DOC

1 The Picture

By Hector Powell,2014-05-19 08:37
13 views 0
1 The Picture

     For several years Mr Williams worked for the museum at the University of Oxfordenlarging its already famous collection of drawings and pictures of English country houses and churches~It

    is hard to imagine anything less alarming than collecting pictures of houses and churchesbut Mr

    Williams found that even this peaceful work had its unexpected dark corners~

     He bought many pictures for the museum from the London shop of Mr J~W~Britnell~Twice

    a year Mr Britnell sent a list of pictures to all his regular customerswho could then choose which pictures they wanted to look at before deciding whether to buy~

     In February 1895 Mr Williams received a list from Mr Britnell with the following letter?

     Dear Sir

     I think you might be interested in Picture Number 978 in our listwhich I will be happy to send to you if you wish~

     J~W~Britnell

     Mr Williams turned to Number 978 in the list and found the following note?

     Number 978~Artist unknown~Picture of an English country houseearly nineteenth century~25 centimetres by 40 centimetres~?20~

     It did not sound very interesting and the price seemed high~ HoweverMr Williams added it to the pictures that he asked Mr Britnell to send to him~

     The pictures arrived at the museum one Saturday afternoon just after Mr Williams had left~They were brought round to his rooms in college so that he could look at them over the

    weekend~Mr Williams found them on his table when he and his friendMr Binkscame in to have tea~

     Picture Number978 showed the front of quite a large country house~It had three rows of windows with the door in the middle of the bottom row~There were trees on both sides of the house and a large lawn in front of it~The letters A~W~F~ were written in the corner of the picture~Mr Williams thought that it was not very well doneprobably the work of an amateur artistand he could not understand why Mr Britnell thought it was worth twenty pounds~He

    turned it over and saw that there was a piece of paper on the back with part of a name on it~All he

    could read were the ends of two lines of Writing The first said'ngly Hall'?the second'ssex'~

     Mr Williams thought that it would be interesting to see if he could find the name of the house

    in one of his guidebooks be fore sending the picture back on Monday morning~ Meanwhile

    he put the picture on the tablelit the lamp because it was now getting darkand made the tea~

     While they were having teahis friend picked up the picturelooked at it and saidWhere's

this house Williams?'

     'That's just what I was going to find out'said Williams taking a book from the shelf~'If you

    look at the backyou'll see it's Something Hall in either Essex or Sussex~Half the name's missing

    you see~I don't suppose you recognize the housedo you?'

     'NoI don't'said Mr Binks~'It's from Britnell'I supposeisn't it?Is it for the museum?

    '

     'WellI would buy it if the price was two pounds'replied Mr Williams'but for some reason

    he wants twenty pounds for it~I can't think why~It's not a very good picture and there aren't even any figures in it to make it more interesting~'

     'I agree it's not worth twenty pounds'said Binks'but I don't think it's too bad~The light

    seems rather good to me and I think there is a figure herejust at the edgein the front~'

     'Let me see'said Williams~'Wellit's true the light is quite well done~Where's the figure?

    OhyesJust the head in the very front of the picture~'

     And indeed there was——right on the edge of the picture just the head of a man or a womanwho was looking towards the house~Williams had not noticed it before~

     'Still'he said'though it's better than I thought at first I can't spend twenty pounds of the museum's money on a picture of a house I don't even know~'

     Mr Binkswho had some work to finishsoon left and Mr Williams spent the time before dinner trying to find the name of the house in his guidebooks~

     'If I knew the letter before the“—ngly”:'he said to himself'it would be easy enough~But

    there are many more names ending in“—nglythan I thought~'

     Dinner in Mr Williams'college was at seven o'clock and afterwards a few of his friends came

    back to his rooms to play cards~During a pause in the game Mr Williams picked up the picture from the table without looking at it and passed it to a man named Garwoodwho was interested in

    pictures~Garwood looked at it and said?

