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首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » VIII. THE MISSES VAN BURNAM.
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 Late as it was when I retired1, I was up betimes in the morning—as soon, in fact, as the papers were distributed. The Tribune lay on the stoop. Eagerly I seized it; eagerly I read it. From its headlines you may judge what it had to say about this murder:
A Young Girl Found there, Lying Dead under an Overturned Cabinet.
Evidences that she was Murdered before it was Pulled down upon her.
Thought by Some to be Mrs. Howard Van Burnam.
A Fearful Crime Involved in an Impenetrable Mystery.
What Mr. Van Burnam Says about it: He does not Recognize the Woman as his Wife.
So, so, it was his wife they were talking about. I had not expected that. Well! well! no wonder the girls looked startled and concerned. And I paused to recall what I had heard about Howard Van Burnam's marriage.
It had not been a fortunate one. His chosen bride was pretty enough, but she had not been bred in the ways of fashionable society, and the other members of the family had never recognized her. The father, especially, had cut his son dead since his marriage, and had even gone so far as to threaten to dissolve the partnership3 in which they were all involved. Worse than this, there had been rumors4 of a disagreement between Howard and his wife. They were not always on good terms, and opinions differed as to which was most in fault. So much for what I knew of these two mentioned parties.
Reading the article at length, I learned that Mrs. Van Burnam was missing; that she had left Haddam for New York the day before her husband, and had not since been heard from. Howard was confident, however, that the publicity5 given to her disappearance6 by the papers would bring immediate7 news of her.
The effect of the whole article was to raise grave doubts as to the candor8 of Mr. Van Burnam's assertions, and I am told that in some of the less scrupulous9 papers these doubts were not only expressed, but actual surmises10 ventured upon as to the identity between the person whom I had seen enter the house with the young girl. As for my own name, it was blazoned11 forth12 in anything but a gratifying manner. I was spoken of in one paper—a kind friend told me this—as the prying13 Miss Amelia. As if my prying had not given the police their only clue to the identification of the criminal.
The New York World was the only paper that treated me with any consideration. That young man with the small head and beady eyes was not awed14 by me for nothing. He mentioned me as the clever Miss Butterworth whose testimony15 is likely to be of so much value in this very interesting case.
It was the World I handed the Misses Van Burnam when they came down-stairs to breakfast. It did justice to me and not too much injustice16 to him. They read it together, their two heads plunged17 deeply into the paper so that I could not watch their faces. But I could see the sheet shake, and I noticed that their social veneer18 was not as yet laid on so thickly that they could hide their real terror and heart-ache when they finally confronted me again.
"Did you read—have you seen this horrible account?" quavered Caroline, as she met my eye.
"Yes, and I now understand why you felt such anxiety yesterday. Did you know your sister-in-law, and do you think she could have been beguiled19 into your father's house in that way?"
It was Isabella who answered.
"We never have seen her and know little of her, but there is no telling what such an uncultivated person as she might do. But that our good brother Howard ever went in there with her is a lie, isn't it, Caroline?—a base and malicious20 lie?"
"Of course it is, of course, of course. You don't think the man you saw was Howard, do you, dear Miss Butterworth?"
Dear? O dear!
"I am not acquainted with your brother," I returned. "I have never seen him but a few times in my life. You know he has not been a very frequent visitor at your father's house lately."
They looked at me wistfully, so wistfully.
"Say it was not Howard," whispered Caroline, stealing up a little nearer to my side.
"And we will never forget it," murmured Isabella, in what I am obliged to say was not her society manner.
"I hope to be able to say it," was my short rejoinder, made difficult by the prejudices I had formed. "When I see your brother, I may be able to decide at a glance that the person I saw entering your house was not he."
"Yes, oh, yes. Do you hear that, Isabella? Miss Butterworth will save Howard yet. O you dear old soul. I could almost love you!"
This was not agreeable to me. I a dear old soul! A term to be applied21 to a butter-woman not to a Butterworth. I drew back and their sentimentalities came to an end. I hope their brother Howard is not the guilty man the papers make him out to be, but if he is, the Misses Van Burnam's fine phrase, We could almost love you, will not deter22 me from being honest in the matter.
