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When McMurdo awoke next morning he had good reason to remember his initiation into the lodge. His head ached with the effect of the drink, and his arm, where he had been branded, was hot and swollen. Having his own peculiar source of income, he was irregular in his attendance at his work; so he had a late breakfast, and remained at home for the morning writing a long letter to a friend. Afterwards he read the Daily Herald. In a special column put in at the last moment he read:

OUTRAGE AT THE HERALD OFFICE--EDITOR SERIOUSLY INJURED.

It was a short account of the facts with which he was himself more familiar than the writer could have been. It ended with the statement:

The matter is now in the hands of the police; but it can hardly be hoped that their exertions will be attended by any better results than in the past. Some of the men were recognized, and there is hope that a conviction may be obtained. The source of the outrage was, it need hardly be said, that infamous society which has held this community in bondage for so long a period, and against which the Herald has taken so uncompromising a stand. Mr. Stanger's many friends will rejoice to hear that, though he has been cruelly and brutally beaten, and though he has sustained severe injuries about the head, there is no immediate danger to his life.

Below it stated that a guard of police, armed with Winchester rifles, had been requisitioned for the defense of the office.

McMurdo had laid down the paper, and was lighting his pipe with a hand which was shaky from the excesses of the previous evening, when there was a knock outside, and his landlady brought to him a note which had just been handed in by a lad. It was unsigned, and ran thus:

I should wish to speak to you, but would rather not do so in your house. You will find me beside the flagstaff upon Miller Hill. If you will come there now, I have something which it is important for you to hear and for me to say.

McMurdo read the note twice with the utmost surprise; for he could not imagine what it meant or who was the author of it. Had it been in a feminine hand, he might have imagined that it was the beginning of one of those adventures which had been familiar enough in his past life. But it was the writing of a man, and of a well educated one, too. Finally, after some hesitation, he determined to see the matter through.

Miller Hill is an ill-kept public park in the very centre of the town. In summer it is a favourite resort of the people, but in winter it is desolate enough. From the top of it one has a view not only of the whole straggling, grimy town, but of the winding valley beneath, with its scattered mines and factories blackening the snow on each side of it, and of the wooded and white-capped ranges flanking it.

McMurdo strolled up the winding path hedged in with evergreens until he reached the deserted restaurant which forms the centre of summer gaiety. Beside it was a bare flagstaff, and underneath it a man, his hat drawn down and the collar of his overcoat turned up. When he turned his face McMurdo saw that it was Brother Morris, he who had incurred the anger of the Bodymaster the night before. The lodge sign was given and exchanged as they met.

"I wanted to have a word with you, Mr. McMurdo," said the older man, speaking with a hesitation which showed that he was on delicate ground. "It was kind of you to come."

"Why did you not put your name to the note?"

"One has to be cautious, mister. One never knows in times like these how a thing may come back to one. One never knows either who to trust or who not to trust."

"Surely one may trust brothers of the lodge."

"No, no, not always," cried Morris with vehemence. "Whatever we say, even what we think, seems to go back to that man McGinty."

"Look here!" said McMurdo sternly. "It was only last night, as you know well, that I swore good faith to our Bodymaster. Would you be asking me to break my oath?"

"If that is the view you take," said Morris sadly, "I can only say that I am sorry I gave you the trouble to come and meet me. Things have come to a bad pass when two free citizens cannot speak their thoughts to each other."

McMurdo, who had been watching his companion very narrowly, relaxed somewhat in his bearing. "Sure I spoke for myself only," said he. "I am a newcomer, as you know, and I am strange to it all. It is not for me to open my mouth, Mr. Morris, and if you think well to say anything to me I am here to hear it."

"And to take it back to Boss McGinty!" said Morris bitterly.

"Indeed, then, you do me injustice there," cried McMurdo. "For myself I am loyal to the lodge, and so I tell you straight; but I would be a poor creature if I were to repeat to any other what you might say to me in confidence. It will go no further than me; though I warn you that you may get neither help nor sympathy."

"I have given up looking for either the one or the other," said Morris. "I may be putting my very life in your hands by what I say; but, bad as you are--and it seemed to me last night that you were shaping to be as bad as the worst--still you are new to it, and your conscience cannot yet be as hardened as theirs. That was why I thought to speak with you."

"Well, what have you to say?"

"If you give me away, may a curse be on you!"

"Sure, I said I would not."

