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首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » XII. THE KEYS.
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 We were all by this time greatly interested in the proceedings1; and when another hackman was called we recognized at once that an effort was about to be made to connect this couple with the one who had alighted at Mr. Van Burnam's door.
The witness, who was a melancholy2 chap, kept his stand on the east side of the Square. At about twenty minutes to twelve, he was awakened3 from a nap he had been taking on the top of his coach, by a sharp rap on his whip arm, and looking down, he saw a lady and gentleman standing4 at the door of his vehicle.
"We want to go to Gramercy Park," said the lady. "Drive us there at once."
"I nodded, for what is the use of wasting words when it can be avoided; and they stepped at once into the coach."
"Can you describe them—tell us how they looked?"
"I never notice people; besides, it was dark; but he had a swell5 air, and she was pert and merry, for she laughed as she closed the door."
"Can't you remember how they were dressed?"
"No, sir; she had on something that flapped about[Pg 115] her shoulders, and he had a dark hat on his head, but that was all I saw."
"Didn't you see his face?"
"Not a bit of it; he kept it turned away. He didn't want nobody looking at him. She did all the business."
"Then you saw her face?"
"Yes, for a minute. But I wouldn't know it again. She was young and purty, and her hand which dropped the money into mine was small, but I couldn't say no more, not if you was to give me the town."
"Did you know that the house you stopped at was Mr. Van Burnam's, and that it was supposed to be empty?"
"No, sir, I'm not one of the swell ones. My acquaintances live in another part of the town."
"But you noticed that the house was dark?"
"I may have. I don't know."
"And that is all you have to tell us about them?"
"No, sir; the next morning, which was yesterday, sir, as I was a-dusting out the coach I found under the cushions a large blue veil, folded and lying very flat. But it had been slit6 with a knife and could not be worn."
This was strange too, and while more than one person about me ventured an opinion, I muttered to myself, "James Pope, his mark!" astonished at a coincidence which so completely connected the occupants of the two coaches.
But the Coroner was able to produce a witness whose evidence carried the matter on still farther. A policeman in full uniform testified next, and after explaining that his beat led him from Madison Avenue to Third on Twenty-seventh Street, went on to say that as he[Pg 116] was coming up this street on Tuesday evening some few minutes before midnight, he encountered, somewhere between Lexington Avenue and Third, a man and woman walking rapidly towards the latter avenue, each carrying a parcel of some dimensions; that he noted7 them because they seemed so merry, but would have thought nothing of it, if he had not presently perceived them coming back without the parcels. They were chatting more gaily8 than ever. The lady wore a short cape9, and the gentleman a dark coat, but he could give no other description of their appearance, for they went by rapidly, and he was more interested in wondering what they had done with such large parcels in such a short time at that hour of night, than in noting how they looked or whither they were going. He did observe, however, that they proceeded towards Madison Square, and remembers now that he heard a carriage suddenly drive away from that direction.
The Coroner asked him but one question:
"Had the lady no parcel when you saw her last?"
"I saw none."
"Could she not have carried one under her cape?"
"Perhaps, if it was small enough."
"As small as a lady's hat, say?"
"Well, it would have to be smaller than some of them are now, sir."
And so terminated this portion of the inquiry10.
A short delay followed the withdrawal11 of this witness. The Coroner, who was a somewhat portly man, and who had felt the heat of the day very much, leaned back and looked anxious, while the jury, always restless, moved in their seats like a set of school-boys, and seemed to long for the hour of adjournment12, notwithstanding[Pg 117] the interest which everybody but themselves seemed to take in this exciting investigation13.
Finally an officer, who had been sent into the adjoining room, came back with a gentleman, who was no sooner recognized as Mr. Franklin Van Burnam than a great change took place in the countenances14 of all present. The Coroner sat forward and dropped the large palm-leaf fan he had been industriously16 using for the last few minutes, the jury settled down, and the whispering of the many curious ones about me grew less audible and finally ceased altogether. A gentleman of the family was about to be interrogated17, and such a gentleman!
I have purposely refrained from describing this best known and best reputed member of the Van Burnam family, foreseeing this hour when he would attract the attention of a hundred eyes and when his appearance would require our special notice. I will therefore endeavor to picture him to you as he looked on this memorable18 morning, with just the simple warning that you must not expect me to see with the eyes of a young girl or even with those of a fashionable society woman. I know a man when I see him, and I had always regarded Mr. Franklin as an exceptionally fine-looking and prepossessing gentleman, but I shall not go into raptures19, as I heard a girl behind me doing, nor do I feel like acknowledging him as a paragon20 of all the virtues—as Mrs. Cunningham did that evening in my parlor22.
