ABC谋杀案 36

时间:2024-01-30 08:52:56


During the next few days Poirot was very busy. He made mysterious absences, talked very little,frowned to himself, and consistently refused to satisfy my natural curiosity as to the brilliance1 Ihad, according to him, displayed in the past.
I was not invited to accompany him on his mysterious comings and goings—a fact which Isomewhat resented.
Towards the end of the week, however, he announced his intention of paying a visit to Bexhilland neighbourhood and suggested that I should come with him. Needless to say, I accepted withalacrity.
The invitation, I discovered, was not extended to me alone. The members of our Special Legionwere also invited.
They were as intrigued2 by Poirot as I was. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, I had at any ratean idea as to the direction in which Poirot’s thoughts were tending.
He first visited Mr. and Mrs. Barnard and got an exact account from her as to the hour at whichMr. Cust had called on her and exactly what he had said. He then went to the hotel at which Custhad put up and extracted a minute description of that gentleman’s departure. As far as I couldjudge, no new facts were elicited3 by his questions but he himself seemed quite satisfied.
Next he went to the beach—to the place where Betty Barnard’s body had been discovered. Herehe walked round in circles for some minutes studying the shingle4 attentively5. I could see littlepoint in this, since the tide covered the spot twice a day.
However I have learnt by this time that Poirot’s actions are usually dictated6 by an idea—however meaningless they may seem.
He then walked from the beach to the nearest point at which a car could have been parked.
From there again he went to the place where the Eastbourne buses waited before leaving Bexhill.
Finally he took us all to the Ginger7 Cat café, where we had a somewhat stale tea served by theplump waitress, Milly Higley.
Her he complimented in a flowing Gallic style on the shape of her ankles.
“The legs of the English—always they are too thin! But you, mademoiselle, have the perfectleg. It has shape—it has an ankle!”
Milly Higley giggled8 a good deal and told him not to go on so. She knew what Frenchgentlemen were like.
Poirot did not trouble to contradict her mistake as to his nationality. He merely ogled9 her in sucha way that I was startled and almost shocked.
“Voilà,” said Poirot, “I have finished in Bexhill. Presently I go to Eastbourne. One little inquirythere—that is all. Unnecessary for you all to accompany me. In the meantime come back to thehotel and let us have a cocktail10. That Carlton tea, it was abominable11!”
As we were sipping12 our cocktails13 Franklin Clarke said curiously14:
“I suppose we can guess what you are after? You’re out to break that alibi15. But I can’t see whatyou’re so pleased about. You haven’t got a new fact of any kind.”
“No—that is true.”
“Well, then?”
“Patience. Everything arranges itself, given time.”
“You seem quite pleased with yourself anyway.”
“Nothing so far has contradicted my little idea—that is why.”
His face grew serious.
“My friend Hastings told me once that he had, as a young man, played a game called The Truth.
It was a game where everyone in turn was asked three questions—two of which must be answeredtruthfully. The third one could be barred. The questions, naturally, were of the most indiscreetkind. But to begin with everyone had to swear that they would indeed speak the truth, and nothingbut the truth.”
He paused.
“Well?” said Megan.
“Eh bien—me, I want to play that game. Only it is not necessary to have three questions. Onewill be enough. One question to each of you.”
“Of course,” said Clarke impatiently. “We’ll answer anything.”
“Ah, but I want it to be more serious than that. Do you all swear to speak the truth?”
He was so solemn about it that the others, puzzled, became solemn themselves. They all sworeas he demanded.
“Bon,” said Poirot briskly. “Let us begin—”
“I’m ready,” said Thora Grey.
“Ah, but ladies first—this time it would not be the politeness. We will start elsewhere.”
He turned to Franklin Clarke.
“What, mon cher M. Clarke, did you think of the hats the ladies wore at Ascot this year?”
Franklin Clarke stared at him.
“Is this a joke?”
“Certainly not.”
“Is that seriously your question?”
“It is.”
Clarke began to grin.
“Well, M. Poirot, I didn’t actually go to Ascot, but from what I could see of them driving incars, women’s hats for Ascot were an even bigger joke than the hats they wear ordinarily.”
“Quite fantastic.”
Poirot smiled and turned to Donald Fraser.
“When did you take your holiday this year, monsieur?”
It was Fraser’s turn to stare.
“My holiday? The first two weeks in August.”
His face quivered suddenly. I guessed that the question had brought the loss of the girl he lovedback to him.
Poirot, however, did not seem to pay much attention to the reply. He turned to Thora Grey and Iheard the slight difference in his voice. It had tightened16 up. His question came sharp and clear.
“Mademoiselle, in the event of Lady Clarke’s death, would you have married Sir Carmichael ifhe had asked you?”
The girl sprang up.
“How dare you ask me such a question. It’s—it’s insulting!”
