Сельский вампир и другие истории Отца Брауна \/ Vampire of the Village and other Father Brown Stories. Уровень 3

Гилберт Кит Честертон
Сельский вампир и другие истории Отца Брауна / Vampire of the Village and other Father Brown Stories. Уровень 3

© Минко А. А., адаптация, словарь, 2022

© ООО «Издательство АСТ», 2022

The Vampire of the Village

At the twist of a road in the hills, where two trees stood up like pyramids much tallerthan the small village of Potter’s Pond, just a group of houses, there once walked a man in a costume of a very interesting cut and colour, wearing a bright magenta jacketand a white hat on top of black beautiful hair.

The riddle of why he was wearing clothes so old, yet wearing them with such a fashion, was but one of the many riddles[1]that were eventually solved in solving the mystery[2]of his fate. The point here is that when he had passed the trees he seemed to have disappeared; as if he had faded into the dawn or been blown away upon the wind of morning.

It was only about a week afterwards that his body was found nearby, broken upon the rocks of a garden leading up to an old house called The Grange. Just before he had disappeared, he had been overheard apparently arguing[3]with some bystanders, and callingtheir village ‘an ugly little hamlet’; and it was thought that he had provoked the local patriotism and eventually been its victim. At least the local doctor said that the skull was hit hard and that might have caused death, though probably only made with some sort of club[4]. This fitted in well enough with the idea of an attack by rather violent villagers. But nobody ever understood how to find any particular villager; and the inquest returned a version of murder by some persons unknown.

A year or two afterwards the question was re-opened in an interesting way; a series of events which led a certain Dr Mulborough, called by his friends Mulberry because there was something rich and fruity about his body shape and rather red face[5], travelling by train down to Potter’s Pond, with a friend whom he had often asked upon such problems. In spite of the somewhat heavy appearance of the doctor[6], he had a keen eye and was really a man of very remarkable sense[7]; which he thought that he showed in giving advice to a little priest named Brown, whom he get familiar with over a poisoning case long ago[8]. The little priest was sitting opposite to him, with the face of a quiet baby listening to instruction; and the doctor was explaining the real reasons for the journey.

‘I cannot agree with the gentleman in the magenta coat that Potter’s Pond is only an ugly little hamlet. But it is certainly a very distant and quiet village; so that it seems quite strange, like a village of a hundred years ago. The spinsters are really spinsters – damn it, you could almost see them spin[9]. The ladies are not just ladies. They are gentlewomen; and their chemist is not a chemist, but an apothecary; pronounced potecary. They think that doctors like myself just help the apothecary. But I am seen as rather a new addition, because I am only fifty-seven years old and have only been in the county for twenty-eight years. The lawyer looks as if he had known his job for twenty-eight thousand years. Then there is the old Admiral, who is just like a Dickens illustration[10]; with a house full of swords and fish and even with a telescope.’

‘I think,’ said Father Brown, ‘there are always a certain number of Admirals left on the shore. But I never understood why they get so far inland.’

‘Certainly no lifeless place in the depths of the country is finished without one of these little creatures,’ said the doctor. ‘And then, of course, there is the proper sort of clergyman; Tory and High Church dating from Archbishop Laud; more of an old woman than any of the old women. He’s a white-haired old bird, more easily shocked than the spinsters. Indeed, the gentlewomen, though Puritan in their principles, are sometimes pretty plainin their speech; as the real Puritans were. Once or twice I have heard old Miss Carstairs-Carew use expressions as lively as anything in the Bible[11]. The dear old clergyman is busy reading the Bible; but I think he closes his eyes when he comes to those words. Well, you know I’m not very modern. I don’t enjoy this fooling around of the Bright Young Things[12] – ’

‘The Bright Young Things don’t enjoy it,’ said Father Brown. ‘That is the real tragedy.’

‘But I am naturally more in touch with the world than the people in this old village,’ said the doctor. ‘And I had reached a point when I almost welcomed the Great Scandal.’

‘Don’t say the Bright Young Things have found Potter’s Pond after all,’ said the priest, smiling.

‘Oh, even our scandal is on old-established melodramatic lines. Need I say[13] that the clergyman’s son promises to be our problem? It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular[14]. So far as I can see, he is very lightly and almost poorly irregular. He was first seen drinking ale outside the Blue Lion. Only it seems he is a poet, which in those parts is next door to[15] being a criminal.’

 

‘Surely,’ said Father Brown, ‘even in Potter’s Pond that cannot be the Great Scandal.’

