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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » Wild Heather » CHAPTER IV
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During all these long years I had grown to tolerate Aunt Penelope. I found that her bark was worse than her bite; I found, too, that if I let her alone, she let me alone. She was always changing Buttons, and the new boy was invariably called Jonas, just as the last had been. The parrot kept on living, and kept on shouting at intervals1 every day, "Stop knocking at the door!" but he never would learn any fresh words, although I tried hard to teach him. He did not like me, and snapped at me when I endeavoured to be kind to him. So I concluded that he was a kind of "double" of Aunt Penelope, and left him alone.
The little house was kept scrupulously2 clean, but the food was of the plainest, and Aunt Penelope wore the oldest and shabbiest clothes, and she dressed me very badly too. At that time in my career I did not greatly mind about dress. What I did mind was that she never would let me talk about father. She always shut me up or turned the conversation. She had an awful book of musty old sermons, which she set me to read aloud to her the very instant I began to ask her questions about my father, so that by degrees I kept my thoughts to myself. I wrote to father from the very first, but I never got a reply. I used to post the letters myself, so I knew they must have reached him, but he never answered, and as the years went on I wrote less often, for you cannot keep up a correspondence on one side only. I used to wonder at the time if Aunt Penelope kept back his letters to me, but I did not like to accuse her of such a monstrous3 crime.
At last, however, just after I had passed my eighteenth birthday, and was a tall, shabbily-dressed girl, who had learnt all that could be taught at the High School—the only one to which Aunt Penelope could afford to send me—she herself came to me in a state of great excitement, and said that father was returning home.
"He is coming to settle in England," she said. "I must be frank with you, Heather, and tell you that it is not at all to your advantage that he should do so."
"Aunt Penelope," I answered, "why do you say words of that sort?"
"I say them," she replied, "because I know the world and you don't. Your father is not the sort of man who would do any girl the slightest good."
"You had better not speak against him to me," I said.
"I have taken great pains with you," said Aunt Penelope, "and have brought you up entirely4 out of my own very slender means. You are, for your age, fairly well educated, you understand household duties. You can light a fire as quickly and deftly5 as any girl I ever met, and you understand the proper method of dusting a room. You can also do plain cooking, and you can make your own clothes. I don't know anything about your intellectual acquirements, but your teacher, Miss Mansel, at the High School, says that you are fairly proficient6. Well, my dear, all these things you owe to me. You came to me a very ignorant, very self-opinionated, silly, delicate little girl. You are now a fine, strong young woman. Your father is returning—he will be here to-morrow."
I clasped my hands tightly together. There was no use in saying to this withered7 old aunt of mine how I pined for him, how his kindly8, good-humoured face, his blue eyes, his grizzled locks, had haunted and haunted me for ten long years.
"I understand," said Aunt Penelope, "that your father, after running through all his own money, and all of yours—for your mother had as much to live on as I have—has suddenly come into a new fortune. In his last letter to me he wrote that he wished to take you to London to introduce you to the great world. Now, I earnestly hope, my dear Heather, that you will be firm on this point and refuse to go with him. I am an old woman now, and I need your presence as a return for all the kindness I have done for you, and the life with your father would be anything but good for you. I shall naturally not object to your seeing him again, but, to speak frankly9, I think, after all the years of toil10 and trouble I have spent on you, it is your bounden duty to stay with me and to refuse your father's invitation to go to London with him."
"Stop knocking at the door!" called the parrot at that moment.
When Aunt Penelope had finished her long speech I looked at her and then said quietly:
"I know you have been good to me, and I have been many times a naughty girl to you, but, you see, father comes first, and if he wants me I am going to him."
"I thought you would say so. Your ingratitude11 is past bearing."
"Fathers always do come before aunts, don't they?" I asked.
"Oh, please don't become childish again, Heather. Go out and get the tea. I am tired of the want of proper feeling of the present day. Do you know that this morning Jonas broke that valuable Dresden cup and saucer that I have always set such store by? It has spoiled my set."
"What a shame," I answered. And I went into the kitchen to prepare the tea.
The Jonas of that day was a small boy of thirteen. He wore the very antiquated12 suit of Buttons which the first Jonas had appeared in ten years ago. He had very fat, red cheeks, and small, puffy eyes, and a little button of a mouth, and he was always asleep except when Aunt Penelope was about, when he ran and raced and pretended to do a lot, and broke more things than can be imagined. He awoke now when I entered the kitchen.
"Jonas, you are a bad boy," I said; "the kettle isn't boiling, and the fire is nearly out."
"I'll pour some paraffin on the fire and it will blaze up in a minute," said Jonas.
