三幕悲剧 22
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At the office of Messrs. Speier & Ross, Mr. Satterthwaite asked for Mr. Oliver Manders and sent in his card.
Presently he was ushered1 into a small room, where Oliver was sitting at a writing-table.
The young man got up and shook hands.
“Good of you to look me up, sir,” he said.
His tone implied.
“I have to say that, but really it’s a damned bore.”
Mr. Satterthwaite, however, was not easily put off. He sat down, blew his nose thoughtfully, and, peering over the top of his handkerchief, said:
“Seen the news this morning?”
“You mean the new financial situation? Well, the dollar - ”
“Not dollars,” said Mr. Satterthwaite. “Death. The result of the Loomouth exhumation2. Babbington was poisoned - by nicotine3.”
“Oh, that - yes, I saw that. Our energetic Egg will be pleased. She always insisted it was murder.”
“But it doesn’t interest you?”
“My tastes aren’t so crude. After all, murder -” he shrugged4 his shoulders. “So violent and inartistic.”
“Not always inartistic,” said Mr. Satterthwaite.
“No? Well, perhaps not.”
“It depends, does it not, on who commits the murder. You, for instance, would, I am sure, commit a murder in a very artistic5 manner.”
“Nice of you to say so,” drawled Oliver.
“But frankly6, my dear boy, I don’t think much of the accident you faked. No more do the police, I understand.”
There was a moment’s silence - then a pen dropped to the floor. Oliver said:
“Excuse me, I don’t quite understand you.”
“That rather inartistic performance of yours at Melfort Abbey. I
should be interested to know - just why you did it.”
There was another silence, then Oliver said:
“You say the police - suspect?”
Mr. Satterthwaite nodded.
“It looks a little suspicious, don’t you think?” he asked pleasantly.
“But perhaps you have a perfectly7 good explanation.”
“I’ve got an explanation,” said Oliver slowly. “Whether it’s a good one or not, I don’t know.”
“Will you let me judge?”
There was a pause, then Oliver said:
“I came here - the way I did - at Sir Bartholomew’s own suggestion.”
“What?” Mr. Satterthwaite was astonished.
“A bit odd, isn’t it? But it’s true. I got a letter from him suggesting that I should have a sham8 accident and claim hospitality. He said he couldn’t put his reason in writing, but he would explain them to me at the first opportunity.”
“And did he explain?”
“No, he didn’t ... I got there just before dinner. I didn’t see him alone. At the end of dinner he - he died.”
The weariness had gone out of Oliver’s manner. His dark eyes were fixed9 on Mr. Satterthwaite. He seemed to be studying attentively10 the reactions aroused by his words.
“You’ve got this letter?”
“No, I tore it up.”
“A pity,” said Mr. Satterthwaite dryly. “And you said nothing to the police?”
“No, it all seemed - well, rather fantastic.”
“It is fantastic.”
Mr. Satterthwaite shook his head. Had Bartholomew Strange written such a letter? It seemed highly uncharacteristic. The story had a melodramatic touch most unlike the physician’s cheerful common sense.
He looked up at the young man. Oliver was still watching him. Mr. Satterthwaite thought: “He’s looking to see if I swallow this story.”
He said, “And Sir Bartholomew gave absolutely no reason for his request?”
“None whatever.”
“An extraordinary story.”
Oliver did not speak.
“Yet you obeyed the summons?”
Something of the weary manner returned.
“Yes, it seemed refreshingly11 out of the way to a somewhat jaded12 palate. I was curious, I must confess.”
“Is there anything else?” asked Mr. Satterthwaite.
“What do you mean, sir, anything else?”
Mr. Satterthwaite did not really know what he meant. He was led by some obscure instinct.
“I mean,” he said, “is there anything else that might tell - against you?”
There was a pause. Then the young man shrugged his shoulders.
“I suppose I might as well make a clean breast of it. The woman isn’t likely to hold her tongue about it.”
Mr. Satterthwaite looked a question.
“It was the morning after the murder stuff. I was talking to the Anthony Armstrong woman. I took out my pocket-book and something fell out of it. She picked it up and handed it back to me.”
