哈利·波特与火焰杯
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


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    CHAPTER ONE - THE RIDDLE HOUSE
    
    The villagers of Little Hangleron still called it "the Riddle House," even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there. It stood on a hill overlooking the village, some of its windows boarded, tiles missing from its roof, and ivy spreading unchecked over its face. Once a fine-looking manor, and easily the largest and grandest building for miles around, the Riddle House was now damp, derelict, and unoccupied.
    The Little Hagletons all agreed that the old house was "creepy." Half a century ago, something strange and horrible had happened there, something that the older inhabitants of the village still liked to discuss when topics for gossip were scarce.
    The story had been picked over so many times, and had been embroidered in so many places, that nobody was quite sure what the truth was anymore. Every version of the tale, however, started in the same place: Fifty years before, at daybreak on a fine summer's morning when the Riddle House had still been well kept and impressive, a maid had entered the drawing room to find all three Riddles dead.
    The maid had run screaming down the hill into the village and roused as many people as she could.
    "Lying there with their eyes wide open! Cold as ice! Still in their dinner things!"
    The police were summoned, and the whole of Little Hangleton had seethed with shocked curiosity and ill-disguised excitement. Nobody wasted their breath pretending to feel very sad about the Riddles, for they had been most unpopular. Elderly Mr. and Mrs.
    Riddle had been rich, snobbish, and rude, and their grown-up son, Tom, had been, if anything, worse. All the villagers cared about was the identity of their murderer -- for plainly, three apparently healthy people did not all drop dead of natural causes on the same night.
    The Hanged Man, the village pub, did a roaring trade that night; the whole village seemed to have turned out to discuss the murders. They were rewarded for leaving their firesides when the Riddles' cook arrived dramatically in their midst and announced to the suddenly silent pub that a man called Frank Bryce had just been arrested.
    "Frank!" cried several people. "Never!"
    Frank Bryce was the Riddles' gardener. He lived alone in a run-down cottage on the grounds of the Riddle House. Frank had come back from the war with a very stiff leg and a great dislike of crowds and loud noises, and had been working for the Riddles ever since.
    There was a rush to buy the cook drinks and hear more details.
    "Always thought he was odd," she told the eagerly listening villagers, after her fourth sherry. "Unfriendly, like. I'm sure if I've offered him a cuppa once, I've offered it a hundred times. Never wanted to mix, he didn't."
    "Ah, now," said a woman at the bar, "he had a hard war, Frank. He likes the quiet life. That's no reason to --"
    "Who else had a key to the back door, then?" barked the cook. "There's been a spare key hanging in the gardener's cottage far back as I can remember! Nobody forced the door last night! No broken windows! All Frank had to do was creep up to the big house while we was all sleeping..."
    The villagers exchanged dark looks.
    "I always thought that he had a nasty look about him, right enough," grunted a man at the bar.
    "War turned him funny, if you ask me," said the landlord.
    "Told you I wouldn't like to get on the wrong side of Frank, didn't I, Dot?" said an excited woman in the corner.
    "Horrible temper," said Dot, nodding fervently. "I remember, when he was a kid..."
    By the following morning, hardly anyone in Little Hangleton doubted that Frank Bryce had killed the Riddles.
    But over in the neighboring town of Great Hangleton, in the dark and dingy police station, Frank was stubbornly repeating, again and again, that he was innocent, and that the only person he had seen near the house on the day of the Riddles' deaths had been a teenage boy, a stranger, dark-haired and pale. Nobody else in the village had seen any such boy, and the police were quite sure Frank had invented him.
    Then, just when things were looking very serious for Frank, the report on the Riddles' bodies came back and changed everything.
    The police had never read an odder report. A team of doctors had examined the bodies and had concluded that none of the Riddles had been poisoned, stabbed, shot, strangles, suffocated, or (as far as they could tell) harmed at all. In fact (the report continued, in a tone of unmistakable bewilderment), the Riddles all appeared to be in perfet health -- apart from the fact that they were all dead. The doctors did note (as though determined to find something wrong with the bodies) that each of the Riddles had a look of terror upon his or her face -- but as the frustrated police said, whoever heard of three people being frightened to death?
    As there was no proof that the Riddles had been murdered at all, the police were forced to let Frank go. The Riddles were buried in the Little Hangleton churchyard, and their graves remained objects of curiosity for a while. To everyone's surprise, and amid a cloud of suspicion, Frank Bryce returned to his cottage on the grounds of the Riddle House.
    "'S far as I'm concerned, he killed them, and I don't care what the police say,"
    said Dot in the Hanged Man. "And if he had any decency, he'd leave here, knowing as how we knows he did it."
    But Frank did not leave. He stayed to tend the garden for the next family who lived in the Riddle House, and then the next -- for neither family stayed long. Perhaps it was partly because of Frank that the new owners said there was a nasty feeling about the place, which, in the absence of inhabitants, started to fall into disrepair.
    The wealthy man who owned the Riddle House these days neither lived there nor put it to any use; they said in the village that he kept it for "tax reasons," though nobody was very clear what these might be. The wealthy owner continued to pay Frank to do the gardening, however. Frank was nearing his seventy-seventh birthday now, very deaf, his bad leg stiffer than ever, but could be seen pottering around the flower beds in fine weather, even though the weeds were starting to creep up on him, try as he might to suppress them.
