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Chapter 8 A Talk at Home

On Sunday morning Mr. and Mrs. Arable and Fern were sitting at breakfast in the kitchen. Avery had finished and was upstairs looking for his slingshot.

  "Did you know that Uncle Homer's goslings had hatched?" asked Fern.

  "How many?" asked Mr. Arable.

  "Seven," replied Fern. "There were eight eggs but one egg didn't hatch and the goose told Templeton she didn't want it any more, so he took it away.""The goose did what?" asked Mrs. Arable, gazing at her daughter with a queer, worried look.

  "Told Templeton she didn't want the egg any more," repeated Fern.

  "Who is Templeton?" asked Mrs. Arable.

  "He's the rat," replied Fern. "None of us like him much.""Who is 'us'?" asked Mr. Arable.

  "Oh, everybody in the barn cellar. Wilbur and the sheep and the lambs and the goose and the gander and the goslings and Charlotte and me.""Charlotte?" said Mrs. Arable. "Who's Charlotte?

  "She's Wilbur's best friend. She's terribly clever.""What does she look like?" asked Mrs. Arable.

  "Well-l," said Fern, thoughtfully," she has eight legs. All spiders do, I guess.""Charlotte is a spider?" asked Fern's mother.

  Fern nodded. "A big grey one. She has a web across the top of Wilbur's doorway. She catches flies and sucks their blood. Wilbur adores her.""Does he really?" said Mrs. Arable, rather vaguely. She was staring at Fern with a worried expression on her face.

  "Oh, yes, Wilbur adores Charlotte," said Fern. "Do you know what Charlotte said when the goslings hatched?""I haven't the faintest idea," said Mr. Arable. "Tell us.""Well, when the first gosling stuck its little head out from under the goose, I was sitting on my stool in the corner and Charlotte was on her web. She made a speech. She said:" I am sure that every one of us here in the barn cellar will be gratified to learn that after four weeks of unremitting effort and patience on the part of the goose, she now has something to show for it.' Don't you think that was a pleasant thing for her to say?""Yes, I do," said Mrs. Arable. "And now, Fern, it's time to get ready for Sunday School And tell Avery to get ready. And this afternoon you can tell me more about what goes on in Uncle Homer's barn. Aren't you spending quite a lot of time there? You go there almost every afternoon, don't you?""I like it there," replied Fern. She wiped her mouth and ran upstairs. After she had left the room, Mrs. Arable spoke in a low voice to her husband.

  "I worry about Fern," she said. "Did you hear the way she rambled on about the animals, pretending that they talked?"Mr. Arable chuckled. "Maybe they do talk," he said. "I've sometimes wondered. At any rate, don't worry about Fern--she's just got a lively imagination. Kids think they hear all sorts of things.""Just the same, I do worry about her," replied Mrs. Arable. "I think I shall ask Dr. Dorian about her the next time I see him. He loves Fern almost as much as we do, and I want him to know how queerly she is acting about that pig and everything. I don't think it's normal. You know perfectly well animals don't talk."Mr. Arable grinned. "Maybe our ears aren't as sharp as Fern's," he said.

 

  星期六早上,阿拉贝尔先生和太太还有芬正坐在厨房吃早餐。埃弗里已经吃过了饭,便上楼找他的弹弓去了。

  “你们知道霍默舅舅的小鹅孵出来了吗?”芬问。

  “孵出了多少个?”阿拉贝尔先生问。

  “七个。”芬回答。“本来有八个蛋,但有一个没孵出来。母鹅告诉坦普尔曼她不想要这个蛋了,所以他把蛋带走了。”

  “母鹅说什么了?”阿拉贝尔太太惊奇而又担心地盯着女儿问。

  “她告诉坦普尔曼,她不想再要那个蛋了,”芬重复道。

  “谁是坦普尔曼?”阿拉贝尔太太问。

  “他就是那只老鼠,”芬回答。“我们都不太喜欢他。”

  “谁是‘我们’?”阿拉贝尔先生问。

  “噢,就是住在谷仓地窖里的所有人。威伯,绵羊,羊羔,母鹅,公鹅,小鹅,夏洛和我。”

  “夏洛?”阿拉贝尔太太说。“谁是夏洛?”

  “她是威伯最好的朋友,她非常的聪明。”

  “她长得什么样儿?”阿拉贝尔太太问。

  “嗯,”芬仔细想了想,说,“她有八条腿。所有的蜘蛛都如此,我猜。”

  “夏洛是一只蜘蛛?”芬的母亲问。

  芬点点头:“一只很大的灰蜘蛛。她在威伯的门口上方织了一张网。她能抓苍蝇,还吸他们的血。威伯可崇拜她了。”

  “他真的崇拜她?”阿拉贝尔太太几乎听糊涂了。她用一种担忧的表情盯着芬的脸。

  “噢,是的,威伯崇拜夏洛。”芬说,“你知道当小鹅出世时夏洛说什么了?”

  “我可什么都不知道,”阿拉贝尔先生说,“跟我们讲讲。”

  “好吧。当第一只小鹅从鹅妈妈的身下伸出他的小脑袋时,我正在旁边的凳子上坐着,夏洛就在她的网上挂着。她发表了一场演说。她说:‘我们在谷仓地窖里的每一位都将高兴地获悉,经过四周的不懈努力与耐心的等待,我们的朋友母鹅终于取得了骄人的成绩。’你不认为她说的是件大喜事吗?”

  “是的,我承认,”阿拉贝尔太太说。“现在,芬,该到上主日学校的时间了。告诉埃弗里做好准备。今天下午你可以把你霍默舅舅谷仓里的事儿再告诉我们一些。你在那里花了不少时间吧?你几乎每天下午都去,是不是?”

  “我喜欢那儿,”芬回答。她擦擦嘴巴跑上了楼。她离开房间后,阿拉贝尔太太和她丈夫低声交谈起来。

  “我为芬担心,”她说,“你听见她是怎么信口开河地说那些动物的吗,好像他们会说话一样?”

  阿拉贝尔先生微笑了。“可能他们真会说话吧,”他说,“我有时也觉得这很奇怪。不管怎样,不必担心芬——她不过是有生动的想象力罢了。小孩子认为他们什么都能听到。”

  “虽然如此,我还是担心她,”阿拉贝尔太太回答。“我想我下次看到多里安医生时,该对他谈谈芬的事儿。他几乎像我们一样的爱芬,我要问问他,芬自以为能听懂猪和别的动物的谈话,这是不是很奇怪。我不认为这是正常的。你完全知道动物们根本不会说话的。”

  阿拉贝尔先生咧开嘴笑起来。“可能我们的耳朵不像芬那么尖吧,”他说。



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