     'This is really a very fine pictureyou knowWilliams~ The light is very well donein my

    opinionand though the figure is rather unpleasantit is quite interesting~'

     'Yesisn't it?'said Williamswho was too busy giving drinks to his guests to look at the picture again~

     When his visitors had goneWilliams had to finish writing a letterso it was after midnight

    before he was ready to go to bed~The picture lay face upwards on the table where Garwood had

    left it andas Williams was putting out the lamphe saw it~For a moment he was too surprised to movethen he slowly picked up the picture and stared at it in horror~In the middle of the lawn

    in front of the unknown housethere was a figure where there had been no figure earlier~It was

    crawling on hands and knees towards the houseand it was covered in a strange black garment with a white cross on the back~

     After a second or two Mr Williams took the picture by one corner and carried it to an empty

    room~Therehe locked it face downwardsin a cupboardthen closed and locked the door of the empty room~He went back to his own room and locked the door behind him~Before going to

    bedhe sat down and wrote a note describing in detail the extraordinary change in the picture since

    he had received it~

     He was glad to remember that Mr Garwoodwho had looked at the picture earlier in the eveninghad also seen a 'rather unpleasant'figure~He decided that in the morning he must ask someone to look carefully at the picture with him and he must try very hard to discover the name of the house~ He would ask his neighbourMr Nisbetto have breakfast with him~Then he would

    spend the morning looking for the house in his guidebooks~

     Mr Nisbet arrived at nine o'clock and the two men sat down to breakfast~When they had

    finishedMr Williamsfeeling both nervous and excitedhurried to the empty room~He unlocked

    the cupboardtook out the picturestill face down- wardsandwithout looking at itwent back

    to his own room and put it into Nisbet's hands~

     'NowNisbet'he said'I want you to tell me what you see in that picture~Describe itplease

    in detail~I'll tell you why afterwards~'

     'Well'said Nisbet'I have here a picture of an English country house by moonlight~'

     'Moonligh?Are you sure?'

     'Ohyes~The moon is shown quite clearly and there are clouds in the sky~'

     'All right~Go on~But I'm sure'added Williams quietly 'that there was no moon when I first saw it~'

     'Wellthere's not much more I can say'Nisbet continued~ 'The house has three rows of windowsfive in each rowexcept at the bottomwhere there's a door instead of the middle one and'

     'But what about figures?'said Williams with great interest~

     'Figures?'replied Nisbet~'There aren't any~'

     'What?No figure on the grass in front?'

     'No~Not a thing~'

     'Are you sure?'

     'Of course I am~But there's one other thing~'

     'What's that?'

     'One of me windows on the ground flooron the left of the dooris open~'

     'Is it really?Oh dearI suppose he's got into the house' said Williamswith great

    excitement~

     He hurried across to where Nisbet was sitting andtaking the picture from himsaw for

    himself~It was quite true~ There was no figure on the lawnand there was the open win- dow~

     For a moment williams was too surprised to speakthen he sat down at his desk and wrote for a few minutes~When he had finishedhe brought two papers across to Nisbet~He asked him to

    sign the first onewhich was Nisbet's own de scription of the picturethen to read the other onewhich was the note Williams had written the night before~

     'What can it all mean?'asked Nisbet~

     'That's what I must find out'said Williams~'Nowthere are three things I must do~First

    I must ask Garwood exactly what he saw when he looked at the picture last nightthen I must have the picture photographed before it goes any further andthirdlyI must find out where this house is~'

     'I can take the photograph for you myself'said Nisbet~ 'Butyou knowI think we are

    seeing something terrible happening here~The question ishas it already happened or is it going to happen?You really must find out where this house is~'He looked at the picture again and shook his head~'I think you are rightyou know~He has got in~I'm sure there will be some trouble in that house~'

     'I'll tell you what I'll do'said Williams~'I'll show the picture to old Doctor Green~He grew

    up in Essex and he often goes to Sussex to see his brother who lives there~He's been going there for years~He must know both places quite well~'

     'That's a very good idea'agreed Nisbet~'But I think I heard Green say that he was going away this weekend~'

     'You're rightsaid Williams~'I remember nowhe's gone to Brighton for the weekend~I'll

    leave a note asking him to see me as soon as he returns~Meanwhileyou take the picture and

photograph it and I'll see Garwood and ask him what he saw when he looked at it last night~'He

    paused~'You know'he added'I don't think twenty pounds is too much to ask for this picture

    after all~'

     In a short time Williams returned to his roombringing Mr Garwood with him~Mr Garwood

    said that when he had looked at the picture the figure was just starting to crawl across the lawn~He

    remembered that it was wearing a black garment with something white on the backhe was not

    sure if it was a cross~While he was writing this downMr Nisbet returned and said that he had photographed the picture~

     'What are you going to do nowWilliams?'asked Mr Gar wood~'Are you going to sit and watch the picture all day?'