"You won't do anything of the kind; it is most dangerous—and Jonas, what a shame that you should have broken that Dresden cup and saucer!"
"Lor', miss, it was very old," said Jonas. "We wears out ourselves, so does the chaney."
"Now don't talk nonsense," said I, half laughing. "Cut some bread and I'll toast it. Jonas, I am a very happy girl to-day; my dear father is coming back to-morrow."
"Lor'," said Jonas, "I wouldn't be glad if my gov'nor wor coming back. He's sarvin' his time, miss, but don't let on that you know."
"Serving his time?" I answered. "What is that?"
"Lor', miss, he's kept by the Government. They has all the expense of him, and a powerful eater he ever do be!"
I did not inquire any further, but went on preparing the tea. When it was ready I brought it to Aunt Penelope.
"Do you know," I said, as I poured her out a cup, "that Jonas says his father is 'serving his time'? What does that mean?"
Aunt Penelope turned red and then white. Then she said, in a curious, restrained sort of voice:
"I wouldn't use that expression if I were you, Heather. It applies to people who are detained in prison."
"Oh!" I answered. Then I said, in a low tone, "I am very sorry for Jonas."
The next day father came back. Ten years is a very long time to have done without seeing your only living parent, and if father had been red and grizzled when last I beheld13 him, his hair was white now. Notwithstanding this fact, his eyes were as blue as ever, and he had the same jovial14 manner. He hugged and hugged me, and pushed me away from him and looked at me again, and then he hugged me once more, and said to Aunt Penelope:
"She does you credit, Penelope. She does, really and truly. When we have smartened her up a bit, and—oh! you know all about it, Penelope—she'll be as fine a girl as I ever saw."
"I have taught Heather to regard her clothes in the light in which the sacred Isaac Watts15 spoke16 of them," replied Aunt Penelope:
"Why should our garments, made to hide
Our parents' shame, provoke our pride?
Let me be dressed fine as I will,
Flies, flowers, and moths17, exceed me still."
"That's a very ugly verse, if you will permit me to say so, Penelope," remarked my father, and then he dragged me down to sit on his knee.
He was wonderfully like his old self, and yet there was an extraordinary change in him. He used to be—at least the dream-father I had thought of all these years used to be—a very calm, self-contained man, never put out nor wanting in self-possession. But now he started at intervals and had an anxious, almost nervous manner. Aunt Penelope would not allow me to sit long on my father's knee.
"You forget, Heather, that you are not a child," she said. "Jump up and attend to the Major's comforts. I do not forget, Major, how particular you used to be about your toast. You were an awful fidget when you were a young man."
"Ha! ha!" said my father. "Ha! ha! And I am an awful fidget still, Pen, an awful fidget. But Heather makes good toast; she's a fine girl—that is, she will be, when I have togged her up a bit."
Here he winked18 at me, and Aunt Penelope turned aside as though she could scarcely bear the sight. After tea, to my infinite disgust, I was requested to leave the room. I went up to my tiny room, and, to judge from the rise and fall of two voices, an animated19 discussion was going on downstairs. At the end of half an hour Aunt Penelope called to me to come down. As I entered the room the parrot said, "Stop knocking at the door!" and my father remarked:
"I wonder, Penelope, you don't choke that bird!" Aunt Penelope turned to me with tears in her eyes.
"Heather, your father wishes you to join him in London at once. He has arranged, however, that you shall spend a certain portion of each year with me."
"Yes," remarked my father, "the dull time in the autumn. You shall always have her back then—that is, until she marries a duke or someone worthy20 of her."
"Am I really to go with you, Daddy?" I asked. "Really and truly?"
"Not to come with me to-night, pretty pet," he answered, pinching my cheek as he spoke. "I must find a habitation worthy of my little girl. But early next week your aunt—your kind aunt—will see you into the train and I will meet you at the terminus, and then, heigho! for a new life!"
I could not help laughing with glee, and then I was sorry, for Aunt Penelope had been as kind as kind could be after her fashion, and I did wrong not to feel some regret at leaving her. But when a girl has only her father, and that father has been away for ten long years, surely she is to be excused for wishing to be with him again.
Aunt Penelope hardly spoke at all after my father left. What her thoughts were I could not define; I am afraid, too, I did not try to guess them. But early next morning she began to make preparations for my departure. The little trunks which had accompanied me to Hill View were placed in the centre of my room, and Aunt Penelope put my very modest wardrobe into them. She laid between my nice, clean, fresh linen21 some bunches of home-grown lavender.
