ABC谋杀案 31

时间:2024-01-30 08:51:00


NOT FROM CAPTAIN HASTINGS’ PERSONAL NARRATIVEIInspector Crome was in his office at Scotland Yard.
The telephone on his desk gave a discreet2 buzz and he picked it up.
“Jacobs speaking, sir. There’s a young fellow come in with a story that I think you ought tohear.”
Inspector1 Crome sighed. On an average twenty people a day turned up with so-called importantinformation about the A B C case. Some of them were harmless lunatics, some of them were well-meaning persons who genuinely believed that their information was of value. It was the duty ofSergeant Jacobs to act as a human sieve—retaining the grosser matter and passing on the residueto his superior.
“Very well, Jacobs,” said Crome. “Send him along.”
A few minutes later there was a tap on the inspector’s door and Sergeant3 Jacobs appeared,ushering in a tall, moderately good-looking young man.
“This is Mr. Tom Hartigan, sir. He’s got something to tell us which may have a possible bearingon the A B C case.”
The inspector rose pleasantly and shook hands.
“Good morning, Mr. Hartigan. Sit down, won’t you? Smoke? Have a cigarette?”
Tom Hartigan sat down awkwardly and looked with some awe4 at what he called in his ownmind “One of the bigwigs.” The appearance of the inspector vaguely5 disappointed him. He lookedquite an ordinary person!
“Now then,” said Crome. “You’ve got something to tell us that you think may have a bearing onthe case. Fire ahead.”
Tom began nervously6.
“Of course it may be nothing at all. It’s just an idea of mine. I may be wasting your time.”
Again Inspector Crome sighed imperceptibly. The amount of time he had to waste in reassuringpeople!
“We’re the best judge of that. Let’s have the facts, Mr. Hartigan.”
“Well, it’s like this, sir. I’ve got a young lady, you see, and her mother lets rooms. Up CamdenTown way. Their second-floor back has been let for over a year to a man called Cust.”
“That’s right, sir. A sort of middle-aged7 bloke what’s rather vague and soft—and come down inthe world a bit, I should say. Sort of creature who wouldn’t hurt a fly you’d say—and I’d never ofdreamed of anything being wrong if it hadn’t been for something rather odd.”
In a somewhat confused manner and repeating himself once or twice, Tom described hisencounter with Mr. Cust at Euston Station and the incident of the dropped ticket.
“You see, sir, look at it how you will, it’s funny like. Lily—that’s my young lady, sir—she wasquite positive that it was Cheltenham he said, and her mother says the same—says she remembersdistinct talking about it the morning he went off. Of course, I didn’t pay much attention to it at thetime. Lily—my young lady—said as how she hoped he wouldn’t cop it from this A B C fellowgoing to Doncaster—and then she says it’s rather a coincidence because he was down Churstonway at the time of the last crime. Laughing like, I asks her whether he was at Bexhill the timebefore, and she says she don’t know where he was, but he was away at the seaside—that she doesknow. And then I said to her it would be odd if he was the A B C himself and she said poor Mr.
Cust wouldn’t hurt a fly—and that was all at the time. We didn’t think no more about it. At least,in a sort of way I did, sir, underneath8 like. I began wondering about this Cust fellow and thinkingthat, after all, harmless as he seemed, he might be a bit batty.”
Tom took a breath and then went on. Inspector Crome was listening intently now.
“And then after the Doncaster murder, sir, it was in all the papers that information was wantedas to the whereabouts of a certain A B Case or Cash, and it gave a description that fitted wellenough. First evening off I had, I went round to Lily’s and asked her what her Mr. Cust’s initialswere. She couldn’t remember at first, but her mother did. Said they were A B right enough. Thenwe got down to it and tried to figure out if Cust had been away at the time of the first murder atAndover. Well, as you know, sir, it isn’t too easy to remember things three months back. We had ajob of it, but we got it fixed9 down in the end, because Mrs. Marbury had a brother come fromCanada to see her on June 21st. He arrived unexpected like and she wanted to give him a bed, andLily suggested that as Mr. Cust was away Bert Smith might have his bed. But Mrs. Marburywouldn’t agree, because she said it wasn’t acting10 right by her lodger11, and she always liked to actfair and square. But we fixed the date all right because of Bert Smith’s ship docking atSouthampton that day.”