Mr. Gryce called early, and I was glad to be able to tell him that the gentleman who visited him the night before did not recall the impression made upon me by the other. He received the communication quietly, and from his manner I judged that it was more or less expected. But who can be a correct judge of a detective's manner, especially one so foxy and imperturbable23 as this one? I longed to ask who his visitor was, but I did not dare, or rather—to be candid24 in little things that you may believe me in great—I was confident he would not tell me, so I would not compromise my dignity by a useless question.
He went after a five minutes' stay, and I was about to turn my attention to household affairs, when Franklin came in.
His sisters jumped like puppets to meet him.
"O," they cried, for once thinking and speaking alike, "have you found her?"
His silence was so eloquent25 that he did not need to shake his head.
"But you will before the day is out?" protested Caroline.
"It is too early yet," added Isabella.
"I never thought I would be glad to see that woman under any circumstances," continued the former, "but I believe now that if I saw her coming up the street on Howard's arm, I should be happy enough to rush out and—and——"
"Give her a hug," finished the more impetuous Isabella.
It was not what Caroline meant to say, but she accepted the emendation, with just the slightest air of deprecation. They were both evidently much attached to Howard, and ready in his trouble to forget and forgive everything. I began to like them again.
"Have you read the horrid26 papers?" and "How is papa this morning?" and "What shall we do to save Howard?" now flew in rapid questions from their lips; and feeling that it was but natural they should have their little say, I sat down in my most uncomfortable chair and waited for these first ebullitions to exhaust themselves.
Instantly Mr. Van Burnam took them by the arm, and led them away to a distant sofa.
"Are you happy here?" he asked, in what he meant for a very confidential27 tone. But I can hear as readily as a deaf person anything which is not meant for my ears.
"O she's kind enough," whispered Caroline, "but so stingy. Do take us where we can get something to eat."
"She puts all her money into china! Such plates!—and so little on them!"
At these expressions, uttered with all the emphasis a whisper will allow, I just hugged myself in my quiet corner. The dear, giddy things! But they should see, they should see.
"I fear"—it was Mr. Van Burnam who now spoke—"I shall have to take my sisters from under your kind care to-day. Their father needs them, and has, I believe, already engaged rooms for them at the Plaza28."
"I am sorry," I replied, "but surely they will not leave till they have had another meal with me. Postpone29 your departure, young ladies, till after luncheon30, and you will greatly oblige me. We may never meet so agreeably again."
They fidgeted (which I had expected), and cast secret looks of almost comic appeal at their brother, but he pretended not to see them, being disposed for some reason to grant my request. Taking advantage of the momentary31 hesitation32 that ensued, I made them all three my most conciliatory bow, and said as I retreated behind the portière:
"I shall give my orders for luncheon now. Meanwhile, I hope the young ladies will feel perfectly33 free in my house. All that I have is at their command." And was gone before they could protest.
When I next saw them, they were upstairs in my front room. They were seated together in the window and looked miserable34 enough to have a little diversion. Going to my closet, I brought out a band-box. It contained my best bonnet35.
"Young ladies, what do you think of this?" I inquired, taking the bonnet out and carefully placing it on my head.
I myself consider it a very becoming article of headgear, but their eyebrows36 went up in a scarcely complimentary37 fashion.
"You don't like it?" I remarked. "Well, I think a great deal of young girls' taste; I shall send it back to Madame More's to-morrow."
"I don't think much of Madame More," observed Isabella, "and after Paris——"
"Do you like La Mole38 better?" I inquired, bobbing my head to and fro before the mirror, the better to conceal39 my interest in the venture I was making.
"I don't like any of them but D'Aubigny," returned Isabella. "She charges twice what La Mole does——"
Twice! What are these girls' purses made of, or rather their father's!
"But she has the chic40 we are accustomed to see in French millinery. I shall never go anywhere else."
"We were recommended to her in Paris," put in Caroline, more languidly. Her interest was only half engaged by this frivolous41 topic.
"But did you never have one of La Mole's hats?" I pursued, taking down a hand-mirror, ostensibly to get the effect of my bonnet in the back, but really to hide my interest in their unconscious faces.
"Never!" retorted Isabella. "I would not patronize the thing."
"Nor you?" I urged, carelessly, turning towards Caroline.
"No; I have never been inside her shop."
"Then whose is——" I began and stopped. A detective doing the work I was, would not give away the object of his questions so recklessly.
