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Chapter 12 A Meeting

One evening, a few days after the writing had appeared in Charlotte's web, the spider called a meeting of all the animals in the barn cellar.

  "I shall begin by calling the roll. Wilbur?""Here!" said the pig.

  "Gander?""Here, here, here!" said the gander.

  "You sound like three ganders," muttered Charlotte. "Why can't you just say 'here'? Why do you have to repeat everything?""It's my idio-idio-idiosyncrasy," replied the gander.

  "Goose?" said Charlotte.

  "Here, here, here!" said the goose. Charlotte glared at her.

  "Goslings, one through seven?""Bee-bee-bee!" "Bee-bee-bee!" "Bee-bee-bee!" "Bee-bee-bee!" "Bee-bee-bee!" "Bee-bee-bee!" "Bee-bee-bee!" said the goslings.

  "This is getting to be quite a meeting," said Charlotte. "Any body would think we had three ganders, three geese, and twenty-one goslings. Sheep?""He-aa-aa!" answered the sheep all together.

  "Lambs?""He-aa-aa!" answered the lambs all together.

  "Templeton?"No answer.

  "Templeton?"No answer.

  "Well, we are all here except the rat," said Charlotte. "I guess we can proceed without him. Now, all of you must have noticed what's been going on around here the last few days. The message I wrote in my web, praising Wilbur, has been received. The Zuckermans have fallen for it, and so has everybody else. Zuckerman thinks Wilbur is an unusual pig, and therefore he won't want to kill him and eat him. I dare say my trick will work and Wilbur's life can be saved.

  "Hurray!" cried everybody.

  "Thank you very much," said Charlotte. "Now I called this meeting in order to get suggestions. I need new ideas for the web. People are already getting sick of reading the words 'Some Pig!' If anybody can think of another message, or remark, I'll be glad to weave it into the web. Any suggestions for a new slogan?""How about 'Pig Supreme'?" asked one of the lambs.

  "No good," said Charlotte. "It sounds like a rich dessert.""How about 'Terrific, terrific, terrific'?" asked the goose.

  "Cut that down to one 'terrific' and it will do very nicely," said Charlotte. "I think 'terrific' might impress Zuckerman.""But Charlotte," said Wilbur, "I'm not terrific.""that doesn't make a particle of difference," replied Charlotte. "Not a particle. People believe almost anything they see in print. Does anybody here know how to spell 'terrific'?""I think," said the gander," it's tee double ee double rr double rr double eye double ff double eye double see see see see see.""What kind of an acrobat do you think I am?" said Charlotte in disgust. "I would have to have St. Vitus's Dance to weave a word like that into my web.""Sorry, sorry, sorry," said the gander.

  Then the oldest sheep spoke up. "I agree that there should be something new written in the web if Wilbur's life is to be saved. And if Charlotte needs help in finding words, I think she can get it from our friend Templeton. The rat visits the dump regularly and has access to old magazines. He can tear out bits of advertisements and bring them up here to the barn cellar, so that Charlotte can have something to copy.""Good idea," said Charlotte. "But I'm not sure Templeton will be willing to help. You know how he is--always looking out for himself, never thinking of the other fellow.""I be I can get him to help," said the old sheep. "I'll appeal to his baser instincts, of which he has plenty. Here he comes now. Everybody keep quiet while I put the matter up to him!"The rat entered the barn the way he always did--creeping along close to the wall.

  "What's up?" he asked, seeing the animals assembled.

  "We're holding a directors' meeting," replied the old sheep.

  "Well, break it up!" said Templeton. "Meetings bore me." And the rat began to climb a rope that hung against the wall.

  "Look," said the old sheep, "next time you go to the dump, Templeton, bring back a clipping from a magazine. Charlotte needs new ideas so she can write messages in her web and save Wilbur's life.""Let him die," said the rat. "I should worry.""You'll worry all right when next winter comes," said the sheep. "You'll worry all right on a zero morning next January when Wilbur is dead and nobody comes down here with a nice pail of warm slops to pour into the trough. Wilbur's leftover food is your chief source of supply, Templeton. You know that. Wilbur's food is your food; therefore Wilbur's destiny and you destiny are closely linked. If Wilbur is killed and his trough stands empty day after day, you'll grow so thin we can look right through your stomach and see objects on the other side."Templeton's whiskers quivered.

  "Maybe you're right," he said gruffly. "I'm making a trip to the dump tomorrow afternoon. I'll bring back a magazine clipping if I can find one.""Thanks," said Charlotte. "The meeting is now adjourned. I have a busy evening ahead of me. I've got to tear my web apart and write 'Terrific.'"Wilbur blushed. "But I'm not terrific, Charlotte. I'm just about average for a pig.""You're terrific as far as I'm concerned," replied Charlotte, sweetly, "and that's what counts. You're my best friend, and I think you're sensational. Now stop arguing and go get some sleep!"

 

  在夏洛的网里的字出现了几天后的一个晚上,夏洛把谷仓地窖里的全体动物招集到一起,开一个会。

  “下面我开始点名了。威伯?”

  “到!”威伯说。

  “公鹅?”

  “到,到,到!”公鹅说。

  “你听起来像三只公鹅,”夏洛嘟囔着,“你为什么不只喊一声‘到’?为什么你喜欢重复一切?”

  “这是我的习-习-习惯。”公鹅回答。

  “母鹅?”夏洛说。

  “到,到,到!”母鹅说。夏洛瞪了她一眼。

  “七只小鹅?一个一个来!”