"You will think of me when you smell this fragrant22 perfume, Heather," she said; and I thought I saw something of a suspicion of tears in her eyes. I sprang to her then, and flung my arms round her neck, and said:
"Oh, I do want to go, and yet I also want to stay. Can't you understand, Aunt Penelope?"
"No, I cannot," she replied, pulling my hands away almost roughly; "and, what is more, I dislike silly, nonsensical speeches. No one can wish to do two things directly opposite at the same time. Now, count out your handkerchiefs. I bought you six new ones for your last birthday, and you had before then, how many?"
I am afraid I forgot. I am afraid I tried Aunt Penelope very much; but, after all, her time of suffering was to be short, for that very evening there came a telegram from father, desiring Aunt Penelope to send me up to London by the twelve o'clock train the following day.
"I will meet Heather at Victoria," he said.
So the next day I left Hill View, and kissed Aunt Penelope when I went, and very nearly kissed the parrot, and shook hands quite warmly with the reigning23 Jonas, and Aunt Penelope saw me off at the station, and I was as glad to go as I had been sorry to come. Thus I shut away the old life, and turned to face the new.
I had not been half an hour in the carriage before, looking up, I saw the kind eyes of a very beautiful lady fixed24 on mine. I had been so absorbed with different things that I had not noticed her until that moment. She bent25 towards me, and said:
"I think I cannot be mistaken, surely your name is Heather Grayson?"
"Yes," I answered.
"And you are going to meet your father, Major Grayson?"
"How do you know?" I said.
"Well, it so happens that I am going up to town to meet both him and my husband. It is long years since I have seen you; but you are not greatly altered. Do you remember the day when you went to the railway station at Cherton, and asked for a person called Anastasia, and my husband and I spoke to you?"
"Oh, are you indeed Lady Carrington?" I asked.
"Yes, I am; and I am going to town to meet your father and Sir John. You were a very little girl when I had the pleasure of last speaking to you; now you are a young woman."
"Yes," I replied. Then I added, looking her full in the face, "I suppose I am quite grown-up; I am eighteen."
"Do you mind telling me, Miss Grayson, if you are going to live with your father?"
"I think so," I replied.
She looked very thoughtful. After a minute she said:
"You can confide26 in me or not, Miss Grayson. I ask for no confidences on your part that you are not willing to give, and if you would rather not tell me, I will not press you."
"What do you want to say?" I asked.
"Have you any idea why you have been separated from your father for ten long years?"
"My father was in India," I replied, "and Aunt Penelope says that India is not thought good for little girls. I liked it immensely when I was there, but Aunt Penelope says it injures them in some sort of fashion. Of course, I cannot tell how or why."
"And that is all you really know?"
"There is nothing else to know," I replied.
She was silent, leaning back against her cushions. Just as we were reaching Victoria she bent forward again, and said:
"Heather—for I must call you by that name—I have known your father for years, and whatever the world may do, I, for one, will never forsake27 him, nor will my dear husband. I have also known your mother, although she died many years ago. For these reasons I want to be good to you, their only child. So, Heather, if you happen to be in trouble, will you come to me? My address is 15a, Princes Gate. I am at home most mornings, and at all times a letter written to that address will find me. Ah! here we are, and I see your father and—and my husband." She abruptly28 took my hand and squeezed it.
"Remember what I have said to you," was her next remark, "and keep the knowledge that I mean to be your friend to yourself."
The train drew up at the platform. Father clasped me in his arms. He introduced me to Sir John Carrington, who laughed and said: "Oh, what a changed Heather!" and then my father spoke to Lady Carrington, who began to talk to him at once in a very earnest, low voice. I heard her say:
"Where are you taking her?" but I could not hear my father's reply.
Then the Carringtons drove off in their beautiful motor-car, and father and I stepped into a brougham, a private one, very nicely appointed, my luggage—such very simple luggage—was placed on the roof, and we were away together.
"Now I want Anastasia," I said.
"We'll find her if we can," said father. "You'd like her to be your maid, wouldn't you, Heather?"
"Oh, yes," I answered. "I did miss her so awfully29." And I told father how I had run to the railway station to meet the next train on that terrible day long ago and how Aunt Penelope had followed me.
He laughed, and said I was a rare plucky30 one, and then we drew up before a grand hotel and entered side by side. We were shown immediately into a private sitting-room31, which had two bedrooms opening out of it, one for father and one for me. Father said:
"Heather, I mean to show you life as it is, and to-night we are going to the theatre. We shall meet a friend of mine there—a very charming lady, who, I know, will be interested in you, and I want you to be interested in her too, as she is a great friend of mine."
