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首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » V. "THIS IS NO ONE I KNOW."
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 I welcomed the Misses Van Burnam with just enough good-will to show that I had not been influenced by any unworthy motives1 in asking them to my house.
I gave them my guest-chamber2, but I invited them to sit in my front room as long as there was anything interesting going on in the street. I knew they would like to look out, and as this chamber boasts of a bay with two windows, we could all be accommodated. From where I sat I could now and then hear what they said, and I considered this but just, for if the young woman who had suffered so untimely an end was in any way connected with them, it was certainly best that the fact should not lie concealed3; and one of them, that is Isabella, is such a chatterbox.
Mr. Van Burnam and his son had returned next door, and so far as we could observe from our vantage-point, preparations were being made for the body's removal. As the crowd below, driven away by the policemen one minute, only to collect again in another, swayed and grumbled4 in a continual expectation that was as continually disappointed, I heard Caroline's voice rise in two or three short sentences.
"They can't find Howard, or he would have been here before now. Did you see her that time when we were coming out of Clark's? Fanny Preston did, and said she was pretty."
"No, I didn't get a glimpse——" A shout from the street below.
"I can't believe it," were the next words I heard, "but Franklin is awfully5 afraid——"
"Hush7! or the ogress——" I am sure I heard her say ogress; but what followed was drowned in another loud murmur8, and I caught nothing further till these sentences were uttered by the trembling and over-excited Caroline: "If it is she, pa will never be the same man again. To have her die in our house! O, there's Howard now!"
The interruption came quick and sharp, and it was followed by a double cry and an anxious rustle9, as the two girls sprang to their feet in their anxiety to attract their brother's attention or possibly to convey him some warning.
But I did not give much heed10 to them. My eyes were on the carriage in which Howard had arrived, and which, owing to the ambulance in front, had stopped on the other side of the way. I was anxious to see him descend11 that I might judge if his figure recalled that of the man I had seen cross the pavement the night before. But he did not descend. Just as his hand was on the carriage door, a half dozen men appeared on the adjoining stoop carrying a burden which they hastened to deposit in the ambulance. He sank back when he saw it, and when his face became visible again, it was so white it seemed to be the only face in the street, though fifty people stood about staring at the house, at the ambulance, and at him.
Franklin Van Burnam had evidently come to the door with the rest; for Howard no sooner showed his face the second time than we saw the former dash down the steps and try to part the crowd in a vain attempt to reach his brother's side. Mr. Gryce was more successful. He had no difficulty in winning his way across the street, and presently I perceived him standing12 near the carriage exchanging a few words with its occupant. A moment later he drew back, and addressing the driver, jumped into the carriage with Howard, and was speedily driven off. The ambulance followed and some of the crowd, and as soon as a hack13 could be obtained, Mr. Van Burnam and his son took the same road, leaving us three women in a state of suspense14, which as far as one of us was concerned, ended in a nervous attack that was not unlike heart failure. I allude15, of course, to Caroline, and it took Isabella and myself a good half hour to bring her back to a normal condition, and when this was done, Isabella thought it incumbent16 upon her to go off into hysterics, which, being but a weak simulation of the other's state, I met with severity and cured with a frown. When both were in trim again I allowed myself one remark.
"One would think," said I, "that you knew the young woman who has fallen victim to her folly17 next door."
At which Isabella violently shook her head and Caroline observed:
"It is the excitement which has been too much for me. I am never strong, and this is such a dreadful home-welcoming. When will father and Franklin come back? It was very unkind of them to go off without one word of encouragement."
"They probably did not consider the fate of this unknown woman a matter of any importance to you."
The Van Burnam girls were unlike in appearance and character, but they showed an equal embarrassment18 at this, casting down their eyes and behaving so strangely that I was driven to wonder, without any show of hysterics I am happy to say, what would be the upshot of this matter, and how far I would become involved in it before the truth came to light.
At dinner they displayed what I should call their best society manner. Seeing this, I assumed my society manner also. It is formed on a different pattern from theirs, but is fully6 as impressive, I judge.
A most formal meal was the result. My best china was in use, but I had added nothing to my usual course of viands19. Indeed, I had abstracted something. An entrée, upon which my cook prides herself, was omitted. Was I going to allow these proud young misses to think I had exerted myself to please them? No; rather would I have them consider me niggardly20 and an enemy to good living; so the entrée was, as the French say, suppressed.
