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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Weight of the Crown » CHAPTER XXI "FOREWARNED, FOREARMED"
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Gleikstein looked as utterly1 puzzled as his companion. They glanced at one another in a guilty kind of way. Evidently the allusion2 to the Hotel Petersburg mentioned by Lechmere conjured3 up some painful and none too creditable associations.
"There was only one other man present, and he has totally disappeared," said Gleikstein. "Now how did that man come to know all about it? One never seems quite to get away from the past."
Somebody attracted Gleikstein's attention, and Mazaroff wandered off into the garden. He was uneasy and disturbed in his mind, and anxious over the failure of his plot. It seemed as if the whole affair was little better than an open secret. As an agent of Russia, he was anxious to see the abdication4 of the throne by the King of Asturia. Asturia was a stumbling-block south in the path of Russian progress. Once the king had abdicated5 or been forced from his throne by a revolution, Russia would certainly step in under the plea of the maintenance of peace in a notoriously turbulent region. They might concede to European opinion by placing a puppet on the throne, but henceforth Asturia would be no better or worse than a Russian province. If this was accomplished6, then Mazaroff netted a fortune. Only to-day it had seemed in his grasp.
And with the swiftness of a lightning flash, everything had changed. The puppet had been torn[145] from Mazaroff's hands; those compromising papers had vanished from Countess Saens's drawer. At the present moment Lord Merehaven was in a position to shrug7 his shoulders, and say that those suspicions must be verified before he was prepared to admit anything. It was a comedy on both sides, but it remained a comedy so long as those papers were not forthcoming.
Mazaroff was brought back out of the grave of these gloomy reflections by a footman who tendered him a note. There was no answer, the servant said, he had merely had to deliver the letter to Prince Mazaroff. With a new interest in life, Mazaroff recognized the Countess Saens's neat writing. He read the letter slowly and thoughtfully, then tearing it in small pieces he dropped the fragments into the heart of a laurel bush. A slow, cruel smile spread over his dark face.
"So that is the game," he muttered. "Strange that I did not spot it before. Still, the marvellous likeness8 would have deceived anybody. The maid was not far wrong after all. Well, at any rate, I shall have some sport out of this. Who knows what it may lead to?"
Quite eagerly Mazaroff dropped his cigarette and returned to the house. He walked from one room to the other as if looking for somebody. He was in search of Miss Galloway, he said. Had anybody see her lately? He had an important message to deliver to her from Countess Saens. The cry was taken up—it became generally known that Vera Galloway was sought after.
One had seen her here and one had seen her there, but nobody knew anything definite. The more difficult the search became, the more Prince Mazaroff[146] appeared to be pleased. The quest came to the ears of Dr. Varney at length. He dropped the ever-pleasant conversation in which he was indulging with a famous lady novelist and became alert instantly.
"I fancy I can find her," he said. "Who seeks her so closely at this time of night?"
"Prince Mazaroff," a girl laughed as she passed by. "Is it a proposal, do you think, doctor? Fancy being proposed to by a real prince!"
But Varney was anxious behind his answering smile. His name had not been mentioned in the business at all. He was quite free to cross-examine Mazaroff without the latter being in the least suspicious. And Varney had a pretty shrewd idea that Mazaroff regarded him as an elderly old fossil who had a child's mind outside the regions of science. He pottered up to the Russian presently.
"What are you seeking?" he asked. "Is there anything that I can do for you?"
"Yes; I am looking for Miss Galloway," Mazaroff said, with a gleam in his eye that told Varney a great deal more than the speaker imagined. "I have an important message for her."
"Well, tell me what it is and I will deliver it," Varney said with a vacuous9 smile. "As the family physician there are no secrets from me. Who seeks Miss Galloway?"
"Tell her the Countess Saens," Mazaroff said. "I fancy she will understand that. I have just had a letter——"
But Varney had wandered off as if the conversation did not in the least interest him. As a matter of fact, he was both startled and uneasy. Mazaroff had been too communicative in the hour of his[147] supposed triumph, and he had told Varney everything. Mazaroff had had a letter from the countess, and the countess had guessed, on finding her precious papers missing, exactly what had happened. On making inquiries10, Countess Saens had discovered that there was a double of Miss Galloway somewhere, and she had asked Mazaroff to make sure of the fact. And Mazaroff was the very man who was wholly responsible for the appearance of Jessie Harcourt at Merehaven House. But for his flagrant insult of the girl she would not have been here at all. There was danger in the air.