     'NoI don't think we need to do that'replied Williams~

     'You seethere has been plenty of time since I looked at it last night for the creature in the

    picture to finish what he wants to dobut he has only gone into the house~The window is open and he must still be in there~I think he wants us to see what happens next~AnywayI don't think the

    picture will change much during the day~I suggest that we all go for a walk after lunch and come back here for tea~I'll leave the picture on my table and lock the door~My servant has a key and can get in if he wants tobut nobody else can~'

     The others agreed that this was a good plan~They also wanted to avoid talking to anyone about this extraordinary pictureknowing what excitement and argument it would cause~

     At about five o'clock they came back to Mr Williams' rooms for tea~When they entered the roomthey were surprised to find Mr Filcherthe servantsitting in Mr Williams' armchair and staring in horror at the picture on the table~Mr Filcher had worked in the college for many years and had never before behaved in so unusual a way~He seemed to feel this himselfand tried to

    jump to his feet when the three men came in~

     'I'm sorrysir'he said~'I didn't mean to sit down~'

     'That's all rightRobert'said Mr Williams~'I was going to ask you some time what you thought of that picture~'

     'Wellsir'replied the servant'of courseI don't really understand picturesbut I wouldn't

    like my little girl to see it~I'm sure it would give her bad dreams~It doesn't seem the right kind of picture to leave lying around~It could frighten anybodyseeing that awful thing carrying off the poor baby~ That's what I thinksir~Will you need me any more today sir?Thank yousir~'

     Filcher left the room and the three men went at once to look at the picture~There was the

    house as beforeunder the moon and the clouds~But the window that had been open was now shutand the figure was once more on the lawn?but not crawling this time~Now it was walking

    with long stepsto wards the front of the picture~The moon was behind it and the black material of its garment nearly covered its face~The three men were deeply thankful that they could see no more of the face than a highwhite forehead and a few longthin hairs~Its legs beneath the

    garment were borribly thinand its arms held something which seemed to be a childwhether dead

    or living it was not possible to say~

     The three friends watched the picture until it was time for dinner but it did not change at

    all~They hurried back to Williams'rooms as soon as dinner was finished~The picture was where

    they had left itbut the figure had goneand the house was quiet under the moon and the clouds~

     'Well'said Mr Williams'now we really must try to find where this house is~'They got out

    the guidebooks and began to work~

     It was nearly two hours later when Williams suddenly cried 'HaThis looks like it'

     He read aloud from the Cuide to Essex that he was holding?

     'Anningly~Interesting twelfthcentury church containing the tombs of the Francis family

    whose homeAnningly Hall stands just behind the church~The family is now extinct~The last

    member of the family disappeared very mysteriously in 1802 while still a child~His fatherSir

    Arthur Francisa wellknown amateur artistlived quite alone after that until he was found dead in his house three years laterafter he had just completed a picture of the Hall~'

     As Mr Williams finished readingthere was a knock on the door and Doctor Green came in~He had just returned from Brighton and had found Williams'note~He agreed at once that the picture was of Anningly Hallwhich was not far from where he had grown up~

     'Have you any explanation of the figureGreen?'asked Williams~

     'I don't knowI'm sureWilliams'Doctor Green replied~

     'When I was a boysome of the old people in Anningly still used to talk about the disappearance of the Francis child~They said that Sir Arthur had a lot of trouble with some of the local people coming onto his land to steal his fish and his birds~ He decided to catch them all and have them punishedandone by one he diduntil there was only one left~This was a man called

    Gawdy whose family had once been rich and important in that part of Essex~In factsome of them

    had their tombs in the village church too~Howeverthe family had lost all their land and their money over the years and Gawdy felt rather bitter about it all~For a long time Sir Arthur could not catch him doing anything wrong until one night his men found Gawdy with some dead birds in Sir

    Arthur's woods~There was a fight and one of the men was shot~This was just what Sir Arthur needed?the judge was all on his sideof courseand poor Gawdy was hanged a few days later~People thought that some friend of Gawdy's stole Sir Arthur's little boy in revenge to put

    an end to the Francis family as well~But I should say nowthat it looks more as if old Gawdy managed the job him self~Brrrr~I don't like to think about it~Let's have a drink shall we?