He is a medium-sized man, with a shape not unlike his brother's. His hair is dark and so are his eyes, but his moustache is brown and his complexion23 quite fair. He carries himself with distinction, and though his[Pg 118] countenance15 in repose24 has a precise air that is not perfectly25 agreeable, it has, when he speaks or smiles, an expression at once keen and amiable26.
On this occasion he failed to smile, and though his elegance27 was sufficiently28 apparent, his worth was not so much so. Yet the impression generally made was favorable, as one could perceive from the air of respect with which his testimony29 was received.
He was asked many questions. Some were germane30 to the matter in hand and some seemed to strike wide of all mark. He answered them all courteously31, showing a manly32 composure in doing so, that served to calm the fever-heat into which many had been thrown by the stories of the two hackmen. But as his evidence up to this point related merely to minor33 concerns, this was neither strange nor conclusive34. The real test began when the Coroner, with a certain bluster35, which may have been meant to attract the attention of the jury, now visibly waning36, or, as was more likely, may have been the unconscious expression of a secret if hitherto well concealed37 embarrassment38, asked the witness whether the keys to his father's front door had any duplicates.
The answer came in a decidedly changed tone. "No. The key used by our agent opens the basement door only."
The Coroner showed his satisfaction. "No duplicates," he repeated; "then you will have no difficulty in telling us where the keys to your father's front door were kept during the family's absence."
Did the young man hesitate, or was it but imagination on my part—"They were usually in my possession."[Pg 119]
"Usually!" There was irony40 in the tone; evidently the Coroner was getting the better of his embarrassment, if he had felt any. "And where were they on the seventeenth of this month? Were they in your possession then?"
"No, sir." The young man tried to look calm and at his ease, but the difficulty he felt in doing so was apparent. "On the morning of that day," he continued, "I passed them over to my brother."
Ah! here was something tangible41 as well as important. I began to fear the police understood themselves only too well; and so did the whole crowd of persons there assembled. A groan42 in one direction was answered by a sigh in another, and it needed all the Coroner's authority to prevent an outbreak.
Meanwhile Mr. Van Burnam stood erect43 and unwavering, though his eye showed the suffering which these demonstrations44 awakened. He did not turn in the direction of the room where we felt sure his family was gathered, but it was evident that his thoughts did, and that most painfully. The Coroner, on the contrary, showed little or no feeling; he had brought the investigation up to this critical point and felt fully45 competent to carry it farther.
"May I ask," said he, "where the transference of these keys took place?"
"I gave them to him in our office last Tuesday morning. He said he might want to go into the house before his father came home."
"Did he say why he wanted to go into the house?"
"Was he in the habit of going into it alone and during the family's absence?"[Pg 120]
"Had he any clothes there? or any articles belonging to himself or his wife which he would be likely to wish to carry away?"
"Yet he wanted to go in?"
"He said so."
"And you gave him the keys without question?"
"Certainly, sir."
"Was that not opposed to your usual principles—to your way of doing things, I should say?"
"Perhaps; but principles, by which I suppose you mean my usual business methods, do not govern me in my relations with my brother. He asked me a favor, and I granted it. It would have to have been a much larger one for me to have asked an explanation from him before doing so."
"Yet you are not on good terms with your brother; at least you have not had the name of being, for some time?"
"We have had no quarrel."
"Did he return the keys you lent him?"
"Have you seen them since?"
"Would you know them if they were shown you?"
"I would know them if they unlocked our front door."
"But you would not know them on sight?"
"I don't think so."
"Mr. Van Burnam, it is disagreeable for me to go into family matters, but if you have had no quarrel with your brother, how comes it that you and he have had so little intercourse46 of late?"[Pg 121]
"He has been in Connecticut and I at Long Branch. Is not that a good answer, sir?"
"Good, but not good enough. You have a common office in New York, have you not?"
"Certainly, the firm's office."
"And you sometimes meet there, even while residing in different localities?"
"Yes, our business calls us in at times and then we meet, of course."
"Do you talk when you meet?"
"Of other matters besides business, I mean. Are your relations friendly? Do you show the same spirit towards each other as you did three years ago, say?"
"We are older; perhaps we are not quite so voluble."
