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CHAPTER III
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The next thing that I recall was also connected with that most terrible day. I was lying on a tiny bed, a sort of cot bed, in a very small room. There was a fire about the size of a pocket-handkerchief burning in the wee-est grate I have ever looked at. A woman was sitting by the fire with her back to me, the woman was knitting and moving her hands very rapidly. She wore a little cap on her head with long black lappets to it. I noticed how ugly the cap was and how ugly the woman herself looked as she sat and knitted by the fire. I suppose some little movement on my part caused her to turn round, for she came towards me and then I observed that it was Aunt Penelope.
 
"That's a good girl," she said; "you are better now, Heather."
 
A sort of instinct came over me at that moment. Instead of bursting into a storm of rage and tears, I stayed perfectly1 quiet. I looked her calmly in the face. I remembered every single thing that had happened. Father had gone, and I was left behind. I said, in a gentle tone:
 
"I am much better, Aunt Penelope."
 
"Come," said Aunt Penelope, speaking cheerfully, "you shall have some nice bread and milk presently, and then I will undress you myself and put you to bed. Lie quite quiet now like a good child, while I go down to prepare the bread and milk."
 
I made no answer, but lay still, my eyes fixed2 on her face. She turned and left the room.
 
The moment she had shut the door I sat up in bed. I had been acting3 a part. I was only eight years old, that is, eight years and a half, or very nearly so. Nevertheless, I was a consummate4 actress all the time Aunt Penelope was in the room. The instant she had gone I scrambled5 to my feet and slid off the little bed and stood upright on the floor. I saw the hat I had worn when I came from Southampton, lying on a chair, and also the little jacket. I further noticed with satisfaction that my boots were still on my feet. In a flash I had managed to button on my jacket and to slip the elastic6 of my hat under my thick hair, and then, with the half-crown which father had given me safely deposited in my pocket, I softly, very softly, opened my bedroom door. Oh, yes; I was acting splendidly! I was quite excited with the wonder of the thing, and this excitement kept me up for the time being. I heard Aunt Penelope's voice downstairs. She was saying something; her words reached me quite distinctly.
 
"Go at once to the chemist's, Jonas, and tell him to make up the prescription7 the doctor has given, and bring it back again as fast as ever you can. Wait for it until it is made up. The child is highly feverish8, and must have the medicine at once."
 
Jonas said, "Yes, Miss Despard," and I heard the front door of the little house open and shut again. I also heard Aunt Penelope going away to the back part of the premises9, and I further heard the shrill10 voice of the parrot, making use of his constant cry, "Stop knocking at the door!" Now was my opportunity.
 
I glided11 downstairs like a little ghost. I ran swiftly across the hall, I opened the front door—it was quite easy to open, for the door was a very small one—and then I let myself out. The next minute I was running down the street, running as fast as ever I could, and as far as possible from Hill View House. I had a distinct object in my mind. I did not mean to run away in the ordinary sense; my one sole desire was to go to the railway station to meet the train which would bring Anastasia. Father had said with his own lips that she would come by the next train. Of course, I had no idea where the railway station was. I felt that I must run as quickly as possible, for Jonas might see me, and although he was quite a kind boy, I did not want him to see me then. I hoped the chemist—whoever the chemist was—would keep him some time, and that the feverish person—whoever the feverish person was—would be kept waiting for whatever Jonas was fetching for that person. I did not meet Jonas, and I ran a long way. Presently I came bang up against a stout12, red-faced woman, who said:
 
"Look out where you are going, little 'un."
 
I paused and looked into her face.
 
"Have I hurt you?" I asked.
 
The woman burst out laughing.
 
"My word!" she answered. "As if a mite13 like you would hurt me. Is it likely? And who are you, and where are you going?"
 
"I am going to the railway station to meet Anastasia," I said. Then I added, as a quick thought flashed through my mind, "Anastasia is my nurse, and she's coming by the next train. I will give you some money if you will take me to the railway station to meet her."
 