  “必-必-必!”“必-必-必!”“必-必-必!”“必-必-必!”“必-必-必!”“必-必-必!”“必-必-必!”

  小鹅们回答。

  “这个会可越开越有意思了,”夏洛说,“任何人都以为我们这里有三只公鹅,三只母鹅,二十一只小鹅呢。绵羊?”

  “咩-咩-咩!”绵羊们一起回答。

  “羊羔?”

  “咩-咩-咩!”羊羔们一起回答。

  “坦普尔曼?”没人回答。

  “坦普尔曼?”还是没人回答。

  “好吧。除了老鼠我们都在这里,”夏洛说,“我想没有他,会也可以开始。现在,你们大家一定注意到了过去几天里这儿发生了什么事情。我织在我网里的那句称赞威伯的话,已经收到了效果。祖克曼一家已经上套了,每个人都是。祖克曼把威伯看作一只不寻常的猪,所以也不会想杀死他、吃掉他了。我敢说我的把戏取得了成功,威伯的生命也得救了。”

  “万岁!”全体欢呼。

  “非常感谢你们,”夏洛说,“现在我召开这个会议是为了听取大家的意见。我需要织网的新构思。人们已经读腻了‘好猪!’这个词了。如果谁能想出另一句话,或是评语,我会很高兴地把它织进我的网里的。谁有什么关于新口号的建议?”

  “‘无比的猪’怎么样?”一只羊羔问。

  “不好,”夏洛说,“这听起来像一道油腻的餐后甜点的名字。”

  “‘很棒,很棒,很棒’怎么样?”母鹅问。

  “把后面的两个'很棒'去掉还不错,”夏洛说,“我想‘很棒’这个词可能会打动祖克曼。”

  “可是夏洛,”威伯说,“我并不是很棒。”

  “那没关系,”夏洛回答,“这没多大影响。人们几乎相信他们看到的每一个词。这里有什么人知道‘很棒’这个单词怎么拼吗?”

  “我想,”公鹅说,“它是由一个字母T,两个ee,两个rr两个rr,两个眼睛两个ff两个眼睛,两个看见看见看见看见看见组成。”①

  “你以为我是个卖艺的吗?”夏洛生气地说,“除非我有圣威图斯那样的跳舞技巧(St.Vitus's Dance)②才能把这么多的字母织到我的网里。”

  “对不起,对不起,对不起。”公鹅说。

  然后老羊开始说话了。“如果可以救威伯的命,我也同意在网里织进新词汇。如果夏洛需要谁来帮她找新词儿,我想她能从我们的朋友坦普尔曼那里得到帮助。老鼠常去垃圾堆翻,能从那里找到旧杂志。他可以撕一点上面的广告回来,带到谷仓的地窖里,这样夏洛就可以把有用的话抄下来了。”

  “好主意,”夏洛说,“但我不知坦普尔曼是否肯帮我。你了解他是什么样的——总是为自己打算,从不想到别人。”

  “我打赌,我能让他帮你,”老羊说,“我将利用他自私的天性,他可是非常自私的。现在他过来了,在我对他说话的时候大家要保持肃静!”

  老鼠以他一贯的方式进了谷仓——顺着墙角匍匐前行。

  “发生了什么事儿?”他看着聚会的动物问。

  “我们正在开一个董事会。”老羊回答。

  “好,散会!”坦普尔曼说,“我最受不了开会。”老鼠开始往悬在墙对面的绳子上爬去。

  “嘿,”老羊说,“你下次去垃圾堆时,坦普尔曼,只要从杂志带回一份剪报来就行。夏洛需要能织到网里的新词儿,这可以用来救威伯的命。”

  “让他死好了,”老鼠说,“我不会想他的。”

  “冬天来时你就会完全想他的,”老羊说,“在一月份的冰冷的早晨,你完全会发愁的,那时威伯已经死了,没人再把温暖的猪食倒进猪食槽了。威伯的剩饭不是你最主要的食物来源吗,坦普尔曼?你知道这一点。威伯的食物就是你的食物,因此威伯的命运紧紧和你联在一起。如果威伯被杀了,他的食槽每天就都会是空的,你就会饿得肚子空空的,那时我们将都能看透你的胃,知道那里面都有什么东西了。”

  坦普尔曼的胡子都吓抖了。

  “可能你是对的,”他沙哑地说,“明天下午我会去垃圾堆看看。如果我能找到一本杂志,我会带一份剪报回来。”

  “谢谢,”夏洛说,“会议到此结束。我今晚还有事情要忙呢。我将要把我的网撕开一部分,在里面织上‘很棒’。”

  威伯脸红了。“可是我真的不是很棒,夏洛。我不过和一般的猪差不多而已。”

  “你比我看上去的样子还棒,”夏洛甜甜地回答,“就是这样。你是我最好的朋友,所以我想你就是很棒。现在不许吵了,睡个好觉!”

 

  注释① terrific,我的很多朋友告诉我,它在美国口语里多是真棒,太棒了的意思,为了行文的需要,我在这里翻译成“很棒”。这个词的第一个字母是“T”,于是公鹅用“Tee”来代替;下几个字母里的“I”被公鹅读成了“eye”,即“眼睛”;最后一个字母“c”被公鹅说成了“see”,即“看见”。而且,每个字母都被公鹅重复了几遍——没办法,这是古今中外的鹅的老习惯,不信你去听听就知道了。

 

  注释② St.Vitus,我不知道是谁,朋友洪立为我查出,公元三世纪有个基督教少年殉教者也叫这个名字——会是他吗?谁能告诉我?



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