‘No,’ replied the doctor seriously. ‘The Great Scandal began like this. In the house called The Grange, placed at the end of The Grove, there lives a lady. A Lonely Lady. She calls herself Mrs Maltravers (that is how we put it); but she only came a year or two ago and nobody knows anything about her. “I can’t think why she wants to live here,” said Miss Carstairs-Carew; “we do not visither.”’

‘Perhaps that’s why she wants to live there,’ said Father Brown.

‘Well, her loneliness is seen as strange. She annoys them by being good-looking and even what is called good style. And all the young men are told that she’s a vampire.’

‘People who lose all their kindness generally lose all their logic,’ said Father Brown. ‘It’s rather funny to complain that she keeps to herself[16]; and then accuse her of vamping all the men.’

‘That is true,’ said the doctor. ‘And yet she is really rather a strange person. I saw her and found her interesting; one of those brown women, long and elegant and beautifully ugly, if you know what I mean. She is rather smart, and though young enough certainly gives me an impression of what they call – well, experience. What the old ladies call a Past.’

All the old ladies having been born this very minute[17],’ observed Father Brown. ‘I think she is said to have vamped the priest’s son[18].’

‘Yes, and it seems to be a very awful problem to the poor old priest. She is supposed to be a widow.’

Father Brown’s face became red with anger which it seldom did. ‘She is supposed to be a widow, as the priest’s son is supposed to be the priest’s son, and the lawyer is supposed to be a lawyer and you are supposed to be a doctor. Why in thunder[19]shouldn’t she be a widow? Have they one reason for thinking that she is not what she says she is?’

Dr Mulborough suddenly straightened his broad shoulders and sat up. ‘Of course you’re right again,’ he said. ‘But we haven’t come to the scandal yet. Well, the scandal is that she is a widow.’

‘Oh,’ said Father Brown; and his face changed and he said something soft and unclear, that might almost have been ‘My God!’

‘First of all,’ said the doctor, ‘they found out one thing about Mrs Maltravers. She is an actress.’

‘I thought so,’ said Father Brown. ‘Never mind why[20]. I had another thought about her, that would seem even more unimportant.’

‘Well, at that moment it was scandal enough that she was an actress. The dear old priest of course is heartbroken, to think that his white hairs should be brought to the grave by an actress and adventuress. The spinsters cry altogether. The Admiral says he has sometimes been to a theatre in town; but refuses that such things were among us. Well, of course I’ve no particular protest of that kind. This actress is certainly a lady, if a bit of a Dark Lady, in the style of the Sonnets[21]; the young man is very much in love with her; andI am no doubt a sentimental old fool in having some feelings for the stupid young man who is walking round the Grange;and I was getting thoughts that this village was ideal,when suddenly the thunderbolt fell. And I, who am the only person who ever had any sympathy with these people, am sent down to be the messenger of doom[22].’

‘Yes,’ said Father Brown, ‘and why were you sent down?’

The doctor answered with a sort of sigh:

‘Mrs Maltravers is not only a widow, but she is the widow of Mr Maltravers.’

‘It sounds like a shockingnews, as you put it,’ said the priest seriously.

‘And Mr Maltravers,’ continued his medical friend, ‘was the man who was probably murdered in this very village[23]a year or two ago; supposed to have been hit on the head by one of the simple villagers.’

‘I remember you told me,’ said Father Brown. ‘The doctor, or some doctor, said he had probably died of being hit on the head with a club.’

Dr Mulborough was silent for a moment frowning, and then said sharply:

‘Dog doesn’t eat dog, and doctors don’t bite doctors, not even when they are mad doctors. I wouldn’t cast any reflection on the previous doctor in Potter’s Pond, if I could avoid it[24]; but I know you are really safe for secrets[25]. And, speaking in confidence[26], my predecessor at Potter’s Pond was a great fool; a drunken old idiot and absolutely incompetent. I was asked, originally by the Chief Constable of the County (for I’ve lived a long time in the county, though only lately in the village), to look into the whole case; the evidence and papers of the investigation and so on. And there simply isn’t any question about it[27]. Maltravers may have been hit on the head; he was a traveling actor passing through the place; and Potter’s Pond probably thinks it is all in the natural order that such people should be hit on the head. But whoever hit him on the head did not kill him[28]; it is simply impossible for such injury to do more than knock him out for a few hours. But lately I have managed to turn up some other facts concerning the matter; and the result of it is pretty dark.’

He sat looking at the landscape as it fell past the window, and then said more sharply:‘I am coming down here, and asking your help, because there’s going to be an exhumation. They think that he has been poisoned.’

