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CHAPTER XVIII WATCHING
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It was not difficult for Jessie to guess the identity of the man who addressed her. Only a man who loved and felt sure that he was loved in return would have spoken to a girl like that. This was Charles Maxwell beyond a doubt. Nice-looking enough, Jessie thought, with a pleasing, amiable1 face—perhaps a trifle too amiable, but there was no mistaking the power in the lines of the mouth.
 
"What are you doing here like this?" he asked. "Heavens! has all the world gone mad to-night?"
 
The bitterness of despair rang in the speaker's voice. Jessie noticed that Maxwell was dressed not in the least like men in his position usually dress at that time of the night. He wore a grey flannel2 suit and a panama hat pulled down over his eyes.
 
"I came on urgent business," Jessie said. "I presume that you are Mr. Maxwell?"
 
"Why should I deny it?" the other asked. "I am Charles Maxwell, and the most miserable3 dog in London. But I am forgetting. Why do you ask me such a foolish question, Vera?"
 
"Because I want to be quite sure of my ground," Jessie said. "And because I am not Miss Vera Galloway at all. If you look at me very closely you will see that for yourself."
 
Maxwell stared at Jessie in a dull, wooden kind of way, as if the whole thing were past his comprehension.
 
"Yes," he said, "there is a difference, but it is so subtle that even I should not have noticed it unless you had called my attention to it. But I know who you are now. You are Miss Harcourt, daughter of Colonel Harcourt, late of the —th. I have often told Vera of the wonderful likeness4 between you. If you should ever meet her in private life——"
 
"I have met her, I am personating her at the present moment," Jessie whispered.
 
"Amazing!" Maxwell exclaimed. "But I understood that you were—that you had been—in short——"
 
"Engaged in a Bond Street shop," Jessie finished the sentence. "So I was till to-day, when I was discharged through no fault of my own. Miss Galloway sent for me to take her place. Secretly I have played her part all this evening. And she went away dressed in my simple black clothes——"
 
"But why?" Maxwell demanded jealously. "Why all this absurd mystery?"
 
"Surely you can guess? Why do you look so suspicious? I am not altogether in Miss Galloway's confidence, but I understand that she wanted to save somebody whom she loved—somebody that was in trouble. It requires no great intelligence to guess that you were the person in question. It was all connected with those papers missing from the Foreign Office."
 
"I know no more about it than the dead," Maxwell said vehemently5. "The papers in question—and others—were as much in Lancing's custody6 as[128] mine. It was he who was to blame, though I admit that I locked the papers away to-night after Lord Merehaven had done with them. When I saw the Mercury I was horror-stricken. I guessed exactly what had happened."
 
"How could you guess what had happened?" Jessie asked.
 
"Because I have had my suspicions for some time," Maxwell said. "I dismissed those suspicions as unworthy of me and insulting to Captain Lancing. I know that he was greatly infatuated with Countess Saens, whom a Mr. Lechmere, a late Queen's Messenger, had warned me against as no better than a Russian spy. Lancing was mad over her. There is not the slightest doubt that she induced Lancing to let her have those papers to copy. Then she refused to return them, and Lancing committed suicide. That is what I make of it."
 
"The sensational7 report in the Mercury went farther than that," Jessie said. "It is assumed that you are a party to the conspiracy8, and that you fled to Paris. Is that true, or going to be true?"
 
"As heaven is my witness, no," Maxwell said in a hoarse9 whisper. "When I had made up my mind what had happened, I determined10 to get possession of those papers. I vanished, saying that I was called suddenly to Paris. For the last four hours I have been dogging Countess Saens. I followed her here, and I am not going to lose sight of her until she is safely at home. And when she is once safely at home, I am going to do a desperate and daring thing. What is she doing here?"
 
Jessie made no reply for the moment. She had pulled her wrap over her face again so that she should not be recognized. She was watching the[129] movements of Countess Saens breathlessly. The woman had passed up the steps into the big hall beyond the swinging glass doors. She seemed to be arguing with a porter, who shook his head in an emphatic11 way. Evidently the countess was angry; so much could be seen from her gestures and the shake of her shoulders.
 
"She is trying to see a patient at irregular hours," Jessie said, "and the porter is adamant12. I pray from the bottom of my heart that she may fail."
 
"Is this another piece in the puzzle?" Maxwell asked hopelessly.
 