In the evening their father came in. He was looking very dejected, and half his bluster21 was gone. He held a telegram crushed in his hand, and he talked very rapidly. But he confided22 none of his secrets to me, and I was obliged to say good-night to these young ladies without knowing much more about the matter engrossing23 us than when I left their house in the afternoon.
But others were not as ignorant as myself. A dramatic and highly exciting scene had taken place that evening at the undertaker's to which the unknown's body had been removed, and as I have more than once heard it minutely described, I will endeavor to transcribe24 it here with all the impartiality25 of an outsider.
When Mr. Gryce entered the carriage in which Howard sat, he noted26 first, that the young man was frightened; and secondly27, that he made no effort to hide it. He had heard almost nothing from the detective. He knew that there had been a hue28 and cry for him ever since noon, and that he was wanted to identify a young woman who had been found dead in his father's house, but beyond these facts he had been told little, and yet he seemed to have no curiosity nor did he venture to express any surprise. He merely accepted the situation and was troubled by it, showing no inclination30 to talk till very near the end of his destination, when he suddenly pulled himself together and ventured this question:
"How did she—the young woman as you call her—kill herself?"
The detective, who in his long career among criminals and suspected persons, had seen many men and encountered many conditions, roused at this query31 with much of his old spirit. Turning from the man rather than toward him, he allowed himself a slight shrug32 of the shoulders as he calmly replied:
"She was found under a heavy piece of furniture; the cabinet with the vases on it, which you must remember stood at the left of the mantel-piece. It had crushed her head and breast. Quite a remarkable33 means of death, don't you think? There has been but one occurrence like it in my long experience."
"I don't believe what you tell me," was the young man's astonishing reply. "You are trying to frighten me or to make game of me. No lady would make use of any such means of death as that."
"I did not say she was a lady," returned Mr. Gryce, scoring one in his mind against his unwary companion.
A quiver passed down the young man's side where he came in contact with the detective.
"No," he muttered; "but I gathered from what you said, she was no common person; or why," he flashed out in sudden heat, "do you require me to go with you to see her? Have I the name of associating with any persons of the sex who are not ladies?"
"Pardon me," said Mr. Gryce, in grim delight at the prospect34 he saw slowly unfolding before him of one of those complicated affairs in which minds like his unconsciously revel35; "I meant no insinuations. We have requested you, as we have requested your father and brother, to accompany us to the undertaker's, because the identification of the corpse36 is a most important point, and every formality likely to insure it must be observed."
"And did not they—my father and brother, I mean—recognize her?"
"It would be difficult for any one to recognize her who was not well acquainted with her."
A horrified37 look crossed the features of Howard Van Burnam, which, if a part of his acting38, showed him to have genius for his rôle. His head sank back on the cushions of the carriage, and for a moment he closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the carriage had stopped, and Mr. Gryce, who had not noticed his emotion, of course, was looking out of the window with his hand on the handle of the door.
"Are we there already?" asked the young man,with a shudder39. "I wish you had not considered it necessary for me to see her. I shall detect nothing familiar in her, I know."
Mr. Gryce bowed, repeated that it was a mere29 formality, and followed the young gentleman into the building and afterwards into the room where the dead body lay. A couple of doctors and one or two officials stood about, in whose faces the young man sought for something like encouragement before casting his eyes in the direction indicated by the detective. But there was little in any of these faces to calm him, and turning shortly away, he walked manfully across the room and took his stand by the detective.
"I am positive," he began, "that it is not my wife——" At this moment the cloth that covered the body was removed, and he gave a great start of relief. "I said so," he remarked, coldly. "This is no one I know."
His sigh was echoed in double chorus from the doorway40. Glancing that way he encountered the faces of his father and elder brother, and moved towards them with a relieved air that made quite another man of him in appearance.
"I have had my say," he remarked. "Shall I wait outside till you have had yours?"
"We have already said all that we had to," Franklin returned. "We declared that we did not recognize this person."
"Of course, of course," assented41 the other. "I don't see why they should have expected us to know her. Some common suicide who thought the house empty—But how did she get in?"