‘And here we are at the station,’ said Father Brown happily. ‘I suppose your idea is that poisoning the poor man would be among the household tasks of his wife.’

‘Well, there never seems to have been anyone else here[29] who had any connection with him,’ said Mulborough, as they got off the train. ‘At least there is one strange old friendof his, a broken-down actor, hanging around; but the police and the local lawyer seem sure thathe is an unbalanced gossiper; with some obsession on an argument with an actor who was his enemy; but who certainly wasn’t Maltravers. A repeating case, I should say, and certainly nothing to do with the problem of the poison.’

Father Brown had heard the story. But he knew that he never knew a story until he knew the characters in the story[30]. He spent the next two or three days visitingthe main actors of the drama. His first interview with the strange widow was short but bright. He brought away from it at least two facts; one that Mrs Maltravers sometimes talked in a way which the Victorian village would call sarcastic; and, second, that unlike few actresses, she happened to belong to his own church[31].

 

He was right not to figure out from this alone that she was innocent of the said crime. He knew well that his old church had several notable poisoners. But he easily understood its connection, in this sort of case, with a certain intellectual liberty which these Puritans would call immorality; and which would certainly seem to them to be almost cosmopolitan. Anyhow, he was sure she could count for a great deal, whether for good or evil. Her brown eyes were brave to the point of battle, and her mouth, playful and rather large, suggested that her purposes touching the priest’s poetical son, whatever they might be[32], were of pretty deep nature.

The priest’s poetical son himself, asked during vast village scandal on a bench outside the Blue Lion, gave an impression of low mood. Hurrel Horner, a son of the Rev.[33] Samuel Horner, was a strong young man in a light grey suit with a touch of something extravagant in a light green tie, in other casesmainly notable for his brown hair and a permanent grimace on his face. But Father Brown had a way with him in getting people to explain at length why they didn’t want to say anything. About the general gossiping in the village, the young man began to curse freely. He even added a little gossip of his own. He told with anger about some past relationship between the Puritan Miss Carstairs-Carew and Mr Carver the lawyer. He even accused that legal character of having attempted to force himself[34]to befriend with Mrs Maltravers. But when he came to speak of his own father, whether out of good manners or loyalty, or because his anger was too deep for speech, he said only a few words.

‘Well, there it is. He holds to the opinion that she is anadventuress; a sort of barmaid with golden hair. I tell him she’s not; you’ve met her yourself, and you know she’s not. But he won’t even meet her. He won’t even see her in the street or look at her out of a window. An actress would make his house and even his holy presence dirty. If he is called a Puritan he says he’s proud to be a Puritan.’

‘Your father,’ said Father Brown, ‘is supposed to have his views respected, whatever they are; they are not views I understand very well myself[35]. But I agree he is not supposed to say anything about a lady he has never seen and then refuse even to look at her, to see if he is right. That is illogical.’

‘That’s his strongest point,’ replied the young man. ‘Not even one quick meeting. Of course, he is against my other theatrical tastes as well.’

Father Brown quickly followed up the new opening, and learnt much that he wanted to know. The young man was almost entirely into dramatic poetry. He had written tragedies in verse which had been liked by good judges. He was no fool with fear of stage; indeed he was no fool of any kind. He had some really original ideas about acting Shakespeare; it was easy to understand his having been extremely glad by finding the brilliant lady[36] at the Grange. And even the priest’s intellectual sympathy softenedthe rebelof Potter’s Pond so much that at their parting[37] he actually smiled.

It was that smile which made Father Brown realize that the young man was really unhappy. So long as he frowned, it might well have been only low spirit[38]; but when he smiled it was somehow a more real sign of sadness.

The priest continued to think about that conversation with the poet. An inner feeling told himthat the strong young man was eaten from within by some grief[39]greater even than the ordinary story of ordinary parents being a difficultyto the course of true love. It was all the more so, because there were not any other reasons. The boy already had literary and dramatic success; his books might be said to be very popular. Nor did he drink or spend away his well-earned money[40]. At his well-knownvisits at the Blue Lion he drank only one glass of light ale; and he seemed to be rather careful with his money. Father Brown thought of another possible difficulty in connection with Hurrel’s large earnings and small expenses; and his brow darkened[41].

The conversation of Miss Carstairs-Carew, on whom he called next[42], was made to paint the priest’s son in the darkest colours[43]. But because it was about him having all the vices which Father Brown was quite sure the young man did not have[44], he put it down to a usualmix of Puritanism and gossip. The lady, though big, was quite elegant, however, and offered the visitor a small glass of port-wine and a piece of seed-cake, in the manner of everybody’s oldest great-aunts, before he managed to avoid a speech about the general fall of morals and manners[45].