"How much money will you give me?" asked the red-faced woman.
 
"I will give you a whole half-crown," I said. "Please, please take me—it is so dreadfully important, for the next train may come in, and Anastasia may not know where to go to."
 
"Well, to be sure," said the woman, looking me all over from top to toe; "I don't seem to know you, little miss, but there's no harm in me taking you as far as the station, and the next train will be due in a very few minutes, so we'll have to go as fast as possible."
 
"I don't mind running, if you don't mind running too," I answered.
 
"I can't run," said the woman; "I'm too big."
 
"Well," I said, "perhaps the best thing of all would be for you to show me how to get to the railway station. If you do that, I can run very fast indeed, and you shall have your half-crown."
 
"That would be much the best way," said the woman; "and look, missy, you haven't very far to go. Here we are at the foot of this steep hill. Well, you run up it as fast as ever you can, and when you get to the top you will see the railway station right in front of you, and all you have to do is to ask if the train is in. There's only one train in and one train out at a little railway station like ours, so you can't miss your way. You will have to ask a porter, or any man you see, to show you the platform where the trains come in, and there you are. Now, my half-crown, please, missy."
 
"Yes. Here it is," I answered, "and I am very much obliged to you, woman."
 
I thrust the money into her hand and began to run as fast as ever I could up the hill. I was a very slight child, and ran well. With the fear and longing15, the indescribable dread14 of I knew not what in my heart, there seemed to be wings attached to my feet now, for I went up the hill so fast—oh, so fast!—until at last I arrived, breathless, at the top. A man was standing16 leisurely17 outside an open door. He said, "Hallo!" when he saw me, and I answered back, "Hallo!" and then he said:
 
"What can I do for you, little miss?" and I said:
 
"I have come to meet the next train, and, please, when will it be in, for Anastasia is coming by it?"
 
"Whoever is Anastasia?" asked the man.
 
"My nurse," I answered; "and she's coming by the next train."
 
The man whistled.
 
"Please show me the right platform, man," I said. "I have no money to give you at all, so I hope you will be very, very kind, for I gave all the money I possessed18 in the world to a stout, red woman at the bottom of the hill. She showed me how to get here, but she could not run fast enough, for she was so very stout, so I left her and came on alone. Please show me the platform and Anastasia shall give you some money when she comes."
 
"I don't want any money, missy," said the man in a kind tone. "You come along of me. There's the London express specially19 ordered to stop here, because Sir John Carrington and his lady are expected. The expresses don't stop here as a rule, missy—only the slow trains; but maybe the person you want will be in this express."
 
"She's sure to be if it's the next train," I said. "Is it the next train?"
 
"Well, yes, miss, I suppose it is. Ah! she is signalled."
 
"Who is signalled?" I asked. "Is it Anastasia?"
 
"No, missy; the train. You grip hold of my hand, and I'll see you safe. What a mite of a thing you be."
 
I held the man's hand very firmly. I liked him immensely—I put him at once third in my heart. Father was first, Anastasia second, and the railway porter third.
 
The great train came thundering in, and a kind-looking gentleman, accompanied by a beautifully-dressed lady and a number of servants, alighted on the platform. But peer and peer as I would, I could not get a sight of Anastasia.
 
"Now, missy, you look out," said the porter. "Wherever do she be?"
 
"Hallo—hallo! Where have you dropped from?" said a voice at that moment in my ears, and, looking up, I saw that Sir John Carrington was a man who had come all the way from India on board the Pleiades, and that, of course, I knew him quite well.
 
"Why, Heather," he said. "My dear," he continued, turning to his wife, "here's Major Grayson's little girl. Heather, child, what are you doing here?"
 
"I am looking for Anastasia," I said, in a bewildered sort of way.
 
Lady Carrington had a most sweet face. I had never noticed before how very lovely and kind it could be.
 