And the danger was not lessened11 by the fact that Jessie had not returned. People presently would begin to think it strange that Miss Galloway was not to be found. And if those two came face to face—Jessie and Mazaroff—what an explosion there would be!
Well, forewarned was forearmed, Varney told himself as he walked back to the house. Jessie would be back before long, and then the whole thing must come out. But Jessie had done good work, not only on behalf of her new friend Vera Galloway, but also on behalf of England and the peace of Europe. This pretty, resolute12, sharp girl had suddenly become an important piece in the great game of diplomatic chess. If necessary, Merehaven must be told everything. He must be shown the absolute importance of checking Mazaroff and rendering14 his last stroke utterly futile15. When Merehaven came to know what had happened, he would be compelled to stand by the side of Jessie Harcourt. It would have to be a strong game of bluff16, Varney decided17. Merehaven would be properly indignant when the confession18 came; he would refuse to believe that his niece could[148] be party to anything of the kind. Jessie could come into the room if Mazaroff decided to make an exposure, and sit with becoming dignity. She would decline to listen to the Russian's preposterous19 suggestion, and with all the dignity at his command Merehaven would back the girl up. Varney began to chuckle20 to himself as he thought of Mazaroff's discomfiture21.
But whilst Mazaroff was hunting round for the double of Miss Galloway, never dreaming that she also had left the house, Merehaven must be warned. It was a difficult matter to detach the old diplomat13 from the circle surrounding him, but Varney succeeded at length.
"Now what is the matter?" Merehaven said tartly22. "Another surprise? Really, I seem to be living in an atmosphere of them to-night, and I am getting too old for these shocks. What is the matter?"
"A great deal, or I would not bother you in this way?" Varney said. "Make an excuse to get away for a few minutes and go to your study. It is absolutely imperative23 that I should have a word or two with you before you speak to Mazaroff again."
Merehaven complied with a sigh for his lost social evening. He went off in the direction of his study, but Varney did not follow him direct. On the contrary, he lounged into the garden intending to enter the study by the window, which he knew to be open. By the time he reached the garden he had a full view of Merehaven bending over his writing table as if dispatching a note. At the same instant a figure rose from behind a group of rose trees and confronted Varney. As her black wrap fell away he had no difficulty in recognizing the features of Jessie Harcourt.
"I am back again, you see," she said breathlessly. "It is such wonderful good fortune to meet you here so soon, and where we can speak at once. Dr. Varney, have I missed anything? Is there anything that you have to tell me? Have I been missed? Nothing has happened since I left?"
"Not till the last moment," Varney said. "My dear child, positively24 I can't stay a moment to tell you. It is imperative that I should have a few words with Lord Merehaven at once, before Prince Mazaroff can get to him. Stay here under the shadow of the house; keep your wrap over your head. Nobody is likely to come out again to-night. And please to listen to everything that is going to be said, because the conversation will give you the clue that I cannot stay to afford you now. Ah!"
Varney darted25 forward until he reached the window of the library, and then he stumbled into the room as if he had found his way there quite by accident. At the same moment Mazaroff entered from the hall. His face was pale, his eyes glittered with something of sneering26 triumph. He advanced to the writing table and laid a hand on Lord Merehaven's shoulders.
"May I ask your lordship's attention for a moment?" he said. "I have something important and, I am afraid, very painful to say to you."
Jessie strained her ears to listen.