“And this something?”
“Unfortunately she glanced at it before returning it to me. It was a cutting from a newspaper about nicotine - what a deadly poison it was, and so on.”
“How did you come to have such an interest in the subject?”
“I didn’t. I suppose I must have put that cutting in my wallet sometime or other, but I can’t remember doing so. Bit awkward, eh?”
Mr. Satterthwaite thought: “A thin story.”
“I suppose, went on Oliver Manders, she went to the police about it?”
Mr. Satterthwaite shook his head.
“I don’t think so. I fancy she’s a woman who likes - well, to keep things to herself. She’s a collector of knowledge.”
Oliver Manders leaned forward suddenly.
“I’m innocent, sir, absolutely innocent.”
“I haven’t suggested that you are guilty,” said Mr. Satterthwaite mildly.
“But someone has - someone must have done. Someone has put the police on to me.”
Mr. Satterthwaite shook his head.
“No, no.”
“Then why did you come here today?”
“Partly as the result of my - er - investigations13 on the spot. Mr. Satterthwaite spoke14 a little pompously15. And partly at the suggestion of - a friend.”
“What friend?”
“Hercule Poirot.”
“That man! The expression burst from Oliver. Is he back in England?”
“Why has he come back?”
Mr. Satterthwaite rose.
“Why does a dog go hunting?” he inquired.
And, rather pleased with his retort, he left the room.


1 ushered d337b3442ea0cc4312a5950ae8911282     
v.引,领,陪同( usher的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The secretary ushered me into his office. 秘书把我领进他的办公室。
  • A round of parties ushered in the New Year. 一系列的晚会迎来了新年。 来自《简明英汉词典》
2 exhumation 3e3356144992dae3dedaa826df161f8e     
  • The German allowed a forensic commission including prominent neutral experts to supervise part of the exhumation. 德国人让一个包括杰出的中立专家在内的法庭委员会对部分掘墓工作进行监督。 来自辞典例句
  • At any rate, the exhumation was repeated once and again. 无论如何,他曾经把尸体挖出来又埋进去,埋进去又挖出来。 来自互联网
3 nicotine QGoxJ     
  • Many smokers who are chemically addicted to nicotine cannot cut down easily.许多有尼古丁瘾的抽烟人不容易把烟戒掉。
  • Many smokers who are chemically addicted to nicotine cannot cut down easily.许多有尼古丁瘾的抽烟人不容易把烟戒掉。
4 shrugged 497904474a48f991a3d1961b0476ebce     
  • Sam shrugged and said nothing. 萨姆耸耸肩膀,什么也没说。
  • She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 她耸耸肩,装出一副无所谓的样子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
5 artistic IeWyG     
  • The picture on this screen is a good artistic work.这屏风上的画是件很好的艺术品。
  • These artistic handicrafts are very popular with foreign friends.外国朋友很喜欢这些美术工艺品。
6 frankly fsXzcf     
  • To speak frankly, I don't like the idea at all.老实说,我一点也不赞成这个主意。
  • Frankly speaking, I'm not opposed to reform.坦率地说,我不反对改革。
7 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
8 sham RsxyV     
  • They cunningly played the game of sham peace.他们狡滑地玩弄假和平的把戏。
  • His love was a mere sham.他的爱情是虚假的。
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 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》
11 refreshingly df69f8cd2bc8144ddfdcf9e10562fee3     
  • Hers is less workmanlike than the other books and refreshingly unideological. 她的书不像其它书那般精巧,并且不涉及意识形态也让人耳目一新。 来自互联网
  • Skin is left refreshingly clean with no pore-clogging residue. 皮肤留下清爽干净,没有孔隙堵塞残留。 来自互联网
12 jaded fqnzXN     
  • I felt terribly jaded after working all weekend. 整个周末工作之后我感到疲惫不堪。
  • Here is a dish that will revive jaded palates. 这道菜简直可以恢复迟钝的味觉。 来自《简明英汉词典》
13 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。
14 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
15 pompously pompously     
  • He pompously described his achievements. 他很夸耀地描述了自己所取得的成绩。 来自互联网
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