工程师的拇指 The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb （七）文章来源：未知 文章作者：enread 发布时间：2020-05-08 06:26 字体： [大 中 小] 进入论坛(单词翻译:双击或拖选) Some three hours or so afterwards we were all in the traintogether, bound from Reading to the little Berkshire village.There were Sherlock Holmes, the hydraulic engineer, InspectorBradstreet, of Scotland Yard, a plain-clothes man, and myself.Bradstreet had spread an ordnance map of the county out upon theseat and was busy with his compasses drawing a circle with Eyfordfor its centre. "There you are," said he. "That circle is drawn at a radius often miles from the village. The place we want must be somewherenear that line. You said ten miles, I think, sir." "It was an hour's good drive." "And you think that they brought you back all that way when youwere unconscious?" "They must have done so. I have a confused memory, too, of havingbeen lifted and conveyed somewhere." "What I cannot understand," said I, "is why they should havespared you when they found you lying fainting in the garden.Perhaps the villain was softened by the woman's entreaties." "I hardly think that likely. I never saw a more inexorable facein my life." "Oh, we shall soon clear up all that," said Bradstreet. "Well, Ihave drawn my circle, and I only wish I knew at what point uponit the folk that we are in search of are to be found." "I think I could lay my finger on it," said Holmes quietly. "Really, now!" cried the inspector, "you have formed youropinion! Come, now, we shall see who agrees with you. I say it issouth, for the country is more deserted there." "And I say east," said my patient. "I am for west," remarked the plain-clothes man. "There areseveral quiet little villages up there." "And I am for north," said I, "because there are no hills there,and our friend says that he did not notice the carriage go upany." "Come," cried the inspector, laughing; "it's a very prettydiversity of opinion. We have boxed the compass among us. Who doyou give your casting vote to?" "You are all wrong." "But we can't all be." "Oh, yes, you can. This is my point." He placed his finger in thecentre of the circle. "This is where we shall find them." "But the twelve-mile drive?" gasped Hatherley. "Six out and six back. Nothing simpler. You say yourself that thehorse was fresh and glossy when you got in. How could it be thatif it had gone twelve miles over heavy roads?" "Indeed, it is a likely ruse enough," observed Bradstreetthoughtfully. "Of course there can be no doubt as to the natureof this gang." "None at all," said Holmes. "They are coiners on a large scale,and have used the machine to form the amalgam which has taken theplace of silver." "We have known for some time that a clever gang was at work,"said the inspector. "They have been turning out half-crowns bythe thousand. We even traced them as far as Reading, but couldget no farther, for they had covered their traces in a way thatshowed that they were very old hands. But now, thanks to thislucky chance, I think that we have got them right enough." But the inspector was mistaken, for those criminals were notdestined to fall into the hands of justice. As we rolled intoEyford Station we saw a gigantic column of smoke which streamedup from behind a small clump of trees in the neighborhood andhung like an immense ostrich feather over the landscape. "A house on fire?" asked Bradstreet as the train steamed offagain on its way. "Yes, sir!" said the station-master. "When did it break out?" "I hear that it was during the night, sir, but it has got worse,and the whole place is in a blaze." "Whose house is it?" "Dr. Becher's." "Tell me," broke in the engineer, "is Dr. Becher a German, verythin, with a long, sharp nose?" The station-master laughed heartily. "No, sir, Dr. Becher is anEnglishman, and there isn't a man in the parish who has abetter-lined waistcoat. But he has a gentleman staying with him,a patient, as I understand, who is a foreigner, and he looks asif a little good Berkshire beef would do him no harm." The station-master had not finished his speech before we were allhastening in the direction of the fire. The road topped a lowhill, and there was a great widespread whitewashed building infront of us, spouting fire at every chink and window, while inthe garden in front three fire-engines were vainly striving tokeep the flames under. "That's it!" cried Hatherley, in intense excitement. "There isthe gravel-drive, and there are the rose-bushes where I lay. Thatsecond window is the one that I jumped from." "Well, at least," said Holmes, "you have had your revenge uponthem. There can be no question that it was your oil-lamp which,when it was crushed in the press, set fire to the wooden walls,though no doubt they were too excited in the chase after you toobserve it at the time. Now keep your eyes open in this crowd foryour friends of last night, though I very much fear that they area good hundred miles off by now." And Holmes's fears came to be realized, for from that day to thisno word has ever been heard either of the beautiful woman, thesinister German, or the morose Englishman. Early that morning apeasant had met a cart containing several people and some verybulky boxes driving rapidly in the direction of Reading, butthere all traces of the fugitives disappeared, and even Holmes'singenuity failed ever to discover the least clew as to theirwhereabouts. The firemen had been much perturbed at the strange arrangementswhich they had found within, and still more so by discovering anewly severed human thumb upon a window-sill of the second floor.About sunset, however, their efforts were at last successful, andthey subdued the flames, but not before the roof had fallen in,and the whole place been reduced to such absolute ruin that, savesome twisted cylinders and iron piping, not a trace remained ofthe machinery which had cost our unfortunate acquaintance sodearly. Large masses of nickel and of tin were discovered storedin an out-house, but no coins were to be found, which may haveexplained the presence of those bulky boxes which have beenalready referred to. How our hydraulic engineer had been conveyed from the garden tothe spot where he recovered his senses might have remainedforever a mystery were it not for the soft mould, which told us avery plain tale. He had evidently been carried down by twopersons, one of whom had remarkably small feet and the otherunusually large ones. On the whole, it was most probable that thesilent Englishman, being less bold or less murderous than hiscompanion, had assisted the woman to bear the unconscious man outof the way of danger. "Well," said our engineer ruefully as we took our seats to returnonce more to London, "it has been a pretty business for me! Ihave lost my thumb and I have lost a fifty-guinea fee, and whathave I gained?" "Experience," said Holmes, laughing. "Indirectly it may be ofvalue, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain thereputation of being excellent company for the remainder of yourexistence."