1 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。
2 allusion CfnyW     
  • He made an allusion to a secret plan in his speech.在讲话中他暗示有一项秘密计划。
  • She made no allusion to the incident.她没有提及那个事件。
3 conjured 227df76f2d66816f8360ea2fef0349b5     
用魔术变出( conjure的过去式和过去分词 ); 祈求,恳求; 变戏法; (变魔术般地) 使…出现
  • He conjured them with his dying breath to look after his children. 他临终时恳求他们照顾他的孩子。
  • His very funny joke soon conjured my anger away. 他讲了个十分有趣的笑话,使得我的怒气顿消。
4 abdication abdication     
  • The officers took over and forced his abdication in 1947.1947年军官们接管了政权并迫使他退了位。
  • Abdication is precluded by the lack of a possible successor.因为没有可能的继承人,让位无法实现。
5 abdicated 0bad74511c43ab3a11217d68c9ad162b     
放弃(职责、权力等)( abdicate的过去式和过去分词 ); 退位,逊位
  • He abdicated in favour of his son. 他把王位让给了儿子。
  • King Edward Ⅷ abdicated in 1936 to marry a commoner. 国王爱德华八世于1936年退位与一个平民结婚。
6 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。
7 shrug Ry3w5     
  • With a shrug,he went out of the room.他耸一下肩,走出了房间。
  • I admire the way she is able to shrug off unfair criticism.我很佩服她能对错误的批评意见不予理会。
8 likeness P1txX     
  • 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。
9 vacuous Kiuwt     
  • Male models are not always so vacuous as they are made out to be.男模特儿并不总像人们说的那样愚蠢。
  • His eyes looked dull,almost vacuous.他看上去目光呆滞,茫然若失。
10 inquiries 86a54c7f2b27c02acf9fcb16a31c4b57     
n.调查( inquiry的名词复数 );疑问;探究;打听
  • He was released on bail pending further inquiries. 他获得保释,等候进一步调查。
  • I have failed to reach them by postal inquiries. 我未能通过邮政查询与他们取得联系。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
11 lessened 6351a909991322c8a53dc9baa69dda6f     
  • Listening to the speech through an interpreter lessened its impact somewhat. 演讲辞通过翻译的嘴说出来,多少削弱了演讲的力量。
  • The flight to suburbia lessened the number of middle-class families living within the city. 随着迁往郊外的风行,住在城内的中产家庭减少了。
12 resolute 2sCyu     
  • He was resolute in carrying out his plan.他坚决地实行他的计划。
  • The Egyptians offered resolute resistance to the aggressors.埃及人对侵略者作出坚决的反抗。
13 diplomat Pu0xk     
  • The diplomat threw in a joke, and the tension was instantly relieved.那位外交官插进一个笑话,紧张的气氛顿时缓和下来。
  • He served as a diplomat in Russia before the war.战前他在俄罗斯当外交官。
14 rendering oV5xD     
  • She gave a splendid rendering of Beethoven's piano sonata.她精彩地演奏了贝多芬的钢琴奏鸣曲。
  • His narrative is a super rendering of dialect speech and idiom.他的叙述是方言和土语最成功的运用。
15 futile vfTz2     
  • They were killed,to the last man,in a futile attack.因为进攻失败,他们全部被杀,无一幸免。
  • Their efforts to revive him were futile.他们对他抢救无效。
16 bluff ftZzB     
  • His threats are merely bluff.他的威胁仅仅是虚张声势。
  • John is a deep card.No one can bluff him easily.约翰是个机灵鬼。谁也不容易欺骗他。
17 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。
18 confession 8Ygye     
  • Her confession was simply tantamount to a casual explanation.她的自白简直等于一篇即席说明。
  • The police used torture to extort a confession from him.警察对他用刑逼供。
19 preposterous e1Tz2     
  • The whole idea was preposterous.整个想法都荒唐透顶。
  • It would be preposterous to shovel coal with a teaspoon.用茶匙铲煤是荒谬的。
20 chuckle Tr1zZ     
  • He shook his head with a soft chuckle.他轻轻地笑着摇了摇头。
  • I couldn't suppress a soft chuckle at the thought of it.想到这个,我忍不住轻轻地笑起来。
21 discomfiture MlUz6     
  • I laughed my head off when I heard of his discomfiture. 听到别人说起他的狼狈相,我放声大笑。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Without experiencing discomfiture and setbacks,one can never find truth. 不经过失败和挫折,便找不到真理。 来自《简明英汉词典》
22 tartly 0gtzl5     
  • She finished by tartly pointing out that he owed her some money. 她最后刻薄地指出他欠她一些钱。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Kay said tartly, "And you're more Yankee than Italian. 恺酸溜溜他说:“可你哪,与其说是意大利人,还不如说是新英格兰人。 来自教父部分
23 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。
24 positively vPTxw     
  • She was positively glowing with happiness.她满脸幸福。
  • The weather was positively poisonous.这天气着实讨厌。
25 darted d83f9716cd75da6af48046d29f4dd248     
v.投掷,投射( dart的过去式和过去分词 );向前冲,飞奔
  • The lizard darted out its tongue at the insect. 蜥蜴伸出舌头去吃小昆虫。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The old man was displeased and darted an angry look at me. 老人不高兴了,瞪了我一眼。 来自《简明英汉词典》
26 sneering 929a634cff0de62dfd69331a8e4dcf37     
  • "What are you sneering at?" “你冷笑什么?” 来自子夜部分
  • The old sorceress slunk in with a sneering smile. 老女巫鬼鬼崇崇地走进来,冷冷一笑。


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