"But do you feel the same?"
"No. I see you will have it, and so I will no longer hold back the truth. We are not as brotherly in our intercourse as we used to be; but there is no animosity between us. I have a decided39 regard for my brother."
This was said quite nobly, and I liked him for it, but I began to feel that perhaps it had been for the best after all that I had never been intimate with the family. But I must not forestall47 either events or my opinions.
"Is there any reason"—it is the Coroner, of course, who is speaking—"why there should be any falling off in your mutual48 confidence? Has your brother done anything to displease49 you?"
"We did not like his marriage."
"Was it an unhappy one?"
"It was not a suitable one."[Pg 122]
"Did you know Mrs. Van Burnam well, that you say this?"
"Yes, I knew her, but the rest of the family did not."
"Yet they shared in your disapprobation?"
"They felt the marriage more than I did. The lady—excuse me, I never like to speak ill of the sex—was not lacking in good sense or virtue21, but she was not the person we had a right to expect Howard to marry."
"And you let him see that you thought so?"
"How could we do otherwise?"
"Even after she had been his wife for some months?"
"We could not like her."
"Did your brother—I am sorry to press this matter—ever show that he felt your change of conduct towards him?"
"I find it equally hard to answer," was the quick reply. "My brother is of an affectionate nature, and he has some, if not all, of the family's pride. I think he did feel it, though he never said so. He is not without loyalty50 to his wife."
"Mr. Van Burnam, of whom does the firm doing business under the name of Van Burnam & Sons consist?"
"Of the three persons mentioned."
"No others?"
"Has there ever been in your hearing any threat made by the senior partner of dissolving this firm as it stands?"
"I have heard"—I felt sorry for this strong but far from heartless man, but I would not have stopped the[Pg 123] inquiry at this point if I could; I was far too curious—"I have heard my father say that he would withdraw if Howard did not. Whether he would have done so, I consider open to doubt. My father is a just man and never fails to do the right thing, though he sometimes speaks with unnecessary harshness."
"He made the threat, however?"
"And Howard heard it?"
"Or of it; I cannot say which."
"Mr. Van Burnam, have you noticed any change in your brother since this threat was uttered?"
"How, sir; what change?"
"In his treatment of his wife, or in his attitude towards yourself?"
"I have not seen him in the company of his wife since they went to Haddam. As for his conduct towards myself, I can say no more than I have already. We have never forgotten that we are children of one mother."
"Mr. Van Burnam, how many times have you seen Mrs. Howard Van Burnam?"
"Several. More frequently before they were married than since."
"You were in your brother's confidence, then, at that time; knew he was contemplating51 marriage?"
"It was in my endeavors to prevent the match that I saw so much of Miss Louise Stapleton."
"Ah! I am glad of the explanation! I was just going to inquire why you, of all members of the family, were the only one to know your brother's wife by sight."
The witness, considering this question answered,[Pg 124] made no reply. But the next suggestion could not be passed over.
"If you saw Mrs. Van Burnam so often, you are acquainted with her personal appearance?"
"Sufficiently so; as well as I know that of my ordinary calling-acquaintance."
"Was she light or dark?"
"She had brown hair."
"Similar to this?"
The lock held up was the one which had been cut from the head of the dead girl.
"Yes, somewhat similar to that." The tone was cold; but he could not hide his distress52.
"Mr. Van Burnam, have you looked well at the woman who was found murdered in your father's house?"
"I have, sir."
"Is there anything in her general outline or in such features as have escaped disfigurement to remind you of Mrs. Howard Van Burnam?"
"I may have thought so—at first glance," he replied, with decided effort.
"And did you change your mind at the second?"
He looked troubled, but answered firmly: "No, I cannot say that I did. But you must not regard my opinion as conclusive," he hastily added. "My knowledge of the lady was comparatively slight."
"The jury will take that into account. All we want to know now is whether you can assert from any knowledge you have or from anything to be noted in the body itself, that it is not Mrs. Howard Van Burnam?"
"I cannot."[Pg 125]
And with this solemn assertion his examination closed.
The remainder of the day was taken up in trying to prove a similarity between Mrs. Van Burnam's handwriting and that of Mrs. James Pope as seen in the register of the Hotel D—— and on the order sent to Altman's. But the only conclusion reached was that the latter might be the former disguised, and even on this point the experts differed.