"But I only want you to be great friends with me," I said.
Father laughed at this, got a little red, and turned the conversation.
"What dress have you for the theatre?" he asked.
"I don't think I have any," I said. "I don't possess any evening dress."
"But that won't do," he replied. "What is the hour? We really haven't an instant to lose."
He looked at the clock on the mantelpiece.
"We can manage it," he said. He spoke down a tube, and presently was told that his carriage awaited him.
"Come, Heather, come," he said. "You must be togged up properly for to-night."
After my very quiet life at Hill View this complete change made me so excited that I scarcely knew how to contain myself.
We got into the brougham and drove to a smart shop, where fortunately a pretty dress of soft black was able to be procured32. This was paid for and put into a box, and we returned to the hotel, but not before father had bought me also some lilies of the valley to wear with the dress.
I went up to our sitting-room alone, for he was busy talking to a lady who seemed to have the charge of a certain department downstairs, the result of which was that after tea a very fashionable hairdresser arrived, who arranged my thick dark hair in the latest and most becoming fashion, and who even helped me to get into my black dress. When I joined father my eyes were shining and my cheeks were bright with colour.
"Oh, what fun this is!" I said.
"Yes, isn't it?" he answered. "Where are your flowers?"
I had put them on, but he did not like the way I had arranged them, so he settled them himself in a more becoming manner, and then he slipped a single string of pearls round my white throat and showed me—lying on a chair near by—a most lovely, dainty opera cloak, all made in pink and white, which suited me just perfectly33.
"Now, we'll have some dinner, and then we'll be off," he said. "Lady Helen Dalrymple will admire you to-night, Heather, and I want her to."
Who was Lady Helen Dalrymple?


1 intervals f46c9d8b430e8c86dea610ec56b7cbef     
n.[军事]间隔( interval的名词复数 );间隔时间;[数学]区间;(戏剧、电影或音乐会的)幕间休息
  • The forecast said there would be sunny intervals and showers. 预报间晴,有阵雨。
  • Meetings take place at fortnightly intervals. 每两周开一次会。
2 scrupulously Tj5zRa     
  • She toed scrupulously into the room. 她小心翼翼地踮着脚走进房间。 来自辞典例句
  • To others he would be scrupulously fair. 对待别人,他力求公正。 来自英汉非文学 - 文明史
3 monstrous vwFyM     
  • The smoke began to whirl and grew into a monstrous column.浓烟开始盘旋上升,形成了一个巨大的烟柱。
  • Your behaviour in class is monstrous!你在课堂上的行为真是丢人!
4 entirely entirely     
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
5 deftly deftly     
  • He deftly folded the typed sheets and replaced them in the envelope. 他灵巧地将打有字的纸折好重新放回信封。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • At last he had a clew to her interest, and followed it deftly. 这一下终于让他发现了她的兴趣所在,于是他熟练地继续谈这个话题。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
6 proficient Q1EzU     
  • She is proficient at swimming.她精通游泳。
  • I think I'm quite proficient in both written and spoken English.我认为我在英语读写方面相当熟练。
7 withered 342a99154d999c47f1fc69d900097df9     
adj. 枯萎的,干瘪的,(人身体的部分器官)因病萎缩的或未发育良好的 动词wither的过去式和过去分词形式
  • The grass had withered in the warm sun. 这些草在温暖的阳光下枯死了。
  • The leaves of this tree have become dry and withered. 这棵树下的叶子干枯了。
8 kindly tpUzhQ     
  • Her neighbours spoke of her as kindly and hospitable.她的邻居都说她和蔼可亲、热情好客。
  • A shadow passed over the kindly face of the old woman.一道阴影掠过老太太慈祥的面孔。
9 frankly fsXzcf     
  • To speak frankly, I don't like the idea at all.老实说,我一点也不赞成这个主意。
  • Frankly speaking, I'm not opposed to reform.坦率地说,我不反对改革。
10 toil WJezp     
  • The wealth comes from the toil of the masses.财富来自大众的辛勤劳动。
  • Every single grain is the result of toil.每一粒粮食都来之不易。
11 ingratitude O4TyG     
  • Tim's parents were rather hurt by his ingratitude.蒂姆的父母对他的忘恩负义很痛心。
  • His friends were shocked by his ingratitude to his parents.他对父母不孝,令他的朋友们大为吃惊。
