三幕悲剧 23
文章来源:未知 文章作者:enread 发布时间:2023-09-12 06:01 字体: [ ]  进入论坛
Sitting in a comfortable armchair in his slightly florid suite1 at the Ritz, Hercule Poirot listened.
Egg was perched on the arm of a chair, Sir Charles stood in front of the fireplace, Mr. Satterthwaite sat a little farther away observing the group.
“It’s failure all along the line,” said Egg.
Poirot shook his head gently.
“No, no, you exaggerate. As regards a link with Mr. Babbington, you have drawn2 the blank - yes; but you have collected other suggestive information.”
“The Wills woman knows something,” said Sir Charles. “I’ll swear she knows something.”
“And Captain Dacres, he too has not the clear conscience. And Mrs. Dacres was desperately3 in want of money, and Sir Bartholomew spoilt her chance of laying hold of some.”
“What do you think of young Manders’s story?” asked Mr. Satterthwaite.
“It strikes me as peculiar4 and as being highly uncharacteristic of the late Sir Bartholomew Strange.”
“You mean it’s a lie?” asked Sir Charles bluntly.
“There are so many kinds of lies,” said Hercule Poirot.
He was silent for a minute or two, then he said:
“This Miss Wills, she has written a play for Miss Sutcliffe?”
“Yes. The first night is Wednesday next.”
He was silent again. Egg said:
“Tell us: What shall we do now?”
The little man smiled at her.
“There is only one thing to do - think.”
“Think?” cried Egg. Her voice was disgusted.
Poirot beamed on her.
“But yes, exactly that. Think! With thought, all problems can be solved.”
“Can’t we do something?”
“For you the action, eh, mademoiselle? But certainly, there are still things you can do. There is, for instance, this place, Gilling, where Mr. Babbington lived for so many years. You can make inquiries5 there. You say that this Miss Milray’s mother lives at Gilling and is an invalid6. An invalid knows everything. She hears everything and forgets nothing. Make your inquiries of her, if may lead to something - who knows?”
“Aren’t you going to do anything?” demanded Egg persistently7. Poirot twinkled.
“You insist that I, too, shall be active? Eh bien. It shall be as you wish. Only me, I shall not leave this place. I am very comfortable here. But I will tell you what I will do: I will give the party - the Sherry Party - that is fashionable, is it not?”
“A Sherry Party?”
“Précisément, and to it I will ask Mrs. Dacres, Captain Dacres, Miss Sutcliffe, Miss Wills, Mr. Manders and your charming mother, mademoiselle.”
“And me?”
“Naturally, and you. The present company is included.”
“Hurrah,” said Egg. “You can’t deceive me, M. Poirot. Something will happen at that party. It will, won’t it?”
“We shall see,” said Poirot. “But do not expect too much, mademoiselle. Now leave me with Sir Charles, for there are a few things about which I want to ask his advice.”
As Egg and Mr. Satterthwaite stood waiting for the lift, Egg said ecstatically:
“It’s lovely - just like detective stories. All the people will be there, and then he’ll tell us which of them did it.”
“I wonder,” said Mr. Satterthwaite.
The Sherry Party took place on Monday evening. The invitation had been accepted by all. The charming and indiscreet Miss Sutcliffe laughed mischievously8 as she glanced round.
“Quite the spider’s parlour, M. Poirot. And here all we poor little flies have walked in. I’m sure you’re going to give us the most marvellous résumé of the case and then suddenly you’ll point at me and say, ‘Thou art the woman,’ and everyone will say, ‘She done it,’
and I shall burst into tears and confess because I’m too terribly suggestible for words. Oh, M. Poirot, I’m so frightened of you.”
“Quelle histoire,” cried Poirot. He was busy with a decanter and glasses. He handed her a glass of sherry with a bow. “This is a friendly little party. Do not let us talk of murders and bloodshed and poison. Là, là! These things, they spoil the palate.”
He handed a glass to the grim Miss Milray, who had accompanied Sir Charles and was standing9 with a forbidding expression on her face.
“Voilà,” said Poirot as he finished dispensing10 hospitality. “Let us forget the occasion on which we first met. Let us have the party spirit. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Ah, malheur, I have again mentioned death. Madame, he bowed to Mrs. Dacres, may I be permitted to wish you good luck and congratulate you on your very charming gown.”
“Here’s to you, Egg,” said Sir Charles.
“Cheerio,” said Freddie Dacres.