'

     The story of the picture was told to a few people?some believed it and some did not~Mr Britnell knew nothing about it except that the picture was unusual in some way~It is now in the

    museum andalthough it has been carefully watchedno one has ever seen it change again~

     几年来:威廉斯先生一直在牛津大学博物馆工作:为该馆不断地增加其本已出名的有关英国乡村住房和教堂方面绘画作品的收藏。收集有关住房和教堂的绘画作品本无任何惊人之处:可威廉斯先生却发现即使是这样一项很平静的工作也有其意想不到之处。

     他从伦敦J~W~布里耐尔先生的商店为博物馆买入大量绘画作品。布里耐尔先生一年两次为其所有的老主顾们寄上一份作品目录。这样:这些老主顾们便能够选择一下他们想看看哪些作品:然后决定是否购买。

     18952月威廉斯先生接到了布里耐尔先生寄来的目录和下面这封信?

     亲爱的先生?

     我想您可能对我们目录中的第978号作品感兴趣:如果您希望:我很乐意给您寄上。

J~W~布里耐尔

     威廉斯先生翻到目录中的第978号:发现了下面的说明?

     978号:作者不详:画面为一座19世纪早期英国乡村住房:长40厘米:宽25厘米:售价20英镑。

     这幅画似乎没多大意思:而且价格似乎也偏高。可威廉斯先生还是在要求市里耐尔先生寄给他的画里加上了它。

     一个周六的下午这些作品被送到了博物馆:这时威廉斯先生刚离开。于是这些画又被转到他在学院的住所:以便周末就能让他看到。威廉斯先生和朋友宾克斯先生进屋喝茶时发现了桌子上的那些画。

     978号作品画的是一座乡村大住房的正面。房子有三排窗户:门在底部那排的中间。住房的两侧是树:前面有一大块草地:画的一角写着A~W~F~几个字母。威廉斯先生觉

    得这幅画画得不怎么样:可能出自业余画家之手:他不明白为什么布里耐尔先生觉得它值20英镑。他把画翻过来发现后面有张纸:上面写着个不完整的名字。他能看到的只有两行字的结尾:第一行为“——宁利府”:第二行为“——塞克斯”。

     威廉斯先生想看看周一上午把画寄回之前能不能在自己的某本旅行指南中找到这座房子的名字:他觉得这样做挺有意思的。他把画放在桌子上:这时天渐渐黑了:于是他点上灯:沏上了茶。

     他们喝着茶:他的朋友拿起那幅画看着问道?“威廉斯:这座房子在哪儿?”

     “我正想查找一下呢:”威廉斯先生说着从书架上取下一本书。“你看一下背面:上面写着是埃塞克斯或苏塞克斯的什么府。名字少了一半:我想你大概也不认识这座房子吧?”

     “不认识:”宾克斯先生说:“我想是布里耐尔寄来的吧?是不是要卖给博物馆?”

     “是呀:如果售价是两英镑:我会买的:”威廉斯先生说:“可不知什么原因他要20镑。我真不知这是为什么。这张画画得并不好:而且画面上连个人影都没有:没有什么看头儿。”

     “我也觉得这画不值20英镑:”宾克斯说:“不过我并不觉得它有多糟糕。我认为画中明亮部分似乎还很不错:而且我看这儿有个人:就在前部边上。”

     “我看看:”威廉斯先生说:“哦:明亮部分确实处理得不错。人在哪儿?噢:看到了,只有头部:在画面的最前部。”

     确实如此——就在画面边缘——只有一个男人或女人的头部:在看这房子。威廉斯此前并没注意到这一点。

     “不过:”他说:“虽然它比我刚开始认为的好一点儿:我还是不能把博物馆的20镑花在我居然都不知道的一所房子的画上。”

     由于手头还有事要做:宾克斯先生过了会儿就走了。吃饭前威廉斯先生试图在旅行指南中找到这幢房子的名字。

     “如果我知道'——ngly'前面的字母:”他自言自语道:“就容易多了。不过以'——ngly'结尾的名字比我想像的多得多。”

     威廉斯先生所在的学院7点钟开饭:吃完饭他的几位朋友回到他的房间打牌。中间停下来时:威廉斯先生从桌子上拿起那幅画:连看都没看就递给一位名叫加伍德的:这人对绘画很感兴趣。加伍德看了看说?