His next place of visit was very much of a contrast[46]; because he went down a dark and dirty street, where Miss Carstairs-Carew would have refused to follow him; and then into a small house made noisier by a high voice on a top floor… From this he left, with a rather confused expression along with a very excited man who had a blue chin and a black with a trace of bottle-green jacket, shouting loudly:‘He did not disappear! Maltravers never disappeared! He appeared:he appeared dead and I’ve appeared alive. But where’s all the rest of the company? Where’s that man, that monster, who on purposestole my lines, spoiled my best scenes and ruined my career? I was the best Tubal that ever walked the stage. He played Shylock – he didn’t need to act much for that! And so with the greatest opportunity of my whole career[47]. I could show you cuttings from newspapers[48] on my acting of Fortinbras – ’

‘I’m quite sure they were great and very well-deserved,’ said the little priest. ‘I understood the company had left the village before Maltravers died. But it’s all right. It’s quite all right.’ And he began to walk down the street with speed again.

He was to act Polonius[49],’ continued the unstoppable speakerbehind him. Father Brown suddenly stopped dead[50].

‘Oh,’ he said very slowly, ‘he was to act Polonius.’

‘That villain Hankin!’ screamed the actor. ‘Follow him. Follow him to the ends of the earth[51]! Of course he’d left the village; trust him for that[52]. Follow him – find him; and may the curses – ’But the priest was again running away down the street.

Two much simpler and perhaps more practical conversations were after this emotional scene. First the priest went into the bank, where he spent ten minutes with the manager; and then made a very polite call to the old and nice clergyman. Here again all seemed very much as described, without changeand that cannot be changedas one might think; a touch or two of faith from more harsh traditions, in the small crucifix on the wall, the big Bible on the bookshelf and the old gentleman starting with regret that people don’t respect Sunday enough; but all with a flavour of politeness, a little delicacy and style.

The clergyman also gave his guest a glass of port-wine; but with it he gave an old British biscuit instead of seed-cake. The priest had again the weird feeling that everything was almost too perfect, and that he was living a century before his time. Only on one point the nice old clergyman refused to be nicer than that; he kindly but firmly said that he would not meet a stage player. However, Father Brown put down his glass of port-wine with thanks; and went off to meet his friend the doctor at the corner of the street; from wherethey were to go together to the offices of Mr Carver, the lawyer.

‘I suppose your trip was not interesting,’ began the doctor, ‘and you've found it a very boring village.’

Father Brown’s reply was quick and almost shrill. ‘Don’t call your village boring. I am sure it’s a very unusual village indeed[53].’

‘I’ve been working with the only unusual thing that ever happened here, I should think,’ noticed Dr Mulborough. ‘And even that happened to somebody from outside. I may tell you they managed the exhumation quietly last night; and I did the autopsy this morning. In plain words we’ve been digging up a body that’s simply full of poison.’

‘A body full of poison,’ repeated Father Brown. ‘Believe me, your village has something much more unusual than that.’

There was sudden silence, and then also a sudden sound of the old bell on the doorstep of the lawyer’s house; and that legal gentleman invited them in, and he presented them to a white-haired, yellow-faced gentleman with a scar, who was the Admiral.

By this time the atmosphere of the village stuck hard in the mindof the little priest; but he knew that the lawyer was indeed the sort of lawyer who gives advice to people like Miss Carstairs-Carew. But though he was an old bird, he looked like something more than that. Perhaps it was becauseof the uniformity of background; but the priest had again the strange feeling that he himself was put back into the early nineteenth century, rather than that the lawyer had survived into the early twentieth[54]. His collar and tie looked almost like a pillar as he put his long chin into them; but they were clean and neat; and there was even something about him of anold dandy. In short, he was what is called well-preserved, even if partly by being like a stone.

The lawyer and the Admiral, and even the doctor, showed some surprise on finding that Father Brown was rather ready to defend the priest’s son[55]against the local complaints on the side of the priest.