"Don't you know?" said Mr. Gryce. "Can it be that I forgot to tell you? Why, she was let in at night by a young man of medium height"—his eye ran up and down the graceful42 figure of the young élégant before him as he spoke43—"who left her inside and then went away. A young man who had a key——"
"A key? Franklin, I——"
Was it a look from Franklin which made him stop? It is possible, for he turned on his heel as he reached this point, and tossing his head with quite a gay air, exclaimed: "But it is of no consequence! The girl is a stranger, and we have satisfied, I believe, all the requirements of the law in saying so, and may now drop the matter. Are you going to the club, Franklin?"
"Yes, but——" Here the elder brother drew nearer and whispered something into the other's ear, who at that whisper turned again towards the place where the dead woman lay. Seeing this movement, his anxious father wiped the moisture from his forehead. Silas Van Burnam had been silent up to this moment and seemed inclined to continue so, but he watched his younger son with painful intentness.
"Nonsense!" broke from Howard's lips as his brother ceased his communication; but he took a step nearer the body, notwithstanding, and then another and another till he was at its side again.
The hands had not been injured, as we have said, and upon these his eyes now fell.
"They are like hers! O God! they are like hers!" he muttered, growing gloomy at once. "But where are the rings? There are no rings to be seen on these fingers, and she wore five, including her wedding-ring."
"Is it of your wife you are speaking?" inquired Mr. Gryce, who had edged up close to his side.
The young man was caught unawares.
He flushed deeply, but answered up boldly and with great appearance of candor44:
"Yes; my wife left Haddam yesterday to come to New York, and I have not seen her since. Naturally I have felt some doubts lest this unhappy victim should be she. But I do not recognize her clothing; I do not recognize her form; only the hands look familiar."
"And the hair?"
"Is of the same color as hers, but it's a very ordinary color. I do not dare to say from anything I see that this is my wife."
"We will call you again after the doctor has finished his autopsy," said Mr. Gryce. "Perhaps you will hear from Mrs. Van Burnam before then."
But this intimation did not seem to bring comfort with it. Mr. Van Burnam walked away, white and sick, for which display of emotion there was certainly some cause, and rejoining his father tried to carry off the moment with the aplomb45 of a man of the world.
But that father's eye was fixed46 too steadily47 upon him; he faltered48 as he sat down, and finally spoke up, with feverish49 energy:
"If it is she, so help me, God, her death is a mystery to me! We have quarrelled more than once lately, and I have sometimes lost my patience with her, but she had no reason to wish for death, and I am ready to swear in defiance50 of those hands, which are certainly like hers, and the nameless something which Franklin calls a likeness51, that it is a stranger who lies there, and that her death in our house is a coincidence."
"Well, well, we will wait," was the detective's soothing52 reply. "Sit down in the room opposite there, and give me your orders for supper, and I will see that a good meal is served you."
The three gentlemen, seeing no way of refusing, followed the discreet53 official who preceded them, and the door of the doctor's room closed upon him and the inquiries54 he was about to make.


1 motives 6c25d038886898b20441190abe240957     
n.动机,目的( motive的名词复数 )
  • to impeach sb's motives 怀疑某人的动机
  • His motives are unclear. 他的用意不明。
2 chamber wnky9     
  • For many,the dentist's surgery remains a torture chamber.对许多人来说,牙医的治疗室一直是间受刑室。
  • The chamber was ablaze with light.会议厅里灯火辉煌。
3 concealed 0v3zxG     
  • The paintings were concealed beneath a thick layer of plaster. 那些画被隐藏在厚厚的灰泥层下面。
  • I think he had a gun concealed about his person. 我认为他当时身上藏有一支枪。
4 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。
5 awfully MPkym     
  • Agriculture was awfully neglected in the past.过去农业遭到严重忽视。
  • I've been feeling awfully bad about it.对这我一直感到很难受。
6 fully Gfuzd     
  • The doctor asked me to breathe in,then to breathe out fully.医生让我先吸气,然后全部呼出。
  • They soon became fully integrated into the local community.他们很快就完全融入了当地人的圈子。
7 hush ecMzv     
  • A hush fell over the onlookers.旁观者们突然静了下来。
  • Do hush up the scandal!不要把这丑事声张出去!