"You poor little darling," she said, "Anastasia isn't here." Then she began whispering to her husband and looking down at me, and her soft, brown eyes filled with tears, and Sir John shook his head and I heard him say, "Dear, dear, how very pathetic!" and then Lady Carrington said, "We must take her home with us, John."
 
"No, no," I answered at that; "I can't go home—I must wait until the next train, for Anastasia will come by the next train."
 
"We'll see that she's met," said Sir John. "Come, Heather, you've got to come home with us."
 
I have often wondered since what my subsequent life would have been had I really gone home that night with Sir John and Lady Carrington, whether the troubles which lay before me would ever have existed, and whether I should have been the Heather I now am, or not. But be that as it may, just as Lady Carrington had put sixpence into the hand of my kind porter and was leading me away towards the beautiful motor car which was waiting for her, a strong and very bony hand was laid on my shoulder, and a voice said fiercely, and yet with a tremble in it:
 
"Well, you are enough to try the nerves of anybody, you bad, naughty child!"
 
"Oh, Aunt Penelope," I said. "Oh, Aunt Penelope, I can't go back with you!"
 
"We knew this little girl," said Sir John; "she came from India on board the Pleiades with us."
 
"Heather Grayson came from India on board the Pleiades to live with me," said Aunt Penelope. "Her father has just committed her to my care. She is an extremely naughty child. I haven't the least idea who you are."
 
"This is my card," said Sir John.
 
When Aunt Penelope read the words on the card she became kinder in her manner.
 
"I suppose I must welcome you back again, Sir John," she said. "It is years and years since you visited your native place. But I won't detain you now. Heather, come with me."
 
"Pray give us your name," said Lady Carrington.
 
"Miss Despard, of Hill View," was her answer, and then she took my hand and led me out into the street.
 
I suppose I was really feverish, or whatever that word signifies to a child, for I do not remember anything about what happened during the next few days; then by slow degrees memory returned to me. I was very weak when this happened. Memory came back in a sort of dim way at first, and seemed to be half real and half a dream. Once I was quite certain that I saw a tall and broadly-made man in the room, and that when he stood up his head nearly touched the ceiling, and that when he sat down by my cot and took my hand I said "Daddy, daddy," and after that I had a comfortable sleep. There is no doubt whatever that I had a sort of dream or memory of this tall man, not once, but twice or thrice; then I did not see him any more.
 
Again, I had another memory. Anastasia had really come by a train at last, and was in my room. She was bending over me and smoothing my bed-clothes, and telling me over and over again to be a good girl, and I kept on saying, "Oh, Anastasia, don't let the pins stick in," but even that memory faded. Then there came more distinct thoughts that seemed to be not memories but realities. Aunt Penelope sat by my bedside. There was nothing dreamlike about her. She was very upright and full of purpose, and she was always knitting either a long grey stocking or a short sock. She never seemed to waste a moment of her time, and while I looked at her in a dazed sort of way, she kept on saying, "Don't fidget so, Heather," or perhaps she said, "Heather, it's time for your gruel," or, "Heather, my dear, your beef tea is ready for you."
 
At last there came a day when I remembered everything, and there were no shadows of any sort, and I sat up in bed, a very weak little child. Aunt Penelope was kinder than usual that day. She gave me a little bit of chicken to eat, and I was so hungry that I enjoyed it very much, and then she said:
 
"Now you will do nicely, Heather, and I hope in future you will be careful of your health and not give me such a fright again."
 
"Aunt Penelope," I said, "I want to ask you a question, or rather, two questions."
 
"Ask away, my dear," she replied.
 
"Did father come here by any chance? While I was in that cloud sort of world I seemed to feel that he came to see me, and that he looked taller and broader than before."
 
"I should think he did," said Aunt Penelope. "Why, he had to stoop to get in at the door, and when he was in the room his head almost touched the ceiling."
 
"Then he was here?" I said.
 
"Yes. He came three times to see you. That was when you were really bad."
 
"When is he coming again?" I asked.
 
