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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Well in the Desert » Chapter Six. Elaine.
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Chapter Six. Elaine.

“No has visto un niño, que viene
A dar un doblon que tiene,
Porque le den1 una flor?”
            Lope de Vega.
Philippa determined2 to return home by way of Sempringham. She could not have given any very cogent3 reason, except that she wished to see the place where the only peaceful days of her mother’s life had been passed. Perhaps peace might there come to her also; and she was far enough from it now. It would have been strange indeed if peace had dwelt in a heart where was neither “glory to God” nor “good-will to men.” And while her veneration4 for her mother’s memory was heightened by her aunt’s narrative5, her feeling towards her father, originally a shrinking timidity, had changed now into active hatred6. Had she at that moment been summoned to his deathbed, she would either have refused to go near him at all, or have gone with positive pleasure.
But beside all this, Philippa could not avoid the conclusion that her salvation7 was as far from being accomplished8 as it had been when she reached Shaftesbury. She felt further off it than ever; it appeared to recede9 from her at every approach. Very uneasily she remembered Guy’s farewell words,—“God strip you of your own goodness!” The Living Water seemed as distant as before; but the thirst grew more intense. And yet, like Hagar in the wilderness10, the Well was beside her all the time; but until the Angel of the Lord should open her eyes, she could not see it.
She reached Sempringham, and took up her abode11 for the night in the convent, uncertain how long she would remain there. An apparently12 trivial incident decided13 that question for her.
As Philippa stood at the convent gate, in a mild winter morning, she heard a soft, sweet voice singing, and set herself to discover whence the sound proceeded. The vocalist was readily found,—a little girl of ten years old, who was sitting on a bank a few yards from the gate, with a quantity of snowdrops in her lap, which she was trying with partial success to weave into a wreath. Philippa—weary of idleness, Books of Hours, and embroidery—drew near to talk with her.
“What is thy name?” she asked, by way of opening negotiations14.
“Elaine,” said the child, lifting a pair of timid blue eyes to her questioner’s face.
“And where dwellest thou?”
“Down yonder glade15, Lady: my father is Wilfred the convent woodcutter.”
“And who taught thee to speak French?”
“The holy sisters, Lady.”
“What wert thou singing a minute since?”
The child drooped16 her head shyly.
“Do not be afraid,” said Philippa gently. “I like to hear singing. Wilt17 thou sing it again to me?”
Elaine hesitated a moment; but another glance at Philippa’s smiling face seemed to reassure18 her, and she sang, in a low voice, to a sweet, weird19 tune:—
“‘Quy de cette eaw boyra
Ancor soyf aura;
Mays quy de l’eaw boyra
Que moy luy donneray,
Jamays soyf n’aura
A l’éternité.’”
“This must be very widely known,” thought Philippa.—“Who taught thee that—the holy sisters?” she asked of the child.
“No,” answered Elaine, shaking her head. “The Grey Lady.”
“And who is the Grey Lady?”
The look with which Elaine replied, showed Philippa that not to know the Grey Lady was to augur20 herself unknown, at least in the Vale of Sempringham.
“Know you not the Grey Lady? All in the Vale know her.”
“Where dwelleth she?”
“Up yonder”—but to Philippa’s eyes, Elaine merely pointed21 to a cluster of leafless trees on the hill-side.
“And is she one of the holy sisters?”
On this point Elaine was evidently doubtful. The Grey Lady did not dwell in the convent, nor in any convent; she lived all alone, therefore it was plain that she was not a sister. But she was always habited in grey wherefore men called her the Grey Lady. No—she had no other name.
“A recluse22, manifestly,” said Philippa to herself; “the child does not understand. But is she an anchoritess or an eremitess?—Does she ever leave her cell?” (See Note 1.)
“Lady, she tendeth all the sick hereabout. She is a friend of every woman in the Vale. My mother saith, an’ it like you, that where there is any wound to heal, or heart to comfort, there is the Grey Lady. And she saith she hath a wonderful power of healing, as well for mind as body. When Edeline our neighbour lost all her four children by fever between the two Saint Agneses, (see Note 2), nobody could comfort her till the Grey Lady came. And when Ida my playmate lay dying, and very fearful of death, she said even the holy priest did her not so much good as the Grey Lady. I think,” ended Elaine softly, “she must be an angel in disguise.”
The child evidently spoke23 her thought literally24.
“I will wait and see this Grey Lady,” thought Philippa. “Let me see if she can teach and comfort me. Ever since Guy of Ashridge visited Kilquyt, I seem to have been going further from comfort every day.—Canst thou lead me to the Grey Lady’s cell?”
“I could; but she is not now there, Lady.”
“When will she be there?”