"Then who is," I corrected, "the best person after D'Aubigny? I never can pay her prices. I should think it wicked."
"O don't ask us," protested Isabella. "We have never made a study of the best bonnet-maker. At present we wear hats."
And having thus thrown their youth in my face, they turned away to the window again, not realizing that the middle-aged42 lady they regarded with such disdain43 had just succeeded in making them dance to her music most successfully.
The luncheon I ordered was elaborate, for I was determined44 that the Misses Van Burnam should see that I knew how to serve a fine meal, and that my plates were not always better than my viands45.
I had invited in a couple of other guests so that I should not seem to have put myself out for two young girls, and as they were quiet people like myself, the meal passed most decorously. When it was finished, the Misses Caroline and Isabella had lost some of their consequential46 airs, and I really think the deference47 they have since showed me is due more to the surprise they felt at the perfection of this dainty luncheon, than to any considerate appreciation48 of my character and abilities.
They left at three o'clock, still without news of Mrs. Van Burnam; and being positive by this time that the shadows were thickening about this family, I saw them depart with some regret and a positive feeling of commiseration49. Had they been reared to a proper reverence50 for their elders, how much more easy it would have been to see earnestness in Caroline and affectionate impulses in Isabella.
The evening papers added but little to my knowledge. Great disclosures were promised, but no hint given of their nature. The body at the Morgue had not been identified by any of the hundreds who had viewed it, and Howard still refused to acknowledge it as that of his wife. The morrow was awaited with anxiety.
So much for the public press!
At twelve o'clock at night, I was again seated in my window. The house next door had been lighted since ten, and I was in momentary expectation of its nocturnal visitor. He came promptly51 at the hour set, alighted from the carriage with a bound, shut the carriage-door with a slam, and crossed the pavement with cheerful celerity. His figure was not so positively52 like, nor yet so positively unlike, that of the supposed murderer that I could definitely say, "This is he," or, "This is not he," and I went to bed puzzled, and not a little burdened by a sense of the responsibility imposed upon me in this matter.
And so passed the day between the murder and the inquest.


1 retired Njhzyv     
  • The old man retired to the country for rest.这位老人下乡休息去了。
  • Many retired people take up gardening as a hobby.许多退休的人都以从事园艺为嗜好。
2 mansion 8BYxn     
  • The old mansion was built in 1850.这座古宅建于1850年。
  • The mansion has extensive grounds.这大厦四周的庭园广阔。
3 partnership NmfzPy     
  • The company has gone into partnership with Swiss Bank Corporation.这家公司已经和瑞士银行公司建立合作关系。
  • Martin has taken him into general partnership in his company.马丁已让他成为公司的普通合伙人。
4 rumors 2170bcd55c0e3844ecb4ef13fef29b01     
n.传闻( rumor的名词复数 );[古]名誉;咕哝;[古]喧嚷v.传闻( rumor的第三人称单数 );[古]名誉;咕哝;[古]喧嚷
  • Rumors have it that the school was burned down. 有谣言说学校给烧掉了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Rumors of a revolt were afloat. 叛变的谣言四起。 来自《简明英汉词典》
5 publicity ASmxx     
  • The singer star's marriage got a lot of publicity.这位歌星的婚事引起了公众的关注。
  • He dismissed the event as just a publicity gimmick.他不理会这件事,只当它是一种宣传手法。
6 disappearance ouEx5     
  • He was hard put to it to explain her disappearance.他难以说明她为什么不见了。
  • Her disappearance gave rise to the wildest rumours.她失踪一事引起了各种流言蜚语。
7 immediate aapxh     
  • His immediate neighbours felt it their duty to call.他的近邻认为他们有责任去拜访。
  • We declared ourselves for the immediate convocation of the meeting.我们主张立即召开这个会议。
8 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。
9 scrupulous 6sayH     
  • She is scrupulous to a degree.她非常谨慎。
  • Poets are not so scrupulous as you are.诗人并不像你那样顾虑多。
10 surmises 0de4d975cd99d9759cc345e7fb0890b6     
v.臆测,推断( surmise的第三人称单数 );揣测;猜想
  • The detective is completely correct in his surmises. 这个侦探所推测的完全正确。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • As the reader probably surmises, a variety of interest tables exists. 正如读者可能推测的那样,存在着各种各样的利息表。 来自辞典例句
11 blazoned f3de5fa977cb5ea98c381c33f64b7e0b     
v.广布( blazon的过去式和过去分词 );宣布;夸示;装饰
  • The villages were blazoned with autumnal color. 山谷到处点缀着秋色。 来自辞典例句
  • The "National Enquirer" blazoned forth that we astronomers had really discovered another civilization. 《国民询问者》甚至宣称,我们天文学家已真正发现了其它星球上的文明。 来自辞典例句
12 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。
13 prying a63afacc70963cb0fda72f623793f578     
adj.爱打听的v.打听,刺探(他人的私事)( pry的现在分词 );撬开
  • I'm sick of you prying into my personal life! 我讨厌你刺探我的私生活!
