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Chapter 1 The Bathe

A Grotesque1

Stripped of her clothing, the child showed the lovely shape of a six-year-old. Just past the dimpled roundnesses of babyhood, the little body stood slim and straight, legs and knees closely met, the skin white as the sand into which the small feet dug, pink toe faultlessly matched to toe.

She was going to bathe.

The tide was out. The alarming, ferocious2 surf, which at flood came hurtling over the reef, swallowing up the beach, had withdrawn3, baring the flat brown coral rocks: far off against their steep brown edges it sucked and gurgled lazily. In retreating, it had left many lovely pools in the reef, all clear as glass, some deep as rooms, grown round their sides with weeds that swam like drowned hair, and hid strange sea-things.

Not to these pools might the child go; nor did she need to prick4 her soles on the coral. Her bathing-place was a great sandy-bottomed pool that ran out from the beach, and at its deepest came no higher than her chin.

Naked to sun and air, she skipped and frolicked with the delight of the very young, to whom clothes are still an encumbrance5. And one of her runs led her headlong into the sea. No toe-dipping tests were necessary here; this water met the skin like a veil of warm silk. In it she splashed and ducked and floated; her hair, which had been screwed into a tight little knob, loosening and floating with her like a nimbus. Tired of play, she came out, trickling7 and glistening8, and lay down in the sand, which was hot to the touch, first on her stomach, then on her back, till she was coated with sand like a fish bread-crumbed for frying. This, for the sheer pleasure of plunging9 anew, and letting the silken water wash her clean.

At the sight, the two middle-aged10 women who sat looking on grew restless. And, the prank11 being repeated, the sand-caked little body vanishing in the limpid12 water to bob up shining like ivory, the tips of their tongues shot out and surreptitiously moistened their lips. These were dry, their throats were dry, their skins itched13; their seats burned from pressing the hot sand.

And suddenly eyes met and brows were lifted in a silent question. Shall we? Dare we risk it?


For no living thing but themselves moved on the miles of desolate14 beach; not a neighbour was within coo-ee; their own shack15 lay hid behind a hill.

Straightway they fell to rolling up their work and stabbing it with their needles.

Then they, too, undressed.

Tight, high bodices of countless16 buttons went first, baring the massy arms and fat-creased necks of a plump maturity17. Thereafter bunchy skirts were slid over hips18 and stepped out of. Several petticoats followed, the undermost of red flannel20, with scalloped edges. Tight stiff corsets were next squeezed from their moorings and cast aside: the linen21 beneath lay hot and damply crushed. Long white drawers unbound and, leg by leg, disengaged, voluminous calico chemises appeared, draped in which the pair sat down to take off their boots — buttoned boots — and stockings, their feet emerging red and tired-looking, the toes misshapen, and horny with callosities. Erect22 again, they yet coyly hesitated before the casting of the last veil, once more sweeping23 the distance for a possible spy. Nothing stirring, however, up went their arms, dragging the balloon-like garments with them; and, inch by inch, calves24, thighs25, trunks and breasts were bared to view.

At the prospect26 of getting water playmates, the child had clapped her hands, hopping27 up and down where she stood. But this was the first time she had watched a real grown-up undress; she was always in bed and asleep when they did it. Now, in broad daylight, she looked on unrebuked, wildly curious; and surprise soon damped her joy. So this was what was underneath28! Skirts and petticoats down, she saw that laps were really legs; while the soft and cosy29 place you put your head on, when you were tired . . .

And suddenly she turned tail and ran back to the pool. She didn’t want to see.

But your face was the one bit of you you couldn’t put under water. So she had to.

Two fat, stark-naked figures were coming down the beach.

They had joined hands, as if to sustain each other in their nudity . . . or as if, in shedding their clothes, they had also shed a portion of their years. Gingerly, yet in haste to reach cover, they applied30 their soles to the tickly sand: a haste that caused unwieldy breasts to bob and swing, bellies31 and buttocks to wobble. Splay-legged they were, from the weight of these protuberances. Above their knees, garters had cut fierce red lines in the skin; their bodies were criss-crossed with red furrows32, from the variety of strings33 and bones that had lashed6 them in. The calves of one showed purple-knotted with veins34; across the other’s abdomen35 ran a deep, longitudinal scar. One was patched with red hair, one with black.