“To-morrow, when the shadow beginneth to lengthen25,” replied Elaine, who was evidently well acquainted with the Grey Lady’s proceedings26.
“Then to-morrow, when the shadow beginneth to lengthen, thou shalt come to the convent gate, and I will meet with thee. Will thy mother give thee leave?”
“Ay. She alway giveth me leave to visit the Grey Lady.”
The appointment was made, and Philippa turned back to the convent.
“I was searching you, Lady de Sergeaux,” said the portress, when Philippa re-entered the gate. “During your absence, there came to the priory close by a messenger from Arundel on his road toward Hereford; and hearing that the Lady de Sergeaux was with us, he sent word through a lay-brother that he would gladly have speech of you.”
“A messenger from Arundel! What can he want with me?”
Philippa felt that all messengers from Arundel would be very unwelcome to her. She added, rather ungraciously, that “perhaps she had better see him.” She passed into the guest-chamber, whither in a few minutes the messenger came to her. He was a page, habited in deep mourning; and Philippa recognised him at once as the personal “varlet” attendant on the Countess. The thought rose to her mind that the Earl might have fallen in Gascony.
“God keep thee, good Hubert!” she said. “Be thy tidings evil?”
“As evil as they might be, Lady,” answered the page sadly. “Two days before the feast of Saint Hilary, our Lady the Countess Alianora was commanded to God.”
A tumult27 of conflicting feelings went surging through Philippa’s heart and brain.
“Was thy Lord at home?”
She inwardly hoped that he was not. It was only fitting, said the vindictive28 hatred which had usurped29 the place of her conscience, that Alianora of Lancaster should feel something of that to which she had helped to doom30 Isabel La Despenser.
“Lady, no. Our Lord abideth in Gascony, with the Duke of Lancaster.”
Philippa was not sorry to hear it; for her heart was full of “envy, hatred, malice31, and all uncharitableness.”
When the shadow began to lengthen on the following day, Philippa wrapped her mantle32 around her, and called to her damsel to follow. Her varlet followed also, at a little distance behind. She found Elaine and a younger child waiting for her outside the gate. Elaine introduced her companion as her sister Annora. Annora proved much less shy than Elaine, and far more ready with her communications. But she was not asked many questions; for as they turned away from the convent gate, they were met by a monk33 in the Dominican habit, and Philippa knew directly the face of Guy of Ashridge.
“Christ save you, Father,” said she.
“And you, daughter,” he answered. “Are you yet seeking comfort, or have you found it?”
“I am further from it than ever,” she replied, rather petulantly34.
“No wonder,” said Guy. “For comfort hath another name, which is—Christ. Who is a stranger to the One shall needs be a stranger to the other.”
“I have tried hard to make my salvation,” responded Philippa more sadly; “but as yet I cannot do it.”
“Nor will you, though you could try a thousand years,” answered Guy. “That is a manufacture beyond saints and angels, and how then shall you do it?”
“Who then can do it?”
“God,” said Guy, solemnly.
“God hates me,” replied Philippa, under her breath. “He hateth all mine house. For nigh fifty years, He hath sent us sorrow upon sorrow, and hath crushed us down into the dust of death.”
“Poor blindling! is that a proof that He hateth you?” answered Guy more gently. “Well, it is true at times, when the father sendeth a varlet in haste to save the child from falling over a precipice35, the child—whose heart is set on some fair flower on the rock below—doth think it cruel. You are that child; and your trouble is the varlet God hath sent after you.”
“He hath sent His whole meynie, then,” said Philippa bitterly.
“Then the child will not come to the Father?” said Guy, softly.
Philippa was silent.
“Is the flower so fair, that you will risk life for it?” pursued the monk. “Nay, not risk—that is a word implying doubt, and here is none. So fair, then, that you will throw life away for it? And is the Father not fair and precious in your eyes, that you are in so little haste to come to Him? Daughter, what shall it profit you, if you gain the whole world—and lose your own soul?”
“Father, you are too hard upon me!” cried Philippa in a pained tone, and resisting with some difficulty a strong inclination36 to shed tears. “I would come to God, but I know not how, nor do you tell me. God is afar off, and hath no leisure nor will to think on me; nor can I presume to approach Him without the holy saints to intercede37 for me. I have sought their intercession hundreds of times. It is not I that am unwilling38 to be saved; and you speak to me as if you thought it so. It is God that will not save me. I have done all I can.”
