小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The Story of the Siren » The Story of the Siren
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
The Story of the Siren
 Few things have been more beautiful than my note book on the Deist Controversy1 as it fell downward through the waters of the Mediterranean2. It dived, like a piece of black slate3, but opened soon, disclosing leaves of pale green, which quivered into blue. Now it had vanished, now it was a piece of magical india rubber stretching out to infinity4, now it was a book again, but bigger than the book of all knowledge. It grew more fantastic as it reached the bottom, where a puff6 of sand welcomed it and obscured it from view. But it reappeared, quite sane7 though a little tremulous, lying decently open on its back, while unseen fingers fidgeted among its leaves.
"It is such a pity" said my aunt, "that you will not finish your work in the Hotel. Then you would be free to enjoy yourself and this would never have happened."
"Nothing of it but will change into something rich and strange," warbled the chaplain, while his sister said "Why it's gone into the water." As for the boatmen, one of them laughed, while the other, without a word of warning, stood up and began to take his clothes off.
"Holy Moses!" cried the Colonel. "Is the fellow mad?"
"Yes, thank him dear," said my aunt: "that is to say tell him he is very kind, but perhaps another time."
"All the same I do want my book back," I complained. "It's for my Fellowship Dissertation8. There won't be much left of it by another time."
"I have an idea," said some woman or other through her parasol. "Let us leave this child of nature to dive for the book while we go on to the other grotto9. We can land him either on this rock or on the ledge5 inside, and he will be ready when we return."
The idea seemed good; and I improved it by saying I would be left behind too, to lighten the boat. So the two of us were deposited outside the little grotto on a great sunlit rock that guarded the harmonies within. Let us call them blue, though they suggest rather the spirit of what is clean, cleanliness passed from the domestic to the sublime10, the cleanliness of all the sea gathered together and radiating light. The Blue Grotto at Capri contains only more blue water, not bluer water. That colour and that spirit is the heritage of every cave in the Mediterranean into which the sun can shine and the sea flow.
As soon as the boat left I realised how imprudent I had been to trust myself on a sloping rock with an unknown Sicilian. With a jerk he became alive, seizing my arm and saying "Go to the end of the Grotto and I will show you something beautiful."
He made me jump off the rock on to the ledge over a dazzling crack of sea, he drew me away from the light till I was standing11 on the tiny beach of sand which emerged like powdered turquoise12 at the further end. There he left me with his clothes, and returned swiftly to the summit of the entrance-rock. For a moment he stood naked in the brilliant sun, looking down at the spot where the book lay. Then he crossed himself, raised his hands above his head, and dived.
If the book was wonderful, the man is past all description. His effect was that of a silver statue, alive beneath the sea, through whom life throbbed13 in blue and green. Something infinitely14 happy, infinitely wise—but it was impossible that it should emerge from the depths sunburnt and dripping, holding the note book on the Deist Controversy between its teeth.
A gratuity15 is generally expected by those who bathe. Whatever I offered, he was sure to want more, and I was disinclined for an argument in a place so beautiful and also so solitary16. It was a relief that he should say in conversational17 tones "In a place like this one might see the Siren."
I was delighted with him for thus falling into the key of his surroundings. We had been left together in a magic world, apart from all the commonplaces that are called reality, a world of blue whose floor was the sea and whose walls and roof of rock trembled with the sea's reflections. Here, only the fantastic would be tolerable, and it was in that spirit that I echoed his words. "One might easily see the Siren."
He watched me curiously18 while he dressed. I was parting the sticky leaves of the note book as I sat on the strip of sand.
"Ah!" he said at last. "You may have read the little book that was printed last year. Who would have thought that our Siren would have given the foreigners pleasure!"
(I read it afterwards. Its account is, not unnaturally19, incomplete, in spite of there being a woodcut of the young person, and the words of her song.)
"She comes out of this blue water, doesn't she," I suggested "and sits on the rock at the entrance, combing her hair."
I wanted to draw him out, for I was interested in his sudden gravity, and there was a suggestion of irony[8] in his last remark that puzzled me.
