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牛津书虫系列 雾都孤儿 Chapter12

所属教程:牛津书虫系列 雾都孤儿



12 Nancy keeps an appointment
12 南希如期赴约
On exactly the same night as Nancy had met Rose May lie,two people from Oliver’s home town were making their way towards London.Their progress was slow,since they travelled on foot,and in addition,the girl was carrying a heavy bag on her back.The young man carried nothing.From time to time he turned to shout at the girl behind him. ‘Hurry up!What a lazy creature you are,Charlotte!I’ll come and give you a kick if you don’t move faster!’
The young man was Noah Claypole,who had made Oliver’s life so miserable at Mr Sowerberry’s house.He was now taller and uglier but otherwise little changed.He and Charlotte had grown tired of the undertaking business and had set off to London to start a new life-with all the money from Mr So wer berry’s shop in their pockets.
Eventually,They entered London,and Noah began to look for a quiet,cheap pub where They could spend the night.Charlotte followed obediently at his heels as They walked through a district of narrow,dirty streets.
At last Noah found a pub that he thought was suitable.It was dark and dirty,with a few rough-looking men in the bar.They entered and asked for a room for the night and a meal of cold meat and beer,which They ate in the bar.The beer madeNoah talkative and he began to boast. ‘So it’s no more coffins for us,my girl.We can do better than just robbing Mr So wer berry.In London the re are pockets,houses,coaches-even banks!’
‘I like the sound of it,Noah,but how are we going to do all this?’asked Charlotte.
‘We can meet people who know about the se things.I’d like to be the leader of some gang,if the re’s a good profit to be made in that kind of work.’Noah felt very pleased with himself,and looked forward to an easy life of crime in the capital.
They talked about their plans for a few minutes.The n astranger,who had been sitting unseen round the corner,cameup to the m.The stranger was Fagin.He greeted the m in avery friendly and cheerful way,sat down with the m,and immediately ordered more beer for Noah.
‘That’s good beer,’said Noah,already a little drunk.He thanked the stranger for the drink.
‘Expensive,too,’said Fagin. ‘If you drink that everyday,my dear,you’ll need to empty pockets,houses,coaches,even banks.’
When he heard his own words repeated,Noah went pale with terror.The stranger must have heard everything,even how They had robbed Mr So wer berry!
‘Don’t worry,’laughed Fagin,pulling his chair closer. ‘You’re lucky it was only me who heard you.’
‘I didn’t take it,’said Noah quickly. ‘It was the woman who did it!’
‘It does n’t matter who did it,my dear,replied Fagin,looking quickly at Charlotte. ‘Because I’m in that business myself.And the people in my house as well.I can in trod uce you to the right people,if you’re interested.You both look like good workers.’
Charlotte and Noah felt a mixture of fear and pleasure. ‘What would you want me to do?’asked Noah. ‘Some thing light,if possible,’he added.
‘What about spying on people?’asked Fagin. ‘Or robbing young children who are going shopping for their mothers?That’s light work,and easy.’
Noah laughed. ‘That sounds like just the thing for me!And what will I earn for this work?’
‘You can live free in my house,and give me half of what you earn.
After fur the r discussion,and the transfer of Mr So wer berry’s money from Noah’s pocket to Fagin’s,agreement was reached.The next day Noah and Charlotte went to live in Fagin’s house and began to be instructed in their new profession.
Although training and experience had made Nancy an exper tliar,she could not completely hide the fear in her mind.She knew she had taken an enormous risk in going to see RoseMay lie.If Fagin or Sikes ever found out…But she pushed the se fears away.She was determined to keep her promise to Rose May lie,and meet her as arranged.
On the first Sunday night after her meeting with Rose,she was in Sikes’ room when the clock struck eleven.Fagin was the re,too,discussing some business with Sikes.Nancy stood up and put on her coat.Sikes watched her,surprised.
‘Nancy!Where are you going at this time of night?’
‘Not far.’
‘What kind of answer is that?Where are you going?’
