小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » XX. MISS BUTTERWORTH'S THEORY.
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
 I was so excited when I entered my carriage that I rode all the way home with my bonnet1 askew2 and never knew it. When I reached my room and saw myself in the glass, I was shocked, and stole a glance at Lena, who was setting out my little tea-table, to see if she noticed what a ridiculous figure I cut. But she is discretion3 itself, and for a girl with two undeniable dimples in her cheeks, smiles seldom—at least when I am looking at her. She was not smiling now, and though, for the reason given above, this was not as comforting as it may appear, I chose not to worry myself any longer about such a trifle when I had matters of so much importance on my mind.
Taking off my bonnet, whose rakish appearance had given me such a shock, I sat down, and for half an hour neither moved nor spoke4. I was thinking. A theory which had faintly suggested itself to me at the inquest was taking on body with these later developments. Two hats had been found on the scene of the tragedy, and two pairs of gloves, and now I had learned that there had been two women there, the one whom Mrs. Boppert had locked into the house on leaving it, and the one whom I had seen enter at midnight with Mr. Van Burnam. Which of the two had perished?[Pg 202] We had been led to think, and Mr. Van Burnam had himself acknowledged, that it was his wife; but his wife had been dressed quite differently from the murdered woman, and was, as I soon began to see, much more likely to have been the assassin than the victim. Would you like to know my reasons for this extraordinary statement? If so, they are these:
I had always seen a woman's hand in this work, but having no reason to believe in the presence of any other woman on the scene of crime than the victim, I had put this suspicion aside as untenable. But now that I had found the second woman, I returned to it.
But how connect her with the murder? It seemed easy enough to do so if this other woman was her rival. We have heard of no rival, but she may have known of one, and this knowledge may have been at the bottom of her disagreement with her husband and the half-crazy determination she evinced to win his family over to her side. Let us say, then, that the second woman was Mrs. Van Burnam's rival. That he brought her there not knowing that his wife had effected an entrance into the house; brought her there after an afternoon spent at the Hotel D——, during which he had furnished her with a new outfit5 of less pronounced type, perhaps, than that she had previously6 worn. The use of the two carriages and the care they took to throw suspicion off their track, may have been part of a scheme of future elopement, for I had no idea they meant to remain in Mr. Van Burnam's house. For what purpose, then, did they go there? To meet Mrs. Van Burnam and kill her, that their way might be clearer for flight? No; I had rather think that they went to the house without a thought of whom they would[Pg 203] encounter, and that only after they had entered the parlors7 did he realize that the two women he least wished to see together had been brought by his folly9 face to face.
The presence in the third room of Mrs. Van Burnam's hat, gloves, and novel seemed to argue that she had spent the evening in reading by the dining-room table, but whether this was so or not, the stopping of a carriage in front and the opening of the door by an accustomed hand undoubtedly10 assured her that either the old gentleman or some other member of the family had unexpectedly arrived. She was, therefore, in or near the parlor8-door when they entered, and the shock of meeting her hated rival in company with her husband, under the very roof where she had hoped to lay the foundations of her future happiness, must have been great, if not maddening. Accusations11, recriminations even, did not satisfy her. She wanted to kill; but she had no weapon. Suddenly her eyes fell on the hat-pin which her more self-possessed rival had drawn12 from her hat, possibly before their encounter, and she conceived a plan which seemed to promise her the very revenge she sought. How she carried it out; by what means she was enabled to approach her victim and inflict13 with such certainty the fatal stab which laid her enemy at her feet, can be left to the imagination. But that she, a woman, and not Howard, a man, drove this woman's weapon into the stranger's spine14, I will yet prove, or lose all faith in my own intuitions.
But if this theory is true, how about the shelves that fell at daybreak, and how about her escape from the house without detection? A little thought will explain all that. The man, horrified15, no doubt, at the[Pg 204] result of his imprudence, and execrating16 the crime to which it had led, left the house almost immediately. But the woman remained there, possibly because she had fainted, possibly because he would have nothing to do with her; and coming to herself, saw her victim's face staring up at her with an accusing beauty she found it impossible to meet. What should she do to escape it? Where should she go? She hated it so she could have trampled17 on it, but she restrained her passions till daybreak, when in one wild burst of fury and hatred18 she drew down the cabinet upon it, and then fled the scene of horror she had herself caused. This was at five, or, to be exact, three minutes before that hour, as shown by the clock she had carelessly set in her lighter19 moments.
She escaped by the front door, which her husband had mercifully forborne to lock; and she had not been discovered by the police, because her appearance did not tally20 with the description which had been given them. How did I know this? Remember the discoveries I had made in Miss Van Burnam's room, and allow them to assist you in understanding my conclusions.