  • She is always prying into other people's affairs. 她总是打听别人的私事。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 awed a0ab9008d911a954b6ce264ddc63f5c8     
adj.充满敬畏的,表示敬畏的v.使敬畏,使惊惧( awe的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The audience was awed into silence by her stunning performance. 观众席上鸦雀无声,人们对他出色的表演感到惊叹。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I was awed by the huge gorilla. 那只大猩猩使我惊惧。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 testimony zpbwO     
  • The testimony given by him is dubious.他所作的证据是可疑的。
  • He was called in to bear testimony to what the police officer said.他被传入为警官所说的话作证。
16 injustice O45yL     
  • They complained of injustice in the way they had been treated.他们抱怨受到不公平的对待。
  • All his life he has been struggling against injustice.他一生都在与不公正现象作斗争。
17 plunged 06a599a54b33c9d941718dccc7739582     
v.颠簸( plunge的过去式和过去分词 );暴跌;骤降;突降
  • The train derailed and plunged into the river. 火车脱轨栽进了河里。
  • She lost her balance and plunged 100 feet to her death. 她没有站稳,从100英尺的高处跌下摔死了。
18 veneer eLczw     
  • For the first time her veneer of politeness began to crack.她温文尔雅的外表第一次露出破绽。
  • The panel had a veneer of gold and ivory.这木板上面镶饰了一层金和象牙。
19 beguiled f25585f8de5e119077c49118f769e600     
v.欺骗( beguile的过去式和过去分词 );使陶醉;使高兴;消磨(时间等)
  • She beguiled them into believing her version of events. 她哄骗他们相信了她叙述的事情。
  • He beguiled me into signing this contract. 他诱骗我签订了这项合同。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
20 malicious e8UzX     
  • You ought to kick back at such malicious slander. 你应当反击这种恶毒的污蔑。
  • Their talk was slightly malicious.他们的谈话有点儿心怀不轨。
21 applied Tz2zXA     
  • She plans to take a course in applied linguistics.她打算学习应用语言学课程。
  • This cream is best applied to the face at night.这种乳霜最好晚上擦脸用。
22 deter DmZzU     
  • Failure did not deter us from trying it again.失败并没有能阻挡我们再次进行试验。
  • Dogs can deter unwelcome intruders.狗能够阻拦不受欢迎的闯入者。
23 imperturbable dcQzG     
  • Thomas,of course,was cool and aloof and imperturbable.当然,托马斯沉着、冷漠,不易激动。
  • Edward was a model of good temper and his equanimity imperturbable.爱德华是个典型的好性子,他总是沉着镇定。
24 candid SsRzS     
  • I cannot but hope the candid reader will give some allowance for it.我只有希望公正的读者多少包涵一些。
  • He is quite candid with his friends.他对朋友相当坦诚。
25 eloquent ymLyN     
  • He was so eloquent that he cut down the finest orator.他能言善辩,胜过最好的演说家。
  • These ruins are an eloquent reminder of the horrors of war.这些废墟形象地提醒人们不要忘记战争的恐怖。
26 horrid arozZj     
  • I'm not going to the horrid dinner party.我不打算去参加这次讨厌的宴会。
  • The medicine is horrid and she couldn't get it down.这种药很难吃,她咽不下去。
27 confidential MOKzA     
  • He refused to allow his secretary to handle confidential letters.他不让秘书处理机密文件。
  • We have a confidential exchange of views.我们推心置腹地交换意见。
28 plaza v2yzD     
  • They designated the new shopping centre York Plaza.他们给这个新购物中心定名为约克购物中心。
  • The plaza is teeming with undercover policemen.这个广场上布满了便衣警察。
29 postpone rP0xq     
  • I shall postpone making a decision till I learn full particulars.在未获悉详情之前我得从缓作出决定。
  • She decided to postpone the converastion for that evening.她决定当天晚上把谈话搁一搁。
30 luncheon V8az4     
