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首页 » 经典英文小说 » That Affair Next Door » XXI. A SHREWD CONJECTURE.
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
 The test of which I speak was as follows:
I would advertise for a person dressed as I believed Mrs. Van Burnam to have been when she left the scene of crime. If I received news of such a person, I might safely consider my theory established.
I accordingly wrote the following advertisement:
"Information wanted of a woman who applied1 for lodgings2 on the morning of the eighteenth inst., dressed in a brown silk skirt and a black and white plaid blouse of fashionable cut. She was without a hat, or if a person so dressed wore a hat, then it was bought early in the morning at some store, in which case let shopkeepers take notice. The person answering this description is eagerly sought for by her relatives, and to any one giving positive information of the same, a liberal reward will be paid. Please address, T. W. Alvord, —— Liberty Street."
I purposely did not mention her personal appearance, for fear of attracting the attention of the police.
This done, I wrote the following letter:
"Dear Miss Ferguson:
"One clever woman recognizes another. I am clever and am not ashamed to own it. You are clever[Pg 209] and should not be ashamed to be told so. I was a witness at the inquest in which you so notably3 distinguished4 yourself, and I said then, 'There is a woman after my own heart!' But a truce5 to compliments! What I want and ask of you to procure6 for me is a photograph of Mrs. Van Burnam. I am a friend of the family, and consider them to be in more trouble than they deserve. If I had her picture I would show it to the Misses Van Burnam, who feel great remorse7 at their treatment of her, and who want to see how she looked. Cannot you find one in their rooms? The one in Mr. Howard's room here has been confiscated8 by the police.[C]
"Hoping that you will feel disposed to oblige me in this—and I assure you that my motives9 in making this request are most excellent—I remain,
"Cordially yours,
"Amelia Butterworth.
"P. S.—Address me, if you please, at 564 —— Avenue. Care of J. H. Denham."
This was my grocer, with whom I left word the next morning to deliver this package in the next bushel of potatoes he sent me.
My smart little maid, Lena, carried these two communications to the east side, where she posted the letter herself and entrusted11 the advertisement to a lover of hers who carried it to the Herald12 office. While she was gone I tried to rest by exercising my mind in other directions. But I could not. I kept going over Howard's testimony13 in the light of my own theory, and remarking how the difficulty he experienced in maintaining the position he had taken, forced him into[Pg 210] inconsistencies and far-fetched explanations. With his wife for a companion at the Hotel D——, his conduct both there and on the road to his father's house was that of a much weaker man than his words and appearance led one to believe; but if, on the contrary, he had with him a woman with whom he was about to elope (and what did the packing up of all his effects mean, if not that?), all the precautions they took seemed reasonable.
Later, my mind fixed14 itself on one point. If it was his wife who was with him, as he said, then the bundle they dropped at the old woman's feet contained the much-talked of plaid silk. If it was not, then it was a gown of some different material. Now, could this bundle be found? If it could, then why had not Mr. Gryce produced it? The sight of Mrs. Van Burnam's plaid silk spread out on the Coroner's table would have had a great effect in clinching15 the suspicion against her husband. But no plaid silk had been found (because it was not dropped in the bundle, but worn away on the murderess's back), and no old woman. I thought I knew the reason of this too. There was no old woman to be found, and the bundle they carried had been got rid of some other way. What way? I would take a walk down that same block and see, and I would take it at the midnight hour too, for only so could I judge of the possibilities there offered for concealing16 or destroying such an article.
Having made this decision, I cast about to see how I could carry it into effect. I am not a coward, but I have a respectability to maintain, and what errand could Miss Butterworth be supposed to have in the streets at twelve o'clock at night! Fortunately, I[Pg 211] remembered that my cook had complained of toothache when I gave her my orders for breakfast, and going down at once into the kitchen, where she sat with her cheek propped17 up in her hand waiting for Lena, I said with an asperity18 which admitted of no reply:
"You have a dreadful tooth, Sarah, and you must have something done for it at once. When Lena comes home, send her to me. I am going to the drug-store for some drops, and I want Lena to accompany me."
She looked astounded19, of course, but I would not let her answer me. "Don't speak a word," I cried, "it will only make your toothache worse; and don't look as if some hobgoblin had jumped up on the kitchen table. I guess I know my duty, and just what kind of a breakfast I will have in the morning, if you sit up all night groaning20 with the toothache." And I was out of the room before she had more than begun to say that it was not so bad, and that I needn't trouble, and all that, which was true enough, no doubt, but not what I wanted to hear at that moment.
