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CHAPTER XV THE SEARCH
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Hunt's expression was not polite, nor was it intended for ears feminine. His almost eager face fell; he was evidently thinking of nothing else but his paper. He would have ruined every kingdom in the universe, including the State that gave him birth, to get a scoop1 on his rivals. Just for a moment it flashed across his mind that he had been betrayed for higher money.
 
But that was hardly possible. No English paper would have dared to give that information to the world. It would have aroused the indignation of every patriotic2 Briton, and the circulation of even the yellowest in the world would have suffered. And the expression of the countess's face was no acting3.
 
"It seems almost incredible," Hunt said. "Please tell me all about it."
 
The countess proceeded to relate the story. It seemed to him that the case was not quite hopeless after all. True, he would not be able to enjoy the prospective4 triumph of his paper over the others, but as an able and adroit5 journalist he would know how to get out of the difficulty.
 
"Well, you have a clue anyway," he said. "Miss Galloway is a strikingly beautiful girl, with a very marked type of loveliness, and if the thief was so like her as to make your maid certain that Miss Galloway was the real thief, the culprit is not far to seek. You don't think yourself——"
 
[109]
 
"That Vera Galloway is the thief? Of course not. The thing is physically6 impossible. Besides, Vera Galloway does not take the slightest interest in politics. She is quite a butterfly. And yet the whole thing is very strange. What puzzles me most is the infinite acquaintance the thief appears to have with my house. She could not have walked in like that to my bedroom unless she had a fine knowledge of the geography of the place."
 
"I'll make a stirring half column of it," Hunt said—"showing no connection between your loss and that Asturian business, of course. We'll hint that the papers were stolen by somebody who fancied that she had a claim on your vast Russian estates. See what I mean. And we'll make fun of the fact that your maid recognized Miss Galloway as the culprit. That will set people talking. We'll offer a reward of £100 for a person who first finds the prototype of Miss Galloway. See? Unless I'm greatly mistaken, we shall precious soon get to the bottom of this business."
 
The countess nodded and smiled approvingly. The cunning little scheme appealed to her. She pushed her plate and glass away with which she had been toying. At the same moment a waiter came and handed her a note, which she opened and read with a flushed face.
 
"It appears as if the police had actually succeeded in doing something for once," she said. "This is from one of the Scotland Yard men, saying that a woman in black dress and veil, answering to the description given by Annette, has been taken to Charing8 Cross Hospital after being knocked down by a passing cab. This may or may not mean anything, but it is distinctly encouraging. I am[110] told that I shall know more in the morning. But that is not good enough for me."
 
"Don't do anything impetuous," Hunt said anxiously.
 
"I am not in the habit of doing impulsive9 things," the countess replied. "At the same time, I am going to Charing Cross Hospital to-night to make sure. It is quite time we finished this discussion, as you have to alter your plans and write that paragraph. Let us be going."
 
A little later and the countess was proceeding10 in her brougham eastwards11. Hunt had parted from Lechmere, too, after the latter had derived12 his useful piece of information from the startled editor. But the countess did not know anything of that. And as she was approaching the well-known hospital, Jessie Harcourt was reaching it in another direction in the motor-car of Lascelles, otherwise known as "Pongo." The nearer she approached to her destination the more nervous did the girl become.
 
"Awfully13 jolly ride," Lascelles grinned. "Glad you put that black thing over your head, though. It's a pity to cut the thing short, but I suppose the joke has gone far enough?"
 
"Not quite," Jessie said between her teeth. "I am going to confide14 in you, Mr. Lascelles——"
 
"Called me 'Pongo' just now," the other said in tones of deep reproach. "It seems to me——"
 
"Well, Pongo, then—dear Pongo, if you like," Jessie said desperately15. "I am going to confide in you. I want you to put me down close to the hospital, and then you go back without me. You may infer that I did not care for the business, and that I returned home by the front door. Then at the end of[111] half an hour or so, you are to declare that the sport is over for the night and ride off as if seeking your chauffeur16. After that you are to come here and fetch me back. You understand?"
 
It was quite plain, from the blank expression of Lascelles' face, that he did not understand. The familiar air had left him; he had grown stiff and almost stern.
 
