavenworth case, and who in his early years had experienced that very wonderful adventure on the staircase of the Heart's Delight? Perhaps I would; for though I have had no adventures, I feel capable of them, and as for any peculiar acumen51 he may have shown in his long and eventful career, why that is a quality which others may share with him, as I hope to be able to prove before finishing these pages.


1 murmur EjtyD     
  • They paid the extra taxes without a murmur.他们毫无怨言地交了附加税。
  • There was a low murmur of conversation in the hall.大厅里有窃窃私语声。
2 seethed 9421e7f0215c1a9ead7d20695b8a9883     
(液体)沸腾( seethe的过去式和过去分词 ); 激动,大怒; 强压怒火; 生闷气(~with sth|~ at sth)
  • She seethed silently in the corner. 她在角落里默默地生闷气。
  • He seethed with rage as the train left without him. 他误了火车,怒火中烧。
3 latch g2wxS     
  • She laid her hand on the latch of the door.她把手放在门闩上。
  • The repairman installed an iron latch on the door.修理工在门上安了铁门闩。
4 displeased 1uFz5L     
  • The old man was displeased and darted an angry look at me. 老人不高兴了,瞪了我一眼。
  • He was displeased about the whole affair. 他对整个事情感到很不高兴。
5 bridled f4fc5a2dd438a2bb7c3f6663cfac7d22     
给…套龙头( bridle的过去式和过去分词 ); 控制; 昂首表示轻蔑(或怨忿等); 动怒,生气
  • She bridled at the suggestion that she was lying. 她对暗示她在说谎的言论嗤之以鼻。
  • He bridled his horse. 他给他的马套上笼头。
6 destined Dunznz     
  • It was destined that they would marry.他们结婚是缘分。
  • The shipment is destined for America.这批货物将运往美国。
7 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
8 parlor v4MzU     
  • She was lying on a small settee in the parlor.她躺在客厅的一张小长椅上。
  • Is there a pizza parlor in the neighborhood?附近有没有比萨店?
9 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
10 conceal DpYzt     
  • He had to conceal his identity to escape the police.为了躲避警方,他只好隐瞒身份。
  • He could hardly conceal his joy at his departure.他几乎掩饰不住临行时的喜悦。
11 faltered d034d50ce5a8004ff403ab402f79ec8d     
(嗓音)颤抖( falter的过去式和过去分词 ); 支吾其词; 蹒跚; 摇晃
  • He faltered out a few words. 他支吾地说出了几句。
  • "Er - but he has such a longhead!" the man faltered. 他不好意思似的嚅嗫着:“这孩子脑袋真长。”
12 admonished b089a95ea05b3889a72a1d5e33963966     
v.劝告( admonish的过去式和过去分词 );训诫;(温和地)责备;轻责
  • She was admonished for chewing gum in class. 她在课堂上嚼口香糖,受到了告诫。
  • The teacher admonished the child for coming late to school. 那个孩子迟到,老师批评了他。 来自《简明英汉词典》
13 candor CN8zZ     
  • He covered a wide range of topics with unusual candor.他极其坦率地谈了许多问题。
  • He and his wife had avoided candor,and they had drained their marriage.他们夫妻间不坦率,已使婚姻奄奄一息。
14 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
15 subtlety Rsswm     
  • He has shown enormous strength,great intelligence and great subtlety.他表现出充沛的精力、极大的智慧和高度的灵活性。
  • The subtlety of his remarks was unnoticed by most of his audience.大多数听众都没有觉察到他讲话的微妙之处。
16 sufficiently 0htzMB     
  • It turned out he had not insured the house sufficiently.原来他没有给房屋投足保险。
  • The new policy was sufficiently elastic to accommodate both views.新政策充分灵活地适用两种观点。