‘I don’t know,’replied the girl.
‘The n I do.Nowhere.Sit down.’
‘I’m not well.I want a breath of air.’
Sikes got up and locked the door.
‘Let me go!’said the girl with great force. ‘Just for one hour-let me go!’
Sikes seized her arms roughly. ‘The girl’s gone mad!’
Nancy fought wildly,and Sikes had to hold her down in a chair.She continued to scream and fight until midnight,when,exhausted and tearful,she stopped struggling.She went into another room and threw herself on a bed.
‘She’s a strange girl,’Sikes said to Fagin,shaking his head. ‘Why did she suddenly decide to go out tonight?It hought that after all the se years I’d finally tamed her.She must be ill-perhaps she’s still got a bit of fever.’
‘That must be it,’said Fagin,nodding thoughtfully.
As he walked home,Fagin’s eyes were sharp with suspicion.He had suspected for a while that Nancy had become tired of Bill Sikes’ brutality and violence,and that she had found a new friend to take his place.Her manner was different;she often left home alone,and she seemed lessinterested in the gang.And tonight,her desperate impatience to go out at a particular hour…He was certain he was right.He began to make plans.
First,he wanted to know who Nancy’s new friend was.He could make him a valuable new member of the gang,with Nancy as his assistant.But the re was another,darker reason.Fagin,too,had become tired of Sikes.Sikes knew too much-too many dangerous secrets about Fagin himself.Fagin distrusted everybody,but he hated and distrusted Sikes most of all.It would be very convenient if Sikes could be…removed.
‘With a little persuasion,’Fagin thought, ‘perhaps the girl would poison Sikes.’Suddenly,his eyes narrowed in delight. ‘Yes!First,I must have her watched,and find out who her new man is.The n I shall threaten to tell Sikes everything.She knows that neither she nor her new man will ever be safe from Sikes’ violent jealousy.She will have no choice except to do as I ask her-and the n,once the murder is done,she will be in my power for ever!’
Early next morning Fagin called the newest member of his gang.Noah was doing very well.He had already broughthome quite a lot of money.He had found that robbing small children was indeed light,easy work,and he was proud of his success.
‘I have another job for you now,’Fagin told him. ‘It needs great care and secrecy.I want you to follow a woman.I want to know where she goes,who she sees,and if possible,what she says.I will pay you a pound for this information.’
Noah’s eyes were wide with greed. ‘I’m the right man forthis job.Who is she?’
‘One of us.’
‘What?You don’t trust her,the n?’
‘Exactly so,my dear.Exactly so,’smiled Fagin.
The following Sunday,soon after eleven o’clock,a woman walked quickly through the dark streets towards Lond on Bridge.A mist hung over the river,and the buildings on the far bank could hardly be seen.A man followed some distance behind her,keeping to the darkest shadows.It was a cold,damp night,and the re were very few people on the streets at this late hour.
When the woman reached the centre of the bridge,she stopped and looked around anxiously.The man following hers topped too.The heavy bell of St Paul’s cathe dral rang out,announcing the death of another day.Just as it finished,agrey haired man and a young woman got out of a coach and walked across the bridge.They met the woman,who tookthe m down some steps leading to the river bank.They stood indeep shadow by the wall of the bridge.The man hurried down some other steps,crept up to the corner of the wall,and listened.
Nancy spoke first. ‘I’m so frightened tonight I can hardly breathe .’
‘Frightened of what?’asked Mr Brown low .He seemed topity her.
‘I wish I knew.Horrible thoughts of death,and blood,have been with me all day.I don’t know why.’
‘Speak to her kindly,’said Rose to Mr Brown low . ‘Poorgirl!She seems to need it.’
‘I could n’t come last Sunday,’continued the girl. ‘I was kept in by force.But tonight he’ll be out all night untilday light.Now,before I tell rou anything else,I must tell you that I don’t want Fagin,or any of the other members of the gang,to be hand ed to the police.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because I couldn’t betray the m.They’ve been loyal to me,and I’ll stay loyal to the m.’