"It is the key-piece of the problem," said Jessie. "Ah, the porter is not to be moved. He has sent off an under porter, possibly to call one of the house surgeons. See, the countess sits down."
 
Surely enough the countess had flung herself angrily into a seat. Nobody seemed to care much about her, for she waited ten minutes without any sign of anybody in authority. Meanwhile Jessie was making Maxwell au fait with the situation.
 
"You threatened some dangerous and desperate enterprise a little later on," she said. "I suppose that is a supreme13 effort to try and get those papers?"
 
"You have guessed it," Maxwell said grimly. "If I could do that, the whole situation would be saved. We could do anything; we could point to Lancing's suicide as the result of reckless gambling14. Mind you, that would be more or less true. If Lancing had not been desperately15 situated16, he would never have yielded to the countess's fascinations17 and sold those precious documents."
 
"Yes, yes," Jessie interrupted. "But unless I am greatly mistaken, you have been forestalled18.[130] Somebody else has already removed the documents from Countess Saens's custody."
 
"You don't really mean that! What was it—a case of diamond cut diamond?"
 
"Yes, but not quite in the way you imagine. Those papers were stolen in turn from Countess Saens to-night, taken from a drawer in her bedroom by Miss Galloway."
 
Maxwell pressed his hands to his head. The situation was too much for him. He groaned19 for an explanation.
 
"I can only surmise," Jessie said. "But presently you will have to admit that I have very strong grounds for my surmises20. In some way Miss Galloway obtained a clue to what was about to happen. That is why I was called in to take her place, so that she could have an hour or two without being suspected. An hour or so ago Countess Saens's maid came to Merehaven House with the information that there had been a burglary in the countess's bedroom, but that nothing besides some papers seemed to be missing. That those papers were important could be guessed by the ghastly yet furious expression on the lady's face. The maid was pressed for a description of the thief—who, by the by, was a woman. And then and there the maid pitched upon me. She declared point blank that it was I who committed the burglary. What do you think of that?"
 
"You are a clever young lady," Maxwell said hoarsely21. "Pray go on."
 
"The maid stuck to her guns, though everybody laughed at her. She said the thief was dressed in plain black, and as I was in evening dress, and had been seen all the evening, those who heard were amused. But I understood. In my plain black[131] dress Miss Galloway had gone to the countess's house and stolen those papers. The thing was as clear as daylight to anybody behind the scenes. Under the circumstances, your prospective22 burglary would be so much loss of time."
 
"I quite understand that," Maxwell muttered. "It is exceedingly clever of you to read between the lines so clearly. Vera has done this for my sake. But how did she know—how could she possibly tell what was going to happen, and when those papers were to be found? Of course, I guessed where the trouble lay directly I saw the Mercury paragraph, but Vera! And she never takes the slightest interest in politics. What are you looking at?"
 
Once more Jessie was staring intently past the swinging doors of the hospital into the big hall beyond. The countess had now risen from her chair and was facing a little man with a bald head and gold-rimmed spectacles, who appeared to be explaining something to her. Jessie could see him bow and shake his head. Her breath came very fast.
 
"Why are you so interested in the countess's present action?" Maxwell asked.
 
"Because she has come here to try and see a patient," Jessie whispered intently. "From the bottom of my heart, I pray that she may fail. If she succeeds we are ruined, you are ruined. For the patient is no other than Vera Galloway."
 