"Have you ever seen her?"
"Often and often."
"I never."
"But you have heard her sing!"
He put on his coat and said impatiently, "How can she sing under the water? Who could? She sometimes tries, but nothing comes from her but great bubbles."
"She should climb on to the rock then."
"How can she?" he cried again, quite angry. "The priests have blessed the air, so she cannot breathe it, and blessed the rocks, so that she cannot sit on them. But the sea no man can bless, because it is too big, and always changing. Therefore she lives in the sea."
I was silent.
At this his face took a gentler expression. He looked at me as though something was on his mind, and going out to the entrance rock, gazed at the external blue. Then returning into our twilight20 he said "As a rule only good people see the Siren."
I made no comment. There was a pause, and he continued. "That is a very strange thing, and the priests do not know how to account for it; for she of course is wicked. Not only those who fast and go to mass are in danger, but even those who are merely good in daily life. No one in the village had seen her for two generations. I am not surprised. We all cross ourselves before we enter the water, but it is unnecessary. Giuseppe, we thought, was safer than most. We loved him, and many of us he loved: but that is a different thing to being good."
I asked who Giuseppe was.
"That day—I was seventeen and my brother was twenty and a great deal stronger than I was and it was the year when the visitors, who have brought such pros[9]perity and so many alterations21 into the village, first began to come. One English lady in particular, of very high birth, came, and has written a book about the place, and it was through her that the Improvement Syndicate was formed, which is about to connect the hotels with the station by means of a Funicular railway."
"Don't tell me about that lady in here," I observed.
"That day we took her and her friends to see the grottoes. As we rowed close under the cliffs I put out my hand, as one does, and caught a little crab22, and having pulled off its claws offered it as a curiosity. The ladies groaned23, but a gentleman was pleased, and held out money. Being inexperienced, I refused it, saying that his pleasure was sufficient reward! Giuseppe, who was rowing behind, was very angry with me and reached out with his hand and hit me on the side of the mouth, so that a tooth cut my lip, and I bled. I tried to hit him back, but he always was too quick for me, and as I stretched round he kicked me under the arm pit, so that for a moment I could not even row. There was a great noise among the ladies, and I heard afterwards that they were planning to take me away from my brother and train me as a waiter. That at all events never came to pass.
"When we reached the grotto—not here, but a larger one—the gentleman was very anxious that one of us should dive for money, and the ladies consented, as they sometimes do. Giuseppe who had discovered how much pleasure it gives foreigners to see us in the water, refused to dive for anything but silver, and the gentleman threw in a two lira piece.
"Just before my brother sprang off he caught sight of me holding my bruise24, and crying, for I could not help it. He laughed and said 'this time, at all events, I shall not see the Siren!' and went into the blue water without crossing himself. But he saw her."
He broke off, and accepted a cigarette. I watched the golden entrance rock and the quivering walls, and the magic water through which great bubbles constantly rose. At last he dropped his hot ash into the ripples25 and turned his head away, and said:
"He came up without the coin. We pulled him into the boat, and he was so large that he seemed to fill it, and so wet that we could not dress him. I have never seen a man so wet. I and the gentleman rowed back, and we covered Giuseppe with sacking and propped26 him up in the stern."
"He was drowned, then?" I murmured, supposing that to be the point.
"He was not" he cried angrily. "He saw the Siren. I told you."
I was silenced again.
"We put him to bed, though he was not ill. The doctor came, and took money, and the priest came and took more and smothered27 him with incense28 and spattered him with holy water. But it was no good. He was too big—like a piece of the sea. He kissed the thumb-bones of San Biagio and they never dried till evening."
"What did he look like?" I ventured.
"Like anyone who has seen the Siren. If you have seen her 'often and often' how is it you do not know? Unhappy, unhappy, unhappy because he knew everything. Every living thing made him unhappy because he knew it would die. And all he cared to do was to sleep."
I bent30 over my note book.