"Finish your chicken, and don't ask silly questions," snapped Aunt Penelope.
 
I did finish my chicken, and Aunt Penelope took the plate away.
 
"Was Anastasia here also?" I asked. "And did I say to her, 'Please, don't let the pins stick in'?"
 
"The woman who brought you back from India came to see you once or twice," said Aunt Penelope.
 
"Then she did catch the next train?" I said.
 
"You have talked enough now, my dear Heather. Lie down and go to sleep."
 
"When will she come again?" I asked.
 
"You have talked enough. I am not going to answer any silly questions. Lie down and sleep."
 
I was very sleepy, and I suppose that when you are really as weak as I was then, you don't feel things very much. Now I allowed Aunt Penelope to lay me flat down in my little bed, and closing my eyes I forgot everything in slumber20.
 
Those are my first memories. I got well, of course, of that childish illness, and Aunt Penelope by and by explained things to me.
 
Anastasia was not coming back at all, and father had gone to India. Aunt Penelope was rather restrained and rather queer when she spoke21 of father. She told me also that she had the entire charge of me, and that I was being brought up at her expense, as father had no money to spend on me. She gave me to understand that she was a very poor woman, and could not afford any servant except Buttons, or Jonas, as she called him. She said she preferred a boy in the house to a woman, for he was smarter at going messages and a greater protection at night. I could not understand half what she said. Almost all her narrative22 was mixed with injunctions to me to be good, to be very good, to love my aunt more than anyone in the world, but to love God best. When I stoutly23 declared that I loved father better than anyone in any world, she said I was a naughty child. I did not mind that—I kept on saying that I loved father best.
 
Then I got quite well and was sent to school, to a funny sort of little day school, where I did not learn a great deal, but made friends slowly with other children. I liked school better than home, for Aunt Penelope was always saying, "Don't, don't!" or, "You mustn't, you mustn't!" when I was at home; and as I never knew why I should not do the things she said I was not to do, I kept on doing them in a sort of bewilderment. But at school there were rules of a sort, and I followed them as attentively24 as I could.
 
Thus the years went by, and from a little girl of eight years of age I was a tall, slender girl of eighteen, grown up—yes, grown up at last, and I was waiting for father, who was coming back for good, and my heart was full to the brim with longing to see him.