"I don't quite follow," he said. "Of course, if I choose to play the ass7—which, by the way, I am getting a little tired of—why, that hurts nobody. But when a lady who I respect and admire asks me to become a party, don't you know, to what looks like some—er—vulgar assignation——"
 
"You are wrong," Jessie cried. "You are a gentleman; you have more sense than I expected. I pledge you my word of honour that this is no assignation. It is a case of life and death, a desperate case. I am going into the hospital; it is important that nobody should know of my visit—none of my own friends, I mean. I could come back in a hansom, but danger lies that way. I have no money for one thing. Mr. Lascelles, please believe that I am telling the truth."
 
The girl's troubled eyes turned on the listener's face. Lascelles would have been less than a man had he not yielded, sorely against his judgment17 as it was.
 
"I'll do it," he said. "No woman ever yet appealed to me in vain. Because I play the ass people think that I don't notice things, but they are mistaken. I've never done anything yet to be ashamed of, anyway. And I'm not going to begin now. It seems to me that you are making a great sacrifice for somebody else. If I could feel quite sure that that somebody else was a——"
 
"Woman? It is a woman! I felt quite sure that I could rely upon you. Now please go back and act exactly as I have suggested. When you come to know the truth—as assuredly you shall some day—I am quite certain that you will never repent19 what you are doing to-night."
 
Lascelles was equally certain of it. He was quite convinced now that he was no party to anything wrong. All the same, his face was very grave as he helped Jessie from the car, and placed her wrap more carefully around her. It was a long black wrap, covering her head and face and reaching to the ground, so that the girl's rich dress was quite hidden.
 
"Half an hour," Jessie whispered. "It may be a little longer. I can trust your discretion20. At first I was a little afraid that perhaps you might—but in your new character you are quite reliable. Do not stay any longer or we shall attract attention."
 
Lascelles wheeled his car round and started westward21 once more. Jessie hesitated just a minute to make quite sure that she had her permit in her pocket, when a two-horse brougham dashed up. Evidently some fashionable doctor summoned in a hurry, Jessie thought. But when she looked again at the perfectly22 appointed equipage, with its fine horses and its silver harness, she knew better. The thing was too fashionable and glittering for a doctor; besides, no man in the profession would use such a turn-out at night. Then, as Jessie looked again, her heart beat more violently as she recognized the face of the occupant. It was the Countess Saens. What did she want at this hour of the night? No errand of mercy, Jessie felt quite sure, for the Countess Saens did not bear that reputation.
 
Then like a flash it came to the girl standing23 hesitatingly on the pavement. The countess had found some clue, possibly through the assertions of the maid Annette that the sham18 Miss Galloway was the thief who was responsible for the burglary. It was possible for such a train of thought to be started and worked out logically in that brilliant brain. But there was one other thing that Jessie would have given a great deal to know—How had the countess discovered that the real Miss Galloway was detained by an accident at Charing Cross Hospital?
 
Well, Jessie would know in a very few minutes. The countess stepped out of her carriage and made her way into the hall of the hospital. She could be seen talking to the porter, who shook his head. Evidently the countess was asking for something that was against the rules. Again the man shook his head. Jessie felt that a crisis was at hand. She stood on the pavement hesitatingly, so eager that her hand fell from her face; her features were distinct and lovely in the strong rays of light. A man walking past her in a great hurry stopped, and an exclamation24 broke from him.
 
"Vera!" he said hurriedly. "Vera, won't you speak to me? Great heavens! A chance like this——"
 
Instantly Jessie guessed what had happened. She was face to face with Vera's lover, Charles Maxwell!
 

