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格林盆宅邸的斯台普顿兄妹-巴斯克维尔猎犬

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8  格林盆宅邸的斯台普顿兄妹 The Stapletons of Pen House The next morning was sunny,and we were much more cheerful.

I told Sir Henry about the crying I had heard.He rang the bell to call Barrymore,and asked him if he could explain the crying.Barrymore's face went white when he heard Sir Henry's question.

'There are only two women in the house,Sir Henry,'he an swered.'One is the maid,who sleeps on the other side of the house.The other is my wife,and she was certainly not crying.'

But he was telling a lie.I saw Mrs Barrymore after breakfast.The sun was full on her face,and it was clear she had been crying.

Why had Barrymore lied?What deep sadness had made his wife cry?There was a mystery surrounding this black bearded,handsome man.Was it possible that Barrymore was in fact the man who had been watching Sir Henry in London?I decided I must check with the local post office that the tele gram had really been put into Barrymore's own hands.

While Sir Henry worked at some papers,I walked to the post office.It was in the nearest village,which was called Grimpen.I spoke to the boy who had taken the telegram to the Hall.

'Did you give it to Mr Barrymore himself?'I asked.

'Well,'the boy said,'he was working upon the roof,so I couldn't give it to him.I gave it to Mrs Barrymore,and she promised to give it to him at once.'

'Did you see Mr Barrymore?'I asked him.

'No,'said the boy,'but why did his wife say he was upon the roof if he wasn't?'

It was hopeless to ask any more questions.It was clear that Holmes' cleverness with the telegram had not given us the proof we needed.

I was walking away from the post office when I heard some one running after me.A voice called me by name,and I turned.I expected to see Dr Mortimer,as I knew nobody else in the village.To my surprise it was a stranger.He was a small,thin man,between thirty and forty years old,with fair hair and no beard.He was carrying a butterfly net,and a box for putting butterflies in.

'I hope you will excuse me for introducing myself,Dr Wat son,'he said as he came up to me.'My name is Stapleton.I was in Dr Mortimer's house and we saw you.He told me who you are.May I walk along with you? This path back to the Hall goes near my home,Pen House.Please come in and meet my sister,and spend an hour with us.'

I accepted Stapleton's invitation,and we walked together.

'I know that you are a close friend of Sherlock Holmes,'said Stapleton.'Has Mr Holmes any ideas about Sir Charles death?'

'I'm afraid I can't answer that question,'I said.

'Will Mr Holmes visit us himself?'he asked.

'He can't leave London at the moment,'I answered.I was rather surprised that he was asking me these questions

We walked on.Stapleton told me that he and his sister had lived in Devonshire for only two years.They had moved there soon after Sir Charles had begun to live in Baskerville Hall.He also talked about the moor and how it interested him.He told me to look across the moor to a place which was a bright green colour.

'That is the Great Grimpen Marsh,'he said 'If animals or men go into the marsh,they will sink into it and die.But I can find my way to the very centre of it.Look,there is another of those poor horses.'

Something brown was fighting to get out of the bright green of the marsh.Then a terrible cry came across the moor.The horse's head and neck disappeared under the green.

'It's gone,'Stapleton said.'The marsh has caught and killed it.That often happens.It is an evil place,the Great Grimpen Marsh.'

'But you say you can go safely in and out of it?'I asked him.

'Yes,there are a few paths,and I have found them.The low hills you can see are like islands surrounded by the marsh.That is where I can find the unusual plants and butterflies.And that's why I found my way through the marsh.'

'I shall try my luck one day,'I said.

He looked at me in surprise.'Please don't try,'he said.'You would never return alive,and it would be my fault.'

'Listen,'I said.'What is that?'

A long,low cry,very deep and very sad,came over the moor.It filled the whole air.Then it died away.

'What is it?'I asked,with a cold fear in my heart.

Stapleton had a strange look on his face.'The people say it's the Hound of the Baskervilles,which is calling for some thing to hunt and kill.I've heard it once or twice before,but never so loud.'

'You are a man of science,'I said.'You don't believe that,do you?Isn't there a natural explanation for the sound?'