1 proceedings Wk2zvX     
  • He was released on bail pending committal proceedings. 他交保获释正在候审。
  • to initiate legal proceedings against sb 对某人提起诉讼
2 melancholy t7rz8     
  • All at once he fell into a state of profound melancholy.他立即陷入无尽的忧思之中。
  • He felt melancholy after he failed the exam.这次考试没通过,他感到很郁闷。
3 awakened de71059d0b3cd8a1de21151c9166f9f0     
v.(使)醒( awaken的过去式和过去分词 );(使)觉醒;弄醒;(使)意识到
  • She awakened to the sound of birds singing. 她醒来听到鸟的叫声。
  • The public has been awakened to the full horror of the situation. 公众完全意识到了这一状况的可怕程度。 来自《简明英汉词典》
4 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。
5 swell IHnzB     
  • The waves had taken on a deep swell.海浪汹涌。
  • His injured wrist began to swell.他那受伤的手腕开始肿了。
6 slit tE0yW     
  • The coat has been slit in two places.这件外衣有两处裂开了。
  • He began to slit open each envelope.他开始裁开每个信封。
7 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。
8 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。
9 cape ITEy6     
  • I long for a trip to the Cape of Good Hope.我渴望到好望角去旅行。
  • She was wearing a cape over her dress.她在外套上披着一件披肩。
10 inquiry nbgzF     
  • Many parents have been pressing for an inquiry into the problem.许多家长迫切要求调查这个问题。
  • The field of inquiry has narrowed down to five persons.调查的范围已经缩小到只剩5个人了。
11 withdrawal Cfhwq     
  • The police were forced to make a tactical withdrawal.警方被迫进行战术撤退。
  • They insisted upon a withdrawal of the statement and a public apology.他们坚持要收回那些话并公开道歉。
12 adjournment e322933765ade34487431845446377f0     
休会; 延期; 休会期; 休庭期
  • The adjournment of the case lasted for two weeks. 该案休庭期为两周。
  • The solicitor moved for an adjournment of the case. 律师请求将这个案件的诉讼延期。
13 investigation MRKzq     
  • In an investigation,a new fact became known, which told against him.在调查中新发现了一件对他不利的事实。
  • He drew the conclusion by building on his own investigation.他根据自己的调查研究作出结论。
14 countenances 4ec84f1d7c5a735fec7fdd356379db0d     
n.面容( countenance的名词复数 );表情;镇静;道义支持
  • 'stood apart, with countenances of inflexible gravity, beyond what even the Puritan aspect could attain." 站在一旁,他们脸上那种严肃刚毅的神情,比清教徒们还有过之而无不及。 来自英汉 - 翻译样例 - 文学
  • The light of a laugh never came to brighten their sombre and wicked countenances. 欢乐的光芒从来未照亮过他们那阴郁邪恶的面孔。 来自辞典例句
15 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。
16 industriously f43430e7b5117654514f55499de4314a     
  • She paces the whole class in studying English industriously. 她在刻苦学习英语上给全班同学树立了榜样。
  • He industriously engages in unostentatious hard work. 他勤勤恳恳,埋头苦干。
17 interrogated dfdeced7e24bd32e0007124bbc34eb71     
v.询问( interrogate的过去式和过去分词 );审问;(在计算机或其他机器上)查询
  • He was interrogated by the police for over 12 hours. 他被警察审问了12个多小时。
  • Two suspects are now being interrogated in connection with the killing. 与杀人案有关的两名嫌疑犯正在接受审讯。 来自《简明英汉词典》
18 memorable K2XyQ     
  • This was indeed the most memorable day of my life.这的确是我一生中最值得怀念的日子。
  • The veteran soldier has fought many memorable battles.这个老兵参加过许多难忘的战斗。
19 raptures 9c456fd812d0e9fdc436e568ad8e29c6     
极度欢喜( rapture的名词复数 )
  • Her heart melted away in secret raptures. 她暗自高兴得心花怒放。
  • The mere thought of his bride moves Pinkerton to raptures. 一想起新娘,平克顿不禁心花怒放。
20 paragon 1KexV     
  • He was considered to be a paragon of virtue.他被认为是品德尽善尽美的典范。
  • Man is the paragon of animals.人是万物之灵。
21 virtue BpqyH     
  • He was considered to be a paragon of virtue.他被认为是品德尽善尽美的典范。
  • You need to decorate your mind with virtue.你应该用德行美化心灵。
22 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?