1was but one of the many riddles – загадка… была лишь одной из многих загадок
2were eventually solved in solving the mystery – которые были разгаданы, когда тайна открылась
3he had been overheard apparently arguing – слышали, как он якобы ругался
4though probably only made with some sort of club – хотя и был нанесен всего лишь какой-то дубинкой
5there was something rich and fruity about his body shape and rather red face – было что-то насыщенное и сочное в его телосложении и довольно красном лице
6In spite of the somewhat heavy appearance of the doctor – Несмотря на несколько тяжеловесный внешний вид доктора
7a man of very remarkable sense – человеком поразительного ума
8whom he get familiar with over a poisoning case long ago – с которым он давно познакомился во время дела об отравлении
9The spinsters are really spinsters – damn it, you could almost see them spin – Старые девы действительно пряхи – черт побери, можно практически видеть, как они прядут.
10who is just like a Dickens illustration – который вылитая иллюстрация к Диккенсу
11expressions as lively as anything in the Bible – выражения столь же хлесткие, как в Библии
12Bright Young Things – золотая молодежь
13Need I say – Нужно ли упоминать
14It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular – Было бы необычно, будь сын священника обычным
15is next door to – недалеко от
16she keeps to herself – она сторонится людей
17All the old ladies having been born this very minute – Эти старые дамы, надо полагать, сами только родились
18I think she is said to have vamped the priest’s son – Небось говорят, что она кровь сосет из сына священника?
19Why in thunder – Почему, черт возьми
20Never mind why – Неважно, почему
21in the style of the Sonnets – в духе сонетов [Имеются в виду, например, Шекспировские сонеты – прим. авт. – сост. ]
22And I, who am the only person who ever had any sympathy with these people, am sent down to be the messenger of doom – И я, единственный, кто всегда сочувствовал этим людям, ниспослан, как глашатай рока.
23in this very village – в этом самом селе
24I wouldn’t cast any reflection on the previous doctor in Potter’s Pond, if I could avoid it – я бы не стал бросать тень на предыдущего доктора Поттерс Понда, если бы мог избежать этого
25you are really safe for secrets – вам можно доверять секреты
26speaking in confidence – говоря по секрету
27And there simply isn’t any question about it – Здесь не в чем сомневаться
28But whoever hit him on the head did not kill him – Кто бы ни ударил его по голове, он не убил его
29there never seems to have been anyone else here – кажется, тут никогда не было кого-либо ещё
30But he knew that he never knew a story until he knew the characters in the story – Но он знал, что никогда не понял бы всю историю, если бы не познакомился с ее персонажами
31she happened to belong to his own church – оказалось, что она принадлежит к его (католической) церкви
32whatever they might be – какими бы они ни были
33Rev. – преподобный (reverend)
34He even accused that legal character of having attempted to force himself – Он даже обвинил этого юриста в том, что тот и сам пытался
35they are not views I understand very well myself – это не те взгляды, которые я сам хорошо понимаю
36it was easy to understand his having been extremely glad by finding the brilliant lady – легко было понять его безмерную радость от того, что он нашел прекрасную даму
37at their parting – при расставании
38So long as he frowned, it might well have been only low spirit – Пока он хмурился, казалось, что причиной тому плохое настроение
39was eaten from within by some grief – его изнутри пожирало какое-то горе
40Nor did he drink or spend away his well-earned money – Он также не пропил и не растратил свои честно заработанные деньги
41his brow darkened – он нахмурился
42on whom he called next – которую он навестил затем
43was made to paint the priest’s son in the darkest colours – явно должен был послужить тому, чтобы выставить сына священника в негативном свете
44But because it was about him having all the vices which Father Brown was quite sure the young man did not have – Но поскольку разговор был о том, что он [сын священника] обладал всеми грехами, которые, как полагал отец Браун, не были ему свойственны
45before he managed to avoid a speech about the general fall of morals and manners – прежде чем ему удалось прервать монолог о повсеместном упадке нравов и манер
46His next place of visit was very much of a contrast – Место, которое он посетил затем, было полной противоположностью
47And so with the greatest opportunity of my whole career – И так [поступают] с величайшей возможностью всей моей карьеры.
48cuttings from newspapers – вырезки из газет
49He was to act Polonius – Он должен был играть Полония ((персонаж из «Гамлета» У. Шекспира))
50stopped dead – остановился как вкопанный
51Follow him to the ends of the earth – Следуйте за ним до края земли!
52Of course he’d left the village; trust him for that – Конечно, он бы покинул село; уж он-то точно
53it’s a very unusual village indeed – это действительно очень необычное село.
54he himself was put back into the early nineteenth century, rather than that the lawyer had survived into the early twentieth – он сам был помещен в начало девятнадцатого века, нежели адвокат дожил до начала двадцатого.
55showed some surprise on finding that Father Brown was rather ready to defend the priest’s son – удивились, узнав, что отец Браун был готов защищать сына священника
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