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 amiable hxAzZ     
adj.和蔼可亲的,友善的,亲切的
参考例句:
  • 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。
2 flannel S7dyQ     
n.法兰绒;法兰绒衣服
参考例句:
  • She always wears a grey flannel trousers.她总是穿一条灰色法兰绒长裤。
  • She was looking luscious in a flannel shirt.她穿着法兰绒裙子,看上去楚楚动人。
3 miserable g18yk     
adj.悲惨的,痛苦的;可怜的,糟糕的
参考例句:
  • It was miserable of you to make fun of him.你取笑他,这是可耻的。
  • Her past life was miserable.她过去的生活很苦。
4 likeness P1txX     
n.相像,相似(之处)
参考例句:
  • I think the painter has produced a very true likeness.我认为这位画家画得非常逼真。
  • She treasured the painted likeness of her son.她珍藏她儿子的画像。
5 vehemently vehemently     
adv. 热烈地
参考例句:
  • He argued with his wife so vehemently that he talked himself hoarse. 他和妻子争论得很激烈,以致讲话的声音都嘶哑了。
  • Both women vehemently deny the charges against them. 两名妇女都激烈地否认了对她们的指控。
6 custody Qntzd     
n.监护,照看,羁押,拘留
参考例句:
  • He spent a week in custody on remand awaiting sentence.等候判决期间他被还押候审一个星期。
  • He was taken into custody immediately after the robbery.抢劫案发生后,他立即被押了起来。
7 sensational Szrwi     
adj.使人感动的,非常好的,轰动的,耸人听闻的
参考例句:
  • Papers of this kind are full of sensational news reports.这类报纸满是耸人听闻的新闻报道。
  • Their performance was sensational.他们的演出妙极了。
8 conspiracy NpczE     
n.阴谋,密谋,共谋
参考例句:
  • The men were found guilty of conspiracy to murder.这些人被裁决犯有阴谋杀人罪。
  • He claimed that it was all a conspiracy against him.他声称这一切都是一场针对他的阴谋。
9 hoarse 5dqzA     
adj.嘶哑的,沙哑的
参考例句:
  • He asked me a question in a hoarse voice.他用嘶哑的声音问了我一个问题。
  • He was too excited and roared himself hoarse.他过于激动,嗓子都喊哑了。
10 determined duszmP     
adj.坚定的;有决心的
参考例句:
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
11 emphatic 0P1zA     
adj.强调的,着重的;无可置疑的,明显的
参考例句:
  • Their reply was too emphatic for anyone to doubt them.他们的回答很坚决,不容有任何人怀疑。
  • He was emphatic about the importance of being punctual.他强调严守时间的重要性。
12 adamant FywzQ     
adj.坚硬的,固执的
参考例句:
  • We are adamant on the building of a well-off society.在建设小康社会这一点上,我们是坚定不移的。
  • Veronica was quite adamant that they should stay on.维罗妮卡坚信他们必须继续留下去。
13 supreme PHqzc     
adj.极度的,最重要的;至高的,最高的
参考例句:
  • It was the supreme moment in his life.那是他一生中最重要的时刻。
  • He handed up the indictment to the supreme court.他把起诉书送交最高法院。
14 gambling ch4xH     
n.赌博;投机
参考例句:
  • They have won a lot of money through gambling.他们赌博赢了很多钱。
  • The men have been gambling away all night.那些人赌了整整一夜。
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 situated JiYzBH     
adj.坐落在...的,处于某种境地的
参考例句:
  • The village is situated at the margin of a forest.村子位于森林的边缘。
  • She is awkwardly situated.她的处境困难。
17 fascinations 1b7d9606a26a4699835243f7a1d0b55d     
n.魅力( fascination的名词复数 );有魅力的东西;迷恋;陶醉
参考例句:
  • The fascinations of the circus are endless. 马戏表演非常吸引人。 来自辞典例句
  • He held the children spellbound with magic tricks and other fascinations. 他使那些孩子沉浸在魔术和其他魅力中。 来自互联网
18 forestalled e417c8d9b721dc9db811a1f7f84d8291     
v.先发制人,预先阻止( forestall的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • She forestalled their attempt. 她先发制人,阻止了他们的企图。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I had my objection all prepared, but Stephens forestalled me. 我已做好准备要提出反对意见,不料斯蒂芬斯却抢先了一步。 来自辞典例句
19 groaned 1a076da0ddbd778a674301b2b29dff71     
v.呻吟( groan的过去式和过去分词 );发牢骚;抱怨;受苦
参考例句:
  • He groaned in anguish. 他痛苦地呻吟。
  • The cart groaned under the weight of the piano. 大车在钢琴的重压下嘎吱作响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
20 surmises 0de4d975cd99d9759cc345e7fb0890b6     
v.臆测,推断( surmise的第三人称单数 );揣测;猜想
参考例句:
  • The detective is completely correct in his surmises. 这个侦探所推测的完全正确。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • As the reader probably surmises, a variety of interest tables exists. 正如读者可能推测的那样,存在着各种各样的利息表。 来自辞典例句
21 hoarsely hoarsely     
adv.嘶哑地
参考例句:
  • "Excuse me," he said hoarsely. “对不起。”他用嘶哑的嗓子说。
  • Jerry hoarsely professed himself at Miss Pross's service. 杰瑞嘶声嘶气地表示愿为普洛丝小姐效劳。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
22 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。


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