When Lena came in, I saw by the brightness of her face that she had accomplished21 her double errand. I therefore signified to her that I was satisfied, and asked if she was too tired to go out again, saying quite peremptorily22 that Sarah was ill, and that I was going to the drug-store for some medicine, and did not wish to go alone.
Lena's round-eyed wonder was amusing; but she is very discreet23, as I have said before, and she ventured nothing save a meek24, "It's very late, Miss Butterworth," which was an unnecessary remark, as she soon saw.
I do not like to obtrude25 my aristocratic tendencies[Pg 212] too much into this narrative26, but when I found myself in the streets alone with Lena, I could not help feeling some secret qualms27 lest my conduct savored28 of impropriety. But the thought that I was working in the cause of truth and justice came to sustain me, and before I had gone two blocks, I felt as much at home under the midnight skies as if I were walking home from church on a Sunday afternoon.
There is a certain drug-store on Third Avenue where I like to deal, and towards this I ostensibly directed my steps. But I took pains to go by the way of Lexington Avenue and Twenty-seventh Street, and upon reaching the block where this mysterious couple were seen, gave all my attention to the possible hiding-places it offered.
Lena, who had followed me like my shadow, and who was evidently too dumfounded at my freak to speak, drew up to my side as we were half-way down it and seized me tremblingly by the arm.
"Two men are coming," said she.
"I am not afraid of men," was my sharp rejoinder. But I told a most abominable29 lie; for I am afraid of them in such places and under such circumstances, though not under ordinary conditions, and never where the tongue is likely to be the only weapon employed.
The couple who were approaching us now seemed to be in a merry mood. But when they saw us keep to our own side of the way, they stopped their chaffing and allowed us to go by, with just a mocking word or two.
"Sarah ought to be very much obliged to you," whispered Lena.
At the corner of Third Avenue I paused. I had seen[Pg 213] nothing so far but bare stoops and dark area-ways. Nothing to suggest a place for the disposal of such cumbersome30 articles as these persons had made way with. Had the avenue anything better to offer? I stopped under the gas-lamp at the corner to consider, notwithstanding Lena's gentle pull towards the drug-store. Looking to left and right and over the muddy crossings, I sought for inspiration. An almost obstinate32 belief in my own theory led me to insist in my own mind that they had encountered no old woman, and consequently had not dropped their bundles in the open street. I even entered into an argument about it, standing31 there with the cable cars whistling by me and Lena tugging33 away at my arm. "If," said I to myself, "the woman with him had been his wife and the whole thing nothing more than a foolish escapade, they might have done this; but she was not his wife, and the game they were playing was serious, if they did laugh over it, and so their disposal of these tell-tale articles would be serious and such as would protect their secret. Where, then, could they have thrust them?"
My eyes, as I muttered this, were on the one shop in my line of vision that was still open and lighted. It was the den10 of a Chinese laundryman, and through the windows in front I could see him still at work, ironing.
"Ah!" thought I, and made such a start across the street that Lena gasped34 in dismay and almost fell to the ground in her frightened attempt to follow me.
"Not that way!" she called. "Miss Butterworth, you are going wrong."
But I kept right on, and only stopped when I reached the laundry.
"I have an errand here," I explained. "Wait in[Pg 214] the doorway35, Lena, and don't act as if you thought me crazy, for I was never saner36 in my life."
I don't think this reassured37 her much, lunatics not being supposed to be very good judges of their own mental condition, but she was so accustomed to obey, that she drew back as I opened the door before me and entered. The surprise on the face of the poor Chinaman when he turned and saw before him a lady of years and no ordinary appearance, daunted38 me for an instant. But another look only showed me that his very surprise was inoffensive, and gathering39 courage from the unexpectedness of my own position, I inquired with all the politeness I could show one of his abominable nationality:
"Didn't a gentleman and a heavily veiled lady leave a package with you a few days ago at about the same hour of night as this?"
"Some lalee clo' washee? Yes, ma'am. No done. She tellee me no callee for one week."
"Then that's all right; the lady has died very suddenly, and the gentleman gone away; you will have to keep the clothes a long time."
"Me wantee money, no wantee clo'!"
"I'll pay you for them; I don't care about them being ironed."
"Givee tickee, givee clo'! No givee tickee, no givee clo'!"
This was a poser! But as I did not want the clothes so much as a look at them, I soon got the better of this difficulty.
"I don't want them to-night," said I. "I only wanted to make sure you had them. What night were these people here?"[Pg 215]
"Tuesday night, velly late; nicee man, nicee lalee. She wantee talk. Nicee man he pullee she; I no hear if muchee stasch. All washee, see!" he went on, dragging a basket out of the corner, "him no ilon."