Some one had gone into that room; some one who wanted pins; and keeping this fact before my eyes, I saw through the motive22 and actions of the escaping woman. She had on a dress separated at the waist, and finding, perhaps, a spot of blood on the skirt, she conceived the plan of covering it with her petticoat, which was also of silk and undoubtedly as well made as many women's dresses. But the skirt of the gown was longer than the petticoat and she was obliged to pin it up. Having no pins herself, and finding none[Pg 205] on the parlor floor, she went up-stairs to get some. The door at the head of the stairs was locked, but the front room was open, so she entered there. Groping her way to the bureau, for the place was very dark, she found a pin-cushion hanging from a bracket. Feeling it to be full of pins, and knowing that she could see nothing where she was, she tore it away and carried it towards the door. Here there was some light from the skylight over the stairs, so setting the cushion down on the bed, she pinned up the skirt of her gown.
When this was done she started away, brushing the cushion off the bed in her excitement, and fearing to be traced by her many-colored hat, or having no courage remaining for facing again the horror in the parlor, she slid out without one and went, God knows whither, in her terror and remorse23.
So much for my theory; now for the facts standing21 in the way of its complete acceptance. They were two: the scar on the ankle of the dead girl, which was a peculiarity24 of Louise Van Burnam, and the mark of the rings on her fingers. But who had identified the scar? Her husband. No one else. And if the other woman had, by some strange freak of chance, a scar also on her left foot, then the otherwise unaccountable apathy25 he had shown at being told of this distinctive26 mark, as well as his temerity27 in afterwards taking it as a basis for his false identification, becomes equally consistent and natural; and as for the marks of the rings, it would be strange if such a woman did not wear rings and plenty of them.
Howard's conduct under examination and the contradiction between his first assertions and those that followed, all become clear in the light of this new theory.[Pg 206] He had seen his wife kill a defenceless woman before his eyes, and whether influenced by his old affection for her or by his pride in her good name, he could not but be anxious to conceal28 her guilt29 even at the cost of his own truthfulness30. As long then as circumstances permitted, he preserved his indifferent attitude, and denied that the dead woman was his wife. But when driven to the wall by the indisputable proof which was brought forth31 of his wife having been in the place of murder, he saw, or thought he did, that a continued denial on his part of Louise Van Burnam being the victim might lead sooner or later to the suspicion of her being the murderer, and influenced by this fear, took the sudden resolution of profiting by all the points which the two women had in common by acknowledging, what everybody had expected him to acknowledge from the first, that the woman at the Morgue was his wife. This would exonerate32 her, rid him of any apprehension33 he may have entertained of her ever returning to be a disgrace to him, and would (and perhaps this thought influenced him most, for who can understand such men or the passions that sway them) insure the object of his late devotion a decent burial in a Christian34 cemetery35. To be sure, the risk he ran was great, but the emergency was great, and he may not have stopped to count the cost. At all events, the fact is certain that he perjured36 himself when he said that it was his wife he brought to the house from the Hotel D——, and if he perjured himself in this regard, he probably perjured himself in others, and his testimony37 is not at all to be relied upon.
Convinced though I was in my own mind that I had struck a truth which would bear the closest investigation,[Pg 207] I was not satisfied to act upon it till I had put it to the test. The means I took to do this were daring, and quite in keeping with the whole desperate affair. They promised, however, a result important enough to make Mr. Gryce blush for the disdain38 with which he had met my threats of interference.


1 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。
2 askew rvczG     
  • His glasses had been knocked askew by the blow.他的眼镜一下子被打歪了。
  • Her hat was slightly askew.她的帽子戴得有点斜。
3 discretion FZQzm     
  • You must show discretion in choosing your friend.你择友时必须慎重。
  • Please use your best discretion to handle the matter.请慎重处理此事。
4 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。
5 outfit YJTxC     
  • Jenney bought a new outfit for her daughter's wedding.珍妮为参加女儿的婚礼买了一套新装。