    Weeds were not the only things Frank had to contend with either. Boys from the village made a habit of throwing stones through the windows of the Riddle House. They rode their bicycles over the lawns Frank worked so hard to keep smooth. Once or twice, they broke into the old house for a dare. They knew that old Frank's devotion to the house and the grounds amounted almost to an obsession, and it amused them to see him limping across the garden, brandishing his stick and yelling croakily at them. Frank, for his part, believed the boys tormented him because they, like their parents and grandparents, though him a murderer. So when Frank awoke one night in August and saw something very odd up at the old house, he merely assumed that the boys had gone one step further in their attempts to punish him.
    It was Frank's bad leg that woke him; it was paining him worse than ever in his old age. He got up and limped downstairs into the kitchen with the idea of refilling his hot-water bottle to ease the stiffness in his knee. Standing at the sink, filling the kettle, he looked up at the Riddle House and saw lights glimmering in its upper windows.
    Frank knew at once what was going on. The boys had broken into the house again, and judging by the flickering quality of the light, they had started a fire.
    Frank had no telephone, in any case, he had deeply mistrusted the police ever since they had taken him in for questioning about the Riddles' deaths. He put down the kettle at once, hurried back upstairs as fast as his bad leg would allow, and was soon back in his kitchen, fully dressed and removing a rusty old key from its hook by the door. He picked up his walking stick, which was propped against the wall, and set off into the night.
    The front door of the Riddle House bore no sign of being forced, nor did any of the windows. Frank limped around to the back of the house until he reached a door almost completely hidden by ivy, took out the old key, put it into the lock, and opened the door noiselessly.
    He let himself into the cavernous kitchen. Frank had not entered it for many years; nevertheless, although it was very dark, he remembered where the door into the hall was, and he groped his way towards it, his nostrils full of the smell of decay, ears pricked for any sound of footsteps or voices from overhead. He reached the hall, which was a little lighter owing to the large mullioned windows on either side of the front door, and started to climb the stairs, blessing the dust that lay thick upon the stone, because it muffled the sound of his feet and stick.
    On the landing, Frank turned right, and saw at once where the intruders were: At the every end of the passage a door stood ajar, and a flickering light shone through the gap, casting a long sliver of gold across the black floor. Frank edged closer and closer, he was able to see a narrow slice of the room beyond.
    The fire, he now saw, had been lit in the grate. This surprised him. Then he stopped moving and listened intently, for a man's voice spoke within the room; it sounded timid and fearful.
    "There is a little more in the bottle, My Lord, if you are still hungry."
    "Later," said a second voice. This too belonged to a man -- but it was strangely high-pitched, and cold as a sudden blast of icy wind. Something about that voice made the sparse hairs on the back of Frank's neck stand up. "Move me closer to the fire, Wormtail."
    Frank turned his right ear toward the door, the better to hear. There came the clink of a bottle being put down upon some hard surface, and then the dull scraping noise of a heavy chair being dragged across the floor. Frank caught a glimpse of a small man, his back to the door, pushing the chair into place. He was wearing a long black cloak, and there was a bald patch at the back of his head. Then he went out of sight again.
    "Where is Nagini?" said the cold voice.
    "I -- I don't know, My Lord," said the first voice nervously. "She set out to explore the house, I think..."
    "You will milk her before we retire, Wormtail," said the second voice. "I will need feeding in the night. The journey has tired me greatly."
    Brow furrowed, Frank inclined his good ear still closer to the door, listening very hard. There was a pause, and then the man called Wormtail spoke again.
    "My Lord, may I ask how long we are going to stay here?"
    "A week," said the cold voice. "Perhapse longer. The place is moderately comfortable, and the plan cannot proceed yet. It would be foolish to act before the Quidditch World Cup is over."
    Frank inserted a gnarled finger into his ear and rotated it. Owing, no doubt, to a buildup of earwax, he had heard the word "Quidditch," which was not a word at all.
    "The -- the Quidditch World Cup, My Lord?" said Wormtail. (Frank dug his finger still more vigorously into his ear.) "Forgive me, but -- I do not understand -- why should we wait until the World Cup is over?"
    "Because, fool, at this very moment wizards are pouring into the country from all over the world, and every meddler from the Ministry of Magic will be on duty, on the watch for signs of ususual activity, checking and double-checking identities. They will be obsessed with security, lest the Muggles notice anything. So we wait."
    Frank stopped trying to clear out his ear. He had distinctly heard the words "Ministry of Magic," "wizards," and "Muggles." Plainly, each of these expressions meant something secret, and Frank could think of only two sorts of people who would speak in code: spies and criminals. Frank tightened his hold on his walking stick once more, and listened more closely still.
    "Your Lordship is still determined, then?" Wormtail said quietly.
    "Certainly I am determined, Wormtail." There was a note of menace in the cold voice now.
    A slight pause followed -- and the Wormtail spoke, the words tumbling from him in a rush, as though he was forcing himself to say this before he lost his nerve.
    "It could be done without Harry Potter, My Lord."
    Another pause, more protracted, and then -- "Without Harry Potter?" breathed the second voice softly. "I see..."
    "My Lord, I do not say this out of concern for the boy!" said Wormtail, his voice rising squeakily. "The boy is nothing to me, nothing at all! It is merely that if we were to use another witch or wizard -- any wizard -- the thing could be done so much more quickly! If you allowed me to leave you for a short while -- you know that I can disguise myself most effectively -- I could be back here in as little as two days with a suitable person --"
    "I could use another wizard," said the cold voice softly, "that is true..."
    "My Lord, it makes sense," said Wormtail, sounding thoroughly relieved now.