'A marsh makes strange noises sometimes.It is the water and the wet ground moving.'

'But that was the voice of a living creature,'I said.

'Well,perhaps it was.There are some very unusual birds on the moors.It was most probably the cry of one of those.'

At that moment a small butterfly flew across the path in front of us.'Excuse me,Dr Watson,'shouted Stapleton,and ran off to try to catch the butterfly.He ran quickly and fol lowed the butterfly on to the marsh,but he knew exactly where he could go,and was not in any danger.

As I watched him,I heard the sound of steps behind me.I turned and saw a woman near me on the path.I was sure she was Miss Stapleton.She was very beautiful.She was dark and tall,with a lovely face.Before I could say anything,she said:

'Go back!Go straight back to London,immediately.I can not tell you why,but please do what I ask you,and never come near the moor again.But my brother is coming.Not a word to him.'

Stapleton had caught the butterfly,and was walking bath to us.

'Hello,my dear,'he said to his sister,but it seemed to me that his voice was not completely friendly.'I see that you two have already introduced yourselves.'

'Yes,'she said.'I was telling Sir Henry that it was rather late in the year for him to see the true beauty of the moor.'

'I am sorry,'I said.'You have made a mistake.I'm not Sir Henry.I am a friend who is visiting him,and my name is Dr Watson.'

Miss Stapleton was clearly angry with herself.'I'm sorry,' she said.'Please forget what I said.But do come with us to our house.'

The house was lonely and rather grim.I wondered why the two of them had come to live so far away from anyone else.Stapleton seemed to know what I was thinking,and said:'You may think this a lonely,strange place to live,but the moors are very interesting,and we enjoy it here.I owned a school in the north of England,but I had to close it.I miss the boys and girls but thefe is plenty to do here,and we have good neighbours.I hope Sir Henry will become one of tnem.May I visit the Hall this afternoon to meet him,do you think?'

'I'm sure he will be very pleased to meet you,'I said.'I must go back to the Hall now,and I shall tell him immediately.'

I said goodbye to the Stapletons,and continued on the path back to the Hall.I had been walking for only a few minutes when I was surprised to see Miss Stapleton sitting on a rock ahead of me.She was breathing quickly,and I realized she had run by a quicker way to get ahead of me.

'Dr Watson,'she said.'I want to say sorry for the mistake I made.I thought you were Sir Henry.Please forget what I said.I did not mean you were in danger.Now I must go,or my brother will miss me.'

'I cannot forget your words,Miss Stapleton,'I said.'If Sir Henry is in danger,I must tell him.'

'You know the story of the Hound?'she asked me.

'Yes,but I do not believe it,'I replied.

'But I think it's true,'she said.'Please persuade Sir Henry to leave this place.So many of his family have died here mys teriously.He must not put his life in danger by staying here.'

'Sir Henry won't leave this place without a real reason,'I said.

'I can't give you a real reason.I don't know anything for certain.'

'One more question,Miss Stapleton,'I said.'The story of the Hound is well known.Why didn't you want your brother to hear what you said?'

'My brother wants the head of the Baskerville family to live in the Hall,'she said.'He wants Sir Henry to continue the good work that Sir Charles began.He doesn't want Sir Henry to go and live in another place.So he doesn't want me to talk about the Hound.I must go now,or my brother will guess I have been speaking to you.Goodbye!'

She turned and went back towards her house,and I walked on to Baskerville Hall.

 
 第二天早上阳光明媚,我们也就觉得心情舒畅些了。

我对亨利爵士讲述了我所听到的哭声这件事。他摇铃把白瑞摩叫来,问他可否解释哭声的事。听到亨利爵士的问题时白瑞摩变得脸色煞白。

“亨利爵爷,这个房子里只有两个女人,”他回答道。“一位是女仆,她睡在对面厢房里。另一位就是我的妻子,她当然没有哭了。”