Everybody murmured something. There was an air of forced gaiety about the proceedings11. Everyone was determined12 to appear gay and unconcerned. Only Poirot himself seemed naturally so. He rambled13 on happily ...
“The sherry, I prefer it to the cocktail14 - and a thousand thousand times to the whisky. Ah, quel horreur, the whisky. By drinking the whisky, you ruin, absolutely ruin, the palate. The delicate wines of France, to appreciate them, you must never - never - ah qu’est-ce
qu’il ya -?”
A strange sound had interrupted him - a kind of choking cry. Every eye went to Sir Charles as he stood swaying, his face convulsed. The glass dropped from his hand on to the carpet, he took a few steps blindly, then collapsed15.
There was a moment’s stupefied silence, then Angela Sutcliffe screamed and Egg started forward.
“Charles,” cried Egg. “Charles.”
She fought her way blindly forward. Mr. Satterthwaite gently held her back.
“Oh, dear God,” cried Lady Mary. “Not another! ”
Angela Sutcliffe cried out:
“He’s been poisoned, too ... This is awful. Oh, my God, this is too awful ... ”
And suddenly collapsing16 on to a sofa, she began to sob17 and laugh - a horrible sound.
Poirot had taken charge of the situation. He was kneeling by the prostrate18 man. The others drew back while he made his examination. He rose to his feet, mechanically dusting the knees of his trousers. He looked round at the assembly. There was complete silence, except for the smothered19 sobs20 of Angela Sutcliffe.
“My friends,” began Poirot.
He got no further, for Egg spat21 out at him:
“You fool. You absurd play-acting little fool! Pretending to be so great and so wonderful, and to know all about everything. And now you let this happen. Another murder. Under your very nose ... If you’d let the whole thing alone this wouldn’t have happened ... It’s you who have murdered Charles - you - you - you ... ”
She stopped, unable to get out the words.
Poirot nodded his head gravely and sadly.
“It is true, mademoiselle. I confess it. It is I who have murdered Sir Charles. But I, mademoiselle, am a very special kind of murderer. I can kill - and I can restore to life.” He turned and in a different tone of voice, an apologetic everyday voice, he said:
“A magnificent performance, Sir Charles. I congratulate you. Perhaps you would now like to take your curtain.”
With a laugh the actor sprang to his feet and bowed mockingly. Egg gave a great gasp22.
“M. Poirot, you - you beast.”
“Charles,” cried Angela Sutcliffe. “You complete devil ... ”
“But why - ?”
“How - ?”
“What on earth - ?”
By means of his upraised hand, Poirot obtained silence.
“Messieurs, messdames. I demand pardon of you all. This little farce23 was necessary to prove to you all, and incidentally, to prove to myself a fact which my reason already told me is true.”
“Listen. On this tray of glasses I placed in one glass a teaspoonful24 of plain water. That water represented pure nicotine25. These glasses are of the same kind as those possessed26 by Sir Charles Cartwright and by Sir Bartholomew Strange. Owing to the heavy cut glass, a small quantity of a colourless liquid is quite undetectable. Imagine, then, the sport glass of Sir Bartholomew Strange. After it was put on the table somebody introduced into it a sufficient quantity of pure nicotine. That might have been done by anybody. The butler, the parlourmaid, or one of the guests who slipped into the dining room on his or her way downstairs. Dessert arrived, the port is taken round, the glass is filled. Sir Bartholomew drinks - and dies.”
“Tonight we have played a third tragedy - a sham27 tragedy - I asked Sir Charles to play the part of the victim. This he did magnificently. Now suppose for a minute that this was not a farce, but truth. Sir
Charles is dead. What will be the steps taken by the police?”
Miss Sutcliffe cried:
“Why, the glass, of course.” She nodded to where the glass lay on the floor as it had fallen from Sir Charles’s hand. “You only put water in, but if it had been nicotine - ”
“Let us suppose it was nicotine.” Poirot touched the glass gently with his toe. “You are of opinion that the police would analyse the glass, and that traces of nicotine would be found?”
Poirot shook his head gently.
“You are wrong. No nicotine would be found.”
They stared at him.
“You see,” he smiled, “that is not the glass from which Sir Charles drank.” With an apologetic grin he extended a glass from the tail pocket of his coat. “This is the glass he used.”
He went on:
“It is, you see, the simple theory of the conjuring28 trick. The attention cannot be in two places at once. To do my conjuring trick I need the attention focused elsewhere. Well, there is a moment, a psychological moment. When Sir Charles falls - dead - every eye in the room is on his dead body. Everyone crowds forward to get near him, and no one, no one at all, looks at Hercule Poirot, and in that moment I exchange the glasses and no one sees ...
