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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Mayor of Casterbridge 卡斯特桥市长 » Chapter 18
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Chapter 18
There came a shock which had been foreseen for some time by Elizabeth, as the box passenger foresees the approaching jerk from some channel across the highway.

Her mother was ill--too unwell to leave her room. Henchard, who treated her kindly1, except in moments of irritation2, sent at once for the richest, busiest doctor, whom he supposed to be the best. Bedtime came, and they burnt a light all night. In a day or two she rallied.

Elizabeth, who had been staying up, did not appear at breakfast on the second morning, and Henchard sat down alone. He was startled to see a letter for him from Jersey3 in a writing he knew too well, and had expected least to behold4 again. He took it up in his hands and looked at it as at a picture, a vision, a vista5 of past enactments6; and then he read it as an unimportant finale to conjecture7.

The writer said that she at length perceived how impossible it would be for any further communications to proceed between them now that his re-marriage had taken place. That such reunion had been the only straightforward8 course open to him she was bound to admit.


"On calm reflection, therefore," she went on, "I quite forgive you for landing me in such a dilemma9, remembering that you concealed10 nothing before our ill-advised acquaintance; and that you really did set before me in your grim way the fact of there being a certain risk in intimacy11 with you, slight as it seemed to be after fifteen or sixteen years of silence on your wife's part. I thus look upon the whole as a misfortune of mine, and not a fault of yours.

"So that, Michael, I must ask you to overlook those letters with which I pestered12 you day after day in the heat of my feelings. They were written whilst I thought your conduct to me cruel; but now I know more particulars of the position you were in I see how inconsiderate my reproaches were.

"Now you will, I am sure, perceive that the one condition which will make any future happiness possible for me is that the past connection between our lives be kept secret outside this isle13. Speak of it I know you will not; and I can trust you not to write of it. One safe-guard more remains14 to be mentioned--that no writings of mine, or trifling15 articles belonging to me, should be left in your possession through neglect or forgetfulness. To this end may I request you to return to me any such you may have, particularly the letters written in the first abandonment of feeling.

"For the handsome sum you forwarded to me as a plaster to the wound I heartily16 thank you.

"I am now on my way to Bristol, to see my only relative. She is rich, and I hope will do something for me. I shall return through Casterbridge and Budmouth, where I shall take the packet-boat. Can you meet me with the letters and other trifles? I shall be in the coach which changes horses at the Antelope17 Hotel at half-past five Wednesday evening; I shall be wearing a Paisley shawl with a red centre, and thus may easily be found. I should prefer this plan of receiving them to having them sent.--I remain still, yours; ever,

LUCETTA


Henchard breathed heavily. "Poor thing--better you had not known me! Upon my heart and soul, if ever I should be left in a position to carry out that marriage with thee, I OUGHT to do it--I ought to do it, indeed!"

The contingency18 that he had in his mind was, of course, the death of Mrs. Henchard.

As requested, he sealed up Lucetta's letters, and put the parcel aside till the day she had appointed; this plan of returning them by hand being apparently19 a little ruse20 of the young lady for exchanging a word or two with him on past times. He would have preferred not to see her; but deeming that there could be no great harm in acquiescing21 thus far, he went at dusk and stood opposite the coach-office.

The evening was chilly22, and the coach was late. Henchard crossed over to it while the horses were being changed; but there was no Lucetta inside or out. Concluding that something had happened to modify her arrangements he gave the matter up and went home, not without a sense of relief. Meanwhile Mrs. Henchard was weakening visibly. She could not go out of doors any more. One day, after much thinking which seemed to distress23 her, she said she wanted to write something. A desk was put upon her bed with pen and paper, and at her request she was left alone. She remained writing for a short time, folded her paper carefully, called Elizabeth-Jane to bring a taper24 and wax, and then, still refusing assistance, sealed up the sheet, directed it, and locked it in her desk. She had directed it in these words:-

"MR. MICHAEL HENCHARD. NOT TO BE OPENED TILL ELIZABETHJANE'S WEDDING-DAY."

The latter sat up with her mother to the utmost of her strength night after night. To learn to take the universe seriously there is no quicker way than to watch--to be a "waker," as the country-people call it. Between the hours at which the last toss-pot went by and the first sparrow shook himself, the silence in Casterbridge--barring the rare sound of the watchman--was broken in Elizabeth's ear only by the time-piece in the bedroom ticking frantically25 against the clock on the stairs; ticking harder and harder till it seemed to clang like a gong; and all this while the subtlesouled girl asking herself why she was born, why sitting in a room, and blinking at the candle; why things around her had taken the shape they wore in preference to every other possible shape. Why they stared at her so helplessly, as if waiting for the touch of some wand that should release them from terrestrial constraint26; what that chaos27 called consciousness, which spun28 in her at this moment like a top, tended to, and began in. Her eyes fell together; she was awake, yet she was asleep.

