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首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » IV. SILAS VAN BURNAM.
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 "However much I may be needed at home, I cannot reconcile it with my sense of duty to leave just yet," I confided1 to the reporter, with what I meant to be a proper show of reason and self-restraint; "Mr. Van Burnam may wish to ask me some questions."
"Of course, of course," acquiesced2 the other. "You are very right; always are very right, I should judge."
As I did not know what he meant by this, I frowned, always a wise thing to do in an uncertainty3; that is,—if one wishes to maintain an air of independence and aversion to flattery.
"Will you not sit down?" he suggested. "There is a chair at the end of the hall."
But I had no need to sit. The front door-bell again rang, and simultaneously4 with its opening, the parlor5 door unclosed and Mr. Franklin Van Burnam appeared in the hall, just as Mr. Silas Van Burnam, his father, stepped into the vestibule.
"Father!" he remonstrated6, with a troubled air; "could you not wait?"
The elder gentleman, who had evidently just been driven up from the steamer, wiped his forehead with an irascible air, that I will say I had noticed in him before and on much less provocation7.
"Wait, with a yelling crowd screaming murder in my ear, and Isabella on one side of me calling for salts, and Caroline on the opposite seat getting that blue look about the mouth we have learned to dread8 so in a hot day like this? No, sir, when there is anything wrong going on I want to know it, and evidently there is something wrong going on here. What is it? Some of Howard's——"
But the son, seizing me by the hand and drawing me forward, put a quick stop to the old gentleman's sentence. "Miss Butterworth, father! Our next-door neighbor, you know."
"Ah! hum! ha! Miss Butterworth. How do you do, ma'am? What the —— is she doing here?" he grumbled9, not so low but that I heard both the profanity and the none too complimentary10 allusion11 to myself.
"If you will come into the parlor, I will tell you," urged the son. "But what have you done with Isabella and Caroline? Left them in the carriage with that hooting12 mob about them?"
"I told the coachman to drive on. They are probably half-way around the block by this time."
"Then come in here. But don't allow yourself to be too much affected13 by what you will see. A sad accident has occurred here, and you must expect the sight of blood."
"Blood! Oh, I can stand that, if Howard——"
The rest was lost in the sound of the closing door.
And now, you will say, I ought to have gone. And you are right, but would you have gone yourself, especially[Pg 38] as the hall was full of people who did not belong there?
If you would, then condemn14 me for lingering just a few minutes longer.
The voices in the parlor were loud, but they presently subsided15; and when the owner of the house came out again, he had a subdued16 look which was as great a contrast to his angry aspect on entering, as was the change I had observed in his son. He was so absorbed indeed that he did not notice me, though I stood directly in his way.
"Don't let Howard come," he was saying in a thick, low voice to his son. "Keep Howard away till we are sure——"
I am confident that his son pressed his arm at this point, for he stopped short and looked about him in a blind and dazed way.
"Oh!" he ejaculated, in a tone of great displeasure. "This is the woman who saw——"
"Miss Butterworth, father," the anxious voice of his son broke in. "Don't try to talk; such a sight is enough to unnerve any man."
"Yes, yes," blustered17 the old gentleman, evidently taking some hint from the other's tone or manner. "But where are the girls? They will be dead with terror, if we don't relieve their minds. They got the idea it was their brother Howard who was hurt; and so did I, but it's only some wandering waif—some——"
It seemed as if he was not to be allowed to finish any of his sentences, for Franklin interrupted him at this point to ask him what he was going to do with the girls. Certainly he could not bring them in here.
"No," answered the father, but in the dreamy, inconsequential way of one whose thoughts were elsewhere. "I suppose I shall have to take them to some hotel."
Ah, an idea! I flushed as I realized the opportunity which had come to me and had to wait a moment not to speak with too much eagerness.
"Let me play the part of a neighbor," I prayed, "and accommodate the young ladies for the night. My house is near and quiet."
"But the trouble it will involve," protested Mr. Franklin.
"Is just what I need to allay18 my excitement," I responded. "I shall be glad to offer them rooms for the night. If they are equally glad to accept them——"
"They must be!" the old gentleman declared. "I can't go running round with them hunting up rooms to-night. Miss Butterworth is very good; go find the girls, Franklin; let me have them off my mind, at least."
The young man bowed. I bowed, and was slipping at last from my place by the stairs when, for the third time, I felt my dress twitched19.
"Are you going to keep to that story?" a voice whispered in my ear. "About the young man and woman coming in the night, you know."
"Keep to it!" I whispered back, recognizing the scrub-woman, who had sidled up to me from some unknown quarter in the semi-darkness. "Why, it's true. Why shouldn't I keep to it."
A chuckle20, difficult to describe but full of meaning, shook the arm of the woman as she pressed close to my side.
"Oh, you are a good one," she said. "I didn't know they made 'em so good!" And with another chuckle full of satisfaction and an odd sort of admiration21 I had certainly not earned, she slid away again into the darkness.
Certainly there was something in this woman's attitude towards this affair which merited attention.