In a kind of horrid36 fascination37 the child stood and stared . . . as at two wild outlandish beasts. But before they reached her she again turned, and, heedless of the prickles, ran seawards, out on the reef.

This was forbidden. There were shrill38 cries of: “Naughty girl! Come back!”

Draggingly the child obeyed.

They were waiting for her, and, blind to her hurt, took her between them and waded39 into the water. When this was up to their knees, they stooped to damp napes and crowns, and sluice40 their arms. Then they played. They splashed water at each other’s great backsides; they lay down and, propped41 on their elbows, let their legs float; or, forming a ring, moved heavily round to the tune42 of: RING-A-RING-A-ROSY, POP DOWN A POSY! And down the child went, till she all but sat on the sand. Not so they. Even with the support of the water they could bend but a few inches; and wider than ever did their legs splay, to permit of their corpulences being lowered.

But the sun was nearing meridian43 in a cloudless sky. Its rays burnt and stung. The child was sent running up the beach to the clothes-heaps, and returned, not unlike a depressed44 Amor, bearing in each hand a wide, flower-trimmed, dolly-varden hat, the ribbons of which trailed the sand.

These they perched on their heads, binding45 the ribbons under their chins; and thus attired46 waded out to the deep end of the pool. Here, where the water came a few inches above their waists, they stood to cool off, their breasts seeming to float on the surface like half-inflated toy balloons. And when the sand stirred up by their feet had subsided47, their legs could be seen through the translucent48 water oddly foreshortened, with edges that frayed49 at each ripple50.

But a line of foam51 had shown its teeth at the edge of the reef. The tide was on the turn; it was time to go.

Waddling52 up the beach they spread their petticoats, and on these stretched themselves out to dry. And as they lay there on their sides, with the supreme53 mass of hip19 and buttock arching in the air, their contours were those of seals — great mother-seals come lolloping out of the water to lie about on the sand.

The child had found a piece of dry cuttlefish54, and sat pretending to play with it. But she wasn’t really. Something had happened which made her not like any more to play. Something ugly. Oh, never . . . never . . . no, not ever now did she want to grow up. SHE would always stop a little girl.