"He did no work, he forgot to eat, he forgot whether he had his clothes on. All the work fell on me, and my sister had to go out to service. We tried to make him into a beggar, but he was too robust31 to inspire pity, and as for an idiot, he had not the right look in his eyes. He would stand in the street look[11]ing at people, and the more he looked at them the more unhappy he became. When a child was born he would cover his face with his hands. If anyone was married—he was terrible then, and would frighten them as they came out of church. Who would have believed he would marry himself! I caused that, I. I was reading out of the paper how a girl at Ragusa had 'gone mad through bathing in the sea.' Giuseppe got up, and in a week he and that girl came in together.
"He never told me anything, but it seems that he went straight to her house, broke into her room, and carried her off. She was the daughter of a rich mine-owner, so you may imagine our peril32. Her father came down, with a clever lawyer, but they could do no more than I. They argued and they threatened, but at last they had to go back and we lost nothing—that is to say, no money. We took Giuseppe and Maria to the Church and had them married. Ugh! that wedding! The priest made no jokes afterwards and coming out the children threw stones.... I think I would have died to make her happy; but as always happens, one could do nothing."
"Were they unhappy together then?"
"They loved each other, but love is not happiness. We can all get love. Love is nothing. Love is everywhere since the death of Jesus Christ. I had two people to work for now, for she was like him in everything—one never knew which of them was speaking. I had to sell our own boat and work under the bad old man you have to-day. Worst of all, people began to hate us. The children first—everything begins with them—and then the women and last of all the men. For the cause of every misfortune was—you will not betray me?"
I promised good faith, and immediately he burst into the frantic33 blasphemy34 of one who has escaped from[12] supervision35, cursing the priests, the lying filthy36 cheating immoral37 priests who had ruined his life, who had murdered his brother and the girl, whom he dared not murder back because they held the key of heaven and could ruin him in the next life too. "Thus are we tricked!" was his cry and he stood up and kicked at the azure38 ripples with his feet, till he had obscured them with a cloud of sand.
I too was moved. The story of Giuseppe, for all its absurdity39 and superstition40, came nearer to reality than anything I had known before. I don't know why, but it filled me with desire to help others—the greatest of all our desires I suppose, and the most fruitless. The desire soon passed.
"She was about to have a child. That was the end of everything. People said to me 'When will your charming nephew be born? What a cheerful attractive child he will be, with such a father and mother!' I kept my face steady and replied 'I think he may be. Out of sadness shall come gladness'—it is one of our proverbs. And my answer frightened them very much, and they told the priests, who were frightened too. Then the whisper started that the child would be Anti-Christ: you need not be afraid: he was never born.
"An old witch began to prophesy41, and no one stopped her. Giuseppe and the girl, she said, had silent devils, who could do little harm. But the child would always be speaking and laughing and perverting42, and last of all he would go into the sea and fetch up the Siren into the air and all the world would see her and hear her sing. As soon as she sang, the Seven Vials would be opened and the Pope would die and Mongibello flame, and the veil of Santa Agata would be burnt. Then the boy and the Siren would marry, and together they would rule the world, for ever and ever.
"The whole village was in tumult43, and the hotel[13] keepers became alarmed, for the tourist season was just beginning. They met together and decided44 that Giuseppe and the girl must be sent inland until the child was born, and they subscribed45 the money. The night before they were to start there was a full moon and wind from the east, and all along the coast the sea shot up over the cliffs in silver clouds. It is a wonderful sight, and Maria said she must see it once more.
"'Do not go,' I said. 'I saw the priest go by, and someone with him. And the hotel keepers do not like you to be seen, and if we displease46 them also we shall starve.'
"'I want to go,' she replied. 'The sea is stormy, and I may never feel it again.'
"'No, he is right' said Giuseppe. 'Do not go—or let one of us go with you.'
"'I want to go alone,' she said; and she went alone.
"I tied up their luggage in a piece of cloth, and then I was so unhappy at thinking I should lose them that I went and sat down by my brother and put my arm round his neck, and he put his arm round me, which he had not done for more than a year, and we remained thus I don't remember how long.
"Suddenly the door flew open and moon-light and wind came in together, and a child's voice said laughing 'They have pushed her over the cliffs into the sea.'