    "Laying hands on Harry Potter would be so difficult, he is so well protected --"
    "And so you volunteer to go and fetch me a substitute? I wonder...perhaps the task of nursing me has become wearisome for you, Wormtail? Could this suggestion of abandoning the plan be nothing more than an attempt to desert me?"
    "My Lord! I -- I have no wish to leave you, none at all --"
    "Do not lie to me!" hissed the second voice. "I can always tell, Wormtail! You are regretting that you ever returned to me. I revolt you. I see you flinch when you look at me, feel you shudder when you touch me..."
    "No! My devotion to Your Lordship --"
    "Your devotion is nothing more than cowardice. You would not be here if you had anywhere else to go. How am I to survive without you, when I need feeding every few hours? Who is to milk Nagini?"
    "But you seem so much stronger, My Lord --"
    "Liar," breathed the second voice. "I am no stronger, and a few days alone would be enough to rob me of the little health I have regained under your clumsy care.
    Silence!"
    Wormtail, who had been sputtering incoherently, fell silent at once. For a few seconds, Frank could hear nothing but the fire crackling. The the second man spoke once more, in a whisper that was almost a hiss.
    "I have my reasons for using the boy, as I have already explained to you, and I will use no other. I have waited thirteen years. A few more months will make no difference. As for the protection surrounding the boy, I believe my plan will be effective. All that is needed is a little courage from you, Wormtail -- courage you will find, unless you wish to feel the full extent of Lord Voldermort's wrath --"
    "My Lord, I must speak!" said Wormtail, panic in his voice now. "All through our journey I have gone over the plan in my head -- My Lord, Bertha Jorkin's disappearance will not go unnoticed for long, and if we proceed, if I murder --"
    "If?" whispered the second voice. "If? If you follow the plan, Wormtail, the Ministry need never know that anyone else has died. You will do it quietly and without fuss; I only wish that i could do it myself, but in my present condition...Come, Wormtail, one more death and our path to Harry Potter is clear. I am not asking you to do it alone. By that time, my faithful serant will have rejoined us --"
    "I am a faithful servant," said Wormtail, the merest trace of sullenness in his voice.
    "Wormtail, I need somebody with brains, somebody whose loyalty has never wavered, and you, unfortunately, fulfill neither requirement."
    "I found you," said Wormtail, and there was definitely a sulky edge to his voice now. "I was the one who found you. I brought you Bertha Jorkins."
    "That is true," said the second man, sounding amused. "A stroke of brilliance I would not have thought possible from you, Wormtail -- though, if truth be told, you were not aware how useful she would be when you caught her, were you?"
    "I -- I thought she might be useful, My Lord --"
    "Liar," said the second voice again, the cruel amusement more pronounced than ever. "However, I do not deny that her information was invaluable. Without it, I could never have formed our plan, and for that, you will have your reward, Wormtail. I will allow you to perform an essential task for me, one that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform..."
    "R-really, My Lord? What -- ?" Wormtail sounded terrified again.
    "Ah, Wormtail, you don't want me to spoil the surprise? Your part will come at the very end...but I promise you, you will have the honor of being just as useful as Bertha Jorkins."
    "You...you..." Wormtail's voice suddenly sounded hoarse, as though his mouth had gone very dry. "You...are going...to kill me too?"
    "Wormtail, Wormtail," said the cold voice silkily, "why would I kill you? I killed Bertha because I had to. She was fit for nothing after my questioning, quite useless. In any case, awkward questions would have been asked if she had gone back to the Ministry with the news that she had met you on her holidays. Wizards who are supposed to be dead would do well not to run into Ministry of Magic witches at wayside inns..."
    Wormtail muttered something so quietly that Frank could not hear it, but it made the second man laugh -- an entirely mirthless laugh, cold as his speech.
    "We could have modified her memory? But Memory Charms can be broken by a powerful wizard, as I proved when I questioned her. It would be an insult to her memory not to use the information I extracted from her, Wormtail."
    Out in the corridor, Frank suddenly became aware that the hand gripping his walking stick was slippery with sweat. The man with the cold voice had killed a woman.
    He was talking about it without any kind of remorse -- with amusement. He was dangerous -- a madman. And he was planning more murders -- this boy, Harry Potter, whoever he was -- was in danger -- Frank knew what he must do. Now, if ever, was the time to go to the police. He would creep out of the house and head straight for the telephone box in the village...but the cold voice was speaking again, and Frank remained where he was, frozen to the spot, listening with all his might.
    "One more murder...my faithful servant at Hogwarts...Harry Potter is as good as mine, Wormtail. It is decided. There will be no more argument. But quiet...I think I hear Nagini..."
    And the second man's voice changed. He started making noises such as Frank had never heard before; he was hissing and spitting without drawing breath. Frank thought he must be having some sort of fit or seizure.
    And then Frank heard movement behind him in the dark passageway. He turned to look, and found himself paralyzed with fright.
    Something was slithering toward him along the dark corridor floor, and as it drew nearer to the sliver of firelight, he realized with a thrill of terror that it was a gigantic snake, at least twelve feet long. Horrified, transfixed, Frank stared as its undulating body cut a wide, curving track through the thick dust on the floor, coming closer and closer -- What was he to do? The only means of escape was into the room where the two men sat plotting murder, yet if he stayed where he was the snake would surely kill him -- But before he had made his decision, the snake was level with him, and then, incredibly, miraculously, it was passing; it was following the spitting, hissing noises made by the cold voice beyond the door, and in seconds, the tip of its diamond-patterned tail had vanished through the gap.
