Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

jewels.”

She removed the wraps with which hering of her necklace, and that you are oulders were covered, standing in front having it repaired. That will give us

the mirror, in order to see herself once time to turn around.” ore in all her glory. But suddenly she She wrote at his dictation. zve a shriek. Her diamond necklace At the end of the week they had lost as no longer about her neck!

all hope; and Loisel, who had aged five Her husband, already half undressed, years, declared : ked:

"We must think about replacing the “What's the matter with you?” She turned to him, half distracted: The next day they took the box that “I have I have I no longer have had held it and went to the jeweller ladame Forestier's necklace."

whose name was inside. He consulted He sprang to his feet in dismay. his books.

“What? What do you say? It's im- "It was not I who sold the necklace, ossible!”

madame,” he said; “I simply furnished And they hunted in the folds of the the case.” ress, in the folds of her cloak, in all the Then they went from one jeweller to ockets everywhere. They could not another, looking for a necklace like the nd it.

lost one, searching their memories, both “Are you sure that you had it when fairly ill with disappointment and mental ou left the ball ?” he asked.

anguish. “Yes, I felt it in the vestibule of the In a shop at the Palais Royal they alace."

found a string of diamonds which seemed “But, if you had lost it in the street, to them to be absolutely like the one they ve should have heard it drop. It must had lost. It was worth forty thousand pe in the cab.”

francs, but they could have it for thirty“Yes, that is probable. Did you take six thousand. he number?”

They requested the jeweller not to sell "No. Didn't you look at it?"

it for three days. And they bargained "No."

with him—that he should take it back for They stared at each other in utter dis- thirty-four thousand francs if the other may. At last Loisel dressed himself. should be found before the end of Feb"I am going to walk back over the

ruary. whole distance we walked to the cab,” he Loisel had eighteen thousand francs left said, "to see if I can't find it."

by his father. He would borrow the And he left the room. She sat there rest. in her ball-dress, without strength to go And he borrowed, asking one person to bed, cowering in a chair, without fire, for a thousand francs, another for five without a thought.

hundred, five louis here, three louis there. Her husband returned about seven He gave notes, made ruinous agreements, o'clock. He had found nothing.

dealt with usurers, with the whole race of He went to the Prefecture of Police, money-lenders. He mortgaged the whole to the newspaper offices, to offer a re- latter portion of his life, risked his signaward; to the cab companies everywhere, ture without any certainty that he would in short, that a ray of hope suggested. be able to honour it; and, dismayed by

She went all day, in the same state of agonizing thoughts of the future, by the benumbed dismay in face of this terrible black poverty that was about to fall upon disaster.

him, by the prospect of all sorts of Loisel returned at night, pale and hol- physical privations and mental torture, he low-cheeked; he had discovered nothing. went to buy the new diamond necklace,

"You must write to your friend,” he and laid upon the jeweller's counter said, "that you have broken the fasten- | thirty-six thousand francs.

When Madame Loisel carried the neck. was at the office, she would seat hersel lace to Madame Forestier, the latter said at the window and think of that evening to her with an injured air:

of long ago, of that ball, at which she has "You should have returned it sooner, been so lovely and so fêted. for I might have needed it."

What would have happened if she hat She did not open the case, as her friend not lost that necklace? Who knows dreaded. If she had discovered the sub- Who knows? What a strange, change stitution, what would she have thought, ful thing life is. How little is needed to what would she have said? Would she ruin or to save us! not have taken her for a thief?

Madame Loisel came to know the One Sunday, when she had gone ou wretched life of the needy. She made the for a walk in the Champs-Élysées, for a best of it, however, at the outset, hero- | little recreation after the labors of the ically. That dreadful debt must be paid. week, she suddenly observed a womar She would pay it. They dismissed their wheeling a child. It was Madame For servant; they changed their lodgings, estier, still young, still beautiful, still and hired an attic chamber under the fascinating. eaves.

Madame Loisel was greatly excited She became acquainted with the heavier Should she speak to her? Yes, to be kinds of housework, the odious tasks of sure. And now that she had paid, she the kitchen. She washed the dishes, would tell her the whole story. Why wearing her pink nails away on the greasy not? earthenware and the bottoms of the sauce- She approached her. pans. She washed the soiled linen, the "Good day, Jeanne." shirts and dishcloths, and hung them out The other did not recognize her, and to dry on a line; she carried the slops was surprised to be addressed thus fadown to the street every morning, and miliarly by that bourgeoise. carried up the water, stopping on every “But-madame,” she said hesitatingly

, floor to take breath. And, dressed like "I don't know—You must have made a a woman of the common people, she went mistake.” to the fruiterer's, to the grocer's, to the “No, I am Mathilde Loisel.” butcher's, with her basket on her arm, Her friend uttered an exclamation. bargaining, insulted, doling out her pal- "O my poor Mathilde, how you have try money sou by sou.

changed !” Each month they had to meet some "Yes, I have had some very hard days notes, renew others, beg for time.

since I saw you and much sufferingThe husband worked evenings straight- and all on your account!" ening out a tradesman's accounts; and he "On

my

account? How so ?” often copied manuscripts at night at five "You remember that diamond necklace sous the page.

that you lent me to wear to the ball at And this life lasted them for ten years. the ministry?"