"I would ask you, then, when you joined the Freeman's society in Chicago and swore vows of charity and fidelity, did ever it cross your mind that you might find it would lead you to crime?"

"If you call it crime," McMurdo answered.

"Call it crime!" cried Morris, his voice vibrating with passion. "You have seen little of it if you can call it anything else. Was it crime last night when a man old enough to be your father was beaten till the blood dripped from his white hairs? Was that crime--or what else would you call it?"

"There are some would say it was war," said McMurdo, "a war of two classes with all in, so that each struck as best it could."

"Well, did you think of such a thing when you joined the Freeman's society at Chicago?"

"No, I'm bound to say I did not."

"Nor did I when I joined it at Philadelphia. It was just a benefit club and a meeting place for one's fellows. Then I heard of this place--curse the hour that the name first fell upon my ears!--and I came to better myself! My God! to better myself! My wife and three children came with me. I started a drygoods store on Market Square, and I prospered well. The word had gone round that I was a Freeman, and I was forced to join the local lodge, same as you did last night. I've the badge of shame on my forearm and something worse branded on my heart. I found that I was under the orders of a black villain and caught in a meshwork of crime. What could I do? Every word I said to make things better was taken as treason, same as it was last night. I can't get away; for all I have in the world is in my store. If I leave the society, I know well that it means murder to me, and God knows what to my wife and children. Oh, man, it is awful--awful!" He put his hands to his face, and his body shook with convulsive sobs.

McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. "You were too soft for the job," said he. "You are the wrong sort for such work."

"I had a conscience and a religion; but they made me a criminal among them. I was chosen for a job. If I backed down I knew well what would come to me. Maybe I'm a coward. Maybe it's the thought of my poor little woman and the children that makes me one. Anyhow I went. I guess it will haunt me forever.

"It was a lonely house, twenty miles from here, over the range yonder. I was told off for the door, same as you were last night. They could not trust me with the job. The others went in. When they came out their hands were crimson to the wrists. As we turned away a child was screaming out of the house behind us. It was a boy of five who had seen his father murdered. I nearly fainted with the horror of it, and yet I had to keep a bold and smiling face; for well I knew that if I did not it would be out of my house that they would come next with their bloody hands and it would be my little Fred that would be screaming for his father.

"But I was a criminal then, part sharer in a murder, lost forever in this world, and lost also in the next. I am a good Catholic; but the priest would have no word with me when he heard I was a Scowrer, and I am excommunicated from my faith. That's how it stands with me. And I see you going down the same road, and I ask you what the end is to be. Are you ready to be a cold-blooded murderer also, or can we do anything to stop it?"

"What would you do?" asked McMurdo abruptly. "You would not inform?"

"God forbid!" cried Morris. "Sure, the very thought would cost me my life."

"That's well," said McMurdo. "I'm thinking that you are a weak man and that you make too much of the matter."

"Too much! Wait till you have lived here longer. Look down the valley! See the cloud of a hundred chimneys that overshadows it! I tell you that the cloud of murder hangs thicker and lower than that over the heads of the people. It is the Valley of Fear, the Valley of Death. The terror is in the hearts of the people from the dusk to the dawn. Wait, young man, and you will learn for yourself."

"Well, I'll let you know what I think when I have seen more," said McMurdo carelessly. "What is very clear is that you are not the man for the place, and that the sooner you sell out--if you only get a dime a dollar for what the business is worth--the better it will be for you. What you have said is safe with me; but, by Gar! if I thought you were an informer--"

"No, no!" cried Morris piteously.

"Well, let it rest at that. I'll bear what you have said in mind, and maybe some day I'll come back to it. I expect you meant kindly by speaking to me like this. Now I'll be getting home."

"One word before you go," said Morris. "We may have been seen together. They may want to know what we have spoken about."

"Ah! that's well thought of."

"I offer you a clerkship in my store."

"And I refuse it. That's our business. Well, so long, Brother Morris, and may you find things go better with you in the future."

That same afternoon, as McMurdo sat smoking, lost in thought beside the stove of his sitting-room, the door swung open and its framework was filled with the huge figure of Boss McGinty. He passed the sign, and then seating himself opposite to the young man he looked at him steadily for some time, a look which was as steadily returned.

"I'm not much of a visitor, Brother McMurdo," he said at last. "I guess I am too busy over the folk that visit me. But I thought I'd stretch a point and drop down to see you in your own house."