A word from her mother roused her. Without preface, and as the continuation of a scene already progressing in her mind, Mrs. Henchard said: "You remember the note sent to you and Mr. Farfrae--asking you to meet some one in Durnover Barton-and that you thought it was a trick to make fools of you?"

"Yes."

"It was not to make fools of you--it was done to bring you together. 'Twas I did it."

"Why?" said Elizabeth, with a start.

"I--wanted you to marry Mr. Farfrae."

"O mother!" Elizabeth-Jane bent29 down her head so much that she looked quite into her own lap. But as her mother did not go on, she said, "What reason?"

"Well, I had a reason. 'Twill out one day. I wish it could have been in my time! But there--nothing is as you wish it! Henchard hates him."

"Perhaps they'll be friends again," murmured the girl.

"I don't know--I don't know." After this her mother was silent, and dozed30; and she spoke31 on the subject no more.

Some little time later on Farfrae was passing Henchard's house on a Sunday morning, when he observed that the blinds were all down. He rang the bell so softly that it only sounded a single full note and a small one; and then he was informed that Mrs. Henchard was dead--just dead--that very hour.

At the town-pump there were gathered when he passed a few old inhabitants, who came there for water whenever they had, as at present, spare time to fetch it, because it was purer from that original fount than from their own wells. Mrs. Cuxsom, who had been standing32 there for an indefinite time with her pitcher33, was describing the incidents of Mrs. Henchard's death, as she had learnt them from the nurse.

"And she was white as marble-stone," said Mrs. Cuxsom. "And likewise such a thoughtful woman, too--ah, poor soul--that a' minded every little thing that wanted tending. 'Yes,' says she, 'when I'm gone, and my last breath's blowed, look in the top drawer o' the chest in the back room by the window, and you'll find all my coffin34 clothes, a piece of flannel--that's to put under me, and the little piece is to put under my head; and my new stockings for my feet--they are folded alongside, and all my other things. And there's four ounce pennies, the heaviest I could find, a-tied up in bits of linen35, for weights--two for my right eye and two for my left,' she said. 'And when you've used 'em, and my eyes don't open no more, bury the pennies, good souls and don't ye go spending 'em, for I shouldn't like it. And open the windows as soon as I am carried out, and make it as cheerful as you can for Elizabeth-Jane.'"

"Ah, poor heart!"

"Well, and Martha did it, and buried the ounce pennies in the garden. But if ye'll believe words, that man, Christopher Coney, went and dug 'em up, and spent 'em at the Three Mariners36. 'Faith,' he said, 'why should death rob life o' fourpence? Death's not of such good report that we should respect 'en to that extent,' says he."

"'Twas a cannibal deed!" deprecated her listeners.

"Gad37, then I won't quite ha'e it," said Solomon Longways. "I say it to-day, and 'tis a Sunday morning, and I wouldn't speak wrongfully for a zilver zixpence at such a time. I don't see noo harm in it. To respect the dead is sound doxology; and I wouldn't sell skellintons--leastwise respectable skellintons--to be varnished38 for 'natomies, except I were out o' work. But money is scarce, and throats get dry. Why SHOULD death rob life o' fourpence? I say there was no treason in it."

"Well, poor soul; she's helpless to hinder that or anything now," answered Mother Cuxsom. "And all her shining keys will be took from her, and her cupboards opened; and little things a' didn't wish seen, anybody will see; and her wishes and ways will all be as nothing!"