I was in such a quiver; so struck with amazement40 at my own perspicacity41 in surmising42 that here was a place where a bundle of underclothing could be lost indefinitely, that I just stared while he turned over the clothes in the basket. For by means of the quality of the articles he was preparing to show me, the question which had been agitating43 me for hours could be definitely decided44. If they proved to be fine and of foreign manufacture, then Howard's story was true and all my fine-spun theories must fall to the ground. But if, on the contrary, they were such as are usually worn by American women, then my own idea as to the identity of the woman who left them here was established, and I could safely consider her as the victim and Louise Van Burnam as the murderess, unless further facts came to prove that he was the guilty one, after all.
The sight of Lena's eyes staring at me with great anxiety through the panes45 of the door distracted my attention for a moment, and when I looked again, he was holding up two or three garments before me. The articles thus revealed told their story in a moment. They were far from fine, and had even less embroidery46 on them than I expected.
"Are there any marks on them?" I asked.
He showed me two letters stamped in indelible ink on the band of a skirt. I did not have my glasses with me, but the ink was black, and I read O. R. "The minx's initials," thought I.
When I left the place my complacency was such that[Pg 216] Lena did not know what to make of me. She has since informed me that I looked as if I wanted to shout Hurrah47! but I cannot believe I so far forgot myself as that. But pleased as I was, I had only discovered how one bundle had been disposed of. The dress and outside fixings still had to be accounted for, and I was the woman to do it.
We had mechanically moved in the direction of the drug-store and were near the curb-stone when I reached this point in my meditations48. It had rained a little while before, and a small stream was running down the gutter49 and emptying itself into the sewer50 opening. The sight of it sharpened my wits.
If I wanted to get rid of anything of a damaging character, I would drop it at the mouth of one of these holes and gently thrust it into the sewer with my foot, thought I. And never doubting that I had found an explanation of the disappearance51 of the second bundle, I walked on, deciding that if I had the police at my command I would have the sewer searched at those four corners.
We rode home after visiting the drug-store. I was not going to subject Lena or myself to another midnight walk through Twenty-seventh Street.


1 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。
2 lodgings f12f6c99e9a4f01e5e08b1197f095e6e     
n. 出租的房舍, 寄宿舍
  • When he reached his lodgings the sun had set. 他到达公寓房间时,太阳已下山了。
  • I'm on the hunt for lodgings. 我正在寻找住所。
3 notably 1HEx9     
  • Many students were absent,notably the monitor.许多学生缺席,特别是连班长也没来。
  • A notably short,silver-haired man,he plays basketball with his staff several times a week.他个子明显较为矮小,一头银发,每周都会和他的员工一起打几次篮球。
4 distinguished wu9z3v     
  • Elephants are distinguished from other animals by their long noses.大象以其长长的鼻子显示出与其他动物的不同。
  • A banquet was given in honor of the distinguished guests.宴会是为了向贵宾们致敬而举行的。
5 truce EK8zr     
  • The hot weather gave the old man a truce from rheumatism.热天使这位老人暂时免受风湿病之苦。
  • She had thought of flying out to breathe the fresh air in an interval of truce.她想跑出去呼吸一下休战期间的新鲜空气。
6 procure A1GzN     
  • Can you procure some specimens for me?你能替我弄到一些标本吗?