At the end of that time they had paid Yes. Well?" everything, everything—the charges of "Well, I lost it." usurers and the accumulation of the com- "How is that, since you brought it pound interest.

back to me?" Madame Loisel seemed an old woman “I brought you another just like it now. She had become the strong, tough, And for ten years now we have been rugged woman of impoverished house paying for it. You can understand that holds. Always unkempt, with red hands, it wasn't easy for us, having nothing. and skirts askew, she talked loudly while However, it is done, and I am mightily washing the floors with a great splash- pleased." ing. But sometimes, when her husband Madame Forestier stopped.

[ocr errors]

"You say that you bought a diamond ecklace to replace mine?"

"Yes. You didn't notice it! Did you? "hey were very much alike.”

And she smiled with a proud and naïve elight.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, grasped her hands.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste. It was worth at most five hundred francs !"

THE ADVENTURE OF THE SPECKLED BAND

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

The familiar figure of Sherlock Holmes first appeared in A Study in Scarlet (1887). ince that time he has been intermittently reincarnated to thrill thousands with the brilliant xploitation of his deductive powers. His creator, the English physician and investigator in he science of the occult, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, doubtlessly owes a little to Edgar Allan Poe, rho in “The Purloined Letter" had early laid the foundations of the type; but he has so eveloped his chief character and complicated the various problems that the dependence is to e seen only in the bare outline.

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” No. 8 of the volume The Adventures of Sherlock lolmes (1891), illustrates Sir Arthur's skill in the use of bewilderment, suspense, and unforeeen dénouement. The instant popularity of these detective stories gave rise to a host of nferior imitators who more than often substituted for ingenuity of situation a monotonous mprobability.

ON GLANCING over my notes of the that the facts should now come to light, eventy-odd cases in which I have during for I have reasons to know that there are he last eight years studied the methods wide-spread rumors as to the death of Dr. of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find Grimesby Roylott which tend to make nany tragic, some comic, a large num- the matter even more terrible than the jer merely strange, but none common- truth. lace; for, working as he did rather for It was early in April in the year '83 he love of his art than for the acquire that I woke one morning to find Shernent of wealth, he refused to associate lock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by vith any investigation which did not the side of my bed. He was a late riser end towards the unusual, and even the as a rule, and as the clock on the mantelantastic. Of all these varied cases, how-piece showed me that it was only a quarver, I cannot recall any which presented ter past seven, I blinked up at him in nore singular features than that which some surprise, and perhaps just a little vas associated with the well-known Sur- resentment, for I was myself regular in ey family of the Roylotts of Stoke Moran. The events in question occurred “Very sorry to knock you up, Watson," n the early days of my association with said he, “but it's the common lot this Holmes, when we were sharing rooms as morning. Mrs. Hudson

has been bachelors in Baker Street. It is possible knocked up, she retorted upon me, and I hat I might have placed them upon rec- on you." ird before, but a promise of secrecy was "What is it, then-a fire?" nade at the time, from which I have only “No; a client. It seems that a young been freed during the last month by the lady has arrived in a considerable state intimely death of the lady to whom the of excitement, who insists upon seeing me. sledge was given. It is perhaps as well She is waiting now in the sitting-room.

Now, when young ladies wander about From

The Adventures of Sherlock 4olmes by A. Conan Doyle. Copyright, 1892. ing, and knock sleepy people up out of

the metropolis at this hour of the mornsy Harper and Brothers. Reprinted by permission.

their beds, I presume that it is some

my habits.

thing very pressing which they have to "No, but I observe the second half of communicate. Should it prove to be an a return ticket in the palm of your left interesting case, you would, I am sure, glove.

glove. You must have started early, and wish to follow it from the outset. I yet you had a good drive in a dog-cart thought, at any rate, that I should call along heavy roads, before you reached the you and give you the chance.”

station.” "My dear fellow, I would not miss it The lady gave a violent start, and for anything."

stared in bewilderment at my companion I had no keener pleasure than in fol- "There is no mystery, my dear madlowing Holmes in his professional inves- am,” said he, smiling. “The left arm of tigations, and in admiring the rapid your jacket is spattered with mud in no deductions, as swift as intuitions, and yet less than seven places. The marks are always founded on a logical basis, with perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save which he unravelled the problems which a dog-cart which throws up mud in that were submitted to him. I rapidly threw way, and then only when you sit on the on my clothes, and was ready in a few left-hand side of the driver.” minutes to accompany my friend down to “Whatever your reasons may be, you the sitting-room. A lady dressed in

are perfectly correct," said she. "] black and heavily veiled, who had been started from home before six, reached sitting in the window, rose as we entered. Leatherhead at twenty past, and came in