但是他在撒谎。早饭后我见到了白瑞摩夫人。阳光普照在她的脸上,清楚地表明她曾哭过。

白瑞摩为何要撒谎呢?是什么样的至深的悲伤曾使他的妻子哭泣呢?这个蓄着黑须的英俊男人的周围萦绕着一团疑云。白瑞摩有可能其实就是在伦敦监视亨利爵士的那个人吗?我决定与当地邮局核实一番,看看那封电报是否送到了白瑞摩手中。

在亨利爵士处理一些文件时,我便步行去了邮局。它在距此最近的一个名叫格林盆的村庄里。我对把电报投送到庄园的那个男孩说起话来。

“你把它交给白瑞摩先生本人了吗?”我问道。

“啊,”小男孩说道,“他当时正在屋顶上忙乎,所以我便把它交给了白瑞摩太太,她还答应马上就把它交给他。”

“你看到白瑞摩先生了吗?”我问他。

“没看到,”男孩说,“要是他不在屋顶上他妻子干嘛要说他在呢?”

再继续问下去也是无望的了。很清楚,福尔摩斯在电报上所施的高招并未给我们提供所需的证据。

我从邮局出来正往前走着,这时听到身后有人在跑。有人叫我的名字,我便转过身去。因为我在村里并不认识别人,所以我料想着看到的应是摩梯末医生。令我感到吃惊的是,那是位陌生人。他是个矮小瘦削的男人,大约三四十岁年纪,长着淡黄色头发,还没有蓄胡子。他拿着一个捕蝶网和一个用来装蝴蝶的盒子。

“我希望您会原谅我的冒昧,华生医生,”他走到我跟前对我说道。“我叫斯台普顿。当我在摩梯末医生家拜访他时,我们瞥见了您。他就把您告诉给了我。我可以与您同行吗?回庄园的这条路正在格林盆宅邸即我的家附近。请进来见见我妹妹,并与我们呆一会儿。”

我接受了斯台普顿的邀请,于是我们便同步而行。

“我知道您是歇洛克·福尔摩斯的亲密的朋友,”斯台普顿讲道。“福尔摩斯先生对查尔斯爵士的死有些看法了吗?”

“我恐怕不能回答这个问题,”我说道。

“福尔摩斯先生是否将亲自来这儿光临我们呢?”他问道。

“目前他还不能离开伦敦,”我回答道。我对他问我这些问题感到很惊讶。

我们继续前行。斯台普顿告诉我说,他和他妹妹在德文郡住了两年光景。查尔斯爵士刚住进巴斯克维尔庄园没有多久,他们便搬到那儿了。他还谈到了沼地及其如何激发起他的兴趣的事情。他让我朝沼地的尽头看以眺望一处呈嫩绿色的地方。

“那就是格林盆大泥潭,”他说道。“如果人畜踏进这片泥潭的话,就会陷进去送命的。但是我却能找到通往泥潭中心的道路。瞧,又一匹倒霉的马儿陷进去了。”

有个棕色的东西正在竭力挣扎着,想要从那片嫩绿色的泥潭中挣脱出来。接着,从沼地传来一声可怕的吼声。马的头和颈消失在那片绿色之下了。

“它完了,”斯台普顿道。“泥潭已把它给吞没了。这种情形经常发生。格林盆大泥潭可真是个邪恶的地方。”

“但是您不是说您能安全地进出其中吗?”我向他问道。

“是啊,其中有几条道,我都找到了。您所能看到的那些小山就像是被泥潭环绕着的小岛一样。那便是我能觅到稀有植物和稀世蝴蝶的处所。而且那便是我为何能在泥潭中找到了路的原因。”

“某天我也去碰碰运气,”我说道。

他带着惊讶的神情看着我。“千万别去试,”他说道。“您是不会活着回来的。那样就是我的错了。”

“听听,”我说道。“是什么东西?”

一声又低又长、非常深沉、相当悲惨的叫声传遍了整个沼地。它响彻空中,接着便消逝了。

“这是什么?”我问道,心里害怕得直打冷战。

斯台普顿的脸上带着一种奇怪的神色。“人们说这是巴斯克维尔猎犬,它正在召唤猎物。我以前曾听到过一两次,可是声音从没有这么大过。”

“您是位科学工作者,”我说道。“谅您也不会相信这些,是吧?难道对这种声音就没有一个符合自然规律的解释吗?”