"I'm proud to see you here, Councillor," McMurdo answered heartily, bringing his whisky bottle out of the cupboard. "It's an honour that I had not expected."

"How's the arm?" asked the Boss.

McMurdo made a wry face. "Well, I'm not forgetting it," he said; "but it's worth it."

"Yes, it's worth it," the other answered, "to those that are loyal and go through with it and are a help to the lodge. What were you speaking to Brother Morris about on Miller Hill this morning?"

The question came so suddenly that it was well that he had his answer prepared. He burst into a hearty laugh. "Morris didn't know I could earn a living here at home. He shan't know either; for he has got too much conscience for the likes of me. But he's a good-hearted old chap. It was his idea that I was at a loose end, and that he would do me a good turn by offering me a clerkship in a drygoods store."

"Oh, that was it?"

"Yes, that was it."

"And you refused it?"

"Sure. Couldn't I earn ten times as much in my own bedroom with four hours' work?"

"That's so. But I wouldn't get about too much with Morris."

"Why not?"

"Well, I guess because I tell you not. That's enough for most folk in these parts."

"It may be enough for most folk; but it ain't enough for me, Councillor," said McMurdo boldly. "If you are a judge of men, you'll know that."

The swarthy giant glared at him, and his hairy paw closed for an instant round the glass as though he would hurl it at the head of his companion. Then he laughed in his loud, boisterous, insincere fashion.

"You're a queer card, for sure," said he. "Well, if you want reasons, I'll give them. Did Morris say nothing to you against the lodge?"

"No."

"Nor against me?"

"No."

"Well, that's because he daren't trust you. But in his heart he is not a loyal brother. We know that well. So we watch him and we wait for the time to admonish him. I'm thinking that the time is drawing near. There's no room for scabby sheep in our pen. But if you keep company with a disloyal man, we might think that you were disloyal, too. See?"

"There's no chance of my keeping company with him; for I dislike the man," McMurdo answered. "As to being disloyal, if it was any man but you he would not use the word to me twice."

"Well, that's enough," said McGinty, draining off his glass. "I came down to give you a word in season, and you've had it."

"I'd like to know," said McMurdo, "how you ever came to learn that I had spoken with Morris at all?"

McGinty laughed. "It's my business to know what goes on in this township," said he. "I guess you'd best reckon on my hearing all that passes. Well, time's up, and I'll just say--"

But his leavetaking was cut short in a very unexpected fashion. With a sudden crash the door flew open, and three frowning, intent faces glared in at them from under the peaks of police caps. McMurdo sprang to his feet and half drew his revolver; but his arm stopped midway as he became conscious that two Winchester rifles were levelled at his head. A man in uniform advanced into the room, a six-shooter in his hand. It was Captain Marvin, once of Chicago, and now of the Mine Constabulary. He shook his head with a half-smile at McMurdo.

"I thought you'd be getting into trouble, Mr. Crooked McMurdo of Chicago," said he. "Can't keep out of it, can you? Take your hat and come along with us."

"I guess you'll pay for this, Captain Marvin," said McGinty. "Who are you, I'd like to know, to break into a house in this fashion and molest honest, law-abiding men?"

"You're standing out in this deal, Councillor McGinty," said the police captain. "We are not out after you, but after this man McMurdo. It is for you to help, not to hinder us in our duty,"

"He is a friend of mine, and I'll answer for his conduct," said the Boss.

"By all accounts, Mr. McGinty, you may have to answer for your own conduct some of these days," the captain answered. "This man McMurdo was a crook before ever he came here, and he's a crook still. Cover him, Patrolman, while I disarm him."

"There's my pistol," said McMurdo coolly. "Maybe, Captain Marvin, if you and I were alone and face to face you would not take me so easily."

"Where's your warrant?" asked McGinty. "By Gar! a man might as well live in Russia as in Vermissa while folk like you are running the police. It's a capitalist outrage, and you'll hear more of it, I reckon."

"You do what you think is your duty the best way you can, Councillor. We'll look after ours."

"What am I accused of?" asked McMurdo.

"Of being concerned in the beating of old Editor Stanger at the Herald office. It wasn't your fault that it isn't a murder charge."

"Well, if that's all you have against him," cried McGinty with a laugh, "you can save yourself a deal of trouble by dropping it right now. This man was with me in my saloon playing poker up to midnight, and I can bring a dozen to prove it."