12 antiquated bzLzTH     
  • Many factories are so antiquated they are not worth saving.很多工厂过于陈旧落后,已不值得挽救。
  • A train of antiquated coaches was waiting for us at the siding.一列陈旧的火车在侧线上等着我们。
13 beheld beheld     
v.看,注视( behold的过去式和过去分词 );瞧;看呀;(叙述中用于引出某人意外的出现)哎哟
  • His eyes had never beheld such opulence. 他从未见过这样的财富。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The soul beheld its features in the mirror of the passing moment. 灵魂在逝去的瞬间的镜子中看到了自己的模样。 来自英汉文学 - 红字
14 jovial TabzG     
  • He seemed jovial,but his eyes avoided ours.他显得很高兴,但他的眼光却避开了我们的眼光。
  • Grandma was plump and jovial.祖母身材圆胖,整天乐呵呵的。
15 watts c70bc928c4d08ffb18fc491f215d238a     
(电力计量单位)瓦,瓦特( watt的名词复数 )
  • My lamp uses 60 watts; my toaster uses 600 watts. 我的灯用60瓦,我的烤面包器用600瓦。
  • My lamp uses 40 watts. 我的灯40瓦。
16 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。
17 moths de674306a310c87ab410232ea1555cbb     
n.蛾( moth的名词复数 )
  • The moths have eaten holes in my wool coat. 蛀虫将我的羊毛衫蛀蚀了几个小洞。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The moths tapped and blurred at the window screen. 飞蛾在窗帘上跳来跳去,弄上了许多污点。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
18 winked af6ada503978fa80fce7e5d109333278     
v.使眼色( wink的过去式和过去分词 );递眼色(表示友好或高兴等);(指光)闪烁;闪亮
  • He winked at her and she knew he was thinking the same thing that she was. 他冲她眨了眨眼,她便知道他的想法和她一样。
  • He winked his eyes at her and left the classroom. 他向她眨巴一下眼睛走出了教室。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
19 animated Cz7zMa     
  • His observations gave rise to an animated and lively discussion.他的言论引起了一场气氛热烈而活跃的讨论。
  • We had an animated discussion over current events last evening.昨天晚上我们热烈地讨论时事。
20 worthy vftwB     
  • I did not esteem him to be worthy of trust.我认为他不值得信赖。
  • There occurred nothing that was worthy to be mentioned.没有值得一提的事发生。
21 linen W3LyK     
  • The worker is starching the linen.这名工人正在给亚麻布上浆。
  • Fine linen and cotton fabrics were known as well as wool.精细的亚麻织品和棉织品像羊毛一样闻名遐迩。
22 fragrant z6Yym     
  • The Fragrant Hills are exceptionally beautiful in late autumn.深秋的香山格外美丽。
  • The air was fragrant with lavender.空气中弥漫薰衣草香。
23 reigning nkLzRp     
  • The sky was dark, stars were twinkling high above, night was reigning, and everything was sunk in silken silence. 天很黑,星很繁,夜阑人静。
  • Led by Huang Chao, they brought down the reigning house after 300 years' rule. 在黄巢的带领下,他们推翻了统治了三百年的王朝。
24 fixed JsKzzj     
  • 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。
25 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。
26 confide WYbyd     
  • I would never readily confide in anybody.我从不轻易向人吐露秘密。
  • He is going to confide the secrets of his heart to us.他将向我们吐露他心里的秘密。
27 forsake iiIx6     
  • She pleaded with her husband not to forsake her.她恳求丈夫不要抛弃她。
  • You must forsake your bad habits.你必须革除你的坏习惯。
28 abruptly iINyJ     
  • He gestured abruptly for Virginia to get in the car.他粗鲁地示意弗吉尼亚上车。
  • I was abruptly notified that a half-hour speech was expected of me.我突然被通知要讲半个小时的话。
29 awfully MPkym     
  • Agriculture was awfully neglected in the past.过去农业遭到严重忽视。
  • I've been feeling awfully bad about it.对这我一直感到很难受。
30 plucky RBOyw     
  • The plucky schoolgirl amazed doctors by hanging on to life for nearly two months.这名勇敢的女生坚持不放弃生命近两个月的精神令医生感到震惊。
  • This story featured a plucky heroine.这个故事描述了一个勇敢的女英雄。
31 sitting-room sitting-room     
  • The sitting-room is clean.起居室很清洁。
  • Each villa has a separate sitting-room.每栋别墅都有一间独立的起居室。
32 procured 493ee52a2e975a52c94933bb12ecc52b     
v.(努力)取得, (设法)获得( procure的过去式和过去分词 );拉皮条
  • These cars are to be procured through open tender. 这些汽车要用公开招标的办法购买。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • A friend procured a position in the bank for my big brother. 一位朋友为我哥哥谋得了一个银行的职位。 来自《用法词典》
33 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • 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。


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