“泥潭有时会发出奇怪的声音。这是由于水和稀泥在移动。”

“可是那是动物发出的声音呀。”

“啊,也许是。沼地上有些稀有鸟类。极有可能是其中某一只的叫声。”

那时,一只小蝴蝶从我们面前飞过。“对不起,华生医生,”斯台普顿高喊着,同时跑开捉蝴蝶去了。他飞快地跑着,随着那只蝴蝶到了泥潭中,但是他知道自己的脚该落在哪儿,因此便没有什么危险。

正当我注视着他的时侯,我听到了身后的脚步声。我转过身去,看到路上离我不远处有一个女子。我敢肯定她便是斯台普顿小姐。她人很漂亮,肤色很深,身材纤长。我还没来得及开口说话,她便说道:

“回去吧!马上回到伦敦去。我不能告诉您缘由,可是请照我说的去做,千万不要再靠近沼地了。但是,我哥哥来了。对他什么也别说。”

斯台普顿已抓到了那只蝴蝶,正向我们这边走回来。

“你好,我亲爱的,”他对他妹妹说道,可是就我看来他的语气并不怎么友好。“我看得出来你们俩已经做过自我介绍了。”

“是啊,”她说道。“我正和亨利爵士说,他来得太晚了,已经看不到沼地的真正美丽之处了。”

“我很抱歉,”我说道。“您弄错了。我不是亨利爵士。我是来拜访他的一位朋友,我是华生医生。”

斯台普顿小姐显然对自己很懊恼。“我很抱歉,”她说道。“请忘掉我所说的话。可是,您一定得和我们一道去屋里坐坐。”

这所房屋既偏僻又相当阴森。我纳闷他们俩为何到这种与他人相隔甚远的地方来居住。斯台普顿似乎知道我在想些什么,于是便说道:“您可能认为这儿要住人的话偏僻和奇特了些,可是这些沼地相当有趣,我们在这儿过得也很快活。我曾在英格兰北部办过一所学校,但是后来被迫关闭了。我很怀念那些孩子们,但在此处有许多事情都有待去做,而且我们还有很好的邻居们。我希望亨利爵士也会成为其中的一员。您认为我今天下午可否冒昧地去庄园拜访一下他呢?”

“我敢说他一定会高兴见到您的,”我说道。“我现在得回庄园去了,我还打算立刻告诉他这个消息。”

我与斯台普顿兄妹道了别,继续沿着回庄园的那条路向前走。没走几分钟便惊奇地看到斯台普顿小姐正坐在我前边的一块岩石上。她呼吸急促,我意识到她是为了赶在我前面而抄近路跑来的。

“华生医生,”她说道。“因我所犯的错误,我想向您致以深深的歉意。我竟把您当成亨利爵士了。请忘掉我说过的话。我当时并不是说您有危险。现在我得走了,否则的话我哥哥就要挂念我了。”

“我不会忘记您的话语的,斯台普顿小姐,”我说道。“如果亨利爵士有危险的话,那我就得告诉他。”

“您知道那个猎犬的故事吧?”她对我问道。

“知道,但是我并不相信它,”我应答道。

“可是我认为它是真实的,”她说道。“请劝说亨利爵士离开这个地方。他家族中的那么多人都在这儿神秘地死去了。他不应该因呆在这儿而让自己冒生命危险。”

“没有真正的理由的话亨利爵士是不会离开此地的,”我说道。

“我给不出真正的理由。我并非确切地知道某些事情。”

“还有一个问题,斯台普顿小姐,”我说道。“猎犬的故事是众所周知的。您为何不愿让您哥哥听到您所说的话呢?”

“我哥哥想让巴斯克维尔家族的主人在这个庄园里住下来,”她说道。“他想叫亨利爵士把查尔斯爵士开创的慈善工作继续下去。他不想让亨利爵士去别处居住。因此他不想让我谈论猎犬的事情。我现在得走了,否则的话我哥哥就会猜到我是在同您谈话了。再见!”

她转身往回走去,我便继续向巴斯克维尔庄园走去。
 

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