"That's your affair, and I guess you can settle it in court to-morrow. Meanwhile, come on, McMurdo, and come quietly if you don't want a gun across your head. You stand wide, Mr. McGinty; for I warn you I will stand no resistance when I am on duty!"

So determined was the appearance of the captain that both McMurdo and his boss were forced to accept the situation. The latter managed to have a few whispered words with the prisoner before they parted.

"What about--" he jerked his thumb upward to signify the coining plant.

"All right," whispered McMurdo, who had devised a safe hiding place under the floor.

"I'll bid you good-bye," said the Boss, shaking hands. "I'll see Reilly the lawyer and take the defense upon myself. Take my word for it that they won't be able to hold you."

"I wouldn't bet on that. Guard the prisoner, you two, and shoot him if he tries any games. I'll search the house before I leave."

He did so; but apparently found no trace of the concealed plant. When he had descended he and his men escorted McMurdo to headquarters. Darkness had fallen, and a keen blizzard was blowing so that the streets were nearly deserted; but a few loiterers followed the group, and emboldened by invisibility shouted imprecations at the prisoner.

"Lynch the cursed Scowrer!" they cried. "Lynch him!" They laughed and jeered as he was pushed into the police station. After a short, formal examination from the inspector in charge he was put into the common cell. Here he found Baldwin and three other criminals of the night before, all arrested that afternoon and waiting their trial next morning.

But even within this inner fortress of the law the long arm of the Freemen was able to extend. Late at night there came a jailer with a straw bundle for their bedding, out of which he extracted two bottles of whisky, some glasses, and a pack of cards. They spent a hilarious night, without an anxious thought as to the ordeal of the morning.

Nor had they cause, as the result was to show. The magistrate could not possibly, on the evidence, have held them for a higher court. On the one hand the compositors and pressmen were forced to admit that the light was uncertain, that they were themselves much perturbed, and that it was difficult for them to swear to the identity of the assailants; although they believed that the accused were among them. Cross examined by the clever attorney who had been engaged by McGinty, they were even more nebulous in their evidence.

The injured man had already deposed that he was so taken by surprise by the suddenness of the attack that he could state nothing beyond the fact that the first man who struck him wore a moustache. He added that he knew them to be Scowrers, since no one else in the community could possibly have any enmity to him, and he had long been threatened on account of his outspoken editorials. On the other hand, it was clearly shown by the united and unfaltering evidence of six citizens, including that high municipal official, Councillor McGinty, that the men had been at a card party at the Union House until an hour very much later than the commission of the outrage.

Needless to say that they were discharged with something very near to an apology from the bench for the inconvenience to which they had been put, together with an implied censure of Captain Marvin and the police for their officious zeal.

The verdict was greeted with loud applause by a court in which McMurdo saw many familiar faces. Brothers of the lodge smiled and waved. But there were others who sat with compressed lips and brooding eyes as the men filed out of the dock. One of them, a little, dark-bearded, resolute fellow, put the thoughts of himself and comrades into words as the ex-prisoners passed him.

"You damned murderers!" he said. "We'll fix you yet!"

 

四 恐怖谷

第二天早晨,麦克默多一觉醒来,回忆起入会的情形。因为酒喝多了,头有些胀痛,臂膀烙伤处也肿胀起来隐隐作痛。他既有特殊的收入来源,去做工也就不定时了,所以早餐吃得很晚,而上午便留在家中给朋友写了一封长信。后来,他又翻阅了一下《每日先驱报》,只见专栏中刊载着一段报道:

先驱报社暴徒行凶——主笔受重伤

这是一段简要的报道,实际上麦克默多自己比记者知道得更清楚。报道的结尾说:

“此事现已归警署办理,然断难瞩望彼等获致优于前此诸案之效果。暴徒中数人已为人知,故可望予以判处。而暴行之源则毋庸讳言为该声名狼藉之社团,彼等奴役全区居民多年,《先驱报》与彼等展开毫无妥协之斗争。斯坦格君之众多友好当喜闻下述音信,斯坦格君虽惨遭毒打,头部受伤甚重,然尚无性命之虞。”

下面报道说,报社已由装备着温切斯特步枪之煤铁警察队守卫。

麦克默多放下报纸,点起烟斗,但手臂由于昨晚的灼伤,不觉有些颤动。此时外面有人敲门,房东太太给他送来一封便笺,说是一个小孩刚刚送到的。信上没有署名,上面写着:

“我有事要和您谈一谈,但不能到您府上来。您可在米勒山上旗杆旁找到我。如您现在肯来,我有要事相告。”

麦克默多十分惊奇地把信读了两遍,他想不出写信的人是谁,或有什么用意。如果这出于一个女人之手,他可以设想,这或许是某些奇遇的开端,他过去生活中对此也岂不生疏。可是这是一个男人的手笔,此人似乎还受过良好教育。麦克默多踌躇了一会儿,最后决定去看个明白。

米勒山是镇中心一座荒凉的公园。夏季这里是人们常游之地,但在冬季却异常荒凉。从山顶上俯瞰下去,不仅可以尽览全镇污秽零乱的情景,而且可看到蜿蜒而下的山谷;山谷两旁是疏疏落落的矿山和工厂,附近积雪已被染污了;此外还可观赏那林木茂密的山坡和白雪覆盖的山顶。

麦克默多沿着长青树丛中蜿蜒的小径,漫步走到一家冷落的饭馆前,这里在夏季是娱乐的中心。旁边是一棵光秃秃的旗杆,旗杆下有一个人,帽子戴得很低,大衣领子竖起来。这个人回过头来,麦克默多认出他是莫里斯兄弟,就是昨晚惹怒身主的那个人,两人相见,交换了会里的暗语。

“我想和您谈一谈,麦克默多先生,"老人显得进退两难,踌躇不决地说道,“难得您赏光前来。”

“你为什么信上不署名呢?”

“谁也不能不小心谨慎,先生。人们不知道什么时候会招来祸事,也不知道谁是可以信任的,谁是不可信任的。”

“当然谁也可以信任会中弟兄。”

“不,不,不一定,"莫里斯情绪激昂地大声说道,“我们说的什么,甚至想的什么,似乎都可以传到麦金蒂那里。”

“喂!"麦克默多厉声说道,“你知道,我昨晚刚刚宣誓要忠于我们的身主。你是不是要让我背叛我的誓言?”

“如果你这样想,"莫里斯满面愁容地说道,“我只能说,我很抱歉,让你白跑一趟来和我见面了。两个自由公民不能交谈心里话,这岂不是太糟糕了么!”

麦克默多仔细地观察着对方,稍微解除了一点顾虑,说道:“当然,我说这话只是为我自己着想的。你知道,我是一个新来的人,我对这里的一切都是生疏的。就我来说,是没有发言权的,莫里斯先生。如果你有什么话要对我讲,我将洗耳恭听。”

“然后去报告首领麦金蒂!"莫里斯悲痛地说道。

“那你可真冤枉我了,"麦克默多叫道,“从我自己来说,我对会党忠心,所以我就对你直说了。可是假如我把你对我推心置腹讲的话说给别人听,那我就是一个卑鄙的奴才了。不过,我要警告你,你不要指望得到我的帮助或同情。”

“我并不指望求得帮助或同情,"莫里斯说道,“我对你说这些话,就已经把性命放在你手心里了。不过,虽然你够坏的了——昨晚我觉得你会变成一个最坏的人,但毕竟你还是个新手,也不象他们那样的铁石心肠,这就是我想找你谈一谈的原因。”

“好,你要对我讲些什么?”

“如果你出卖了我,你就要遭到报应!”

“当然,我说过我绝不出卖你。”

“那么,我问你,你在芝加哥加入自由人会,立誓要做到忠诚、博爱时,你心里想过它会把你引向犯罪道路吗?”

“假如你把它叫做犯罪的话,"麦克默多答道。

“叫做犯罪!"莫里斯喊道,他的声音激动得颤抖起来,“你已经看到一点犯罪事实了,你还能把它叫做什么别的?!昨天晚上,一个岁数大得可以做你父亲的老人被打得血染白发,这是不是犯罪?你把这叫做犯罪,还是把它叫做什么别的呢?”

“有些人会说这是一场斗争,"麦克默多说道,“是一场两个阶级之间的全力以赴的斗争,所以每一方尽量打击对方。”

“那么,你在芝加哥参加自由人会时,可曾想到这样的事吗?”