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 kindly tpUzhQ     
adj.和蔼的,温和的,爽快的;adv.温和地,亲切地
参考例句:
  • Her neighbours spoke of her as kindly and hospitable.她的邻居都说她和蔼可亲、热情好客。
  • A shadow passed over the kindly face of the old woman.一道阴影掠过老太太慈祥的面孔。
2 irritation la9zf     
n.激怒,恼怒,生气
参考例句:
  • He could not hide his irritation that he had not been invited.他无法掩饰因未被邀请而生的气恼。
  • Barbicane said nothing,but his silence covered serious irritation.巴比康什么也不说,但是他的沉默里潜伏着阴郁的怒火。
3 jersey Lp5zzo     
n.运动衫
参考例句:
  • He wears a cotton jersey when he plays football.他穿运动衫踢足球。
  • They were dressed alike in blue jersey and knickers.他们穿着一致,都是蓝色的运动衫和灯笼短裤。
4 behold jQKy9     
v.看,注视,看到
参考例句:
  • The industry of these little ants is wonderful to behold.这些小蚂蚁辛勤劳动的样子看上去真令人惊叹。
  • The sunrise at the seaside was quite a sight to behold.海滨日出真是个奇景。
5 vista jLVzN     
n.远景,深景,展望,回想
参考例句:
  • From my bedroom window I looked out on a crowded vista of hills and rooftops.我从卧室窗口望去,远处尽是连绵的山峦和屋顶。
  • These uprisings come from desperation and a vista of a future without hope.发生这些暴动是因为人们被逼上了绝路,未来看不到一点儿希望。
6 enactments 5611b24d947882759eed5c32a8d7c62a     
n.演出( enactment的名词复数 );展现;规定;通过
参考例句:
  • The enactments specified in Part 3 of Schedule 5 are repealed. 附表5第3部指明的成文法则现予废除。 来自互联网
  • On and after April 1st the new enactments shall be enforced. 从4月1日起实施新法令。 来自互联网
7 conjecture 3p8z4     
n./v.推测,猜测
参考例句:
  • She felt it no use to conjecture his motives.她觉得猜想他的动机是没有用的。
  • This conjecture is not supported by any real evidence.这种推测未被任何确切的证据所证实。
8 straightforward fFfyA     
adj.正直的,坦率的;易懂的,简单的
参考例句:
  • A straightforward talk is better than a flowery speech.巧言不如直说。
  • I must insist on your giving me a straightforward answer.我一定要你给我一个直截了当的回答。
9 dilemma Vlzzf     
n.困境,进退两难的局面
参考例句:
  • I am on the horns of a dilemma about the matter.这件事使我进退两难。
  • He was thrown into a dilemma.他陷入困境。
10 concealed 0v3zxG     
a.隐藏的,隐蔽的
参考例句:
  • The paintings were concealed beneath a thick layer of plaster. 那些画被隐藏在厚厚的灰泥层下面。
  • I think he had a gun concealed about his person. 我认为他当时身上藏有一支枪。
11 intimacy z4Vxx     
n.熟悉,亲密,密切关系,亲昵的言行
参考例句:
  • His claims to an intimacy with the President are somewhat exaggerated.他声称自己与总统关系密切,这有点言过其实。
  • I wish there were a rule book for intimacy.我希望能有个关于亲密的规则。
12 pestered 18771cb6d4829ac7c0a2a1528fe31cad     
使烦恼,纠缠( pester的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • Journalists pestered neighbours for information. 记者缠着邻居打听消息。
  • The little girl pestered the travellers for money. 那个小女孩缠着游客要钱。
13 isle fatze     
n.小岛,岛
参考例句:
  • He is from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.他来自爱尔兰海的马恩岛。
  • The boat left for the paradise isle of Bali.小船驶向天堂一般的巴厘岛。
14 remains 1kMzTy     
n.剩余物,残留物;遗体,遗迹
参考例句:
  • He ate the remains of food hungrily.他狼吞虎咽地吃剩余的食物。
  • The remains of the meal were fed to the dog.残羹剩饭喂狗了。
15 trifling SJwzX     
adj.微不足道的;没什么价值的
参考例句:
  • They quarreled over a trifling matter.他们为这种微不足道的事情争吵。
  • So far Europe has no doubt, gained a real conveniency,though surely a very trifling one.直到现在为止,欧洲无疑地已经获得了实在的便利,不过那确是一种微不足道的便利。
16 heartily Ld3xp     
adv.衷心地,诚恳地,十分,很
参考例句:
  • He ate heartily and went out to look for his horse.他痛快地吃了一顿,就出去找他的马。
  • The host seized my hand and shook it heartily.主人抓住我的手,热情地和我握手。
17 antelope fwKzN     
n.羚羊;羚羊皮
参考例句:
  • Choosing the antelope shows that China wants a Green Olympics.选择藏羚羊表示中国需要绿色奥运。
  • The tiger was dragging the antelope across the field.老虎拖着羚羊穿过原野。
18 contingency vaGyi     
n.意外事件,可能性
参考例句:
  • We should be prepared for any contingency.我们应该对任何应急情况有所准备。
  • A fire in our warehouse was a contingency that we had not expected.库房的一场大火是我们始料未及的。
19 apparently tMmyQ     
adv.显然地;表面上,似乎
参考例句:
  • An apparently blind alley leads suddenly into an open space.山穷水尽,豁然开朗。
  • He was apparently much surprised at the news.他对那个消息显然感到十分惊异。
20 ruse 5Ynxv     
n.诡计,计策;诡计
参考例句:
  • The children thought of a clever ruse to get their mother to leave the house so they could get ready for her surprise.孩子们想出一个聪明的办法使妈妈离家,以便他们能准备给她一个惊喜。It is now clear that this was a ruse to divide them.现在已清楚这是一个离间他们的诡计。
21 acquiescing a619a3eb032827a16eaf53e0fa16704e     
v.默认,默许( acquiesce的现在分词 )
参考例句:
  • Japan were acquiescing in being strangled. 日本默然同意别人把它捏死。 来自辞典例句
  • Smith urged Ariza to retract his trade request and be patient several times before finally acquiescing. 在阿里扎提出要被交易时,在答应之前,他曾经数次要求对方多加考虑。 来自互联网
22 chilly pOfzl     
adj.凉快的,寒冷的
参考例句:
  • I feel chilly without a coat.我由于没有穿大衣而感到凉飕飕的。
  • I grew chilly when the fire went out.炉火熄灭后,寒气逼人。
23 distress 3llzX     
n.苦恼,痛苦,不舒适;不幸;vt.使悲痛
参考例句:
  • Nothing could alleviate his distress.什么都不能减轻他的痛苦。
  • Please don't distress yourself.请你不要忧愁了。
24 taper 3IVzm     
n.小蜡烛,尖细,渐弱;adj.尖细的;v.逐渐变小
参考例句:
  • You'd better taper off the amount of time given to rest.你最好逐渐地减少休息时间。
  • Pulmonary arteries taper towards periphery.肺动脉向周围逐渐变细。
25 frantically ui9xL     
ad.发狂地, 发疯地
参考例句:
  • He dashed frantically across the road. 他疯狂地跑过马路。
  • She bid frantically for the old chair. 她发狂地喊出高价要买那把古老的椅子。
26 constraint rYnzo     
n.(on)约束,限制;限制(或约束)性的事物
参考例句:
  • The boy felt constraint in her presence.那男孩在她面前感到局促不安。
  • The lack of capital is major constraint on activities in the informal sector.资本短缺也是影响非正规部门生产经营的一个重要制约因素。
27 chaos 7bZyz     
n.混乱,无秩序
参考例句:
  • After the failure of electricity supply the city was in chaos.停电后,城市一片混乱。
  • The typhoon left chaos behind it.台风后一片混乱。
28 spun kvjwT     
v.纺,杜撰,急转身
参考例句:
  • His grandmother spun him a yarn at the fire.他奶奶在火炉边给他讲故事。
  • Her skilful fingers spun the wool out to a fine thread.她那灵巧的手指把羊毛纺成了细毛线。
29 bent QQ8yD     
n.爱好,癖好;adj.弯的;决心的,一心的
参考例句:
  • He was fully bent upon the project.他一心扑在这项计划上。
  • We bent over backward to help them.我们尽了最大努力帮助他们。
30 dozed 30eca1f1e3c038208b79924c30b35bfc     
v.打盹儿,打瞌睡( doze的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • He boozed till daylight and dozed into the afternoon. 他喝了个通霄,昏沉沉地一直睡到下午。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • I dozed off during the soporific music. 我听到这催人入睡的音乐,便不知不觉打起盹儿来了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
31 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
参考例句:
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
32 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • 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。
33 pitcher S2Gz7     
n.(有嘴和柄的)大水罐;(棒球)投手
参考例句:
  • He poured the milk out of the pitcher.他从大罐中倒出牛奶。
  • Any pitcher is liable to crack during a tight game.任何投手在紧张的比赛中都可能会失常。
34 coffin XWRy7     
n.棺材,灵柩
参考例句:
  • When one's coffin is covered,all discussion about him can be settled.盖棺论定。
  • The coffin was placed in the grave.那口棺材已安放到坟墓里去了。
35 linen W3LyK     
n.亚麻布,亚麻线,亚麻制品;adj.亚麻布制的,亚麻的
参考例句:
  • 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。
36 mariners 70cffa70c802d5fc4932d9a87a68c2eb     
海员,水手(mariner的复数形式)
参考例句:
  • Mariners were also able to fix their latitude by using an instrument called astrolabe. 海员们还可使用星盘这种仪器确定纬度。
  • The ancient mariners traversed the sea. 古代的海员漂洋过海。
37 gad E6dyd     
n.闲逛;v.闲逛
参考例句:
  • He is always on the gad.他老是闲荡作乐。
  • Let it go back into the gloaming and gad with a lot of longing.就让它回到暮色中,满怀憧憬地游荡吧。
38 varnished 14996fe4d70a450f91e6de0005fd6d4d     
浸渍过的,涂漆的
参考例句:
  • The doors are then stained and varnished. 这些门还要染色涂清漆。
  • He varnished the wooden table. 他给那张木桌涂了清漆。


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