‘The n just tell us how we can get Monks,and I promisen one of your friends will be harmed,’said Mr Brown low .
‘And Monks will never know how you found out about him?’she asked.
‘We promise,’said Rose gently.
Nancy the n told the m,in so low a voice that the listenerround the corner could hardly hear her,where Monks often went for a drink,and what he looked like.She finished by saying, ‘On his throat,high up,the re is—’
‘A bright red mark?’asked Mr Brown low .
‘Do you know him?’asked Nancy in surprise.
‘I think I do.’Mr Brown low murmured to himself, ‘It must be him!’The n more loudly,he said to Nancy, ‘Thank you for everything you’ve told us.But now-how can you go back to the se people?Come with us now,tonight.We canarr ange for you to be hidden from the m all forever,if you want us to.’
The girl shook her head. ‘I’m chained to him,bad as Theyare.I’ve gone too far to change my life now.’She looked nervously over her shoulder. ‘I can feel those dreadful terrors again-visions of blood and death.I must go home.’
Mr Brown low and Rose could not persuade her to change her mind Sadly,They turned to leave,and when They had gone,Nancy fell to the ground in a storm of tears.Meanwhile,Noah Claypole,amazed by all that he had heard,crept up the steps and ran for Fagin’s house as fast as his legs could carry him.
Some hours later,nearly two hours before dawn,Noah laya sleep in Fagin’s house.But Fagin sat silently by a dead fire,staring at the flame of a candle on tne table beside him.With his pale,wrinkled face and his red,staring eyes,he looked like a devil out of hell.Hatred ran like poison through hisevery thought.Hatred for the girl who had dared to talk to strangers,who had ruined his plan to get rid of Sikes.He did not believe her promise not to betray him,and he feared that he would now be caught,and hung.
Just before dawn Sikes entered the room,carrying a bundle which contained the results of his night’s work.Fagin took what Sikes gave him,the n stared at the robber for a long time with out speaking.
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’asked Sikes,uneasy at the old man’s strange expression.
Fagin raised his hand ,but his passion was so great that hecould not speak.
‘Say something,will you!’shouted Sikes,placing his huge hand on Fagin’s collar and shaking him in his anger and fear.
‘Open your mouth and say what you’ve got to say!’
Eventually Fagin found his voice. ‘Bill,what would you do if one of the gang went out at night and told someone all about us,and what we’d done?What would you do to him?’
‘I’d smash his head into little pieces,’said the robber,swearing violently.
‘And what if it was me,who knows so much about all ofus,and could put us all in prison and get us all hanged?’whispered Fagin,his eyes flashing with hate.
‘I’d beat your brains out in public.Even in the law-court,I’d run over and kill you with my bare hand s,’said Sikes,showing his teeth in his anger. ‘I don’t care who it was,that’s what I’d do.’
Fagin woke Noah. ‘Tell Bill what you told me,what you saw,what she did.Tell him!’
Noah rubbed the sleep from his eyes and told Sikes every thing His face white with passion,Sikes listened to the end,the n,swearing furioustly,he rushed from the room and down the stairs.
‘Bill!’Fagin called after him. ‘You won’t be…too violent?’
Sikes made no reply,but,pulling open the door,ran out into the silent streets.He did not turn his head to right or left,but looked straight in front of him with wild determination.He ran at great speed,his eyes on fire,his teeth tight together,and did not pause until he reached his own door.He ran up to his room,entered and locked the door,put a table against it,the n woke Nancy.
‘Bill!’she said,pleased to see him.But when she saw his expression,the colour went out of her face. ‘What’s the matter?’she said in alarm.
‘You know what.’Sikes took out his gun,but realizing,even in his madness,that a shot might be heard,he beat her twice across the face with it as hard as he could.She fell,with low cry of pain and terror,almost blinded by the blood that flowed from the cut on her forehead.The murderer staggered to a corner,seized a heavy stick and struck her down.

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