  • We have luncheon at twelve o'clock.我们十二点钟用午餐。
  • I have a luncheon engagement.我午饭有约。
31 momentary hj3ya     
  • We are in momentary expectation of the arrival of you.我们无时无刻不在盼望你的到来。
  • I caught a momentary glimpse of them.我瞥了他们一眼。
32 hesitation tdsz5     
  • After a long hesitation, he told the truth at last.踌躇了半天,他终于直说了。
  • There was a certain hesitation in her manner.她的态度有些犹豫不决。
33 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。
34 miserable g18yk     
  • It was miserable of you to make fun of him.你取笑他,这是可耻的。
  • Her past life was miserable.她过去的生活很苦。
35 bonnet AtSzQ     
  • The baby's bonnet keeps the sun out of her eyes.婴孩的帽子遮住阳光,使之不刺眼。
  • She wore a faded black bonnet garnished with faded artificial flowers.她戴着一顶褪了色的黑色无边帽,帽上缀着褪了色的假花。
36 eyebrows a0e6fb1330e9cfecfd1c7a4d00030ed5     
眉毛( eyebrow的名词复数 )
  • Eyebrows stop sweat from coming down into the eyes. 眉毛挡住汗水使其不能流进眼睛。
  • His eyebrows project noticeably. 他的眉毛特别突出。
37 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。
38 mole 26Nzn     
  • She had a tiny mole on her cheek.她的面颊上有一颗小黑痣。
  • The young girl felt very self- conscious about the large mole on her chin.那位年轻姑娘对自己下巴上的一颗大痣感到很不自在。
39 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。
40 chic iX5zb     
  • She bought a chic little hat.她买了一顶别致的小帽子。
  • The chic restaurant is patronized by many celebrities.这家时髦的饭店常有名人光顾。
41 frivolous YfWzi     
  • This is a frivolous way of attacking the problem.这是一种轻率敷衍的处理问题的方式。
  • He spent a lot of his money on frivolous things.他在一些无聊的事上花了好多钱。
42 middle-aged UopzSS     
  • I noticed two middle-aged passengers.我注意到两个中年乘客。
  • The new skin balm was welcome by middle-aged women.这种新护肤香膏受到了中年妇女的欢迎。
43 disdain KltzA     
  • Some people disdain labour.有些人轻视劳动。
  • A great man should disdain flatterers.伟大的人物应鄙视献媚者。
44 determined duszmP     
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
45 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。
46 consequential caQyq     
  • She was injured and suffered a consequential loss of earnings.她受了伤因而收入受损。
  • This new transformation is at least as consequential as that one was.这一新的转变至少和那次一样重要。
47 deference mmKzz     
  • Do you treat your parents and teachers with deference?你对父母师长尊敬吗?
  • The major defect of their work was deference to authority.他们的主要缺陷是趋从权威。
48 appreciation Pv9zs     
  • I would like to express my appreciation and thanks to you all.我想对你们所有人表达我的感激和谢意。
  • I'll be sending them a donation in appreciation of their help.我将送给他们一笔捐款以感谢他们的帮助。
49 commiseration commiseration     
  • I offered him my commiseration. 我对他表示同情。
  • Self- commiseration brewed in her heart. 她在心里开始自叹命苦。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
50 reverence BByzT     
  • He was a bishop who was held in reverence by all.他是一位被大家都尊敬的主教。
  • We reverence tradition but will not be fettered by it.我们尊重传统,但不被传统所束缚。
51 promptly LRMxm     
  • He paid the money back promptly.他立即还了钱。
  • She promptly seized the opportunity his absence gave her.她立即抓住了因他不在场给她创造的机会。
52 positively vPTxw     
  • She was positively glowing with happiness.她满脸幸福。
  • The weather was positively poisonous.这天气着实讨厌。


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