“So you see, I prove my point ... There was such a moment at Crow's Nest, there was such a moment at Melfort Abbey - and so, there was nothing in the cocktail glass and nothing in the port glass
... ”
Egg cried:
“Who changed them?”
Looking at her, Poirot replied:
“That, we have still to find out ... ”
“You don’t know?”
Poirot shrugged29 his shoulders.
Rather uncertainly, the guests made signs of departure. Their manner was a little cold. They felt they had been badly fooled. With a gesture of the hand, Poirot arrested them.
“One little moment, I pray of you. There is one thing more that I have to say. Tonight, admittedly, we have played the comedy. But the comedy may be played in earnest - it may become a tragedy. Under certain conditions the murderer may strike a third time ... I speak now to all of you here present. If anyone of you knows
something - something that may bear in any way one this crime, I
implore30 that person to speak now. To keep knowledge to oneself at this juncture31 may be dangerous - so dangerous that death may be the result of silence. Therefore I beg again - if anyone knows
anything, let that person speak now ... ”
It seemed to Sir Charles that Poirot’s appeal was addressed especially to Miss Wills. If so, it had no result. Nobody spoke32 or answered.
Poirot sighed. His hand fell.
“Be it so, then. I have given warning. I can do no more. Remember, to keep silence is dangerous … ”
But still nobody spoke.
Awkwardly the guests departed.
Egg, Sir Charles and Mr. Satterthwaite were left.
Egg had not yet forgiven Poirot. She sat very still, her cheeks flushed and her eyes angry. She wouldn’t look at Sir Charles.
“That was a damned clever bit of work, Poirot,” said Sir Charles appreciatively.
“Amazing,” said Mr. Satterthwaite with a chuckle33. “I wouldn’t have believed that I wouldn’t have seen you do that exchange.”
“That is why,” said Poirot, “I could take no one into any confidence. The experiment could only be fair this way.”
“Was that the only reason you planned this - to see whether it could be done unnoticed?”
“Well, not quite, perhaps. I had one other aim.”
“I wanted to watch the expression on one person’s face when Sir Charles fell dead.”
“Which person’s?” said Egg sharply.
“Ah, that is my secret.”
“And you did watch that person’s face?” asked Mr. Satterthwaite.
Poirot did not reply. He merely shook his head.
“Won’t you tell us what you saw there?”
Poirot said slowly:
“I saw an expression of the utmost surprise ... ”
Egg drew her breath in sharply.
“You mean,” she said, “that you know who the murderer is?”
“You can put it that way if you like, mademoiselle.”
“But then - but then - you know everything?”
Poirot shook his head.
“No; on the contrary I know nothing at all. For, you see, I do not know why Stephen Babbington was killed. Until I know that I can prove nothing. I can know nothing ... It all hinges on that - the motive34 for Stephen Babbington’s death ... ”
There was a knock at the door and a page entered with a telegram on a tray.
Poirot opened it. His face changed. He handed the telegram to Sir Charles. Learning over Sir Charlie’s shoulder, Egg read it aloud:
“Please come and see me at once can give you valuable information
as to Bartholomew Strange’s death - Margaret Rushbridger.”
“Mrs. de Rushbridger!” cried Sir Charles. “We were right after all. She has got something to do with the case.”