“O fool, and slow of heart to believe!” earnestly answered Guy. “Can it be God, when He cared so much for you that He sent His blessed Son down from Heaven to die for your salvation? Beware how you accuse the Lord. I tell you again, it is not His will that opposeth itself to your happiness, but your own. You have built up a wall of your own excellencies that you cannot see God; and then you cry, ‘He hath hidden Himself from me.’ Pull down your miserable39 mud walls, and let the light of Heaven shine in upon you. Christ will save you with no half nor quarter salvation. He will not let you lay the foundation whereon He shall build. He will not tear His fair shining robe of righteousness to patch your worthless rags. With Him, either not at all, or all in all.”
“But what would you have me do?” said Philippa, in a vexed40 tone.
“Believe,” replied Guy.
“Believe what?” said she.
“‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’”
“The easiest thing in the world,” answered Philippa, a little contemptuously.
“Is it so?” responded the monk, with a pitying smile. “It seems to me that you have found it since last June the hardest thing in the world. Whither go you now?” he asked, suddenly changing his tone.
“I go,” she rejoined, “with this child, to the cell of an eremitess of whom she hath told me, ‘that hath,’ quoth she, ‘great power of comforting the sorrowful.’ All about here seem to know her. They call her the Grey Lady.”
Guy looked on her long and earnestly, an expression creeping over his face which Philippa could not understand.
“Be it so,” he said at last. “‘I will lead the blind by a way that they know not.’ Let my voice be silent when He speaketh. Verily”—and his voice fell to a softer tone—“I never passed through the deep waters wherein she has waded41; nor, perchance, where you have. Let God speak to you through her. Go your way.”
“But who is she—this Grey Lady?”
Philippa asked in vain. Guy either did not hear her, or would not answer. He walked rapidly down the hill, with only “Farewell!” as he passed her; and she went her way, to meet her fate—rather, to meet God’s providence—in the cell of the Grey Lady.


1 den 5w9xk     
  • There is a big fox den on the back hill.后山有一个很大的狐狸窝。
  • The only way to catch tiger cubs is to go into tiger's den.不入虎穴焉得虎子。
2 determined duszmP     
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
3 cogent hnuyD     
  • The result is a cogent explanation of inflation.结果令人信服地解释了通货膨胀问题。
  • He produced cogent reasons for the change of policy.他对改变政策提出了充分的理由。
4 veneration 6Lezu     
  • I acquired lasting respect for tradition and veneration for the past.我开始对传统和历史产生了持久的敬慕。
  • My father venerated General Eisenhower.我父亲十分敬仰艾森豪威尔将军。
5 narrative CFmxS     
  • He was a writer of great narrative power.他是一位颇有记述能力的作家。
  • Neither author was very strong on narrative.两个作者都不是很善于讲故事。
6 hatred T5Gyg     
  • He looked at me with hatred in his eyes.他以憎恨的眼光望着我。
  • The old man was seized with burning hatred for the fascists.老人对法西斯主义者充满了仇恨。
7 salvation nC2zC     
  • Salvation lay in political reform.解救办法在于政治改革。
  • Christians hope and pray for salvation.基督教徒希望并祈祷灵魂得救。
8 accomplished UzwztZ     
  • Thanks to your help,we accomplished the task ahead of schedule.亏得你们帮忙,我们才提前完成了任务。
  • Removal of excess heat is accomplished by means of a radiator.通过散热器完成多余热量的排出。
9 recede sAKzB     
  • The colleges would recede in importance.大学的重要性会降低。
  • He saw that the dirty water had begun to recede.他发现那污浊的水开始往下退了。
10 wilderness SgrwS     
  • She drove the herd of cattle through the wilderness.她赶着牛群穿过荒野。
  • Education in the wilderness is not a matter of monetary means.荒凉地区的教育不是钱财问题。
11 abode hIby0     
  • It was ten months before my father discovered his abode.父亲花了十个月的功夫,才好不容易打听到他的住处。
  • Welcome to our humble abode!欢迎光临寒舍!
12 apparently tMmyQ     
  • 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。
13 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
14 negotiations af4b5f3e98e178dd3c4bac64b625ecd0     
协商( negotiation的名词复数 ); 谈判; 完成(难事); 通过
  • negotiations for a durable peace 为持久和平而进行的谈判
  • Negotiations have failed to establish any middle ground. 谈判未能达成任何妥协。
15 glade kgTxM     
  • In the midst of a glade were several huts.林中的空地中间有几间小木屋。
  • The family had their lunch in the glade.全家在林中的空地上吃了午饭。
16 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。
17 wilt oMNz5     
  • Golden roses do not wilt and will never need to be watered.金色的玫瑰不枯萎绝也不需要浇水。
  • Several sleepless nights made him wilt.数个不眠之夜使他憔悴。
18 reassure 9TgxW     
  • This seemed to reassure him and he continued more confidently.这似乎使他放心一点,于是他更有信心地继续说了下去。
  • The airline tried to reassure the customers that the planes were safe.航空公司尽力让乘客相信飞机是安全的。
19 weird bghw8     
  • From his weird behaviour,he seems a bit of an oddity.从他不寻常的行为看来,他好像有点怪。
  • His weird clothes really gas me.他的怪衣裳简直笑死人。
20 augur 7oHyF     
  • Does this news augur war?这消息预示将有战争吗?