  • His father bought a ski outfit for him on his birthday.他父亲在他生日那天给他买了一套滑雪用具。
6 previously bkzzzC     
  • The bicycle tyre blew out at a previously damaged point.自行车胎在以前损坏过的地方又爆开了。
  • Let me digress for a moment and explain what had happened previously.让我岔开一会儿,解释原先发生了什么。
7 parlors d00eff1cfa3fc47d2b58dbfdec2ddc5e     
客厅( parlor的名词复数 ); 起居室; (旅馆中的)休息室; (通常用来构成合成词)店
  • It had been a firm specializing in funeral parlors and parking lots. 它曾经是一个专门经营殡仪馆和停车场的公司。
  • I walked, my eyes focused into the endless succession of barbershops, beauty parlors, confectioneries. 我走着,眼睛注视着那看不到头的、鳞次栉比的理发店、美容院、糖果店。
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 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。
10 undoubtedly Mfjz6l     
  • It is undoubtedly she who has said that.这话明明是她说的。
  • He is undoubtedly the pride of China.毫无疑问他是中国的骄傲。
11 accusations 3e7158a2ffc2cb3d02e77822c38c959b     
n.指责( accusation的名词复数 );指控;控告;(被告发、控告的)罪名
  • There were accusations of plagiarism. 曾有过关于剽窃的指控。
  • He remained unruffled by their accusations. 对于他们的指控他处之泰然。
12 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
13 inflict Ebnz7     
  • Don't inflict your ideas on me.不要把你的想法强加于我。
  • Don't inflict damage on any person.不要伤害任何人。
14 spine lFQzT     
  • He broke his spine in a fall from a horse.他从马上跌下摔断了脊梁骨。
  • His spine developed a slight curve.他的脊柱有点弯曲。
15 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。
16 execrating 23fa32a5c15ce8c674456136ff2cd448     
v.憎恶( execrate的现在分词 );厌恶;诅咒;咒骂
17 trampled 8c4f546db10d3d9e64a5bba8494912e6     
踩( trample的过去式和过去分词 ); 践踏; 无视; 侵犯
  • He gripped his brother's arm lest he be trampled by the mob. 他紧抓着他兄弟的胳膊,怕他让暴民踩着。
  • People were trampled underfoot in the rush for the exit. 有人在拼命涌向出口时被踩在脚下。
18 hatred T5Gyg     
  • He looked at me with hatred in his eyes.他以憎恨的眼光望着我。
  • The old man was seized with burning hatred for the fascists.老人对法西斯主义者充满了仇恨。
19 lighter 5pPzPR     
  • The portrait was touched up so as to make it lighter.这张画经过润色,色调明朗了一些。
  • The lighter works off the car battery.引燃器利用汽车蓄电池打火。
20 tally Gg1yq     
  • Don't forget to keep a careful tally of what you spend.别忘了仔细记下你的开支账目。
  • The facts mentioned in the report tally to every detail.报告中所提到的事实都丝毫不差。
21 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。
22 motive GFzxz     
  • The police could not find a motive for the murder.警察不能找到谋杀的动机。
  • He had some motive in telling this fable.他讲这寓言故事是有用意的。
23 remorse lBrzo     
  • She had no remorse about what she had said.她对所说的话不后悔。
  • He has shown no remorse for his actions.他对自己的行为没有任何悔恨之意。
24 peculiarity GiWyp     
  • Each country has its own peculiarity.每个国家都有自己的独特之处。
  • The peculiarity of this shop is its day and nigth service.这家商店的特点是昼夜服务。
25 apathy BMlyA     
  • He was sunk in apathy after his failure.他失败后心恢意冷。
  • She heard the story with apathy.她听了这个故事无动于衷。
26 distinctive Es5xr     
  • She has a very distinctive way of walking.她走路的样子与别人很不相同。
  • This bird has several distinctive features.这个鸟具有几种突出的特征。
27 temerity PGmyk     
  • He had the temerity to ask for higher wages after only a day's work.只工作了一天,他就蛮不讲理地要求增加工资。
  • Tins took some temerity,but it was fruitless.这件事做得有点莽撞,但结果还是无用。
28 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。
29 guilt 9e6xr     
  • She tried to cover up her guilt by lying.她企图用谎言掩饰自己的罪行。
  • Don't lay a guilt trip on your child about schoolwork.别因为功课责备孩子而使他觉得很内疚。
30 truthfulness 27c8b19ec00cf09690f381451b0fa00c     
n. 符合实际
  • Among her many virtues are loyalty, courage, and truthfulness. 她有许多的美德,如忠诚、勇敢和诚实。
  • I fired a hundred questions concerning the truthfulness of his statement. 我对他发言的真实性提出一连串质问。
31 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。
32 exonerate FzByr     
  • Nothing can exonerate her from that.任何解释都难辞其咎。
  • There is no reason to exonerate him from the ordinary duties of a citizen.没有理由免除他做公民应尽的义务。
33 apprehension bNayw     
  • There were still areas of doubt and her apprehension grew.有些地方仍然存疑,于是她越来越担心。
  • She is a girl of weak apprehension.她是一个理解力很差的女孩。
34 Christian KVByl     
  • They always addressed each other by their Christian name.他们总是以教名互相称呼。
  • His mother is a sincere Christian.他母亲是个虔诚的基督教徒。
35 cemetery ur9z7     
  • He was buried in the cemetery.他被葬在公墓。
  • His remains were interred in the cemetery.他的遗体葬在墓地。
36 perjured 94372bfd9eb0d6d06f4d52e08a0ca7e8     
adj.伪证的,犯伪证罪的v.发假誓,作伪证( perjure的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The witness perjured himself. 证人作了伪证。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Witnesses lied and perjured themselves. 证人撒谎作伪证。 来自辞典例句
37 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。
38 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。


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533