23 complexion IOsz4     
  • Red does not suit with her complexion.红色与她的肤色不协调。
  • Her resignation puts a different complexion on things.她一辞职局面就全变了。
24 repose KVGxQ     
  • Don't disturb her repose.不要打扰她休息。
  • Her mouth seemed always to be smiling,even in repose.她的嘴角似乎总是挂着微笑,即使在睡眠时也是这样。
25 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。
26 amiable hxAzZ     
  • She was a very kind and amiable old woman.她是个善良和气的老太太。
  • We have a very amiable companionship.我们之间存在一种友好的关系。
27 elegance QjPzj     
  • The furnishings in the room imparted an air of elegance.这个房间的家具带给这房间一种优雅的气氛。
  • John has been known for his sartorial elegance.约翰因为衣着讲究而出名。
28 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。
29 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。
30 germane dgHx3     
  • He asks questions that are germane and central to the issue.他问了一些与论点有密切关系的重要问题。
  • Fenton was a good listener,and his questions were germane.芬顿听得聚精会神,提问也切中要害。
31 courteously 4v2z8O     
  • He courteously opened the door for me.他谦恭有礼地为我开门。
  • Presently he rose courteously and released her.过了一会,他就很客气地站起来,让她走开。
32 manly fBexr     
  • The boy walked with a confident manly stride.这男孩以自信的男人步伐行走。
  • He set himself manly tasks and expected others to follow his example.他给自己定下了男子汉的任务,并希望别人效之。
33 minor e7fzR     
  • The young actor was given a minor part in the new play.年轻的男演员在这出新戏里被分派担任一个小角色。
  • I gave him a minor share of my wealth.我把小部分财产给了他。
34 conclusive TYjyw     
  • They produced some fairly conclusive evidence.他们提供了一些相当确凿的证据。
  • Franklin did not believe that the French tests were conclusive.富兰克林不相信这个法国人的实验是结论性的。
35 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。
36 waning waning     
adj.(月亮)渐亏的,逐渐减弱或变小的n.月亏v.衰落( wane的现在分词 );(月)亏;变小;变暗淡
  • Her enthusiasm for the whole idea was waning rapidly. 她对整个想法的热情迅速冷淡了下来。
  • The day is waning and the road is ending. 日暮途穷。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
37 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。
38 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。
39 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。
40 irony P4WyZ     
  • She said to him with slight irony.她略带嘲讽地对他说。
  • In her voice we could sense a certain tinge of irony.从她的声音里我们可以感到某种讥讽的意味。
41 tangible 4IHzo     
  • The policy has not yet brought any tangible benefits.这项政策还没有带来任何实质性的好处。
  • There is no tangible proof.没有确凿的证据。
42 groan LfXxU     
  • The wounded man uttered a groan.那个受伤的人发出呻吟。
  • The people groan under the burden of taxes.人民在重税下痛苦呻吟。
43 erect 4iLzm     
  • She held her head erect and her back straight.她昂着头,把背挺得笔直。
  • Soldiers are trained to stand erect.士兵们训练站得笔直。
44 demonstrations 0922be6a2a3be4bdbebd28c620ab8f2d     
证明( demonstration的名词复数 ); 表明; 表达; 游行示威
  • Lectures will be interspersed with practical demonstrations. 讲课中将不时插入实际示范。
  • The new military government has banned strikes and demonstrations. 新的军人政府禁止罢工和示威活动。
45 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。
46 intercourse NbMzU     
  • The magazine becomes a cultural medium of intercourse between the two peoples.该杂志成为两民族间文化交流的媒介。
  • There was close intercourse between them.他们过往很密。
47 forestall X6Qyv     
  • I left the room to forestall involvements.我抢先离开了这房间以免受牵累。
  • He followed this rule in order to forestall rumors.他遵守这条规矩是为了杜绝流言蜚语。
48 mutual eFOxC     
  • We must pull together for mutual interest.我们必须为相互的利益而通力合作。
  • Mutual interests tied us together.相互的利害关系把我们联系在一起。
49 displease BtXxC     
  • Not wishing to displease her,he avoided answering the question.为了不惹她生气,他对这个问题避而不答。
  • She couldn't afford to displease her boss.她得罪不起她的上司。
50 loyalty gA9xu     
  • She told him the truth from a sense of loyalty.她告诉他真相是出于忠诚。
  • His loyalty to his friends was never in doubt.他对朋友的一片忠心从来没受到怀疑。
51 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。
52 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。


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