“没有,我担保没有想到过。”

“我在费城入会时,也没有想到过。只知道这是一个有益的会社和朋友们聚会的场所。后来我听人提到这个地方,我真恨死这个名字第一次传到我耳中的那一时刻了,我想到这里来使自己生活得好一些!天啊!使自己生活得好一些!我妻子和三个孩子随我一起来了。我在市场开了一家绸布店,颇有盈利。我是一个自由人会会员,这件事很快就传开了。后来我被迫象你昨晚那样,加入当地的分会。我的胳膊上烙下了这个耻辱的标记,而心里却打上了更加丑恶的烙印。我发觉我已经受一个奸邪的恶棍指挥控制,并陷入一个犯罪网里。我可怎么办呢?我想把事情做得善良些,可是只要我一说话,他们便象昨晚一样,说我是叛逆。我在世上所有的一切,都在绸布店里,我也不能远走他方。如果我要脱离这个社团,我知道得很清楚,我一定会被谋害,上帝知道我的妻子儿女会怎么样?噢,朋友,这简直可怕,太可怕了!"他双手掩面,身体不住地颤动,抽抽噎噎地啜泣起来。

麦克默多耸了耸肩,说道:“做这种事,你心肠太软了,你不适合干这样的事。”

“我的良心和信仰还没有丧失,可是他们使我成为他们这伙罪犯中间的一个。他们选中我去做一件事,如果我退缩,我很清楚,我会遭到什么下场。也许我是一个胆小鬼,也许是我想到我那可怜的小女人和孩子们,无论怎么说,反正我是去了。我想这件事会永远压在我心里的。

“这是山那边一所孤零零的房子,离这里有二十英里。象你昨天那样,他们让我守住门口。干这种事,他们还不相信我。其他的人都进去了。他们出来时,双手都沾满了鲜血。正当我们离开时,一个小孩从房内跑出来跟在我们后面哭叫着。这是一个五岁的孩子,亲眼看到他父亲遇害。我吓得几乎昏厥过去,可是我不得不装出勇敢的样子,摆出一副笑脸来。因为我很明白,如果我不这样,同样的事就要出在我的家里,他们下次就会双手沾满鲜血从我家里出来,我的小弗雷德就要哭叫他的父亲了。

“可是我已经是一个犯罪的人了,是一个谋杀案的胁从犯,在这个世界上永远被遗弃,在下世也难超生。我是一个善良的天主教徒。可是神父要听说我是一个死酷党人,也不会为我祈祷了,我已经背弃了宗教信仰。这就是我所经受的。我看你也正在走这条路,我问你,将来会有什么样的结局呢?你是准备做一个嗜血杀人犯呢,还是我们去设法阻止它呢?”

“你要怎样做呢?"麦克默多突然问道,"你不会去告密吧?”

“但愿不要发生这样的事!"莫里斯大声说道,“当然,就是这样一想,我的性命也就难保了。”

“那好,"麦克默多说道,“我想你是一个胆小的人,所以你把这件事也看得太严重了。”

“太严重!等你在这里住得时间长一些再瞧。看看这座山谷!看看这座被上百个烟囱冒出的浓烟笼罩住了的山谷!我告诉你,这杀人行凶的阴云比那笼罩在人民的头上的烟云还要低回、浓厚。这是一个恐怖谷,死亡谷。从早到晚,人们心里都惊惶不安。等着瞧吧,年轻人,你自己会弄清楚的。”

“好,等我了解得多了,我会把想法告诉你的,"麦克默多漫不经心地说道,“很清楚,你不适于住在这里,你最好早些转售你的产业,这对你会有好处的。你对我所说的话,请放心,我不会说出去。可是,皇天在上,如果我发现你是一个告密的人,那可就……”

“不,不!"莫里斯令人可怜地叫道。

“好,我们就谈到这里。我一定把你的话记在心上,也可能过几天我就给你回话。我认为你对我讲这些话是善意的。现在我要回家去了。”

“在你走之前,我还要讲一句话,"莫里斯说道,“我们在一起讲话,难免有人看见。他们可能要打听我们说些什么。”“啊,这一着想得很好。”

“我就说我想请你到我店里做职员。”

“我说我不答应。这就是我们到这里办的事情。好,再见,莫里斯兄弟。祝你走运。”

就在这天中午,麦克默多坐在起居室壁炉旁吸烟,正陷于沉思之中,门突然被撞开,首领麦金蒂高大的身影堵满了门框。他打过招呼,在这个年轻人对面坐了下来,冷静沉着地瞪了他好一阵子,麦克默多也照样瞪着他。

“我是不轻易出来拜访人的,麦克默多兄弟,"麦金蒂终于说道,“我总是忙于接待那些拜访我的人。可是我认为我已经破例到你家来看望你了。”

“蒙你光临,我很感荣幸,参议员先生,"麦克默多亲热地答道,从食起橱里取出一起威士忌酒来,“这是我喜出望外的光荣。”

“胳膊怎么样,"身主问道。

麦克默多作了一个鬼脸,答道:“啊,我不会忘记的,可是这是有价值的。”

“对于那些忠实可靠、履行仪式、帮助会务的人来说,这是有价值的。今天早晨在米勒山附近,你对莫里斯兄弟说了些什么?”