“Good-morning, madam," said Holmes, by the first train to Waterloo. Sir, I cheerily. “My name is Sherlock Holmes. can stand this strain no longer; I shall go This is my intimate friend and associate, mad if it continues. I have no one to Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak | turn to-none, save only one, who cares as freely as before myself. Ha! I am for me, and he, poor fellow, can be of litglad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had the tle aid. I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes; good sense to light the fire. Pray draw I have heard of you from Mrs. Farintosh, up to it and I shall order you a cup of whom you helped in the hour of her sore hot coffee, for I observe that you are shiv- need. It was from her that I had your ering."

address. Oh, sir, do you not think that "It is not cold which makes me shiver,” you could help me, too, and at least throw said the woman, in a low voice, changing a little light through the dense darkness her seat as requested.

which surrounds me? At present it is "What, then?"

out of my power to reward you for your "It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror." services, but in a month or six weeks I She raised her veil as she spoke, and we shall be married, with the control of my could see that she was indeed in a pitiable own income, and then at least you shall state of agitation, her face all drawn and not find me ungrateful." gray, with restless, frightened eyes, like Holmes turned to his desk, and unthose of some hunted animal. Her fea- locking it, drew out a small case-book, tures and figure were those of a woman which he consulted. of thirty, but her hair was shot with "Farintosh," said he. "Ah yes, I repremature gray, and her expression was call the case; it was concerned with an weary and haggard. Sherlock Holmes opal tiara. I think it was before your ran her over with one of his quick, all-time, Watson. I can only say, madam, comprehensive glances.

that I shall be happy to devote the same "You must not fear," said he, sooth- care to your case as I did to that of your ingly, bending forward and patting her friend. As to reward, my profession is forearm. "We shall soon set matters its own reward; but you are at liberty to right, I have no doubt. You have come defray whatever expenses I may be put in by train this morning, I see."

to, at the time which suits you best. And "You know me, then?"

now I beg that you will lay before us

sum

ey."

verything that may help us in forming ler to death, and narrowly escaped a n opinion upon the matter.”

capital sentence. As it was, he suffered "Alas!" replied our visitor, “the very a long term of imprisonment, and afterorror of my situation lies in the fact wards returned to England a morose and hat my fears are so vague, and my sus- disappointed man. icions depend so entirely upon small "When Dr. Roylott was in India he oints, which might seem trivial to an- married my mother, Mrs. Stoner, the ther, that even he to whom of all others young widow of Major-general Stoner, have a right to look for help and advice of the Bengal Artillery. My sister Julia poks upon all that I tell him about it as and I were twins, and we were only two he fancies of a nervous woman. He does years old at the time of my mother's relot say so, but I can read it from his marriage. She had a considerable sum of pothing answers and averted eyes. But morley—not less than £1000 a year-and

have heard, Mr. Holmes, that you can this. she bequeathed to Dr. Roylott enee deeply into the manifold wickedness tirely while we resided with him, with a f the human heart. You may advise me provision that a certain annual ow to walk amid the dangers which en- should be allowed to each of us in the ompass me.”

event of our marriage. Shortly after our "I ain all attention, madam."

return to England my mother died-she "My name is Helen Stoner, and I am was killed eight years ago in a railway iving with my step-father, who is the accident near Crewe. Dr. Roylott then ast survivor of one of the oldest Saxon abandoned his attempts to establish himamilies in England, the Roylotts of Stoke self in practice in London, and took us to Moran, on the western border of Sur- live with him in the old ancestral house

at Stoke Moran. The money which my Holmes nodded his head. “The name mother had left was enough for all our 3 familiar to me,” said he.

wants, and there seemed to be no obsta“The family was at one time among the cle to our happiness. ichest in England, and the estates ex- “But a terrible change came over our ended over the borders into Berkshire step-father about this time. Instead of n the north, and Hampshire in the west. making friends and exchanging visits with in the last century, however, four succes- our neighbors, who had at first been overive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful joyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran lisposition, and the family ruin was back in the old family seat, he shut himventually completed by a gambler in the self up in his house, and seldom came out lays of the Regency. Nothing was left save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with ave a few acres of ground, and the two- whoever might cross his path. Violence lundred-year-old house, which is itself of temper approaching to mania has been Tushed under a heavy mortgage. The hereditary in the men of the family, and ast squire dragged out his existence there, in my step-father's case it had, I believe, iving the horrible life of an aristocratic been intensified by his long residence in auper ; but his only son, my step-father, the tropics. A series of disgraceful eeing that he must adapt himself to the brawls took place, two of which ended in lew conditions, obtained an advanice the police-court, until at last he became rom a relative, which enabled him the terror of the village, and the folks o take a medical degree, and went would fly at his approach, for he is a ut to Calcutta, where, by his pro- man of immense strength, and absolutely essional skill and his force of char- uncontrollable in his anger. cter, he established a large practice. "Last week he hurled the local blackn a fit of anger, however, caused by smith over a parapet into a stream, and ome robberies which had been perpe- it was only by paying over all the money rated in the house, he beat his native but which I could gather together that I was

« AnteriorContinuar »