1 grotesque O6ryZ     
  • His face has a grotesque appearance.他的面部表情十分怪。
  • Her account of the incident was a grotesque distortion of the truth.她对这件事的陈述是荒诞地歪曲了事实。
2 ferocious ZkNxc     
  • The ferocious winds seemed about to tear the ship to pieces.狂风仿佛要把船撕成碎片似的。
  • The ferocious panther is chasing a rabbit.那只凶猛的豹子正追赶一只兔子。
3 withdrawn eeczDJ     
  • Our force has been withdrawn from the danger area.我们的军队已从危险地区撤出。
  • All foreign troops should be withdrawn to their own countries.一切外国军队都应撤回本国去。
4 prick QQyxb     
  • He felt a sharp prick when he stepped on an upturned nail.当他踩在一个尖朝上的钉子上时,他感到剧烈的疼痛。
  • He burst the balloon with a prick of the pin.他用针一戳,气球就爆了。
5 encumbrance A8YyP     
  • Only by overcoming our weaknesses can we advance without any encumbrance;only by uniting ourselves in our struggle can we be invincible.克服缺点才能轻装前进,团结战斗才能无往不胜。
  • Now I should be an encumbrance.现在我成为累赘了。
6 lashed 4385e23a53a7428fb973b929eed1bce6     
adj.具睫毛的v.鞭打( lash的过去式和过去分词 );煽动;紧系;怒斥
  • The rain lashed at the windows. 雨点猛烈地打在窗户上。
  • The cleverly designed speech lashed the audience into a frenzy. 这篇精心设计的演说煽动听众使他们发狂。 来自《简明英汉词典》
7 trickling 24aeffc8684b1cc6b8fa417e730cc8dc     
n.油画底色含油太多而成泡沫状突起v.滴( trickle的现在分词 );淌;使)慢慢走;缓慢移动
  • Tears were trickling down her cheeks. 眼泪顺着她的面颊流了下来。
  • The engine was trickling oil. 发动机在滴油。 来自《简明英汉词典》
8 glistening glistening     
adj.闪耀的,反光的v.湿物闪耀,闪亮( glisten的现在分词 )
  • Her eyes were glistening with tears. 她眼里闪着晶莹的泪花。
  • Her eyes were glistening with tears. 她眼睛中的泪水闪着柔和的光。 来自《用法词典》
9 plunging 5fe12477bea00d74cd494313d62da074     
adj.跳进的,突进的v.颠簸( plunge的现在分词 );暴跌;骤降;突降
  • War broke out again, plunging the people into misery and suffering. 战祸复发,生灵涂炭。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • He is plunging into an abyss of despair. 他陷入了绝望的深渊。 来自《简明英汉词典》
10 middle-aged UopzSS     
  • I noticed two middle-aged passengers.我注意到两个中年乘客。
  • The new skin balm was welcome by middle-aged women.这种新护肤香膏受到了中年妇女的欢迎。
11 prank 51azg     
  • It was thought that the fire alarm had been set off as a prank.人们认为火警报警器响是个恶作剧。
  • The dean was ranking the boys for pulling the prank.系主任正在惩罚那些恶作剧的男学生。
12 limpid 43FyK     
  • He has a pair of limpid blue eyes.他有一双清澈的蓝眼睛。
  • The sky was a limpid blue,as if swept clean of everything.碧空如洗。
13 itched 40551ab33ea4ba343556be82d399ab87     
v.发痒( itch的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Seeing the children playing ping-pong, he itched to have a go. 他看到孩子们打乒乓,不觉技痒。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • He could hardly sIt'still and itched to have a go. 他再也坐不住了,心里跃跃欲试。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
14 desolate vmizO     
  • The city was burned into a desolate waste.那座城市被烧成一片废墟。
  • We all felt absolutely desolate when she left.她走后,我们都觉得万分孤寂。
15 shack aE3zq     
  • He had to sit down five times before he reached his shack.在走到他的茅棚以前,他不得不坐在地上歇了五次。
  • The boys made a shack out of the old boards in the backyard.男孩们在后院用旧木板盖起一间小木屋。
16 countless 7vqz9L     
  • In the war countless innocent people lost their lives.在这场战争中无数无辜的人丧失了性命。
  • I've told you countless times.我已经告诉你无数遍了。
17 maturity 47nzh     
  • These plants ought to reach maturity after five years.这些植物五年后就该长成了。
  • This is the period at which the body attains maturity.这是身体发育成熟的时期。
18 hips f8c80f9a170ee6ab52ed1e87054f32d4     
abbr.high impact polystyrene 高冲击强度聚苯乙烯,耐冲性聚苯乙烯n.臀部( hip的名词复数 );[建筑学]屋脊;臀围(尺寸);臀部…的
  • She stood with her hands on her hips. 她双手叉腰站着。
  • They wiggled their hips to the sound of pop music. 他们随着流行音乐的声音摇晃着臀部。 来自《简明英汉词典》
19 hip 1dOxX     