8 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。
9 rustle thPyl     
  • She heard a rustle in the bushes.她听到灌木丛中一阵沙沙声。
  • He heard a rustle of leaves in the breeze.他听到树叶在微风中发出的沙沙声。
10 heed ldQzi     
  • You must take heed of what he has told.你要注意他所告诉的事。
  • For the first time he had to pay heed to his appearance.这是他第一次非得注意自己的外表不可了。
11 descend descend     
  • I hope the grace of God would descend on me.我期望上帝的恩惠。
  • We're not going to descend to such methods.我们不会沦落到使用这种手段。
12 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。
13 hack BQJz2     
  • He made a hack at the log.他朝圆木上砍了一下。
  • Early settlers had to hack out a clearing in the forest where they could grow crops.早期移民不得不在森林里劈出空地种庄稼。
14 suspense 9rJw3     
  • The suspense was unbearable.这样提心吊胆的状况实在叫人受不了。
  • The director used ingenious devices to keep the audience in suspense.导演用巧妙手法引起观众的悬念。
15 allude vfdyW     
  • Many passages in Scripture allude to this concept.圣经中有许多经文间接地提到这样的概念。
  • She also alluded to her rival's past marital troubles.她还影射了对手过去的婚姻问题。
16 incumbent wbmzy     
  • He defeated the incumbent governor by a large plurality.他以压倒多数票击败了现任州长。
  • It is incumbent upon you to warn them.你有责任警告他们。
17 folly QgOzL     
  • Learn wisdom by the folly of others.从别人的愚蠢行动中学到智慧。
  • Events proved the folly of such calculations.事情的进展证明了这种估计是愚蠢的。
18 embarrassment fj9z8     
  • She could have died away with embarrassment.她窘迫得要死。
  • Coughing at a concert can be a real embarrassment.在音乐会上咳嗽真会使人难堪。
19 viands viands     
  • Greek slaves supplied them with exquisite viands at the slightest nod.只要他们轻轻点点头希腊奴隶就会供奉给他们精美的食品。
  • The family sat down to table,and a frugal meal of cold viands was deposited beforethem.一家老少,都围着桌子坐下,几样简单的冷食,摆在他们面前。
20 niggardly F55zj     
  • Forced by hunger,he worked for the most niggardly pay.为饥饿所迫,他为极少的工资而工作。
  • He is niggardly with his money.他对钱很吝啬。
21 bluster mRDy4     
  • We could hear the bluster of the wind and rain.我们能听到狂风暴雨的吹打声。
  • He was inclined to bluster at first,but he soon dropped.起初他老爱吵闹一阵,可是不久就不做声了。
22 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》
23 engrossing YZ8zR     
adj.使人全神贯注的,引人入胜的v.使全神贯注( engross的现在分词 )
  • He told us an engrossing story. 他给我们讲了一个引人入胜的故事。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • It might soon have ripened into that engrossing feeling. 很快便会发展成那种压倒一切的感情的。 来自辞典例句
24 transcribe tntwJ     
  • We need volunteers to transcribe this manuscript.我们需要自愿者来抄写这个文稿。
  • I am able to take dictation in English and transcribe them rapidly into Chinese.我会英文记录,还能立即将其改写成中文。
25 impartiality 5b49bb7ab0b3222fd7bf263721e2169d     
n. 公平, 无私, 不偏
  • He shows impartiality and detachment. 他表现得不偏不倚,超然事外。
  • Impartiality is essential to a judge. 公平是当法官所必需的。
26 noted 5n4zXc     
  • The local hotel is noted for its good table.当地的那家酒店以餐食精美而著称。
  • Jim is noted for arriving late for work.吉姆上班迟到出了名。
27 secondly cjazXx     
  • Secondly,use your own head and present your point of view.第二,动脑筋提出自己的见解。
  • Secondly it is necessary to define the applied load.其次,需要确定所作用的载荷。
28 hue qdszS     
  • The diamond shone with every hue under the sun.金刚石在阳光下放出五颜六色的光芒。
  • The same hue will look different in different light.同一颜色在不同的光线下看起来会有所不同。
29 mere rC1xE     
  • That is a mere repetition of what you said before.那不过是重复了你以前讲的话。
  • It's a mere waste of time waiting any longer.再等下去纯粹是浪费时间。
30 inclination Gkwyj     
  • She greeted us with a slight inclination of the head.她微微点头向我们致意。