    There was sweat on Frank's forehead now, and the hand on the walking stick was trembling. Inside the room, the cold voice was continuing to hiss, and Frank was visited by a strange idea, an impossible idea...This man could talk to snakes.
    Frank didn't understand what was going on. He wanted more than anything to be back in his bed with his hot-water bottle. The problem was that his legs didn't seem to want to move. As he stood there shaking and trying to master himself, the cold voice switched abruptly to English again.
    "Nagini has interesting news, Wormtail," it said.
    "In-indeed, My Lord?" said Wormtail.
    "Indeed, yes," said the voice, "According to Nagini, there is an old Muggle standing right outside this room, listening to every word we say."
    Frank didn't have a chance to hide himself. There were footsteps and then the door of the room was flung wide open.
    A short, balding man with graying hair, a pointed nose, and small, watery eyes stood before Frank, a mixture of fear and alarm in his face.
    "Invite him inside, Wormtail. Where are your manners?"
    The cold voice was coming from the ancient armchair before the fire, but Frank couldn't see the speaker. the snake, on the other hand, was curled up on the rotting hearth rug, like some horrible travesty of a pet dog.
    Wormtail beckoned Frank into the room. Though still deeply shaken, Frank took a
    firmer grip on his walking stick and limped over the threshold.
    The fire was the only source of light in the room; it cast long, spidery shadows upon the walls. Frank stared at the back of the armchair; the man inside it seemed to be even smaller than his servant, for Frank couldn't even see the back of his head.
    "You heard everything, Muggle?" said the cold voice.
    "What's that you're calling me?" said Frank defiantly, for now that he was inside the room, now that the time had come for some sort of action, he felt braver; it had always been so in the war.
    "I am calling you a Muggle," said the voice coolly. "It means that you are not a wizard."
    "I don't know what you mean by wizard," said Frank, his voice growing steadier.
    "All I know is I've heard enough to interest the police tonight, I have. You've done murder and you're planning more! And I'll tell youthis too," he added, on a sudden inspiration, "my wife knows I'm up here, and if I don't come back --"
    "You have no wife," said te cold voice, very quietly. "Nobody knows you are here. You told nobody that you were coming. Do not lie to Lord Voldemort, Muggle, for he knows...he always knows..."
    "Is that right?" said Frank roughly. "Lord, is it? Well, I don't think much of your manners, My Lord. Turn 'round and face me like a man, why don't you?"
    "But I am not a man, Muggle," said the cold voice, barely audible now over the crackling of the flames. "I am much, much more than a man. However...why not? I will face you...Wormtail, come turn my chair around."
    The servant gave a whimper.
    "You heard me, Wormtail."
    Slowly, with his face screwed up, as though he would rather have done anything than approach his master and the hearth rug where the snake lay, the small man walked forward and began to turn the chair. The snake lifted its ugly triangular head and hissed slightly as the legs of the chair snagged on its rug.
    And then the chair was facing Frank, and he saw what was sitting in it. His walking stick fell to the floor with a clatter. He opened his mouth and let out a scream. He was screaming so loudly that he never heard the words the thing in the chair spoke as it raised a wand. There was a flash of green light, a rushing sound, and Frank Bryce crumpled. He was dead before he hit the floor.
    Two hundred miles away, the boy called Harry Potter woke with a start.
    
    第一章 里德尔府
    
    小汉格顿的村民们仍然把这座房子称为“里德尔府”,尽管里德尔一家已经多年事没在这里居住了。房子坐落在一道山坡上,从这里可以看见整个村子。房子的几扇窗户被封死了,房顶上的瓦残缺不全,爬山虎张牙舞爪地爬满了整座房子。里德尔府原先是一幢很漂亮的大宅子,还是方圆几英里之内最宽敞、最气派的建筑,如今却变得潮湿、荒凉,常年无人居住。
    小汉格顿的村民们一致认为,这幢老房子“怪吓人的”。半个世纪前,这里发生了一件离奇而可怕的事,直到现在,村里的老辈人没有别的话题时,还喜欢把这件事扯出来谈论一番。这个故事被人们反复地讲,许多地方又被添油加醋,所以真相到底如何,已经没有人说得准了。不过,故事的每一个版本都是以同样的方式开头的:五十年前,里德尔还是管理有方、气派非凡的时候,在一个晴朗夏日的黎明,一个女仆走进客厅,发现里德尔一家三口都气绝身亡了。
    女仆一路尖叫着奔下山坡,跑进村里,尽量把村民们都唤醒。
    “都躺着,眼睛睁着大大的!浑身冰凉!还穿着晚餐时的衣服!”
    警察被叫来了,整个小汉格顿村都沉浸在惊讶好奇之中,村民们竭力掩饰内心的兴奋,却没有成功。没有人浪费力气,假装为德里尔一家感到悲伤,因为他们在村子里人缘很坏。老夫妇俩很有钱,但为人势利粗暴,他们已经成年的儿子汤姆,说起来你也许不信,竟比父母还要坏上几分。村民们关心的是凶手究竟是何许人——显然,三个看上去十分健康的人,是不可能在同一个晚上同时自然死亡的。
    那天夜里,村里的吊死鬼酒馆生意格外兴隆,似乎是全村的人都跑来谈论这桩谋杀案了。他们舍弃了家里的火炉,并不是一无所获,因为里德尔家的厨娘戏剧性地来到他们中间,并对突然安静下来的酒馆顾客们说,一个名叫弗兰克·布莱斯的男人刚刚被逮捕了。
    “弗兰克!”几个人喊了起来,“不可能!”