"I stepped to the drawer where I keep my knives, and the child ran away.
"'Sit down again' said Giuseppe—Giuseppe of all people! 'If she is dead, why should others die too?'
'I guess who it is,' I cried, 'and I will kill him.'
"I was almost out of the door but he tripped me up and kneeling upon me took hold of both my hands and sprained47 my wrists; first my right one, then my left. No one but Giuseppe would have thought of such a thing. It hurt more than you would suppose, and I fainted. When I woke up, he was gone, and I have never seen him again."
[14]But Giuseppe disgusted me.
"I told you he was wicked," he said. "No one would have expected him to see the Siren."
"How do you know he did see her then?"
"Because he did not see her 'often and often' but once."
"Why do you love him if he is wicked?"
He laughed for the first time. That was his only reply.
"Is that the end?" I asked, feeling curiously ashamed.
"I never killed her murderer, for by the time my wrists were well, he was in America; and one cannot kill a priest. As for Giuseppe, he went all over the world too, looking for someone else who has seen the Siren—either a man, or, better still, a woman, for then the child might still have been born. At last he came to Liverpool,—is the district probable?—and there he began to cough, and spat29 blood until he died.
"I do not suppose there is anyone living now who has seen her. There has seldom been more than one in a generation, and never in my life will there be both a man and a woman from whom that child can be born, who will fetch up the Siren from the sea, and destroy silence, and save the world!"
"Save the world?" I cried. "Did the prophecy end like that?"
He leant back against the rock, breathing deep. Through all the blue-green reflections I saw him colour. I heard him say: "Silence and loneliness cannot last for ever. It may be a hundred or a thousand years, but the sea lasts longer, and she shall come out of it and sing." I would have asked him more, but at that moment the whole cave darkened, and there rode in through its narrow entrance the returning boat.


1 controversy 6Z9y0     
  • That is a fact beyond controversy.那是一个无可争论的事实。
  • We ran the risk of becoming the butt of every controversy.我们要冒使自己在所有的纷争中都成为众矢之的的风险。
2 Mediterranean ezuzT     
  • The houses are Mediterranean in character.这些房子都属地中海风格。
  • Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean.直布罗陀是地中海的要冲。
3 slate uEfzI     
  • The nominating committee laid its slate before the board.提名委员会把候选人名单提交全体委员会讨论。
  • What kind of job uses stained wood and slate? 什么工作会接触木头污浊和石板呢?
4 infinity o7QxG     
  • It is impossible to count up to infinity.不可能数到无穷大。
  • Theoretically,a line can extend into infinity.从理论上来说直线可以无限地延伸。
5 ledge o1Mxk     
  • They paid out the line to lower him to the ledge.他们放出绳子使他降到那块岩石的突出部分。
  • Suddenly he struck his toe on a rocky ledge and fell.突然他的脚趾绊在一块突出的岩石上,摔倒了。
6 puff y0cz8     
  • He took a puff at his cigarette.他吸了一口香烟。
  • They tried their best to puff the book they published.他们尽力吹捧他们出版的书。
7 sane 9YZxB     
  • He was sane at the time of the murder.在凶杀案发生时他的神志是清醒的。
  • He is a very sane person.他是一个很有头脑的人。
8 dissertation PlezS     
  • He is currently writing a dissertation on the Somali civil war.他目前正在写一篇关于索马里内战的论文。
  • He was involved in writing his doctoral dissertation.他在聚精会神地写他的博士论文。