  • The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone.股骨连着髋骨。
  • The new coats blouse gracefully above the hip line.新外套在臀围线上优美地打着褶皱。
20 flannel S7dyQ     
  • She always wears a grey flannel trousers.她总是穿一条灰色法兰绒长裤。
  • She was looking luscious in a flannel shirt.她穿着法兰绒裙子,看上去楚楚动人。
21 linen W3LyK     
  • The worker is starching the linen.这名工人正在给亚麻布上浆。
  • Fine linen and cotton fabrics were known as well as wool.精细的亚麻织品和棉织品像羊毛一样闻名遐迩。
22 erect 4iLzm     
  • She held her head erect and her back straight.她昂着头,把背挺得笔直。
  • Soldiers are trained to stand erect.士兵们训练站得笔直。
23 sweeping ihCzZ4     
  • The citizens voted for sweeping reforms.公民投票支持全面的改革。
  • Can you hear the wind sweeping through the branches?你能听到风掠过树枝的声音吗?
24 calves bb808da8ca944ebdbd9f1d2688237b0b     
n.(calf的复数)笨拙的男子,腓;腿肚子( calf的名词复数 );牛犊;腓;小腿肚v.生小牛( calve的第三人称单数 );(冰川)崩解;生(小牛等),产(犊);使(冰川)崩解
  • a cow suckling her calves 给小牛吃奶的母牛
  • The calves are grazed intensively during their first season. 小牛在生长的第一季里集中喂养。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 thighs e4741ffc827755fcb63c8b296150ab4e     
n.股,大腿( thigh的名词复数 );食用的鸡(等的)腿
  • He's gone to London for skin grafts on his thighs. 他去伦敦做大腿植皮手术了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The water came up to the fisherman's thighs. 水没到了渔夫的大腿。 来自《简明英汉词典》
26 prospect P01zn     
  • This state of things holds out a cheerful prospect.事态呈现出可喜的前景。
  • The prospect became more evident.前景变得更加明朗了。
27 hopping hopping     
n. 跳跃 动词hop的现在分词形式
  • The clubs in town are really hopping. 城里的俱乐部真够热闹的。
  • I'm hopping over to Paris for the weekend. 我要去巴黎度周末。
28 underneath VKRz2     
  • Working underneath the car is always a messy job.在汽车底下工作是件脏活。
  • She wore a coat with a dress underneath.她穿着一件大衣,里面套着一条连衣裙。
29 cosy dvnzc5     
  • We spent a cosy evening chatting by the fire.我们在炉火旁聊天度过了一个舒适的晚上。
  • It was so warm and cosy in bed that Simon didn't want to get out.床上温暖而又舒适,西蒙简直不想下床了。
30 applied Tz2zXA     
  • She plans to take a course in applied linguistics.她打算学习应用语言学课程。
  • This cream is best applied to the face at night.这种乳霜最好晚上擦脸用。
31 bellies 573b19215ed083b0e01ff1a54e4199b2     
n.肚子( belly的名词复数 );腹部;(物体的)圆形或凸起部份;腹部…形的
  • They crawled along on their bellies. 他们匍匐前进。
  • starving children with huge distended bellies 鼓着浮肿肚子的挨饿儿童
32 furrows 4df659ff2160099810bd673d8f892c4f     
n.犁沟( furrow的名词复数 );(脸上的)皱纹v.犁田,开沟( furrow的第三人称单数 )
  • I could tell from the deep furrows in her forehead that she was very disturbed by the news. 从她额头深深的皱纹上,我可以看出她听了这个消息非常不安。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Dirt bike trails crisscrossed the grassy furrows. 越野摩托车的轮迹纵横交错地布满条条草沟。 来自辞典例句
33 strings nh0zBe     
  • He sat on the bed,idly plucking the strings of his guitar.他坐在床上,随意地拨着吉他的弦。
  • She swept her fingers over the strings of the harp.她用手指划过竖琴的琴弦。
34 veins 65827206226d9e2d78ea2bfe697c6329     
n.纹理;矿脉( vein的名词复数 );静脉;叶脉;纹理
  • The blood flows from the capillaries back into the veins. 血从毛细血管流回静脉。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I felt a pleasant glow in all my veins from the wine. 喝过酒后我浑身的血都热烘烘的,感到很舒服。 来自《简明英汉词典》
35 abdomen MfXym     
  • How to know to there is ascarid inside abdomen?怎样知道肚子里面有蛔虫?
  • He was anxious about an off-and-on pain the abdomen.他因时隐时现的腹痛而焦虑。
36 horrid arozZj     
  • I'm not going to the horrid dinner party.我不打算去参加这次讨厌的宴会。
  • The medicine is horrid and she couldn't get it down.这种药很难吃,她咽不下去。
37 fascination FlHxO     
  • He had a deep fascination with all forms of transport.他对所有的运输工具都很着迷。
  • His letters have been a source of fascination to a wide audience.广大观众一直迷恋于他的来信。