     “您看:威廉斯先生:这幅画确实很不错。我觉得画面的明亮部分处理得很好。虽然人物不那么让人愉快:不过还是挺有意思的。”

     “噢:是吗?”威廉斯先生答道:当时他正忙着给客人们倒饮料:顾不上再看那画儿一眼。

     客人们走后:威廉斯先生还得写完一封信:所以他准备上床休息时已经是后半夜了。加伍德当时是把那张画画面朝上放在桌子上的。威廉斯先生要关灯时看了它一眼。这时他惊讶得简直不能动了:接着他慢慢把它拿起来:惊恐地盯着看起来。在草坪中间:那座不知名房子的前面原来没有人的地方出现了一个人。它正朝那房子爬着:身上罩着件样子古怪、后背上带着个白十字架的黑外衣。

     一两秒钟后:威廉斯先生拎起画的一角把它拿进了一间空屋子。他把画面朝下锁在橱子里:然后把那间空屋子的门关上锁好。回到自己的房间他也随手锁上了门。上床前:他坐下来写了张条:详细描述了他收到那幅画后画面出现的奇特变化。

     想起加伍德先生傍晚看这幅画时也发现有个“不那么让人愉快”的人影:他很高兴:于是决定上午一定要再找人一起好好看看这幅画:而且他必须尽力找到这幢房子的名字。他要请邻居尼斯比特先生来和他共进早餐。然后上午的时间还是用来在旅行指南中查找这套房子。

     9点钟:尼斯比特先生来了:于是俩人坐下来吃早餐。吃完后:威廉斯先生心情紧张而激动地快步走进那间空屋子:打开橱子拿出那幅画面仍然朝下的画:连看都没看便回到他的房间:把画放进尼斯比特先生手里。

     “哎:尼斯比特:”他说:“我想让你告诉我你在这幅画里看到了什么:请详细描述一下。过会儿我会告诉你为什么要这样做。”

     “好吧:”尼斯比特说:“画面上是月光下的一座英国乡村住房。”

     “月光?你有把握吗?”

     “噢:有哇。月亮画得很清晰:天空中还有云。”

     “好吧:接着说。可我敢肯定:”威廉斯先生平静地加了一句:“我第一次看时:根本没有月亮。”

     “哦:没有什么太多可说的了:”尼斯比特接着说:“这座房子有三排窗户:每排五扇:只有底部那排例外:中间是扇门„„”

     “人呢?”威廉斯先生带着十分浓厚的兴趣问道。

     “人?”尼斯比特答道:“没有任何人呀。”

     “什么?前面草地上没有人吗?”

     “没有:什么也没有。”

     “肯定是这样吗?”

     “当然:不过还有一件事。”

     “什么事?”

     “底层的一扇窗户:门左边那扇:是开着的。”

     “真的?天呀,我想他是进了那间屋子了。”威廉斯很兴奋地说。

     他快步走到尼斯比特坐的地方:从他手中拿过画亲自看起来。草地上确实没有人:那扇窗户确实开着。

     威廉斯一时惊得说不出话来了:他坐在桌旁写了几分钟:写完后递给尼斯比特两份材料:让他在第一份上签字:这份是尼斯比特本人对这幅画的描述:然后又让他看另一份:那是威廉斯前一天晚上的记录。

     “这是怎么回事?”尼斯比特问道。

     “我也正想弄个明白:”威廉斯先生说:“现在我必须做三件事?首先:我必须问问加伍德昨天晚上他看这幅画时到底看到了什么?然后我必须在它进一步发生变化前把这幅画拍摄下来?第三:我必须弄清楚这座房子到底在哪儿。”

     “我可以帮你把这幅画拍摄下来:”尼斯比特说:“可是你知道:我觉得我们看到这里出了什么可怕的事。问题是已经出了事还是就要出事呢?你一定得弄清楚这座房子到底在哪儿。”他又看看那幅画摇了摇头:接着说?“我觉得你说得对:你看他已经进去了。我敢肯定这座房子要出什么麻烦事。”

     “告诉你我要干什么吧:”威廉斯说:“我要让格林医生看看这幅画。他在埃塞克斯长大而且经常到苏塞克斯看望住在那里的哥哥。多年来他一直去那儿:一定对这两个地方都很熟悉。”

     “这主意很好:”尼斯比特赞同道:“不过我听格林说他这个周末不在。”

     “你说得对:”威廉斯先生说:“我想起来了:他去布赖顿过周末了。我要给他留张条:让他一回来就来找我。现在你把画拿去拍照:我去找加伍德问问昨天晚上他在这幅画里看到了什么?”他停了一下:又加了一句?“你知道:不管怎么说:我觉得这幅画要价20英镑并不高。”

     威廉斯很快便带着加伍德回到了自己的房间。加伍德先生说他看那画时:那人影刚刚开始向草地爬行。他记得它穿的是件背上有个什么白色东西的黑外衣:他不清楚那东西是不是个十字架。他正写着这些情况时:尼斯比特先生回来了:他说他已经把画拍照下来了。

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com