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 scoop QD1zn     
n.铲子,舀取,独家新闻;v.汲取,舀取,抢先登出
参考例句:
  • In the morning he must get his boy to scoop it out.早上一定得叫佣人把它剜出来。
  • Uh,one scoop of coffee and one scoop of chocolate for me.我要一勺咖啡的和一勺巧克力的。
2 patriotic T3Izu     
adj.爱国的,有爱国心的
参考例句:
  • His speech was full of patriotic sentiments.他的演说充满了爱国之情。
  • The old man is a patriotic overseas Chinese.这位老人是一位爱国华侨。
3 acting czRzoc     
n.演戏,行为,假装;adj.代理的,临时的,演出用的
参考例句:
  • Ignore her,she's just acting.别理她,她只是假装的。
  • During the seventies,her acting career was in eclipse.在七十年代,她的表演生涯黯然失色。
4 prospective oR7xB     
adj.预期的,未来的,前瞻性的
参考例句:
  • The story should act as a warning to other prospective buyers.这篇报道应该对其他潜在的购买者起到警示作用。
  • They have all these great activities for prospective freshmen.这会举办各种各样的活动来招待未来的新人。
5 adroit zxszv     
adj.熟练的,灵巧的
参考例句:
  • Jamie was adroit at flattering others.杰米很会拍马屁。
  • His adroit replies to hecklers won him many followers.他对质问者的机敏应答使他赢得了很多追随者。
6 physically iNix5     
adj.物质上,体格上,身体上,按自然规律
参考例句:
  • He was out of sorts physically,as well as disordered mentally.他浑身不舒服,心绪也很乱。
  • Every time I think about it I feel physically sick.一想起那件事我就感到极恶心。
7 ass qvyzK     
n.驴;傻瓜,蠢笨的人
参考例句:
  • 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。
8 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
参考例句:
  • 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
9 impulsive M9zxc     
adj.冲动的,刺激的;有推动力的
参考例句:
  • She is impulsive in her actions.她的行为常出于冲动。
  • He was neither an impulsive nor an emotional man,but a very honest and sincere one.他不是个一冲动就鲁莽行事的人,也不多愁善感.他为人十分正直、诚恳。
10 proceeding Vktzvu     
n.行动,进行,(pl.)会议录,学报
参考例句:
  • This train is now proceeding from Paris to London.这次列车从巴黎开往伦敦。
  • The work is proceeding briskly.工作很有生气地进展着。
11 eastwards urxxQ     
adj.向东方(的),朝东(的);n.向东的方向
参考例句:
  • The current sets strongly eastwards.急流迅猛东去。
  • The Changjiang River rolls on eastwards.长江滚滚向东流。
12 derived 6cddb7353e699051a384686b6b3ff1e2     
vi.起源;由来;衍生;导出v.得到( derive的过去式和过去分词 );(从…中)得到获得;源于;(从…中)提取
参考例句:
  • Many English words are derived from Latin and Greek. 英语很多词源出于拉丁文和希腊文。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He derived his enthusiasm for literature from his father. 他对文学的爱好是受他父亲的影响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
13 awfully MPkym     
adv.可怕地,非常地,极端地
参考例句:
  • Agriculture was awfully neglected in the past.过去农业遭到严重忽视。
  • I've been feeling awfully bad about it.对这我一直感到很难受。
14 confide WYbyd     
v.向某人吐露秘密
参考例句:
  • 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。
15 desperately cu7znp     
adv.极度渴望地,绝望地,孤注一掷地
参考例句:
  • He was desperately seeking a way to see her again.他正拼命想办法再见她一面。
  • He longed desperately to be back at home.他非常渴望回家。
16 chauffeur HrGzL     
n.(受雇于私人或公司的)司机;v.为…开车
参考例句:
  • The chauffeur handed the old lady from the car.这个司机搀扶这个老太太下汽车。
  • She went out herself and spoke to the chauffeur.她亲自走出去跟汽车司机说话。
17 judgment e3xxC     
n.审判;判断力,识别力,看法,意见
参考例句:
  • The chairman flatters himself on his judgment of people.主席自认为他审视人比别人高明。
  • He's a man of excellent judgment.他眼力过人。
18 sham RsxyV     
n./adj.假冒(的),虚伪(的)
参考例句:
  • They cunningly played the game of sham peace.他们狡滑地玩弄假和平的把戏。
  • His love was a mere sham.他的爱情是虚假的。
19 repent 1CIyT     
v.悔悟,悔改,忏悔,后悔
参考例句:
  • He has nothing to repent of.他没有什么要懊悔的。
  • Remission of sins is promised to those who repent.悔罪者可得到赦免。
20 discretion FZQzm     
n.谨慎;随意处理
参考例句:
  • 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。
21 westward XIvyz     
n.西方,西部;adj.西方的,向西的;adv.向西
参考例句:
  • We live on the westward slope of the hill.我们住在这座山的西山坡。
  • Explore westward or wherever.向西或到什么别的地方去勘探。
22 perfectly 8Mzxb     
adv.完美地,无可非议地,彻底地
参考例句:
  • 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。
23 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • 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。
24 exclamation onBxZ     
n.感叹号,惊呼,惊叹词
参考例句:
  • He could not restrain an exclamation of approval.他禁不住喝一声采。
  • The author used three exclamation marks at the end of the last sentence to wake up the readers.作者在文章的最后一句连用了三个惊叹号,以引起读者的注意。


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