  • I'll try my best to procure you that original French novel.我将尽全力给你搞到那本原版法国小说。
7 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。
8 confiscated b8af45cb6ba964fa52504a6126c35855     
没收,充公( confiscate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Their land was confiscated after the war. 他们的土地在战后被没收。
  • The customs officer confiscated the smuggled goods. 海关官员没收了走私品。
9 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。
10 den 5w9xk     
  • There is a big fox den on the back hill.后山有一个很大的狐狸窝。
  • The only way to catch tiger cubs is to go into tiger's den.不入虎穴焉得虎子。
11 entrusted be9f0db83b06252a0a462773113f94fa     
v.委托,托付( entrust的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He entrusted the task to his nephew. 他把这任务托付给了他的侄儿。
  • She was entrusted with the direction of the project. 她受委托负责这项计划。 来自《简明英汉词典》
12 herald qdCzd     
  • In England, the cuckoo is the herald of spring.在英国杜鹃鸟是报春的使者。
  • Dawn is the herald of day.曙光是白昼的先驱。
13 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。
14 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。
15 clinching 81bb22827d3395de2accd60a2a3e7df2     
v.(尤指两人)互相紧紧抱[扭]住( clinch的现在分词 );解决(争端、交易),达成(协议)
  • Joe gets clinching evidence of the brains role when he dreams. 乔做梦时得到了大脑发生作用的决定性依据。 来自辞典例句
  • Clinching, wrestling, pushing, or seizing, without attempting a throw or other technique. 抱,扭摔,推或抓而没有摔或其它的技术。 来自互联网
16 concealing 0522a013e14e769c5852093b349fdc9d     
v.隐藏,隐瞒,遮住( conceal的现在分词 )
  • Despite his outward display of friendliness, I sensed he was concealing something. 尽管他表现得友善,我还是感觉到他有所隐瞒。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • SHE WAS BREAKING THE COMPACT, AND CONCEALING IT FROM HIM. 她违反了他们之间的约定,还把他蒙在鼓里。 来自英汉文学 - 三万元遗产
17 propped 557c00b5b2517b407d1d2ef6ba321b0e     
支撑,支持,维持( prop的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sat propped up in the bed by pillows. 他靠着枕头坐在床上。
  • This fence should be propped up. 这栅栏该用东西支一支。
18 asperity rN6yY     
  • He spoke to the boy with asperity.他严厉地对那男孩讲话。
  • The asperity of the winter had everybody yearning for spring.严冬之苦让每个人都渴望春天。
19 astounded 7541fb163e816944b5753491cad6f61a     
  • His arrogance astounded her. 他的傲慢使她震惊。
  • How can you say that? I'm absolutely astounded. 你怎么能说出那种话?我感到大为震惊。
20 groaning groaning     
adj. 呜咽的, 呻吟的 动词groan的现在分词形式
  • She's always groaning on about how much she has to do. 她总抱怨自己干很多活儿。
  • The wounded man lay there groaning, with no one to help him. 受伤者躺在那里呻吟着,无人救助。
21 accomplished UzwztZ     
  • Thanks to your help,we accomplished the task ahead of schedule.亏得你们帮忙,我们才提前完成了任务。
  • Removal of excess heat is accomplished by means of a radiator.通过散热器完成多余热量的排出。
22 peremptorily dbf9fb7e6236647e2b3396fe01f8d47a     
  • She peremptorily rejected the request. 她断然拒绝了请求。
  • Their propaganda was peremptorily switched to an anti-Western line. 他们的宣传断然地转而持反对西方的路线。 来自辞典例句
23 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。
24 meek x7qz9     
  • He expects his wife to be meek and submissive.他期望妻子温顺而且听他摆布。
  • The little girl is as meek as a lamb.那个小姑娘像羔羊一般温顺。
25 obtrude M0Sy6     
  • I'm sorry to obtrude on you at such a time.我很抱歉在这个时候打扰你。
  • You had better not obtrude your opinions on others.你最好不要强迫别人接受你的意见。
26 narrative CFmxS     
  • He was a writer of great narrative power.他是一位颇有记述能力的作家。
  • Neither author was very strong on narrative.两个作者都不是很善于讲故事。
27 qualms qualms     
  • He felt no qualms about borrowing money from friends.他没有对于从朋友那里借钱感到不安。
  • He has no qualms about lying.他撒谎毫不内疚。
28 savored b2e8dc5ced86b908663d80760a443370     
v.意味,带有…的性质( savor的过去式和过去分词 );给…加调味品;使有风味;品尝
  • We savored the barbed hits in his reply. 我们很欣赏他在回答中使用的带刺的俏皮话。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • We savored, (the pleasures of) mountain life to the full. 我们充分体会了山居生活的乐趣。 来自辞典例句
29 abominable PN5zs     
  • Their cruel treatment of prisoners was abominable.他们虐待犯人的做法令人厌恶。
  • The sanitary conditions in this restaurant are abominable.这家饭馆的卫生状况糟透了。
30 cumbersome Mnizj     
