Mystery of the Golden Dagger (перевод рассказа)
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перевод всего рассказа Жака Фатрелла объёмом 22 страницы
“ALL animals have the same appetites and the same passions. The reasoning faculty is the one thing which lifts man above what we are pleased to call the lower animals. Logic is the essence of the reasoning faculty. Therefore logic is that power which enables the mind of man to reconstruct from one fact a series of incidents leading to a given result. One result may be as surely traced back to its causes as the specialist may reconstruct a skeleton from a fraction of bone.”
Thus clearly, pointedly Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen had once explained to Hutchinson Hatch, reporter, the analytical power by which he had solved some of the most perplexing mysteries that had ever come to the attention of either the police or the press. It was a text from which sermons might be preached. No one knew this better than Hatch.
Professor Van Dusen is the foremost logician of his time. His name has been honored at home and abroad until now it embraces as honorary initials nearly all those letters which had not been included in it in the first place. The Thinking Machine! This phrase applied once in a newspaper to the scientist had clung tenaciously. It was the name by which he was known to the world at large.
In a dozen ways he had proved his right to it. Hatch remembered vividly the scientist’s mysterious disappearance from a prison cell once; then there had been the famous automobile mystery, and more lately the strange chain of circumstances whose history has been written as “The Scarlet Thread.” This little text, as given above, was one afternoon, when Hatch had casually called on The Thinking Machine. It transpired that a few hours later he had returned to lay before the logician still another mystery.
On his return to his office Hatch had been dispatched in a rush on a murder story. In following up the threads of this he had learned every fact the police had, had written his story, and then presented himself at the Beacon Hill home of The Thinking Machine. It was then 11 o’clock at night. The Thinking Machine had received him, and the facts, in substance, were laid before him as follows:
A man who had given the name of Charles Wilkes called at the real estate office of Henry Holmes & Co., on Washington Street on October 14, just thirty-two days prior to the beginning of the story, as Hatch recited it. He was a man of possibly thirty years, stalwart, good-looking and clean-cut in appearance. There had been nothing about him to attract particular attention. He had said that he was eastern agent for a big manufacturing concern, and travelled a great deal.
“I want a six or seven room house in Cambridge,” he had explained. “Something quiet, where I won’t have too many neighbors. My wife is extremely nervous, and I want to get a couple of blocks from the street cars. If you have a house, say in the middle of a big lot somewhere in the outskirts of Cambridge, I think that will do.”
“What price?” a clerk had asked.
“Anywhere from $45 to $60,” he replied.
It just happened that Henry Holmes & Co. had such a house. An office man went with Mr. Wilkes to see it. Mr. Wilkes was pleased and paid the first month’s rent of $60 to the man who had accompanied him....
“All men are fools when they kill people,” said The Thinking Machine. “They are frightened, half-witted, and do all kinds of inexplicable things. Suppose there had been a sudden violent noise in the house, made by one of his pals just at the moment the girl fell backward, covering the knife with her body. The murderer might have run, leaving it where it was. I don’t state this as a fact, but as a strong probability. He might have intended to return for the knife, but if he had meanwhile been arrested, as Blake and Johnson were, this would have been impossible. I think that is all.”
“Why is it that Mr. Wilkes did not see the stolen goods when he went to look at the house?” asked the chief.
“Because they were in the cellar. You didn’t go into the cellar, did you, Mr. Wilkes?”
“No; oh, no,” Wilkes replied.
“And remember, the girl wasn’t in the house then,” The Thinking Machine added. “She went to answer the advertisement which appeared after Mr. Wilkes had rented the house.”
Then Hutchinson Hatch, who had been an interested listener, had a question.
“Why did you ask Mr. Wilkes if he had ever seen the knife or had given an order for a blade for it?”
“The blade in the dagger was of American make,” replied the scientist. “The original had been broken. Peculiarly enough the new blade was made by the cutlery company which Mr. Wilkes represents. It was not impossible, therefore, that this dagger had been in his possession.”
There was a long silence. The chief and Detective Fahey removed their half-chewed cigars and looked inquiringly at each other. Fahey shook his head—he had no questions. At last the chief turned to The Thinking Machine:
“If, as you say, Blake or Johnson killed Miss Gorham, how can we prove it? This is not proof—it is theory.”
“Simply enough. Do the men occupy the same cell in Charlestown?”
“I hardly think so. Members of a gang that way are rarely kept in the same cell.”
“In that case,” said The Thinking Machine, “let the warden go to each man and tell him that the other has turned state’s evidence, accusing his pal of the murder.”
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