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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Weight of the Crown » CHAPTER X A FRIEND AT COURT
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Jessie's prevailing1 feeling was not one of fear; rather was she moved by an intense, overpowering curiosity. She lingered behind the palm wondering what was going to happen next. She could see between the graceful2 hanging leaves the puzzled expression on Lady Merehaven's face.
"But, my dear doctor, what you say is absurd," she was saying. "I saw Vera pass not five minutes ago. And if she had met with an accident and been conveyed to Charing5 Cross Hospital, why—— But the thing is out of the question."
"And yet I feel perfectly6 certain of my facts," Dr. Varney persisted. "It is true that I was in a hurry, and that the young lady I allude7 to was fast asleep—at any rate, nearly asleep. My dear lady, seeing that I was present at Vera's birth, and that all these years I have known her so intimately——"
Jessie came leisurely8 into sight. It was impossible to let this matter go any further. By chance the doctor had learnt something, and his mouth must be closed if possible. She came along with a smile and a hand outstretched.
"You are very late, doctor," she said. "I have been looking forward to a chat with you."
For once in his life Dr. Varney was genuinely astonished. He looked at Jessie in a vague, dreamy kind of way, though fortunately Lady Merehaven did not glance up and notice his face.
"There, you unbelieving man!" she cried. "Vera does not look as if she had met with anything serious in the way of an accident."
Dr. Varney pulled himself together promptly9 and took Jessie's outstretched hand. There was a twinkle in his shrewd eyes as he held the girl's fingers.
"Extraordinary mistake of mine, wasn't it?" he said. "Could have sworn that I saw you lying half asleep in one of the wards10 of Charing Cross Hospital. Case of shock and injured ankle. People said the patient called herself Harcourt, but could not recollect11 her address. Young girls have such queer escapades nowadays that——"
"But surely you know me better than that?" Jessie forced herself to say.
"I'm not quite so sure that I do," Varney chuckled12. "However, the girl was very like you. Come and give me a sandwich and a glass of claret, and we'll talk of old times."
Jessie expressed herself as delighted, but inwardly she was praying for some diversion. She was quite convinced that the doctor was by no means satisfied; she could see that he was a shrewd, clever man of the world, and that he meant to question her adroitly13. If once the conversation drifted to old times, she felt that she must be discovered.
But Varney ate his sandwich and sipped14 his claret and water with no reference to the past. He looked at Jessie once or twice in an abstracted kind of way. She felt that she must talk, that she must say something to start a safe conversation.
"What are you thinking about, doctor?" she asked.
"I am thinking," was the startling reply, "that[80] you are one of the finest actresses I have ever seen. The stage is the poorer for your absence."
Jessie's heart sank within her; there was no mistaking the dry significance of the speech. This man was sure of his ground; he had found her out. And yet there was a kindly15 look on his face, not as if he were dealing16 with an impostor at all.
"What do you mean?" Jessie asked. "I do not in the least understand you."
"Oh yes, you do; you understand me perfectly well. I don't know who you are, but I most assuredly know who you are not, and that is Vera Galloway. Mind, I am not accusing you of being a type of the mere3 vulgar impostor. I would trust you against the world."
"It is very good of you to say so," Jessie gasped17. "You are not going to assume that—that——"
"That you are here for any evil purpose? With a face like yours the idea is impossible. As I was passing through the wards of the hospital just now, to my surprise I saw Vera Galloway there. I knew her not only by her face and figure, but by the dimples round her wrists. Now your wrists are very long and slender, and you have no dimples at all. Many men would have let out the whole thing, but not so me. I find that the patient has given the name of Harcourt, and that she has forgotten her address. Forgive me if I scented18 a scandal. That is why I led up so carefully to Lady Merehaven. But when you came on the scene I guessed exactly what had happened. You were engaged to play Vera's part when she was up to something elsewhere. I confess I am not altogether without sorrow that so charming a girl——"
"Indeed, I am quite sure that there was nothing[81] really wrong," Jessie cried. "From what I have seen of Miss Galloway I am quite sure that she is not that class of girl. But for this unfortunate accident.... Dr. Varney, you will not betray me?"
"Well, I won't," Varney cried, "though I am no doubt an old fool for my pains. It's very lucky that a clear head like mine has been imported into the business. Now, in the first place, tell me who you are and what you are doing here. I know you will be candid19."
