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Chapter 6 The Wrong Turning

The way he helped her into the boat was delicious, simply delicious: it made her feel like a grown-up lady to be taken so much care of — usually, people didn’t mind how you got in and out of things, as you were only thirteen. And before he let her step off the landing he took her strap1 of books from her — those wretched schoolbooks, which stamped her, but which she hadn’t known how to get rid of: her one chance of going for a row was secretly, on her way home from school. But he seemed to understand, without being told, how she despised them, and he put them somewhere in the boat where they wouldn’t get wet, and yet she didn’t need to see them. (She wondered what he had done with his own.)

He was so NICE; everything about him was nice: his velvety2 brown eyes and white teeth; his pink cheeks and fair hair. And when he took his coat off and sat down, and rolled up his sleeves and spanned his wrists on the oars3, she liked him better still: he looked so strong . . . almost as if he could have picked the boat up and carried it. He wasn’t at all forward either (she hated cheeky boys:) when he had to touch her hand he went brick red, and jumped his own hand away as quick as he could.

With one stroke they were off and gliding4 downstream . . . oh, so smoothly5! It made her think of floating in milk . . . though the water was REALLY brown and muddy-looking. Soon they would be quite away from the houses and the little back-gardens and allotments that ran down to the water, and out among the woods, where the river twisted like a snake, and the trees hung over the edge and dipped their branches in . . . most romantically. Then perhaps he would say something. He hadn’t spoken yet; he was too busy rowing, making great sweeps with the oars, and not looking at her . . . or only taking a peep now and then, to see if she saw. Which she did, and her heart thumped6 with pleasure. Perhaps, as he was so clever at it, he’d be a sailor when he was a man and go to sea. But that would mean him travelling far away, and she might never see him again. And though she’d only known him for a fortnight, and at first he hadn’t liked to speak, but had just stood and made eyes at her when they met going home from school, she felt she simply couldn’t bear it if he did.

To hide her feelings, she hung one hand over the side of the boat and let it trail, through the water — keeping it there long after it was stone cold, in the hope that he would notice it and say something. But he didn’t.

The Boy was thinking: I wonder if I dare tell her not to . . . her little hand . . . all wet like that, and cold. I should like to take it in both mine, and rub it dry, and warm it. HOW pretty she is, with all that fuzzy-wuzzy hair, and the little curls on her forehead. And how long her eyelashes are when she looks down. I wish I could make her look up . . . look at me. But how? Why, say something, of course. But what? Oh, if ONLY I could think of something! What does one? What would Jim say, if he wanted to make his girl look at him?

But nothing came.

Here, however, the hand was jerked from the water to kill a gnat7 that had settled on the other.

This was his cue. He parted hastily with his saliva8.

“I say! Did it sting?”

She suppressed the no that was on her lips. “Well . . . yes . . . I think it did, rather.” And doubling her bony little schoolgirl fingers into her palm, she held out the back of the hand for his inspection9.

Steadying the oars, the Boy leant forward to look, leant so far that, for a wild moment, she believed he was going to kiss the place, and half instinctively10, half from an equally strong impulse to “play him,” drew it away. But he did not follow it up: at the thought of a kiss, which HAD occurred to him, shyness lamed11 him anew. So nothing came of this either.

And we’ve only half an hour, thought the Girl distractedly. If he doesn’t say something . . . soon . . . there won’t be any time left. And then it will all have been for nothing.

She, too, beat her brains. “The trees . . . aren’t they pretty?— the way they hang right down in the water.” (Other couples stopped under these trees, she’d seen them, and lay there in their boats; or even went right in behind the weeping willows12.)

But his sole response was: “Good enough.” And another block followed.

Oh, he saw quite well what she was aiming at: she wanted him to pull in to the bank and ship his oars, so that they could do a bit of spooning, she lying lazy in the stern. But at the picture a mild panic seized him. For, if he couldn’t find anything to say even when he was rowing, it would be ten times harder when he sat with his hands before him and nothing to do. His tongue would stick to the roof of his mouth, dry as a bone, and then she’d see for sure how dull he was. And never want to go out with him again. No, thank you, not for him!

But talk wasn’t everything — by gum, it wasn’t! He might be a rotten hand at speechifying, but what he could DO, that he’d jolly well show her! And under this urge to display his strength, his skill, he now fell to work in earnest. Forward swung the oars, cleanly carving13 the water, or lightly feathering the surface; on flew the boat, he driving to and fro with his jaws14 grimly set and a heightened colour, the muscles standing15 out like pencils on his arms. Oh, it was a fine thing to be able to row so well, and have a girl, THE girl, sitting watching you. For now her eyes hung on him, mutely adoring, spurring him on to ever bolder strokes.

And then a sheerly dreadful thing happened. So lost was he in showing his mastery, in feeding on her looks, that he failed to keep his wits about him. And, coming to a place where the river forked, he took the wrong turning, and before he knew it they were in a part where you were not supposed to go — a bathing-place for men, much frequented by soldiers.