这一问题来得如此突兀,幸而麦克默多早有准备,遂放声大笑道:“莫里斯不知道我可以在家中谋生。他也根本不会知道,因为他把我这一类人的良心估计过高。不过他倒是一个好心的老家伙。他以为我没有职业,所以他要我在一家绸布店里做职员。”

“啊,原来是为这事吗?”

“是的,就是这么件事。”

“那么你回绝了吗?”

“当然了。我在自己卧室里干四个小时,不要比在他那里多挣十倍吗?”

 

 

 

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恐怖谷

柯南道尔 Arthur Conan Doyle

四 恐怖谷 Page 2

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“不错。可是要是我的话,我不会和莫里斯来往太多的。”

“为什么呢?”

“我想我不能告诉你。这里大多数人都明白。”

“也许大多数人都明白,可是我还不明白,参议员先生,”麦克默多鲁莽地说,"如果你是一个公正的人,你就会知道的。”

这个黑大汉怒目瞪着麦克默多,他那毛茸茸的手爪一下子抓住酒杯,好象要把它猛掷在对方头上,后来他反而兴高采烈、虚情假意地大笑起来。

“毫无疑问,你确实是一个怪人,"麦金蒂说道,“好,如果你一定要知道原因,那么我就告诉你。莫里斯没有向你说什么反对本会的话吗?”

“没有。”

“也没有反对我的话吗?”

“没有。”

“啊,那是因为他还不敢相信你。可是他心里已经不是一个忠心的弟兄了。我们对这一点知道得很清楚,所以对他很注意,我们就等待时机去告诫他,我想这一时刻已经不远了。因为在我们的羊圈里是没有那些下贱绵羊的栖身之地的。可是如果你同一个不忠心的人结交,我们要认为你也是一个不忠心的人。这你明白了吗?”

“因为我不喜欢这个人,我也没有机会和他结交。"麦克默多回答道,“至于说我不忠心,也就是出自你的口中,假如要是别的人,他就不会有机会第二次再对我说这种话了。”

“好,不要再说了,"麦金蒂把酒一饮而尽,说道,“我是及时来劝告你,你应当明白。”

“我很想知道你究竟是怎么知道我和莫里斯谈过话的。”

麦金蒂笑了一笑。

“在这个镇子里发生什么事,我都知道,"麦金蒂说,“我想你总该知道不论什么事都逃不过我的耳目的。好,时间不早了,我还要说……”

可是一个非常意外的情况打断了他告别的话。随着一下突然的撞击声,门打开了,三张坚决的面孔正从警帽的帽檐下怒目横眉地瞪着他们。麦克默多跳起身来,刚把手枪抽出一半,他的手臂就在半路停了下来,因为他发现两支温切斯特步枪已经对准了他的头部。一个身着警服的人走进室内,手中握着一支六响的左轮手枪。这人正是以前在芝加哥待过,现在的煤铁矿保安队队长马文。他摇摇头,皮笑肉不笑地望着麦克默多。

“芝加哥的麦克默多先生,我想你已经被捕了,"马文说道,“你是不能脱身的,戴上帽子,跟我们走!”

“我认为你要因此而付出代价的,马文队长,"麦金蒂说道。"我倒愿意知道,你是什么人,可以在这样的情况下,擅自闯入人家家中,骚扰一个忠实守法的人!”