17 bruised 5xKz2P     
  • his bruised and bloodied nose 他沾满血的青肿的鼻子
  • She had slipped and badly bruised her face. 她滑了一跤,摔得鼻青脸肿。
18 twitched bb3f705fc01629dc121d198d54fa0904     
vt.& vi.(使)抽动,(使)颤动(twitch的过去式与过去分词形式)
  • Her lips twitched with amusement. 她忍俊不禁地颤动着嘴唇。
  • The child's mouth twitched as if she were about to cry. 这小孩的嘴抽动着,像是要哭。 来自《简明英汉词典》
19 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
20 gaily lfPzC     
  • The children sing gaily.孩子们欢唱着。
  • She waved goodbye very gaily.她欢快地挥手告别。
21 recurred c940028155f925521a46b08674bc2f8a     
再发生,复发( recur的过去式和过去分词 ); 治愈
  • Old memories constantly recurred to him. 往事经常浮现在他的脑海里。
  • She always winced when he recurred to the subject of his poems. 每逢他一提到他的诗作的时候,她总是有点畏缩。
22 peculiar cinyo     
  • He walks in a peculiar fashion.他走路的样子很奇特。
  • He looked at me with a very peculiar expression.他用一种很奇怪的表情看着我。
23 gasp UfxzL     
  • She gave a gasp of surprise.她吃惊得大口喘气。
  • The enemy are at their last gasp.敌人在做垂死的挣扎。
24 contradictory VpazV     
  • The argument is internally contradictory.论据本身自相矛盾。
  • What he said was self-contradictory.他讲话前后不符。
25 conjecture 3p8z4     
  • She felt it no use to conjecture his motives.她觉得猜想他的动机是没有用的。
  • This conjecture is not supported by any real evidence.这种推测未被任何确切的证据所证实。
26 haphazard n5oyi     
  • The town grew in a haphazard way.这城镇无计划地随意发展。
  • He regrerted his haphazard remarks.他悔不该随口说出那些评论话。
27 amazement 7zlzBK     
  • All those around him looked at him with amazement.周围的人都对他投射出惊异的眼光。
  • He looked at me in blank amazement.他带着迷茫惊诧的神情望着我。
28 intelligible rbBzT     
  • This report would be intelligible only to an expert in computing.只有计算机运算专家才能看懂这份报告。
  • His argument was barely intelligible.他的论点不易理解。
29 fumbled 78441379bedbe3ea49c53fb90c34475f     
(笨拙地)摸索或处理(某事物)( fumble的过去式和过去分词 ); 乱摸,笨拙地弄; 使落下
  • She fumbled in her pocket for a handkerchief. 她在她口袋里胡乱摸找手帕。
  • He fumbled about in his pockets for the ticket. 他(瞎)摸着衣兜找票。
30 nervously tn6zFp     
  • He bit his lip nervously,trying not to cry.他紧张地咬着唇,努力忍着不哭出来。
  • He paced nervously up and down on the platform.他在站台上情绪不安地走来走去。
31 apron Lvzzo     
  • We were waited on by a pretty girl in a pink apron.招待我们的是一位穿粉红色围裙的漂亮姑娘。
  • She stitched a pocket on the new apron.她在新围裙上缝上一只口袋。
32 orphan QJExg     
  • He brought up the orphan and passed onto him his knowledge of medicine.他把一个孤儿养大,并且把自己的医术传给了他。
  • The orphan had been reared in a convent by some good sisters.这个孤儿在一所修道院里被几个好心的修女带大。
33 asylum DobyD     
  • The people ask for political asylum.人们请求政治避难。
  • Having sought asylum in the West for many years,they were eventually granted it.他们最终获得了在西方寻求多年的避难权。
34 distress 3llzX     
  • Nothing could alleviate his distress.什么都不能减轻他的痛苦。
  • Please don't distress yourself.请你不要忧愁了。
35 ancestry BNvzf     
  • Their ancestry settled the land in 1856.他们的祖辈1856年在这块土地上定居下来。
  • He is an American of French ancestry.他是法国血统的美国人。
36 relish wBkzs     