1 confided 724f3f12e93e38bec4dda1e47c06c3b1     
v.吐露(秘密,心事等)( confide的过去式和过去分词 );(向某人)吐露(隐私、秘密等)
  • She confided all her secrets to her best friend. 她向她最要好的朋友倾吐了自己所有的秘密。
  • He confided to me that he had spent five years in prison. 他私下向我透露,他蹲过五年监狱。 来自《简明英汉词典》
2 acquiesced 03acb9bc789f7d2955424223e0a45f1b     
v.默认,默许( acquiesce的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Senior government figures must have acquiesced in the cover-up. 政府高级官员必然已经默许掩盖真相。
  • After a lot of persuasion,he finally acquiesced. 经过多次劝说,他最终默许了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
3 uncertainty NlFwK     
  • Her comments will add to the uncertainty of the situation.她的批评将会使局势更加不稳定。
  • After six weeks of uncertainty,the strain was beginning to take its toll.6个星期的忐忑不安后,压力开始产生影响了。
4 simultaneously 4iBz1o     
  • The radar beam can track a number of targets almost simultaneously.雷达波几乎可以同时追着多个目标。
  • The Windows allow a computer user to execute multiple programs simultaneously.Windows允许计算机用户同时运行多个程序。
5 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?
6 remonstrated a6eda3fe26f748a6164faa22a84ba112     
v.抗议( remonstrate的过去式和过去分词 );告诫
  • They remonstrated with the official about the decision. 他们就这一决定向这位官员提出了抗议。
  • We remonstrated against the ill-treatment of prisoners of war. 我们对虐待战俘之事提出抗议。 来自辞典例句
7 provocation QB9yV     
  • He's got a fiery temper and flares up at the slightest provocation.他是火爆性子,一点就着。
  • They did not react to this provocation.他们对这一挑衅未作反应。
8 dread Ekpz8     
  • We all dread to think what will happen if the company closes.我们都不敢去想一旦公司关门我们该怎么办。
  • Her heart was relieved of its blankest dread.她极度恐惧的心理消除了。
9 grumbled ed735a7f7af37489d7db1a9ef3b64f91     
抱怨( grumble的过去式和过去分词 ); 发牢骚; 咕哝; 发哼声
  • He grumbled at the low pay offered to him. 他抱怨给他的工资低。
  • The heat was sweltering, and the men grumbled fiercely over their work. 天热得让人发昏,水手们边干活边发着牢骚。
10 complimentary opqzw     
  • She made some highly complimentary remarks about their school.她对他们的学校给予高度的评价。
  • The supermarket operates a complimentary shuttle service.这家超市提供免费购物班车。
11 allusion CfnyW     
  • He made an allusion to a secret plan in his speech.在讲话中他暗示有一项秘密计划。
  • She made no allusion to the incident.她没有提及那个事件。
12 hooting f69e3a288345bbea0b49ddc2fbe5fdc6     
(使)作汽笛声响,作汽车喇叭声( hoot的现在分词 ); 倒好儿; 倒彩
  • He had the audience hooting with laughter . 他令观众哄堂大笑。
  • The owl was hooting. 猫头鹰在叫。
13 affected TzUzg0     
  • She showed an affected interest in our subject.她假装对我们的课题感到兴趣。
  • His manners are affected.他的态度不自然。
14 condemn zpxzp     
  • Some praise him,whereas others condemn him.有些人赞扬他,而有些人谴责他。
  • We mustn't condemn him on mere suppositions.我们不可全凭臆测来指责他。
15 subsided 1bda21cef31764468020a8c83598cc0d     
v.(土地)下陷(因在地下采矿)( subside的过去式和过去分词 );减弱;下降至较低或正常水平;一下子坐在椅子等上
  • After the heavy rains part of the road subsided. 大雨过后,部分公路塌陷了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • By evening the storm had subsided and all was quiet again. 傍晚, 暴风雨已经过去,四周开始沉寂下来。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
16 subdued 76419335ce506a486af8913f13b8981d     
adj. 屈服的,柔和的,减弱的 动词subdue的过去式和过去分词
  • He seemed a bit subdued to me. 我觉得他当时有点闷闷不乐。
  • I felt strangely subdued when it was all over. 一切都结束的时候,我却有一种奇怪的压抑感。
17 blustered a9528ebef8660f51b060e99bf21b6ae5     
v.外强中干的威吓( bluster的过去式和过去分词 );咆哮;(风)呼啸;狂吹
  • He blustered his way through the crowd. 他吆喝着挤出人群。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • The wind blustered around the house. 狂风呼啸着吹过房屋周围。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
18 allay zxIzJ     
  • The police tried to allay her fears but failed.警察力图减轻她的恐惧,但是没有收到什么效果。
  • They are trying to allay public fears about the spread of the disease.他们正竭力减轻公众对这种疾病传播的恐惧。
19 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》
20 chuckle Tr1zZ     
  • He shook his head with a soft chuckle.他轻轻地笑着摇了摇头。
  • I couldn't suppress a soft chuckle at the thought of it.想到这个,我忍不住轻轻地笑起来。
21 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。


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