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来源: 南方日报网络版     时间: 2020-01-28 15:17:20
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"So you've got back," he said. "Rather a sensational bit of copy for the papers over the inquest, eh? That pompous juryman's face was a study when Hetty and that reporter chap knocked him out of time."But the heedless throng of fashionables recked nothing of this. The Countess Lalage was their latest craze. Who she was or where she came from nobody knew nor cared. She was young and wonderfully beautiful in a dashing Southern way, her equipages were an amazement to the park; she must have been immensely rich, or she would never have entertained as she did. There must have been a Count Lalage at one time, for generally a pretty little girl rode with the Countess, and this child was her daughter. The Countess spoke casually of large South American concessions and silver mines, so that Oxford Street and Regent Street bowed down and worshipped her.The last guest had departed, the strains of music had died away. The lights were out, and the flowers were wilting on the walls. Leona Lalage had discarded her dress for a fascinating wrap, and was seated in her boudoir making a cigarette and trying to read something from the expression of Lawrence's face.

"Look at the bottom of those saucepans," said Lawrence. "See how they are smoked; at the same time there is no soot on them. Our quarry has not dared to light a fire by reason of the smoke. It is quite plain that Hetty was not mistaken when she said she saw a hand holding a kettle over the gas. And, by Jove, this kettle is warm still!"Lawrence was burning the midnight oil, and therefore impatient of interruptions. But upon hearing Prout's name he finished the chapter he was writing, and slung up his reading lamp. He was hospitable over his cigarette and whisky.A policeman stepped out of the gloom and tried to pull up the car. It flashed by him at the rate of 70 miles an hour.The officer shook his head in a puzzled kind of way. He knew nothing about any woman. Perhaps those below had accounted for her. There were lights all over the house when Lalage was led down with the handcuffs on his wrists."You need not tell me any more," she whispered hoarsely. "He offered the San Salvator as security to Maitrank, and the murder is out.""You know too much," she said quietly. "If that fool Giuseppe had done his duty you would have gone down to your drunkard's grave in ignorance. But you are not going on the Continent tomorrow or the next day. Fool, fool, have you not lived long enough to know that all that glitters is not gold! For the moment I am living on my reputation and the splendour of this house. Not one penny have I paid for it. People hold documents and title deeds of mine that are forgeries. I have a grand coup that may come off, and again it may fail. For the moment I am penniless."


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