9 grotto h5Byz     
  • We reached a beautiful grotto,whose entrance was almost hiden by the vine.我们到达了一个美丽的洞穴,洞的进口几乎被藤蔓遮掩著。
  • Water trickles through an underground grotto.水沿着地下岩洞流淌。
10 sublime xhVyW     
  • We should take some time to enjoy the sublime beauty of nature.我们应该花些时间去欣赏大自然的壮丽景象。
  • Olympic games play as an important arena to exhibit the sublime idea.奥运会,就是展示此崇高理念的重要舞台。
11 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。
12 turquoise Uldwx     
  • She wore a string of turquoise round her neck.她脖子上戴着一串绿宝石。
  • The women have elaborate necklaces of turquoise.那些女人戴着由绿松石制成的精美项链。
13 throbbed 14605449969d973d4b21b9356ce6b3ec     
抽痛( throb的过去式和过去分词 ); (心脏、脉搏等)跳动
  • His head throbbed painfully. 他的头一抽一跳地痛。
  • The pulse throbbed steadily. 脉搏跳得平稳。
14 infinitely 0qhz2I     
  • There is an infinitely bright future ahead of us.我们有无限光明的前途。
  • The universe is infinitely large.宇宙是无限大的。
15 gratuity Hecz4     
  • The porter expects a gratuity.行李员想要小费。
  • Gratuity is customary in this money-mad metropolis.在这个金钱至上的大都市里,给小费是司空见惯的。
16 solitary 7FUyx     
  • I am rather fond of a solitary stroll in the country.我颇喜欢在乡间独自徜徉。
  • The castle rises in solitary splendour on the fringe of the desert.这座城堡巍然耸立在沙漠的边际,显得十分壮美。
17 conversational SZ2yH     
  • The article is written in a conversational style.该文是以对话的形式写成的。
  • She values herself on her conversational powers.她常夸耀自己的能言善辩。
18 curiously 3v0zIc     
  • He looked curiously at the people.他好奇地看着那些人。
  • He took long stealthy strides. His hands were curiously cold.他迈着悄没声息的大步。他的双手出奇地冷。
19 unnaturally 3ftzAP     
  • Her voice sounded unnaturally loud. 她的嗓音很响亮,但是有点反常。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Her eyes were unnaturally bright. 她的眼睛亮得不自然。 来自《简明英汉词典》
20 twilight gKizf     
  • Twilight merged into darkness.夕阳的光辉融于黑暗中。
  • Twilight was sweet with the smell of lilac and freshly turned earth.薄暮充满紫丁香和新翻耕的泥土的香味。
21 alterations c8302d4e0b3c212bc802c7294057f1cb     
n.改动( alteration的名词复数 );更改;变化;改变
  • Any alterations should be written in neatly to the left side. 改动部分应书写清晰,插在正文的左侧。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Gene mutations are alterations in the DNA code. 基因突变是指DNA 密码的改变。 来自《简明英汉词典》
22 crab xoozE     
  • I can't remember when I last had crab.我不记得上次吃蟹是什么时候了。
  • The skin on my face felt as hard as a crab's back.我脸上的皮仿佛僵硬了,就象螃蟹的壳似的。
23 groaned 1a076da0ddbd778a674301b2b29dff71     
v.呻吟( groan的过去式和过去分词 );发牢骚;抱怨;受苦
  • He groaned in anguish. 他痛苦地呻吟。
  • The cart groaned under the weight of the piano. 大车在钢琴的重压下嘎吱作响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
24 bruise kcCyw     
  • The bruise was caused by a kick.这伤痕是脚踢的。
  • Jack fell down yesterday and got a big bruise on his face.杰克昨天摔了一跤,脸上摔出老大一块淤斑。
25 ripples 10e54c54305aebf3deca20a1472f4b96     
逐渐扩散的感觉( ripple的名词复数 )
  • The moon danced on the ripples. 月亮在涟漪上舞动。
  • The sea leaves ripples on the sand. 海水在沙滩上留下了波痕。
26 propped 557c00b5b2517b407d1d2ef6ba321b0e     
支撑,支持,维持( prop的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sat propped up in the bed by pillows. 他靠着枕头坐在床上。
  • This fence should be propped up. 这栅栏该用东西支一支。
27 smothered b9bebf478c8f7045d977e80734a8ed1d     
(使)窒息, (使)透不过气( smother的过去式和过去分词 ); 覆盖; 忍住; 抑制
  • He smothered the baby with a pillow. 他用枕头把婴儿闷死了。