“Perhaps. But you have sworn to speak the truth. Eh bien—Yes or no?”
“Sir Carmichael was wonderfully kind to me. He treated me almost like a daughter. And that’show I felt to him—just affectionate and grateful.”
“Pardon me, but that is not answering Yes or No, mademoiselle.”
She hesitated.
“The answer, of course, is no!”
He made no comment.
“Thank you, mademoiselle.”
He turned to Megan Barnard. The girl’s face was very pale. She was breathing hard as thoughbraced up for an ordeal17.
Poirot’s voice came out like the crack of a whiplash.
“Mademoiselle, what do you hope will be the result of my investigations18? Do you want me tofind out the truth—or not?”
Her head went back proudly. I was fairly sure of her answer. Megan, I knew, had a fanaticalpassion for truth.
Her answer came clearly—and it stupefied me.
We all jumped. Poirot leant forward studying her face.
“Mademoiselle Megan,” he said, “you may not want the truth but—ma foi—you can speak it!”
He turned towards the door, then, recollecting19, went to Mary Drower.
“Tell me, mon enfant, have you a young man?”
Mary, who had been looking apprehensive20, looked startled and blushed.
“Oh, Mr. Poirot. I—I—well, I’m not sure.”
He smiled.
“Alors c’est bien, mon enfant.”
He looked round for me.
“Come, Hastings, we must start for Eastbourne.”
The car was waiting and soon we were driving along the coast road that leads through Pevenseyto Eastbourne.
“Is it any use asking you anything, Poirot?”
“Not at this moment. Draw your own conclusions as to what I am doing.”
I relapsed into silence.
Poirot, who seemed pleased with himself, hummed a little tune21. As we passed through Pevenseyhe suggested that we stop and have a look over the castle.
As we were returning towards the car, we paused a moment to watch a ring of children—Brownies, I guessed, by their get-up—who were singing a ditty in shrill22, untuneful voices….
“What is it that they say, Hastings? I cannot catch the words.”
I listened—till I caught one refrain.
“—And catch a fox
And put him in a box
And never let him go.”
“And catch a fox and put him in a box and never let him go!” repeated Poirot.
His face had gone suddenly grave and stern.
“It is very terrible that, Hastings.” He was silent a minute. “You hunt the fox here?”
“I don’t. I’ve never been able to afford to hunt. And I don’t think there’s much hunting in thispart of the world.”
“I meant in England generally. A strange sport. The waiting at the covert23 side—then they soundthe tally-ho, do they not?—and the run begins—across the country—over the hedges and ditches—and the fox he runs—and sometimes he doubles back—but the dogs—”
“—hounds are on his trail, and at last they catch him and he dies—quickly and horribly.”
“I suppose it does sound cruel, but really—”
“The fox enjoys it? Do not say les bêtises, my friend. Tout24 de même—it is better that—thequick, cruel death—than what those children were singing….
“To be shut away—in a box—for ever…No, it is not good, that.”
He shook his head. Then he said, with a change of tone:
“Tomorrow, I am to visit the man Cust,” and he added to the chauffeur25:
“Back to London.”
“Aren’t you going to Eastbourne?” I cried.
“What need? I know—quite enough for my purpose.”



1 brilliance 1svzs     
  • I was totally amazed by the brilliance of her paintings.她的绘画才能令我惊歎不已。
  • The gorgeous costume added to the brilliance of the dance.华丽的服装使舞蹈更加光彩夺目。
2 intrigued 7acc2a75074482e2b408c60187e27c73     
  • You've really intrigued me—tell me more! 你说的真有意思—再给我讲一些吧!