    弗兰克·布莱斯是里德尔家的园丁。他一个人住在里德尔府庭园上的一间破破烂烂的小木屋里。弗兰克当年从战场上回来,一条腿僵硬得不听使唤,并且对人群和噪音极端反感,此后就一直为里德尔家干活。
    酒馆里的人争先恐后地给厨娘买酒,想听到更多的细节。
    “我早就觉得他怪怪的,”厨娘喝下第四杯雪利酒后,告诉那些眼巴巴洗耳恭听的村民们,“冷冰冰的,不爱搭理人。我相信,如果我要请他喝一杯茶,非得请上一百遍他才答应。他从来不喜欢跟人来往。”
    “唉,怎么说呢,”吧台旁边的一个女人说,“弗兰克参加过残酷的战争。他喜欢过平静的生活,我们没有理由——”
    “那么,还有谁手里有后门的钥匙呢?”厨娘粗声大气地说,“我记得,有一把备用钥匙一直挂在园丁的小木屋里!昨晚,没有人破门而入!窗户也没有被打坏!弗兰克只要趁我们都睡着的时候,偷偷溜进大宅子……”
    村民默默地交换着目光。
    “我一直觉得他那样子特别讨厌,真的。”吧台旁边的一个男人嘟囔着说。
    “要是让我说呀,是战争把他变得古怪了。”酒馆老板说。
    “我对你说过,我可不愿意得罪弗兰克,是吧,多特?”角落里一个情绪激动的女人说。
    “脾气糟透了。”多特热烈地点着头,说,“我还记得,他小的时候……”
    第二天早晨,小汉格顿镇上,在昏暗、阴沉的警察局里,弗兰克固执地一遍又一遍地重复他是无辜的。他说,在里德尔一家死去的那天,他在宅子附近见到的惟一的人是一个他不认识的十多岁男孩,那男孩头发黑黑的,脸色苍白。村里的其他人都没有见过这样一个男孩,警察们认定这是弗兰克凭空编造的。
    就在形势对弗兰克极为严峻的时候,里德尔一家的尸体检验报告回来了,一下子扭转了整个局面。
    警察从来没有见过比这更古怪的报告了。一组医生对尸体作了检查,得出的结论是:里德尔一家谁也没有遭到毒药、利器、手枪的伤害,也不是被闷死或勒死的。实际上(报告以一种明显困惑的口气接着写道),里德尔一家三口看上去都很健康——只除了一点,他们都断了气儿。医生们倒是注意到(似乎他们决意要在尸体上找出点儿不对劲的地方),里德尔家的每个人脸上都带着一种惊恐的表情——可是正如已经一筹莫展的警察所说,谁听说过三个人同时被吓死的呢?
    既然没有证据证明里德尔一家是被谋杀的,警察只好把弗兰克放了出来。里德尔一家就葬在小汉格顿的教堂墓地里,在其后一段时间里,他们的坟墓一直是人们好奇关注的对象。使大家感到惊讶和疑虑丛生的是,弗兰克·布莱斯居然又回到了里德尔府庭园他的小木屋里。
    “我个人认为,是弗兰克杀死了他们,我才不管警察怎么说呢。”多特在吊死鬼酒馆里说,“如果他稍微知趣一些,知道我们都清楚他的所作所为,他就会离开这里。”
    但是弗兰克没有离开,他留了下来,为接下来往在里德尔府的人照料园子,然后又为再下面的一家干活——这两家人都没有住很长时间。新主人说,也许一部分是因为弗兰克的缘故吧,他们总觉得这地方有一种阴森吓人的感觉。后来由于无人居住,宅子渐渐失修,变得破败了。
    最近拥有里德尔的那个富人,既不住在这里,也不把宅子派什么用场。村里的人说,他留着它是为了“税务上的原因”,但谁也不清楚到底是怎么回事。不过,这位富裕的宅主继续花钱雇弗兰克当园丁。弗兰克如今快要过他七十七岁的生日了,他耳朵聋得厉害,那条坏腿也比以前更加僵硬了,但天气好的时候,人们仍然能看见他在花圃里磨磨蹭蹭地干活,尽管杂草在向他身边悄悄蔓延,他想挡也挡不住。
    况且,弗兰克要对付的不仅是杂草。村子里的男孩总喜欢往里德尔府的窗户上扔石头。弗兰克费了很大心血才保持了草地的平整,他们却骑着自行车在上面随意碾踏。有一两次,他们为了互相打赌,还闯进了老宅。他们知道老弗兰克一心一意地护理宅子和庭园,几乎到了一种痴迷的程度,所以他们愿意看到他一瘸一拐地穿过园子,挥舞着拐杖,用沙哑的嗓子朝他们嚷嚷,每当这时,他们就觉得特别开心。弗兰克呢,他相信这些男孩之所以折磨他,是因为他们和他们的父母、祖父母一样,认为他是一个杀人犯。因此,在那个八月的夜晚,当弗兰克一觉醒来,看见老宅上面有异常的动静时,还以为是那些男孩又想出了新的花招来惩罚他了。
    弗兰克是被那条坏腿疼醒的,如今他上了年纪,腿疼得越发厉害了。他从床上起来,瘸着腿下楼走进厨房,想把热水袋灌满,暖一暖他僵硬的膝盖。他站在水池边,往水壶里灌水,一边抬着头朝里德尔府望去,他看见楼上的窗户闪着微光。弗兰克立刻就明白了是怎么回事。那些男孩又闯进老宅去了,那微光闪闪烁烁,明暗不定,看得出他们还生了火。