  • I did not feel the slightest inclination to hurry.我没有丝毫着急的意思。
31 query iS4xJ     
  • I query very much whether it is wise to act so hastily.我真怀疑如此操之过急地行动是否明智。
  • They raised a query on his sincerity.他们对他是否真诚提出质疑。
32 shrug Ry3w5     
  • With a shrug,he went out of the room.他耸一下肩,走出了房间。
  • I admire the way she is able to shrug off unfair criticism.我很佩服她能对错误的批评意见不予理会。
33 remarkable 8Vbx6     
  • She has made remarkable headway in her writing skills.她在写作技巧方面有了长足进步。
  • These cars are remarkable for the quietness of their engines.这些汽车因发动机没有噪音而不同凡响。
34 prospect P01zn     
  • This state of things holds out a cheerful prospect.事态呈现出可喜的前景。
  • The prospect became more evident.前景变得更加明朗了。
35 revel yBezQ     
  • She seems to revel in annoying her parents.她似乎以惹父母生气为乐。
  • The children revel in country life.孩子们特别喜欢乡村生活。
36 corpse JYiz4     
  • What she saw was just an unfeeling corpse.她见到的只是一具全无感觉的尸体。
  • The corpse was preserved from decay by embalming.尸体用香料涂抹以防腐烂。
37 horrified 8rUzZU     
  • The whole country was horrified by the killings. 全国都对这些凶杀案感到大为震惊。
  • We were horrified at the conditions prevailing in local prisons. 地方监狱的普遍状况让我们震惊。
38 acting czRzoc     
  • Ignore her,she's just acting.别理她,她只是假装的。
  • During the seventies,her acting career was in eclipse.在七十年代,她的表演生涯黯然失色。
39 shudder JEqy8     
  • The sight of the coffin sent a shudder through him.看到那副棺材,他浑身一阵战栗。
  • We all shudder at the thought of the dreadful dirty place.我们一想到那可怕的肮脏地方就浑身战惊。
40 doorway 2s0xK     
  • They huddled in the shop doorway to shelter from the rain.他们挤在商店门口躲雨。
  • Mary suddenly appeared in the doorway.玛丽突然出现在门口。
41 assented 4cee1313bb256a1f69bcc83867e78727     
同意,赞成( assent的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The judge assented to allow the prisoner to speak. 法官同意允许犯人申辩。
  • "No," assented Tom, "they don't kill the women -- they're too noble. “对,”汤姆表示赞同地说,“他们不杀女人——真伟大!
42 graceful deHza     
  • His movements on the parallel bars were very graceful.他的双杠动作可帅了!
  • The ballet dancer is so graceful.芭蕾舞演员的姿态是如此的优美。
43 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。
44 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。
45 aplomb GM9yD     
  • Carried off the difficult situation with aplomb.镇静地应付了困难的局面。
  • She performs the duties of a princess with great aplomb.她泰然自若地履行王妃的职责。
46 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
47 steadily Qukw6     
  • The scope of man's use of natural resources will steadily grow.人类利用自然资源的广度将日益扩大。
  • Our educational reform was steadily led onto the correct path.我们的教学改革慢慢上轨道了。
48 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。”
49 feverish gzsye     
  • He is too feverish to rest.他兴奋得安静不下来。
  • They worked with feverish haste to finish the job.为了完成此事他们以狂热的速度工作着。
50 defiance RmSzx     
  • He climbed the ladder in defiance of the warning.他无视警告爬上了那架梯子。
  • He slammed the door in a spirit of defiance.他以挑衅性的态度把门砰地一下关上。
51 likeness P1txX     
  • I think the painter has produced a very true likeness.我认为这位画家画得非常逼真。
  • She treasured the painted likeness of her son.她珍藏她儿子的画像。
52 soothing soothing     
  • Put on some nice soothing music.播放一些柔和舒缓的音乐。
  • His casual, relaxed manner was very soothing.他随意而放松的举动让人很快便平静下来。
53 discreet xZezn     
  • He is very discreet in giving his opinions.发表意见他十分慎重。
  • It wasn't discreet of you to ring me up at the office.你打电话到我办公室真是太鲁莽了。
54 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》


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