  • I have no relish for pop music.我对流行音乐不感兴趣。
  • I relish the challenge of doing jobs that others turn down.我喜欢挑战别人拒绝做的工作。
37 solely FwGwe     
  • Success should not be measured solely by educational achievement.成功与否不应只用学业成绩来衡量。
  • The town depends almost solely on the tourist trade.这座城市几乎完全靠旅游业维持。
38 peremptory k3uz8     
  • The officer issued peremptory commands.军官发出了不容许辩驳的命令。
  • There was a peremptory note in his voice.他说话的声音里有一种不容置辩的口气。
39 benevolent Wtfzx     
  • His benevolent nature prevented him from refusing any beggar who accosted him.他乐善好施的本性使他不会拒绝走上前向他行乞的任何一个乞丐。
  • He was a benevolent old man and he wouldn't hurt a fly.他是一个仁慈的老人,连只苍蝇都不愿伤害。
40 porcelain USvz9     
  • These porcelain plates have rather original designs on them.这些瓷盘的花纹很别致。
  • The porcelain vase is enveloped in cotton.瓷花瓶用棉花裹着。
41 contemplating bde65bd99b6b8a706c0f139c0720db21     
深思,细想,仔细考虑( contemplate的现在分词 ); 注视,凝视; 考虑接受(发生某事的可能性); 深思熟虑,沉思,苦思冥想
  • You're too young to be contemplating retirement. 你考虑退休还太年轻。
  • She stood contemplating the painting. 她站在那儿凝视那幅图画。
42 sarcastic jCIzJ     
  • I squashed him with a sarcastic remark.我说了一句讽刺的话把他给镇住了。
  • She poked fun at people's shortcomings with sarcastic remarks.她冷嘲热讽地拿别人的缺点开玩笑。
43 countenance iztxc     
  • At the sight of this photograph he changed his countenance.他一看见这张照片脸色就变了。
  • I made a fierce countenance as if I would eat him alive.我脸色恶狠狠地,仿佛要把他活生生地吞下去。
44 straightforward fFfyA     
  • A straightforward talk is better than a flowery speech.巧言不如直说。
  • I must insist on your giving me a straightforward answer.我一定要你给我一个直截了当的回答。
45 obnoxious t5dzG     
  • These fires produce really obnoxious fumes and smoke.这些火炉冒出来的烟气确实很难闻。
  • He is the most obnoxious man I know.他是我认识的最可憎的人。
46 loquacious ewEyx     
  • The normally loquacious Mr O'Reilly has said little.平常话多的奥赖利先生几乎没说什么。
  • Kennedy had become almost as loquacious as Joe.肯尼迪变得和乔一样唠叨了。
47 insinuating insinuating     
adj.曲意巴结的,暗示的v.暗示( insinuate的现在分词 );巧妙或迂回地潜入;(使)缓慢进入;慢慢伸入
  • Are you insinuating that I' m telling a lie ? 你这是意味着我是在说谎吗? 来自辞典例句
  • He is extremely insinuating, but it's a vulgar nature. 他好奉承拍马,那是种庸俗的品格。 来自辞典例句
48 inquiries 86a54c7f2b27c02acf9fcb16a31c4b57     
n.调查( inquiry的名词复数 );疑问;探究;打听
  • He was released on bail pending further inquiries. 他获得保释,等候进一步调查。
  • I have failed to reach them by postal inquiries. 我未能通过邮政查询与他们取得联系。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
49 pertinent 53ozF     
  • The expert made some pertinent comments on the scheme.那专家对规划提出了一些中肯的意见。
  • These should guide him to pertinent questions for further study.这些将有助于他进一步研究有关问题。
50 broach HsTzn     
  • It's a good chance to broach the subject.这是开始提出那个问题的好机会。
  • I thought I'd better broach the matter with my boss.我想我最好还是跟老板说一下这事。
51 acumen qVgzn     
  • She has considerable business acumen.她的经营能力绝非一般。
  • His business acumen has made his very successful.他的商业头脑使他很成功。


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