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 perfectly 8Mzxb     
adv.完美地,无可非议地,彻底地
参考例句:
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
2 fixed JsKzzj     
adj.固定的,不变的,准备好的;(计算机)固定的
参考例句:
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
3 acting czRzoc     
n.演戏,行为,假装;adj.代理的,临时的,演出用的
参考例句:
  • Ignore her,she's just acting.别理她,她只是假装的。
  • During the seventies,her acting career was in eclipse.在七十年代,她的表演生涯黯然失色。
4 consummate BZcyn     
adj.完美的;v.成婚;使完美 [反]baffle
参考例句:
  • The restored jade burial suit fully reveals the consummate skill of the labouring people of ancient China.复原后的金缕玉衣充分显示出中国古代劳动人民的精湛工艺。
  • The actor's acting is consummate and he is loved by the audience.这位演员技艺精湛,深受观众喜爱。
5 scrambled 2e4a1c533c25a82f8e80e696225a73f2     
v.快速爬行( scramble的过去式和过去分词 );攀登;争夺;(军事飞机)紧急起飞
参考例句:
  • Each scrambled for the football at the football ground. 足球场上你争我夺。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • He scrambled awkwardly to his feet. 他笨拙地爬起身来。 来自《简明英汉词典》
6 elastic Tjbzq     
n.橡皮圈,松紧带;adj.有弹性的;灵活的
参考例句:
  • Rubber is an elastic material.橡胶是一种弹性材料。
  • These regulations are elastic.这些规定是有弹性的。
7 prescription u1vzA     
n.处方,开药;指示,规定
参考例句:
  • The physician made a prescription against sea- sickness for him.医生给他开了个治晕船的药方。
  • The drug is available on prescription only.这种药只能凭处方购买。
8 feverish gzsye     
adj.发烧的,狂热的,兴奋的
参考例句:
  • He is too feverish to rest.他兴奋得安静不下来。
  • They worked with feverish haste to finish the job.为了完成此事他们以狂热的速度工作着。
9 premises 6l1zWN     
n.建筑物,房屋
参考例句:
  • According to the rules,no alcohol can be consumed on the premises.按照规定,场内不准饮酒。
  • All repairs are done on the premises and not put out.全部修缮都在家里进行,不用送到外面去做。
10 shrill EEize     
adj.尖声的;刺耳的;v尖叫
参考例句:
  • Whistles began to shrill outside the barn.哨声开始在谷仓外面尖叫。
  • The shrill ringing of a bell broke up the card game on the cutter.刺耳的铃声打散了小汽艇的牌局。
11 glided dc24e51e27cfc17f7f45752acf858ed1     
v.滑动( glide的过去式和过去分词 );掠过;(鸟或飞机 ) 滑翔
参考例句:
  • The President's motorcade glided by. 总统的车队一溜烟开了过去。
  • They glided along the wall until they were out of sight. 他们沿着墙壁溜得无影无踪。 来自《简明英汉词典》
12     
参考例句:
13 mite 4Epxw     
n.极小的东西;小铜币
参考例句:
  • The poor mite was so ill.可怜的孩子病得这么重。
  • He is a mite taller than I.他比我高一点点。
14 dread Ekpz8     
vt.担忧,忧虑;惧怕,不敢;n.担忧,畏惧
参考例句:
  • We all dread to think what will happen if the company closes.我们都不敢去想一旦公司关门我们该怎么办。
  • Her heart was relieved of its blankest dread.她极度恐惧的心理消除了。
15 longing 98bzd     
n.(for)渴望
参考例句:
  • Hearing the tune again sent waves of longing through her.再次听到那首曲子使她胸中充满了渴望。
  • His heart burned with longing for revenge.他心中燃烧着急欲复仇的怒火。
16 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。
17 leisurely 51Txb     
adj.悠闲的;从容的,慢慢的
参考例句:
  • We walked in a leisurely manner,looking in all the windows.我们慢悠悠地走着,看遍所有的橱窗。
  • He had a leisurely breakfast and drove cheerfully to work.他从容的吃了早餐,高兴的开车去工作。
18 possessed xuyyQ     
adj.疯狂的;拥有的,占有的
参考例句:
  • He flew out of the room like a man possessed.他像着了魔似地猛然冲出房门。
  • He behaved like someone possessed.他行为举止像是魔怔了。
19 specially Hviwq     
adv.特定地;特殊地;明确地
参考例句:
  • They are specially packaged so that they stack easily.它们经过特别包装以便于堆放。
  • The machine was designed specially for demolishing old buildings.这种机器是专为拆毁旧楼房而设计的。
20 slumber 8E7zT     
n.睡眠,沉睡状态
参考例句:
  • All the people in the hotels were wrapped in deep slumber.住在各旅馆里的人都已进入梦乡。
  • Don't wake him from his slumber because he needs the rest.不要把他从睡眠中唤醒,因为他需要休息。
21 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。
22 narrative CFmxS     
n.叙述,故事;adj.叙事的,故事体的
参考例句:
  • 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。
23 stoutly Xhpz3l     
adv.牢固地,粗壮的
参考例句:
  • He stoutly denied his guilt.他断然否认自己有罪。
  • Burgess was taxed with this and stoutly denied it.伯杰斯为此受到了责难,但是他自己坚决否认有这回事。
24 attentively AyQzjz     
adv.聚精会神地;周到地;谛;凝神
参考例句:
  • She listened attentively while I poured out my problems. 我倾吐心中的烦恼时,她一直在注意听。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • She listened attentively and set down every word he said. 她专心听着,把他说的话一字不漏地记下来。 来自《简明英汉词典》


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