Inspector Crome had listened very attentively12, jotting13 down an occasional note.
“That’s all?” he asked.
“That’s all, sir. I hope you don’t think I’m making a lot of nothing.”
Tom flushed slightly.
“Not at all. You were quite right to come here. Of course, it’s very slight evidence—these datesmay be mere14 coincidence and the likeness15 of the name, too. But it certainly warrants my having aninterview with your Mr. Cust. Is he at home now?”
“Yes, sir.”
“When did he return?”
“The evening of the Doncaster murder, sir.”
“What’s he been doing since?”
“He’s stayed in mostly, sir. And he’s been looking very queer, Mrs. Marbury says. He buys alot of newspapers—goes out early and gets the morning ones, and then after dark he goes out andgets the evening ones. Mrs. Marbury says he talks a lot to himself, too. She thinks he’s gettingqueerer.”
“What is this Mrs. Marbury’s address?”
Tom gave it to him.
“Thank you. I shall probably be calling round in the course of the day. I need hardly tell you tobe careful of your manner if you come across this Cust.”
He rose and shook hands.
“You may be quite satisfied you did the right thing in coming to us. Good morning, Mr.
“Well, sir?” asked Jacobs, reentering the room a few minutes later. “Think it’s the goods?”
“It’s promising,” said Inspector Crome. “That is, if the facts are as the boy stated them. We’vehad no luck with the stocking manufacturers yet. It was time we got hold of something. By theway, give me that file of the Churston case.”
He spent some minutes looking for what he wanted.
“Ah, here it is. It’s amongst the statements made to the Torquay police. Young man of the nameof Hill. Deposes16 he was leaving the Torquay Palladium after the film Not a Sparrow and noticed aman behaving queerly. He was talking to himself. Hill heard him say ‘That’s an idea.’ Not aSparrow—that’s the film that was on at the Regal in Doncaster?”
“Yes, sir.”
“There may be something in that. Nothing to it at the time—but it’s possible that the idea of themodus operandi for his next crime occurred to our man then. We’ve got Hill’s name and address, Isee. His description of the man is vague but it links up well enough with the descriptions of MaryStroud and this Tom Hartigan….”
He nodded thoughtfully.
“We’re getting warm,” said Inspector Crome—rather inaccurately17, for he himself was alwaysslightly chilly18.
“Any instructions, sir?”
“Put on a couple of men to watch this Camden Town address, but I don’t want our birdfrightened. I must have a word with the AC. Then I think it would be as well if Cust was broughtalong here and asked if he’d like to make a statement. It sounds as though he’s quite ready to getrattled.”
Outside Tom Hartigan had rejoined Lily Marbury who was waiting for him on theEmbankment.
“All right, Tom?”
Tom nodded.
“I saw Inspector Crome himself. The one who’s in charge of the case.”
“What’s he like?”
“A bit quiet and lah-di-dah—not my idea of a detective.”
“That’s Lord Trenchard’s new kind,” said Lily with respect. “Some of them are ever so grand.
Well, what did he say?”
Tom gave her a brief résumé of the interview.
“So they think as it really was him?”
“They think it might be. Anyway, they’ll come along and ask him a question or two.”
“Poor Mr. Cust.”
“It’s no good saying poor Mr. Cust, my girl. If he’s A B C, he’s committed four terriblemurders.”
Lily sighed and shook her head.
“It does seem awful,” she observed.
“Well, now you’re going to come and have a bite of lunch, my girl. Just you think that if we’reright I expect my name will be in the papers!”
“Oh, Tom, will it?”
“Rather. And yours, too. And your mother’s. And I dare say you’ll have your picture in it, too.”
“Oh, Tom.” Lily squeezed his arm in an ecstasy19.
“And in the meantime what do you say to a bite at the Corner House?”
Lily squeezed tighter.