"I will tell you everything," Jessie said. She was utterly20 thankful that the case was no worse. "My name is Jessie Harcourt, and up to a few hours ago I was a shop-girl in Bond Street."
"That sounds quite romantic. A shop-girl in Bond Street and a lady by birth and breeding, too. Which branch of the family do you belong to?"
"The Kent Harcourts. My father was Colonel Harcourt, of the Royal Galways."
"Really now!" Varney exclaimed. "I knew your father quite well years ago. I was an army doctor myself for a long time. Your father was an extravagant21 man, my dear—always was. And he left you poor?"
"He left my sister and myself penniless. We were fit for nothing either. And that is why I found my way into a Bond Street shop. I was discharged because I was supposed to have flirted22 with the son of a customer. My indignant protest that the cowardly cad tried to kiss me counted for nothing. As the complaining customer was the Princess Mazaroff——"
"And her son the culprit," Varney said, with a queer gleam in his eyes. "My dear child, you have[82] done well to confide23 in me. But go on, tell me everything."
Jessie proceeded to relate her story at length, from the time that she met Vera Galloway down to the existing moment. And the romantic side of the royal story was not suppressed. Nor could Jessie feel that she had not an interested listener.
"This is one of the most remarkable24 stories that I have ever heard," Varney said. "And as a doctor in a large way of practice, I have heard some singular ones. I fancy that I can see my way clear now. And I know what you don't know—that Vera is taking a desperate step for the sake of a man she loves. It is quite plain to me why you are here. Well, well! I am doing quite wrong, but I am going to keep your secret."
"That is indeed good of you," Jessie said gratefully. "But there is more to be done. My dear doctor, I can see my way to important information without which it is impossible for me to sustain my present rôle until Miss Galloway comes home again. It is imperative25 that I should have a few words with her. You can give me a permit for the hospital authorities. After that the rest is easy."
"I quite see your point," Varney said thoughtfully. "You are as clever as you are courageous26. But how are you going to manage this without being missed?"
"I am going to make use of another," Jessie laughed. All her courage had come back to her now. "I am going to make use of a gentleman known as Pongo. He is supposed to be very fond of me as Vera Galloway. He does not seem to be a very harmful individual."
"Honourable27 George Lascelles," Varney muttered.[83] "There is a good deal of good in Pongo, though he assumes the rôle of an ass4 in society. Once he marries and settles down he will be quite different. But how do you propose to enlist28 him in the service?"
Jessie proceeded to explain the silly business of the motor-car in the lane behind the house.
"I shall get him to take me to Charing Cross Hospital," she said. "You may be quite certain that Vera Galloway is not asleep. A few minutes with her will be quite enough for my purpose. And I shall be back again before I am missed. Do you approve?"
"I have to whether I like it or not," Varney grumbled29, "though this is a nice predicament for a man in my position and my time of life. I'll go as far as the library and scribble30 out that permit, though what the College of Physicians would say if they only knew——"
And Varney strode off muttering as he went. But the twinkle was in his eyes still.