    弗兰克屋里没有装电话,自从当年为了里德尔一家猝死的事,警察把他带去审问之后,他就对警察有了一种深深的不信任感。他赶紧把水壶放下,拖着那条坏腿,尽快地返回楼上,穿好衣服,旋即又回到厨房。他从门边的钩子上取下那把锈迹斑斑的旧钥匙,拿起靠在墙边的拐杖,走进了夜色之中。
    里德尔府的前门没有被人强行闯入的迹象,窗户也完好无损。弗兰克一瘸一拐地绕到房子后面,停在一扇几乎完全被爬山虎遮住的门边,掏出那把旧钥匙,插进锁孔,无声地打开了门。
    弗兰克走进洞穴般幽暗的大厨房,他已经很多年没有进来过了。不过,尽管四下里漆黑一片,他仍记得通往走廊的门在哪里。他摸索着走过去,一股腐烂的味儿扑鼻而来。他竖起耳朵,捕捉着头顶上的每一丝脚步声或说话声。他来到走廊,这里因为有前门两边的大直棂窗,多少秀进一点儿光线。他开始上楼,一边心想多亏石阶上积着厚厚的灰尘,使他的脚步声和拐杖声发闷,不易被人察觉。
    在楼梯平台上,弗兰克向右一转,立刻看到了闯入者在什么地方。就在走廊的顶端,一扇门开着一道缝,一道闪烁的微光从门缝里射了出来,在黑乎乎的地板上投出一道橙黄色的光影。弗兰克侧着身子,小心地一点点靠近,手里紧紧攥着拐杖。在离门口几步远的地方,他可以看见房间里窄窄一条缝中的情景。
    他现在看到了,那火是生在壁炉里的。这使他感到很意外。他停住脚步,竖起耳朵,只听见房间里传来一个男人的说话声,那声音显得胆怯、害怕。
    “瓶子里还有呢,主人,如果您还饿,就再喝一点儿吧。”
    “待一会儿吧。”又一个声音说。这也是一个男人——但嗓音却尖得奇怪,而且像寒风一样冰冷刺骨。不知怎的,这声音使弗兰克脖子后面稀少的头发都竖了起来。“把我挪到炉火边去,虫尾巴。”
    弗兰克把右耳贴到门上,想听得更清楚些。房间里传来一个瓶子放在某个坚硬的东西上的当啷声,然后是一把重重的椅子在地板上拖过时发出的刺耳的摩擦声。弗兰克瞥见一个小个子男人,背对着门,正在推动一把椅子。他穿着一件长长的黑斗篷,后脑勺上秃了一块。随后,他又不见了。
    “纳吉尼在哪儿?”那个冰冷的声音问。
    “我——我不知道,主人。”第一个声音紧张地说,“我想,它大概在房子里到处看看……”
    “我们睡觉前,你喂它一次牛奶,虫尾巴。”第二个声音说,“我夜里还需要吃一顿。这一路上可把我累坏了。”
    弗兰克皱紧眉头,又把那只好耳朵往门上贴了贴,使劲儿听着。房间里静了片刻,然后那个被称作虫尾巴的人又说话了。
    “主人,我能不能问一句,我们要在这里待多久?”
    “一个星期,”那个透着寒意的声音说道,“也许还要更长。这地方还算舒适,而且那计划还不能实施。在魁地奇世界杯结束前就草率行事是不明智的。”
    弗兰克用一根粗糙的手指伸进耳朵,转了几下。肯定是耳垢积得太多了,他居然听见了“魁地奇”这样一个怪词,根本就不成话儿。
    “魁——魁地奇世界杯,主人?”虫尾巴说。(弗兰克用手指更使劲地掏他的耳朵。)“请原谅,可是我——我不明白——我们为什么要等到世界杯结束以后呢?”
    “傻瓜,因为在这个时候,巫师们从世界各地涌进这个国家,魔法部那些爱管闲事的家伙全部出动了,他们站岗放哨,注意有没有异常的活动,反复盘查每个人的身分。他们一门心思就想着安全、安全,生怕麻瓜们注意到什么。所以我们必须等待。”
    弗兰克不再掏耳朵了。他准确无误地听见“魔法部”、“巫师”和“麻瓜”这些字眼。显然,这些词都具有神秘的含义,而据弗兰克所知,只有两种人才会说暗语:密探和罪犯。弗兰克更紧地攥住拐杖,更凝神地听着。
    “这么说,主人的决心仍然没变?”虫尾巴轻声地问。
    “当然没变,虫尾巴。”那个冰冷的声音里现在带着威胁的口气了。
    之后是片刻的沉默——然后虫尾巴说话了,他的话像湍急的河水一样从嘴里涌了出来,似乎他在强迫自己在没有丧失勇气前把话说完。
    “没有哈利·波特也能办成,主人。”
    又是沉默,比刚才延续的时间更长,然后——
    “没有哈利·波特?”第二个声音轻轻地问。“我明白……”
    “主人,我说这话不是因为关心那个男孩!”虫尾巴说,他的声音突然抬高了,变得尖利刺耳。“我才不在乎那个男孩呢,根本不在乎!我只是想,如果我们使用另外的巫师——不管是男是女——事情就可以速战速决了!如果您允许我离开您一小会儿——您知道我可以随心所欲地伪装自己——我两天之内就回到这里,带回一个合适的人选——”
    “我可以使用另外的巫师,”那个冰冷的声音轻轻说,“这主意不错……”
    “主人,这是合乎情理的。”虫尾巴说,口气舒缓多了,“要去加害哈利·波特太困难了,他现在受到了严密的保护——”
    “所以你主动提出,要去给我找一个替代品来?我猜想……也许这份伺候我的工作已经使你厌烦了,是吗,虫尾巴?你建议放弃原计划,是不是只想抛弃我呢?”