A squeal16 from the Girl roused him; but then it was too late: they had shot in among a score of bathers, whose heads bobbed about on the surface like so many floating footballs. And instantly her shrill17 cry was taken up and echoed and re-echoed by shouts, and laughter, and rude hullos, as the swimmers scattered18 before the oars. Coarse jokes were bandied, too, at the unwarranted intrusion. Hi! wasn’t there nowhere else he could take his girl? Or was she coming in, too? Off with her togs then!

Crimson19 with mortification20 at his blunder, at the fool he had made of himself (before her), the Boy savagely21 strove to turn the boat and escape. But the heads — there seemed to be hundreds of them — deliberately22 blocked his way. And while he manoeuvred, the sweat trickling23 down his forehead, a pair of arms and shoulders reared themselves from the water, and two hands grasped the side of the boat. It rocked; and the Girl squealed24 anew, shrinking sideways from the nearness of the dripping, sunburnt flesh.

“Come on, missie, pay toll25!”

The Boy swore aloud.

But even worse was to come. On one bank, a square of wooden palisades had been built out round a stretch of water and a wooden bath-house, where there were cabins for the men to strip in, platforms to jump from, ropes strung for those who could not swim. But in this fence was a great gap, where some of the palings had fallen down. And in his rage and confusion the Boy had the misfortune to bring the boat right alongside it; and then . . . then. . . . Inside the enclosure, out of the cabins, down the steps, men were running, jumping, chasing, leap-frogging . . . every one of them as naked as on the day he was born.

For one instant the Girl raised her eyes — one only . . . but it was enough. She saw. And he saw that she saw.

And now, to these two young creatures, it seemed as if the whole visible world — themselves, boat, river, trees and sky — caught fire, and blazed up in one gigantic blush. Nothing existed for them any more but this burning redness. Nor could they escape; there they had to sit, knee to knee, face to face, and scorch26, and suffocate27; the blood filling their eyes till they could scarcely see, mounting to their hair-roots, making even their finger-tips throb28 and tingle29.

Gritting30 his teeth, the Boy rowed like a machine that had been wound up and was not to be stopped. The Girl sat with drooped31 head — it seemed to have grown strangely heavy — and but a single wish: to get out and away . . . where he could not see her. For all was over between them — both felt that. Something catastrophic had happened, rudely shattering their frail32 young dreams; breaking down his boyish privacy, pitching her headlong into a reality for which she was in no wise prepared.

If it had been hard beforehand to find things to say, it was now impossible. And on the way home no sound was to be heard but the dip of the oars, the water’s cluck and gurgle round the boat. At the landing-place, she got out by herself, took from him, without looking up, her strap of books, and said a brief good-bye; keeping to a walking pace till she had turned the corner, then breaking into a run, and running for dear life . . . as if chased by some grotesque33 nightmare-shape which she must leave far, far behind her . . . even in thought.