  • The fire is smothered by ashes. 火被灰闷熄了。
28 incense dcLzU     
  • This proposal will incense conservation campaigners.这项提议会激怒环保人士。
  • In summer,they usually burn some coil incense to keep away the mosquitoes.夏天他们通常点香驱蚊。
29 spat pFdzJ     
  • Her parents always have spats.她的父母经常有些小的口角。
  • There is only a spat between the brother and sister.那只是兄妹间的小吵小闹。
30 bent QQ8yD     
  • 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。
31 robust FXvx7     
  • She is too tall and robust.她个子太高,身体太壮。
  • China wants to keep growth robust to reduce poverty and avoid job losses,AP commented.美联社评论道,中国希望保持经济强势增长,以减少贫困和失业状况。
32 peril l3Dz6     
  • The refugees were in peril of death from hunger.难民有饿死的危险。
  • The embankment is in great peril.河堤岌岌可危。
33 frantic Jfyzr     
  • I've had a frantic rush to get my work done.我急急忙忙地赶完工作。
  • He made frantic dash for the departing train.他发疯似地冲向正开出的火车。
34 blasphemy noyyW     
  • His writings were branded as obscene and a blasphemy against God.他的著作被定为淫秽作品,是对上帝的亵渎。
  • You have just heard his blasphemy!你刚刚听到他那番亵渎上帝的话了!
35 supervision hr6wv     
  • The work was done under my supervision.这项工作是在我的监督之下完成的。
  • The old man's will was executed under the personal supervision of the lawyer.老人的遗嘱是在律师的亲自监督下执行的。
36 filthy ZgOzj     
  • The whole river has been fouled up with filthy waste from factories.整条河都被工厂的污秽废物污染了。
  • You really should throw out that filthy old sofa and get a new one.你真的应该扔掉那张肮脏的旧沙发,然后再去买张新的。
37 immoral waCx8     
  • She was questioned about his immoral conduct toward her.她被询问过有关他对她的不道德行为的情况。
  • It is my belief that nuclear weapons are immoral.我相信使核武器是不邪恶的。
38 azure 6P3yh     
  • His eyes are azure.他的眼睛是天蓝色的。
  • The sun shone out of a clear azure sky.清朗蔚蓝的天空中阳光明媚。
39 absurdity dIQyU     
  • The proposal borders upon the absurdity.这提议近乎荒谬。
  • The absurdity of the situation made everyone laugh.情况的荒谬可笑使每个人都笑了。
40 superstition VHbzg     
  • It's a common superstition that black cats are unlucky.认为黑猫不吉祥是一种很普遍的迷信。
  • Superstition results from ignorance.迷信产生于无知。
41 prophesy 00Czr     
  • He dares to prophesy what will happen in the future.他敢预言未来将发生什么事。
  • I prophesy that he'll be back in the old job.我预言他将重操旧业。
42 perverting 443bcb92cd59ba5c36c489ac3b51c4af     
v.滥用( pervert的现在分词 );腐蚀;败坏;使堕落
  • We must never tolerate any taking bribes and perverting justice. 我们决不能姑息贪赃枉法的行为! 来自互联网
  • District Councillor was jailed for three months for vote-planting and perverting the course of justice. 区议员因选举种票及妨碍司法公正被判监三个月。 来自互联网
43 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。
44 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。
45 subscribed cb9825426eb2cb8cbaf6a72027f5508a     
v.捐助( subscribe的过去式和过去分词 );签署,题词;订阅;同意
  • It is not a theory that is commonly subscribed to. 一般人并不赞成这个理论。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I subscribed my name to the document. 我在文件上签了字。 来自《简明英汉词典》
46 displease BtXxC     
  • Not wishing to displease her,he avoided answering the question.为了不惹她生气,他对这个问题避而不答。
  • She couldn't afford to displease her boss.她得罪不起她的上司。
47 sprained f314e68885bee024fbaac62a560ab7d4     
v.&n. 扭伤
  • I stumbled and sprained my ankle. 我摔了一跤,把脚脖子扭了。
  • When Mary sprained her ankles, John carried her piggyback to the doctors. 玛丽扭伤了足踝,约翰驮她去看医生。


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533