1 suite MsMwB     
  • She has a suite of rooms in the hotel.她在那家旅馆有一套房间。
  • That is a nice suite of furniture.那套家具很不错。
2 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
3 desperately cu7znp     
  • He was desperately seeking a way to see her again.他正拼命想办法再见她一面。
  • He longed desperately to be back at home.他非常渴望回家。
4 peculiar cinyo     
  • He walks in a peculiar fashion.他走路的样子很奇特。
  • He looked at me with a very peculiar expression.他用一种很奇怪的表情看着我。
5 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》
6 invalid V4Oxh     
  • He will visit an invalid.他将要去看望一个病人。
  • A passport that is out of date is invalid.护照过期是无效的。
7 persistently MlzztP     
  • He persistently asserted his right to a share in the heritage. 他始终声称他有分享那笔遗产的权利。
  • She persistently asserted her opinions. 她果断地说出了自己的意见。
8 mischievously 23cd35e8c65a34bd7a6d7ecbff03b336     
  • He mischievously looked for a chance to embarrass his sister. 他淘气地寻找机会让他的姐姐难堪。 来自互联网
  • Also has many a dream kindheartedness, is loves mischievously small lovable. 又有着多啦a梦的好心肠,是爱调皮的小可爱。 来自互联网
9 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
10 dispensing 1555b4001e7e14e0bca70a3c43102922     
v.分配( dispense的现在分词 );施与;配(药)
  • A dispensing optician supplies glasses, but doesn't test your eyes. 配镜师为你提供眼镜,但不检查眼睛。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The firm has been dispensing ointments. 本公司配制药膏。 来自《简明英汉词典》
11 proceedings Wk2zvX     
  • He was released on bail pending committal proceedings. 他交保获释正在候审。
  • to initiate legal proceedings against sb 对某人提起诉讼
12 determined duszmP     
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
13 rambled f9968757e060a59ff2ab1825c2706de5     
(无目的地)漫游( ramble的过去式和过去分词 ); (喻)漫谈; 扯淡; 长篇大论
  • We rambled through the woods. 我们漫步走过树林。
  • She rambled on at great length but she didn't get to the heart of the matter. 她夹七夹八地说了许多话也没说到点子上。
14 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。
15 collapsed cwWzSG     
  • Jack collapsed in agony on the floor. 杰克十分痛苦地瘫倒在地板上。
  • The roof collapsed under the weight of snow. 房顶在雪的重压下突然坍塌下来。
16 collapsing 6becc10b3eacfd79485e188c6ac90cb2     
  • Rescuers used props to stop the roof of the tunnel collapsing. 救援人员用支柱防止隧道顶塌陷。
  • The rocks were folded by collapsing into the center of the trough. 岩石由于坍陷进入凹槽的中心而发生褶皱。
17 sob HwMwx     
  • The child started to sob when he couldn't find his mother.孩子因找不到他妈妈哭了起来。
  • The girl didn't answer,but continued to sob with her head on the table.那个女孩不回答,也不抬起头来。她只顾低声哭着。
18 prostrate 7iSyH     
  • She was prostrate on the floor.她俯卧在地板上。
  • The Yankees had the South prostrate and they intended to keep It'so.北方佬已经使南方屈服了,他们还打算继续下去。
19 smothered b9bebf478c8f7045d977e80734a8ed1d     
(使)窒息, (使)透不过气( smother的过去式和过去分词 ); 覆盖; 忍住; 抑制
  • He smothered the baby with a pillow. 他用枕头把婴儿闷死了。
  • The fire is smothered by ashes. 火被灰闷熄了。
20 sobs d4349f86cad43cb1a5579b1ef269d0cb     
啜泣(声),呜咽(声)( sob的名词复数 )
  • She was struggling to suppress her sobs. 她拼命不让自己哭出来。
  • She burst into a convulsive sobs. 她突然抽泣起来。
21 spat pFdzJ     
  • Her parents always have spats.她的父母经常有些小的口角。
  • There is only a spat between the brother and sister.那只是兄妹间的小吵小闹。
22 gasp UfxzL     
  • She gave a gasp of surprise.她吃惊得大口喘气。
  • The enemy are at their last gasp.敌人在做垂死的挣扎。
23 farce HhlzS     
  • They played a shameful role in this farce.他们在这场闹剧中扮演了可耻的角色。
  • The audience roared at the farce.闹剧使观众哄堂大笑。
24 teaspoonful Ugpzi1     
  • Add a teaspoonful of mixed herbs. 加入一茶匙混合药草。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Add a teaspoonful of curry powder. 加一茶匙咖喱粉。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 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。
26 possessed xuyyQ     
  • He flew out of the room like a man possessed.他像着了魔似地猛然冲出房门。
  • He behaved like someone possessed.他行为举止像是魔怔了。
27 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。
28 conjuring IYdyC     
  • Paul's very good at conjuring. 保罗很会变戏法。
  • The entertainer didn't fool us with his conjuring. 那个艺人变的戏法没有骗到我们。
29 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》
30 implore raSxX     
  • I implore you to write. At least tell me you're alive.请给我音讯,让我知道你还活着。
  • Please implore someone else's help in a crisis.危险时请向别人求助。
31 juncture e3exI     
  • The project is situated at the juncture of the new and old urban districts.该项目位于新老城区交界处。
  • It is very difficult at this juncture to predict the company's future.此时很难预料公司的前景。
32 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。
33 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。
34 motive GFzxz     
  • The police could not find a motive for the murder.警察不能找到谋杀的动机。
  • He had some motive in telling this fable.他讲这寓言故事是有用意的。
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