“这与你无关的,参议员先生,"警察队长说道,“我们并不是来追捕你,而是来追捕这个麦克默多的。你应当帮助我们,而不应当妨碍我们履行职责。”

“他是我的朋友,我可以对他的行为担保,"麦金蒂说道。

“无论从哪方面看,麦金蒂先生,近几天里,你只能为你自己的行为担保了,"警察队长答道,“麦克默多来这里以前早就是个无赖,现在仍然不安分守己。警士,把枪对准他,我来缴他的械。”

“这是我的手枪,"麦克默多冷冰冰地说道,“马文队长,假如你我二人单独面对面地相遇,你不会这么容易捉住我的。”

“你们的拘票呢!"麦金蒂说道,“天哪!一个人住在维尔米萨竟和住在俄国一样,象你这样的人也来领导警察局!这是资本家的非法手段,我估计以后这种事会听得更多的。”

“你愿意怎么想就怎么想,参议员先生。我们该怎么办就怎么办。”

“我犯了什么罪?"麦克默多问道。

“在先驱报社殴打老主笔斯坦格一案与你有关。别人没告你杀人之罪,这并不是因为你不想杀人。”

“啊,假如你们仅是为了这件事,"麦金蒂微笑着说道,“现在住手,你们可以省很多麻烦。这个人在我酒馆里和我一起打扑克,一直打到半夜,我可以找出十几个人来作证明。”

“那是你的事,我认为明天你可以到法庭去说。走吧,麦克默多,假如我不愿意枪弹射穿你的胸膛,你就老老实实地走。麦金蒂先生,你站远点,我警告你,在我履行职责时,决不容许有任何抵抗的。”

马文队长的神色如此坚决,以至麦克默多和他的首领不得不接受既成事实。在分手以前,麦金蒂借机和被捕者低声耳语道:“那东西怎样……"他猛地伸出大拇指,暗示着铸币机。

“安排好了,"麦克默多低语说,他已经把它安放在地板下安全的隐秘处所。

“我祝你一路平安,"首领和麦克默多握手告别,说道,“我要去请赖利律师,并且亲自去出庭辩护。请相信我的话,他们不会扣留你的。”

“我不愿在这上面打赌。你们两个人把罪犯看好,假如他想耍什么花招,就开枪射击。我要先把这屋子搜查一下然后再撤。”

马文队长搜查了一番,不过显然没有发现隐藏铸币机的痕迹。他走下楼来,和一干人把麦克默多押送到总署去。天色已经昏黑,刮起一阵强烈的暴风雪,因此街上已经很少行人,只有少数几个闲逛的人跟在他们后面,壮着胆子大声诅咒被捕者。

“处决这个该死的死酷党人!"他们高声喊道,“处决他!”在麦克默多被推进警署时,他们嘲笑他。经过主管的警官简短的审问之后,麦克默多被投进普通牢房。他发现鲍德温和前一天晚上的其他三个罪犯也在这里,他们都是这天下午被捕的,等候明天审讯。

自由人会的手很长,甚至能伸到监牢里。天晚以后,一个狱卒带进一捆稻草来给他们铺用,他又从里面拿出两瓶威士忌酒,几个酒杯和一副纸牌来。他们就饮酒赌博,狂欢了一夜,丝毫不顾虑明早的事。

他们这样做什么麻烦也没惹出来,案件的结局就是明证。这位地方法官,根据证词不能给他们定罪。一方面,排字工人和印刷工人不得不承认灯光十分模糊,他们自己也非常混乱慌张,尽管他们相信被告就是其中的人,但很难绝对保证认清行凶者的面貌。经过麦金蒂安排好的聪明的律师一番盘问以后,这些证人的证词更加含糊不清了。

被害人已经证明说,他遭受突然袭击时非常震惊,除了记得第一个动手打他的人有一撮小胡子以外,什么也说不清。他补充说,他知道这些人是死酷党党徒,因为社会上没有别的人恨他,由于他经常公开发表评论,长期以来受到该党党徒的威胁恫吓。

另一方面,有六个公民,其中包括市政官参议员麦金蒂,出席作证,他们的证词坚决、一致、清楚地说明,这些被告都在工会打扑克,一直到严重违法行为发生一个多小时以后才散场。

不用说,对被捕的人所受的烦扰,法官说了一些近于道歉的话,同时含蓄地训斥了马文队长和警察多管闲事,便把被告释放了。

这时法庭内一些旁听者大声鼓掌欢迎这一裁决,麦克默多看出其中有许多熟悉的面孔。会里的弟兄都微笑着挥手致意。可是另一些人在这伙罪犯从被告席上鱼贯而出时,坐在那里双唇紧闭,目光阴郁;其中一个小个子黑胡须面容坚毅果敢的人,在那些获释的罪犯从他面前走过时,说出了他自己和其他人的想法。

“你们这些该死的凶手!"他喊道,"我们还要收拾你们的!”

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