“Come on then!”
“All right—half a minute. I must just telephone from the station.”
“Who to?”
“A girl I was going to meet.”
She slipped across the road, and rejoined him three minutes later, looking rather flushed.
“Now then, Tom.”
She slipped her arm in his.
“Tell me more about Scotland Yard. You didn’t see the other one there?”
“What other one?”
“The Belgian gentleman. The one that A B C writes to always.”
“No. He wasn’t there.”
“Well, tell me all about it. What happened when you got inside? Who did you speak to andwhat did you say?”



1 inspector q6kxH     
  • The inspector was interested in everything pertaining to the school.视察员对有关学校的一切都感兴趣。
  • The inspector was shining a flashlight onto the tickets.查票员打着手电筒查看车票。
2 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。
3 sergeant REQzz     
  • His elder brother is a sergeant.他哥哥是个警官。
  • How many stripes are there on the sleeve of a sergeant?陆军中士的袖子上有多少条纹?
4 awe WNqzC     
  • The sight filled us with awe.这景色使我们大为惊叹。
  • The approaching tornado struck awe in our hearts.正在逼近的龙卷风使我们惊恐万分。
5 vaguely BfuzOy     
  • He had talked vaguely of going to work abroad.他含糊其词地说了到国外工作的事。
  • He looked vaguely before him with unseeing eyes.他迷迷糊糊的望着前面,对一切都视而不见。
6 nervously tn6zFp     
  • He bit his lip nervously,trying not to cry.他紧张地咬着唇,努力忍着不哭出来。
  • He paced nervously up and down on the platform.他在站台上情绪不安地走来走去。
7 middle-aged UopzSS     
  • I noticed two middle-aged passengers.我注意到两个中年乘客。
  • The new skin balm was welcome by middle-aged women.这种新护肤香膏受到了中年妇女的欢迎。
8 underneath VKRz2     
  • Working underneath the car is always a messy job.在汽车底下工作是件脏活。
  • She wore a coat with a dress underneath.她穿着一件大衣,里面套着一条连衣裙。
9 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。
10 acting czRzoc     
  • 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。
11 lodger r8rzi     
  • My friend is a lodger in my uncle's house.我朋友是我叔叔家的房客。
  • Jill and Sue are at variance over their lodger.吉尔和休在对待房客的问题上意见不和。
12 attentively AyQzjz     
  • She listened attentively while I poured out my problems. 我倾吐心中的烦恼时,她一直在注意听。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • She listened attentively and set down every word he said. 她专心听着,把他说的话一字不漏地记下来。 来自《简明英汉词典》
13 jotting 7d3705384e72d411ab2c0155b5810b56     
n.简短的笔记,略记v.匆忙记下( jot的现在分词 );草草记下,匆匆记下
  • All the time I was talking he was jotting down. 每次我在讲话时,他就会记录下来。 来自互联网
  • The student considers jotting down the number of the businessman's American Express card. 这论理学生打算快迅速地记录下来下这位商贾的美国运通卡的金额。 来自互联网
14 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。
15 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。
16 deposes 8f8143e333c674115213008dad3dff44     
v.罢免( depose的第三人称单数 );(在法庭上)宣誓作证
  • The gens deposes the sachem and war-chief at will. 氏族可以任意罢免酋长和酋帅。 来自互联网
17 inaccurately a8227b8b26c38df3fcbc98367e352369     
  • The money mechanism began to work stiffly and inaccurately. 贷币机构开始周转不灵和不准确了。
  • Court records reveal every day how inaccurately "eyewitnesses'see. 法庭记录每天都显露出“见证人”看得多不准确。
18 chilly pOfzl     
  • I feel chilly without a coat.我由于没有穿大衣而感到凉飕飕的。
  • I grew chilly when the fire went out.炉火熄灭后,寒气逼人。
19 ecstasy 9kJzY     
  • He listened to the music with ecstasy.他听音乐听得入了神。
  • Speechless with ecstasy,the little boys gazed at the toys.小孩注视着那些玩具,高兴得说不出话来。