  • The signs augur well for tomorrow's weather.种种征候预示明天天气良好。
21 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
22 recluse YC4yA     
  • The old recluse secluded himself from the outside world.这位老隐士与外面的世界隔绝了。
  • His widow became a virtual recluse for the remainder of her life.他的寡妻孤寂地度过了余生。
23 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
  • 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。
24 literally 28Wzv     
  • He translated the passage literally.他逐字逐句地翻译这段文字。
  • Sometimes she would not sit down till she was literally faint.有时候,她不走到真正要昏厥了,决不肯坐下来。
25 lengthen n34y1     
  • He asked the tailor to lengthen his coat.他请裁缝把他的外衣放长些。
  • The teacher told her to lengthen her paper out.老师让她把论文加长。
26 proceedings Wk2zvX     
  • He was released on bail pending committal proceedings. 他交保获释正在候审。
  • to initiate legal proceedings against sb 对某人提起诉讼
27 tumult LKrzm     
  • The tumult in the streets awakened everyone in the house.街上的喧哗吵醒了屋子里的每一个人。
  • His voice disappeared under growing tumult.他的声音消失在越来越响的喧哗声中。
28 vindictive FL3zG     
  • I have no vindictive feelings about it.我对此没有恶意。
  • The vindictive little girl tore up her sister's papers.那个充满报复心的小女孩撕破了她姐姐的作业。
29 usurped ebf643e98bddc8010c4af826bcc038d3     
篡夺,霸占( usurp的过去式和过去分词 ); 盗用; 篡夺,篡权
  • That magazine usurped copyrighted material. 那杂志盗用了版权为他人所有的素材。
  • The expression'social engineering'has been usurped by the Utopianist without a shadow of light. “社会工程”这个词已被乌托邦主义者毫无理由地盗用了。
30 doom gsexJ     
  • The report on our economic situation is full of doom and gloom.这份关于我们经济状况的报告充满了令人绝望和沮丧的调子。
  • The dictator met his doom after ten years of rule.独裁者统治了十年终于完蛋了。
31 malice P8LzW     
  • I detected a suggestion of malice in his remarks.我觉察出他说的话略带恶意。
  • There was a strong current of malice in many of his portraits.他的许多肖像画中都透着一股强烈的怨恨。
32 mantle Y7tzs     
  • The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green.大地披上了苍翠欲滴的绿色斗篷。
  • The mountain was covered with a mantle of snow.山上覆盖着一层雪。
33 monk 5EDx8     
  • The man was a monk from Emei Mountain.那人是峨眉山下来的和尚。
  • Buddhist monk sat with folded palms.和尚合掌打坐。
34 petulantly 6a54991724c557a3ccaeff187356e1c6     
  • \"No; nor will she miss now,\" cries The Vengeance, petulantly. “不会的,现在也不会错过,”复仇女神气冲冲地说。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
35 precipice NuNyW     
  • The hut hung half over the edge of the precipice.那间小屋有一半悬在峭壁边上。
  • A slight carelessness on this precipice could cost a man his life.在这悬崖上稍一疏忽就会使人丧生。
36 inclination Gkwyj     
  • She greeted us with a slight inclination of the head.她微微点头向我们致意。
  • I did not feel the slightest inclination to hurry.我没有丝毫着急的意思。
37 intercede q5Zx7     
  • He was quickly snubbed when he tried to intercede.当他试着说情时很快被制止了。
  • At a time like that there has to be a third party to intercede.这时候要有个第三者出来斡旋。
38 unwilling CjpwB     
  • The natives were unwilling to be bent by colonial power.土著居民不愿受殖民势力的摆布。
  • His tightfisted employer was unwilling to give him a raise.他那吝啬的雇主不肯给他加薪。
39 miserable g18yk     
  • It was miserable of you to make fun of him.你取笑他,这是可耻的。
  • Her past life was miserable.她过去的生活很苦。
40 vexed fd1a5654154eed3c0a0820ab54fb90a7     
adj.争论不休的;(指问题等)棘手的;争论不休的问题;烦恼的v.使烦恼( vex的过去式和过去分词 );使苦恼;使生气;详细讨论
  • The conference spent days discussing the vexed question of border controls. 会议花了几天的时间讨论边境关卡这个难题。
  • He was vexed at his failure. 他因失败而懊恼。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
41 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。


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