38 shrill EEize     
  • Whistles began to shrill outside the barn.哨声开始在谷仓外面尖叫。
  • The shrill ringing of a bell broke up the card game on the cutter.刺耳的铃声打散了小汽艇的牌局。
39 waded e8d8bc55cdc9612ad0bc65820a4ceac6     
(从水、泥等)蹚,走过,跋( wade的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She tucked up her skirt and waded into the river. 她撩起裙子蹚水走进河里。
  • He waded into the water to push the boat out. 他蹚进水里把船推出来。
40 sluice fxYwF     
  • We opened the sluice and the water poured in.我们打开闸门,水就涌了进来。
  • They regulate the flow of water by the sluice gate.他们用水闸门控制水的流量。
41 propped 557c00b5b2517b407d1d2ef6ba321b0e     
支撑,支持,维持( prop的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sat propped up in the bed by pillows. 他靠着枕头坐在床上。
  • This fence should be propped up. 这栅栏该用东西支一支。
42 tune NmnwW     
  • He'd written a tune,and played it to us on the piano.他写了一段曲子,并在钢琴上弹给我们听。
  • The boy beat out a tune on a tin can.那男孩在易拉罐上敲出一首曲子。
43 meridian f2xyT     
  • All places on the same meridian have the same longitude.在同一子午线上的地方都有相同的经度。
  • He is now at the meridian of his intellectual power.他现在正值智力全盛期。
44 depressed xu8zp9     
  • When he was depressed,he felt utterly divorced from reality.他心情沮丧时就感到完全脱离了现实。
  • His mother was depressed by the sad news.这个坏消息使他的母亲意志消沉。
45 binding 2yEzWb     
  • The contract was not signed and has no binding force. 合同没有签署因而没有约束力。
  • Both sides have agreed that the arbitration will be binding. 双方都赞同仲裁具有约束力。
46 attired 1ba349e3c80620d3c58c9cc6c01a7305     
adj.穿着整齐的v.使穿上衣服,使穿上盛装( attire的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The bride was attired in white. 新娘穿一身洁白的礼服。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • It is appropriate that everyone be suitably attired. 人人穿戴得体是恰当的。 来自《简明英汉词典》
47 subsided 1bda21cef31764468020a8c83598cc0d     
v.(土地)下陷(因在地下采矿)( subside的过去式和过去分词 );减弱;下降至较低或正常水平;一下子坐在椅子等上
  • After the heavy rains part of the road subsided. 大雨过后,部分公路塌陷了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • By evening the storm had subsided and all was quiet again. 傍晚, 暴风雨已经过去,四周开始沉寂下来。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
48 translucent yniwY     
  • The building is roofed entirely with translucent corrugated plastic.这座建筑完全用半透明瓦楞塑料封顶。
  • A small difference between them will render the composite translucent.微小的差别,也会使复合材料变成半透明。
49 frayed 1e0e4bcd33b0ae94b871e5e62db77425     
adj.磨损的v.(使布、绳等)磨损,磨破( fray的过去式和过去分词 )
  • His shirt was frayed. 他的衬衫穿破了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The argument frayed their nerves. 争辩使他们不快。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
50 ripple isLyh     
n.涟波,涟漪,波纹,粗钢梳;vt.使...起涟漪,使起波纹; vi.呈波浪状,起伏前进
  • The pebble made a ripple on the surface of the lake.石子在湖面上激起一个涟漪。
  • The small ripple split upon the beach.小小的涟漪卷来,碎在沙滩上。
51 foam LjOxI     
  • The glass of beer was mostly foam.这杯啤酒大部分是泡沫。
  • The surface of the water is full of foam.水面都是泡沫。
52 waddling 56319712a61da49c78fdf94b47927106     
v.(像鸭子一样)摇摇摆摆地走( waddle的现在分词 )
  • Rhinoceros Give me a break, were been waddling every day. 犀牛甲:饶了我吧,我们晃了一整天了都。 来自互联网
  • A short plump woman came waddling along the pavement. 有个矮胖女子一摇一摆地沿人行道走来。 来自互联网
53 supreme PHqzc     
  • It was the supreme moment in his life.那是他一生中最重要的时刻。
  • He handed up the indictment to the supreme court.他把起诉书送交最高法院。
54 cuttlefish Xy5x9     
  • I have no idea about how to prepare those cuttlefish and lobsters.我对如何烹调那些乌贼和龙虾毫无概念。
  • The cuttlefish spurts out dark ink when it is in danger.乌鲗遇到危险的时候会喷出黑色液体。


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