  • He was intrigued by her story. 他被她的故事迷住了。
3 elicited 65993d006d16046aa01b07b96e6edfc2     
引出,探出( elicit的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Threats to reinstate the tax elicited jeer from the Opposition. 恢复此项征税的威胁引起了反对党的嘲笑。
  • The comedian's joke elicited applause and laughter from the audience. 那位滑稽演员的笑话博得观众的掌声和笑声。
4 shingle 8yKwr     
  • He scraped away the dirt,and exposed a pine shingle.他刨去泥土,下面露出一块松木瓦块。
  • He hung out his grandfather's shingle.他挂出了祖父的行医招牌。
5 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》
6 dictated aa4dc65f69c81352fa034c36d66908ec     
v.大声讲或读( dictate的过去式和过去分词 );口授;支配;摆布
  • He dictated a letter to his secretary. 他向秘书口授信稿。
  • No person of a strong character likes to be dictated to. 没有一个个性强的人愿受人使唤。 来自《简明英汉词典》
7 ginger bzryX     
  • There is no ginger in the young man.这个年轻人没有精神。
  • Ginger shall be hot in the mouth.生姜吃到嘴里总是辣的。
8 giggled 72ecd6e6dbf913b285d28ec3ba1edb12     
v.咯咯地笑( giggle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The girls giggled at the joke. 女孩子们让这笑话逗得咯咯笑。
  • The children giggled hysterically. 孩子们歇斯底里地傻笑。 来自《简明英汉词典》
9 ogled 4caba7933f40c65bbd9340883470b64a     
v.(向…)抛媚眼,送秋波( ogle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He ogled at all the attractive girls in the office. 他向办公室里所有有魅力的女孩暗送秋波。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Carrie found herself stared at and ogled. 嘉莉发现也有人在盯着她看,向她送秋波。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
10 cocktail Jw8zNt     
  • We invited some foreign friends for a cocktail party.我们邀请了一些外国朋友参加鸡尾酒会。
  • At a cocktail party in Hollywood,I was introduced to Charlie Chaplin.在好莱坞的一次鸡尾酒会上,人家把我介绍给查理·卓别林。
11 abominable PN5zs     
  • Their cruel treatment of prisoners was abominable.他们虐待犯人的做法令人厌恶。
  • The sanitary conditions in this restaurant are abominable.这家饭馆的卫生状况糟透了。
12 sipping e7d80fb5edc3b51045def1311858d0ae     
v.小口喝,呷,抿( sip的现在分词 )
  • She sat in the sun, idly sipping a cool drink. 她坐在阳光下懒洋洋地抿着冷饮。
  • She sat there, sipping at her tea. 她坐在那儿抿着茶。
13 cocktails a8cac8f94e713cc85d516a6e94112418     
n.鸡尾酒( cocktail的名词复数 );餐前开胃菜;混合物
  • Come about 4 o'clock. We'll have cocktails and grill steaks. 请四点钟左右来,我们喝鸡尾酒,吃烤牛排。 来自辞典例句
  • Cocktails were a nasty American habit. 喝鸡尾酒是讨厌的美国习惯。 来自辞典例句
14 curiously 3v0zIc     
  • He looked curiously at the people.他好奇地看着那些人。
  • He took long stealthy strides. His hands were curiously cold.他迈着悄没声息的大步。他的双手出奇地冷。
15 alibi bVSzb     
  • Do you have any proof to substantiate your alibi? 你有证据表明你当时不在犯罪现场吗?
  • The police are suspicious of his alibi because he already has a record.警方对他不在场的辩解表示怀疑,因为他已有前科。
16 tightened bd3d8363419d9ff838bae0ba51722ee9     
收紧( tighten的过去式和过去分词 ); (使)变紧; (使)绷紧; 加紧
  • The rope holding the boat suddenly tightened and broke. 系船的绳子突然绷断了。
  • His index finger tightened on the trigger but then relaxed again. 他的食指扣住扳机,然后又松开了。
17 ordeal B4Pzs     
  • She managed to keep her sanity throughout the ordeal.在那场磨难中她始终保持神志正常。
  • Being lost in the wilderness for a week was an ordeal for me.在荒野里迷路一星期对我来说真是一场磨难。
18 investigations 02de25420938593f7db7bd4052010b32     
(正式的)调查( investigation的名词复数 ); 侦查; 科学研究; 学术研究
  • His investigations were intensive and thorough but revealed nothing. 他进行了深入彻底的调查,但没有发现什么。
  • He often sent them out to make investigations. 他常常派他们出去作调查。
19 recollecting ede3688b332b81d07d9a3dc515e54241     
v.记起,想起( recollect的现在分词 )
  • Once wound could heal slowly, my Bo Hui was recollecting. 曾经的伤口会慢慢地愈合,我卜会甾回忆。 来自互联网
  • I am afraid of recollecting the life of past in the school. 我不敢回忆我在校过去的生活。 来自互联网
20 apprehensive WNkyw     
  • She was deeply apprehensive about her future.她对未来感到非常担心。
  • He was rather apprehensive of failure.他相当害怕失败。
21 tune NmnwW     
  • He'd written a tune,and played it to us on the piano.他写了一段曲子,并在钢琴上弹给我们听。
  • The boy beat out a tune on a tin can.那男孩在易拉罐上敲出一首曲子。
22 shrill EEize     
  • Whistles began to shrill outside the barn.哨声开始在谷仓外面尖叫。
  • The shrill ringing of a bell broke up the card game on the cutter.刺耳的铃声打散了小汽艇的牌局。
23 covert voxz0     
  • We should learn to fight with enemy in an overt and covert way.我们应学会同敌人做公开和隐蔽的斗争。
  • The army carried out covert surveillance of the building for several months.军队对这座建筑物进行了数月的秘密监视。
24 tout iG7yL     
  • They say it will let them tout progress in the war.他们称这将有助于鼓吹他们在战争中的成果。
  • If your case studies just tout results,don't bother requiring registration to view them.如果你的案例研究只是吹捧结果,就别烦扰别人来注册访问了。
25 chauffeur HrGzL     
  • 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。