    “主人!我——我没有要离开您的意思,压根儿没有——”
    “不要对我撒谎!”第二个声音嘶嘶地说,“我什么都清楚,虫尾巴!你一直在后悔回到我这里来。我使你感到厌恶。我看得出你一看见我就畏缩,我感觉到你一碰到我就全身发抖……”
    “不是这样!我对主人忠心耿耿——”
    “什么忠心耿耿,你只是胆小罢了。如果你有别的地方可去,你决不会到这里来的。而我呢,我每隔几小时就需要你喂我,离开你我怎么活得下去?谁给纳吉尼喂奶呢?”
    “可是您显得强壮多了,主人——”
    “说谎,”第二个声音轻轻地说,“我没有强壮起来,几天工夫就会夺走我在你马马虎虎的照料下恢复的一点儿元气。别出声!”
    正在结结巴巴、语无伦次地说着什么的虫尾巴,这时立刻沉默下来了。在那几秒钟内,弗兰克只能听见火苗噼噼啪啪燃烧的声音。然后,第二个声音又说话了,声音很低很低,像是从喉咙里发出的嘶嘶声。
    “我使用那个男孩自有我的道理,我已经向你解释过了,我不会使用其他人的。我已经等了十三年,再多等几个月也无妨。至于那个男孩受到的严密保护,我相信我的计划会起作用的。现在就需要你有一点儿勇气,虫尾巴——你得有勇气,除非你希望感受一下伏地魔大发雷霆——”
    “主人,请让我说一句!”虫尾巴说道,声音里带着恐慌,“在我们这一路上,我脑子里反复盘算着那个计划——主人,伯莎·乔金斯的失踪很快就会引起人们的注意,如果我们再干下去,如果我杀死了——”
    “如果?”第二个声音耳语般地说,“如果?如果你按我的计划行事,虫尾巴,魔法部永远不会知道还有谁死了。你悄悄地去做,不要大惊小怪。我真希望我能亲自动手,可是按我目前的状况……过来,虫尾巴,只要再死一个人,我们通往哈利·波特的道路上就没有障碍了。我并没有要求你独自行动。到那时候,我忠实的个人就会加入我们——”
    “我就是一个忠实的仆人。”虫尾巴说,他声音里含着一丝淡淡的不快。
    “虫尾巴,我需要一个有脑子的人,一个对我绝对忠诚、从不动摇的人,而你呢,很不幸,这两个条件都不符合。”
    “是我找到您的,”虫尾巴说道,声音里带着明显的恼怒,“是我把您找到的,是我把伯莎·乔金斯给您带来的。”
    “那倒不假,”第二个男人用打趣般的口吻说,“真没想到你还能说出这么聪明的话来,虫尾巴——不过,说句实话,你把那女人抓来时,并没有意识到她是多么有用,对不对?”
    “我——我知道她会有用的,主人——”
    “撒谎,”第二个声音又说,那种冷冰冰的打趣口吻更明显了,“不过,我不否认她提供的情报很有价值。要不是那个情报,我就不可能想出我们的计划,这个嘛,虫尾巴,你自会得到奖赏的。我允许你为我完成一件十分重要的任务,那是我的许多追随者都争先恐后要去完成的……”
    “是——是吗,主人?什么——”虫尾巴的声音又变得恐慌起来。
    “啊,虫尾巴,你难道想破坏这份意外之喜吗?最后才轮到你出场呢……不过我向你保证,你将有幸和伯莎·乔金斯一样有用。”
    “您……您……”虫尾巴的声音突然沙哑了,他的嘴里似乎变得很干,“您……您想……把我也杀死?”