1 strap 5GhzK     
  • She held onto a strap to steady herself.她抓住拉手吊带以便站稳。
  • The nurse will strap up your wound.护士会绑扎你的伤口。
2 velvety 5783c9b64c2c5d03bc234867b2d33493     
adj. 像天鹅绒的, 轻软光滑的, 柔软的
  • a velvety red wine 醇厚的红葡萄酒
  • Her skin was admired for its velvety softness. 她的皮肤如天鹅绒般柔软,令人赞叹。
3 oars c589a112a1b341db7277ea65b5ec7bf7     
n.桨,橹( oar的名词复数 );划手v.划(行)( oar的第三人称单数 )
  • He pulled as hard as he could on the oars. 他拼命地划桨。
  • The sailors are bending to the oars. 水手们在拼命地划桨。 来自《简明英汉词典》
4 gliding gliding     
v. 滑翔 adj. 滑动的
  • Swans went gliding past. 天鹅滑行而过。
  • The weather forecast has put a question mark against the chance of doing any gliding tomorrow. 天气预报对明天是否能举行滑翔表示怀疑。
5 smoothly iiUzLG     
  • The workmen are very cooperative,so the work goes on smoothly.工人们十分合作,所以工作进展顺利。
  • Just change one or two words and the sentence will read smoothly.这句话只要动一两个字就顺了。
6 thumped 0a7f1b69ec9ae1663cb5ed15c0a62795     
v.重击, (指心脏)急速跳动( thump的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Dave thumped the table in frustration . 戴夫懊恼得捶打桌子。
  • He thumped the table angrily. 他愤怒地用拳捶击桌子。
7 gnat gekzi     
  • Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.小事拘谨,大事糊涂。
  • He's always straining at a gnat.他总是对小事很拘谨。
8 saliva 6Cdz0     
  • He wiped a dribble of saliva from his chin.他擦掉了下巴上的几滴口水。
  • Saliva dribbled from the baby's mouth.唾液从婴儿的嘴里流了出来。
9 inspection y6TxG     
  • On random inspection the meat was found to be bad.经抽查,发现肉变质了。
  • The soldiers lined up for their daily inspection by their officers.士兵们列队接受军官的日常检阅。
10 instinctively 2qezD2     
  • As he leaned towards her she instinctively recoiled. 他向她靠近,她本能地往后缩。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He knew instinctively where he would find her. 他本能地知道在哪儿能找到她。 来自《简明英汉词典》
11 lamed 4cb2455d428d600ac7151270a620c137     
  • He was lamed in the earthquake when he was a little boy. 他还是小孩子时在地震中就变跛了。
  • The school was lamed by losses of staff. 学校因教职人员流失而开不了课。
12 willows 79355ee67d20ddbc021d3e9cb3acd236     
n.柳树( willow的名词复数 );柳木
  • The willows along the river bank look very beautiful. 河岸边的柳树很美。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Willows are planted on both sides of the streets. 街道两侧种着柳树。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
13 carving 5wezxw     
  • All the furniture in the room had much carving.房间里所有的家具上都有许多雕刻。
  • He acquired the craft of wood carving in his native town.他在老家学会了木雕手艺。
14 jaws cq9zZq     
  • The antelope could not escape the crocodile's gaping jaws. 那只羚羊无法从鱷鱼张开的大口中逃脱。
  • The scored jaws of a vise help it bite the work. 台钳上有刻痕的虎钳牙帮助它紧咬住工件。
15 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
16 squeal 3Foyg     
  • The children gave a squeal of fright.孩子们发出惊吓的尖叫声。
  • There was a squeal of brakes as the car suddenly stopped.小汽车突然停下来时,车闸发出尖叫声。
17 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。
18 scattered 7jgzKF     
  • Gathering up his scattered papers,he pushed them into his case.他把散乱的文件收拾起来,塞进文件夹里。
19 crimson AYwzH     
  • She went crimson with embarrassment.她羞得满脸通红。
  • Maple leaves have turned crimson.枫叶已经红了。
20 mortification mwIyN     
  • To my mortification, my manuscript was rejected. 使我感到失面子的是:我的稿件被退了回来。
  • The chairman tried to disguise his mortification. 主席试图掩饰自己的窘迫。
21 savagely 902f52b3c682f478ddd5202b40afefb9     
adv. 野蛮地,残酷地
  • The roses had been pruned back savagely. 玫瑰被狠狠地修剪了一番。
  • He snarled savagely at her. 他向她狂吼起来。
22 deliberately Gulzvq     
  • The girl gave the show away deliberately.女孩故意泄露秘密。
  • They deliberately shifted off the argument.他们故意回避这个论点。
23 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》
24 squealed 08be5c82571f6dba9615fa69033e21b0     
v.长声尖叫,用长而尖锐的声音说( squeal的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He squealed the words out. 他吼叫着说出那些话。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The brakes of the car squealed. 汽车的刹车发出吱吱声。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 toll LJpzo     
  • The hailstone took a heavy toll of the crops in our village last night.昨晚那场冰雹损坏了我们村的庄稼。
  • The war took a heavy toll of human life.这次战争夺去了许多人的生命。
26 scorch YZhxa     
  • I could not wash away the mark of the scorch.我洗不掉这焦痕。
  • This material will scorch easily if it is too near the fire.这种材料如果太靠近炉火很容易烤焦。
27 suffocate CHNzm     
  • If you shut all the windows,I will suffocate.如果你把窗户全部关起来,我就会闷死。
  • The stale air made us suffocate.浑浊的空气使我们感到窒息。
28 throb aIrzV     
  • She felt her heart give a great throb.她感到自己的心怦地跳了一下。
  • The drums seemed to throb in his ears.阵阵鼓声彷佛在他耳边震响。
29 tingle tJzzu     
  • The music made my blood tingle.那音乐使我热血沸腾。
  • The cold caused a tingle in my fingers.严寒使我的手指有刺痛感。
30 gritting 51dd4f54ec0b8d94ce6d9df0cead2d3a     
v.以沙砾覆盖(某物),撒沙砾于( grit的现在分词 );咬紧牙关
  • Gritting my teeth, I did my best to stifle one or two remarks. 我咬紧牙关,硬是吞回了几句话。 来自辞典例句
  • It takes gritting your teeth. It takes discipline. 你得咬紧牙关,你得有严格的纪律。 来自辞典例句
31 drooped ebf637c3f860adcaaf9c11089a322fa5     
弯曲或下垂,发蔫( droop的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Her eyelids drooped as if she were on the verge of sleep. 她眼睑低垂好像快要睡着的样子。
  • The flowers drooped in the heat of the sun. 花儿晒蔫了。
32 frail yz3yD     
  • Mrs. Warner is already 96 and too frail to live by herself.华纳太太已经九十六岁了,身体虚弱,不便独居。
  • She lay in bed looking particularly frail.她躺在床上,看上去特别虚弱。
33 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。


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