1 prevailing E1ozF     
  • She wears a fashionable hair style prevailing in the city.她的发型是这个城市流行的款式。
  • This reflects attitudes and values prevailing in society.这反映了社会上盛行的态度和价值观。
2 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。
3 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。
4 ass qvyzK     
  • He is not an ass as they make him.他不象大家猜想的那样笨。
  • An ass endures his burden but not more than his burden.驴能负重但不能超过它能力所负担的。
5 charing 188ca597d1779221481bda676c00a9be     
n.炭化v.把…烧成炭,把…烧焦( char的现在分词 );烧成炭,烧焦;做杂役女佣
  • We married in the chapel of Charing Cross Hospital in London. 我们是在伦敦查令十字医院的小教堂里结的婚。 来自辞典例句
  • No additional charge for children under12 charing room with parents. ☆十二岁以下小童与父母同房不另收费。 来自互联网
6 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。
7 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。
8 leisurely 51Txb     
  • We walked in a leisurely manner,looking in all the windows.我们慢悠悠地走着,看遍所有的橱窗。
  • He had a leisurely breakfast and drove cheerfully to work.他从容的吃了早餐,高兴的开车去工作。
9 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。
10 wards 90fafe3a7d04ee1c17239fa2d768f8fc     
区( ward的名词复数 ); 病房; 受监护的未成年者; 被人照顾或控制的状态
  • This hospital has 20 medical [surgical] wards. 这所医院有 20 个内科[外科]病房。
  • It was a big constituency divided into three wards. 这是一个大选区,下设三个分区。
11 recollect eUOxl     
  • He tried to recollect things and drown himself in them.他极力回想过去的事情而沉浸于回忆之中。
  • She could not recollect being there.她回想不起曾经到过那儿。
12 chuckled 8ce1383c838073977a08258a1f3e30f8     
轻声地笑( chuckle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She chuckled at the memory. 想起这件事她就暗自发笑。
  • She chuckled softly to herself as she remembered his astonished look. 想起他那惊讶的表情,她就轻轻地暗自发笑。
13 adroitly adroitly     
  • He displayed the cigarette holder grandly on every occasion and had learned to manipulate it adroitly. 他学会了一套用手灵巧地摆弄烟嘴的动作,一有机会就要拿它炫耀一番。 来自辞典例句
  • The waitress passes a fine menu to Molly who orders dishes adroitly. 女服务生捧来菜单递给茉莉,后者轻车熟路地点菜。 来自互联网
14 sipped 22d1585d494ccee63c7bff47191289f6     
v.小口喝,呷,抿( sip的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sipped his coffee pleasurably. 他怡然地品味着咖啡。
  • I sipped the hot chocolate she had made. 我小口喝着她调制的巧克力热饮。 来自辞典例句
15 kindly tpUzhQ     
  • Her neighbours spoke of her as kindly and hospitable.她的邻居都说她和蔼可亲、热情好客。
  • A shadow passed over the kindly face of the old woman.一道阴影掠过老太太慈祥的面孔。
16 dealing NvjzWP     
  • This store has an excellent reputation for fair dealing.该商店因买卖公道而享有极高的声誉。
  • His fair dealing earned our confidence.他的诚实的行为获得我们的信任。
17 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》
18 scented a9a354f474773c4ff42b74dd1903063d     
  • I let my lungs fill with the scented air. 我呼吸着芬芳的空气。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The police dog scented about till he found the trail. 警犬嗅来嗅去,终于找到了踪迹。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
19 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。
20 utterly ZfpzM1     
  • Utterly devoted to the people,he gave his life in saving his patients.他忠于人民,把毕生精力用于挽救患者的生命。
  • I was utterly ravished by the way she smiled.她的微笑使我完全陶醉了。
21 extravagant M7zya     
  • They tried to please him with fulsome compliments and extravagant gifts.他们想用溢美之词和奢华的礼品来取悦他。
  • He is extravagant in behaviour.他行为放肆。
22 flirted 49ccefe40dd4c201ecb595cadfecc3a3     
v.调情,打情骂俏( flirt的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She flirted her fan. 她急速挥动着扇子。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • During his four months in Egypt he flirted with religious emotions. 在埃及逗留的这四个月期间,他又玩弄起宗教情绪来了。 来自辞典例句
23 confide WYbyd     
  • I would never readily confide in anybody.我从不轻易向人吐露秘密。
  • He is going to confide the secrets of his heart to us.他将向我们吐露他心里的秘密。
24 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。
25 imperative BcdzC     
  • He always speaks in an imperative tone of voice.他老是用命令的口吻讲话。
  • The events of the past few days make it imperative for her to act.过去这几天发生的事迫使她不得不立即行动。
26 courageous HzSx7     
  • We all honour courageous people.我们都尊重勇敢的人。
  • He was roused to action by courageous words.豪言壮语促使他奋起行动。
27 honourable honourable     
  • I don't think I am worthy of such an honourable title.这样的光荣称号,我可担当不起。
  • I hope to find an honourable way of settling difficulties.我希望设法找到一个体面的办法以摆脱困境。
28 enlist npCxX     
  • They come here to enlist men for the army.他们来这儿是为了召兵。
  • The conference will make further efforts to enlist the support of the international community for their just struggle. 会议必将进一步动员国际社会,支持他们的正义斗争。
29 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。
30 scribble FDxyY     
  • She can't write yet,but she loves to scribble with a pencil.她现在还不会写字,但她喜欢用铅笔乱涂。
  • I can't read this scribble.我看不懂这种潦草的字。


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