    “虫尾巴,虫尾巴,”那个冰冷的声音圆滑地说,“我为什么要杀死你呢?我杀死伯莎·乔金斯是因为迫不得已。在我审问完之后,她就没有用了,完全没有用了。不管怎样,如果她带着假期里遇见你的消息回到魔法部,人们就会提出许多令人尴尬的问题。原本应该死了的巫师是不应该在路边的小客栈里遇见魔法部的女巫师的……”
    虫尾巴又嘟囔了几句什么,声音太低,弗兰克没有听清,但他的话使第二个男从哈哈大笑起来——这是一种十分阴险的笑,跟他说的话一样寒气逼人。
    “我们本可以改变她的记忆是不是?可是碰到一个功力强大的巫师,遗忘咒就不起作用了,这一点我在审问她时已经得到了证实。不使用一下我从她那里得到的情报,这对她的记忆也是一种侮辱啊,虫尾巴。”
    在外面走廊里,弗兰克突然意识到自己攥着拐杖的手已经被汗水湿透了。冰冷嗓音的男人杀死了一个女人。他谈论这件事的时候,没有一丝一毫的悔意——用的是一种打趣的口吻。这个人很危险——是一个亡命徒。他还在计划杀死更多的人——那个男孩,名叫哈利·波特的,不知道是谁——现在正在危险中——
    弗兰克知道他必须做什么了。这个时候非找警察不可。他要偷偷溜出老宅,径直奔向村里的电话亭……可是那个冰冷的声音又说话了,弗兰克待在原地,像是被冻僵了一样,拼命集中精力听着。
    “再杀死一个人……我在霍格沃茨的忠实仆人……哈利·波特就注定要完蛋了,虫尾巴。就这么定了,没什么可说的。慢着,你别做声……我好像听见了纳吉尼的声音……”
    这时,第二个男人的声音变了,他发出一些弗兰克从未听见过的声音,他不歇气地发出嘶嘶声和呼噜呼噜声。弗兰克认为他一定是发病了。
    就在这时,弗兰克听见身后漆黑的走廊里传来了动静。他转身一看,顿时吓得呆在了那里。
    什么东西窸窸窣窣地滑过漆黑的走廊地板朝着他过来了。当那东西渐渐接近门缝里射出的那道壁炉的火光时,他惊恐万状地发现,那是一条巨蛇,至少有十二英尺长。弗兰克吓得呆若木鸡,站在那里望着它波浪般起伏的身体,在地板上厚厚的灰尘中留下蜿蜒曲折的、宽宽的轨迹,慢慢地越来越近——他怎么办呢?他要逃也只能逃进那两个男人正在密谋杀人的那个房间,可是如果待在原地,这条蛇肯定会把他咬死——
    还没等他拿定主意,巨蛇已经横在他的面前,然后又神奇地、令人不可思议地滑了过去。它听从门后面那个冰冷的嘶嘶声呼噜呼噜声的召唤,几秒钟后,它那钻石图案的尾巴就从门缝里消失了。
    这时,弗兰克额头上已经渗出了汗珠,抓着拐杖的手抖个不停。房间里,那冰冷的嗓音继续嘶嘶响着,弗兰克突然产生了一个奇怪的想法,一个荒唐的想法……那个人能跟蛇说话。
    弗兰克不明白这一切到底是怎么回事。现在他最渴望的就是抱着热水袋回到床上。问题是他的双腿似乎不愿挪动。他站在那里,浑身瑟瑟发抖。他努力控制住自己。就在这时,那冰冷的声音猛地又说起了人话。
    “纳吉尼带回一个有趣的消息,虫尾巴。”那声音说。
    “是——是吗,主人?”虫尾巴说。
    “当然是。”那个声音说,“据纳吉尼说,有一个老麻瓜,现在就站在这个房间外面,一字不漏地听着我们说话。”
    弗兰克没有机会躲藏了,里面传来脚步声,随即房门一下子被打开了。
    弗兰克面前站着一个秃顶的矮个子男人,花白的头发、尖尖的鼻子,一双小眼睛水汪汪的,脸上带着既恐惧又担忧的表情。
    “请他进来,虫尾巴。你怎么不懂礼貌呢?”
    那冰冷的声音是从壁炉前的那把古老的扶手椅里发出来的,但弗兰克看不见说话的人。而那条蛇已经盘踞在壁炉前破烂的地毯上,如同在模仿一只哈巴狗,样子十分狰狞。
    虫尾巴示意弗兰克进屋。弗兰克尽管全身颤抖得厉害,还是攥紧拐杖,一瘸一拐地迈过了门槛。
    炉火是房间是惟一的光源,它把长长的、蛛网状的影子投到了墙上。弗兰克盯着扶手椅的背后,坐在里面的人似乎比他的仆人虫尾巴还要矮小,弗兰克甚至看不见他的后脑勺。
    “你什么都听见了,麻瓜?”那冰冷的声音问。
    “你叫我什么?”弗兰克强硬地说道,现在既然进了房间,既然必须采取行动,他的胆子反倒大了起来。在战场上经常就是这样的情况。
    “我叫你麻瓜,”那声音冷冷地说,“就是说,你不是个巫师。”
    “我不知道你说的巫师是什么意思。”弗兰克说,他的声音越来越平稳了,“我只知道,今晚我听到的东西足以引起警察的兴趣。你们杀了人,还在策划着要杀更多的人!我还要告诉你们,”他突然灵机一动,说道,“我老伴知道我上这儿来了,如果我不回去——”
    “你没有老伴,”那冰冷的声音慢条斯理地说道,“没有人知道你在这儿。你没有对别人说过你上这儿来了。麻瓜,不要对伏地魔大人说谎,他什么都知道……什么都知道……”
    “你说什么?”弗兰克粗暴地说,“大人,是吗?哼,我认为你的风度可不怎么样,我的大人!你为什么不像个男人一样,把脸转过来看着我呢?”
    “因为我不是个人,麻瓜,”那冰冷的嗓音说,声音很低,几乎被炉火的噼啪声盖住了,“我比人厉害得多。不过……好吧!我就面对你一下……虫尾巴,过来把我的椅子转一转。”
    仆人发出一声呜咽。
    “你听见没有,虫尾巴!”
    小个子男人愁眉苦脸,仿佛他最不愿做的事就是走近他的主人,走近那条蛇盘踞的地毯;他慢慢地走上前,开始转动扶手椅。椅腿撞在地毯上时,巨蛇昂起它丑陋的三角形脑袋,发出轻微的嘶嘶声。
    现在,椅子面对着弗兰克了,他看见了里面坐着的是什么。拐杖啪哒一声掉在地上。他张开嘴,发出一声声凄厉的喊叫。他喊叫的声音太响了,没有听见椅子里那个家伙举起一根棍子时嘴里说了些什么,而且永远也不会听见了。一道绿光闪过,一阵嗖嗖的声音响起,弗兰克·布莱斯瘫倒在地。在倒地之前他就已经死了。两百英里之外,那个名叫哈利·波特的男孩猛地从梦中惊醒。
    

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