  • Although the machine looks cumbersome,it is actually easy to use.尽管这台机器看上去很笨重,操作起来却很容易。
  • The furniture is too cumbersome to move.家具太笨,搬起来很不方便。
31 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。
32 obstinate m0dy6     
  • She's too obstinate to let anyone help her.她太倔强了,不会让任何人帮她的。
  • The trader was obstinate in the negotiation.这个商人在谈判中拗强固执。
33 tugging 1b03c4e07db34ec7462f2931af418753     
n.牵引感v.用力拉,使劲拉,猛扯( tug的现在分词 )
  • Tom was tugging at a button-hole and looking sheepish. 汤姆捏住一个钮扣眼使劲地拉,样子显得很害羞。 来自英汉文学 - 汤姆历险
  • She kicked him, tugging his thick hair. 她一边踢他,一边扯着他那浓密的头发。 来自辞典例句
34 gasped e6af294d8a7477229d6749fa9e8f5b80     
v.喘气( gasp的过去式和过去分词 );喘息;倒抽气;很想要
  • She gasped at the wonderful view. 如此美景使她惊讶得屏住了呼吸。
  • People gasped with admiration at the superb skill of the gymnasts. 体操运动员的高超技艺令人赞叹。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
35 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。
36 saner 3d0ae5c6cab45f094fb6af1ae9c6423f     
adj.心智健全的( sane的比较级 );神志正常的;明智的;稳健的
  • He seemed wiser than Hurstwood, saner and brighter than Drouet. 他看上去比赫斯渥明智,比杜洛埃稳舰聪明。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
  • Such brooding didn't make him any saner. 然而,苦思冥想并没有使他头脑清醒。 来自辞典例句
37 reassured ff7466d942d18e727fb4d5473e62a235     
adj.使消除疑虑的;使放心的v.再保证,恢复信心( reassure的过去式和过去分词)
  • The captain's confidence during the storm reassured the passengers. 在风暴中船长的信念使旅客们恢复了信心。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • The doctor reassured the old lady. 医生叫那位老妇人放心。 来自《简明英汉词典》
38 daunted 7ffb5e5ffb0aa17a7b2333d90b452257     
使(某人)气馁,威吓( daunt的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She was a brave woman but she felt daunted by the task ahead. 她是一个勇敢的女人,但对面前的任务却感到信心不足。
  • He was daunted by the high quality of work they expected. 他被他们对工作的高品质的要求吓倒了。
39 gathering ChmxZ     
  • He called on Mr. White to speak at the gathering.他请怀特先生在集会上讲话。
  • He is on the wing gathering material for his novels.他正忙于为他的小说收集资料。
40 amazement 7zlzBK     
  • All those around him looked at him with amazement.周围的人都对他投射出惊异的眼光。
  • He looked at me in blank amazement.他带着迷茫惊诧的神情望着我。
41 perspicacity perspicacity     
n. 敏锐, 聪明, 洞察力
  • Perspicacity includes selective code, selective comparing and selective combining. 洞察力包括选择性编码、选择性比较、选择性联合。
  • He may own the perspicacity and persistence to catch and keep the most valuable thing. 他可能拥有洞察力和坚忍力,可以抓住和保有人生中最宝贵的东西。
42 surmising 752029aaed28b24da1dc70fa8b606ee6     
v.臆测,推断( surmise的现在分词 );揣测;猜想
  • Fanny's heart beat quick, and she felt quite unequal to surmising or soliciting any more. 范妮的心跳得快了起来,她不敢猜测她往下讲些什么,也不敢求她再往下讲。 来自辞典例句
43 agitating bfcde57ee78745fdaeb81ea7fca04ae8     
搅动( agitate的现在分词 ); 激怒; 使焦虑不安; (尤指为法律、社会状况的改变而)激烈争论
  • political groups agitating for social change 鼓吹社会变革的政治团体
  • They are agitating to assert autonomy. 他们正在鼓吹实行自治。
44 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。
45 panes c8bd1ed369fcd03fe15520d551ab1d48     
窗玻璃( pane的名词复数 )
  • The sun caught the panes and flashed back at him. 阳光照到窗玻璃上,又反射到他身上。
  • The window-panes are dim with steam. 玻璃窗上蒙上了一层蒸汽。
46 embroidery Wjkz7     
  • This exquisite embroidery won people's great admiration.这件精美的绣品,使人惊叹不已。
  • This is Jane's first attempt at embroidery.这是简第一次试着绣花。
47 hurrah Zcszx     
  • We hurrah when we see the soldiers go by.我们看到士兵经过时向他们欢呼。
  • The assistants raised a formidable hurrah.助手们发出了一片震天的欢呼声。
48 meditations f4b300324e129a004479aa8f4c41e44a     
默想( meditation的名词复数 ); 默念; 沉思; 冥想
  • Each sentence seems a quarry of rich meditations. 每一句话似乎都给人以许多冥思默想。
  • I'm sorry to interrupt your meditations. 我很抱歉,打断你思考问题了。
49 gutter lexxk     
  • There's a cigarette packet thrown into the gutter.阴沟里有个香烟盒。
  • He picked her out of the gutter and made her a great lady.他使她脱离贫苦生活,并成为贵妇。
50 sewer 2Ehzu     
  • They are tearing up the street to repair a sewer. 他们正挖开马路修下水道。
  • The boy kicked a stone into the sewer. 那个男孩把一石子踢进了下水道。
51 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。


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